Sunday, November 24, 2013

God of Glory

This week I have chosen to focus on the glory of God. Instead of writing about it, I wanted to let you discover insight and heart convictions as you walk through scripture. I suggest printing it or reading at a time when you can ruminate on and respond prayerfully to these Scriptures and the short audio clip about God's glory.



Then he led me to the gate, the gate facing east.  And behold, the glory of the God of Israel was coming from the east. And the sound of his coming was like the sound of many waters, and the earth shone with his glory... And I fell on my face. (Ezekiel 43:1-3, ESV)

* * *

In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew.  And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!”
And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for 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!”

Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar.  And he touched my mouth and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.” (Isaiah 6:1-7, ESV)

* * *

There he came to a cave and lodged in it. And behold, the word of the Lord came to him, and he said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”  He said, “I have been very jealous for the Lord, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away.”  And he said, “Go out and stand on the mount before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake.  And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper. And when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. And behold, there came a voice to him and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” (1 Kings 19:9-13, ESV)

* * *
And above the expanse over their heads there was the likeness of a throne, in appearance like sapphire; and seated above the likeness of a throne was a likeness with a human appearance. And upward from what had the appearance of his waist I saw as it were gleaming metal, like the appearance of fire enclosed all around. And downward from what had the appearance of his waist I saw as it were the appearance of fire, and there was brightness around him.  Like the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud on the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness all around.
Such was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord. And when I saw it, I fell on my face... (Exekiel 1:26-28, ESV)

* * *

And the Lord said to Moses, “This very thing that you have spoken I will do, for you have found favor in my sight, and I know you by name.”  Moses said, “Please show me your glory.”  And he said, “I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name ‘The Lord.’ And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy.  But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live.”  And the Lord said, “Behold, there is a place by me where you shall stand on the rock, and while my glory passes by I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and I will cover you with my hand until I have passed by.  Then I will take away my hand, and you shall see my back, but my face shall not be seen.” (Exodus 33:17-23, ESV)
* * *

 The Lord reigns, let the earth rejoice;
    let the many coastlands be glad!
Clouds and thick darkness are all around him;
    righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne.
Fire goes before him
    and burns up his adversaries all around.
His lightnings light up the world;
    the earth sees and trembles.
The mountains melt like wax before the Lord,
    before the Lord of all the earth.
The heavens proclaim his righteousness,
    and all the peoples see his glory.
(Psalm 97:1-6, ESV)

* * *
I encourage you to listen to this short 3-minute clip by John Piper on "What is God's Glory?"
* * *
The "going public of God's infinite worth" is an idea that sets my heart and mind on Christmas. God went public through sending His Son, according to His promise. And that compels me to recognize all heaven's glory in the unembellished entry of Jesus Christ into the world. He was plain and weak, a human. His glory was not in His outward appearance but in who He was.
For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
    and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
(Isaiah 9:6, ESV) 
* * *
But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah,
    who are too little to be among the clans of Judah,
from you shall come forth for me
    one who is to be ruler in Israel,
whose coming forth is from of old,
    from ancient days.
(Micah 5:2, ESV)

* * *
Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets,  but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.  He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.  (Hebrews 1:1-4)
* * *
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.  And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.  Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.  (Philippians 2:5-11, ESV)
* * *
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.  And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell,  and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.  (Colossians 1:15-20, ESV)
* * *

And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and within, and day and night they never cease to say,
“Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty,
    who was and is and is to come!” 
(Revelation 4:8, ESV)

* * *

And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb.  And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. (Revelation 21:22-23, ESV)


Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. All rights reserved.

Monday, November 11, 2013

God Revealed

He is a God who makes Himself known. He's not a hider, a player, a manipulator, or an avoider. He's honest and intentional. And that makes me responsible.

Have you ever wondered if you missed His voice? Is the spiritual volume not turned high enough? From the beginning God has communicated about Himself. He walked and talked with Adam and Eve in the garden (Genesis 1:28-29; 3:8ff; 4:6). He interacted with Moses to lead the Hebrew people home (Exodus 3:4-10). He set apart prophets to speak on His behalf (Isaiah 6:8). His Son, Jesus, spoke face-to-face with men and women in the first century (Matthew 9:1-7). And God revealed Himself to the church through the work of the Holy Spirit. Because of the Holy Spirit we have both intimacy with God and a work of inspired texts that are a foundation for our remembrance of Him (John 16:13; Acts 2:1-11; 2 Peter 1:20-21).

God reveals Himself through the pages of the Bible.

Sometimes that truth feels too lofty and theoretical. I sit to read my Bible or pray, unimpressed with God's historical faithfulness. Felt needs, busyness, and circumstances harden my heart to the compassion and closeness of God. Yesterday, I read Psalm 60 and rolled my eyes. It made no sense, and I was tired. I'll read another one tomorrow that I can interpret with emotions rather than the sweat and work of Bible study. And I'll feel wonderfully confident about my closeness to God...tomorrow.

Wow. My spirituality is oozing out in such flattering ways. But I'll apologize later and chalk it up to my flesh struggle. You win, God. I lose. No biggie. No real repentance.

On the contrary, with unmatched grace God made Himself knowable to me! First by the messages of others. Then through prayer. And especially in the Bible. The truths of God accepted by faith can also be acted upon in faith. So am I acting in faith by seeking to know God through His revelation of Himself?

Bible study and prayer are the tools God left me to use as I seek to be in relationship with Him. But Bible study takes work. That's why I sometimes avoid making eye contact with my Bible, why I read lightly and quickly out of guilt and then put my sticker on the chart, or why I get frustrated at someone else who "obviously" isn't reading theirs.

The Holy Spirit faithfully convicted me of my attitude toward Psalm 60. Tonight I rolled up my sleeves and did the work of Bible study. I grew closer to God through understanding the struggle of His people to trust in His sovereign care. I saw God speak directly to them, though He did not fix their immediate difficulty. I learned that God may allow a time of loss while still upholding His sovereign plan for good.

That's truth that I can digest.

If you have difficulty studying the Bible, please ask for help. A treasure awaits!

(C) Kendra Higgins 2013.

Image courtesy of Robin D/