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Posts Tagged ‘God’s Glory’

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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!

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*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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Morning-mist

O God of Creation, who

Drapes morning mist across the hillsides,

Paints the dawn with ever-changing hues, and

Scatters sparkling crystals of dew on grass and flower,

I worship you with incredulous wonder.

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O God of Salvation, who

Gave your precious Son, the King of kings,

To die a cruel, criminal’s death for my sin, and

Provide the way of eternal life,

I worship you with overflowing gratitude.

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O God of Restoration, who

Now considers me righteous,

Making possible an intimate relationship with you, and

Granting perfect peace and effervescent joy,

I worship you with a humbled spirit.

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O God of Affection, who

Mercifully withholds the punishment I deserve,

Graciously bestows blessings I have not earned, and

Carries me close to your heart,

I worship you with overwhelming love.

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O God of Revelation, who

Gave us your timeless, trustworthy Word, that

Offers infallible wisdom, inspired instruction, and

Encouraging promises to lead us and lift us,

I want to worship you with my obedience.

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O God of Transformation, who

Actively pursues my best interest,

To mold me into the image of Jesus

With ever-increasing splendor,

I want to worship you with my submission.

This VLT image of the Thor’s Helmet Nebula was taken on the occasion of ESO’s 50th Anniversary, 5 October 2012, with the help of Brigitte Bailleul — winner of the Tweet Your Way to the VLT! competition. The observations were broadcast live over the internet from the Paranal Observatory in Chile. This object, also known as NGC 2359, lies in the constellation of Canis Major (The Great Dog). The helmet-shaped nebula is around 15 000 light-years away from Earth and is over 30 light-years across. The helmet is a cosmic bubble, blown as the wind from the bright, massive star near the bubble's centre sweeps through the surrounding molecular cloud.

O God of Distinction,

There is no one like you.

Your greatness is beyond human comprehension.

I stand in awe of your splendor and majesty, and

I worship you with all that is within me.

(Revelation 17:14; Philippians 2:8; Romans 5:17; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Revelation 3:20; Romans 14:17; Micah 7:18; John 1:16; Isaiah 40:11; Psalm 119:160, 130, 50; Romans 8:26-29; 2 Corinthians 3:18; Psalm 145:1-5.)

Photo and art credits:  www.macgardens.org; http://www.renewaldynamics.com; http://www.crossmap.com; http://www.waysoflife.info; http://www.stokethefire.org; http://www.pinterest.com; http://www.stream.org.

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SunsRays

The exhibition of God’s glory

and the deepest joy of human souls

are one thing.

–Jonathan Edwards

(1703-1758, preacher, theologian, author)

 

Wooh—that’s a mouthful! I have to break that down into smaller bites.

God’s glory includes his splendor and majesty, infinite power and wisdom, creative genius and perfect engineering, absolute holiness and righteousness, and much more. God’s glory is, in part, the sum of his glorious attributes.

The exhibition of God’s glory is all around us in creation, and visible to all people (Isaiah 6:3, Psalm 97:6).

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But more profound:  God’s glory is made known to us in our hearts—to those who have asked Jesus to save us from the ultimate consequence of our sin, and to become Master of our destinies (2 Corinthians 4:6).

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How incredible that we can experience God’s glory here and now, although in a limited way. And how wonderful that the deepest joy of humans souls is a result of knowing him now—not just when we get to heaven.

Someday, though, we will witness the full revelation of his splendor, and that of his Son, Jesus. It’s beyond our wildest imaginings (1 Corinthians 2:9).

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Scripture does include a few glimpses, however. We see his:

  • Golden splendor and awesome majesty (Job 37:22)
  • Garment of light, wrapped around himself (Psalm 104:2a)
  • Clouds surrounding the throne (Daniel 7:13)
  • Belt of gold and gleaming, flaming eyes (Daniel 10:5-6)
  • Long robe with a golden sash across his chest, white hair, and blazing eyes (Revelation 1:13-16)

Charles Spurgeon eloquently expressed the glory of Jesus in a sermon, over 150 years ago. He proclaimed Christ…

 “…Radiant with splendor,

effulgent with light,

clothed with rainbows,

girded with clouds,

wrapped in lightning,

crowned with stars,

the sun beneath his feet.”

 

Doesn’t that give you holy goosebumps?

Yet there is more.

When he appears, we shall be like him (2 Thessalonians 2:14; 1 John 3:2).

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Can you imagine? We will share in the radiant splendor of our Savior. As if that wasn’t enough, we’ll finally be transformed into the holy and perfect beings we have always wanted to be.

And as we share in the glory of Jesus, we will enjoy incredible blessings that God has prepared. The following scriptures offer us tantalizing samples—to whet our appetites for what is to come:

  • There will be no need for sunlight; God will be our everlasting light. There will also be no more sorrow (Isaiah 60:19-20).
  • We will see Jesus face to face and finally have full understanding of all things (1 Corinthians 13:12-13).
  • We will bear the likeness of Jesus (1 Corinthians 15:49).
  • We will reign with Jesus forever (Revelation 3:21; 22:5).
  • There will be no night and no impurity (Revelation 21:23-27).

Now, there are those who worry that heaven will involve a lot of cloud-sitting and harp-playing. Well, yes, there are clouds and harps.  (I, for one, am very glad for the harps–it’s my favorite instrument. And, I have to admit, there are some days when a bit of cloud-sitting and harp-playing sounds rather appealing!)

