Yet He commanded the clouds above and opened the doors of heaven – Psalms 78:23
When He made firm the skies above, When the springs of the deep became fixed – Proverbs 8:28
What do you see when you look at the clouds? Life can be hectic at times, whether its work related, personal or anything in between. The simple act of looking to the skies offers the much-needed break we seek on a daily basis. Here we can gain a new perspective or even receive the answers to our woes. It’s at that point that we realize we truly do have an amazing God watching over us from above. Here are a few incredible photos that capture something truly beautiful in the sky.
Take time to look through these spectacular cloud images and reflect on the word of God. Pray along with each devotional and ask God to work in your life!
Let there be Light
By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also.
1 Corinthians 6:14
Occasionally, especially as we get older, we begin to wonder what our legacy will be. What will we have accomplished with our life that will endure after we’ve left this earth? Are we truly living out of our God-given purpose, or are we settling for less?
We tend to let our circumstances dictate how we feel, which in turn influences how we act. When we attach this kind of power to events beyond our control, we set ourselves up for dissatisfaction, disappointment, and discouragement. With this bleak mindset, soon it seems as though nothing matters, that regardless of what we do, it doesn’t really change anything.
This is not living in the abundant life of the resurrected Christ. Circumstances remain beyond our control, and our souls will ache with the painful weight of disappointment sometimes. But when our hope is in Christ, we can see beyond our momentary discomfort. We can trust God with our past, present, and future, including our legacy.
Pray: “Jesus, thank you for rising from the dead and bringing abundant life. I want to trust you fully, knowing that what I do is meaningful for your kingdom.”
Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.
The Gift of Laughter
When we think about praising God, we often consider praying and singing as our primary ways, which they probably are. However, we praise our Father when we stop to admire the beauty of his creation or revel in the goodness of his gifts. One of the most overlooked ways we can worship is having wholesome fun and sharing a laugh with one another.
Like our tears, laughter binds us together in contagious ways. We appreciate and admire people who don’t take themselves too seriously, who can laugh at themselves or see the humor in everyday life. God shares in our laughter as well. Just as a baby’s giggle or child’s laughter warms the heart of her parents, we know that God delights in our ability to experience the soul liberation that occurs when we laugh.
Today, look for the lighter side of the situations you encounter. Thank God for your ability to laugh. Praise him for this wonderful gift.
Pray: “Lord, laughter is indeed good medicine. Even when I’m struggling, I’m glad that I can still see the humor in life and laugh with friends.”
Red Skies at Night…
And after He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight.
I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.
Nourish Your Body
Day after day we make choices about what we will eat and drink, what we watch on television, and which books we will read. We consciously decide where we will go on vacation or where we’ll go to church. We often think these things don’t really matter that much, not in the long run. But all of these decisions can affect our spirit and our body—how we feel, what we think, who we are.
Hopefully, our choices make us feel closer to God, but sometimes they draw us away. If we aren’t careful and deliberate about all the variables influencing our minds, hearts, and bodies, we open ourselves up for temptation and snares from our enemy.
Today, nourish and protect your body as a gift from God, caring for it as a good steward.
Pray: “Father, despite my imperfections, thank you for the body I have. Help me to take the best care possible in every choice I make.”
I Heart This Sunset
The fruit of righteousness will be peace; the effect of righteousness will be quietness and confidence forever.
The Fruit of Righteousness
Around this time of year, many people find themselves paying tax money to the government. While they may receive a refund if they’ve already paid in enough tax, others will be required to send a percentage of their wages to support their local and national governing bodies. Based on what you’ve produced, you determine the amount you have to pay.
While death and taxes have been famously described as the only certainties in life, as Christians we know that God’s promises are the only sure things. Many of the truths found in his Word reveal a cause-effect, action-reaction kind of observation. With righteousness, we’re told that the outcome or fruit produced includes peace, confidence, and calmness.
