GREATER GLORY

2 Cor.3:7,8 – Even the ministry that was characterized by chiseled letters on stone tablets came with a dazzling measure of glory, though it produced death. The Israelites couldn’t bear to gaze on the glowing face of Moses because of the radiant splendor shining from his countenance—a glory destined to fade away. Yet how much more radiant is this new and glorious ministry of the Spirit that shines from us!

The scene of Moses returning from Mount Sinai with the two tables of stone is the stuff of movies. Moses was an amazing character that stood as a giant over all of the prophets that would follow him. His face was shining with God’s glory that was too bright to look upon and had to be veiled. He was carrying in his arms the Ten Commandments that became the foundation that civilization would be built upon. The Jews always considered themselves disciples of Moses. Paul was preaching something different. Paul said that the glory that was on Moses and even on the Ten Commandments paled in comparison to the glory in the gospel. Paul even called the law the ministration of death. He declared that the face of nominal Christians shone with more glory than Moses. Here is how Adam Clarke describes it.

“Yet this ministration of death…was glorious-was full of splendor; for the apostle refers to the thunderings, and lightnings, and luminous appearances, which took place in the giving of the law; so that the very body of Moses partook of the effulgence in such a manner that the children of Israel could not look upon his face; and he, to hide it, was obliged to use a veil. All this was intended to show the excellency of that law, as an institution coming immediately from God: and the apostle gives it all its heightenings, that he may compare it to the Gospel, and thereby prove that, glorious as it was, it had no glory that could be compared with that of the Gospel; and that even the glory it had was a glory that was to be done away—to be absorbed, as the light of the stars, planets, and moon, is absorbed in the splendor of the sun.”

The glory on us is reflected glory, reflecting the majesty of Christ. This reflected glory shines brightly in the land. It attracts whoever is hungry and draws them from the darkness of this life.

MASTER OF THE BREAKTHROUGH

2 Sam.5:20. – And David came to Baalperazim, and David smote them there, and said, The LORD hath broken forth upon mine enemies before me, as the breach of waters. Therefore he called the name of that place Baalperazim.

David was just getting started when the Philistines came after him. That is so typical, just as you begin your journey, you start to engage in God’s plan, all hell breaks out. David’s enemies wanted to shut him down before he got started. That’s how it always is. So what did David do? He sought the Lord. The Lord told him to attack the Philistines. David teaches us the importance of total dependence on the Lord. It wasn’t enough to have a calling and a purpose, he needed the Lord’s input in every step of the way. As David followed the Lord’s direction he experienced supernatural breakthrough. Here is how Matthew Henry describes this verse.

“He gave his God the glory; he said, “The Lord has broken forth upon my enemies before me. I could not have done it if he had not done it before me; he opened the breach like the breach of waters in a dam, which when once opened grows wider and wider.” The principal part of the work was God’s doing; nay, he did all; what David did was not worth speaking of; and therefore, Not unto us, but unto the Lord, give glory. He hoped likewise that this breach, like that of waters, was as the opening of the sluice, to let in a final desolation upon them; and, to perpetuate the remembrance of it, he called the place Baal-perazim, the master of the breaches, because, God having broken in upon their forces, he soon had the mastery of them. Let posterity take notice of it to God’s honor.”

Trying to do right or even trying to do God’s work in human strength can be quite frustrating. One of three things will happen when you launch out on your own; you will experience success and take all the credit, possibly have limited success and be totally frustrated, or fall on your face in total defeat. None of those options satisfy us or glorify the Lord. Look to the Lord in every situation. You will be surprised how He answers and how suddenly breakthrough will become your testimony. I have a sense of breakthrough in the air for God’s people, look to Him and you will be satisfied and He will be glorified.

TRANSFIGURED IN GLORY

Matt.17:1,2 – Six days later Jesus *took with Him Peter and James and John his brother, and led them up on a high mountain by themselves. And He was transfigured before them; and His face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as light.

What an amazing miracle. There was the shining face and clothing of Jesus, the appearance of Moses and Elijah, the shining cloud of glory, and the voice of the Father from heaven. What could all of this mean? For me it is a clear picture of the coming kingdom. We see Jesus in this moment as the first glorified human. Jesus became a man when He took on human flesh through Mary of Nazareth. He continues for the rest of time as a man. He became the first fruits of the resurrection. In this miracle we catch a glimpse of the future. There was not only the Lord but also Elijah and Moses appearing in glory. Someday soon we will put on our glorified bodies. Here is how Spurgeon sees this passage.

