Show me Your Glory

A few years ago I was part of a women’s bible study called Seamless. This study guides you through the entire Bible, start to finish, showing the connections of God’s plan for us, from Creation to Jesus, to the Early Church, and everything in between. It showed the seamlessness of the Bible, and how it all fits together when you look at the bigger plan of salvation. I absolutely LOVED this study! For so many years I felt like the Old Testament was a bunch of separate Sunday School stories that were anything but seamless. I didn’t understand the timelines or eras, and while I knew some of the main characters and plots, I didn’t have it “mapped out” and how it all points to Jesus.

In the last month of Bible Journal entries we have moved from Kings to Prophets. Thanks for following along with us as we uncover these early leaders in the Old Testament. If you take a step back, you can see that God’s people have been led by Priests, Judges, Kings, and Prophets, each role spanning different time periods and for different reasons. God used the prophets to guide His people back to him. Stick with us – it really does all come together and point to Jesus!

Today I get to introduce you to Ezekiel. He (and other Israelites) have been living in exile for five years in Babylon, at the hand of King Jehoiachin. The next few days we will cover more scripture from Ezekiel – and heads up, it gets pretty interesting.

Chapter 1 he leads right off with a vision that God gave him, of the glory of God. Take a few minutes and read it. Do you need a pen and paper to draw out what he is describing, to keep it all straight? All the features, and body parts and animals? I’m not a bible scholar or dream interpreter…and it’s hard to know what to make of all of this! I read this several times and I thought and prayed… Okay Lord, what do you want me to learn from this?

I’d truly be guessing if I tried to share some big theological explanation of what his vision could symbolize and mean. When I was studying and digging deeper into this chapter, I found a lot of smart opinions and guesses out there. If you’re into that kind of stuff, your bible may have a lot of cool footnotes, or google and dig around the web. When I did an image search for ‘Ezekiel 1 Vision Picture of God’s Glory’ it was crazy to see all of the different ways artists interpreted Ezekiel’s description – the picture in my mind was completely different! I also found it fascinating how one source compared verse ten’s four faces (man, lion, ox, eagle) to Jesus. Jesus is fully man, he is king and victorious like a lion, he is a servant and sacrifice like an ox, and he transcends and is spiritually sovereign like the eagle. Chapters like this leave me curious and hungry to understand more – heaven, come quick!

There were also two things I learned about Ezekiel that really encouraged me:

First, Ezekiel is BOLD. And like I said – STAY TUNED – there’s more coming. He’s clearly being directed by the Lord, and has no qualms about telling the Israelites every detail of what he just saw. They’re living in exile, and God is using Ezekiel to share His message with His people. What message does God have for you to share? Maybe it’s not an indescribable being from a vision, maybe it’s your own life experiences. Maybe it’s not a message for a people group living in exile.. maybe it’s something God has for you to share with your family, a group of teens at your church, or some co-workers. I’m encouraged to be BOLD, even at the risk of sounding a little loony.

Second, Ezekiel is reverent. Verse 28 tells us that when he sees all of this he falls on his face. He didn’t run and hide in fear. He didn’t look the creature in the eye or give him a high five. He went to the ground, face down, to show his humility, awe, worship, and adoration. Have you had those fall to your knees or go face down moments in your faith journey? Those deeply spiritual moments you can always go back to, that can draw your heart to worship and praise? Whether the circumstances were tragic or triumphant – your only response was one of complete surrender?

I can go back to some of those moments in time in my life, like when I first made a commitment to follow Christ, or when my daughter came out of spinal cord surgery at five and a half months old. Remembering and reliving those moments of complete praise and surrender draw my heart closer to the Lord.  Third Day has a song called Show Me Your Glory, and I love this part of the chorus:

Show me your glory
Send down your presence
I wanna see your face
Show me your glory
Majesty shines about you
I can’t go on with you Lord

We don’t have to wait for heaven to experience the glory of God – what a gift! Let’s ask God to help us see His glory today!

