Responding to the Glory of God

 

Ezekiel 43-44

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Sunday, April 2

How should we respond to God’s glory?

To be able to answer this question, we should know what God’s glory is. A simple definition is His character, holiness, and excellence revealed. It is the essence of God on display.

In today’s passage, we read about Ezekiel experiencing God’s glory in a vision. He hears the voice of the LORD (Yahweh), which sounds like “the roar of rushing waters,” sees the land “radiant with his glory,” and witnesses the glory of Yahweh filling the temple (Ezek. 43:1-6).

You and I will likely never get the opportunity to receive a vision from the Almighty in which we can see His glory in such an amazing fashion. But God has revealed aspects of His character, holiness, and excellence to us in several ways. In these we can experience the glory of God and respond to it.

God has revealed Himself through His creation. This idea is called Natural Revelation. Romans 1:20 says “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” When one looks at nature it is difficult, at least for me, to believe that everything seen came about by chance and was not designed by an intelligent being. While Natural Revelation doesn’t tell us much about who God is, it does show a great deal about what He is capable of and how great He is.

God has also revealed Himself through the scriptures. What Natural Revelation leaves out about who God is, the Bible fills in much more. The writers of each book in the Bible were inspired by God through His holy spirit. They rely stories of the wonderful things He has done and inform readers of what He can do, and some even reveal what He will do in the future. The Bible offers a large portrait of the greatness and goodness of God, but doesn’t give a complete picture. Not until we dwell with Him in His kingdom will we experience the full weight of His glory.

God has revealed Himself through His son. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree is an expression often used to illustrate how a son is very much like his father, this could be said of Jesus. But more accurately it would be said that the apple doesn’t fall from the tree at all, it is essentially still part of the tree. Jesus is the exact representation of His father. If we want to get a better picture or understanding of God, the best thing we can do is to simply read the Gospels that tell of Jesus. The character of Christ is the character of God. The attributes Jesus exhibits are the same of his father. The glory of God is seen in His son.

The question still remains, how are we to respond to God’s glory?

I think our response should be twofold.

(1) We should be reverent. God is not like us. He is perfect. He is holy. He has great power. He created the world in which we live and, when we messed it us, had a way to make it right again. So, he deserves to be praised. He is entitled (it is his right) to be worshiped. This reverence we have for God should lead to not just passive adoration, but active glorification. We can stand in church and say God is great, but if we think this to be a great truth, it should move us to give our lives to him and serve him everyday of our lives.

(2) We should be repentant. When I say God is holy this means two things: he is set apart and he is pure. We, as human being who engage in sin, are not pure and we tend to act the same as everyone else, making us not set apart. That being said, we are called to be holy as God is holy. The first step towards holiness is repentance. We must forsake our sin and choose Jesus instead. He is the only one who can make us holy.

As you read our passage for today, as you go outdoors and see the beauty that is nature, and when you read about Jesus in the gospels, think about how you should respond. After all, you’re experiencing God’s glory.

-Joel Fletcher

Joel Fletcher is a former student of ABC. He currently lives in Minnesota with his wonderful wife Stephanie. He likes to read boring non-fiction books, watch boring baseball, and hang out with his NON-BORING wife in his free time. He is planning on teaching a class at FUEL this year (its topic will not be boring).

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In His Sanctuary

 

 

 
Ezekiel 40-42

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Saturday, April 1

Confession time: It is really easy for me to skim over these chapters filled with rich detail and precise measurements of the ideal temple. However, I am trying my best to pull some application out of this beautifully described temple.

I do not believe that God would give Ezekiel this vision for no reason. Perhaps God gave Ezekiel this vision to make a point about how God wants the people in exile to live. As a child I can remember being told not to run in the sanctuary. So, instead we learned to play tag, fast-walk edition. I can remember my parents telling me that we did not want to run in God’s house.

Whether it be a sanctuary in our modern-day church, or a temple during the times of Ezekiel, The Holy Spirit dwells in these places of worship. Perhaps God shares vivid imagery of this temple to express how badly he wants to dwell with the Israelites again. God awaits the reconstruction of the temple because he wants to live among the people. God yearns to spend time with us! However, like my parents had to tell me to stop running in the sanctuary, sometimes we need to be disciplined to put us in our place. God had to discipline his chosen people in hopes that they would turn away from their sin and follow the desires of God. In order to change their ways of idolatry and sin, drastic changes were necessary.

