Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Developing Your Spiritual Life by Gazing at Glory: a Meditation on 2 Corinthians 3:18 (Part 2 of 3) “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 KJV

Last time we noted that the “lenscap must be removed” from our “camera” in order to develop our spiritual life, as we need an open, or unveiled, face in order to see the glory of the Lord. The second thing that we need to remember is that:

2. There must be sufficient exposure to the desired image.

Just as a camera requires adequate exposure to an image in order to properly develop, proper spiritual development requires a steadfast gaze. In other words, we must behold the glory of the Lord. We must fix our eyes and give full attention for a significant period of time.

Where do we look? The thing we focus on is of utmost importance, as we see God in the place that He has clearly and infallibly revealed Himself – in the Bible, which has all that we need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3) and is so complete that God’s man can be “perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

We behold the glory of the Lord “as in a glass.” This means we look into it like we look in a mirror. When one looks into a mirror, if any good is to be done, one pays attention to details. As we look into the Bible to see the glory of God, we want to make sure we are really beholding Him and receiving adequate exposure, otherwise, we will not properly develop. Stealing a glance here and there is not sufficient. In our busy, information-saturated age, we will receive God’s Word like all the other “water” that flows through a pipe and retain little or none of it without an intentional commitment to pay attention. We need to be like plants absorbing nutrients.

George Müller, a man known for his godliness and faith, who was used of the Lord to provide for many orphans in 19th century England and who distributed much helpful literature and preached the Gospel to multitudes, knew what it was to fix a steadfast gaze on the glory of the Lord in His Word.

The first thing I did (early in the morning), after having asked in a few words the Lord’s blessing upon His precious word, was, to begin to meditate on the Word of God, searching, as it were, into every verse to get blessing out of it; not for the sake of preaching on what I had meditated upon; but for the sake of obtaining food for my soul. The result I have found to be almost invariably this, that after a very few minutes my soul has been led to confession, or to thanksgiving, or to intercession, or to supplication; so that, though I did not, as it were, give myself to prayer, but to meditation, yet it turned almost immediately more or less into prayer. . . . With this mode I have likewise combined the being out in the open air for an hour, an hour and a half, or two hours before breakfast, walking about in the fields, and in the summer sitting for a little on the stiles, if I find it too much to walk all the time. I find it very beneficial to my health to walk thus for meditation before breakfast, and am now so in the habit of using up the time for that purpose, that when I get in the open air, I generally take out a New testament of good-sized type, which I carry with me for that purpose, besides my Bible: and I find that I can profitably spend my time in the open air, which formerly was not the case for want of habit. . . . The difference, then, between my former practice and my present one is this. Formerly, when I rose, I began to pray as soon as possible, and generally spent all my time till breakfast in prayer, or almost all the time. . . . But what was the result? I often spent a quarter of an hour, or half an hour, or even an hour on my knees, before being conscious to myself of having derived comfort, encouragement, humbling of soul, etc; and often, after having suffered much from wandering of mind for the first ten minutes, or a quarter of an hour, or even half an hour, I only then really began to pray. I scarcely ever suffer now in this way. For my heart being nourished by the truth, being brought into experimental fellowship with God, I speak to my Father, and to my Friend (vile though I am, and unworthy of it!) about the things that He has brought before me in His precious Word. It often now astonishes me that I did not sooner see this point.

(quoted in Roger Steer, George Müller Delighted in God, published by Christian Focus, 1997, pages 91-92.)

Let us learn from Müller’s example. Only by making time and intentionally spending it in God’s Word can we grow in our spiritual lives. Use a Bible reading plan. Pray through Scripture, line by line. Meditate on it, chewing it as a cow chews the cud, “regurgitating it” throughout the day and freshly going over it again. Memorize it in verses and even in paragraphs, chapters, and whole books. Apply it to your life so that it sticks – obey it. Share it with others. Doing these things will help us to have a steadfast gaze, and, therefore, sufficient exposure to God’s Word.

Let us be sure our lenscap is off and that we are getting adequate exposure to God’s Word.

Steadfastly beholding God in His Word is a sure means to spiritual growth, but things may not move as fast as we always hope, a matter that we will look at in our third and final installment on 2 Corinthians 3:18.

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