Dan Swaningson, Hope Chapel 1-15-17
And all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another…
Most of you would recognize the sermon title as the first verse of the song; The Battle Hymn of the Republic. A song I learned in grade school back in the 60’s. That was a different day huh? When was the last time a hymn was taught in a public school? I used to sing this song in my car as I was driving from the ranch on Blue creek to prepare myself for leading a Bible study at the county jail. It served to remind me that the battle belonged to the Lord and to serve notice to the enemy that he was about to get his butt kicked.
The promised glory On Jan 1st I shared with you that I believed we had been promised by the Lord that:
This shall be a year of peace, of blessings, of joy, you will see my glory—and in it you shall find your rest. —HS
I told you I didn’t know exactly what that meant but I received another clue this week--a confirmation really that I will share with you in a bit. The part that confused me the most about this word from the Lord was the “seeing his glory and in that finding our rest.” I hesitated to say that originally because it seemed presumptuous— how do you see the glory of the Lord?-- and even more confusing to me; how do you find rest in that?
Normally when people in the Bible see the glory of the Lord they are put to work or at least inspired to keep pushing on, sharing what they have seen. I think of John having a vision of heaven in the book of Revelation seeing the glorified Lord Jesus with his face shining like the sun, his hair as white as wool, his eyes like flames of fire and his feet like burnished bronze. That’s what I picture when I think of seeing the glory of the Lord.
And then I think of Moses asking the Lord, while he was visiting with the Lord one day in the tent of meeting, asking the Lord if he could see his glory— so the Lord stuffed him into a cleft in the rock face of a mountain, covered him with his hand and then passed by, removing is hand just as he was moving away so that all Moses saw was his back.
Even that fleeting glimpse left him glowing so much so that the Israelites asked him to cover his face because they couldn’t bear up under the lingering reflected glory of God, fading though it was.
18 Then Moses said, “Now show me your glory.”…
“I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, …
21 Then the Lord said, “There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock. 22 When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. 23 Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back; but my face must not be seen.” Ex 33:18-19, 21-23
I mean, you don’t just see the glory of God right? It’s kind of a big deal. Well, we have to remember that things are much different under the new covenant of grace then they were in Moses day when everyone was still fully subjected to the curse brought on by man’s disobedience. Everyone was still in their sin, but now that we are no longer in our sin but in Jesus—well, it’s a new day. And we also have to remember that the glory of God can be seen—is revealed—in many different ways.
All His goodness--as God called his glory-- is now made readily available to those who love Jesus and seek his face and mankind has gazed openly upon the face of God when they looked at Jesus.
In truth, the Bible has a lot to say about the glory of the Lord— obviously, that’s kind of what the book is about—there are many ways that the glory of the Lord is manifest and many ways that we can behold it, especially now living in the age of grace with the Holy Spirit available to all who have desired to receive it. And yes, the Bible even says that we can see the Lord’s glory, that we no longer have to fear being destroyed by it, that was the whole point of Jesus’ death on the cross, to take away the dire and unavoidable consequence of being an unholy people in the presence of a Holy God.
We are even now, in fact, being transformed into his glory through the ministry of the Spirit. That sounds radical doesn’t it? But that is exactly what the writer of Hebrews is telling the Jewish believers of his day who have been released from the fear of the glory of God that they once had through the condemnation of the former covenant of the Law.
Let's look at 2 Cor 3
7 Now if the ministry that brought death, which was engraved in letters on stone, came with glory, so that the Israelites could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of its glory, transitory though it was, 8 will not the ministry of the Spirit be even more glorious? 9 If the ministry that brought condemnation was glorious, how much more glorious is the ministry that brings righteousness! 10 For what was glorious has no glory now in comparison with the surpassing glory. 11 And if what was transitory came with glory, how much greater is the glory of that which lasts!
12 Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold. 13 We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face to prevent the Israelites from seeing the end of what was passing away. 14 But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away. 15 Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. 16 But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. 2 Cor 3
Now if the ministry that brought death, which was engraved in letters on stone, came with glory, so that the Israelites could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of its glory, transitory though it was, 8 will not the ministry of the Spirit be even more glorious?
2 Cor 3:7,8
We are now living— at least we are supposed to be—under the ministry of the Spirit. What the writer is saying here is; if Moses got to spend time in the presence of the Lord and came back glowing with his glory—and a big slab of rock with some laws on it— how much more shall we, who now have the very Holy Spirit of the most Holy God living within us, be immersed in, surrounded by, in the very presence of—the glory of God? His law now written on our hearts through the glorious ministry of the Spirit! You are free from the bondages of the flesh that ensnare and condemn.
