And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it.

Revelation 21: 23, 24

This is a dream, an aspiration of the imaginations of people that love God. There will be a time when the darkness of strife and the cloud of death will no longer exist on the face of creation. That day has not come, but it is promised to us by the Lord, and He is more than good for His word in matters both small and great. In that glorious day when redemption has been fully deployed and sin and rebellion against God have come to an end, whatever stands as national distinction will cease to be a cause for separation. Instead, it will probably be a source of beauty in the sense that the aggregate of human difference and variety are all a part of a grand tapestry that in its summation fleshes out a picture of the fullness of humanity. 

Imagine with me, if you would, the world without strife, absent violence, and void of all forms of anger and distrust. Consider what it would mean to never fear of anything or anyone again. Then contemplate how it might be if love, respect, and acceptance were the singular vocabulary of all interaction and the language of formal and informal discourse. This is the work that Christ’s blood will do upon this broken world. This becomes the final and total outworking of the torment that Christ endured upon the cross, for the redemption of creation is God’s final and ultimate objective. That redemption brings about the restoration of the perfection of God’s original handiwork, and it is the world where all that follow Christ will dwell as God’s glory fills every aspect of the visual space in the universe.

Yes, this is a promise and a hoped for future, but I think that it is more than this. The glory of the Lord is not absent from the ground that we walk and the air that we breath today. Christ is considerably greater than just a once and a future king. He is alive today, and His Spirit is very active in our world. Each of us that call upon Christ as our Savior and Lord is an important part of the God’s redemptive work in this place where we walk today. He desires to shine forth the light of love and truth into every corner of the world, and this work of bringing light into dim and darkened places is something that all of Christ’s people has been granted to do as a gift and as a responsibility. We are to live in the comprehension of the light that was granted to us by Christ through the work of the cross, and we are given the privilege of living out the presence of the Lord in all that we think, say, and do. In this way, we bring the light of eternity into the reality of the places where our journey will take us this day.     

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If anyone serves me, he must follow me, and where I am, there will be my servant also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.

John 12: 26

In many respects the easiest part of following Jesus is found in saying yes to Him. Yes, I will follow You, and yes, I will serve Your kingdom. The hardest aspect of all of this comes about when Christ shows us where it is that He actually wants for us to go in fulfillment of that promise to follow Him anywhere. Jesus made the same sort of commitment to the Father and to all of creation, and the following that ensued for Him took our blameless Lord to a cross that would normally have been reserved for people whose lives were ruled by the darkness of sin. Yet, in obedience and out of necessity for the sakes of all of us, Jesus suffered and died at the hands of people who were unwittingly tasked with service to God as priests as they offered up and executed that ultimate sacrifice for all sins for the entire scope and span of time.

Now, we do not need to die in spirit, and even these wounded bodies are granted a form of reprieve that leads us to living out our days as instruments of God’s redemptive work in our world. However, we do not escape that cross that Jesus suffered and bled upon. We are called by Him to follow, and the path that He takes us along does inevitably require each of us to go to that place of surrender of will and submission of self to the holy and righteous One, Jesus Christ. This experience is usually not easy or pleasant to consider, and it can be torturous to endure. Yet, the result of such complete and absolute surrender to Christ is a form of freedom that cannot be found in any other way or from a different source. The cross of Christ is the initial point for a life that is lived out in the fullest expression of the wonder and the glory of God’s creative touch upon each and every person that walks upon the earth.

On the other side of the cross was resurrection and life. Jesus departed the tomb of His momentary burial and walked among His people, and He continues to dwell among and within us in the form of His Spirit to this hour. Christ continues to lead us into a type of surrender that sets us free from the earthly forms of servitude that continue to enslave our hearts, minds, and bodies, and in that process of divestiture of those remaining aspects of our old selves, the Lord guides us into the blessings of service to the Father’s kingdom come upon this earth. Christ does this as He grants to us our particular place and purpose in God’s plan for redemption of that which is lost. That cross of obedient surrender to which Christ leads each of us was intended by the world to be an implement of defeat and shame, but God’s redemptive will has transformed it into a place where victory over death is proclaimed and whereby we each gain that place of honor that God bestows upon His faithful servants. 

He also told them a parable, “Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit?”

Luke 6: 39

Although Jesus is talking about the very common human problem of judging others while remaining oblivious to one’s own sinful thoughts and actions, He is also speaking about a part of the way that God would have us change that way of life. You see, even Jesus needed to be under the influence and the guidance of a teacher. In His case, when He was living as a human on earth, He turned to the Father on many occasions for wisdom, guidance, strength, and encouragement. Jesus was Himself a man of prayer, and the numerous prayers that Scripture records are certainly nothing more than examples of the many others that were spoken or thought during the course of everyday life. In turn, Jesus taught His followers on any and all topics that related to living and to conducting those lives in a manner that was righteous, just, and that brought glory to God. In so teaching His followers, Jesus, in turn, instructed them by example and in words in how to teach others along the same lines as He did.

