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Posts Tagged ‘2 Corinthians 3:18’

Imagine God on the sixth day of creation, surveying the work he’s accomplished.

Craggy mountain peaks reach upward toward cerulean skies.

 

 

Undulating oceans teem with thousands of different kinds of fish and sea creatures—from protozoa to humpback whales.

 

 

Flat lands and rolling hills, some covered with grass, others with trees, also abound with life—from pixie cups that can only hold one drop of water…

 

 

…to elephants that can drink 80 gallons per day.

“And God saw that it was good” (Genesis 1:25).

But he wasn’t finished yet. God created one more being capable of deep thought, complex interaction, and an array of emotions. He called the creature “man” (vs. 26-27).

 

 

And the Lord Most High endowed man with abilities similar to his own. For example:

  • God is creative; people have the ability to produce new works and ideas.
  • God is linguistic; people can communicate with words.
  • God is logical; people are capable of reason.
  • God is interpersonal; people have the capacity to develop relationships.
  • God is wise; people can develop wisdom.
  • God is gracious and compassionate; people are capable of responding to one another with patience, kindness, and encouragement.

 

 

Just like our Father, each of us is (to some degree) capable of all these abilities. We can creatively solve problems, retell events, weigh the pros and cons of a decision, make friends, choose wisely from the grocery store shelves, offer a compliment.

But evidence would indicate God chose to endow each of us further, with a particular intelligence in which to excel. Our own family includes:

  • Two creatives—an artist and a graphic designer
  • Two linguistics—both pastors
  • One logistic—a tech support manager
  • Three interpersonal types—a teacher, school psychologist, and psychiatric/family doctor

 

 

Each person also has secondary and even tertiary strengths, in various combinations.

Yet God didn’t stop there. In his image he made us spiritual beings as well. Within each person is an invisible, eternal soul, a place where we can experience his presence (Ephesians 3:16-19). And he gave us a conscience to know right from wrong—not to spoil our enjoyment of life but to enhance it (Psalm 128:1-2).

 

 

As wondrous as all these gifts are—individually designed strengths, eternal souls, and the compass of a conscience–God chose to bequeath us with one more extraordinary privilege. He made us to be reflections of his glory (2 Corinthians 3:18).

God chose not to confine his grandeur to the throne room of heaven. He allows us to make his radiant image visible in the world, as we reflect his multi-faceted goodness. No other creature was given such honor.

King David experienced the wonder. He marveled that God made us just a little lower than the angels and—get this—crowned us with glory and honor (Psalm 8:5).

 

 

Think of it: The God of all glory who deserves all honor desires to share his magnificence in the world through us.

Just this week, I glimpsed the image of God as:

  • Steve thoughtfully brought me a cup of fresh coffee—as he often does.
  • Trelene kindly gave us a book she thought we’d enjoy.
  • Micki shared her wisdom.
  • Cheri offered a word of encouragement.
  • Four-year old Elena gifted us with a sample of her artwork—accompanied by hugs.

 

 

In such ways, God’s loving kindness, wisdom, inspiration, creativity, and affection are made visible. How dark our world would be without the sparkling splendor of God’s perfections reflected through his people.

So take note:

You are irreplaceable.

No one has your particular set of gifts, strengths and traits.

God designed you specifically

to achieve pre-designed purpose (Ephesians 2:10)—

just the way you are,

in the glorious image of God.

_________________________

 

What God-given attributes do you see among your family members? Where have you glimpsed the glorious image of God this week?

 

(Art & photo credits:  www.commons.wikimedia.org; http://www.en.wikipedia.org; http://www.mnn.com (Leonard Turner); http://www.mybible.com; http://www.pinterest.com; http://www.freestockphotos.biz.; http://www.pinterest.com; http://www.believers4ever.com; Nancy Ruegg.)

 

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"A pathway through the forest with bright sunlight."

 

“The path of the righteous is like

the first gleam of dawn;

shining ever brighter

till the full light of day.”