Do we see that, do we recognize that, do we pray for it, yearn for it?— “Lord, let me see your glory manifest in my life, displayed in the way I live, the way I treat people, the way I eat, sleep, live and breathe—in all I do, let me do it all for the glory of Christ!”
To see the glory of the Lord is to see his power move, his presence manifested in miracles of healing, deliverance and restoration. In this we find rest because the power of the Lord that is released when he is present by his Spirit for the purpose of revealing his glory, releases us from the burden of trying to explain or manufacture something in our own strength that will communicate the love of God.
When the glory of the Lord is revealed it takes away our need to strive to reveal it. We no longer need to strive, to work, to beg—in hopes of seeing the glory—we simply need to allow all the goodness of God to pass before us.
That takes a heart that is willing to receive and a faith that seeks his kingdom over our own. Whatever is good, whatever is noble, whatever is pure, right, admirable and praiseworthy think about those things—that’s putting the goodness of God before you, the glory of God is his glory--that’s what he told Moses!
Why would anyone be afraid of the ministry of the Spirit? God isn’t stuffing anyone into cracks in the rock anymore and giving them big slabs of rock to carry around with veiled faces, he freed us from all of that by the cross of Christ and sent his glory by way of his Holy Spirit crashing smack down into us--the veil is gone—torn in two, and he no longer passes by showing us his back— he invites us to walk with him.
So step out of the Temple made by man, shake loose the chains of the old covenant and step into the new covenant where the Temple is your heart and the chains are gone.
…whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 2 Cor 3
And There is therefore now no condemnation for anyone who is in Christ Jesus.
A Confirmation I told you that I had received a confirmation and a clarification on the promise for the New Year that I had heard from the Lord and what that meant for us. That confirming quickening in my heart came from a word I read from a Pastor and missionary I have known for many years and who’s gift of prophecy I have come to respect as accurate and true to the Spirit of the Lord and his word.
Some of you old Faith Chapel folks might remember Garris Elkins who served as an associate pastor at Faith Chapel in Billings, way back in the early 90’s I believe. A couple of weeks ago on Facebook he posted a description of a vision he had received as he was praying about a feeling of intense expectation he was experiencing for the New Year.
I saw a large gathering of Foursquare Churches. It looked like it could be the setting of an international convention, a large regional conference or a church auditorium. Someone was at the pulpit preaching. The stage backdrop was done with professional blue lighting. The meeting was progressing as planned.
My attention was drawn out into the audience. I saw two men turn and begin talking to each other. One of the men, a pastor, had a cane and walked with a limp. Immediately he was healed. He began to leap with joy. The other man, also a trusted leader, led the healed pastor down the aisle toward the front. They climbed the stairs to the platform without invitation and stood next to the speaker who had stopped speaking because of the unplanned interruption.
The man leading the healed pastor shared with the audience what had just taken place. Then the healed pastor gave his testimony and invited the sick and crippled in the room to come forward for healing. People began to flood the platform. As soon as they stepped foot on the platform they were instantly healed. People on the platform and out in the audience began to jump up and down shouting with joy. Pandemonium broke out. The meeting agenda was canceled. A move of God was breaking out in the gathering.
As the image came to me a great joy filled my heart. Something fresh is about to fall in the Foursquare Churches. It will break out in the middle of the best-laid plans of faithful people.
The release of what is to come will begin with the spark from a single act of courageous obedience. That spark will then be carried back to local churches around the world to ignite a great move of God.
I have believed —and have heard others say that they believe— that there will soon be a great outpouring of the Holy Spirit, that the church, all churches, who have held true to the Gospel, who have longed for the coming of the Lord and have maintained a faith in the accuracy and power his word—that they will be on the leading edge of a great move of the Holy Spirit as he empowers and blesses us like never before; so that all may see and know that Jesus Christ is Lord and that salvation comes from no other—before the great and terrible day of the Lord when he returns to take this world back from the enemy and establish his throne on this earth.