This process of sharing the truths contained in God’s Word with others has continued throughout time and is still present today. Additionally, Jesus’ pattern of going to God in prayer as a part of being instructed and informed about God’s will and the intricacies of His way of living remains critically important still. On our own, all of us are blind, and we also tend to function like the beggars in Jesus’ day did in that we are dependent upon others for all that we need to survive the day, and we are unable to access the bounty of wisdom and truth that God provides to us to feast upon during our journey through this world. Without instruction and guidance, we are left standing on a street corner crying out for bread when God’s grace has placed a banquet’s worth of provision a short distance from where we are standing in helpless distress. Additionally, if we are not trusting Christ to provide the proper words of instruction and guidance for us to share with others, we are not entering into the fullest aspects of growing more mature in our faith by reaching out to engage in the lives of others.

In order to stop living in the darkness of being blind, we need to be aware of our foolishness, lack of wisdom, and need for guidance and then repent of the sinful attitudes and self-oriented ideas that have caused this condition to continue. Christ will grant us grace and mercy for all that we have done that is contrary to God’s will, and His Spirit will work in our heart and minds to reshape and transform each of us into a person who can see clearly and who is also equipped to guide others into the light of the Lord’s truth. Sadly, the world where we live has more dark corners than it does places where the light of God’s glory prevails; yet, it does not need to remain like this. When people who know Christ choose to actively seek His wisdom as guidance for all that we think, say, and do, we bring God’s clarity into those obscured places, and as we turn toward others and offer them Christ’s grace and love while also leading them to the eternal wisdom of God’s Word, we help to amplify the brightness of that heavenly radiance in our corner of the world.   

Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name;

worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness.

Psalm 29: 2

 

According to Merriam-Webster the verb ascribe has a simple definition; “to refer to a supposed cause, source, or author: to say or think that (something) is caused by, comes from, or is associated with a particular person or thing.”

Ascription indicates the source or the cause; so, when David tells us to ascribe glory to the Lord, he is saying that the Lord, Himself, is the one who wrote the book on glory. This form of brilliance is both greater than all light, including the illumination that comes from the sun, and also gives off a form of illumination that penetrates to the depths of the heart and the soul to reveal all that is to be found there. This is the glory that is of the Lord and that also emanates from Him. We cannot draw near to God and not be caught up in the power and the beauty of His light of glory.

 

So, if we seek to be close to God, we will encounter glory. As we seek to know Him, we experience this same great light, and the glow that comes from God’s presence is one that is infused with His holiness and that also pours out that same great cleansing truth over and into all who will accept God as our Lord. This is a wonderful gift and a marvelous reward for turning away from the influences of this world and surrendering to the love, grace, and mercy of the Father as expressed by and through Jesus Christ, the Son. In simple fact, we do not actually cause glory to be associated with God, for God is self-referential in this matter. We acknowledge what is there as we speak out our comprehension of the character and nature of our Lord and Creator. His glory is something that predates all of Creation. It is a part of the fabric of the universe as God imparted His great light of truth into all that His hands formed and granted life to. God’s glory is present in Heaven and in all that exists outside of it.

 

Although we encounter this glory in and around us in many places and as a part of much of our world, there is still only one source for it. In addition, all that is truly glorious in our world and in life comes from that same source. Now God is not stingy with giving out His glory to us; instead, He distributes it freely and widely. However, if we desire to know the source of this life-giving light, we must seek after and draw near to the Lord. As we call out God’s name and associate it with words of adoration, praise, and petition, we are engaging in worship. We also do this when we bring the pain and the struggles of our days to our Lord with trust in His goodness and mercy and expectant hope for His comfort and provision. The Lord is honored by the way that we live out our lives when we do so in response to Christ’s great sacrificial love for us, and He counts it as worship when we pour out justice, mercy, comfort, and protection upon people who are broken and downtrodden. Each and every aspect of worship comes about in response to who God is and as a reflection of the glory that radiates from His presence. As we worship we speak back to God the truth of His great love, and we open our hearts and our minds to encountering ever more of God’s awesome presence.

 

 

For this is he who has spoken by the prophet Isaiah when he said,

“’The voice of one crying in the wilderness:

“Prepare the way of the Lord;

Make his paths straight.’”

Matthew 3: 3

 

John’s message was straight forward and rather simple, for he called upon people to repent. He pointed them toward God and to the awful difference that existed between the way that they were living and the standard of righteous life that was set out for all people by the Lord. Interestingly, John went out into the wilds of the countryside to proclaim this message from God. He left the populated centers behind and found his audience out among the open spaces and the scattered villages, long-distance travelers, and assorted wanders that he encountered in those less hospitable locales. His first and primary appeal was to the people at large and not to the powerful or the prominent. John didn’t start out speaking with religious or with governmental leaders, and his message wasn’t directed at corrupt institutions or at their ungodly leaders.

