Showing posts with label Glory Realm. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Glory Realm. Show all posts

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Short of the Glory

For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23)
Perhaps you have heard that one before. Many people have. It has been thundered from many pulpits and bellowed on a thousand street corners. Maybe you read it on a roadside billboard, or even on the side of a barn somewhere in rural America. Often the focus is on the bad news that “all have sinned,” and the problem that creates between us and God. Fair enough.

But there is also some good news hidden in that verse, and it is this: We were created to participate in the glory of God. Man was created in the image of God and according to His likeness.
Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” (Genesis 1:26)
God’s plan from the beginning was for us to be like Him and to be His image in the world. In other words, we were created to bear the glory of God. Like the moon bears the glory of the sun and reflects it to the earth, we were meant to reflect His greatness and goodness to all creation.

The terrible news about sin is that by it we have “come short” of that glory. We have all “sinned.” The Greek word, hamartano, literally means to “miss the mark.” God created us to reflect His goodness, but we have done what is evil. God meant for us to show forth His righteousness, but we have done what is not right. Consequently, we have fallen far short of the glorious role He prepared for us.

But the good news is that in the Lord Jesus Christ that glory is being restored in us, as Christ lives His life through us, the Holy Spirit brings forth His fruit in us, and the Father conforms us to the image of His Son (Galatians 2:20; Galatians 5:23-23; Romans 8:29). Indeed, the mystery that has been revealed in the gospel is that Christ in us is the hope, or expectation, of glory (Colossians 1:27). And now, as Paul says, “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 by the Spirit of the Lord” (2 Corinthians 3:18).

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Shekinah Dwelling (Part 2)

Read Part 1
Christ in you, the hope of glory. (Colossians 1:27)
King Jesus the Messiah is the Word who became flesh and tabernacled among us, manifesting the divine presence, the dwelling place of the shekinah glory of God. Since then, He has ascended, in His body, to the right hand of the Father, where He now rules over heaven and earth forever. But what of the shekinah, the glory of the divine presence?

In the Old Testament, the dwelling place God chose to manifest His presence was the Tabernacle in the Wilderness, then the Tent of David, and finally, the Temple in Jerusalem. With the sacrifice of Messiah Jesus for our sins, the temple system of burnt offerings and sacrifices, which served as a type or foreshadow, was fulfilled, and the temple itself was rendered obsolete. This was one of the points the author of Hebrews emphasized:
The Holy Spirit indicating this, that the way into the Holiest of All was not yet made manifest while the first tabernacle was still standing … But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. (Hebrews 9:8, 11)
Jesus came as the mediator of a new covenant, the one foretold by Jeremiah and Ezekiel (Jeremiah 31:31-33; Ezekiel 36:25-27), in which God would write His law upon our hearts and place His Spirit within us. This required a temple not made with human hands.

But God has not left Himself without a place to manifest His presence, His shekinah, on earth. The apostles teach us that there remains yet a temple on earth, a dwelling place where God has chosen to reveal His glory. It is not a temple of wood and stone, but a temple made without hands. It is the people of God themselves. The apostle Paul says,
Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are. (1 Corinthians 3:16-17)
Again, Paul says, quoting Ezekiel,
For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they shall be My people.” (2 Corinthians 6:16)
Those who have received King Jesus the Messiah are now the temple of God, because He has placed His Spirit in us, just as He promised in Ezekiel. Collectively, as a people, we are the place where God dwells on earth. But even individually, we are, each one, the temple of God. He dwells in our bodies as well as our spirits:
Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)
The apostle Peter likewise understood his own body to be a tabernacle, or tent.
Yes, I think it is right, as long as I am in this tent, to stir you up by reminding you, knowing that shortly I must put off my tent, just as our Lord Jesus Christ showed me. (2 Peter 1:13-14)
The Greek word for “tent” here is skenoma, which is used of the divine dwelling. And indeed, that is how Peter would be thinking of it here, fully aware, as he wrote just a few verses earlier, of the “exceedingly great and precious promises” God has given us and that those who belong to Jesus the Messiah have become “partakers of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:3-4).

God’s promise of a new covenant and a new temple was not just for the Jews but also for all the nations. In his letter to the believers at Ephesus, Paul speaks to both the Jewish and Gentile believers in Jesus:
Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit. (Ephesians 2:19-22)
Paul makes the point again in Colossians: Jesus the Messiah comes to dwell in believing Gentiles as well as believing Jews.
To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. (Colossians 1:27)
Messiah — God, the Word that became flesh and dwelt among us — now dwells in us. Paul calls it “the hope of glory.” The Greek word for “hope,” speaks of a positive expectation, a joyful anticipation. Surely, the glory of God’s presence dwelling in us is the shekinah. Because King Jesus the Messiah dwells in us by His Spirit, we can expect and anticipate the shekinah glory of God to be made known in us, to us and through us.

(For more about this glory manifesting, see The Shadow of Glory.)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Shekinah Dwelling (Part 1)

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)
The Greek verb for “dwell” is skenoo and means to tent or encamp. The noun form is skenos, which speaks of a tent or tabernacle. In the Septuagint (or LXX), which is an ancient Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament, skenos is used to translate the Hebrew word for “tabernacle,” which is mishkan. Mishkan is from the Hebrew verb shakan, which means to dwell or inhabit.

The Hebrew root for mishkan (משכנ) and shakan (שכנ) are the three Hebrew consonants shin, kaf, nun (שכנ). Note how similar these are to the consonants in skenos (the s-k-n sound). This may be an indication that the Greeks borrowed the Hebrew word shakan and transliterated it into skenos.

