Friday, December 21, 2007

From Glory to Glory - Michael Coleman

As we begin to commune with God in worship, His presence transforms, unifies, guards and protects, and we are marked for life.

As we discovered last time, the glory of God is most definitely for believers to experience in this life. But what does that mean? How will our knowledge of His glory impact us? Remember we read earlier in Exodus that God spoke face to face with Moses? Now look at 2 Corinthians 3:18: "But we all with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord of being transformed into the same image, from glory to glory just as from the Lord, the Spirit." We're to be changing from glory to glory. Did you know that? We're to be changing, progressively changing.

The Bible says the Father dwells in unapproachable light, that He is light, and in Him there is no shadow of turning. The Bible says that Jesus comes as God in human flesh, sheds His blood, covers us with His blood, redeems us, gives us access to the presence of God, and Jesus is the exact representation of God the Father. "If you've seen me," He said, "you've seen the Father." As we behold the glory of Jesus' life, we get to know who the Father is. As we behold the Lord with unveiled face, we can be changed. This parallels the whole issue of worship: as we begin to commune with God, to have fellowship with God, as we slow down the dust storms of our lives, and begin to behold who He really is, His presence will come to change us. And we can go from glory to glory.

In 2nd Corinthians 4:6, Paul continues to contrast the natural with the Spirit. In verse six, "For God who said light shall shine out of darkness, is the one who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the, what? Knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." Jesus has made a way where we can look into His face. The blood of Christ has taken the veil away. And just like Moses' face shone, there can be manifestations of his light in our lives.
When the disciples went before the Sanhedrin, the religious leaders sensed something different about them. The same is true of Jesus' followers today. Others can see His affect on your life.

Once, when I was at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, an obviously Orthodox Jewish person stopped one of the people in our group and said-out of the blue-"You know Jesus don't you? The person in our group wasn't sure if he should answer, afraid he might offend or cause trouble at this holy site. But he finally answered 'yes," only to hear the reply: "I could tell it. Tell me about it!" Although the Shikinah glory left Israel long ago, Jewish people are still looking for it today. And they know it, when they get around it. There's something different.

People ought to be able to see us being transformed. If Moses' face shone, how much more should believers' faces shine? But what, you might ask, is the glory of God? Well, that's a very big subject-and I'm just touching the surface of it-but His glory is to change us into His image according to 2nd Corinthians 3:18.

There are different dimensions of His presence, different ways God's glory manifests itself. When I'm talking about the glory of God in a worship experience, personally or in a corporate setting, I'm talking something tangible--the 'Kavod' of God, the substance, the weightiness of God. I use that word in a service recently, and a young lady came up to me and said, "I've been telling my husband for some time that I feel this at certain times in God's presence. I tried to describe it to him as this heaviness, but not a depression. It was an awareness, like a blanketing over me. I never understood it until now."

I'm not talking about warm fuzzies here. I'm talking about the Spirit of the Living God blanketing you with His glory, with His manifest goodness. One of the benefits of experiencing His glory is found in John 17:22. "And the glory which Thou has given me, I've given them that they may be one, just as we are one." One of the benefits is unity. Another benefit is that it changes us. A third benefit is it's a protection as in Isaiah chapter 4, when the Lord created a cloud of smoke by day and a flaming fire by night, a canopy for His glory, a covering of protection. Still another benefit found in Isaiah 58:8 is that the glory of God will be our rear guard. And as I've pointed to before, the glory of God is the identifying mark on all believers.

The knowledge of the glory of God has always been my personal desire, but I didn't realize how powerful that desire was until 1995 when we decided to have a new corporate logo designed for Integrity, Incorporated. Most of you have probably seen it by now-- it looks like a circle rainbow. Back then, in working with a designer, we really felt strongly about certain words we shared with the designers so they could capture what we're trying to communicate. We had no idea that what we told the designers, in essence, graphically represented the glory of God. Three years after that, I found Ezekiel 1:26. "And there was a radiance around him, as the appearance of the rainbow and the clouds on a rainy day. So was the appearance of the surrounding radiance." I about jumped out of my skin. The whole mission of our company is to help people worldwide experience the manifest presence of God, and God had given us a symbol that represents His glory. Amazing!

There are so many examples in scripture of what the radiance of His presence is like. I encourage you to study for yourself. Just trying to get your arms around something so big feels like I'm two inches tall trying to describe an elephant with only one angle from which to describe it. It's such a mystery, such a holy subject. I don't understand it all. But I understand it enough from scripture to say the glory of God is the goodness of God made manifest. And it's for the believer today. It's a protection for us. It will bring unity. It's a defense for us; it will be our rear guard.

And I look forward to the day when the knowledge, the experiential awareness of the glory of God, covers the earth like the waters of the sea. Five miles deep. What an awesome day that's going to be. It will happen. He said it. Until then, we must continue to focus on the glory of God, as those who worship Him. In truth, we become like what we worship. If we're beholding the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ, His glory will change us into the image of Christ.

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