–Proverbs 4:18 NIV

 

I’ve been trekking along the path of the righteous since I was four years old, ever since I heard the story of Jesus dying on a cross to take the punishment each of us deserves for our wrongdoings. Miss Ruth, the storyteller, said if we asked him to forgive us, to be our forever Friend, and to take us to heaven when we die, Jesus would do all of that and more because he loves us so much. That very afternoon I prayed with Miss Ruth and embarked upon this adventurous* life-journey with Jesus.

Please understand: the path of the righteous has not been paved with my own righteousness. “I didn’t receive God’s approval by obeying his laws. The opposite is true! I have God’s approval through faith in Christ” (Philippians 3:9 GWT).

My Christian parents made sure the first gleam of dawn during childhood included many hours of Bible instruction in various settings. Sound boring? It wasn’t. The Bible contains some of the most exciting stories I’ve ever heard, and they’re true!

 

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The first gleam of dawn also included practical lessons of faith:

During one of Grandma’s babysitting-visits, she promised to take my brother and me for ice cream. But when the moment came to leave, we couldn’t find the house key. The three of us looked everywhere; no key. Grandma suggested we pray. The three of us perched on the lower stairs while we asked God to help us.

No sooner did we say “Amen” than Grandma again headed to the drawer where the extra key was kept. She’d already searched there a couple of times, but this time there it was.

 

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Now why hadn’t she seen it before? Perhaps so two little kids could learn that God hears and answers our prayers—even those of low-priority status.**

And as the years have passed, the faith-pathway has been shining ever brighter.

The Light of the world (John 8:12) has enlightened my mind and spirit, giving guidance and allaying fear. (To be truthful, I haven’t always followed his guidance nor have I lived totally fearless–but I’m learning!)

Sometimes God has directed, and I wasn’t even aware. My high school guidance counselor and two youth group sponsors at church happened to be alumni of the same Christian college about four hours away. Each of them took me to visit for homecoming and other events. Three years later I was attending that school, where I met my husband, Steve.

 

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After graduating with a teaching degree, I failed to secure a job in or near the small community where Steve would begin his seminary training the following fall.

“Aren’t you worried about what you’ll do if nothing turns up?” a family member asked. I honestly wasn’t overly concerned, perhaps because the situation was totally beyond my control.   I had no choice but to believe God would provide something.

At the beginning of August a principal called. Due to health reasons a veteran teacher had decided not to return; was I interested in the position? Three weeks later I was standing in front of my first class.

Fast forward through seminary, the births and raising of three children, the pastoral appointments for Steve in six churches, twenty-six years of teaching in four schools for me, and poof! We’ve traveled together forty-plus years down this path of the righteous.

 

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And I’m still rejoicing that God bestows more light as the days go by. He shines ever brighter and will continue to do so till the full light of daythe day I arrive in heaven.

Robert Browning wrote, “Progress is man’s distinctive mark alone.” How much more so for us Christians, whose progress toward maturity and completeness results in a delightful, distinctive mark: we become lights on the path of life, shining like stars and reflecting the Lord’s glory (Philippians 2:15, 2 Corinthians 3:18).

 

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We, too, can shine ever brighter till the full light of day. What a glorious privilege he gives us!

 

I’d love to hear  a story from your path of the righteous.  Please share in the Comments section below!

 

____________________

 

*By adventurous, I am not referring to the hang-gliding, rock-climbing, parachuting kind. Rather, the I-wonder-what-God-is-going-to-do-next variety!

 

**Of course, God does not intervene in every situation. Even the most faithful believers sometimes endure pain and problems.   Yet, like another sufferer, Job, their hope in God remains strong. Their focus is on that day when all suffering will end and God will establish his perfect kingdom.  Meanwhile, he is their strength and song (Exodus 15:2).  Those saints are the true shining stars!

 

(Art & photo credits:  www.christianphotoshops.com; http://www.goodnessofgodministries.wordpress.com; http://www.commons.wikimedia.org; http://www.greatvaluecolleges.net; http://www.slideshare.nt; http://www.pinterest.com.)

 

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She was more animal than human – grabbing food and stuffing her mouth, communicating with grunts, and reacting wildly to anything that did not suit her.

A teacher was hired to train the totally undisciplined six-year old, and make her into a mannerly, well-behaved child. To complicate matters, the child could neither hear nor see, the result of a high fever when she was a toddler. You’ve no doubt guessed her identity–Helen Keller, and the teacher’s–Anne Sullivan.