Not to overburden you with too many ancient and foreign terms, but I would like to talk to you about shekinah. It is from the same root as mishkan and shakan and speaks of dwelling, resting, abiding, even nesting. In ancient Jewish writings, it is used to speak of divine presence, the manifestation of the glory of God. In the Old Testament, the Tabernacle (mishkan) was the place God chose to reveal His presence in a special way to His people. The Targums, ancient translations of the Old Testament from Hebrew into its sister language, Aramaic, speak of God’s manifest presence as the “shekinah of His glory.”

The tabernacle was the place of God’s divine presence, the place where He manifested His glory. This manifestation was the shekinah, the divine glory resting and abiding with His people.

The Gospel of John says, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” John is speaking of Jesus as the Word (Greek, Logos), which was consistent with the Jewish practice of referring to God by the Hebrew and Aramaic equivalents for “Word” (see The Memra Became Flesh), because God revealed Himself by His Word.

That is the point John makes: God has now revealed Himself in human flesh as Jesus, the Word who was with Him from the beginning and, indeed, is God (John 1:1-2). He is that Word by which God created the heavens and the earth, the Word by whom all things were spoken into existence.

This same Word became flesh — incarnation is the theological term — and dwelt among us, tabernacled among us, manifesting the presence of God among us. “And we beheld His glory,” John says, and the Jews of his day would have understood this as the Shekinah. The divine glory was revealed uniquely in Him, “the glory as of the only begotten of the Father.”

This shekinah glory, John says, was “full of grace and truth.” In the Old Testament, the combination of “grace” and “truth”, or rather, the Hebrew equivalents, hesed and emeth, spoke of God Himself. Hesed is the word by which God was revealed in His mercy and kindness; emeth revealed Him in His faithfulness and truth. The word “full” speaks of completeness, leaving nothing lacking. As Paul says, “For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily” (Colossians 2:9).

Jesus is the Living Tabernacle, where the presence of God is fully manifested among His people. His glory, the shekinah glory, fully reveals the faithful love and mercy of God.

Part 2

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The Table of Divine Power and Glory

So I have looked for You in the sanctuary,
To see Your power and Your glory.
(Psalm 63:2)

So here I am in the place of worship, eyes open, drinking in your strength and glory.
The Message
This morning, as I took the Table of the Lord, I meditated on this verse. I sought Him in His sanctuary, the holy place, the tabernacle of His the body and blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, symbolized by the bread and the cup. I sought Him also in the tabernacle of my own being, for as believers in Jesus Christ, we are His holy temple (1 Corinthians 1:19; Ephesians 2:21; 1 Peter 2:5). I looked and I saw the Lord Jesus — His life, His power, His glory — within me.
I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)

Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (Ephesians 3:20)

To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. (Colossians 1:27)

Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. (2 Peter 1:2-4)

“Power” is strength, the ability to do things. The Hebrew word for “glory” is kabod, and literally means “weightiness.” It is used for the value of every good thing. We have the power and glory, the divine ability to accomplish every good thing, at work in us through Jesus Christ.

Come sit at His table. As you partake of the bread and the cup, let it remind you that you partake of the divine nature, the life of Christ now at work in you. For the Table of the Lord is the Table of Divine Power and Glory.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Searching Out the Glory

It is the glory of God to conceal a matter,
But the glory of kings is to search out a matter.
(Proverbs 25:2)
Here are two glories: the glory of God and the glory of kings. The glory of God is to conceal a matter. In Isaiah He says,

My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways,
And My thoughts higher than your thoughts.
(Isaiah 55:8-9)
The ways and thoughts of God are not like the ways and thoughts of man. But that is not because God does not want us to know them. In Isaiah 55:10-11 we read that God sends His Word to earth to accomplish whatever He desires. In other words, the ways and thoughts of God are revealed to us in His Word.

There are some things we can know about God from His creation (Romans 1:18-20). But there are other things that cannot be known except by divine revelation, and God is not unwilling to give us such revelation. Quite the opposite, God greatly desires to do so. “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of the law” (Deuteronomy 29:29).

We could never know all of God’s secrets, for He is infinite in all His attributes. But He certainly wants us to know all of His ways and thoughts that pertain to the things of earth, for He created us in His likeness and gave us dominion to “fill the earth, subdue it and have dominion” (Genesis 1:28). That is, He created us to be kings, with the authority, and the responsibility, to rule and reign, to bring it into divine order.

But the problem, of course, has been sin, which blinds us to the revelation God desires to give us. When Adam rebelled in the Garden, he disconnected from the ways and thoughts of God, and that is spiritual death. Fortunately, Jesus came to reconcile us to the Father and give us a new birth by the Holy Spirit. In that redemption, we are restored to kingly authority. Peter calls us a “royal [kingly] priesthood” (1 Peter 2:9), and Paul reveals that God has already seated us in the heavenlies in Jesus Christ, who is at the right hand of the Father, where He (and we in Him) rules and reigns forever (Ephesians 2:6). And so we are kings.

It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, but the glory of kings to search out a matter. Those are two sides of a coin. That is, the glory of God in concealing a matter is related to the glory of kings in searching it out. God is ready to give us revelation, but only if we are ready to receive it. Those who are willing to believe and do the will of God will know the revelation (John 7:17). That is why Jesus taught in parables and said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” (Matthew 13:9). For when the disciples asked Him why He taught in parables (v. 10), Jesus answered,
Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. For whoever has, to him more will be given, and he will have abundance; but whoever does not have , even what he has will be taken away from him. Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. (Matthew 13:11-13)
It is about whoever has and whoever does not have, but have what? Ears to hear! The enigmatic nature of the parables revealed who was ready to receive divine revelation and who was not. Those who are ready to hear and believe will receive this divine revelation in abundance!