“While in prayer, the splendor of the Lord shone out. His face, lit up with its own inner glory, became a sun; and all his dress, like clouds irradiated by that sun, became white as the light itself. “He was transfigured before them;” he alone was the center of what they saw. It was a marvelous unveiling of the hidden nature of the Lord Jesus. Then was, in one way, fulfilled the word of John: “The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory.” The transfiguration occurred but once: special views of the glory of Christ are not enjoyed every day. Our highest joy on earth is to see Jesus. There can be no greater bliss in heaven; but we shall be better able to endure the exceeding bliss when we have laid aside the burden of this flesh.”

If you read the whole account of the Transfiguration you will notice that the three disciples fell down. Human bodies can’t take much of the unveiled glory. When we put off this mortal and put on our glorified bodies we will be better prepared to enjoy the glory of His presence. So this miracle points to our eternal hope where Christ has entered as a forerunner for us. Yes the kingdom is here but in another sense, not yet. Someday soon we will join Christ in that place just beyond the veil.

TALKING ANIMALS

Job 12:7,8 – But now ask the beasts, and they will teach you;

And the birds of the air, and they will tell you;

Or speak to the earth, and it will teach you;

And the fish of the sea will explain to you.

To those who have been given eyes to see, the glory of God is all around you. You catch glimpses of Him in the clouds passing overhead and hear His voice in the morning songbirds outside your window. Everywhere, from the crashing waves at the seashore to the barren wasteland of the Australian Outback, the glory of the Lord literally fills the earth. How does that relate to me in my hum drum, everyday life caught up in the noises of the city? Its really quite simple, He is there too. From the dust motes reflecting the glory of the sun in the light streaming in from your office window, to the butterfly swimming in the summer breeze, there is nowhere you can go that He is not present. Jonathan Edwards was known for his attraction to creation; here is a quote from Belsen Lane on Edwards and the voices of creation.

“As our senses open us to harmonies of sound and delicacies of scent, as they teach us to delight in the play of light in a bubbling fountain of water, they offer a spiritual training in the knowledge of God. Edwards never tired of pointing out that to “know” God is also to enjoy God. The properly trained mind not only “speculates and beholds, but relishes and feels.” When it comes to matters of the divine, enjoyment is a precondition for any authentic knowing.

In speaking of nature as a school of desire, Edwards drew on a long tradition of the “colloquy with the creatures.” This literary trope goes back to Job’s injunction to “Ask the beasts, and they will teach you,” and to Jesus’s call to consider the lilies. The form became stylized in Augustine’s Confessions when he “puts his questions to the earth,” asking the creatures, the winds, and the sky to “tell him of God”. Their answer is that their beauty leads him to a Beauty beyond themselves in God.”

So put your ears on today. His voice may come in a very unusual and unexpected way. Like

C. S. Lewis and his wardrobe, even the animals are declaring the glory of the Lord. You never no, maybe your beagle will have something to say this morning.

THAT WE MAY KNOW

Job 37: 6-7 For to the snow he says, “Fall on the earth,” likewise to the downpour, his mighty downpour. He seals up the hand of every man, that all men whom he made may know it.

Once you see it, you can’t unsee it. What am I talking about? The invisible attributes of God that are clearly seen all around us. The arrogance of man blinds himself to God’s beauty that is shouting out all around us. The array of flowers are crying out “beauty”, the vastness of creation is crying out “eternal”, the diversity of His creatures is crying out “creativity”, and the creative nature of man is crying out “genius”. His ways are higher than our ways and one glimpse of His beauty displayed in creation annihilates us with humility. Here is a quote from Jonathan Edwards about the glory of God being the very purpose of creation.

“The declaration of God’s perfections is mentioned in Scripture as the ultimate end of creation. That is, the open display of God’s excellent works and ways is the happy result of bringing the world into being. We observe this in the following verses and in many other places in the Bible.

Psalm 19: 1-5 The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. In them he has set a tent for the sun, which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber, and, like a strong man, runs its course with joy.

The passages listed in this chapter lead us to one conclusion: When God manifests his perfections and displays his attributes in the world, he does so for his own glory…. This can only mean that the glory of God is the ultimate end of creation.”

I have had the incredible privilege of seeing a lot of our beautiful world in my ministry trips. I have pictures of His beauty imprinted in my brain from glimpses of Him in creation. I can never forget the beauty of the Serengeti from a small airplane flying from Kilimanjaro to Kampala, seeing the herds of wildebeests and elephants below who were shouting the praises of the Lord. Then there was the majestic eagle flying above our plane, gliding on the winds of God above all the drama below. Its impossible to forget the beauty of the Alps, flying at 35,000 feet from London to Nairobi. Who can ignore a creator with His creative genius on such a display. Maybe you are blind to His greatness, stop for a moment and drink Him in. You may hear Him in the rain gently falling on your roof or His power in the power of a lightning flash. If you will take a moment you too may be stunned by His beauty that is always all around us.

