Monthly Archives: July 2017

How to Look Like Jesus without Growing a Beard (2 Corinthians 3:18)

by Pastor Tim Thomas

We all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit. –2 Corinthians 3:18 (NASB)

I don’t know about you, but I want people to look at me and see Jesus. I want them to see me and recognize the very presence of God, not because of who I am, but because of how I’ve been changed by God. This verse has the key to being transformed, and the way to be transformed is very different than most of us have been taught.

This chapter in Second Corinthians began talking about the glory that shone from Moses’s face and how with a better covenant we believers now have a greater glory than Moses had. And in this verse, it seems that the idea is picked up once again, this time suggesting that the way that glory is increased – and the way that we are transformed into the image of Christ – is through beholding the glory of the Lord.

Beholding means to gaze upon something or someone, and this passage talks about gazing upon the glory of the Lord. Recall that when Moses reflected the glory of the Lord, his face glowed. If glory was revealed from Moses’s face, it seems reasonable to think that the glory is revealed from the Lord’s face. This verse seems to be the New Testament version of Psalms 27:8, where we are invited here not just to seek God’s face but to gaze upon God’s face.

This verse seems to say that if we follow a strategy of regularly spending time in God’s presence, gazing upon his face, people will be able to see Christ in us as we are transformed by his glory. The passage talks about the transformation being from glory to glory, which implies a progressive transformation as we pursue his face. That is, the effect is cumulative, and the more times we behold Him, the more we are transformed.

Should we take this idea of gazing upon the face of God literally or metaphorically? I think most people take it metaphorically, but that might have a lot to do with the fact that not many people know how to engage their spiritual senses to interact with God. You “hear” God speak to you in your spirit. You can also “see” God in your spirit. We believers have the Holy Spirit within us, so he can help us develop these abilities. I find it easier to hear in the Spirit than to see in the Spirit, but as I thought about it recently, some of the most significant events in my life came about because I could see in the Spirit as well. If you are open to it, you can experiment with this. Ask God to help you!

P.S. Mark and Patti Virkler write about learning to see spiritually in their book “Dialog with God” if you are interested in learning about this in more detail.

This was first posted on the sister website, devotedheart.org.

Get in the Dance (Ephesians 3:19)

by Pastor Tim Thomas

May you… know [practically, through personal experience] the love of Christ which far surpasses [mere] knowledge [without experience], that you may be filled up… to all the fullness of God [so that you may have the richest experience of God’s presence in your lives, completely filled and flooded with God Himself]. — Ephesians 3:19 (AMPL)

This is my favorite verse in the Bible. The verse implies that if you get a deeper revelation of how incredibly in love with you that God is, it will open up the door for you to be totally transformed by God. That revelation of love will open up the door for you to have such an awareness of God’s presence with you, and that presence will spill over to touch the lives of others.

While this passage doesn’t address how this will all come about, I would like to suggest how I think it works. Jesus once said that whoever is forgiven little loves little, but whoever is forgiven much loves much (Luke 7). I would like to suggest something similar from this passage: whoever is loved much loves much, and whoever is loved just a little, loves just a little. More truthfully, it is not simply a matter of how much one is loved, but how much one believes he is loved. We don’t have the capacity to love God greatly without first understanding how greatly God loves us. And we can’t respond deeply to God’s love if we only see it abstractly (i.e., God loving humanity, rather than God knowing me and loving me for who I am). But a revelation of God’s specific love for me – well that’s life changing!

A revelation of how much God loves me opens up the pathway for me to draw close to God – for me to come right into God’s very presence. And it is in God’s very presence that we are able to receive an ever-deepening revelation of how much we are loved. This is a positive feedback loop. In God’s presence, I get a revelation of how much He loves me, and once I have an increased level of understanding how much He loves me, I can draw closer to Him, because His love for me overcomes the obstacles that I previously face in drawing close.

Unfortunately, a positive feedback loop can lock us out unless something initiates the loop. That is why we pray for one another – and for ourselves – to get a revelation of God’s love. And why, ultimately, it is God Himself who must act to initiate this feedback loop. But it is up to us to respond to the revelation that God gives, and to keep the positive feedback loop going. It is like an eternal dance where God moves, and we follow.

Let’s get in the dance! Let’s ask God to give us a deeper revelation of his love for us, and let’s do our best to draw close to Him. Over time, we will become marinated in His Spirit, taking on His likeness as we continue in this path.

This was first posted on the sister website, devotedheart.org.

I Will Seek Your Face! (Psalms 27:8)

by Pastor Tim Thomas

You have said, “Seek my face.” My heart says to you, “Your face, Lord, do I seek.” — Psalms 27:8 (ESV)

Something leaps in me when I read how the heart responds! In this passage, the first thing we see is the Psalmist acknowledging that the idea of seeking God’s face originated not with us but with God. God extends the invitation to all, but who will hear the cry of His heart and respond? My observation has been that while many acknowledge God, few take time to wait for His presence and to listen to His voice.

Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount, “’Seek and keep on seeking and you will find’” (Matthew 7:7, AMPL), which echoes the word of the prophet Jeremiah to the Israelites, “You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13, ESV). God wants to be found, and even guarantees our success, as long as we don’t give up.

I’ve often felt that God wants to be pursued by us, because that is a sign of our genuine love, so he doesn’t always make it easy to sense his presence and hear his voice. And it is not simply a matter of being a genuine sign of our love – there is something in the pursuit of God’s face that stirs our hearts to greater love, as long as we don’t let discouragement come in.

In Psalm 27, however, we see the reply of a willing soul, who responds from the depth of his or her being — from the heart. And from the heart arises the cry, “I am seeking, and will continue to seek until I find.” After such a pledge, the Psalmist struggles with some doubt, but eventually concludes that he will be successful, if he doesn’t give up: “I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living! Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!” (Psalms 27:13-14, ESV).

Let us join with the Psalmist in his pursuit, not giving up until we have seen the face of God!

This was first posted on the sister website, devotedheart.org.