When we are born again through faith in Jesus Christ, we have the Holy Spirit in us. In Him we are made spiritually alive, and are reconnected to the ways and thoughts of God. God reveals His ways to us by His Word, but also by His Spirit, who illuminates the Word to us so that we can truly understand.
But as it is written, “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. (1 Corinthians 2:9-10)
God conceals certain matters from us, but then He invites us to search them out. As we discover them, we come into a greater understanding of just how wonderful He is. That is the glory of God. The glory of kings is the privilege we have as His people to behold His glory. His glory changes us as we learn to walk in His ways and think His thoughts. It enlarges us, bringing us to the place described in Proverbs 25:3, “As the heavens for height and the earth for depth, so the heart of kings is unsearchable.”

The glory of kings is in searching out the glory of God.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Created to Have Dominion: The Glory of God

All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23)
This may sound like bad news, but it actually reveals something very positive: You and I were created for the glory of God — to know His glory, experience His glory, walk in His glory. That is how man was originally created, clothed in the image and likeness — the glory — of God.

It was all very wonderful, until Adam and Eve ate of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil:
Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings. (Genesis 3:7)
When Adam and Eve sinned, they disconnected from the life and power of God. The glory departed and they realized that they were suddenly naked. They were ashamed and tried to cover themselves up with fig leaves, but their was no glory at all in that.

The Hebrew word for “glory” literally means weightiness, and is used to refer to the abundance and splendor, the goodness and greatness, of God. Adam, having been created in the image and likeness of God, was meant to wear the glory of God, to shine with the goodness and the greatness of God, to rule and reign with the glory and brining all things into proper order with it. But in order to do this, he needed to stay connected to God.

Think of a light bulb. When it is connected to the power source, the light shines brightly, and what is noticed is not the bulb, but the light. Pull the plug on it, however, and the light is gone. The glory of the bulb has departed.

When Adam and Eve sinned in the garden, they rebelled against God and disconnected themselves from Him. The glory of the Lord departed from them because they unplugged themselves from the source and power of their lives. So they were naked and ashamed, and hid themselves from God.

But God immediately had a plan to redeem and restore man to his original destiny. “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” the Bible says, and then adds, “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

All of us have sinned, and by that sin, we have fallen far short of the glory God intended for us to share with Him. Not only that, the wages of sin is death. And that is actually good news, because it means that God was not willing to let sin continue to rob His glory from us. So sin must die. Unfortunately, that means that all who have been infected with it must die as well, for the wages of sin is death. Fortunately, there is good news that is plainly good news, for the second half of Romans 6:23 announces, “BUT the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Give this the greatest emphasis, for it is where our salvation and restoration lies.

But how does this work and bring our redemption? Jesus, the eternal Son of God, came to earth and became a man, and took upon Himself all of our sin and its penalty. Then He took that sin and nailed it to a cross in His own body. A great exchange took place, “for God made Jesus, who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21).

Now, through faith in Jesus Christ, we can stand before God, not in fig-leaves of our own making, that cheap imposter of glory, but in the righteousness that belongs to Jesus Christ Himself. For He is full of glory, and in Him, we also now wear that glory. In Him we receive the Spirit of God indwelling us, filling us with glory.
Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. 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 by the Spirit of the Lord. (2 Corinthians 3:18)

For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. (2 Corinthians 4:6)
All creation, including all the nations of the earth, are waiting for the manifestation of this glory. It is for this very reason that Jesus has given us authority and power:
All authority has been given to Me in heaven and earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you, and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. (Matthew 28:18-20)

You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth. (Acts 1:8)
This glory is not just for all the peoples of the earth, but also for the earth itself. As Paul says,
For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. (Romans 8:19-22)
The whole world is waiting for the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ to be revealed. You and I get to be a part of that great manifestation and share in the dominion of His glory.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Giving and Receiving Glory

Honor the LORD with your possessions,
And with the firstfruits of all your increase;
So your barns will be filled with plenty,
And you vats will overflow with new wine.
(Proverbs 3:9-10)

For the LORD God is a sun and shield;
The LORD will give grace and glory
No good thing will He withhold
From those who walk uprightly.
(Psalm 84:11)
The Hebrew word for “honor” in Proverbs 3 and for “glory” in Psalm 84 is the same. It is the word kabad, which literally means “heavy.” It was used to refer to the weight of wealth, but came to be used also for the value of every good thing within a person.

When Proverbs tells us to honor the Lord with our possessions, it is not speaking of intangibles. It is a call to give substance or weight to honor by giving to God out of our possessions. This literally gives glory to God. Proverbs further explains this as the firstfruits of all our increase. We honor God by giving Him, not the last and the least, but the first and the best.

As we give tangibly to the Lord, we will receive tangible results: “So your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats overflow with new wine.” This is abundance from God. As we give the first and the best to Him, He multiplies if back to us in practical ways.

We find this also in the New Testament. Paul said, “He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully” (2 Corinthians 9:6). Jesus said, “Give and it shall be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you” (Luke 6:38).

When we are in right relationship with God, He gives us grace and glory. The NIV says, “favor and honor.” God’s grace is God’s favor. Understand that we are not made right with God by what we give, but by the righteousness (or rightness) we receive from the Lord Jesus Christ. For God made Him to be sin for us, that we might be made the rightness of God in Him (2 Corinthians 5:21). But within that right relationship with God, when we honor Him and give Him the glory of our substance, we are drawing on His favor. When we honor Him, He honors us; when we give glory to Him, He gives glory to us. As the glory we give to God is substantive, so is the glory that God multiplies back to us.