All Heaven breaks loose That is how we are going to see the glory of the Lord. Be ready, be seeking, be praying and believing and don’t think it’s just some far off— all or nothing, all heaven breaks loose event—it’s been happening, the Spirit has been moving, the goodness of the Lord has been here and we have seen many glimpses of his glory— but we are now just on the cusp of a flood as the Spirit bursts into rubble the dam that has held him back from flooding this world through his church. All heaven is breaking loose and we are citizens of the at Kingdom.
And we, Hope Chapel Red Lodge, have been included by the Lord in the promise. That leaves me humbled, awed and excited. This Foursquare movement, that we are a part of— among many other Pentecostal denominations—was started by an irresistible outpouring of the Holy Spirit--the Azusa street revival—as hundreds and thousands of people got saved, healed and baptized in the Holy Spirit simply by showing up to see what all the fuss was about as a black preacher named William Seymour, was standing behind a pulpit made from a wooden soap box on the upper floor of a warehouse without a stick of furniture in it.
From that movement rose a Woman preacher, an evangelist named Amy Semple McPherson, who would start a church called Angelus Temple where thousands came for decades to hear the gospel preached. They didn’t come just because she was a wonderful preacher—they came because people were getting healed in droves and lives were being radically changed. The glory of the Lord was being revealed. I believe this next revival, one hundred years later, is going to make the last one look like a flash in the pan.
Which it kind of was, though we are the heirs and beneficiaries of that outpouring we have allowed religion and bureaucracy, business and busyness, programs and the show—get in the way. Church, at least in America, has become a mixture of theater, school and professional counseling services. It has all become programmed, polished and predictable.
Jesus is still largely honored and taught, but the glory of God has been replaced with the glory of his followers. The Bible has become a jumping off point rather than a jumping in point, the Holy Spirit has been relegated to special classes available when they can be scheduled in rather than invited to be the whole purpose and focus of the gathering. Jesus Christ and him crucified is a once a year sermon just before Easter.
That’s all going to change—it has to. Church is not a business. The purpose of Church cannot be just to perpetuate church. It has to be to advance the kingdom of God. The church exists to glorify God, to make all his goodness known and to be conduits of his Spirit, bringing the Kingdom of God into the kingdom of darkness.
Churches who are doing anything less, glorifying themselves and washing down the word for the sake of filling the seats are going to find those seats taken away from them. Jesus has his winnowing fork in his hand.
He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 12 His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor,… Mat 3:11,12
We move in the prophetic here and I can only preach what the Lord gives me, I’m sorry of any of this offends you—it scares me--but I don’t plan to get thrown out with the chaff. Sometimes we take for granted that the Lord will keep showing up here and that he will keep ministering to us by his Spirit but we cannot get complacent and we have to be ready for more as we are moved from glory to glory.
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 Cor 3:88 KJV
The Glory in the heavens Those of us who live out of town sometimes take for granted just the ability to see the stars. There are many places in the world where you cannot see even a single star for the lights of the city, there are people who have never seen the milky way, the Big dipper, Orion’s belt or even the planets of our own solar system—have never seen a falling star or even a satellite streaking across the sky.
I’ve been camping even with people from Billings who marveled at seeing the Milky Way for the first time and I think: “How sad that you grew up not knowing what you were missing right above your head.” I know I never stop being amazed at the glory of the heavens as we are blessed to live far from any bright lights up on our hill above Joliet—often we’ll come home late from somewhere, or when I’m leaving for work in the early morning and just look up on a clear night and say: “Wow.”
There is just nothing on this earth that compares to the grandeur of the lights the Lord has put in the heavens, especially knowing just how unimaginably far away and spread out all those lights are—and we are seeing but a tiny fraction of them.
The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Psalm 19:1
Back on the Heyu-cow Ranch I used to go out in the evenings just before I went to bed during calving season to make the rounds to see if anything was calving. I would do a head count as the cows would all be bedded down in or near the barn for the night and if there were any missing I would know that they had gone off somewhere to calve so I would go look for them to make sure they didn’t need help.
I always loved being out there in the night because it just seemed like I could see every star in the heavens and after my eyes adjusted to the dark. Even without a moon I was always amazed at how much even just the stars would light things up. There was even a couple of years there when we had a couple of comets in the sky that were visible for weeks on end it. One year it was Hale Bopp and I don’t remember the name of the other one but they were both pretty awesome— this huge star with a big illuminated blur behind it that was the tail.
It must have been the late 90’s I guess. But anyway, I would head out into the pasture to find the cow with my flashlight and the moon and stars for a guide. I remember always wishing I could turn off the big security light we had near the house because, as nice as it was to have light right near the house, it just messed me up everywhere else.