These qualities may not be as immediately tangible as tax forms, dollars, and cents, but they are much more valuable than any amount we can imagine.
Pray: “Father, I want to follow your ways and produce the fruits you have promised in my life. Help me to follow your ways and not my own.”
While he was still speaking, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and behold, a voice out of the cloud said, “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him!”
It was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed . . . , but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.
1 Peter 1:18–19
No Expiration Date
Almost every item in our culture seems to have an expiration date. Most foods usually have a “fresh until” or “best if used by” date on their packages. Phones, TVs, computers, apps, and other e-gadgets become obsolete to the latest version, usually within months of each new release. Fashion trends come and go.
One permanent fixture in our lives, however, remains—our Savior’s sacrifice on the cross, the source of our salvation. It has no expiration date! Death has been defeated and the timeless, eternal, foundational fact of God’s grace lives forevermore.
We can rest assured that the basis for our faith is bedrock and will not change. Trends may come and go. Popular culture will alter its tastes with the latest products and performers. But Jesus remains the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.
Pray: “Lord, I’m so thankful for the unchangeable, unalterable foundation for my faith in Christ. I praise you for your permanence!”
Then a cloud formed, overshadowing them, and a voice came out of the cloud, “This is My beloved Son, listen to Him!”
Put your hope in the Lord, for with the Lord is unfailing love and with him is full redemption.
Open Your Heart
We all have days when we feel so lonely and unlovable that we can’t bear looking inside ourselves. We don’t like what we see inside and wonder how God could forgive us again, help us again, and continue to love us. Whether it’s due to an acute crisis or chronic struggles, these times take a toll.
These are the days when we must accept the present of God’s love despite the way we feel. There are steps that we can take, but God will come to us in ways we do not understand and whisper to us, “I love you. You are mine. I enjoy you. Nothing will take you away from me. You do not have to earn my love.”
Receive His words. Look for his gifts. Open your heart to him. Express your feelings to him and let him comfort you with his unfailing love.
Pray: “Abba Father, like a scared child, sometimes I just need you to hold me. I feel your presence and know you love me. Thank you, Daddy.”
While he was saying this, a cloud formed and began to overshadow them; and they were afraid as they entered the cloud.
All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.
Be a Light
Often we want others to notice our acts of service and good deeds. This desire might reflect our prideful egos or the way we’re overly concerned with what others think. No one is perfect, and we shouldn’t try to present an image of perfection to those around us. In fact, if we want them to see God’s grace in us, we will have to let them see our shortcomings.
Such transparency and strength illustrate a godly life more than any attention-getting “good deed” might reveal. Certainly, we want to be the light of Christ in the world’s darkness, but this doesn’t mean we have to set the place on fire! Sometimes the glow of one flame is enough to illuminate the darkest night.
Sharing our struggles with others also keeps us humble and dependent on the Lord. We don’t try to take credit for his work, but instead use those moments when others notice as a natural way to share our faith. When others encounter us as down to earth even as we look to heaven, they will want to know our Father above.
Pray: “Jesus, help me to be vulnerable with the right person at the right time today. Allow our conversation to reveal your strength in my weakness.”
Praying For Safe Travels
BEHOLD, HE IS COMING WITH THE CLOUDS, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him. So it is to be. Amen.
[Jesus said,] “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
Sometimes it’s easy to identify the group, club, company, or team to which an individual belongs. Whether it’s a corporate dress code, a business logo, a particular uniform, or team colors, some details can reveal a lot about our affiliations. Most groups have their own jargon, insider perspective, jokes, and gestures. From the fraternity and sorority to the country club, the boosters’ club to the baseball team, we like to show off our memberships.
If we’re willing to do this for social groups, businesses, and sports, how much more we should be willing to be identified as followers of Jesus. While we may wear a cross or have something visibly identifying us as a Christian, most people won’t notice those unless we back them up with our behavior.
The way we love one another tells the world around us who Jesus is and what he’s all about, not just our clothes, stickers, books, and jewelry.