Give God glory by the substance of your possession, the first and the best of all your increase. It will release the glory of God in our life in ways you never thought possible.

Friday, April 14, 2006

The Restoration of Glory

For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. (Hebrews 2:10)
We were created to bear the glory of God. Indeed, we were created to be the glory of God on the earth. That is why we were created in the image of God, given the breath of God, and made to be “speaking spirits.” Adam and Eve were covered in divine glory, until the day they disobeyed God.
Then the LORD God called to Adam and said to him, “Where are you?”

So he said, “I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and hid myself.” (Genesis 3:9-10)
Look again at why Adam was afraid. He did not say, “I was afraid because I disobeyed,” but “because I was naked.” When Adam sinned, he disconnected from God, and he immediately became aware that he was no longer clothed — the glory of God had departed!

Think of a light bulb that has been unscrewed from its socket. It is cut off from the power source and cannot function as it was intended. When that happens, we say that the lights are dead.

That is what happened with Adam and Eve. The day they sinned was the day they died. And that is the legacy they passed on to all of us. We are the heirs of their death. That is why the Bible says, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23) and “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23).

But, thank God, there is also another inheritance they left behind — the promise of restoration. God immediately had a plan to deliver them from their terrible predicament, but it would require a terrible price.

Adam and Eve, seeing that the glory was gone, tried to replace it with something sewn together out of fig leaves, but that crude covering could never do. A divine solution was needed, so God made tunics of skin, and that required the shedding of blood (Genesis 3:21). This was just a stopgap measure, but it pointed toward a divine covering. To the deceiving serpent, God said, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel” (Genesis 3:15).

This is the first promise of Messiah, the coming Deliverer, who save His people from their sins. And so, though the wages of sin is death, the Bible goes on to say, “but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

How does this happen? The Bible says, “For He [God] made Him [Jesus] who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21). A great exchange has taken place, and it happened on the cross:
Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”), that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might received the promise of the Spirit through faith. (Galatians 3:13-14)

Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. (Hebrews 2:14-15)
This is the message of the Gospel — the Good News. It is the return of the righteousness of God in our lives, and that is the restoration of the glory. That is why Paul declared,
But we are bond to give thanks to God always for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God from the beginning chose you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth, to which He called you by our gospel, for the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 2:13-14)

Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. (2 Timothy 2:10)
For all those who receive the Lord Jesus Christ and trust in Him, that glory is now present, though it is not fully apparent. We are being conformed to the image of Jesus Christ, but it will not be fully revealed until He returns at the end of this present age. The apostle John said,
Beloved, now we are the children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. (1 John 3:2)
We were created to wear the glory of God. Though we have fallen far short, God has given His Son, Jesus, to bring us back to the Father and clothe us in His righteousness, to restore us to glory.

Saturday, October 8, 2005

Enjoying God

The Westminster Confession says, “The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” Someone else has said, “The chief end of God is to glorify God and enjoy Himself forever.”

In the book The Color Purple, by Alice Walker, there is a scene where two main characters, Celie and Shug, are walking through a meadow full of purple flowers:
“What do you think God wants?” Celie asks.
“He’s just like everything else — He just wants to be loved,” says Shug.
“Are you saying God is vain?”
“No, I’m saying that He wants to let everyone in on a good thing.”
God is great and God is good, and He wants to let us all in on His goodness. That is what the glory of God is all about. The Hebrew word for “glory” is kabod and literally means “weight.” It was often used of the value of gold and other riches. The glory of God is the weight, or value of His goodness.

The good news of the gospel is that God greatly desires to share His goodness with all who will come to Him. Though Adam disconnected from the will of God in the Garden of Eden, Jesus freely submitted Himself to the redemptive will of God in the Garden of Gethsemane — so we could truly know God in all His goodness.

John Piper, a Baptist preacher who calls himself a “Christian hedonist,” suggests reading the Westminster Confession this way: “The chief end of man is to glorify God by enjoying Him forever.”

If the reason we were created is to glorify God by enjoying Him, then what Andy Stanley says in Visioneering is true: “Spiritual Maturity is measured by how readily we respond to the person of God rather than the promises of God.”

In other words, it is all about God Himself. It is good to believe His promises, and very wonderful to experience His presence, but it is in loving His person that we experience the deepest joy.

That is why we were created, to fall in love with God and enjoy the goodness of who He is — forever. It is true satisfaction and abundance.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Created For the Glory

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23)
The bummer is that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. But the good news is that God created us to share in, walk in, experience and come into intimate relationship with His glory.
For the LORD God is a sun and shield;
The LORD will give grace and glory.
(Psalm 84:11)
That is why God gave us the Torah — that’s the Hebrew word for it, but you and I generally hear it referred to at “the Law.” However,  it can just as well be translated as “instruction.” It is related to the Hebrew verb form, yarah, which means to aim or direct, as a spear or arrow. God gave us His instruction so we could live on-target lives and experience His blessing and prosperity — the glory of God — in everything we do.

The problem is that we have all missed the mark. That is what the Greek word for sin, hamartia, literally means (the Hebrew word for sin means the same thing). We have fallen short of the target. We were created, not only to experience the glory of God, but to wear it like a garment. But by disobedience, we lost that.That is why Jesus came:
The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23)
When Adam fell into sin and lost the glory of God, God immediately had a plan to restore it through Jesus Christ. It was a plan to destroy sin and its effects and once again direct our lives to the target of His glory — only this time through the Lord Jesus Christ. It is eternal life — the Tree of Life — and we receive it by receiving the Lord Jesus. The glory we receive in Him is the exact same glory with which God glorified Jesus. Jesus gives it to us freely (John 17:22).

