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But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord. — 2 Corinthians 3:18
Most believers quote the verse above when they are facing a difficult challenge. I did the same thing for many years. I often told myself, “Soon this mess will be over, and when it is, we’re headed to the next level of glory that God has for us! This won’t last long. We’re going from glory to glory!”
But one day I was pondering this verse and thinking deeply about what it meant to go from glory to glory. Suddenly it struck me that it doesn’t say we are going from a mess to glory. It says we are going from glory to glory — in other words, from a current glorious place to another higher glorious place.
This clearly means that you and I won’t be promoted to the next realm of glory until the realm where we presently live is glorious. So if we want to go upward into a greater glory, we have to first make glorious the place where we are living and functioning right now.
When I saw this, it made me want to take a good, hard look at my life and ministry. I asked myself: Am I living in a glorious stage, or am I stuck in an ugly, messy stage of my life? I realized that according to this verse, I wouldn’t be moving upward into the next great and glorious phase God had for me until the situation I currently found myself in became glorious! Only then would God promote me to the next level of glory He had planned for my life.
So I began to ask myself:
- Have I done all the Lord has told me to do right now?
- Have I really completed the assignment as God instructed me to do?
- Have I done it professionally and on time?
- Have I made my present financial situation glorious, or am I living in financial shambles?
- Have I done everything I can to make this present stage of my life a bright and shining example to others, or is this part of my life a dismal failure of which I’m embarrassed?
- Have I brought this part of my life to a glorious finish?
Second Corinthians 3:18 says, “But we all, with open face, beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” I find it very interesting that the first part of this verse talks about us having “open faces.” The word “open” is the Greek word anakalupto, which means to unveil, to uncover, or to disclose. However, the Greek tense doesn’t refer to a one-time unveiling, but to a veil that, once lifted, remains lifted forever.
When I saw this, I immediately understood another very vital truth: We must be willing to permanently remove the veil from our eyes and to take an honest look in the mirror in order to truthfully acknowledge the condition of our present stage. Only after we have truthfully seen and acknowledged what we are can we make a sincere decision to change. A truthful recognition of the facts is part of the process that removes the veil from our eyes so the Lord can correct us, change us, transform us, and prepare us to move upward into the next glorious phase for our lives. That is precisely why the apostle Paul went on to say that we are “changed” after the veil is removed from our eyes.
The word “changed” is the Greek word metamorpho. It is a compound of the words meta and morphoo. The word meta carries the idea of an exchange, while the word morphoo is the Greek word for a person’s outward form. Together, the compound word means to transfigure or transform one’s appearance. The word metamorphoo is never used in the Old Testament Septuagint, and it appears only four times in the New Testament. It is used in Matthew 17:2 and Mark 9:2 to describe the transfiguration of Jesus. Paul also uses it in Romans 12:3 to tell us that we are to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. And finally, Paul again uses the word metamorphoo here in Second Corinthians 3:18.
There is no doubt that the word “changed” speaks of an actual, real transformation of our minds and even our outward appearance. The Holy Spirit lets us know through Paul that we can actually exchange our present appearance, our current status, for one that is more glorious. If we sincerely desire it, we can move upward and into the glory that God has prepared for us!
Now, we can try to hide our heads in the sand and pretend that everything in our lives is glorious when it is not, but that does not make everything glorious. In fact, denial of the truth will just keep us stuck in the same hard place for a longer period of time. To move into the next phase of our life in God, we must be willing to lift the veil from our eyes and acknowledge that we need to be transformed!
If may be difficult on your flesh and pride, but eventually a time comes when you must look in the mirror to see what is really there! Self-deception is very costly. Telling yourself that everything is all right when it isn’t may temporarily relieve you from the pain of having to look at the facts head-on. But in the end, ignoring the facts will cost you so much more in terms of time, heartbreak, and defeat.
Truthfulness can be painful, but the pain is short-lived and in the end produces tremendous change. But the kind of change I am describing to you today is only initiated when you are willing to get honest with yourself and with God about your behavior, your attitudes, and the condition of every area of your life at this present moment. If you’re willing to remove the veil from your eyes and let the Holy Spirit really show you the areas where you need to be transformed, He will change you. And as this kind of transformation begins to work in you, you will become more and more prepared for upward movement and promotion in your life.
