glory of God


“There’s so much land. Everywhere.”  That was the response of a friend visiting the farm country land of what is known as Sussex County, Delaware.  That was the only thing he could say as he looked out the car window, the warm summer air hitting his face.  And that was probably the most intelligent thing to say as he drank in the vast flat farm land that extended for miles joining towering skies splattered with distant clouds.  Of course, it’s probably what you would say too if you were from the forested area of Virginia.

It was my same response when I came to Delaware too.  Farm land. Flat farm land.  Vast flat farm land of green and gold that meets blue somewhere off with some winding country road.  In the part of New Jersey (the “somewhat” garden state) where I previously lived and grew up, I had forests.  Thick forests. Magical forests.  And, of course, shopping malls.  Department stores. Highways. Business complexes. And fast-food joints every stone-throw from a traffic light.  So, yes, it was dense and with all these things in front of your eyes, it was difficult to see what was past it.  Like land. Vast land.  Maybe farm land and big skies.  Welcome to Delaware.  Now you can see.

Of course, what I’m writing about is more than just comparing Delaware and New Jersey.  Or farm land versus forested land. Or densely populated commercial zoning.  No.  I’m getting at something and it’s this: sometimes we have so much in front of us we don’t see what’s behind it.  Let me a bit more clear.  Sometimes we have so much in front of us, like jobs, schedules, carpooling to sports, laundry, yardwork, dare I say, even church activities, yet forget what, or more accurately, who is behind it all.  Yes.  You know who I’m talking about.  Our Creator.  Our Maker. Our Sustainer. Our Sovereign One. The King of the universe. God.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”  You say, “I don’t hear God speaking.” Yes He is.  He is speaking.  He’s speaking even though your job, schedule, carpooling, and laundry are right in front of you.  Have you looked past it to see who is really there?  “The heavens declare the glory of God and skies proclaim his handiwork.”  This is very much about stars and skies that speak.  They speak a language that only points to the glory of One.  God is speaking.

Christian, climb out of the hole you’re in.  Look past the trees.  Push back the limbs and leaves covering your view.  Get out of the fantasy world you’ve created and step into the reality of God’s glory. Look at God’s world wide-eyed in wonder.  Look at God’s written Word with craved hunger.  God is speaking. The Son is speaking.  “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” Let His words sink deep.  May He give you new eyes.  And as you use these eyes, you might find yourself  saying “There’s so much GOD!  Everywhere!”

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To me, insects are the dragons and monsters I grew up playing with as a kid.  I’m just glad God didn’t make them huge.  It would be their foot not mine that might have crushed me.  But I was crushed by the fierce reality of the glory of God while I looked at, of all things, a bunch of pill bugs in my compost the other day.

I was shoveling the compost pile to prepare my garden (I have to grow something alongside all these farmers here in Sussex County!) and a myriad of pill bugs started to appear out of the dirt.  I got down and observed small and large ones, and a centipede would slide by from time to time.  And then I remembered.  You can take a small stick, poke them, and watch them curl up in a perfect ball.  It was amazing and I worshipped God right then and there by my compost pile.  I was lost in wonder again at my God just as I did when I was a boy playing with dragons  and monsters.

Do you look at creation that way?  Does it point you  to the majesty and wonder of God?  I was reading Psalm 104 today and the entire Psalm points to the enjoyment God has over His creation.  Why would He do that?  The reason is this: God rejoices in the works of creation because they point us beyond themselves to God Himself.

And if God’s world has not caused you to enjoy Him on such a beautiful day (such as today and this past week that we’ve been having), then repent and drink deep of His glory.  Or maybe, just maybe, the world looks gray like an old black and white TV and not in color, because you haven’t come to Jesus Christ.  Come to Christ and you gain a whole new set of eyes.

And if this hasn’t caused you to ponder enough… check out N.D. Wilson’s (author of the 100 Cupboard series for children) promo video for a DVD series off of his book Notes from the Tilt-a-Whirl.  It echoes the same thing I pondered over a pill bug above…

“Grace is the pleasure of God to magnify the worth of God by giving sinners the right and power to delight in God without obscuring the glory of God.”  — John Piper, The Pleasures of God

I keep coming back to this quote by John Piper in his book The Pleasures of God.  I’ve read a lot by John Piper, but for some reason or another never got around to reading The Pleasures of God.  Man, what was I thinking??  It’s probably one of the best books he has written!  And this quote is biblically God-centered.  It points to the fact that grace aims to magnify God by giving me joy in God.  He is the prize!  Grace is not grace if it doesn’t give me the pleasure of God Himself.

If you haven’t read anything by John Piper, I encourage you to pick up this book.  It takes you into the blazing center and heart of what God is most passionate about:  the pleasure He has in His glory.  Read the book to see why this is good news for you and I!

From Michael Lawrence’s book, Biblical Theology in the Life of the Church

“The grace of God in the gospel through the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ not only describes the climax of the covenants but the climax of God’s redemptive acts in history.  It also bring us, finally, to the point and center of gravity of the story.  Since this story is the story of redemption, it’s quite easy to fall into the habit of thinking that that the point of the story is me, or us: the people being redeemed.  But that would be a misreading of the story.  Though we benefit immeasurably from this story, the center and point of the story is God and his glory (Eph. 1:6, 12, 14).

This does not mean God is some sort of giant, preening, celestial peacock, impressed with himself in narcissistic obesession.  In fact, the display of God’s glory in Scripture, is filled with irony.  For though God’s glory is seen in his ability to save, that salvation comes only through judgment.  And that judgment is borne by himself, in the person of his own Son.  It is in the cross that God’s glory is seen, in the suffering and sacrifice of him who is most worthy for those who are not worthy at all.

Here is the grace of God, and the glory of God, as he walks through those animals cut in two, as he provides a ram for Abraham’s son, Issac, and as he provides a Passover lamb for the Israelites.  All this that he provided for his people was but a picture and foretaste of his ultimate provision: his one and only beloved Son, Jesus, sacrificed on the cross for sinners, bearing the judgment they deserved, that God’s glory might be displayed in salvatoin and mercy, even as he met the demands of justice himself.”

Amen!