The Mystery of Transfiguration

Transfiguration-Raphael 1520

Today’s Reading: Mark 9

“And he said to them, “Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God after it has come with power.” And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became radiant, intensely white, as no one on earth could bleach them. And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, and they were talking with Jesus. And Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good that we are here. Let us make three tents, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.” For he did not know what to say, for they were terrified. And a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice came out of the cloud, “This is my beloved Son; listen to him.” And suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone with them but Jesus only. Mark 9:1-8

Hello readers, I’m so happy to write to you again on a Monday morning. We have something big to talk about today, the transfiguration of Jesus. I know, that is just so much for a Monday! So, what on earth is happening here? Let’s start with the whole concept of transfiguration. The word transfiguration comes from the Latin term transfiguratiowhich refers to the experience of momentary divine radiance. Jesus’ core group of disciples Peter, James and John accompany Jesus on an arduous journey up a mountain. When they reach the top they witness the transfiguration of Jesus as well as the appearance of both Moses and Elijah the prophet. The three of them together inherently tell the story of the promise of a life beyond what can be seen and experienced on earth. Moses and Elijah had mysterious deaths as chronicled in the Old Testament. Elijah went physically with his whole body into heaven (2 Kings 2:9-12) and Moses’ grave was never found as he was buried by God himself (Deuteronomy 34:4-7). The Jews viewed the appearance of these two pillars of faith to be a sign of the end of days. It’s not an accident that the three of them appear together. Then suddenly the disciples hear God’s voice, “This is my beloved son; listen to Him.” Mark 9:8. Moses and Elijah disappear and Jesus is the only one left. They then begin back down the mountain and Jesus warns his disciples not to share what they have seen until the Son of Man has risen from the dead. What a crazy day on the mountain!

How can we, as modern disciples of Christ make sense of this transfiguration story and apply it to life today? First and most important we recognize Christ’s transfiguration as a sign of hope as the gospel of Mark moves toward the passion. Second, we can draw the conclusion that Jesus’ predictions of betrayal, death and resurrection are accurate. That we can trust His word when He says He will return for us. Finally, this episode at the top of the mountain is evidence to us of God’s faithfulness. God does not leave us without help, guidance and most importantly He does not leave us without hope. Although it may seem that we wait endlessly for God to appear in our own life, maybe we need to trust in the glimpse that others have had. Jesus did not take all 12 apostles to the top of the mountain. But that glimpse is nonetheless a gift to all of us.

When the glory and excitement of that mountaintop moment faded away; Peter, James and John were left with a difficult reality. They had a responsibility to lead the rest of the disciples while their Messiah was dying on the cross. Are we strong enough and brave enough to lead in those dark moments when what’s left is the memory of hope? As we walk in His footsteps, not able to see Him but only remembering His promise, are we still transformed by the vision of Him? The transfiguration of Jesus wasn’t just for Peter, James and John. It was for all of us. We are called to be light and hope for a world that has not seen and has not heard. We are called to dig deep and find that light within our soul, listen to Him and let the vision transform us.

 

Mission Statement

misison1 Samuel 17 – Romans 15 – Lamentations 2 – Psalm 33

It’s likely that the company you own, or work for, has a mission/vision statement. Good mission statements inspire people. More so, effective mission statements have the power to identify and establish the priorities that yield powerful results. Did you know that Paul had one too? Read it with me. Romans 15:18-21 says,

I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me to bring the Gentiles to obedience—by word and deed, by the power of signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God—so that from Jerusalem and all the way around to Illyricum I have fulfilled the ministry of the gospel of Christ; and thus I make it my ambition to preach the gospel, not where Christ has already been named, lest I build on someone else’s foundation, but as it is written,

“Those who have never been told of him will see,and those who have never heard will understand.”

Did you hear it? If I were to format it in today’s corporate or church language, it would sound something like this.

To bring all people from Jerusalem to Illyricum to understanding of the Gospel,  through preaching, utilizing signs and wonders from the Holy Spirit and by my own example.

Pretty powerful, right? Can you imagine having a statement like that for your own life? What does your mission statement say? More importantly, what do your priorities say that your mission statement is?  That is what impresses me the most about Paul.  He lived it!  The evidence is well documented. In fact, he lived it so well that in 2 Timothy 4, as he nears the end of his life, he says, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.  Mission Accomplished.