2 Corinthians 3:18 (JDW Super Amplified Version)
And we, who with unveiled faces, all beholding the glory of the Lord—as in a mirror—are being transformed into his image, essence, and likeness; with ever-increasing, all-surpassing glory, indeed from one degree of glory to the next. And this is from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
Per usual, we are here at Mt. Carmel longer than I anticipated and we have a bit more time to go. Mt. Sinai will wait. We have gotten so caught up in the the battle of the Baals that we missed the back story.
It is quite easy and tempting to cherry pick the Bible for glory sightings. The same could be said in our lives. Our concept of glory can easily become reduced to glorious outcomes that bless and encourage us. In other words, answered prayers. This is glory to be sure, but it is the lesser glory. What if I told you, the proof of glory does not reside in our answered prayers but in our unanswered prayers. This is the pathway to the surpassing glory—where we press through the very limited sphere of our own life and family and beyond the immediate needs we have for deliverance and relief. The pathway to the surpassing glory opens up when we learn to glorify God not in response to the rain but in the midst of a seemingly never ending drought.
That is where the back story comes in. The whole land and its people had endured a devastating three year drought and were living in the midst of a debilitating famine. Some blamed Elijah for the drought; however, he only announced the Word of the Lord.
Now Elijah the Tishbite, from Tishbe in Gilead, said to Ahab, “As the Lord, the God of Israel, lives, whom I serve, there will be neither dew nor rain in the next few years except at my word.” (1 Kings 17:1)
Why would the Lord bring drought? It raises another question. Who was the so-called god who was responsible for rain? You guessed it—Baal. Baal was the God of fertility, also known as rain. His symbol was the lightening bolt. All of this drought set up the confrontation where the prophets of Baal, the masters of lightening were smoked out and exposed. The God of heaven and earth showed himself as the God who sends fire—the lightening of his surpassing glory.
Sometimes, okay maybe many times, the revelation of the glory of God requires a season(s) of pruning and purging. In these times, we become more or less weaned off of what we might call the temporal or even transient glory of God. These are the times where the Spirit wills to take us into the greater degrees of glory. The surpassing greatness of the glory of God is revealed when we come to glorify God because of the sheer magnitude of who God is and not just in response to what God has done.
Let’s cut to the chase. The battle on Mt. Carmel was all about rain. The prophets of Baal were calling on God for rain. They were practicing their transactional religion, doing what had “worked” in the past and yet turning it up a few notches. They were calling on God for rain’s sake. Elijah was calling on God for God’s sake.
In the first half of the gospel, we learn to relate to God for our own sake. In the second half of the gospel, we learn to relate to God for God’s own sake. This can be very difficult and disorienting. This is the place where so many turn away from the Spirit’s agenda of transformation and become discouraged. This is the place where allegiance to the living God is tested and where we slowly and subtly begin to build alliances with other suitors; lesser gods who aren’t gods at all. In ancient times his name was Baal. His most common alias today is money.
The Holy Spirit is now interpreting your own life in light of what he is revealing to you. Many of you are being challenged at the level of heart and mind right now; still others at the gut level. Can you sustain trust and faith in a God who withholds rain for a time, knowing there is a greater purpose that leads to a surpassing glory. I can promise you two things. 1. It won’t be easy. 2. It will be worth it.
This is the way—from glory to glory.
Father, we want you to answer our prayers. Honestly, this is our chief concern—our needs, our family, our community. We want deliverance. We want relief. This is the glory we want, and you are so good to share this glory with us. Let us inquire now—what glory do you desire? We want to want this greater glory; for your sake alone. Holy Spirit lead us in this way, for it is the very way of Jesus. Praying in his name, amen.
Are you grasping this, the lesser glory of God which can often be for our sake and the greater glory of God which may only be for God’s sake? Are you willing and ready to pursue this greater glory? What might it cost? It is always very near to those who will pursue it.
