Ministry with Purpose – The Glory of God
One of the most profound experiences of my life was dreaming about the ‘glory of God’. It was so striking and overwhelmingly attractive that I had to touch it, and yet it was elusive due to a veil called ‘death’ (to self) preventing this from happening. However, Jesus promises that if we endeavour to walk in His ways His glory will be upon us and shine through us resulting in much fruit! Jn 17:22 and Jn 15:8
Moses with a sense of desperation arising from a difficult ministry prays, “Please show me your glory” (Ex 33:18). And the Lord granted him his request. The glory of God gave Moses hope.
Jesus in his prayer in John ch17 mentions 8 times a word associated with ‘glory’ so it must be important. He also wants you to see His glory 17:24. Have you yet?
- The word ‘glory’ in the OT means weight associated with God’s presence. Therefore when people ministered before the Lord in the O.T. they often fell down in His presence. Tradition has it that when the high priest went into the Holy of Holies once a year a cord was tied around his ankle in case the glory of God’s Presence overwhelmed him. Then they would pull him out! It was a sacred and sometimes a fearful experience to see the ‘glory’ of the Lord.
- The glory of God is manifest through a personal ‘dying to self’. Greeks seeking Jesus in Jerusalem sought to see His glory. Jesus after the introduction replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds (Jn 12:23,24). He spoke this before his death and His resurrected glory. Dying to self doesn’t get any easier as we grow older as it comes in so many forms: rejection, loneliness, health challenges, financial hardship, ministry beyond our natural abilities, misunderstandings, fear and so on. But this death you experience eventually produces life. This death is sometimes known as the ‘dark night of the soul’ (16th-century John of the Cross).
- People could not look at Moses when his face shone with the glory of God after spending much time in His presence (Ex 34:29). How the world needs to see that in us today!
- The Westminster confession in seeking to determine the important beliefs of the Christian faith states “the chief end of manis to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.” Piperhowever has suggested this would be more correct to say “to glorify God by enjoying Him forever.”
- There have been a few times in my ministry when unbeknown to me I was so full of self I had not consciously sought God’s glory. When that has happened God has dealt with me a severe humiliating blow to get me back on track! Those painful experiences can do us a lot of good!
- When we accept by faith that God’s glory is upon us and working though us, it gives us a confidence in ministry. It is through our ‘brokenness’ that God’s glory is displayed, not our talents or personality.
- Matt 5v16 says ‘Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorifyyour Father in heaven.’ Even unbelievers show great kindness, wisdom and love so our ‘good deeds’ must be something more. Several are mentioned in the following verses, v44 being particularly challenging ‘Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you’. This indeed glorifies God.
A Prayer I sometimes pray: ‘All glory be to God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.’
A glorious promise I often claim personally (despite it’s primary fulfilment in Christ) is Isaiah 60:1-3
‘Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.
See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples,
but the Lord rises upon you and his glory appears over you.
Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn.’
‘Desiring God’ by John Piper
‘The Glory of Christ’ by John Owens (heavy reading)
‘After God’s own heart’ by Mike Bickle