Understanding the Glory
By Iverna Tompkins
Transcribed by Jane Vaughn
In some of our worship services, we sing the whole message of “now” – or, “of today.” We can sing about our problems, our disappointments, and our needs - but it isn’t what’s happening today that’s important. Nor is it how we put everything altogether - how we understand it all. No – it’s all about Him! He’s the Rock. He’s the Strong Tower! He’s the Fortress! He’s… Well, He is all of those things – and more! And that is the safety, the security of the believer as things shake round about us and as we’re wondering, “Why” or maybe “Who’s next?” or “Is it going to affect me?” or “How is it going to affect me?” or “If this person didn’t make it, oh dear Father, how can I possibly make it?” We especially ask those questions when moral failure is exposed in the life of a well-known person, or some disaster strikes in a certain place – as did Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
Those are thoughts or questions that come to us, but they do not come from God! The Bible is the book of the Thoughts of God – the Word – His Word. If you are confused today by the recent weather-related tragedies in our country (and the devastation is tragic!), I can promise you, you’re not in the Word. If you’re frustrated and low or despondent or depressed – you are not in the Word!
How do I know? How can I say that? Because the Glory of His Presence lifts our heads (Ps.3:3). I could start singing that chorus and you’d all join me – “My glory and the lifter of my head…” And the real truth is: when we are in His Presence, bathed in His Word, He lifts our heads! He gives us hope in our seemingly hopeless world.
Today, the word /glory/ (and I hope I don’t offend anyone – okay, I probably will. :-) I’m sorry ahead of time and apologize. :-) ) The word /glory/ seems to me to have joined the list of “buzz-words” that people use who believe themselves to be more spiritual than other people. Ouch. Does that communicate something to you? It should “ouch.” Some Christians make others feel like they experience God’s glory in such a way (different from the rest of us and superior to us) that it makes them somehow especially spiritual – above all the rest.
I use terms like “the church within the church” and “the Kingdom” and know exactly what I mean, but I don’t know if other people know what I mean when I use those words. I think it would be a sad thing if mine was a statement that excludes. It would be a sad thing if I believed myself to be in the church within the church and “judge” someone else to be in the “church without” or outside the Church. To me, such phrases are descriptive, but not exclusively defining. Please note that I understand all true believers in Jesus Christ to be members of His Church universal, but we also can observe that some are just hungrier for more of God than others. Some are in a greater, or “hotter” pursuit. That’s an observation, a description, not an exclusive designation.
Buzz-words. So we look at /glory/. If I want to go “in” (to His Gory) – and I know how to do this because I’m an old lady and I’ve been around a long time! :-) In certain circles, I can impress people with the right “buzz-words.” I can say, “Ohh. Ooooh, the glory! Ohhh! – the glow - ry!” :-) You see, it’s how you put the emphasis on the word. :-)
I become curious once in awhile about some people who seem to be far more spiritual than I, but they’re really – thick – as in, dense. I mean, they’re so spiritually-minded, they’re of no earthly value. They don’t have their feet down on this earth. They’re just not firmly planted here. You can try to hold a conversation with them and it simply seems impossible. It’s like this: You try to converse with them on any given subject and they’re so – ethereal – so far beyond you: “Bless your heart. Well, you’re saved – you’ll probably go to Heaven – somewhere – some time…” :-) But they are looking – seeking – searching – and no church ever is right for them. There’s no church “deep” enough. There’s no church “spiritual” enough. They hop from church to church – forgetting that they are sheep – thinking they’re frogs! :-) They just go from hither to yon, trying to find – the “deeper life.” Have you met some frogs along your way? :-)
Now, I believe there always is more of God to experience. Having said the other, I believe there’s always more to be discovered about our Mighty God. I believe there’s always more to be received of Him as well as from Him. I’m certain you know this scripture well: Second Corinthians 3:18. It says, “Beholding as in a glass, the glory of the Lord, we are changed from…” from what? Read it: “…from glory to glory.” Well, what does that mean?
