There is a difference between knowledge and experience. You may know about the fastest car in the world, that doesn’t mean you have experienced what it is like to be driven in the fastest car in the world. You may know about the tallest building in the world, but you haven’t experienced what it feels like to be in the tallest building in the world. Knowledge is different from experience.
In 1 John 1:1, John helps us understand the difference between knowledge and experience. Talking about his personal experience with Jesus, John says ‘That which was from the beginning, which we have HEARD, which we have SEEN with our eyes, which we have LOOKED upon, and our HANDS HAVE HANDLED concerning the word of life.’ You could have heard about something or someone on the pulpit or on the news, you could have seen and looked at pictures of someone or something in books, on the news and on the internet, all that is in the realm of knowledge; you are simply acquiring knowledge about that person or thing. It is when your hands have handled that person or thing that you have entered into the realm of experience; you know what it is to be around that person, you know what it feels like to use that thing. Real Christianity is about practical experience with a Living God.
When God says this year is the year of God’s glory, God doesn’t want us to just hear about the glory of God on the pulpit or through the internet, He doesn’t want us to have a mere theoretical knowledge of the glory of God. Like John said in 1 John 1:1, God wants us to be able to say ‘our hands have handled’; we have actually experienced the glory of God.
When God says this is the year of His glory, what God is saying is that we will experience:
• MIGHTY MANIFESTATIONS OF THE PRESENCE OF GOD: In 2 Chronicles 5:1-14, when Solomon finished building the temple of the Lord, the priests brought the ark of the covenant into the temple, the trumpeters and singers praised the Lord, and the temple was filled with the glory of God such that the priests couldn’t even enter the temple to minister. What they experienced was a mighty manifestation of the presence of God. My prayer for us this year is that in our homes and whenever we gather together, may we experience mighty manifestations of the presence of God.
• SPECIAL DIVINE PROTECTION: In Zechariah 2:5, the Lord says He will be a wall of fire all around Jerusalem and He will be the glory in her midst. Isaiah 58:8 tells us of the glory of God being our rear guard. God protects us from behind with His glory. We can’t see our back, when God says His glory shall be our rear guard, it is His way of telling us that He protects us from unseen dangers; from so many things we can’t see and aren’t aware of. It’s much easier to look forward than to look backwards. It’s uncomfortable to always have to keep looking back to see what’s behind. When God says His glory shall be our rear guard, God is saying don’t bother yourself about who’s talking about you behind your back, which evil arrow is coming at you from behind. The glory of God is protecting you from behind and His glory will deal with whatever danger is at your back.
When Moses prayed to God ‘please show me your glory’ let me know what your glory is all about, let me experience your glory, God said while my glory passes by, I will put you in the cleft of the rock, and will cover you with My hand while I pass by (Exodus 33:18-22). In this dangerous times that we live in, where there are all manner of sickness, diseases and viruses out there, may God hide us in the cleft of the Rock of Ages and cover us with His hand.
David was a man that escaped many arrows, traps and enemy attack. In Psalm 3:1-3, he said those who trouble him have increased, his enemies are so many, but the Lord is a shield for him, His Glory, the One who lifts up his head. David experienced divine protection through the glory of God. I don’t know how many people, how many enemies, demons and forces of darkness are troubling you. May the glory of God be a shield around you and a defence from anything they plan to do to harm you.
• THE POWER OF GOD TO TURN THINGS AROUND – In John 11:39-40, when they were at the tomb of Lazarus and Jesus said take the stone away. Martha interrupted him by saying ‘Lord, by this time there is a stench, for he has been dead four days’. Martha was saying you don’t seem to understand the situation on ground. My brother has been dead for four days. What could possibly happen now? It’s too late for anything to be done. Jesus answered her by saying ‘Did I not say to you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?’ Jesus’ response to her was that if you believe, even if he has been dead four days; even if it is a hopeless situation, the power of God can turn that situation around. May the glory of God turn things around for us. When the glory of God manifests, the power of God brings dead things back to life. May the glory of God manifest in our lives and cause every ‘Lazarus’ in our lives, every hopeless situation, everything that is dead in our lives, family, church and nation to come back to life in Jesus mighty name. Amen!
• MIRACULOUS DIVINE PROVISION – In Exodus 16:2-13, the Israelites grumbled and complained about Moses and Aaron because they were hungry in the wilderness and there was no food in sight. God heard their grumbling, the glory of God descended, and the next thing they saw was that God had covered the whole camp with quails. When the glory of God descended there was miraculous provision. In this year of God’s glory, may we enjoy miraculous provision in Jesus mighty name, amen. When the glory of God descended in a dry land, in a desert situation, God made a way out of escape from hunger. May the glory of God cover us this year and make a way of escape out of hunger, lack, famine and all manner of financial difficulties and challenges. May the glory of God make a way, where there seems to be no way.
HOW CAN WE EXPERIENCE THE GLORY OF GOD?