Pray: “Lord, let others see you by the way that I love the people around me.”
“I kept looking in the night visions, And behold, with the clouds of heaven One like a Son of Man was coming, And He came up to the Ancient of Days And was presented before Him.”
Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.
Take the Next Step
Make note of the people you encounter today. You probably interact with some only in your respective roles: boss and employee, sales associate and customer, teacher and student. But beyond the many roles you fill, you should be able to have at least a few people who know all of you, not just your job description or contribution to the team.
Is there someone that’s earned your trust? Someone with whom you can take the next step to be real?
Just as God is made up of Father, Son, and Spirit, we’re designed in his image to need community. When Adam was alone in the Garden of Eden, God said it wasn’t good for him to be alone, so God created Eve. Even Jesus, the Son of God, chose twelve men to be his disciples, his network of relationships with whom he could share the ups and downs of life.
Today, look for opportunities to become closer to other brothers and sisters in Christ.
Pray: “God, I don’t always enjoy the fact that I need other people, but I know that you made me for community. Help me to love others as you love me.”
Did Someone Call for a Guardian Angel?
“Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.”
Communication is essential for any relationship to grow, especially if both parties desire intimacy. God certainly demonstrates how much he loves us by sending his Son to die on the cross for us. He has made it possible for us to have this special kind of close-knit, Father-child relationship. The more we spend time with him, the better we get to know him. The better we get to know him, the more we trust him. And the more we trust him, the stronger we become transformed in the image of Jesus.
When we follow Jesus, we know that we are pleasing our Father. We become more like the model of servanthood that we see in Christ’s life, death, and resurrection. We sacrifice our own wants and desires for the good of others.
Today, look for ways in which you can model the servant leadership of Jesus.
Pray: “Jesus, I want to follow you and become the same kind of selfless servant that you are. When I serve like you, I know God our Father is pleased.”
O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
Let It Rain
The hot dry seasons can be unbearable in many parts of the world. The sun blazes down on parched ground, the temperature soars to new highs, and only the dry dust moves across the landscape. No shade, nothing green, no signs of life. The air becomes so hot that it’s hard to breathe. Day after day the arid winds blow and the drought continues.
Then one afternoon a handful of clouds streak across the sky. The next day more collect in front of the sun, providing temporary relief. After several more days, the sky shines dull and there’s a sense of the land holding its breath, aware of moisture in the air.
One day the clouds open and drops of water begin to bounce like giant marbles across the dry, cracked ground. And then it continues falling and soon sheets of rain drench the thirsty land. The rainy season has begun, and there will be new life.
When we confess our sins to God, he refreshes us like rain after a drought.
Pray: “Lord, I thirst for you and your righteousness. Forgive my sins and restore me with your Spirit. Bring new life to dry parts of my heart.”
“See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.”
Streams in the Wasteland
Sometimes we go through a trial and wait for God to send water into our dry wasteland. While patience is important, we can often “prime the pump” through our praise, thanksgiving, and worship. As we reflect on our many blessings and celebrate what God has already done for us, our dry souls draw water from the well of his past mercies.
Often just remembering what God has done for you naturally leads to thanksgiving, praise, and worship. When you recognize the many gifts he’s bestowed on you, as well as the many obstacles he’s allowed you to overcome, your heart overflows with gratitude.
Suddenly, we can see the way God has transformed the arid soil of our hearts into a garden producing his fruits of the Spirit.
Pray: “Father, I praise you for the many ways you have blessed and continue to bless me. Remind me that the rain always comes no matter how dry it may feel today.”
Just Passing Through
“And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the SON OF MAN COMING ON THE CLOUDS OF THE SKY with power and great glory.”
Be made new in the attitude of your minds.
Be Made New
You can’t deny the power that someone else’s genuinely positive attitude can have on you. It can be a coworker, family member, friend from church, or even a stranger, but if they exude joy and confidence in the Lord, it’s contagious.