Phew! Aside from the description of the breathtaking temple, we have some application!

I pray God blesses you as you continue your daily walk with Him!

-Amber McClain

No Other

Isaiah 45-47

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Sunday, February 19

So I just want to begin by prefacing a little bit about my goal for this week. As mentioned in the little introduction of myself (found below), I have a major passion for music. I truly feel God’s presence the most when I can be lost in music and praise to him. Some of you may feel this way too which is cool, and if you don’t that is totally fine too. However, every single time I read my Bible, or listen to a pastor speak, different songs ALWAYS come to mind, seriously. So this week as I read and write devotions for you all, I will also include a song or two or three, that came to my mind as I read the passage for the day. Hopefully those songs that I send can speak in some way as well.

Let’s begin! There are a lot of things that go on in these 3 chapters in Isaiah and each have a slightly different theme. Chapter 45 is talking about what God has promised to do for his anointed one, Cyrus, simply because God knows him and has always known him. God tells Cyrus that he will use him to show others all about God, and his power. God says, there is no one else, none like him. God is all powerful and amazing. If I had to pick one small passage out of this whole chapter to be my favorite (of the chapter) it would be Isaiah 45:2-6

“I will go before, and make the rough places smooth. I will break the doors of brass in pieces, and cut apart the bars of iron. I will give you the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places, that you know that it is I, Yahweh, who calls you by your name, even the God of Israel. For Jacob My servant’s sake, and Israel my chosen, I have called you by your name. I have surnamed you, though you have not known me. I am Yahweh, and there is none else. Besides me there is no God. I will strengthen you, though you have not known me; that they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none besides me. I am Yahweh and there is no one else.”

Even though these are all things promised to Cyrus, we have the same hope. God knew us before we knew him, he has always known us and has plans for us, and he will do what he can to help us when we seek him and we seek his guidance, because he has already done those things for us. His son already died to save us, to make a way to find a relationship with God, it has already been done, so what are you waiting for? Ask God for his guidance, and trust that he will break the doors of brass in pieces, he will strengthen you so others can know him. Have trust in Yahweh.

Now Isaiah 46 continues with the theme of God being the only God, the only one. There is none beside him. Others like Bel and Nebo bow to idols and they have nothing to show for it. They are weary and stooped and tired, they do not find spiritual renewal in their idols, because that can only come from God. God, Yahweh, loves us and he is the beginning and the end, and in Isaiah 46:13 he promises Israel that he will deliver them soon. “I bring near my righteousness, it shall not be far off, and my salvation shall not wait; and I will place salvation in Zion for Israel, My glory.”

Isaiah 47 takes a much darker tone as the daughter of Babylon is called out for the error of her ways. This chapter is very much a warning to us, as it was to her as well. She had said that she does not fear widowhood or the possibility of losing children because no one sees what she does. She trusts in her wickedness, she is deceived by the manipulation and perversion of her knowledge. This chapter says that since she has trusted in her wickedness desolation and evil will come upon her. It later says in verse 15 “Thus shall the things be to you in which you have laboured: for those who have trafficked with you from your youth shall wander each one to his place; there shall be none to save you.” Even though this chapter is very dark and can seem scary, there is hope that wasn’t mentioned. Yes there are no people who have the power to save us from our sins, but God can! When we accept that Jesus his Son died for our sins, even though he was perfect and blameless, and we commit our lives to God and promise to glorify him in what we do and we work towards that we can be saved from our wickedness, we can be delivered. This chapter is a warning to us, and we should heed it. We are blessed to be given this book with such clear warnings, that can encourage us to seek God’s heart rather than the desires of sins.

Today’s songs are: “YHWH Saves”- by Aaron Winner, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SIFUi_qa6k8

“Come Now Is the Time to Worship” by Craig and Dean Phillips https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NPWq8eM4lu8


“All the Poor and Powerless” by All Sons and Daughters https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ieOL4X3nk2c

-Jana Swanson
Synopsis of Jana: Hey everyone! My name is Jana Swanson and I am a junior at Ball State University in Muncie IN. A few fun facts about me: My favorite color is green, although purple is a close second, I have been to Midwest Family camp 20 times, I am an avid Jesus lover, blogger, and college student. I have a passion for music- at many camps you may find me helping with worship, or singing with friends, or singing kids to sleep. I also have a passion for helping people. If you have any questions for me at all about anything feel free to email me at jmswanson97@gmail.com Thanks for reading the Bible with us this year, and I pray that my words can comfort you or reach you in some way.
(photo credit: http://www.christianwallpapersfree.com/2016/02/isaiah-45-2-bible-verse-wallpaper.html)