So establish this truth in your heart today: If the stage of life you are in right now is not glorious, you will be stuck in the current mess until you become willing to take off the veil, look honestly at your situation, and begin to make the changes that are required to make your present status more glorious! Once you’ve done that, God will be ready to move you upward and onward to the next more glorious place you are longing to experience!
Yes, it’s true that God wants to take you from glory to glory. However, He isn’t bothered if He has to wait until you correctly finish your current task. God has lots of time. But when you get serious about doing what is necessary to make your present situation glorious, you signal to the Holy Spirit that it’s time to open the way to the next glorious phase God has planned for your life!
My Prayer for TodayLord, I want to take the veil off my eyes and get honest about my situation. I can see that much of my present life is not glorious. I have wanted You to promote me from my mess to a new level of glory, but I see now that Your promotions always move from one level of glory to a higher level of glory. Show me every area in my life that needs to be changed, and help me give You complete liberty to transform those parts of my life. I want to go to a higher level of glory, Lord, so I am asking You to help me first make my present situation a glorious testimony of Your grace!
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
My Confession for TodayI confess that by God’s grace, I am making my present situation more and more glorious! I have asked the Holy Spirit to open my eyes and to help me see those parts of my life that need to be transformed. As He shows me these areas, I will diligently pray about them and do everything I can to allow God to change me so this present season of my life can become glorious. Because the Holy Spirit sees my willingness to go through the necessary transformation process, He is preparing to move me upward into a more glorious phase in my life. I am going from glory to glory!
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
Questions to Answer1. What are the areas of your life that are not glorious — the areas you most need to work on? 2. Now that you know God will not promote you higher until you have made your current status glorious, what changes do you need to make in your life right now to get ready for the next step upward? 3. Write down the steps you are going to take to turn your messes into shining examples that will open the way for God to start the promotion process in your life.
So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure. 2 Thessalonians 1:4Have you ever been so proud of someone that you just wanted to brag and boast about him or her for a few minutes? When you’ve invested a lot of your own time, talents, and energy into people you love and then you see them prospering and growing strong in the Lord, it’s normal for you to want to shout and rejoice about it! This is how my wife and I feel when we see our own sons. They are strong in the Lord, active in His service, and committed to do what He wants them to do. As parents, it simply thrills our hearts, and we have every God-given right to be proud of them and thankful for what is happening in their lives! They are diligent, serious, and unwilling to give in to fatigue or discouragement; they just keep marching forward like soldiers. Of course we are proud of our sons and have every right to feel that way! We feel the same way about the men and women we have discipled and poured our lives into over the years. When they came to us, many of them were young and inexperienced, but so hungry to grow and to learn. They were willing to be taught, to be corrected, to be instructed, and to pay the heavy price we demanded of them. We weren’t interested in developing only believers, we were working to produce real disciples. So when we see them standing strong in their own ministries, firm in faith and growing in grace, wisdom, and mercy, it simply thrills our hearts! When Paul wrote to the Thessalonians, he was so proud of them and the way they walked in faith and patience that he said: “So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure.” I want you to notice that Paul declared how proud he was of the Thessalonians. He said, “We ourselves glory in [or about] you in the churches of God.” In this phrase, Paul used the word Greek word egkauchaomai. This is the only time this word is found in the New Testament, although it was frequently used in the secular literature of New Testament times. It means to brag, to boast, to give praise, or to speak laudatory words. Paul was proud of the Thessalonians. As a spiritual father to them, he was thrilled with the growth they were experiencing. This is a healthy type of pride — the same kind of pride a father feels for his children when they do well. He went on to list the reasons he was so proud of them: “…for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure.” Let’s look at each of these words one by one. The word “patience” is a favorite word in Paul’s epistles. It is the compound Greek word hupomene, and it paints the picture of one who is under a heavy load but refuses to bend, break, or surrender