 

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You’ll remember that little Helen was not only wild but willful, too. She balked ferociously at the changes Miss Sullivan tried to initiate, attacking with fists and feet, tearing at clothing, and biting. No one would have blamed Anne if she had given up.

But the young teacher was even more determined than Helen. She would reach beyond the barriers of deafness and blindness. So the two of them moved into a nearby cottage where Anne offered constant support and instruction. With patience and tremendous perseverance, she tended to Helen.

You know the outcome. Helen was transformed into a cultured intellectual, who graduated from Radcliffe College in 1904 at age 24, and went on to become an author, an advocate for the handicapped, and even a lecturer. In addition, Helen and Anne became lifelong friends and constant companions.

 

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Their inspiring story illustrates several ways in which our lifelong Friend and constant Companion, Jesus, transforms our lives:

1. Just as Helen discovered life was a much more positive experience when she submitted to the mores of civilization, we too experience a more positive life when we accept God’s ways and purposes rather than insist on our own (John 10:10).

2. Anne took up residence with Helen, ready and willing to transform the girl into a glorious new version of herself. Jesus has taken up residence in our spirits (John 15:5). He, too, is ready and willing to transform us–“into his likeness with ever-increasing glory” (2 Corinthians 3:18).

 

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3. Helen balked at change, unwilling to give up her way of life—unsatisfactory as it was. Little did she know what Anne had to offer. I, too, am slow to learn that “when God empties our lives of a treasured love, it is to fill them more completely with the greater treasure of himself” – Herbert Lockyer (1).

4. The relationship between student and teacher developed into a deep friendship as Helen grew up. She said of her beloved teacher, the day Anne Sullivan arrived at her home was “the most important day I remember in all my life.” Those of us who know Jesus as Friend would say the same of the day he came to live within our spirits (2 Corinthians 5:17).

5. As a result of Anne Sullivan’s instruction, support, and perseverance, Helen exchanged:

  • Constant uncertainty for confidence
  • Helplessness for achievement
  • Ignorance for knowledge

Jesus does the same and more. Because he dwells within us, we can exchange:

  • Our uncertainty for his wisdom—James 1:5
  • Our frailties for his strength—2 Corinthians 12:9-10
  • Our puny efforts for his ability to accomplish the impossible—Luke 18:27
  • ALL our inadequacies for ALL the fullness of God—Ephesians 3:19 (2)

 

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*     *     *     *     *     *     *    *     *     *

 

I praise you, Lord Jesus, that the moment I invited you into my life, you began your transforming work—teaching, guiding, supporting, and encouraging. You have granted me newness of life! I am not a condemned sinner; I am a saint! I am no longer bound to the sinful nature; I am a brand new creature in you! I am not a reject; I am a beloved child of the King of the universe! Thank you, oh God, for these glorious realities.  “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain!”  But I am greatly relieved and overjoyed that it’s all true.

(Romans 6:6; 6:4, 8:1; Ephesians 2:18-20; Romans 8:8-9; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 3:26; Psalm 139:6)

 

Notes:

(1) Seasons of the Lord, Harper & Row, 1990, p. 15.

(2) Henry Blackaby, http://www.preceptaustin.org, Experiencing God Day by Day, “An Exchanged Life.”

 

Photos and art credits:  www.wikipedia.org; http://www.pinterest.com (3).

 

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You, oh God, are resplendent with light

As if full of fire—

Blazing with power, dazzling in majesty,

Shimmering in an aura of glory (1).

 

You are the Father of lights

the Creator of sun, moon, and stars.

From the moment You spoke them into being,

the heavenly lights have never ceased to shine (2).

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Neither has your Light of Goodness

Ceased to shine upon your people.

You are loving and patient, generous and gracious,

Always seeking the brightest, highest good (3).

 

You are the Light of my Salvation,

Showing me the way to heaven through your Son, Jesus,

Guiding me home through the twists and turns of life,

The dark shadows of uncertainty and fear (4).

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You are the Light of Life,

Providing Son-lit days of peace, joy, and contentment

As I avail myself of your calming presence,

And celebrate your gifts (5).