You were created to experience and share in the glory of God given to Jesus Christ. Though you have sinned and fallen short of that target, Jesus has taken the penalty of your sin upon Himself. In its place, He offers you the Tree of Life and the full expression of the glory He received from God the Father. 

Friday, August 26, 2005

Grace-Filled Works Release God's Glory

You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:14-16)
This is from the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus’ teaching to His disciples. John said of Jesus that He is “the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world” (John 1:9). The light that He gives is the light that He is. Those who receive His light and walk in it, they themselves become light — the light of Christ that gives light to the world.

This light is the revelation of God’s glory. The whole earth is already filled with the glory of God (Isaiah 6:3). What is lacking is the knowledge, or the revelation of that glory. The enemy blinds the eyes of the world so that it does not see the glory. But it is God “who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6).

There are many ways we can release the light, the revelation knowledge of God’s glory. In this passage, we see that our lives can shine with the light of God through our good works.

A word about good works. They are not about trying to please or appease God, or trying to, in any way, get ourselves into His good graces. That is the spirit of religion, a deception from the enemy. Any works you do for that purpose are not good works at all — they are dead works. As Paul said to the Galatians, “You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace” (Galatians 5:4). Falling from grace is not about falling into sin, is it about falling into the idea that you can somehow earn God’s favor, mercy and love.

No, good works do not lead you into the grace of God. Rather, good works flow from the grace of God. “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:8-10). We do not create the light of God by our good works. The light of God creates the good works in us so that we can reveal His glory.

The grace of God brings even material provision into our lives so we can bless others with the abundance of our overflow. “God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work” (2 Corinthians 9:8).

God’s provision is itself a revelation of His glory: “My God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19). When we receive the abundance of His provision and use the overflow for every good work, we are revealing the glory of God, “giving light to all who are in the house.”

The Word of God is a revelation of His glory which prepares us for every good, so we can shine as light in the world. “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Here again, good works flow out of God’s grace. As we meditate on the revelation of God’s Word, letting it penetrate every part of our heart and change our thinking in every area of our life, it will soon begin to show in everything we do. We will be glowing with the life of God at work in us and will become a walking revelation of His love, mercy and grace — the glory of God being made known.

If you know the Lord Jesus Christ, you are the light of the world. You do not have to try to shine. His light is already in you, you simply need to let it shine. Get deeper in fellowship with Him through His Word. Let His grace work deeply in you. Realize that He has a great passion to bless you and bless others through you out of the overflow of your life. Always remember that it is all about His grace at work in you, not you trying to work for His grace. Then the works of your life will be good, and they will reveal the light of God’s glory to your world.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Releasing the Glory

If you have received the Lord Jesus Christ, you have been born from above by the Spirit of God (John 3:3). You are an authorized agent of heaven, where you are seated with Christ at the right hand of God the Father (Ephesians 2:6). Not only are you a possessor of the glory of God, but you are also fully qualified to be a releaser of the glory of God.

You see, the whole earth is full of the glory of God (Isaiah 6:3). It is not absent, only veiled (2 Corinthians 4:3-6). But you and I have the privilege of loosing the glory and changing the spiritual temperature of a place, wherever we go, to set an atmosphere that is conducive to the revealing of God’s love, mercy and power.

Here are some simple prayers and faith declarations you can use to begin changing the world by releasing God’s glory. These can be effective in prayer walks through neighborhoods, shopping malls, hospitals, and everywhere else you go:
Rivers of living water. Jesus said, “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water” (John 7:38). The next verse adds, “This He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive.” Wherever you go, you can begin to release the glory by saying: “In the name of Jesus, I release rivers of living water from out of my innermost being.”

Let God arise. Wherever you go, declare as the psalm writer declared: “Let God arise, let his enemies be scattered. Let those also who hate His name flee from before Him. As smoke is driven away, so drive them away. But let the righteous be glad. Let them rejoice before God. Yes, let them rejoice exceedingly” (Psalm 68:2-3). That will help bind the enemies of God and loose an atmosphere of rejoicing.

Kingdom come. In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus has given us the authority to call forth the kingdom of God and command the will of God to be done on earth as it is in heaven. You can call for those things to manifest wherever you go: “Kingdom of God, come! Will of God, be done on earth (at Walmart, McDonald’s, school, work—wherever) as it is in heaven!”

The healing hand of God. The early Church set a powerful atmosphere for witness by praying, “Lord, grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word, by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus” (Acts 4:29-30). The result is that they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and spoke the Word of God with boldness. Signs, wonders and healing miracles began to show up.

Unfolding the Word. The psalm writer said, “The unfolding of Your words gives light. It gives understanding to the simple” (Psalm 119:30 NASB). Whenever the Word of God is opened up, it brings light into dark places. So wherever you go, watch for the Lord to show you a Scripture, then simply start declaring it. It may be something as simple as “Jesus wept” (John 11:35, very simple but very powerful). Declare it in faith, even if it is only under your breath, trusting that the Word of God will not return empty-handed (Isaiah 55:11).
As you go, releasing the glory of God, recognize that you are preparing the soil for gospel (the good news of Jesus Christ) to penetrate. Watch for opportunities to manifest God’s glory. Ask God to lead you to someone who needs His touch through you. Ask Him also to give you words you can say to them.
  • To share the good news of Jesus Christ — the forgiveness of sins and restoration of fellowship with God through Him.
  • To pray for someone in distress of who needs healing.
  • To speak a word of blessing over someone.
  • To give a word of wisdom to someone needing direction.
  • To encourage someone with a kind word or action.
This list certainly isn’t exhaustive. Just some things to help you get started. As you go, ask the Lord to show you more. Then watch for His glory to appear.