I believe we all want to experience the glory of God this year; we need mighty manifestations of the presence of God, we need special divine protection especially when there’s a virus out there ravaging peoples’ lives, we need the power of God to turn things around in our lives, family, church and nation, we need God to make a way where there seems to be no jobs, where there is so much lack and financial difficulty all around.
To experience the glory of God:
1. WE MUST HAVE A SPIRITUAL REORIENTATION
Orientation has to do with how we think, how we see things. Orientation has to do with our beliefs, feelings and attitude towards a particular issue or subject. Orientation is very important because how we think, how we see things, what we believe can either make us experience the glory of God or keep us from experiencing the glory of God. If we look at Isaiah 60:1-2, we see that the glory of God is not promised in a time of peace and plenty or in a time when the economy is booming and everything is going on well. It is promised in a time of deep and thick darkness. A time when there is the darkness of a pandemic, a time when there is the darkness of danger, insecurity and violence. A time when there is so much fear in the land. A time when there is the darkness of famine or economic recession. A time when the darkness of sin, wickedness and immorality has taken such a firm hold on people’s lives.
Why do we need a spiritual orientation? We need a spiritual orientation because a lot of us have forgotten who we are in Christ Jesus. We have forgotten that we are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own special people (1 Peter 2:9) and so all we seem to see, talk about and think about is the darkness out there. A spiritual reorientation will change our thinking and beliefs to align with what the Word of God says, so we are moved and influenced by the Word of God not by what we can see with our physical eyes, not by the darkness in the earth. Yes, Isaiah 60:2 says darkness has covered the whole earth, there’s no disputing that, but for you who are a covenant child of God, your own case is different. While the darkness is covering the earth, what is covering you is the glory of God, not the darkness. The Lord will arise over you and His glory will be seen upon you.
In Genesis 26:1-3, there was a time of darkness; there was famine in the land, there was a serious recession. God had to give Isaac a spiritual reorientation. Isaac looked around him – he saw there was no money in sight, businesses were folding up, there were no jobs, and food to eat was a big problem. Of course, the logical thing that came to Isaac’s mind was that he should relocate to a place where there is ‘light’; a place where there’s money in circulation, jobs and businesses are thriving, what to eat and drink isn’t a problem. God had to remind Isaac that yes, all around you there’s a famine; there’s the darkness of a recession, but who said you are everybody and anybody, you are a covenant child and I am with you. Stay in this land and I will be with you and bless you even in the midst of darkness; even in a recession.
Without a spiritual reorientation it is hard to believe the promises of God and tap into them. Without a spiritual orientation all we will see is the darkness and think and believe we can’t escape the darkness. Forgetting that our God knows how to separate His children from the darkness all around and cover them with His Shekinah glory. In Exodus 10:22-23, there was thick darkness in the land of Egypt, but the children of Israel had light in their own dwelling places. God protected them from the darkness in the land. In Isaiah 6:1, it was the same year that king Uzziah died, in the same year that one family was weeping, mourning and in pain, that Isaiah experienced the glory of God. God still knows how to give His own people a completely different experience from what other people are experiencing. God can protect His own children from the darkness all around. But we must see ourselves as covenant children and stop thinking and believing that because people’s businesses are folding up, ours too will fold up, because people we know with Master’s and PHD don’t have good jobs, we too can’t get jobs, because the pandemic is taking so many lives, the pandemic will take our lives as well. We shouldn’t fear what others fear (Isaiah 8:12). The things that frustrate and discourage those who don’t know God, shouldn’t frustrate and discourage us. We are not every and anybody, we are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own special people (1 Peter 2:9).
2. GUARD YOUR HEART
Our heart in times of darkness; in times of uncertainty and difficulty must be guarded. Proverbs 4:23 says guard your heart with all diligence. Why do we need to guard our heart? It is because it is in our heart that our faith resides. Romans 10:17 says it is with the heart one believes. Whatever you believe about God, about a person or about an issue all takes place in the heart.
What is the link between the glory of God and our faith? If you read John 11:1-40, you will notice that Jesus didn’t tell Martha to believe, have faith and she will see the glory of God when Lazarus was sick and still breathing. At least at this stage, there’s a chance, a possibility that he can get healed, he can better. It’s easier to believe God for healing than to believe for the dead to come back to life. It’s easier to encourage someone at this stage, don’t give up, believe, have faith, God can heal your brother, God can intervene. It takes someone with dangerous faith to be able to say when someone has been dead for four days, don’t give up, believe, have faith, you will see the glory of God; God can bring your brother back to life. We are living in very sensitive times, perilous times, times like no other where dangerous faith is seriously needed to get through these times.
