Morning Prayer: A Vision of God’s Glory


A painting we have been given by Valentin, an artist in the Dominican Republic.

A painting we have been given by Valentin, an artist in the Dominican Republic.

(From a morning prayer journal in April)

Psalm 105:3, 4 NIV
Glory in his holy name;
      let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice.
Look to the Lord and his strength;
      seek his face always.”

Each line of this psalm verse seems alive to me this morning. What am I hearing?

      Glory in his holy name (3a). I tend to think of glory as a noun. It’s about weightiness. It’s about grandeur and brilliance. But here it’s an active verb. One dictionary suggests it is “to exult with triumph or to rejoice proudly.” I glory in his holy name when I begin to recognize the extent of His greatness and express my deep and humble praise about Him to Him. It is joyful. It is a 10 on the 1-10 scale. God is so beautiful, so mighty, so glorious, that the only fitting response is overwhelmed praise. When I lose sight of this God Who is always with me, my life becomes dimmer and smaller.

(I think of the group of worship leaders I will be with in a couple of weeks. They are charged with leading us in this kind of vision of and response to God. How easy, though, to become captured by worship leading as a profession, details of improving technical excellence, and opinions of those we lead, losing sight of the God to Whom we intend to draw attention.)

“Let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice (3b).” I’m drawn especially to “seek.” This is an active orienting of my attention towards God. I have felt so distracted lately that it feels I’m seeking nothing…or everything. The psalm here invites me to a single focus on the Lord that inspires overflowing joy within me. Keeping the presence of God before me enables me to experience and express how deeply I am moved by joy before Him. Does my vision of God inspire joy? Do I see Him as He is—generous, masterful, magnificently good, longing to be gracious and delighting in mercy? Wouldn’t that fill me with joy that cannot help but overflow in thanksgiving and praise?

“Look to the Lord and his strength (4a).”  I’m invited especially to see the Lord’s might, and to recognize that I am strengthened in my life and my work in Him. When I feel weak, I am not alone. I am companioned by a powerful God Who is also my Father. When I am tired, I can remember I live my life in the presence of the One Who is my Rest. Thank You!

“Seek his face always (4b).” Looking into someone’s face is an act of intimacy, of friendship. I don’t gaze into someone’s face unless I feel free and welcome there. (I can’t imagine stopping in a grocery aisle and staring into a stranger’s face. I might even get kicked out of the store!).

Always. I imagine trying to live my life with Gem’s face always before me. Something like this is humanly impractical. Gem and I going through a day always in one another’s presence, let alone always looking into one another’s eyes, would be goofy…and probably dangerous! But I can live the whole of my life seeking His face. It is a face I can “see” with my heart and soul. I can live in The Presence. I can grow in my continual awareness of the smiling, caring face of Jesus before me.

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Being Zestfully Alive Glorifies God


A child from a poor neighborhood of Santiago, Dominican Republic

A while back, I read a book on spiritual direction by Susan Phillips’ titled Candlelight: Illuminating the Art of Spiritual Direction. I especially appreciated that much of it is in the form of case studies–actual spiritual direction conversations. Well written and insightful.

In Candlelight, Phillips quotes the wonderful words of Irenaeus of Lyons: “The glory of God is the human person fully alive, and the life of the human person is the vision of God.” I’m familiar with the first phrase, but hadn’t remembered the second.

God is glorified when we are wholly, zestfully thriving, and we thrive as we live with a bright, clear vision of God Himself. Seeing God makes us alive. Having merely accurate ideas of God doesn’t necessarily do the same thing.

 

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Good News of a Great Joy


1 In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2 (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3 And everyone went to their own town to register.

4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

Luke 2:1-14 NIV

 

May you sense the coming of Christ into your lives this day as you celebrate His coming into this world as a child more than two thousand years ago. May the Spirit of Christ fill your hearts as you celebrate Him and declare His glory into the highest of heavens. May you experience Christ’s peace graciously resting on you throughout this day! Amen.

 

Psalm 115: It’s All About You Today


Psalm 115:1
Not to us, O LORD, not to us
but to your name be the glory,
because of your love and faithfulness.

[I wrote this journal entry yesterday morning here in Sacramento. It is part of a continuing “Praying the Hours” practice that some of us are doing together until Thanksgiving time. Feel free to download the resource and join in].

As I walked the American River Bike path in the pre-twilight hours this morning, I was grateful for Psalm 115 on my iPhone. The first verse captured me. Glory is not “to us”, but “to His name.” Hebrew words for “glory” carry with them the idea of “weightiness” and “splendor.” As to weightiness, my life does not make an impact apart from the glorious weightiness of God Himself. Credit, or recognition, or praise, or focus is not meant to be on us, but on Him. And I’m not aiming for my life to shine, but for God’s to shine through me.

Why all this? Because of His love and His faithfulness. This brings me back to the Psalm 92 verse that started this whole “Praying the Hours” rhythm for me a number of weeks ago:

Psalm 92:1-2 (NIV)
It is good to praise the LORD
and make music to your name, O Most High,
to proclaim your love in the morning
and your faithfulness at night

Remembering and affirming God’s love in the morning and His faithfulness at night has been wonderfully life-giving for me in the last couple of months. You might even say it has been glorious.

What will it mean today that the glory is not to come to me, but is reserved only for You, Father? It will mean that I let go of the need to be affirmed and recognized by those I will serve in this day. When I meet with a church staff or an elder board, the focus is on You, not on us. Today is not all about me, but all about You. That’s a lot less pressure!

Thank You for Your love fresh and without condition this morning. Thank You ahead of time for Your faithfulness that will carry me through this day You’ve made. What a gift!