You were made to release the glory of God, by your life, by your words, even by your presence.

Monday, August 1, 2005

The Knowledge of the Glory

For the earth will be filled
With the knowledge of the glory of the LORD,
As the waters cover the sea.
(Habakkuk 2:14)
Notice that the prophet is talking, not just about the glory of the LORD, but of the knowledge of the glory of the LORD. The earth is already filled with the glory of the LORD. We see this in Isaiah’s vision, where the angels cry out,
Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Hosts;
The whole earth is full of His glory.
(Isaiah 6:3)
The glory of God is already here — always has been, always will be. What is really needed is the knowledge of His glory. And that is what Habakkuk is prosphesying — that the knowledge of His glory will fill the earth.

Knowledge is awareness, perception, acknowledgement, discernment, wisdom or understanding concerning a thing. The knowledge of the glory of the LORD comes by revelation. That is how it came to Isaiah, that is how it comes to you and me. Paul’s prayer for believers in Ephesians was that the Father of Glory would give them wisdom and revelation by the Holy Spirit, so that they could know Him more and more (Ephesians 1:17).

The Hebrew word for “fill,” mala, means to accomplish, confirm, consecrate, or fulfill. When the earth is filled with the knowledge of God’s glory, there is a setting apart for the purposes of God, and a completion of those purposes.

Notice the extent of this revelation that is to come upon the earth: “As the waters cover the sea.” Now, we know that seventy percent of the earth’s surface is covered with water, but one hundred percent of the seas are covered with water. Either way you want to take it, the point is that this revelation of God’s glory is going to be all around us.

But how shall this be, and when? Habakkuk gives us a clue:
Behold, is it not of the LORD of Hosts
That the peoples labor to feed the fire,
And nations weary themselves in vain?
(Habakkuk 3:13)
There is a feeding of the fire, the vanities of peoples and nations being revealed as God comes to set things right. In the Bible, fire is a judgment which purifies the good and destroys the evil.
  • “For our God is a consuming fire” (Hebrews 12:29). But also, “God is love” (1 John 4:8). So the fire is ultimately an expression of His love.
  • Speaking of Jesus, John the Baptist said, “He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire” (Matthew 3:11).
  • Paul said, “No other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is” (1 Corinthians 3:11-13).
  • Peter concluded, “Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness; looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells” (2 Peter 3:11-13).
Whenever the vanity of man is burned up in the fire, the knowledge of God’s glory comes forth. For it is the goodness of God which not only reveals the sinfulness of man, but also deals with it.

When Isaiah had his vision, as he became aware of the glory of the LORD, it would have killed him, had it not been veiled by smoke. In that moment, Isaiah also became aware of his sinfulness.
Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of Hosts. (Isaiah 6:5)
But the love of God had a solution — fire!
Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a live coal which he had taken with the tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth with it, and said, “Behold, this has touched your lips. Your iniquity is taken away, and your sin purged.” (Isaiah 6:6-7)
The revelation of the glory of the LORD is an “end time” event, but in Bible terms, we have been in the “last days” ever since Jesus came. For it is ultimately in Him that we come to the knowledge of the glory of God. Paul said,
But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age had blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them. For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your bondservants for Jesus’ sake. For it is God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. (2 Corinthians 4:3-6)
It is when the gospel of Jesus Christ is proclaimed — and believed — that we begin to see the glory of God made known. For the fire of His love reveals the vanity of our own works and points us to the Lord Jesus Christ, who took the judgment of our sin upon Himself.

Those who reject Him will be totally unprepared when the glory of God is revealed, and the brightness of that glory will be as a fire that torments them. But those who receive Him will be baptized with the Holy Spirit and with fire, cleansed and set apart for the divine destiny for which they were created. For in the face of the Lord Jesus Christ we behold the glory of God.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

The Glory of God at Walmart

Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts;
The whole earth is full of His glory!
(Isaiah 6:3)
The whole earth is full of the glory of the Lord. That is what the angels cried out in Isaiah’s great vision. Not selected parts of the earth, not merely the temple of the LORD — the whole earth is full of His glory. Not used to be, not will be, but is—the whole earth is full of His glory. Wherever you may be right now, whether you recognize it or not, it is filled with God’s glory. This is true of every place you can think of:
  • The public school
  • The office building
  • The warehouse
  • The corner drugstore
  • The fine dining establishment
  • The fast-food eatery and drive-through
  • The local Walmart
  • The neighborhood pub
  • The strip club in the seedy part of town
  • The county jail and state prison
All these places are filled with the glory of God — everyone of them. It cannot be otherwise.

So the problem is not a lack of God’s glory being present in the earth. The real problem is the inability of people in those places to experience it. There is a blindedness that keeps them from seeing it and believing. The apostle Paul said,
But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age had blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them. (2 Corinthians 4:3-4)
These folks have been blinded by the god of this age (the devil). But God has provided a solution:
For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your bondservants for Jesus’ sake. For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. (2 Corinthians 4:5-6)
From the very beginning, God has been in the business of shining light in the darkness. At the Creation, when the earth was shrouded in darkness, God said, “Light, be” and there was light. The apostle John called Jesus “the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world” (John 1:9) and said, “This the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5).

When God commands the light to shine, there is no darkness, no blindness of the heart or mind that can stand up against it.