Isn’t it interesting how we can read something for so many years and really not know what it means? Nor question what it means, for that matter! We just hear it shouted from some preacher: “Hallelujah! How many are being changed from glory to glory?” And we all raise our hands, but we don’t know diddly-poo! :-)
The only way we can understand being changed “from glory to glory” is to understand what God said /glory/ is, and it is so simplistic in His presentation. God said, “I will reveal Myself, all that I am, all My Attributes, all My Nature – I will put it all in My Son.” The Good Book says that He, Jesus, is the glory of God. Then, Jesus said, “the Father has given Me all things” (Mt.11:27; Lk.10:22) and He prayed, “Father, the glory that thou gavest Me, I have given them” (Jn.17:22; see also Jn.1:17;14:9,10). “WOW!” would be a good response from you about now! :-)
The glory that Father gave Jesus was Himself! Everything He has and is – every attribute – everything that God is, He put in His Son, and then He gave His Son (Jn.3:16-21). Oh! Just think of that kind of love! We sing it! “What love! What wondrous love! That You would die for me! That You would…” What a great salvation we have!
But it isn’t just getting Fire Insurance! He didn’t die just to keep you out of the flames of Hell! True. His Blood on your life will keep you out of Hell. Hell won’t let you in with it! :-)
So, what is the “more” we can have of God? What does it mean – “from glory – to glory?” I’ll tell you what it isn’t, and this is where I may lose some of you – but we have guards at the door! :-) I’ll tell you what glory is NOT – “Glory” is not being in a service where you begin to feel something you have not previously felt and you find yourself rising into some emotional response to what you’re feeling, and settle there. “Oooooo! Ooooooo!” That is not /glory/ – no matter where you place the emphasis on the expression. That is your reaction to /glory/.
Most of us respond – or, may I be honest? – react – differently to God’s showing or displaying or revealing of Himself. Our response/reaction depends on our own make-up and personality and the rest of what makes us different from one another. Some get very “this way” and some get very “that way” and some don’t get “very” anything visible :-) , but down deep inside… I have seen such people as I minister. You can’t tell where you are with them because they just look at you. I mean, they’re not big head-shakers – not big “Amen!”-ers. And yet they are a great supporter and lover of the Word, and they are stirred within their spirits. Sitting next to such a man, we’ll say :-) , is his wife – who is right there with you, word by word, thought by thought, saying everything in hearty agreement except, “Go, Girl, Go!” :-)
Now those are two different responses to the same Word being preached, and with the same depth of understanding, but oh, so different in their expressions and responses. So – maybe we’ll quit judging one another! Perhaps we’ll stop saying, “She’s really in there! You just watch her! She’s so effervescent about God! But he’s – I don’t know. He’s so… so… sedate it’s just hard to tell where he is!” :-) Maybe we will come to a place of understanding that God has been – is – and always will be revealing Himself to whomever wants to receive Him through His Son! Now look – if you got that – that’s a whole sermon! Take a break! Turn off your computer! :-) Because this is eternal. It’s not just here and now.
I really worry about some of the recent advertising I’ve seen for Christian meetings and conferences. It can be found both on the web and through snail mail – that this person is so – uh… into a “glory-realm” that you need to attend the meetings so you will be in that glory-realm too. I’ve gone to a few of those sessions and I didn’t “go” anywhere they claimed to be going – because I didn’t go to the meeting to see Him – I went to see whatever that was that was supposed to be happening. If you can hear this word, it’ll help you in the future. It really will. This is about focus - understanding that we are to be seeking experience with a Person, but not with another human being.
The Glory of God very definitely can be revealed in our worship services - should be. Even in the instrumentalists on the platform. And I love it when they can switch instruments – that versatility is such a beautiful gift. But the Glory of the Lord shows up on the true worshippers’ faces! (see Ex.34:29f). Do you know how I know? Because I look for it! :-) It would be impossible for these worship leaders to sing and play with such a powerful anointing if they hadn’t seen the glory.
