Glory? What Glory??

Then Jesus said, ‘Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?’

John 11:40

 

Sometimes we come across a verse we know well, or think we do, and find ourselves asking questions. Jesus was talking to his friends Martha and Mary as they looked at the tomb where Lazarus lay. Soon Lazarus would be raised from the dead, but can our verse be applied to us today? It comes down to this: If we believe, will we be able to see the Glory of God too?

 

It’s too easy to shy away from this interpretation, and think that it only applied to the power that can raise the dead, especially at our own passing through the gates of heaven, or the second coming but is that it? Is that all? How do you and I as believers see the Glory of God?

 

When I became serious about finding out about salvation as a 14 year old, my Sunday School teacher Alex Barclay prayed with me, and besides reading from Scripture and encouraging me to read and pray daily, he read from the hymn “Loved with Everlasting Love” which has stuck with me down the years since that life changing night. The words of the second verse resonate even now:

 

Heav’n above is softer blue, Earth around is sweeter green!

Something lives in every hue Christless eyes have never seen;

Birds with gladder songs o’erflow, Flowers with deeper beauties shine,

Since I know, as now I know, I am His, and He is mine.
The Glory of God lives in every aspect of the believer’s life, and is obvious. We may not witness the raising of the dead, but what about some of the things we can sometimes take for granted? A glorious sunrise and sunset, the budding flower, the healing of the sick, saving grace seen in another’s life, the pure love of a husband or wife, the birth of a baby, laughter, tears of joy, song, poetry, or friendship, and the list could go on. Can science measure any of these? No, because feelings and emotions come from within, and as the old hymn says, for the Christian, things become softer, sweeter, gladder, and deeper. Who but God can do these things? The very Glory of God is there for us to find and see when we know Christ!

Here and There

But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Saviour from there, the Lord Jesus Christ. Philippians 3:20

 

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 2 Corinthians 4:7

 

Like all Christians, I like, yes even look forward to the very thought of spending an eternity in heaven. I will see my Saviour there, and I will also see special family, friends and loved ones. What’s not to like? That’s the ‘there and then’, but what about the ‘here and now’?

 

I was reminded by a recent visiting pastor that while we ‘await’ our eternity in heaven, we must live our lives in the best way we can, before shuffling off this mortal coil. But we are imperfect and flawed. We are sinners only saved by grace, and in the sight of a Holy God. How then can we live up to the standard of our promised Holy eternity? The truth is, we can’t. We are human, and live in jars or pots of clay. As I was reminded, some of us are ‘crack(ed) pots’, or sometimes seen as crackpots by those who look on.
Our jars of clay, these human, earthly bodies, host a treasure, and we should never lose sight of this. Our ‘pots’ may be getting old and cracked, but our treasure within is perfect. Our job is simple. Use our plain, ordinary lives to point to Jesus within. After all, our body will fail us, but the treasure we hold is pure, eternal and Holy. That is what must be seen. So while we wait perhaps even impatiently for eternity, let us show this unfailing treasure within to all we meet. We just need to be transparent. Can you and I do this small thing in the ‘here and now’? Look at it this way, we need those cracks to let the inner light of our treasure to shine through. Looks like being a crack(ed) pot isn’t such a bad thing after all!!

Trust God, but Work!

David said to Solomon his son, “Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you until all the work for the service of the temple of the LORD is finished. 1 Chronicles 28:20

 

Evangelical Christians believe in the power of faith to move mountains, and to do the things thought humanly impossible, so we sometimes take a back seat, and leave it all to God. After all, He is the one with all the strength to get the job done. But take a look at the verse again.

 

When David was talking openly and honestly to his son Solomon, God through David reminded him that it was still Solomon’s job to be strong and do the physical work, but it is God’s job not to fail him or forsake him, until ALL the work….is finished!!
What a combination. Our human efforts, coupled with God’s Blessing to see the work finished. We may not be required to build a massive temple, but what about that Sunday School Class, or Youth Group, or using your musical talent, or that gift you have of encouragement within the fellowship of your church? If we do our part, according to the Word, God will see it through to completion. What a promise!

Crisis

We use the word easily, and it is often repeated in our media. If something is in crisis, it seems to be newsworthy. From poverty to politics and everything in between, we become immune to its real meaning. As a fourteen year old, I remember the Cuban missile crisis in 1963 and the fear it produced in me and my classmates. The threat was real, and today’s teenagers are now faced with another, real crisis. This one, like the last one, is not of our own nation’s making.

 

The new US President Donald Trump, and North Korea’s Kim Jong-Un are not men to be messed with. Both are proud, yes even arrogant in their own worth and see themselves as a kind of ‘saviour’ (small ‘s’) of their country. One by birth, the other elected in a democratic process. What each says, goes. Consequences are not thought through. Neither will stand down for fear of being humiliated, or seen as the loser. These were exactly the same conditions that prevailed in 1963. As history shows, the missile carrying ships headed to Cuba, turned around. One leader was hailed as a victor, the other slid into the background.