 

You are the Light of Truth,

Who graciously shares his omniscient wisdom with his people.

Through your Word you expose falsehoods and evil.

You show me the best way to live—side by side with You (6).

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You are the Light of Holiness

Pure and perfect, completely separate from all else in the universe.

Through Jesus you already see me as perfect,

Yet day by day you are molding me to be holy, like you (7).

 

You are the Light of Blessing,

Making your face shine upon me

With grace, mercy, and compassion,

Lovingly exercising your power for my benefit (8).

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You provide the Light of the Knowledge of the Glory of God.

I find it when I seek your Son, Jesus.

His earthly life gives me a glimpse of your glory in human form–

A form I can more easily understand (9).

 

And now, you have made me a Child of the Light,

Called to reflect your glory to others,

Shining brighter, I pray, as the years pass,

Till the full light of day–inside heaven’s gates (10).

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I praise you, oh God, that your Light shattered the darkness

Of evil that first Easter morning—and for all time.

I praise you for the privilege of living in that Light,

Now and into eternity!

 

  1.  Psalm 76:4; Ezekiel 1:28
  2. James 1:17
  3. Psalm 89:15, 34:8-9
  4. Psalm 27:1; 23:4
  5. John 8:12, 14:27; Psalm 16:11; Hebrews 13:5
  6. Psalm 43:3; 119:105; Proverbs 6:23; Ecclesiastes 2:13
  7. Isaiah 5:20; Romans 13:12
  8. Numbers 6:24-26
  9. 2 Corinthians 4:6
  10. Philippians 2:15-16; Ephesians 5:13; 2 Corinthians 3:18; Proverbs 4:18

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The story of Cinderella always was my favorite fairy tale. The rags-to-riches, wrong-to-right, happily-ever-after story never grew old.

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And that ball gown! How the illustrators of the various editions must have enjoyed creating the glory and splendor of that dress!

Rarely, if ever, are we common damsels provided opportunity to wear such grand finery. And I doubt many guys out there in the blogosphere have donned gold-braided jackets spangled with brightly colored medals. Such ostentation is almost exclusively reserved for royalty.

Ah! But whether we’re CEOs of the home front (stay-at-home parents) or CEOs of corporations, plumbers or painters, teachers or taxi drivers, we are priests of the Lord King of the universe.   And that designation makes us a royal priesthood:

 

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(“You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood,

a holy nation, a people belonging to God,

that you may declare the praises of him

who called you out of darkness

into his wonderful light.”

–1 Peter 2:9)

Because we are his royal priesthood, God has provided a glorious new wardrobe for each of us, including:

  • Rich garments of salvation, replacing the sin-stained rags of our self-centeredness (1).
  • A robe of righteousness, radiant with the perfections of Jesus (2).
  • A belt of truth, studded with gems from God’s Word that inspire, instruct, encourage, and comfort (3).
  • Garments of praise, because he continually manifests his glorious attributes and showers us with blessings (4).
  • Ornaments of strength and joy (5).
  • A crown of beauty, as we allow the Holy Spirit to renew our minds and turn our thoughts to the positive (6).
  • Beautiful shoes of peace, equipping us to tread gently and share the peace of Jesus with others (7).

Note: None of this is earned, like the medals on Prince Charming’s uniform. Every radiant item has been magnanimously bestowed by our King.

Why would that be, we wonder. Is his purpose simply to display his generosity?

Surely that’s part of the answer. But the last half of 1 Peter 2:9 (above) reveals more: Now that we’re dressed in his garments of radiant splendor, we are commissioned to proclaim his excellency everywhere we go.

 

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Sometimes we proclaim with words (Mark 16:15), as simple as “God is so good,” while sharing a story with a coworker.

Sometimes we proclaim with loving action (John 13:34-35), serving as a channel of blessing between God and others. That extra-generous tip to a waitress, for example, may pay eternal dividends  especially if she saw us praying before we ate, and we engaged her in friendly, upbeat conversation (about her).