For the Awakening,
JD, I believe that you are contrasting the Way of the Cross versus the ways of the world; the way of suffering for the sake of the kingdom versus the way of “comfortable Christianity “, which is really not Christianity at all. Sometimes the witness of how a disciple bears the Cross of Christ does more to demonstrate to the would the power and grace of God than a miraculous deliverance. Think of the martyrs of the Roman arena or the Saints who were burned at stake because they refused to deny their Lord Jesus Christ. This is actually Luther’s theology of the Cross versus the theology of glory, a tough pill to swallow for us pampered American Christians.
sorry, JD, but this one is a real bummer. play its thought forward a bit. what if God had refused to or delayed answering Elijah? we wouldn’t be having this discussion. worse yet, what if God in His sovereignty and for His glory decided not to – or delayed -answering your or my prayer for salvation. we would alllllllllllllllllll be in a pickle.
re Bob’s comment above, on comfortable Christianity. sorry, but must disagree. in fact, there is no other Christianity. as we follow Jesus, we are blessed – by definition. and if we try to ‘suffer’ our way into the Kingdom, we attempt do so in the flesh – by our own intestinal fortitude. we, not the father, get the glory. and our strength quickly fails. Christianity is not ” not easy’. it is easy, a piece of cake. why? because the lord of Glory is operating in us, and not us. His, not our in or own strength, is in play.
But your examples don’t pan out. The Elijah one is a ‘what if’. Well ‘he didnt!’ And in any similar situation where His glory was at stake, wouldnt! Neither would he ever delay in responding immediately to a sincere prayer for salvation. This as JD points out is first half of the Gospel.
Undergoing suffering does not mean we are trying to suffer our way into the Kingdom, it means we are willing to count it joy to suffer for His name’s sake and Glory, rather than give in to lies for our own sake or safety.
I agree it would be foolish and wrong to look for suffering but sometimes we have to stand up amid persecution, not as a means of Works salvation, but because we are saved and have an unbreakable relationship with the suffering Christ.
As for your ‘easy Christianity’ comment, you are right, (if you stay true to your allegiance and do not go after Baal) for the reasons you give it is easy. We rely on Him entirely, to stay true in the face of persecution. I have no confidence in myself to resist persecution, but every confidence in Him. This does not mean I don’t shudder at the thought of it, it means I have every hope in Him that I would not opt for ‘comfortable Christianity ‘ in the face of it.
A living sacrifice
Surrenders his own desires
To be a flame in God’s fire,
To be a plant
That God prunes,
To be an instrument
That only plays God’s tunes.
And in the loss of ego
And let’s Jesus
And His glory
Holy discontent… Lord, forgive when my desire for more of You leads to a discontent with my brothers & sisters in Christ here on Earth. I ask that You allow this discontent to shape me, to transform me, to call me deeper… Always deeper into a right relationship with You. A relationship that glorifies You and seeks You for who You are not who I expect You to be or the false god I have created You to be in my mind. Father God, rid me of my false idols that I may seek nothing but Your face. Carry me through any heartache, bury the old me, that You may be glorified in who I am becoming. Jesus, I belong to You, there is no other who can satisfy my soul. Holy Spirit, be abundant in ways I never imagined, awaken me, shake me into who You really need me to be. Someone who looks like Jesus. I ask in His mighty name, amen.
J.D. I recently was appointed to another church 4 hours away from the one that I was serving. I did not really want to move but I heard the voice of God say to go. Now because I submitted to God’s will I am experiencing a season of grace where I needed grace. During this time since moving I was introduced to your daily text and have been blessed with these faith deepening, challenging informational readings.
Thank you today for pointing out the need to be through with our discoveries/revelations in the Word of God.
I would speculate, which we have to do at times like we know Jesus took a bath and went to the potty, but the Bible doesn’t mention those acts, Elijah, a servant of God, was following God’s instructions. God gave Elijah the blueprints for the altar and the water dousing, he followed God’s will, then stepped back so God could do what He did.
We can use the “if” word on any event by stepping on the path of imagination and speculation. Like Moses, I think Elijah was (is) in God’s inner court, His board room, where he clerly received God’s will, His purpose and possibly the results.
Only “if” we were as intuned to God’s will?
Maybe we should step-back and let God do what He does instead of questioning what He isn’t doing?
Maybe He doesn’t do because we aren’t doing.