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The Glory We Overlook

“We begin with behold,” is how we ended last week’s post. We’ve been exploring God’s glory and, though it is impossible to grasp the manifestation of His infinite perfection, all creation proclaims “his eternal power and divine nature.” (Romans 1:20) Beauty we behold, power we praise and we marvel at majesty, yet glory gleams brilliantly, too, from a facet of God’s being we are less naturally inclined to esteem: humility. Most of us look upon humility with kindness, some genuinely and some in a more patronizing way, as though coddling an innocent. Still others regard humility with an element of scorn: “Nice guys finish last,” they scoff. Yet humility quietly stands its ground, letting its detractors—pride and arrogance—proclaim their own weakness and shout their own demise. After all, who needs to assert their own greatness, but those who question it? What truly confident person would belittle the lives of others in order to magnify his or her own?

True humility rises higher in God’s eyes than anything this world esteems, even as it reaches down to serve a people steeped in pride. We need a true understanding of humility; we need to behold it where it shines in immutable glory, the person of Christ Jesus:

Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:6-11)

That’s humility! That’s glory! That’s how God glorifies the humble. And aren’t we glad? The One who sits above all else, stooped down to serve us and rose to glorify His Father in heaven. Who then deserves our glory—our everything—more than Christ Jesus? No one.

Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. James 4:10

Father, you humble us, not through our shame, but in your love. Jesus, you serve us, not because we deserve it, but because we need you. Spirit, come fill us, that we would live in the freedom of humility—humility that overcomes our pride, serves others, and glorifies God. Amen.

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A Glory To Behold

What is glory? Likely, our immediate thoughts go to victory basking among roars of approval or stardom coddled amid fawning adoration. Glory is also an attribute that elicits praise, such as the vastness of the heavens or the grandeur of the canyon. In animated beings it is often the outward manifestation of internal character or ability—the brilliance of Einstein, the oratory of King, the compassion of Teresa, or the strength of Secretariat. But how do we even begin to imagine the splendor of Him who is infinitely perfect in every way—the One who formed the universe and painted its earth, who conceived what science can merely explore, whose justness burns deep within every soul, whose feelings of love burst forth into acts of love, the God of unbridled power? All of these proclaim His glory, for “God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made.”1

Though majestic, the glory we behold in nature merely points to God who is glory by nature. So, we peer beyond created things to Him who conceived them and to Christ Jesus through whom they are made, for “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word.”2 Writes Paul, “In Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form”3 and “The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”4

It is all the more to His glory, then, that Jesus “made himself nothing, taking on the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.”5 Writes John, “[Jesus] became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”6 And I think “behold” is where we begin to understand God’s plan for us—his glory in us. For, “we all, … beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.”7 What could be more glorious, but Him who makes this so? We begin with behold.

Father, your glory far exceeds our understanding. Send us your Spirit to quiet our souls, that we may behold you even as He transforms us into the image of Christ. In His name we pray. Amen.

1 Romans 1:20
2 Hebrews 1:3
3 Colossians 2:9
4 Colossians 1:15-17
5 Philippians 2:7
6 John 1:14 NKJV
7 2 Corinthians 3:18 ESV

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Open the Box

Watching one-year-olds open presents promises a humor all of its own: unaware of the gift inside and enthralled with the wrapping paper and ribbon that surround it, it never occurs to the little tykes to open the box! Senses ablaze at the sights, sounds and feel of colorful paper shredded at will, there they sit in first-birthday seventh-heaven. It’s all perfectly predictable, yet we laugh just the same. But what if this pattern never changed as they grew up and knew better? What if those we love never opened life’s boxes to see what lay inside them—crayons, dolls, and games; dresses, basketballs, and jeans; gift cards, car keys, and heirlooms? Think of their joy missed; think of our hopes dashed.

To the Ephesians, Paul wrote, “you … were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation.”1 The same can be said of all who believe in Him: We live in Jesus forever. Yet being saved from eternal separation from God is only the beginning of greater things. To the church in Rome, Paul spoke of a gift far beyond our imagination: “For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And having chosen them, he called them to come to him. And having called them, he gave them right standing with himself. And having given them right standing, he gave them his glory.”2 Paul is talking about us! As we hold the rich-textured paper and ribbons of salvation, God knows the gift that awaits us deeper inside the box, the gift of His glory—His splendor, His brilliance, everything He shares with us, for we are His heirs, the “many brothers and sisters” of his Son and “co-heirs with Christ.”3

Glory itself is a difficult concept to grasp, as is our transformation into the likeness of the Son who is “the radiance of God’s glory, the exact representation of his being.”4 Over the coming weeks we will continue to open up the wonderful gift of glory, all the while celebrating the God who delights in giving us His all.

Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift! (2 Corinthians 9:15)

1 Ephesians 1:13
2 Romans 8:29, 30 NLT
3 Romans 8:17
4 Hebrews 1:3