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Given as a Devotional for the Saints at Medicalodge, Neosho, MO, on 7/15/01

 

We have been talking about glory and light for many weeks, and I hope that what you have come away with is that these are both attributes of our great and glorious God and His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ. Around here, people talk about "going on to glory" when someone dies, but what I want you to see, and pray the Lord will show you, is that it is His intention that we live in glory right here and right now. We followed the trail of the shechinah glory in scriptures from Mount Sinai onward through the bible. We spent about 4 Sundays talking about how this glory flowed out of the Most Holy place, the only place the Jews knew to find it, and from there, God's glory flowed out into the common man, on you and on me. On the Day of Pentecost, it manifested as fire on the disciples' heads, and represented the birth of the church which Jesus said the gates of hell would not prevail against (Matt. 16:18).

Through the centuries, the glory ebbed and flowed, sometimes being very visible as a result of a revival here or there, but sadly, many Christians came to feel that the glory had faded away from their lives, leaving them with only ritual and tradition to take its place. Thus, in many places, the church today is but a pale shadow of the one the Apostle Paul described in such glowing detail in Ephesians, Chapter 3. Here, he states that his mission from God, his "assignment," is "...to make all men see what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things; that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places. This was according to the eternal purpose which he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Eph. 3:9-11, RSV). The church Paul wrote about displays the manifold wisdom of God to the principalities and powers in heavenly places. Unfortunately, the church on Main St., USA, is hard pressed to show the manifold wisdom of God even to its members.

My purpose is not to suggest how we might make the visible church better, or more productive today. That is strictly a God job. My purpose is to shout words of encouragement to you if you feel a little "flat" in your Christian walk. If you tend to be more frustrated than fulfilled when it comes to understanding God's purpose for your life, take heart. He has a plan for you, and it matters not how old you are when He shows it to you.

Abraham was 75 years old when he left Haran to follow after the living God (Gen. 12:4). He was 100 years old when Isaac was born! (Gen. 21:5). Yes, they lived longer back then, but the fact is that God did not appear to him until he was old, past his prime. What I say to you today, here in this home, and to anyone reading this on-line, is that God can use you in spite of your walker, in spite of your wheel chair, and in spite of your health or emotional problems. "How?" You ask. I pray that God will open your spiritual eyes to see that the light of the world, the one who IS the shechinah glory of God lives in your heart. I told you last Sunday that you do NOT have to go to church to worship God. I did not say you should not go to church, I said you do not HAVE to go to church to worship God. God is a Spirit and we worship Him in Spirit and in truth (Jn. 4:24), Jesus said. Nor do you need to go to church to have someone pray for you. I love to pray for people, as you probably have guessed by now. I am not a pastor, not a preacher, not a deacon or elder, but I AM a child of the King, and God has shown me that He lives in me, and that my words do count. I pray that you will see by the power of God, that your words count as well. If you need prayer, find one of these dear ones who attend this service, take her hand, and say, "I need prayer. Will you pray for me?" Remember that the Apostle James said, "Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man has great power in its effects" (James 5:16, RSV).

Righteousness is not something we have to earn, by the way. In fact, it is impossible for human beings to obtain righteousness on their own. Righteousness, which means "right relatedness," is something that God credits us with when we believe Him. I read you this scripture last week, but it certainly bears repeating: "For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the scripture say? "Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness"" (Rom. 4:2,3, RSV). Abraham never heard of the true and living God. His tribe were idol worshippers. So, how is it that He could believe God? I submit to you that it is the same way we can believe in Him, by faith, which the Apostle Paul tells us is a gift of God. "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God, not because of works, lest any man should boast" (Eph. 2:8,9, RSV). The prophet Jeremiah said about the human heart, "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately corrupt; who can understand it?" (Jer. 17:9, RSV). Perhaps man cannot understand the heart, the feelings, the emotions, but the Lord God most certainly does, which is why He made sure that in the New Covenant, there is NOTHING we can take credit for. Abraham answered God's call, but the scripture says He has nothing to boast about. Likewise, Jesus said of His followers, "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day" (John 6:44, RSV).

Those of you here today at some point in your lives heard the call of God or you wouldn't be here. What I want to convey to you is the power and glory that are available to each of us in Christ. There are some people here in the bible belt, who attend church everytime the doors are open, but they have not heard about the power of God in their lives. How do I know this? By the fruit they bear, or lack of it. If you have a problem with fear, or a problem with trust, then you have not yet been perfected by the One who dispels all fear and who is worthy of trust. May the Lord open your eyes, right here, right now today to see Him as He is in your lives, for the Apostle John said that when we see Him as He is, we shall be like Him (I Jn. 3:2).

God is our Father. He is light; so we are light. He is love; so we are love. He is mercy and kindness; so we are mercy and kindness. Jesus said, "All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth" (Matt. 28:18), and glory of glories, He lives within us. "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain" (Gal. 2:20-21, KJV). There are two things about this verse that will change your life. 1) Because we were crucified with Christ, the life we live in the flesh, we live by the faith of the Son of God. Now, since Paul was careful to say, "in the flesh," this means right now, not after we die. 2) It is clear from this verse that it is NOT OUR puny natural faith that we depend on, but rather the awesome "faith of the son of God." That's very good news. When we depend on our faith or upon our righteousness, we do frustrate the grace of God, not a place where I want to be. My faith gets weak sometimes, which allows fear and worry to creep in. When that happens, I read the scripture that says "perfect love casts out fear" (I Jn. 4:18), and I ask God to show me the One who IS perfect love. When I keep my eyes on Jesus, I've got no problems that cannot be overcome. It is when I look at the circumstances around me that I sink beneath the waves of doubt and fear. Remember the time Peter walked on the water? He did fine as long as He kept his eyes upon Jesus, but the minute he looked at the storm tossed sea, the high waves, the wind whipping the water, he began to doubt and he began to sink. Lest we be too hard on him, I want to remind you that the other 11 disciples stayed right there in the boat. They did not have the faith to leap out, like he did. What he found out, in that "leap of faith," was that his own natural faith was not to be trusted. He couldn't count on his own faith, but what he could count on was the hand of Jesus who reached down, pulled him back up, and then chided him, "O man of little faith, why did you doubt?" (Matt. 14:28-31).