I always had to be careful not to look back towards the house when I was out searching in the dark because even from a few hundred yards away, once my eyes had become good and adjusted to the dark, if I looked at that bright pinpoint of light in the distance it would hinder my ability to see anything between me and that light.
All I could see was that light of the lights from the house and nothing more than a few feet beyond. I really like not having one of those obnoxious security lights where we live now because I can walk right out the door and look up and see the stars, I don’t have to walk out away from that fake light.
When I had the power company install that light back at the ranch I thought: “Yeah, it will be nice to have a nice bright light out here.” And it is nice to be able to walk out and see the car or look out and see what might be prowling around too near the house, but what it really did was prevent us from being able to see the big picture. Ironically— the bigger the light the less you can see.
That’s why the big cites can’t see a single star in the heavens, they just have bright light after bright light on top of bright light: “Isn’t this grand, we have the whole city lit up and we can see everything!” No, you can’t. All you can see is what you have created, and what you have created is pretty paltry and pathetic compared to the glory of the heavens and the beauty of nature that has yet to be spoiled by anything that needs an artificial light to illuminate it with your garish light.
Thots Maybe you’ve figured out where I’m going here. We build our churches and we build‘em big and beautiful. We do research and hire experts to figure out the best lighting to set the right mood in the various parts of the church, the best way to illuminate the worship team, the preacher. We spend thousands of dollars on spot lights, lasers, and things that go flash and change colors and create an environment that makes you say Wow! --as we appear out of the smoke like we just descended from heaven itself.
Many churches do not want any windows in the sanctuary because heaven forbid we should have any light coming in that we cannot control. And what do we get? An artificial glory, a pale representation of what is available if the Lord would just be welcome to reveal his glory.
Our paltry little lights leave us ignorant of the real glory of the heavens and even diminish our view. Our best attempts to glorify God are paltry and pathetic in comparison to what the Spirit of God can do himself if we just get out of the way. The ministry of man is nothing compared to the ministry of the Spirit, the temple of this earth is but a representation of the true temple in heaven just as we are nothing but representatives of God. Sincere though we may be, empowered and anointed though we may be, it is still just a shadow of the real thing—no matter how hard we try to conjure up glory and inspire glory, we are looking through a glass darkly.
For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. 1 Cor 13:12
I don’t fault the pastor or worship leaders for this, it’s the culture, and it is easy to get caught up in the technology of putting on the best show you can. But that’s the problem, it’s become a show, because that is what people expect, and pastors have come to believe that that is what keeps people coming back. It’s not just church leaders who need to rethink what it means to see the glory, so does the rest of the church.
Why are you here?—obviously you are not here for the light show—but I mean the church in general. Church is not entertainment, church is Jesus’ time to minister to us, so that we can be Jesus to the rest of the world—get out of his way and let him.
So? So what does that mean for us? Some of you may be worried and others may be excited, all with the same thought; “Does that mean we are going to become a Holy Ghost revival, Pentecostal, holy roller, slap ‘em on the forehead and watch ‘em fall, shout hallelujah in the tongues of men and angels and dance with tambourines and streamers while the preacher sweats and yells at the crowd?
No, at least not on purpose. I am going to keep preaching the messages the Lord puts on my heart every week, we are going to keep worshipping with songs led by our anointed and talented worship team under our fluorescent tubes. And we are going to keep inviting and leaving room for the Holy Spirit to show up and move among us—which he does quite frequently as a loving, strong yet gentle Father who wants to bless and take care of his children.
Whenever and whatever it is that constitutes us seeing the glory of God in a new way, in an undeniable and powerful way, in fulfillment of his promise, will be up to Him. We are not going to conjure it up, we are not going to make it happen, that is the “rest” part—forcing a Holy Spirit experience is not rest, it is not peace, and that’s where a lot of the church from the Pentecostal tradition, I believe, has got it wrong.
The glory of the Lord cannot be produced, planned or coerced, it needs to be prayed for, allowed and welcomed. If an outpouring of the Holy Spirit that reveals the glory of the Lord makes a born again believer feel embarrassed and makes an unbeliever do anything other than repent and receive the gift of salvation—then it is not truly from the Lord.
Turn off the artificial lights and let the glory fall.
Be still and know that I am God. Ps 46:10