because he is convinced that the territory, promise, or principle under assault rightfully belongs to him. This word denotes a refusal to give up and an attitude that is determined to receive what is promised or hoped for. The King James Version translates it “patience,” but a better rendering would be endurance. This word tells us, first of all, that the Thessalonians were under severe pressure. They lived in an environment that was aggressively anti-Christian. Every day of their lives, they were affronted and assaulted for their faith. Yet regardless of how severe the pressure became, they refused to surrender to these attacks or to throw in the towel of defeat. Paul was proud of them for their conviction to stand tall and steadfast in spite of what they were facing! Then Paul said he was proud of them because of their “faith.” The Greek word for faith is pistis. The very nature of the Greek word pistis, translated faith, denotes a force that is forward-directed and aggressive — never passive or backward-reaching, but always reaching forward to obtain or achieve a specific target or goal. This means that the Thessalonians never drew back or retreated simply because they ran into difficult or hard times. Instead, their faith was like an arrow that had been shot and could not be retracted, constantly reaching forward to grab hold of God’s promises. Paul recognized that this was real faith, and he was proud of the Thessalonian believers for never backing up on the promises of God! Paul went on to describe the intensity of problems the Thessalonians were encountering. He mentions this because their problems were not normal, but problems of the most severe and difficult kind. Paul used the word “persecution” to describe the events that were coming against them. This is the Greek word dioko, a commonly used word in Paul’s epistles, meaning to pursue, to follow after, or to aggressively seek after. This word was first used as a hunting term to denote the actions of a hunter who strives to follow after, to apprehend, to capture, or to kill an animal. Thus, the word can be translated “to hunt.” This same word is also translated “to persecute” throughout the New Testament, indicating the brutal nature of persecution that was experienced by the Thessalonian church. They were viciously and relentlessly pursued. As if this is not enough, Paul informs us that the Thessalonians had experienced some kind of life-threatening “tribulation.” The word “tribulation” comes from the Greek word thlipsis, a favorite with Paul when he described the difficult events he and his team encountered in ministry. This Greek word thlipsis is so strong that it leaves no room to misunderstand the intensity of these persecutions. It conveys the idea of a heavy-pressure situation. One scholar says the word thlipsis was first used to describe the specific act of tying a victim with a rope, laying him on his back, and then placing a huge boulder on top of him until his body was crushed. Paul used this word to alert us to moments when he or others went through grueling, crushing situations that would have been unbearable, intolerable, and impossible to survive if it had not been for the help of the Holy Spirit. But in this scripture, Paul used this same word to tell us what the Thessalonian believers had undergone. As noted above, their problems were not normal but of the most serious nature. Without the help of the Holy Spirit, it would have been enough to crush them — but they weren’t crushed. They were still walking in faith; they were pushing forward to obtain the promises of God; and they were believing for victory! Then Paul used the word “endure” to denote the attitude with which they had faced these obstacles and moments of opposition. The word “endure” is from the Greek word anechomai, which means to put up with, to endure, or to bear up under. Yet this word doesn’t portray the sufferer as one who simply surrenders to defeat, but rather as one who exhibits an attitude of fortitude and resistance to such negative forces.
When you put all this together, Second Thessalonians 1:4 could be translated:
“We are so impressed with what God has done among you that, when we tell all of God’s churches about you, we’re outright braggadocios! We proudly tell them about your refusal to bend to pressure; your resolve to never abandon or give up what belongs to you; your commitment to hang in there, no matter how heavy the load; and your determination to “stay put” until your hopes are realized. We’ve also told them how your faith has remained aggressive and forward-directed, regardless of the ordeals you’ve been through — such as those times when you’ve been hunted down like animals and relentlessly pursued. Your faith has stayed out front, despite the horribly tight, life-threatening, terrifically stressful situations you have undergone but steadfastly resisted.”I don’t know about you, but when I read all of this, it makes me want to be sure that I belong to the ranks of the Thessalonians! We have the same Holy Spirit living in us who lived inside the Thessalonian believers. If they could live so triumphantly for the Lord in their difficult position, you and I can make the decision to live victoriously for Jesus Christ in our situations too. Amen?