1 Peter 1:7 says our faith is much more precious gold. It has more value than gold. People that have real gold, go to great lengths to safe guard their gold. Our faith should be seriously guarded from anything that can weaken it, shrink it or quench it. We all have our personal faith boosters, things that boost or strengthen our faith. At the same time, we have things that weaken or shrink our faith. This is a time to know your own personal faith boosters and give special attention to your faith boosters so that your faith in God is strengthened and you are not afraid or intimated by the darkness around. This is not the time to give room to those things that shrink or weaken our faith.
For some people, no matter how bad a situation is, once they take time to pray, they have peace and are confident that God will attend to that situation, there’s nothing to be worried about. For some, it is worship that does it for them. For some others, it is listening to the Word of God or declaring the Word of God. Those are faith boosters. If on the other hand, there’s a particular person that anytime you talk to, or there’s a particular channel that anytime you watch it, you get discouraged, you start panicking and fear sets in. Clearly, this is an activity that is of no use to your faith; it weakens and shrinks your faith.
You wouldn’t open up or expose your gold to anything or anyone that can harm it. Guard your heart from anything and anyone that has a harmful or diminishing effect on your faith. Boost your faith not weaken or shrink your faith because you need to believe to see and experience the glory of God.
3. BE READY TO GO THE EXTRA MILE
In Luke 9:28-36, Jesus took Peter, James and John to a mountain to pray. Matthew 17:1 tells us it was a very high mountain. It was while they were on this mountain that Jesus was transfigured and they saw and experienced the glory of God.
Jesus was very intentional about those He selected to experience the glory of God on that mountain. He knew His disciples; He knew the ones like Thomas who were doubters and would have a hard time believing that if was really Elijah and Moses that appeared on the mountain. He knew those that would try to use a scientific theory to explain the transfiguration. Jesus was intentional, He didn’t bother selecting those ones to come and experience the glory of God.
Jesus knew the ones that always had a ready-made excuse when He called them to pray or for an assignment. He was intentional, He didn’t bother calling them.
Jesus knew those that were always behaving like health and safety officials and would tell Him all the risks and dangers in climbing a high mountain. He knew those that would tell Him don’t you know we can get injured, we can get dehydrated, start feeling dizzy, or develop mountain sickness. He was intentional, He didn’t bother calling them.
Jesus knew those that always promise and fail, those that would promise Him don’t worry I will be at the mountain, but never show up. He was intentional He didn’t bother calling them.
Jesus also knew those that had flaws, were far from perfect, but He could always count on them, they were always available, they were always ready to go the extra mile. These were the ones He selected to come and experience the glory of God. These were the ones He always called when there was a special and important assignment (Luke 8:51, Luke 9:28, Matthew 26:36-46). We see the heart of these men when they were at Gethsemane. Even when they were feeling sleepy, tired, not in the mood, even when it wasn’t convenient, so far it was Jesus calling, they would answer, they would show up. These men who were ready to go the extra mile with Jesus and for Jesus were the ones that experienced the glory of God.
You want to experience the glory of God which is a good thing but can you go the extra mile for Jesus? I pray that this year God will make us a people who are willing and ready to go the extra mile for God so we can experience new dimensions of the glory of God.
4. LET CHRIST BE IN YOU
Colossians 1:27 tells us Christ in you, the hope of glory. The assurance we have that we will see the glory of God, no matter the darkness out there, no matter the troubles that come our way, no matter the challenges we are going through, is that we have Christ in us. If Christ lives in you, your portion, your inheritance is glory. Christ in you is an assurance of light not darkness. If Christ is in you, though darkness shall cover the earth, and deep darkness the people, the Lord will arise over you and His glory will be seen in you.
When Christ in us, He ejects out of our lives everything that is not of Christ. Like it happened to the prophet Isaiah, unclean lips, every sin and iniquity in our lives is taken away and we are filled with the glory of God (Isaiah 6:1-7). Christ in us the hope of glory, the assurance that even in a pandemic, we shall experience divine protection. Christ in us the hope of glory, the assurance that even when our ‘Lazarus’ dies; our hopes and dreams are delayed or shattered, nothing seems to be working, we shall see the hand and power of God bring those dry bones back to life. Christ in us, the hope of glory, the assurance that broken pieces of our life can be put back together. Christ in us an assurance of health not sickness, abundance not poverty, favour not disfavour, forgiveness not condemnation, glory not shame (Isaiah 61:7).
So, the question for you today is this – Is Christ in you? You want to experience miraculous provision, you want divine protection, you want the presence of God to be with you, you want God to make a way for you when there is no way, you want to experience the power of God to change things, but is Christ in you? Is Christ in you only on Sundays when you come to church? Is Christ in you only when you have a problem? Is Christ in you only when it is convenient? Let Christ be in you no matter what. Let Christ be in you on a daily basis.
Christ in you means a life with God now, a future with God in eternity. It means from one level of glory to another level of glory (2 Corinthians 3:18). It means experiencing His glory here on earth, to experiencing the greatest dimension of His glory in eternity.
PHOTO CREDIT: Daniel Pascoa on Unsplash