Keep Studying

Isaiah 29-31

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Monday, February 13

Isaiah prophesied about The Little Mermaid! Not really. I didn’t think Ariel’s voice was very ghostlike (29:4). Anyway…

We got a nice little reminder today of why it’s so important to do devotions like this and to study the meaning of the Bible rather than just read it. Isaiah 29:11 warns that “this whole vision is nothing but words sealed in a scroll.” Don’t let the Bible be just words sealed in a scroll. Dig deep into the word that God gave to us so that “the deaf will hear the words of the scroll (29:11).”

It can be easy to think that the passages we’ve been reading have been distinctly separated by chapter numbers and they don’t really connect, but yesterday we talked about the role that rules play in our lives. Again today, we see another warning of letting rules be our moving force (28:13). This verse is another that you would do well to keep close to your heart. Don’t let your worship be just the words you sing. Don’t let your worship just be the words you say. Have you ever been in church singing a song and thought to yourself, “Do I really mean this?” If you haven’t, you probably should. Just because it’s coming out of your mouth, doesn’t mean it’s coming out of your heart.

-Nathaniel Johnson

(photo credit by Bob Smerecki – https://www.flickr.com/photos/snapnpiks0304/9729996902)

Not to Us

Psalm 109-115

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Saturday, January 14

This weekend, I am playing in the band at reFUEL. I love praising God through music and have been doing that for most of my life. One amazing artist of Christian music is Chris Tomlin, and a few years ago he put out the song called “Not To Us.” (check it out here https://youtu.be/8m0LowihOXY) The first line of the song is “Not to us, but to your name, be the glory.” If you are reading along, you know that Chris Tomlin pulled that song right out of psalm 115:1.
In Psalm 115, the psalmist declares “Not to us, Yahweh, not to us, but to Your name give glory because of Your faithful love, because of Your truth.” The psalmist invokes the name of God and says “give Your name glory”. The name of God is so cool. YHWH(pronounced Yahweh), the actual name of God, is related to the Hebrew word for “to be” and means something like “the self-existing one, the one who has life.” YHWH God is the only one who exists not because of anything else but only because of himself. No other being has that power. Only one person is God. Therefore, because God is the only one who is God, because of his faithful love and his truth (115:1), the psalmists says “to your name give glory.” Which is why he says “not to us, because we are not God, but only to you give glory.”
The psalmist also says other things shouldn’t receive glory, honor or praise. They shouldn’t be for idols. (115:4-8) There are still idols today; money, sex, power, pleasure. These idols are worthless things, pointless things, death-giving things. These things shouldn’t receive our glory or our honor or our praise. More importantly, we shouldn’t give ourself glory. The psalmist gave a hard statement when he says “not to us, Yahweh, not to us”. The psalmist recognizes that we are not worthy of this glory or honor or praise, but only God is.
This week, live in the truth that God is the only one worthy of worship. Say with the psalmist “not to me, not to my pleasures, not to my bank account, not to my idols, but only to YHWH our God, will I give glory.”
-Jake Ballard
(From a fellow participant at reFUEL – Thank You, Jake for your ministry in music and word!  You are a blessing!)