Nonetheless, it can be frustrating when we’re struggling through a hard day. If only we had a switch to flip that would change our attitude instantly. While it’s not usually that quick and simple, we can still train our minds to filter our thoughts on God’s truth. When we focus on God’s character and the power of his Word, we directly influence our attitude and subsequently our feelings.
Just as it takes twenty minutes for our brains to receive the message from our stomachs that we’re full, it may take a little while between the digestion of truth and our sense of satisfaction. But it will come if we keep up a steady diet of prayer, Bible study, and service to others.
Pray: “Lord, draw my attention to the power of your truth today. Allow me to discern the one truth from your Word that I need to keep before me.”
I set My bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a sign of a covenant between Me and the earth.
Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
It can be hard to get back on our feet when we stumble and sin. We feel guilty, maybe ashamed, and don’t like ourselves very much. We hate that we seem to struggle in the same areas over and over again. Disappointed with our failures, we become more vulnerable to further temptations, which only leave us feeling worse.
Thank God that we don’t have to remain trapped in this undertow of emotions!
When we invite Jesus into our lives and ask God to forgive our sins, the scarlet scars of our mistakes fade into spotless white. Like a muddy brown field blanketed by snow, we find ourselves just as pure and bright. We can’t always undo the consequences of our selfish choices, but we can absolutely count on God’s grace to wash us clean. We don’t have to try and change ourselves—we’re already becoming more like Jesus, a new creation.
Pray: “Lord, forgive me when I fail and help me to accept the grace that you so freely give. Strengthen my heart to resist temptations.”
Can’t Help but Smile
1 Thessalonians 4:17
Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.
Whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
2 Corinthians 3:16–17
Have you ever been in a closed space for so long that you began to feel a little claustrophobic? Whether it was a windowless closet, a window seat on a crowded flight, or a filled-to-bursting subway train, these confinements leave us feeling cramped, crumpled, and contained. We feel hemmed in and trapped, knowing we will soon be free to leave our temporary prison, but nonetheless as anxious as a caged animal.
When you finally emerge from one of these experiences, there’s an unbelievable feeling of freedom and exhilaration when you’re finally able to walk outside, stretch your body, and see the beauty of wide open spaces.
Some days seem to leave us feeling just as trapped and claustrophobic. But we don’t have to live this way. God has set us free, and the freedom we experience in his Spirit can lift and liberate us no matter the size of the space where we find ourselves.
Pray: “Dear God, I’m so grateful for the gift of your Spirit and the freedom I have from the confines of sin and death. Remind me to live as a free child of God.”
1 Kings 18:44-45
It came about at the seventh time, that he said, “Behold, a cloud as small as a man’s hand is coming up from the sea.” And he said, “Go up, say to Ahab, ‘Prepare your chariot and go down, so that the heavy shower does not stop you.’” In a little while the sky grew black with clouds and wind, and there was a heavy shower. And Ahab rode and went to Jezreel.
Restore us, O God; make your face shine upon us, that we may be saved.
Almost everyone online wants you to “follow” them and “like” them. Yet not all sources and sites are created equal. Online you run across all kinds of different information with various levels of credibility. Whether they’re blogs focused on celebrity gossip, news sites from established networks, or personal pages sharing subjective opinions, online sources are not all created equal.
Like last hour’s headlines, their news may feel dated and in need of being refreshed. Others may seem so over-the-top in their opinions that we’re outraged, offended, or upset. Sometimes we want to post a “like,” but resist because we don’t really know if the person or site is really who or what it appears.
God is who he says he is. His “profile” and “status page” can be found in the timeless truth of his Word, the Bible. In a world of instant updates, friendly snapchats, and tempting tweets, it’s good to remember we can like and follow him forever.
Pray: “God, I get bombarded by so many different voices and directions clamoring for my attention. Keep me focused on your timeless love and the truth of your Word.”