 

John was called by God to go to people who were not so different from any of us, and he was directed to call upon us to turn to the God of our creation as our only valid hope for salvation from the ruinous path that we and that all of the rest of humanity had taken. Although John went out into the literal desert places to start to preach the Lord’s call to return to Him and to the truth of His word, he was restating the words that Isaiah had set out long before when he spoke about God’s promise of restoration and of peace with Him that was given then to the people of Israel and promised in extension to all of the world. In Isaiah we see the idea of wilderness as depicting the vast wasteland of human souls and all of the barriers that we have built up that separate us from God and from doing His righteous and redemptive work in our world. Isaiah speaks of mountains made flat and valleys being raised up, of other forms of impediment gone so that God’s glory is revealed to all of the world.

 

This is done through the lives of people just like us. God works in and through His people to bring this same message of hope through repentance to the world around us. We all reside in a barren landscape like that of Isaiah’s and john’s wilderness of the soul, and every one of us rubs shoulders on a daily basis with people who dwell in the harsh and bitter lands of that wild place. Our first calling is to personal repentance as we hear God’s voice and respond to His Gospel of righteous hope, peace, and love by turning our lives in full measure to Christ and to serving Him. Then we are to turn to our neighbors and to others that we encounter and that we seek out and reveal to them the glory of the Lord as it is made visible and tangible in our redeemed and transformed manner of thinking and living. Christ calls to each of us in our own wilderness, and then He sends us forth to do this crying out to a lost and a needy world. As Christ sends, so we must respond like john did with all of our mind, heart, and soul.

And one called to another and said:

“Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts;

the whole earth is full of his glory.”

Isaiah 6: 3

 

The Seraphim speaks, and from that place close to the throne of God profound truth pours forth. As Isaiah tells about what he saw in that great vision of the Lord, we are informed regarding important aspects of the fundamental reality where we dwell as followers of Christ. God truly rules this world. This is a season in the long history of Creation wherein Satan’s reign of evil has impact and retains the power that we humans unleashed into our world. But there are limits on his capacity and on his authority, and the time for him to have any influence at all is now quite short. Even at this moment, Satan’s gains are minimal in relationship to those of Christ.

 

Christ works in this world to bring people into the light of God’s saving truth and then into living the righteous life that comes out of that truth. He elevates us out of our natural and worldly habitat so that we now dwell in spirit in God’s holy place of righteousness, love, and grace. Yet, our feet are still attached to the dirt of this world, and our bodies reside within its borders. However, those borders are all encompassed by a greater boundary that is God’s kingdom. This is where God’s glory overcomes all that Satan’s evil attempts to bring about. In Christ, each of us is a citizen of this heavenly nation with full rights and responsibilities of that citizenship. We are free to live out the truth of God’s Word without concern for what others may think, say, or do. Yet, we are also responsible for living in the full expression of that word’s redemptive purpose.

 

This brings me to the point of Isaiah’s words for me today. The Lord was calling Isaiah out of living as a follower of the ways of his world and into that extraordinary realm of separateness that is God’s holiness, His purity and truth, while also sending Isaiah into that same world as a person who would live out that righteousness and speak the hope of redemption and restoration into a dying land. I think that Christ is calling upon me to do the same things. Christ’s purity and love bring my sinfulness into the bright light of exposure that leads to repentance while His grace forgives all of it. Then He, as He did with Isaiah, sends me into my world to live in a manner that brings the presence of God’s glory into the lives of others.

For the Son of Man came to seek and to save that which was lost.

Luke 19: 10

 

God is always seeking. He never stops pressing on to reach into the darkened depths of the souls of people, for He claims everyone on this earth as His own. The Lord will not rest from the quest after relationship with us until we have totally closed and locked away any possible access to our hearts. Since God sees nothing but the potential that He designed into us, He continues to view us with that Father’s eye for the potential beauty within until the moment that we draw our last earthly breath.

 

Christ wants me to view others in this same way. He tells me to love my neighbor, to forgive wrong doing, to offer up my un-injured cheek to the person who just hit me, and to care about the eternity of others more than I care about my own security or comfort. Jesus seemed to actually enjoy the company of such flawed and coarse people as we are. He gathered the imperfect and the self-focused to His side; and He continues to delight in being in the close and intimate company of these people. People such as you and me.

 

Jesus came after me. He has come after you, and He wants us to join Him in the relentless pursuit of others. This world is filled with lostness and the pain that it causes. Christ provides the answers to the void that sin has carved out. People who know Him are the means that God uses to connect that empty need with His healing love. Jesus desires to walk with each of us through this day of seeking that which is lost. Christ will do the work as He gifts to us the right words and deeds for us to use for this purpose and to His glory.