If you are a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, you have authority from God to speak the Light into dark places. Heaven is full of the light of God, and we have the authority to command the will of God to be done on earth as it is in heaven. Jesus, the Light come into the world to give light to every human being, has given us the authority of His name to pray and speak and act on behalf of the Light.

As believers, we have the Holy Spirit living within us. The glory of God is resident within us, and we have the authority from Him to release it everywhere we go — to leave a trail of glory. To carry the powerful overshadowing glory of God throughout our world (see The Shadow of Glory).

In our neighborhood, there is a building on the corner of the main thoroughfare, and the owners want to open up a “bikini bar.” This building has seen a series of night clubs and bars, probably since it was built. Ugly words have been exchanged between the owners, local residents and businesses, and county commissioners over this matter. Now, a bikini bar is not a good thing. It is a degrading business that exploits the weaknesses of human beings. It does nothing to reveal the glory of God and quite a lot that obscures His glory.

But the glory of God fills that place nonetheless, and will continue to even if the bikini bar successfully opens — only who will know it?

What the Lord has been showing me is that we need to pray for the blinders of the evil one to be removed from their eyes, and for the light of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ be revealed there. In other words, don’t curse the darkness, turn on the light. And so I have been praying for a revelation of Jesus Christ to come forth in that place, that His name be lifted high there, and that the glory and goodness of God be made manifest in that place. The glory is already there, it just needs to be revealed — so that battle is already half-won.

God is looking for believers who will get into agreement with His will to be done on earth as it is in heaven. So wherever you go, pray for His glory to be made manifest and the name of Jesus to be lifted up. Pray for God to cause the blinders to fall from the eyes of all those around you. The atmosphere will begin to change and those places will begin to emerge as fertile fields for the seed of the Gospel to grow and bring many to forgiveness and freedom in Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Asking Into the Glory Realm

And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. (John 14:13)
Here is the promise of answered prayed. There is only one condition, but with two parts: 1. Ask. 2. In the Name of Jesus

Many people do not have what they desire of God simply because they do not ask. Others ask and do not receive because they ask amiss (James 4:3). Or as T.D. Jakes says, they ask like a fool.

Now, to ask in Jesus’ name does not mean to tack “in Jesus’ name” on at the end of your request. Rather, it means to ask as He would ask, for His purposes. In order to do this, you need to know Jesus’ heart. You need to get into your relationship with Him — an ongoing, vital, ever-growing relationship. God is a person, not a cosmic ATM.

Whatever you ask in Jesus’ name, Jesus says He will do. That’s the promise, now take a look at the reason: “That the Father may be glorified in the Son.”

Notice that Jesus did not say, “That My Father,” but “That the Father.” For He is the Father of all who receive the Lord Jesus Christ. “But as many as received Him [Jesus], to them He gave the right to become the children of God” (John 1:12). If you have received Jesus, I hope you are exercising that right and are claiming God as your Father.

Whenever you see God spoken of as the Father, pay close attention, because the Scriptures are telling you something about your inheritance in Him. When you ask anything in Jesus’ name, you are interacting with the inheritance God has for all His children.

Now let’s talk about glory. Glory is the manifestation of the greatness and goodness of God. Jesus said, “That the Father may be glorified.” In other words, answered prayer is about the Father’s glory — His greatness and goodness being made known — and it happens when you ask in Jesus’ name. Your prayer becomes an opportunity for His glory to show up in the world. When you pray with the heart of Jesus, you are entering into the glory realm of God.

“That the Father may be glorified in the Son.” You see, Jesus is all about the Father — glorifying and making Him known, saying what He says and doing what He does, pleasing Him in all things. If you are all about Jesus, and Jesus is all about glorifying the Father, then you will be all about glorifying the Father, too.

When you understand what Jesus is all about, begin asking in His name, and whatever you ask He will do. You will be entering into the realm of your inheritance in God and you will see the glory of the Father show up all over your life.

Monday, May 23, 2005

A Partnership in the Glory Realm

And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:19)
In his letter to the Philippians, Paul is writing, not only to a church he has established, but to a community of believers who were active partners with him in the Gospel:
Now you Philippians know also that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church shared with me concerning giving and receiving but you only. For even in Thessalonica you sent aid once and again for my necessities. Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that abounds to your account. Indeed I have all and abound. I am full, having received from Epaphroditus the things sent from you, a sweet-smelling aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well pleasing to God. And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:15-19)
There was a financial partnership going on here — that is, the Philippians aided Paul’s ministry out of their finances, not just once, but often. Paul actually uses a mercantile metaphor in the phrase “concerning giving and receiving.” The Greek words translated “concerning,” eis logon, are an idiomatic expression referring to the keeping of accounts. “Giving and receiving” is the language of credits and debits.

Because of their financial participation in the ministry of the Gospel, the Philippians were not only giving, but receiving as well. Paul was experiencing an abundance in the area of his ministry needs, and he was believing God to abound toward the Philippians in the same way. Notice the mention of accounts again: “I seek fruit that abounds to your account.” There is nothing we can give to the ministry of the Gospel that will not be repaid many times over. Jesus said,
Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My sake and the gospel’s, who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time — houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions — and in the age to come, eternal life. (Mark 10:29-30)
This is what the Philippians were doing, and an accounting was established. We can see that their gifts were offered in faith, for they were pleasing to God, and without faith it is impossible to please Him (Hebrew 11:6). They were well-qualified in their giving, so they were well-qualified to receive the abundance and prosperity of God.

But what does this have to do with the glory realm of God?

