4 And such trust have we through Christ to God-ward:
5 Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God;
6 Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.
7 But if the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not stedfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance; which glory was to be done away:
8 How shall not the ministration of the spirit be rather glorious?
9 For if the ministration of condemnation be glory, much more doth the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory.
10 For even that which was made glorious had no glory in this respect, by reason of the glory that excelleth.
11 For if that which is done away was glorious, much more that which remaineth is glorious.
12 Seeing then that we have such hope, we use great plainness of speech:
13 And not as Moses, which put a veil over his face, that the children of Israel could not stedfastly look to the end of that which is abolished:
14 But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which vail is done away in Christ.
15 But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their heart.
16 Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the vail shall be taken away.
17 Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.
18 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 3:4-18 (KJV)
Over the past few years as I was studying to complete the requirements for the Divinity degree, I had to read many books. Many times I would attempt to read at night and would find myself staying on page for a long time because I would drift off to sleep as I was reading. Many times the book would end up reading me instead of me reading it. I would often stand up and walk around to keep from going to sleep. I would finally conclude that I’d better stop wasting time and go to bed and pick the book back up after I was more refreshed. It was important that I absorbed what I read and that I finished each book because I would have to take a test or write a paper on what I read.
Our lives are similar to this in a sense…our lives have pages that turn in to chapters. There is a story that is unveiling that will reach an ending point and we will have to stand before the great judge to give an accounting of what we’ve done. Paul in this text is comparing what happened under the old covenant with Moses putting a veil over his face after receiving instructions from God versus now in this new covenant where we can experience the Glory of the Lord without a veil and Paul says that we are being transformed into the same image, from one degree of Glory to another. In other words, Paul is saying that it is hard to come in contact with God and be the same. He is saying that we are being transformed from one degree of glory to another and our lives should reflect more of the image of God as we change. Glory is how God has used His power to change your life to become more like him what page are you on? What story is your life telling? Are you changing to reflect more of God’s image? Glory can be described as God’s might acts of power and awesome light that radiates from God’s presence.
The Spirit Bears Fruit (The Spirit writes the story)
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
— Galatians 5:22-23 (KJV)
Love & Joy are attributes that help others see the story of Christ in you. When peace, patience, kindness, and goodness come together in your unique personality, the power of God’s mighty acts take place. The story takes legs and purpose comes into play. Faithfulness keeps the story going because there will be pitfalls and unexpected turns. The Spirit is in a constant fight with the flesh.
Excuses keep us from the next chapter
Many times we don’t get to the next chapter in our lives because we make excuses for why we can’t do what God is asking us to do. You remember the parable of the Great Banquet described in Luke 14. Jesus told the parable of the invitation to the banquet and they all made excuses for why they could not come. Moses made excuses when God asked him to lead the people. Another theologian coined the phrase that “we must be stronger than our excuses.”
Turn Excuses into Glory
When we come into agreement with the new covenant, and we are in alignment with God’s plan for our lives, that’s when the glory starts to show up. When the glory shows up, transformation starts to take place and not only does God work on you he works through you to make changes in others. This should be your charge for 2016. Commit that God’s glory will manifest it’s self in you and that your pages will turn in to chapters and your story will be used to touch someone else’s life.
The Rev. Elijah Ray is pastor of Wyatt’s Chapel Baptist Church. This column is the sermon he delivered this past Sunday.