The Earth Cries Out

Psalms 96-102

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Wednesday, January 11

The Appalachians are amazing. I grew up in the foothills of the Smokies and the Blue Ridge. On a clear day at the top of the hill you could see gracefully rolling mountains in the distance. If you live near the Rockies or even parts of Alaska, mountains in your imagination peak and may be white tipped year-round. However, in the imagination of a southern boy of the Carolinas, mountains are tree-covered rolling and majestic mountains. These are old and they feel even grander because of their age. I remember a time when I went hiking with some friends in the eastern mountains of North Carolina. We got to the top of the hike, and we could see the road cutting through the valley. The cars were smaller than toys; buildings, houses or stores were miniatures too small for a child and people were indistinguishable. However, the path they cut through the valley was noticeable. This was humanity’s doing.
The mountains, however, were the work of God. For miles, the green mountains, the golden-red sunset, the crisp, clean air, were the blessings and handiwork of a loving and caring God. And the mountains let you know it. The mountains “shout together for joy.” (98:8) The Psalmist knows well that creation praises it’s creator. When the author says “sing to the LORD, all the earth”(96:1) I have tended to read that one small phrase as a command to all the people. But just as importantly, he is telling ALL of creation to sing praises to God. The trees and the forest (96:12) resound with the praises of God, when they are displaying majesty in fall or even in the depth of winter when they are barren. The sunset over the mountain, or the sunrise over the ocean displaying the play of colors that God desires we all see in creation. (Or, on the more western states, the sunset over the coast.) Sometimes the glory God displays in the created world is not beautiful but terrifying. Darkness, like the inky blackness of night; fire burning up his foes; lightning striking the ground with thunder exploding and roaring all around, all these show the greatness of God.
In other places, it seems that creation because of it’s nature and the fact that it is nature, cannot help but show the glory of the God who created it. Jesus says that if those who were praising him (to the glory of the Father) were kept silent, that “the stones would cry out.” (Luke 19:40) But your worship isn’t. You must choose who you will worship. The author of these psalms we read show that God alone is worthy of worship and the created world, worshipped by other people in their world, worships YHWH. May we shout with joy along with the forest, the trees, the mountains, the rivers, the heavens, the depths, and all the earth. “Be glad in Yahweh, you righteous ones, and praise His holy name.” (97:12)
– Jake Ballard
(Photo credit: https://www.kingjamesbibleonline.org/Psalms-96-1_Inspirational_Image/)

Your Mind = Blown

Psalms 90-95

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Tuesday, January 10

The universe is big. REALLY big. You know it and I know it, but I don’t usually stop and think about just how big it all is. I am not a whiz when it comes to science, but some scientists estimate that there is roughly 440 sextillion kilometers of space. I can’t even get my head around that number. When have we ever had to use sextillion to describe anything else? And this is all part of our observable universe, because we can’t see past a certain point for a variety of reasons. Therefore it is possible that the universe is INFINITE. Whoa. And if you really want to have your mind blown, in mathematics, we can learn that there are different sets or levels of infinity, meaning that some infinities are bigger than other infinities.
Now, if you are like me, you may need to take a moment to clear your head of all that big-ness. It is a lot to take in.
In the Ancient World of the Psalms, people thought of the world differently. The idea of an infinite universe would have been completely unthinkable. I won’t digress into their actual way of thinking about the world, but they thought space was limited to Earth. However, they had no such notion about TIME. Time, for the authors of the Psalms, was something that goes back forever and goes forward forever. Time is what the Earth will always experience and go through, and since Earth will experience it, so will people.
Psalm 90 is a big reminder that people are mortal, or that people are born, they live and they die. We all go through that process. Nobody that is can skip any portion. People “return to dust”, recalling the opening chapters of Genesis. The author uses a number of images to express what people are like; grass (90:5-6), a sigh or tale that is told (9). We are all a mist or a shadow, to use other metaphors in scripture. And the author even gives a longer estimate of life, because he says that we receive 70 or 80 years! But that is nothing in comparison to the world, to the sun, the moon and the stars.
And least of all to God. God is eternal; God does not suffer from the passage of time, God does not experience time as humans do, and some Christian thinkers even say that God is outside of time. The eternality of God is in beautiful contrast to the mortality of humanity. YHWH is God before the mountains were born or he gave birth to the world, from “eternity to eternity”.(90:1-2) A thousand years are like a day to the Almighty. (90:4) Just as your days pass by quickly, so do thousands of years for God, because he literally has all the time in the world.
Because of this we should rejoice! Not because we only have to endure a few decades of doldrums, but because we are connected to the God who reigns forever. Psalm 93 says “Your throne has been established from the beginning; You are from eternity.” God is praised for being the King, and the King forever. God’s holiness and beauty will be established for all the days to come (93:5). With all this in mind, it is understandable why the authors of the psalms would cry out “Come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord our Maker. 7 For He is our God, and we are the people of His pasture, the sheep under His care.” How amazing is it that the eternal, all-powerful, King of the Universe would want to be our shepherd. Let that truth sink in, and when it will, it will blow. your. mind.
-Pastor Jake Ballard
(Photo credit: http://hiswordinpictures.blogspot.com/2014/10/psalm-904.html)