However, I agree with theologian, Albert Barnes. “To reign with Jesus” means we will share in Christ’s dominion of the universe, administering the affairs of all the worlds.” That sounds exciting and fulfilling (but mind-boggling) to me!

Such glimpses of our glorious future really are too much for my mind to absorb. But, oh how thankful I am that God has tucked them into his Word, to fill our hearts with expectation and hope.

Also worth contemplating is the eternal expanse of time we’ll enjoy God’s majesty and splendor. According to John Piper, heaven’s joys will actually increase as we discover more and more of God’s glory. “The end of increased pleasure in God will never come” (God’s Passion for His Glory, p. 37).

Then “the exhibition of God’s glory and the deepest joy of human souls” will indeed be one perfect, sublime, eternal thing.

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Lord God of heaven and earth, my heart shouts praise in honor of your glory! I praise you for being a holy God, completely separate from all else in the universe. No one is your equal in power, wisdom, creativity, splendor, or love. No one else is perfect in all he does. Thank you for your Word, where we can glimpse your glory and your plans–for our glorious and joyous future with you.

(Photo & art credits:  www.beforethebeginning.net; http://www.pinterest.com; http://www.honestytalk.wordpress.com; http://www.verseaday.com.)

 

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On June 3, 1953, millions of people watched the inauguration of Queen Elizabeth II on television. Amidst much fanfare and pomp she slowly and elegantly processed down the aisle of Westminster Abbey. Behind her trailed a robe of royal purple velvet, eighteen feet long. Six maids of honor supported the weight of the magnificent train.

But even Queen Elizabeth’s grand, stately robe does not begin to compare to one mentioned in scripture:

“In the year that King Uzziah died,

I saw the Lord seated on a throne,

High and exalted,

And the train of his robe

Filled the temple.”

(Isaiah 6:1)

I have to wonder: What might the train of the Lord’s robe symbolize? Is there significance to the expansiveness of this robe? Why would Isaiah include the detail that it “filled the temple?”

A bit of research revealed interesting, heart-stirring answers.

The train of his robe: In ancient times, the flowing train on a monarch’s robe was a symbol of glory and splendor. To understand the importance of a train, we have to remember that in those days, all clothing had to be constructed “from scratch”—fibers of cotton, linen, or wool had to be spun into thread, threads had to be woven into cloth, cloth had to be cut and sewn into garments by hand. It was a time-consuming process.

Only the rich and powerful could afford to add extra length to their robes. The longer the train, the more glorious and splendid the king. And as he paraded past his subjects, the length of his robe was meant to impress.

Filled the temple: Isaiah’s statement conveys the magnitude of God’s glory compared to any earthly king or queen. Symbolically, the robe represents God’s infinite splendor and majesty—his glory. As one preacher explained, “air is the atmosphere of earth, God’s glory is the atmosphere of heaven.”  One day we will breathe God’s glory!  That gives me goosebumps.

God’s glorious robe that fills the temple signifies:

his absolute authority. “There is no room for anyone else in this high-exalted place. God is all in all” –Selwyn Hughes (1928-2006, Welsh pastor, theologian, author).

his divine perfections. There is no one else who is all-powerful, all-knowing, unhindered by the limitations of time and space, and absolutely righteous in all he does.

his incomparable splendor. Isaiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, and John the Revelator gave us glimpses of their heavenly visions.  They saw a high and exalted throne encircled by an ethereal rainbow, seraphs crying “Holy, holy, holy,” lamps blazing, lightning flashing, thunder rumbling, angels and saints worshiping.

Artists have tried to imagine the sight:

 

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But God’s authority, perfection, and incomparable splendor are not only on display in heaven. His glory is on display in creation–all around us. Consider these few examples:

• The delicate wing of the butterfly, emblazoned with brilliant colors in intricate patterns.

 

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• The intriguing double-spiral of sunflower seeds—one spiral in a clockwise direction, the other, counter-clockwise.

 

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• Lacy feathers of frost gathering on a window.

 

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• The graceful curl of the wentletrap shell.

 

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• The jewel-like qualities of grains of sand.

 

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“Our God is lavish in splendor.  His creative fullness spills over in excessive beauty” (John Piper, pastor and author).

And why is that important to embrace and celebrate? Because we are so often distracted by the concerns of life.  We allow them to consume too much of our attention.  There’s a better way to live that many people never discover.

“Many people gaze at their problems and glance at the Lord.  But I tell you to gaze at the Lord and glance at your problems” (Ted Smith, pianist for Billy Graham Crusades).

Let’s visualize God’s grandeur–every day, as we prepare ourselves to pray.  Let’s become enthralled in the throne room of heaven, in the splendor and majesty of Almighty God.  And let’s bow down in humble gratitude that this magnificent God is also our loving Heavenly Father.  Think of it.  The glorious, all-powerful King of the universe is our Abba–our Dad!  Can any realization be more comforting, strengthening, or empowering than that?

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Dearest Abba, too often my thoughts are a tangled mess of concerns.  I need a fresh vision of your glory to supersede the “what-ifs.”   Remind me that with you, the God of all authority and might, I have nothing to fear.  You are all I need.

(Photo and art credits:  www.wikimedia.com; http://www.pinterest.com; http://www.forums.thesims.com; http://www.allposters.com; http://www.publicdomainpictures.net; http://www.wikipedia.org; http://www.wikimedia.com.)

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