Did I not say to you that if you would believe, you would see the glory of God? (John 11:40)
We say with Moses of old, “Lord, show us your glory” (Exodus 33:18).
Something within the heart of every believer wants to see evidence that God is among us, that He is with us, blessing and working and using us.
At times we are like the Psalmist who kept hearing the voice of the heathen ringing in his ears as they taunted, “Where is thy God?” (Ps. 42:3,10; 79:10; 115:2)
Where indeed, we wonder.
We long to see God at work, in this place, doing the kind of life-transforming things Jesus excelled at. We tire of reading about them in other places, of hearing reports of revivals in big cities, in huge churches or denominations.
“Do it here, Lord,” we pray. “Use me. Show me. Here am I, my Lord.”
That is the universal cry of the faithful child.
We should never get away from the Lord’s promise to the two distraught sisters of Bethany in John 11.
Martha, the take-charge sister, began to protest when Jesus instructed that the stone was to be removed from the cave where Lazarus’ dead body lay.
“Lord, it’s been four days. By now the body is decomposing and the stench is terrific. Lord, are you sure?”
Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” The Philippians translation reads: “You would see the wonder of what God can do.”
Martha did indeed see God at work that day. She experienced it in a way none of us ever have. Her life changed forever in those few minutes. For the rest of her days, she must have relived these few minutes when she saw the glory of God.
That was a microcosm of the Lord showing Himself among us.
Let’s reflect on the Glory Discoveries we make when we believe Jesus and start living like it.
A. The first thing we notice is that the Lord is pushing us.
1. God will ask us to do the very thing we have said we could not do.
A man with a withered hand was set before Jesus. The Lord ignored the hard-hearted ones who were baiting Him, hoping He would do something on the Sabbath so they could accuse Him. Jesus looked at them with a mixture of anger and sorrow but at the poor man before Him with compassion. Then He said the strangest thing. Stretch forth your hand!
Uh, Lord, we think. Not a good idea. That poor man’s hand is withered. The very thing he cannot do is stretch it forth. In fact, that’s what some of us were hoping You would do, to stretch it. (Mark 3)
How like our Lord to identify the very area of our lives that need growth and asking us to stretch there.
A prejudiced Christian should not be surprised when God sends him/her to minister among the very ones they have shunned. (Think of Jonah.) The one who never studies his Bible is asked to teach a class. The joyless believer is assigned to bring a devotion on joy in the life of a Christian. The suffering disciple who has struggled to get it right is invited to speak on victory for believers.
2. God will ask us to give up the very thing we have determined we could not live without.
The man we call the rich young ruler was willing to do just about anything Jesus asked. And–let’s admit the obvious–most of us would have welcomed that guy into our church as a member. But the Lord Jesus said to him, “All that wealth of yours has to go. Give it to feed the poor and come follow me.”
The fellow walked away with a heavy heart. Give his wealth away? Anything but that. (Mark 10)
Sell that prized sports car to fund the mission trip. Walk away from the relationship with that man/woman which is pulling you back from complete obedience to the Lord. Give up that questionable job. End your time-consuming hobby. Quit spending your weekends on the golf course or at the hunting lodge.
The Lord wants first place in your life and He will give you no peace until He has it.
3. God will send us to the very place we have said we would never go.
How many times have I heard missionaries and pastors say, “I could never live there.” “Anywhere but there, Lord.” And that becomes the very place He sends them.
What is He doing? He is pushing us, expanding us, growing us. Preparing us for the blessings untold He is about to pour out. To accomplish that, He will require a larger vessel with a greater capacity. So, He stretches us, sometimes, it seems, to the breaking point.
B. Gradually, we become aware that the Lord is using us.
1. God will show up at the very moment we were about to throw in the towel.
I have seen this happen in my own life. God is teaching us that He is present even when we do not feel Him or sense His nearness. He has been present all along, but now at the critical moment, you feel Him.
I sat in a four-hour deacons meeting once listening to myself discussed and cussed as though I were in the next county. The amazing thing, something I found so incredible I was totally unprepared for it, was how near the Lord felt and how wonderful was His peace. It was the first time in my life I had even an inkling of how Stephen must have felt when He was being stoned to death.
They were enraged in their hearts and gnashed their teeth at him. But Stephen, filled by the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven. He saw God’s glory, with Jesus standing at the right hand of God, and he said, ‘Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of man standing at the right hand of God!’ …. They were stoning Stephen as he called out, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.’ Then he knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, ‘Lord, do not charge them with this sin!’ And saying this, he fell asleep.’ (Acts 7:54-60)
2. We will find words coming out our mouths we never would have thought of on our own.
Our Lord told His disciples that in time they would be brought before magistrates and put on trial because of Jesus. When that happens, He said, they were not to prepare their remarks ahead of time. You will be given what to say at that hour, because you are not speaking, but the Spirit of your Father is speaking through you. (Matthew 10:20)
Every pastor–and I assume most Bible teachers–knows that feeling, all too rare but extremely precious, when the Holy Spirit takes over a lesson or sermon and begins preaching through him. He says things he had never thought of or planned or prepared.
If the preacher is presumptuous, he will begin going into the pulpit unprepared and expecting the Lord to put words into his mouth like that again. My own experience is that God prefers to bless and use the prepared spokesman, not the lazy one.
3. We will hear people praising us for things we hardly remember doing or saying.
There is not a preacher on the planet who has not had people complimenting him on saying a certain thing in a sermon which he either did not say or does not recall saying. Sometimes people will remember it for years and tell him how that changed their lives. But he recalls none of it.
It’s a God thing.
C. In time we see that the Lord is blessing us.
The Lord promised to use Abraham (Abram) to bless “all the peoples on earth.” But in doing so, He said, “I will bless you and make your name great.” And then, “You will be a blessing.”
1. There is no greater blessing to the faithful child of God than knowing that God has deigned to use a lowly vessel like us.
The closer we get to Him, the more unworthy we feel. That is a permanent law of holiness, with no exception whatever. That He would do anything with an imperfect and flawed instrument like us fills us with awe and humility.
With Sarah’s maid Hagar, we manage to mutter, “Thou God seest me” (Genesis 6:13).
2. We stand in awe at what He has done.
If we pull back from the Lord, something inside us wants to take credit for our achievements. But the closer we draw to Him, the more we are overcome by His grace that He would use such a one to do great things.
Jesus taught us that we should be like the servant who, at the end of the day, looks at what he has accomplished and says, “I am only an unworthy servant; I have only done my duty” (Luke 17:10).
Others may not be surprised because they think more highly of us than we do. But we know what frail weaklings we are. We know how far we have come, and how far we have yet to go.
3. We long to be used of Him again and again, in any way He pleases.
Somewhere in England, I expect this little scenario works out on a daily basis. A man or woman goes into a store to purchase something. A clerk across the way spots him or her and edges over closer to a customer or colleague and says, “Know who that is? That is the prince’s valet.” “That is the queen’s maid.” That is the chief custodian for Buckingham Palace.”
Even though that individual is a servant, because he or she is servant to royalty, they are honored by all who encounter them.
What an honor we are given to be a servant of the Most High God, to do lowly things for the Lord Jesus Christ.
That is our glory, to serve Him. To know Him and be known by Him.
It doesn’t get any better.
But it shall.
The throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in the city, and His servants will serve Him. They will see his face…. (Revelation 22:3)