There are times in life when we do sink into the sea for a bit, but we're still here breathing in and out; we're still loving the Lord; we're still following His voice. This tells me that, during those times when we sank beneath the waves, it was Jesus Himself who reached down and lifted us up. It was Jesus who loved us back into the boat, and most of the time, He does not even rebuke us for our lack of faith, for He lived with skin on and He knows what we face day after day.

We do not have a high priest who cannot be touched with the feelings of our infirmities (Heb. 4:12), but we have a high priest who sprinkled the heavenly tabernacle with His own blood, and secured eternal redemption once for all men (Heb. 4:12). Therefore, the scripture says, we can boldly go to the throne of grace in time of need (Heb. 4:16). What are your fears? Do you fear death and dying? Do you fear financial lack? Do you have fears for your family and friends? There is a verse that says, "O taste and see that the Lord is good" (Ps. 34:8). Taste and see, two of our five senses. The Lord is so good you can taste Him. He will never leave you nor forsake you, and this does not have anything to do with your faith, your behavior, your decisions in life. It has to do with His promise to you! He is there for you. The Psalmist said, "If I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there" (Ps. 139:8). Do you see the glory in that? I have made some bad decisions in my life, and have, in effect, made my bed in hell a few times, and believe me when I tell you that God was always there for me. He never said, "No, you straighten up and fly right here Jan or I will abandon you." He was ALWAYS there for me in all my tight spots and bad places. This is the lesson Jesus taught in the story of the Prodigal Son, recounted in Luke 15. The Father was there for the boy. He did not rebuke him, though he certainly could have. He took him into his arms and said to the servants, "'Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet; and bring the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and make merry; for this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found" (Lk. 15:22-24, RSV).

One thing about the bible belt that bothers both Lenny and me terribly is the ever present sin consciousness. Quit concentrating on your sins. You have asked for forgiveness, haven't you? Of course, you have. Then, leave your sins and guilt at the foot of the cross and move on. Focusing on your sins will cause you to miss seeing that you are seated with Christ in heavenly places. You cannot possibly believe that God loves you unconditionally if you insist on focusing on your sins. The sin issue is a done deal, folks. Jesus paid the price for the sins of the whole world (I Jn. 2:2), and the sin question was finished right then. Once you have confessed your sin, leave it behind in the tomb there with all the other trappings of the old man. You were crucified with Christ, buried with Him in baptism, and have been risen to walk in a new life (Rom. 6:4). That life is filled with His light and His glory. If you do not see it, ask Him to show you. Ask Him to baptize you in the Holy Spirit, if you do not see the Spirit at work in your life, and then stand back and watch the Father roll up His sleeves and go to work. In truth, He has finished His work in you, but since you haven't seen that, it will feel like He is still working. In fact, the works of God were all finished before the foundation of the world (Heb. 4:3).

When you do see this, you can cease from your own works enter into His rest (Heb. 4:10). That does NOT mean you have to die to get there. I've seen this statement on some funeral brochures: "So and so entered into his rest on such and such a date." Unfortunately, most people believe that the only time they can rest is after they die, but the truth is, the good news is, that once we see that this New Covenant is all about what God has already done, we can rest. That does not mean we sit on our butts and eat bon-bons, but what it means is that we await His marching orders. Like Jesus, we do what we see the Father doing and we say what we hear Him saying (Jn. 8:28). The responsibility is all His. He'll show you when; He'll tell you how, and He'll give you the energy to do it. If you have to beat yourself up to get anything done for God, you might as well sit down and watch TV, because it is an exercise in self effort and pandering to the flesh. What God does, He does well and easily through you.

My prayer for each of you hearing this or reading it is that you see the shechinah glory which flows from His throne, through your heart and out to the hungry world. They will NOT respond to threats of hell fire and eternal damnation because they do not want anything to do with a god who would burn his children for all eternity. But when they see in you the glory, the light, the love and the forgiveness that is ours through Jesus Christ, then you couldn't stop them from coming to it no matter how hard you tried. The day is coming when "neighbor will not say to his brother, 'Know the Lord, for they will all know the Lord from the least to the greatest'" (Jer. 31:34; Heb. 8:11). How can this be, you ask? It will happen when the sons of God are so filled with the glory of the Lord upon them, that the gentiles (unsaved) will come to their light, and kings will come to the brightness of their rising (Isa. 60:3). At that time, Habbakkuk's prophecy will be fulfilled: "For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea" (Habakkuk 2:14, KJV.) Lord haste the day.

Jan Antonsson

Jan and Lenny Antonsson

17178 Highway 59, Neosho, MO 64850

"Following the Glory"

"The Glory Story Continued"

"The Glory Factor"

Jan's poem, "The New Creation"

The Glory Road

We always enjoy hearing from you!

jantonsson@aol.com

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by Jan Antonsson, Webmeister, on 7/16/01

and last edited on 11/03/08.