GLORY IN US

Col. 1:26,27 – that is, the mystery which has been hidden from the past ages and generations, but has now been manifested to His saints, to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

Sometimes I think we don’t really know how much the world changed on the Day of Pentecost. Now don’t turn me off since I used that old fashioned “Pentecostal” word. Just stop and think for a minute. What was Peter’s point in that first sermon that he preached that gave birth to what we call Christianity? He said that something monumental had changed. What he said was this, all people everywhere now have access to something that is absolutely unthinkable. The Lord is pouring His Spirit on every kind of person everywhere. Young and old, rich and poor, red and yellow, black and white; no one is left out. His presence is not only on us for special empowerment, His Spirit is in us. He has become one with whosoever will. I told you it was too good to be true!!! Here is how C. S. Lewis describes this mystery.

“And this brings me to the other sense of glory—glory as brightness, splendor, luminosity. We are to shine as the sun, we are to be given the Morning Star. I think I begin to see what it means. In one way, of course, God has given us the Morning Star already: you can go and enjoy the gift on many fine mornings if you get up early enough. What more, you may ask, do we want? Ah, but we want so much more—something the books on aesthetics take little notice of. But the poets and the mythologies know all about it. We do not want merely to see beauty, though, God knows, even that is bounty enough. We want something else which can hardly be put into words—to be united with the beauty we see, to pass into it, to receive it into ourselves, to bathe in it, to become part of it.”

That is what all humans are longing for (though must don’t realize it). We want to experience the beauty of the Lord for ourselves. We want desperately to be one with Him. Sermons, songs, and prayers describe this blessing; only when you taste and see for yourself will you finally know why you are alive and what life truly is. That is the mystery that Paul preached, Christ in you the hope of glory.

THE PLACE WHERE THE SUN DOESN’T SHINE

And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb.

This may come across as strange to you but one place the sun doesn’t shine is heaven. Now don’t take this the wrong way, heaven could never be a place of darkness. Actually it could be called the City of Light, the only place that never has shadows. No sun, no shadows, how is this even possible? The answer, if you haven’t guessed it yet, is that there is no need for a sun because Jesus Himself is the light of the city. After all, the natural sun is just a picture or image of the real light. The real light is Christ Himself, the light of the world. Heaven will not need a sun, or streetlights or lamps on the inside of any building. The light of heaven will penetrate every crack and crevice of every life. We will see the fulfillment of the last prophesy of the Old Testament, Mal.4:2 – “But for you who fear My name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings; and you will go forth and skip about like calves from the stall”. Here are some thoughts from R. C. Sproul on today’s verse.

“Revelation 21 and 22 describe the holy city coming down out of heaven. Strangely, it is described as a place where the sun does not shine. There are no candles nor moon nor artificial source of light. You would think that such a place would be bathed in perpetual darkness, but the author of Revelation tells us there is no need of sun or artificial light in heaven because the glory of God and the radiance of his Son bathe the holy city in light perpetually. The glow from the face of God—the manifestation of his glory—illuminates every inch of the kingdom of heaven. The light of the glory of God is never extinguished, which is why the apostle says “. . . to whom be glory forever.” The glory of God began in eternity and will continue for eternity. When we come into God’s presence to worship him, the only appropriate response is reverence, awe, humility, and submission. The contemporary church all too often displays a cavalier approach to worship. Many have no idea about the one they are dealing with, the one for whom the angels themselves have to cover their eyes when they sing of his glory.”

Heaven is going to be better than any of us could ever know. It is the City of Light. As we finish our journey on earth we must remember, this life is almost over; the real life is about to start.

GIVING GLORY TO GOD  

Rom. 4:20,21 – He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform.

Have you ever seen the athlete after a victory or an actor after receiving an award smugly saying they are giving glory to God? What does giving glory to God really mean? We can learn this from the life of Abraham, he grew strong in faith giving glory to God. Our faith is connected to God’s promises. Taking Him at His word is how Abraham honored the Lord. All his circumstances; old age and barren wife said that God’s promise to have a son would never come true. Abraham decided to hold on to God’s promise no matter what things looked like. How was he able to do that? Abraham had encountered God. He knew God was real. He had left his homeland and his family because of that God encounter many years before. He had a conviction deep in his soul planted there by God that God’s word would come to pass, no matter what. Here is how Matthew Henry describes Abraham’s faith.

