A Year for GLORY

glory-of-god-clouds The word the Lord gave me for 2016 represents the visible manifestation of the presence of the Lord among His people. He is calling us to wake up and experience the GLORYof God upon us. I am excited to share with you what He has revealed to me for coming year, and to invite you to join me for a Prayer Climb!

Arise, shine; for your light has come! And the glory of the Lord is risen upon you. For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and deep darkness the people; but the Lord will arise over you, and His glory will be seen upon you. The Gentiles shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising. —Isaiah 60:1-3

The glory of the Lord is the manifest presence of God. During a recent hike up a local mountain the Lord spoke to me saying, I am bringing My glory to Maranatha Chapel. I am going to manifest My presence, and you will see evidence that I am with you and among you. I will be beaming my light and my presence to you and through you as you reflect My love and light to the community around you.

 I yearn to have those prophetic words be true in my life and yours this year. To wake up each day and not only feel His presence but to see the glory of God  evident in life around us.

Jonathan Edwards said, “Grace is but glory begun, and glory is but grace perfected.” Whatever begins with God’s grace will lead to God’s glory.

Glory is an intangible noun described in the dictionary with words like honor, praise, thanksgiving, worship, majesty, magnificence, splendor, awesome beauty, and wonder. Glory inspires joy and beauty. God’s glory elevates the word to a level that is beyond earthly beauty and splendor. To experience the glory of God is to catch a glimpse of heaven and to be bathed in His light.

A History of Glory

In that moment of creation when God said, “Let there be light,” all the universe came into being, soon filling the heavens with the sun and moon, planets and life—and glory. Adam and Eve saw the Lord through eyes untarnished by sin as He walked with them in the garden and they basked in His presence. They lived with the glory of God surrounding them every day! Until they sinned and were expelled from Paradise. Then God withdrew His glory, and they were banished to a harsh world.

Noah witnessed the horror of a flood covering the whole earth, surpassed only by the wickedness and depravity God chose to eliminate. When judgment was over, a flash of God's glory burst forth in a multi-colored ray of light. The rainbow…a prism of the glory, a fractured glimpse of heaven, and a promise of greater things to come.

Moses saw the backside of God’s glory. The Shekinah, the ancient rabbis called it. Moses stood before a burning bush that wouldn't burn; seeing light that wasn't light; hiding in the cleft of a rock, protected just enough to guard his life against the power that no mortal can look upon and live. Moses' face lit up as he ran down the mountain, glowing, trying to hold onto the glory by covering his face with a veil.

But even Moses could not contain the Shekinah. So they built the Ark of the Covenant, a beautiful boxed sanctuary to carry the sacred tablets and to provide a place for God to dwell among the children of Israel.

Wealthy and wise King Solomon breathed in the presence of God as he dedicated the magnificent temple he built to house the ark. Fire came down from heaven as he prayed, and glory filled the temple.

Then God's people turned away from Him, and Israel entered a desolate stage. Every fall, I think of that tragic time. During the crisp days of autumn, when costumed children come to your door looking for candy, someone inevitably pulls out the Legend of Sleepy Hollow, the story of poor Ichabod Crane.

As a boy, I didn’t know the significance of Ichabod’s name, but as a young Bible student I discovered its meaning in the book of Samuel: Ichabod means “the glory of the Lord has departed,” and what remains is godless and desolate—a vacuum for evil and disaster. A good scary story name.

Ichabod figuratively became a prominent character in the landscape of Israel’s history. God withdrew His glory reluctantly, in response to Israel’s faithlessness. The temple, Solomon’s masterpiece, was eventually destroyed. Though Habakkuk the prophet proclaimed that the glory would return when the temple was rebuilt, the Shekinah never manifested itself again on a national level.

When the glory days of Solomon’s reign ended, Israel soon forgot what it was like to experience the glory of God…until one winter night centuries later. While shepherds watched their flocks, the night sky suddenly lit up with a burst of light, accompanied by heavenly voices heralding the birth of a King! A tiny baby, lying quietly in an obscure manger, brought the glory of God back to dwell on the earth.

“The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory” (John 1:14). (When was the last time you “beheld” His glory?) But it didn’t stop there. Moses once long ago witnessed the burning bush, ablaze with fire that didn’t consume, but Jesus called His disciples the branches of the new tree of life (“I am the vine, you are the branches…). He came to baptize us with fire, setting our hearts ablaze with the power of the Holy Spirit. We are the burning bushes of the church age!

That’s what Pentecost was all about, the day that fire came down from heaven once again, only this time to rest upon the heads of the early church. Not like in Solomon’s time when the fire consumed. No, this time they sacrificed the Lamb of God, Jesus, on the Cross. This fire was the glory of God reaching its ultimate destination: the human heart.

Jesus displayed God's glory in the way He loved, taught, and healed people until the controversy He generated led to the ultimate victory of God's glory over darkness —the crucifixion and resurrection. The sorrow of Good Friday is always followed by Resurrection day. When Jesus rose from the dead, He changed the universe forever, and glory was manifested once again throughout creation.

No amount of sin, doubt, disbelief, rebellion, pain, or turmoil—nothing in this battered world can stand against the glory of what Jesus did for us through His death and resurrection. CS Lewis said, “A man can no more diminish God's glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word, 'darkness' on the walls of his cell.”

Isaiah 40:5 promises us that “The glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.” Now we see the fulfillment of that promise in Isaiah 60. Even as darkness covers the earth, “the Lord will arise and His glory will be seen among you.”

Prayer Climb

Last month I felt a tug from the Lord to take a hike, so I climbed nearby Black Mountain. I wanted to hear God speak as He has so many times from the heights of mountains.

“It is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed,” He said (Romans 13). “The night is far spent, the day is at hand.”

It is time for God’s people to wake up and experience and reflect His glory. He is ready to reveal His glory to the earth when He answers His people’s prayer, “Thy Kingdom come!”

I invited the pastors of our church to join me on another hike up the same mountain, where we prayed and committed ourselves and our church to wake up and shine for Him. We are asking the Lord to open heaven and pour out a divine blessing and to overcome strongholds of evil that have tried to hold us back from receiving God’s blessings. We are praying for His Spirit to cover our community and land!

I believe we will see a great harvest and believers returning to the Lord, their first love, as we invite the Holy Spirit to pour out upon us the glory of the Lord.

I am asking you to join me this year in a Prayer Climb. If you live near by go to Black Mountain and take a hike (or walk) and pray. Or find a hill near you where you can experience a mountain top vantage and seek God’s will and glory in your life.

Take a picture of your hike and post it to social media with #mcprayerclimb.  We can do this together!

May God richly bless you as we anticipate a year of His glory!

You can read more about the Prayer Climb here:  http://www.maranathachapel.org/events/prayerclimb-2016

Coming soon:  Maranatha Chapel 40-Day Fast.