Sometimes we proclaim with our attitudes—simply reflecting the radiance of Jesus’ peace and joy on our faces (2 Corinthians 3:18)—especially in difficult circumstances. Someone may very well ask, “I don’t know how you do it,” giving you opportunity to proclaim God’s excellencies and the blessings of living in his wonderful light—just as that verse in First Peter suggests.

 

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If our new wardrobe is on full display, people will notice.

 

“Let us put on the vestments of holiness

and minister before the Lord all day long.”

–Charles Spurgeon

Photo credits:  www.pinterest.com (2), http://www.icould.com; http://www.kingdomcalling.com.)

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  1. Zechariah 3:4; Isaiah 61:10
  2. Isaiah 61:10
  3. Ephesians 6:14; 2 Timothy 3:16
  4. Isaiah 61:3
  5. Isaiah 49:18
  6. Isaiah 61:3; Romans 8:5; Philippians 4:8
  7. Isaiah 52:7; Ephesians 6:15; John 14:27

 

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At least one verse in the Bible achieves a remarkable feat. It covers the entire expanse of eternity—from before the beginning of time into the infinite future—with just eighteen words (in the NIV):

“Those [God] predestined, he also called;

those he called, he also justified,

those he justified, he also glorified.”

–Romans 8:30.

That verse also includes four heavy-duty theological concepts. Thick volumes of commentary have been written about each one: 1) predestination, 2) God’s call upon a life, 3) justification, and 4) glorification. But Eugene Peterson has explained each with brevity, wisdom, and simplicity:

 “After God made the decision of what his children should be like” (predestined*),

”he followed it up by calling people by name” (called).

“After he called them by name, He set them on a solid basis with himself” (justified).

“And then, after getting them established, he stayed with them to the end,

gloriously completing what he had begun” (glorified).

–Romans 8:30, The Message

Part of that completion will occur when Jesus presents us with our new bodies and abilities, once we reach heaven (Philippians 3:20-21).

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But note that those key verbs: predestined, called, justified, and glorified, are all past tense—even the last one.

Some Bible scholars make the point that our glorification in heaven** is so certain, Paul chose past tense.

But there are at least several aspects of glorification that are available to us now. That’s because God’s glory—the sum of his majesty, splendor, and wondrous attributes—gleams brightly in the hearts of those who know Jesus (2 Corinthians 4:6).

Think of it. Everything he is, he offers to us in the present, including his wisdom, grace, and kindness; goodness, mercy, and strength; truth, power, and love. Of course, that’s just a partial list. Our God is infinite; so are his glorious attributes.

And as we make ourselves available to God, we begin to experience God’s glory in our lives.

We begin to recognize his goodness in every provision, his mercy and power each time we’re shielded from harm, his wisdom when events unfold for our growth, his love in every blessing, great and small.

We begin to make choices that reflect God’s glorious presence within.  Out of love and appreciation, we desire to lead a life worthy of him and pleasing to him in every way (Colossians 1:10).

We also begin to reflect God’s glory to others.

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In 1852, a small band of miners discovered gold in Montana. Knowing that the gold rush in California (1849) had caused cutthroat competition and gross inflation, they decided to keep their find a secret. But not long after they returned to town, word spread of their discovery.

Who let the secret slip out? No one. The townspeople knew they had found gold because of the joy on their faces.

We, the glorified children of God, have found greater wealth than gold in our Heavenly Father.  And as we contemplate his glory, we become transformed into his image.  Joy radiates from our faces, just as it did from the miners’ (2 Corinthians 3:18).

Even more wondrous? As we seek to know him, the Almighty God of the universe is pursuing us. He longs for us to be close to him, where we can experience more of his glory—here and now– and “the glorious riches of his inheritance among the saints” (Ephesians 1:18 HCSB).

Praise to our glorious God for his overflowing love, kindness, and generosity!

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

*Predestination is a confusing concept. I appreciate Warren Wiersbe’s explanation in Be Right (Victor Books, 1976). He says the concept only applies to Christians. Nowhere in the Bible do we find evidence that God has prechosen certain people to be forever condemned. He’s given each person the choice to follow him or not (John 1:12).

 ** a thorough transformation into holy radiance (Ephesians 5:27)

(Art & photo credits:  www.pinterest.com; http://www.faithgateway.com; http://www.egoldprospecting.com.)

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