“He was strong in faith, giving glory to God, he was strengthened in faith, his faith got ground by exercise. Though weak faith shall not be rejected, the bruised reed not broken, the smoking flax not quenched, yet strong faith shall be commended and honored. The strength of his faith appeared in the victory it won over his fears. And hereby he gave glory to God; for, as unbelief dishonors God by making him a liar, so faith honors God by setting to its seal that he is true. Abraham’s faith gave God the glory of his wisdom, power, holiness, goodness, and especially of his faithfulness, resting upon the word that he had spoken. Among men we say, “He that trusts another, gives him credit, and honors him by taking his word;” thus Abraham gave glory to God by trusting him. We never hear our Lord Jesus commending any thing so much as great faith: therefore God gives honor to faith, great faith, because faith, great faith, gives honor to God. He was fully persuaded that what God had promised he was able to perform…”

Like the scriptures says, as time went on Abraham grew stronger. How was he doing that? He lived a life of giving glory to God. If you are facing obstacles to God’s promises in your life it’s time to get stronger. Glorify God by staying with His word. His promises are sure and will suddenly come to pass.

STRANGE WORKS OF GOD

Lk. 9:29-31 – And while He was praying, the appearance of His face became different, and His clothing became white and gleaming. And behold, two men were talking with Him; and they were Moses and Elijah, who, appearing in glory, were speaking of His departure which He was about to accomplish at Jerusalem.

Obviously, we don’t have everything figured out yet. Just when we think we have it all sorted, the Lord throws us a huge curve ball. Who could have seen this coming. Casting out devils, healing the sick, even raising the dead; we kind of get that. Transfiguration? What is that anyway? Jesus and three of His disciples were praying when suddenly Jesus’s whole body began to shine with glory like Moses’ face when he came down from the mountain. Not only that, Moses and Elijah were there with Jesus out of nowhere talking about the Lord’s coming death. The disciples were still stuck on sorting out this life, they had no idea about kingdom glory.

What is the message in this passage for us today? It seems like church services today have become shorter and shorter and the emphasis on the kingdom of heaven has gotten less and less. We hear about finances and goals and family and success but not so much about glory and rarely a word about kingdom come. Jesus being transfigured sort of changed the conversation that day. What is transfigured anyway? Transfigured comes from the word metamorphosis. It is describing a total change from one being into another. It’s kind of like a butterfly coming from a caterpillar, it just doesn’t get much stranger than that. The Lord wants to bring a transformation into our lives. Paul used this word and idea in 2 Cor.3:18, “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit”. In this passage Paul actually says that there is a metamorphosis in our lives as we are transformed by the anointing of the Holy Spirit.

So there it is, it is that anointing thing again. Maybe the anointing seems strange and insignificant to some but there is no way for us to be transformed or transfigured without this strange work of God. Maybe its time for us to be still in our services and allow this strange, transforming work of the Spirit to come into our services. This is the only place our disintegrating culture can be restored.

MY TRIALS AND THE GLORY OF THE LORD

Deut.5:24- The Lord our God has shown us his glory.

One of the things that changed radically for me in revival may seem small to the casual observer but proved to be cataclysmic in my life. I guess you would say my preaching in the early years of my ministry was man centered. What do I mean by that? That God was all about me and everything that He created was focused on me. The results of that emphasis can be quite predictable. If I do certain things then God will do certain things for me. It’s not that the Lord doesn’t want to do things that will be a blessing to me, its just that I had the motivation wrong. Everything God does is for His glory. Everything from creating solar systems to sunsets are to display His glory. Jesus healed the sick first of all to display His glory. He said that the man who was born blind was born that way for an opportunity to display the glory of God in healing. When we see that and focus on His glory we are filled with satisfaction and a joy beyond compare. Here is how Spurgeon describes it.

“God’s great design in all his works is the manifestation of his own glory. Any aim less than this were unworthy of himself. But how shall the glory of God be manifested to such fallen creatures as we are? Man’s eye is not single, he has ever a side glance towards his own honor, has too high an estimate of his own powers, and so is not qualified to behold the glory of the Lord. It is clear, then, that self must stand out of the way, that there may be room for God to be exalted; and this is the reason why he brings his people ofttimes into straits and difficulties, that, being made conscious of their own folly and weakness, they may be fitted to behold the majesty of God when he comes forth to work their deliverance. He whose life is one even and smooth path, will see but little of the glory of the Lord, for he has few occasions of self-emptying, and hence, but little fitness for being filled with the revelation of God.”

So what kind of trial and challenges are you facing today? Could it be that all this really is is an opportunity for the Lord to be glorified? When you finally see that our whole reason to exist is to display His glory in redemption the pressure comes off of us and we can finally stand still and watch Him in action.