“Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” — John 7:38
Cloud or Crowd?, by Randall D. Kittle
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In a vision, I saw a great mass of people. As this crowd traveled forward, they looked like a mighty, surging river. Suddenly, I noticed a smaller stream of people off to the side, which flowed into a sheltered valley. They were merely a trickle compared to the others. This valley had a dense fog in it that, at first glance, seemed unnerving. This fog was illuminated with a golden glow that I knew immediately to be the presence of the Lord. It made me feel at peace and yet eager to find out what lay ahead. Then I heard a voice proclaim, “This is the way of the Lord, walk in it.” When I looked back at the broad valley where the small stream had split from the mass of people, I heard a voice declaring Joel 3:14, “Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision! For the Day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision.” As the vision faded, I heard the voice of the Lord proclaim, “It is time for My Church to choose between following the crowd and being popular in this world, or following the cloud of My presence and having Me as their reward.”

No one need tell us that the vast majority in our North American culture is constantly rushing about pursuing various vain attempts to find fulfillment. From materialism to entertainment, social clubs to gambling, drugs and alcohol to sex, our society is on a perpetual chase to find something to satisfy their uncontented hearts. Though they do not recognize and will not receive it, only God can truly fulfill the empty longing of their hearts.

That this behavior is true of the masses in our day is sad enough. But the fact that many of these same frantic efforts are rampant in those who profess Jesus as Lord should give us cause to both question the state of the Church in America and take up the call to intercede for her — for the Lord is soon returning for a bride without spot or wrinkle, and the Bible tells us that
“His bride has made herself ready” (Revelation 19:7). It is time for the true bride of Christ to begin to make herself ready — to become clothed and adorned as the Bridegroom would have us be!

In these days that approach the end of the age, we are coming into the valley of decision. Are we lovers of God who are merely His ambassadors in this world, or are we lovers of this world who want to be the friends of God? The difference is infinite … and eternal. Each of us must answer the question found in James 4:4,
“Don’t you realize that friendship with the world makes you an enemy of God?” The Lord is calling us to put away every worldly pursuit and find contentment in Him and being His. This is a calling to truly be in this world but not of it. Are we willing to make the tough choices that set our hearts to bring pleasure to God, to live lives on this earth that declare the song of the redeemed; “All my fountains are in You” (Psalm 87:7)? If we do, we will discover that we often fail to please people or fit in comfortably with our society.

Some churches in these days also find themselves in the valley of decision. They must choose between having a self-reliant religion or a God-dependent relationship. This may sound like a simple, easy choice, but when your size, finances, and notoriety are all based on a system that has focused upon giving people what they want instead of focusing on what the Lord wants, it becomes very easy to justify your position instead of simply following the Lord.

Will they continue to follow the crowd — giving the people what they want, or will they choose to follow the cloud — seeking the Lord’s presence and preeminence above all things? If they will not choose the glory of God, they will have to settle for the glory of man. No matter how well packaged and promoted it may be, the results of choosing the broad path of pleasing people will be having only
“a form of godliness” (1 Timothy 3:5), and instead of building the kingdom of God they will only draw people away from it.

Let us pray that we will choose the presence of the Lord over everything else, even if those around us are not pleased with our choice:
Lord, we want You to be our reward, our everything. For every way we have had the same pursuits as the world instead of honoring Your presence above all things forgive us. Help us to realize that only You can satisfy the longings of our hearts. We want our lives, our families, and our churches to pursue You and Your glorious presence. We want the glory of Your presence more than any this world has to offer. Amen.

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