 

As the saying goes, “One thing we learn from history, is that we don’t learn from history”, so here we go again. I imagine that our youth are fearful, and wondering what on earth is going on, just as it was in my younger day. As the US and North Korea’s leaders lock horns, it is impossible to know what will happen next as the leaders flex their muscles. But as Christians we have the sure words of Jesus, our supreme Lord who is over and above all earthly leaders. We need to take heed of the two fold message. While we are not fearful, we must recognise that time is still available to get onside with the only true winner, Jesus Christ.

 

You will hear about wars that are being fought. And you will hear stories about other wars beginning. But don’t be afraid. These things must happen before the end comes. Matt 24:6

Three Years and Three Days

For three years Jesus’ closest friends stayed with Him, through thick and thin. Together they watched as their Master healed the sick, made the lame walk, the blind to see, and even raised the dead back to life. They had an extraordinary apprenticeship as those first disciples.

 

Then came the three days. On Friday, they abandoned Him and scattered. On Saturday, they hid out of sight, from fear of the crowds and authorities. But on Sunday, they found their voice, and the reason for the apprenticeship was clear. From the resurrection on, these same men who scattered and hid, now set out to change the world. The world has been turned upside down because of that first resurrection Sunday.

 

As His Church, how do we react to the Gospel message? Do we scatter and hide, or do we stand firm in the strength of the certainty that God Raised His Son from the dead? And for what reason? To show us the way of salvation and eternal life through repentance. I pray we are found worthy of the price Jesus paid to get our attention. It is worth noting that it was left to the faithful women to tell the disciples that their Master had risen. What a message God chose to give these Godly women, and NOT the disciples, as recorded in Matthew’s gospel:
He is not here: for He is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. And go quickly, and tell his disciples. Matthew 28:6,7

A Worried Christian?

Don’t worry about things—food, drink, and clothes. For you already have life and a body—and they are far more important than what to eat and wear. Matthew 6:25 (AMP)

 

I have heard it said and preached that we shouldn’t worry or be anxious about anything, because it shows a doubting heart, and that you don’t trust God. I would agree with the verse which talks clearly about things like food, drink and clothing. But what about people? Are we not all, every one of us, worried about our friends and family? Worried to the point of being distressed as we watch them grow and enter a world they don’t know anything about.

 

Can I kindly suggest that it does not show a distrust in God when we are concerned, and yes anxious about our parents, children, grandchildren, sisters, brothers or friends. It does not show a disbelief in the power of our God. When we pray, do we not weep for them? Would we not rather any harm would come to us, than to them? Sometimes our grief is measured by the measure of our love. The more we love, the more we grieve, and yes worry.
Can I let you into a secret? There is no age limit to this kind of concern. A parent will always worry for and about their children and grandchildren, no matter how well things would appear to be going. Sometimes the worry is contained easily behind a smile and a laugh. But sometimes that anxiety fills the praying heart, and spills out of the eyes in unwelcome, unusual, hot salty tears when no one except God sees or would ever know or understand. That’s a parent’s love, and there is nothing like it from the baby’s birth to the grandparent’s grave. As tough as it is, I wouldn’t change the gift of that role or responsibility for anything.

Troubled

And that same Christ gave these gifts to people: He made some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to go and tell the Good News, and some to care for and teach God’s people. Christ gave these gifts to prepare God’s holy people for the work of serving, to make the body of Christ stronger. Ephesians 4:11,12

 

There are times in our normally content and well ordered lives that something will trouble us. It will seem small to others, but for the troubled person, it can be a big thing that may keep you awake at night, and affect your daily living. Some Christians have been on the way for many years, and some for relatively few, but I would suggest every one of us would want to be the best Christian example possible.

 

There are different groups of people in the verses above, and I am not sure where I would fit in. I am certainly not an apostle or prophet, but maybe I can care for some people just enough that they might learn the reason for my faith. Does that make me a teacher of sorts? It’s a heavy responsibility and not one I would want to shirk, or shrink from. But how do I do this? How do I avoid becoming a false teacher, and the risks that brings?

 

I am blessed to live in a nation where just about everyone knows the very basics of Christian life and living. Not that they all profess to be faithful to the message, but mostly, they know. Look at it this way, if you do something that falls short of the standard, the unchurched will be able to say the words we don’t ever want to hear, “I didn’t think a Christian did that”. My point is this. We don’t always have to convince our family or friends what it means to be a Christian. Chances are they already know. All that’s left to ask is, how to be the best witness and example, so that Christ is clearly seen? The writer to the Hebrews sums it up nicely when he reminds us that there are people watching us, and we have a responsibility to be an example. Read the following verse as if the ones we want to reach are the onlookers watching us run the race of life. We are their examples, and the bar is set high. I trust I am up to the challenge because I don’t want my life to be a stumbling block to any (young) person who is seeking for the truth of eternal life. None of us want to see the unintended sad eternal consequence of a misguided example. False teachers are not limited to the unreachable televangelists or internet preachers who so easily lead us astray. No, the sobering thought is that we, you and I, can also be false teachers, so let us be “wise as serpents, and innocent as doves.” Matthew 10:16
We have all these great people around us as examples. Their lives tell us what faith means. So we, too, should run the race that is before us and never quit. We should remove from our lives anything that would slow us down and the sin that so often makes us fall. Hebrews 12:1