Glorious Countenance

Psalm 119: 135

Make Thy face shine upon Thy servant.

This is my prayer today and I hope it is yours as well. There is something so simple and yet so holy and intimate about this little phrase. It has captured my heart today as if there are no other words to say in the universe. What prayer shall I utter which can eclipse the sweetness of this petition? What prayer is more powerful than the simplicity of a heart yearning for the eyes of God’s beholding?

Lift up mine eyes, O Lord, that I may behold your glory, the glory which was yours in the beginning and shine your glorious light upon my countenance that I may reflect the beauty of your love, the beauty of your grace. 

Look upon me Lord with favor. Let me find favor in your sight and in the eyes of every person. Let your light so shine that all will know that there is a god in heaven, the one God, Yahweh: father, creator, lover of my soul.

Allow me to be a blessing to all I encounter. Pour through me the abundant generosity of your soul. Let all see that you are a god of great kindness. Shower upon me, precious Lord, the truth of who you are. Let me know you as you truly are and make me a disciple of faith. 

And Father, I pray that your love and grace will fall like a blanket of light on every person who reads these words and that your eyes will behold them in the embrace of your great affection. Let your light rest upon them and keep them. Amen.

Throne of Grace

Hebrews 4: 16

Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need.

Did you know that God’s throne is called the throne of grace? That’s right. He sits in grace. But what about the throne of judgment; where is that? Well, I don’t know. I searched the Bible and it turns out its not there. Curious! We have heard about the judgment seat and the throne of judgment for so long that most of us expect it to be real but it turns out that it is just the figment of religion. It is a good device, like the boogey man, to get us to do what religious minds thinks we ought. You know, “Be good or you will fare poorly when you face the throne of judgment. How interesting, though, that God says come before me where I sit on the throne of grace dispensing, well, grace. He isn’t dispensing judgment; He is giving away grace. 

In the Old Testament God had an ark made which was kept in the Holy of Holies and that is where He would meet mankind. The seat of the ark, God called the Mercy seat. It is there in the place of mercy that God chose to meet with people. And what do you suppose is dispensed from the seat of mercy? Yes, mercy. People have this crazy notion of God being an angry, vengeful, judgment dealing God but that is stuff and non-sense. Others believe He is a benevolent God now but maintain that He was mean in the Old Testament. Well, then why did He name His seat, His throne “Mercy”? He chose where He would meet humans and He chose to meet them over mercy.

That is pretty good, but it wasn’t good enough. You see, He had to be the dispenser of mercy because there was no other answer for the sin of man. Aahhh, but we have a new covenant made on better promises by a better mediator (Hebrew 8: 6). So God was able to get a new throne. Hallelujah! He now sits in grace, on the throne of grace, dispensing grace. 

This is where God always wanted to be and thanks to Jesus He is the King of Grace, the God of Grace. Grace, the calling card of our dear Father, is your birthright vis- a-vis the new birth. God invites us into His throne room to receive grace, mercy and help, not judgment. 

Grace is the unmerited favor of God. It cannot be earned but rather is a gift from a loving father. It is the power for things to simply go well for you. It is the invitation for you to hang out with God. Because of grace, because of God’s favor upon you, where once you were an orphan and an outcast, now you abide in the actual presence of the Almighty free from stain or blemish. You are the perfect, redeemed, restored child of the Most High. Grace does all this for you and more. Unmerited favor, mercy, help in time of need, these are all yours through the blood of Christ. They are all pouring out from the Throne of Grace where your beloved is seated.

Get a new image of your father today, the father of grace. Let the idea of grace fill you. Our father has promoted us from mercy to grace and mercy was pretty good. You have been invited into the throne room. Go with the confidence that your father is awaiting you with a smile. But don’t look for the throne of judgment. You won’t find it in Dad’s throne room.

Increase of Favor

Proverb 11: 27

He who diligently seeks good seeks favor, but he who searches after evil, it will come to him.

Here is another way to gain favor. Seek and go after those things which are good. If you look for evil, it will find you. If you look for the good things, the righteous things, then favor is going to follow you.

This is about a condition of our heart as well as a decision of our will. When we set our eyes and our hearts on God we end up seeking His righteousness. When we seek His righteousness, then all that we need will be added to us (Matthew 6: 33). Our Lord taught us that this is a clear way to relieve ourselves of anxiety. Pursue those things which are good. “For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with gratitude” (1 Timothy 4: 4). Seeking God necessarily means searching for goodness and kindness. The other proverb which speaks so clearly of favor is Proverb 3: 3 – 4 which tells us to bind ourselves to kindness and truth. When we seek good, truth or kindness we are in fact seeking God and His ways. Therefore, unmerited favor finds us.

If on the other hand we toy around with the things which are not of God’s kingdom, then evil will find us. And that is a clearer characterization of what happens because most of us don’t go out seeking after evil but rather we tolerate things that we ought not and we sort of play around with things that we know would not please God. When you play with fire, eventually you will get burned and this has happened to so many of us. We listen to a little music that we probably wouldn’t play if our pastor was in the room. We give in to some movies that we certainly wouldn’t want God to watch with us. A little of this and a little of that and we have paved the way for the things that we don’t want in our lives to come to us. We have all but sent an engraved invitation and then we act all surprised when things happen. 

We are little magnets and we are going to attract that which we set our eyes upon. That is exactly what Solomon was trying to get across to us. If we seek good we shall attract good into our lives but if we look over in the devil’s backyard he is going to make sure that we get what we are seeking. Seek goodness, truth and kindness, bind them around your neck and the favor of God and a good reputation with God and man shall be your prize.

Favor and Reputation

Proverb 3: 3 – 4

Do not let kindness and truth leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart, so you will find favor and good repute in the sight of God and man.

The secret to attaining what we want in verse four is found in verse three. We can have favor with God and man and we are meant to. We also should enjoy a good reputation. You can work hard for a good reputation. You can apply all of the world’s wisdom on how to gain man’s favor, read all of the Positive Mental Attitude and Sales books, or you can take the shortcut. 

If we want to apply the Father’s shortcut the first thing that we must acknowledge and accept is that this is heart work again. You cannot just read the Bible like it is a self-help book and reap the benefits. The power of the Word is that it lives in you, in your heart. We are supposed to take the things that the Holy Spirit is teaching us and write them on the tablet of our hearts. Writing on our hearts is a purposeful act of our own. We choose what abides in our hearts and in this passage our Father is encouraging us to make it truth and kindness. 

Now if you really think about it, you would expect a person to have favor and a good reputation who has prioritized truth and kindness in their lives. No one likes a liar and a person who is unkind will have no friends. I think, though, that we can go even a little deeper with this. First of all, we are not talking about being unkind as much as being affirmatively kind. That is different. It means that kindness goes before you. Overt acts of kindness become one’s calling card. People ought to be able to rely on us responding with kindness. We ought to be predictably kind.

As for truth, there is truth with a little “t” and Truth with a capital “t”. The difference is Jesus. He is the truth. When THE truth is what we bind about our necks and write on the tablets of our hearts then we certainly will be favored among all people. Then telling “the truth” takes on a more profound meaning. Jesus becomes “the way” in our lives. His ways become our ways. Again we become reliable. People can count on us and that is really very important. How many people do you know that you can count on? Those people become precious to you.

God wants you to walk in favor with Him and to have favor with all people. That is why He is telling us how to get it. Favor means that things just go your way, people do things for you, give you things. Sometimes it is nothing more than a good parking place. Other times it is the impossible happening for you. In any event, you are supposed to have favor with God and man and it comes by letting God express His essential nature through you in love, kindness and truth.