My Prayer for TodayLord, help me invest my life in people who will grow strong and who will bring forth good fruit! I want to give my life to people who are going to do something in this world. I want to know that I have made a difference in the life of someone who is going to make a difference in the lives of others. The last thing I want is to have lived this life without ever making a personal investment in anyone else, so please help me recognize those people You want me to pour myself into. Then give me the wisdom and grace to pull up alongside and share with them the treasure You have placed in me!
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
My Confession for TodayI confess that I bear good fruit in the lives of people whom God has called me to help! They are growing! They are prospering! They are learning to overcome the evil one! They are strong, stable, resilient, reliable, faithful, and committed to do whatever it takes for them to fulfill the assignment Jesus Christ has given them. My fruit is good fruit — fruit that remains! In this I know that my Father is glorified, because I am producing the kind of fruit that brings glory to His name!
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
Questions to Answer1. Who is that person or group of people God has called you to disciple? If you are not actively discipling someone right now, why aren’t you? 2. How does it affect you when you see that those you’ve poured your life into are doing well and growing strong in the Spirit? Does it make you want to stand tall, throw back your shoulders, and rejoice in the Lord that good fruit is being produced in them? 3. Do you take the time to let these individuals know how proud you are of them? How long has it been since you’ve put your arm around someone’s shoulder and let him know how pleased you are about what is happening in his life?
Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled. — Hebrews 12:15One of the most powerful verses in the New Testament is Hebrews 12:15. It says, “Looking diligently, lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled.” I want you to especially notice the words “looking diligently” in this verse. This phrase comes from the Greek word episkopos, taken from the two words epi and skopos. The word epi means over, and the word skopos means to look. When these two words are compounded into one word as in Hebrews 12:15, the word means to look over or to take supervisory oversight. The word episkopos is the same Greek word translated “bishop” in First Timothy 3:1. As you know, a bishop has oversight or responsibility for a group of churches. As the chief overseer for those churches, it is the bishop’s responsibility to watch, direct, guide, correct, and give oversight to the churches under his care. As long as he serves as bishop, he will be held responsible for the good and the bad that occurs under his ministry. Hebrews 12:15 uses the word episkopos to alert you and me to the fact that we are the bishops of our own hearts. The use of this word in this verse means it is our responsibility to watch, direct, guide, correct, and give oversight to what goes on inside us. As the bishop of your own heart, it is your responsibility to guide, direct, and give oversight to what goes on inside your emotions and thinking. You alone are responsible for what you allow to develop inside your head and heart. Like a bishop, you are personally responsible for both the good and the bad that occurs within your thought life. Why do I make this point? Because we are often tempted to blame our bad attitudes, bitterness, resentments, or feelings of unforgiveness on other people. But the truth is, we are responsible for our own emotions and reactions! If a person does something that has the potential to offend us, God holds us responsible for whether or not that offense takes root in our minds. We can choose to let it sink into our souls and take root, or we can opt to let it bypass us. We are not able to control what others do or say to us, but we are able to control what goes on inside of us. It is that “inside” part — the part you control — that God will hold you responsible for. Why? Because you are charged with a personal responsibility to oversee what goes on inside your soul. That means you have the last word. You are the one who decides whether or not that wrong settles down into your soul and starts to take root in your emotions. Anger is an emotion that comes and goes. You choose whether or not irritation turns into anger, anger into wrath, wrath into bitterness, bitterness into resentment, and resentment into unforgiveness. You choose whether these foul attitudes