Simply this. By their righteous use of finances in supporting the ministry of the Gospel, they were in partnership, not only with Paul, but with God Himself. God’s promise was that He would abundantly supply all their need according to His abundance in glory. In other words, by their giving, the Philippians were positioned to experience the glory realm of God and see it manifest in the area of their needs.

When you are in partnership with what God is doing in the world, your every need becomes an opportunity to experience the realm of His glory as they are met with His overflowing supply. Are you positioned to enter this realm and receive this abundance? If you are giving in faith to the work of the Lord, then yes — God shall supply all your needs according to the riches of His glory realm by Christ Jesus.

Monday, May 9, 2005

Reaching Into the Hour of Glory

Woman, what does your concern have to do with Me? My hour has not yet come. (John 2:4)
A few days after Jesus began choosing His disciples, they were invited to a wedding feast in Cana, in the region of Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there and, when the wine ran out, she said to Him, “They have no wine” (v. 3).

Jesus answered, “Woman, what does your concern have to do with Me?” While this may sound to modern ears to be an abrupt answer, and one full of rebuke, it was not taken as such in that time and culture. Rather, He was saying, respectfully, “Yes, but what business is that of ours?” Then He added, “My hour has not yet come.”

The hour was soon coming when Jesus’ public ministry would begin and miracles would flow like wine  — but this was not yet that time. The hour of His glory was yet to be revealed.

No matter. Time is no problem for one who has faith, as Mary did. Seeing into the realm of the Spirit, she reached forward into that future hour in order to meet the need of the present. Then, with full confidence that the present need would be met by the future glory, she instructed the servants of the feast, “Whatever He says to you, do it” (v. 5). And so it was done.

For those who know how to see into the realm of the Spirit, the continuum of time and space present no problem. We are not bound by them when we learn how to exercise faith and pull on the eternal glory of God.

Saturday, April 9, 2005

Glory in the Looking Glass

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does. (James 1:22-25)
When you look in the mirror, what do you see? James likens the perfect law of liberty to a mirror. The law of liberty is the Good News of Jesus Christ, for He is the one who has fulfilled (perfected) the law of God on our behalf. It is a law of freedom, not of bondage. The law of liberty is the law of the Spirit, for where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom (2 Corinthians 3:17).

The law of liberty is the law of love, for Jesus summed up all the commandments of God with this: “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind… You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these hang all the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 22:37-40). Love fulfills the law of God: “For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’” (Galatians 5:14).

The law of liberty is a mirror for us, if we have received the Lord Jesus Christ. When we look into it, we can see the love of God at work in us, transforming us into the likeness of Christ. But it is not a mirror we can casually glance at and expect to receive any benefit. No, this mirror is one we must take time to behold, to gaze into long and deeply, and with a heart of obedient faith.

The Enigma of Glory
For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known. (1 Corinthians 13:12)
We see dimly, at first, and so we must gaze intently. That is how it is now, but Paul says there is also a then. Now we see dimly — it is enigmatic — but then we shall see face to face (literally, looking at the face of the One who is looking at us). Now we know in part, but then we shall know just as we are also known.

Paul adds, “And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love” (v. 13). The law of liberty, which is the law of love, is at work in us right now, and so there is a transforming experience as we continue to gaze into this mirror. We become more and more like the God who is love.

Beholding the Glory
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 by the Spirit of God. (2 Corinthians 3:18)
When you look into a mirror, do you see the glory of the Lord? If you know Jesus, the Spirit of the Lord lives inside you, and He does not reside there without the glory of the Lord. In fact, you were created and birthed from above, by the Spirit of God, to bear this glory and reveal it to others, to be fully conformed to the image of Christ (Romans 8:29).

Give your diligent attention to the law of liberty, the law of the Spirit, the law of love. Believe and obey whatever the Lord makes known to you as you are transformed from glory to glory — ever greater, ever deeper expressions of His goodness. This is the looking glass of glory, and it reveals your identity and your destiny in the God who is love. Gaze intently for the rest of your life.

Saturday, March 5, 2005

Believe the Glory

Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of Hosts;
The whole earth is full of His glory. (Isaiah 6:3)
In Isaiah’s vision of the LORD, recorded in Isaiah 6, the seraphim, fiery angels of God, declared that the whole earth is full of God’s glory. Think of it — the entire earth is full to overflowing with the glory of God. Always has been, always will be.We don’t have to bring the glory down. It’s already here. Our job is simply to believe it, to get into agreement with it, to think, act and speak according to it.
Father, we need a much greater knowledge of your glory in our world. Give us wisdom and revelation by Your Holy Spirit, that we may know and experience You more and more, and so change our world. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Wednesday, March 2, 2005

Exercising Your Authority to Bless

We believe that God is a God of blessing, and that He has authorized us as agents of His blessing. We are learning and stretching out in this area. For instance, when we go out to eat now, we not only bless our own food, but all the food in the joint, that there might be a revelation of the goodness of God and an experience of His peace in those places.

Now, when I say, “bless the food,” I do not just mean that we ask God to bless it for us. Jesus gave us authority to bless when He taught us to pray, “Your [the Father’s] will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” So we take that authority and exercise it even when we pray at meal time — “I bless this food in Jesus’ name” — believing that the will of God will be done in that food, exactly as His will is being done in heaven. Can you imagine eating food that is charged with the power of heaven? Now go a step further and imagine charging it with the power of heaven! Every believer is an authorized agent.

Take the authority you have in the Lord Jesus Christ — the authority of His name, the authority of His blood, the authority of how He taught us to pray — and begin bringing forth the blessing of God’s kingdom upon the earth. The world does not need our condemnation, it needs the blessing of heaven to transform it into what He has called it to be.