And the same goes for you if you are true seekers of God (see Jn.4:23). You’re coming along, growing in the things of God. Your smile or your countenance – it isn’t just a glow. Thank God we have that too. But it is the outward demonstration of an inward understanding and you can’t get this apart from the Word of God! He is the Word (Jn.1:1,14). He is the living, powerful Word! (see Heb.4:12).
If it always has to be feeling and all these other experiences – you’re not going to go “from glory to glory.” You’ll just go from glory… period. :-) Do you understand that? You’ll just get stuck there in that one spot. When they sing that certain song – “Ooooooo! I can feel the Lord!” Well, you’re just stuck! And you will never be satisfied. You never will – because we have an innate craving for “from glory to glory to glory to glory…” that God put within us when we were born – again! Now let me add that I believe in experiencing God and His glorious Presence, and that we need to respond to Him. But that is not where the “from glory to glory to glory” is.
Along with that new birth also came another innate craving – or, if you prefer, a thirsting – for righteousness. Now if you are thirsty for righteousness and the only thing you read is the newspaper – you will be left being very thirsty! :-) Unfortunately, I see too many people who are very thirsty and they don’t know what they’re thirsting for, so they drink anything that’s handed to them! Selah!
And in that day – whether this is the end of my generation that gives me the sense of it being “the end” – or today really is during “the end” before the return of Christ – I don’t know. But I do have that sense. I have a sense that I don’t see how things can progress much more toward evil than they are without the return of Christ. And I like that sense! Wouldn’t you like that? Right now, today would be just great! :-) “Come, Lord Jesus” (Rev.22:20b).
But if He is to prolong human existence through another generation, what will we demonstrate to the children coming up behind us? Will we go back to old behavioral patterns for their standard? “You’re a Christian, you can’t chew gum in church.” :-) Well, that was way back in my generation. Now I suppose it’s that you can’t smoke in church! :-) So – are we going to just present to them a list of the dos on the left and the don’ts on the right? Or, are they going to see the Glory of God as He is revealed in us? Can we understand their capacity to possess such glory?
Let’s open our Bibles (lest you think I don’t read it :-)) – to the 24th Psalm. This is a Psalm that was to be sung each first day of the week, which we think of as our Sunday. Psalm 48 was for Monday; Psalm 82 for Tuesday; Psalm 94 for Wednesday; Psalm 81 for Thursday; Psalm 93 for Friday; and Psalm 92 on the Sabbath. That’s your free information for the day! :-) But this particular Psalm, 24, was for their Sunday reading, their first day of the week.
It begins like this: “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof; the world and all that dwell therein…” Now, I could talk for 30 days on that verse alone. We seem to forget this declaration! We think there are “God’s people” and “no” people – like it’s either-or. But God says, “All of them are Mine. There are a whole lot of them that don’t know it yet, and so I can’t bid them to ‘Come in’ in the end, but the earth is Mine, and all who live there.’”
Oh! We need to come back to an understanding of Who created this whole thing! Yes, we have messed up just about everything on this earth – leave it to humans. You know – the waters aren’t pure – the air isn’t pure. I turned on the morning news to check on the weather – and they were telling about all the things we have to “beware of” now. You have to beware of this new threat that’s out – you know, the bird flu – I never have liked chickens anyway, :-) but this is a whole new threat. And so it’s dangerous to just – breathe! :-) Especially if you’re in an airplane.
Besides the fear of disease-carrying animals, it’s even dangerous to shake hands with people! Or just touching other people could be dangerous. The newscasters went through the whole scene! I said to my Secretary and friend of many years, “The only thing to do is to go find a mountain – but not together now – I’ll go alone :-) – and sit on the top of it and – ‘Hummmm – ummmm…’ or something!” :-) “Because there are germs everywhere, and other things – and they’re ‘out to get you!’” :-) Now, that was on the News this morning!
But, oh! We sing: “He’s my Rock!” If I didn’t have that comfort, I wouldn’t get out of bed in the morning, would you? There’s no way I would try to face a day without Him! He’s “my Shield! – my Fortress! – Deliverer!” I have a hope! “My Shelter – Strong Tower – my very Present Help in time of need!”
Go to Part 2