and emotions take up residency in your heart or are booted out the door! When the devil comes to tempt you with an annoying, hounding thought about the person who offended you, at that moment you have a choice whether or not to let it sink in. You are the only one who can give permission for these attitudes to make their habitation in your mind and emotions. If you’re filled with bitterness, resentment, and unforgiveness, you permitted the devil to sow that destructive seed in your heart and then you permitted it to grow. Remember, you’re the bishop of your own heart! There is only one reason weeds grow out of control in a garden — because no one took the proper time and care to uproot and remove them. When the garden is choked by weeds, the gardener can’t complain, “I just don’t know how this happened! How did this occur right under my nose?” It occurred because he was being irresponsible with his garden. If he’d been exercising the proper amount of diligence, he would have known that weeds were about to get the best of him. His lack of diligence is the reason his garden got into this mess! Hebrews 12:15 says, “Looking diligently.…” It takes diligence to keep your heart in good shape. The only way you can stay free of the weeds the devil wants to sow in your “garden” is to be attentive, careful, thorough, and meticulous about the condition of your own heart. Don’t expect others to take care of your heart for you either. It’s your heart! Also, don’t make excuses for the rotten attitudes that fill your thoughts about people who supposedly did you wrong. Even if they really did commit a wrong against you, was it necessary or beneficial to permit the devil to fill you with putrid feelings of bitterness, resentment, and unforgiveness? Get over it! What good does it do to let the offense fester inside you until you are inwardly eaten up by its bad memory? As long as you blame everyone else for the bitterness that rages inside, you’ll never walk free. The only way you can get over the offense and walk free of your emotional prison is by accepting responsibility for your own heart. If someone deliberately sows bad seeds in our “garden” in an effort to hurt or destroy us, God will deal with them. But if we know bad seed has been sown in our hearts and we just ignore it, allowing it to take root and grow unchecked, God will deal with us.
- God will hold others responsible for what they do to us.
- God will hold US responsible for what we allow to go on inside our minds and hearts.
- We cannot answer for the actions of other people.
- We will answer for our inward responses to what others have done to us.
My Prayer for TodayLord, help me keep my heart free of offense! You have given me authority over my own will, mind, and emotions, so I know I have the authority to tell offense that it has no right to dwell inside me. I refuse to blame everyone else for the mess I’ve allowed to grow inside my heart — and today I am asking You to help me, Holy Spirit, to quit making excuses for the wrong attitudes I’ve permitted to grow in my life. With Your supernatural help, I am making the choice to repent, to turn from these destructive thoughts, and to replace them with thoughts and words of kindness for those who have caused me hurt or grief in the past.
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
My Confession for TodayI confess that I deal diligently with my heart to keep it in good shape. I don’t make excuses for rotten attitudes that try to fill my thoughts about people who have wronged me. Even if they really did commit a wrong, I refuse to let the devil use it to eat me up and ruin me. I am the bishop of my own heart, so I refuse to let wrong attitudes fester, take root, and begin to produce bad fruit in me!
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
Questions to Answer1. Is there any feeling of bitterness, resentment, or unforgiveness that you have held on to and allowed to grow in the soil of your heart? Has the Holy Spirit been trying to convince you to forgive and to let it go? 2. If the Holy Spirit is dealing with you about forgiving someone, what are you going to do about it? Will you resist the Spirit’s dealings and develop a hard heart, or are you willing to forget it and go on with your life? 3. When you hear that a person who hurt or wronged you is being blessed in his job or in some other way, can you rejoice with that person — or do you find yourself inwardly seething that he isn’t being punished because of what he did to you? If you can’t rejoice with him, it’s probably a good indicator that you have some unresolved issues festering on the inside that you need to take to the Lord!
Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. — 1 Corinthians 4:1When you are serving faithfully and trying to obediently do what God has asked you to do, the devil hates it! He’ll do everything he can to dissuade you to stop. Often he attacks your mind with allegations, such as, “Why are you doing this? No one appreciates you anyway! Here you are, working, striving, sweating, and slugging it out while other people are having a good time. If no one else cares, why should you care? Come on — you’ve done enough!” If you’re not really committed to staying in place and doing what God asked you to do, those allegations from the devil may pull you off the bench where God called you to serve. This makes me think again of First Corinthians 4:1, where Paul says, “Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God.” As noted earlier (see August 13), the word “ministers” in this verse is the Greek word huperetas and referred to the slaves or servants who were placed into the bottom galleys of huge ships. A huge oar was placed in the hands of these slaves, and they began to row and row and row — literally becoming the engines that moved those ships through the sea. If you had been allowed to peek into the bottom galley of those huge ships of New Testament times, you’d have seen that these prisoners were all chained to a post near their respective benches. There was a good reason for this heavy chain. Because their work was so difficult and their destiny was sealed in the bottom of that ship, these men’s minds would wander to more beautiful, restful places where palm trees overlooked sandy seashores or tall pines swayed in refreshing mountain breezes. Had the “under-rowers” not been chained to their posts, they may have attempted to escape from their bench to find a more restful lifestyle somewhere else. Therefore, chains kept the men where they belonged — right in the bottom of the boat, tied to their post with oar in hand, compelled to effectively do their job. Likewise, you must know that as you seek to do God’s will for your life, you’ll have to take on all kinds of assaults and challenges that inevitably accompany obedience. And let me warn you, there will be times when your flesh tries to find a way to jump ship and get out from underneath the pressure of obeying God! Your flesh would love to be “led” somewhere else where faith isn’t required and the crucifixion of flesh doesn’t seem so necessary. You see, it’s easy to start obeying God. Initiating a project is fun and exciting, and it’s always the easiest part. The difficult part is sticking with that project and seeing it through all the way to the end. The real test comes when the excitement is gone and the reality of hard work and commitment begins to dawn on you. That’s always the golden moment when the flesh is tempted to forget you ever heard from God and to start looking for a way out! If you are not really committed to go all the way in fulfilling your God-assigned task, you probably won’t do it. Therefore, you must be absolutely committed to do what God has called you to do, “chaining yourself” to your decision to obey so you cannot flee in hard times. If God has called you, don’t jump ship! He needs you in the bottom of the boat in order to keep the Body of Christ moving forward toward maturity. You are very important! I’m sure there were times when the under-rowers said, “I’m tired of rowing! Get me off this boat!” They probably had to be reminded, “You are the engines of the ship. If you get off the boat, the boat will stop moving. You are too vital to jump ship now. We can’t go on without you!” There were also probably times when these men in the bottom of the ship said, “No one appreciates us or says thank you for what we do! We work, work, work, and work, and yet we are treated like slaves! I just wish someone would occasionally show some appreciation.” We all want to be appreciated. I like to be thanked when I work hard, just as we all do. This is a natural, normal desire. If we’d all just treat each other with good manners in the Body of Christ, it would solve a world of problems and remedy a lot of hurt feelings. But people are people, and sometimes they forget to say thank you. It’s absolutely true that people should be more thoughtful and appreciative. But the bottom line is this: Ultimately, it doesn’t matter whether or not those around us ever show us appreciation for what we do. If the boat is going to move, we must row the boat! Just like these “under-rowers,” if you stop rowing — if you stop doing your job — it could possibly jeopardize the destiny God has called you to fulfill. If the boat is going to move, you must row, whether or not you ever hear the words “thank you” from anyone. That is the hard reality of life for all of us as servants of God. Yes, it would be nice to hear “thank you” from time to time. But lack of appreciation must not affect our determination to row our boat and do what God has called us to do. When you said yes to the will of God, you surrendered to Him, agreeing to pick up the “oar” He has placed before you. For you, that oar may be a ministry God has given you or a position serving in the local church or a certain business. Perhaps God has instructed you to give money regularly to a ministry. Whatever responsibility God has set before you, it’s time for you to grab hold of that oar! Like the under-rowers who rowed in order to move those big ships, you must begin a lifelong occupation of “rowing” to advance the cause God has put on your heart. From now on, your lifelong slogan needs to be “Row, row, row your boat!”
My Prayer for TodayLord, help me today to keep a right perspective of what You have called me to do. When I get tired and the devil tries to convince me to quit, please help me remember that if everyone stops rowing the boat, it won’t go anywhere. Even if no one else notices what I am doing, I know that You see every move I make. Whatever I do, Lord, I do for You!
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
My Confession for TodayI confess that I have a job to do and that I’m going to do it! I will not jeopardize my destiny by succumbing to the discouraging voice of the enemy. If the boat is going to move, I must do my part to move it. Whether or not I ever hear the words “thank you” from anyone, I am the servant of God and I will do my service as unto Him!
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!