Wednesday, March 21, 2012

FIRST Wild Card Tour: The Glory of God

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!


Today's Wild Card author is:




and the book:


Whitaker House (April 1, 2012)

***Special thanks to Cathy Hickling of Whitaker House for sending me a review copy.***


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Dr. Guillermo Maldonado is quickly emerging as one of the world’s best known and beloved Christian leaders. Over 17,000 regularly attend his Miami church, King Jesus Ministry, and tens of thousands more know him through his New Wine Apostolic Network of churches in the U.S., Caribbean, Central and South America, and Europe. His weekly television show, Tiempo de Cambio (Time for Change) can be seen on the Daystar, Church Channel, and Mega TV networks and Telemundo. He’s been praised by ministry, media, and political leaders around the world including the former presidents of Columbia and El Savador, the governor of his home state of Florida, Rick Scott, and countless others including Charisma Magazine founder Steven Strang who called him “the most dynamic leader I have ever met!” Dr. Maldonado earned his MA in Theology from Oral Roberts University and Ph.D. in Divinity from Vision International University. He takes seriously the words of Jesus to “make disciples of all the nations.” His services are known for signs, wonders, and miracles. Dr. Maldonado and his wife and ministry partner, Ana, live in Miami with their two sons.

Visit the author's website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:


Many have heard of “the glory of God,” but who can define or explain its significance in their day-to-day lives? In his latest book, Dr. Guillermo Maldonado not only examines the meaning of the term, he teaches readers how to experience it. Using scriptures like John 17:22: “And the glory which You gave Me, I have given them,” he challenges readers to examine God’s glory as described in the Old and New Testaments, and consider how it manifests today. Those who are able to grasp and incorporate the glory of God into their daily lives, Dr. Maldonado teaches, will be able to powerfully lead others to Christ and fulfill God’s purpose for them on earth.




Product Details:
List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 272 pages
Publisher: Whitaker House (April 1, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1603744908
ISBN-13: 978-1603744904

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:







We Are Made for Glory


Did you know you are specially made for God’s glory? The glory of God was a gift to mankind in creation, and it is also the inheritance of every child of God. When we enter into God’s glory, we dwell in His very presence, receive His love and grace, understand His heart, learn His will, and experience His divine power. That power transforms lives—saving, healing, and delivering—and enacts miracles and wonders that reveal God’s majesty. Yet many Christians are not living in this glory. For various reasons, they are settling for far less in their relationships with God as they daily serve Him.
Jesus prayed to the heavenly Father on the eve of His crucifixion,
And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one. (John 17:22)
Jesus has given believers the same glory the Father gave Him. The questions we must therefore answer for ourselves are: What will we do with this revelation? How can we live according to the glory we’ve received from Jesus?


Experiencing God’s Glory


The glory of God is not just a theological concept to be learned. It is a reality that can be continually experienced. Sadly, many theologians, teachers, and preachers consider the glory of God to be a thing of the past, something that was known in biblical times but cannot be experienced today. Yet the glory of God is for this generation. Here is a testimony from a Dr. Coradin, who experienced the transforming power of God’s glory with his family when they came to our church, King Jesus Ministry:
Invited by a friend, we arrived at the church, devastated. Our son David had spent one day in jail because of a drug problem and bad behavior, and, because of this, he had lost his scholarship to Nova School of Medicine. When we arrived at the parking lot of the church, we suddenly felt a supernatural presence invade our car. My son began to cry and sob while asking God and us to forgive him. My wife began to cry and to tremble. I was paralyzed and astonished. If this was happening in the parking lot, the first time we visited the church, then what was going to happen when we entered the church? About thirty minutes later, we were able to leave the car. As a result of our visit to the church, David was transformed. God delivered him and turned him into an evangelist to drug addicts, a House of Peace [the church’s home fellowship ministry] leader, a member of the university evangelistic team, a warrior of intercession, and an example to many of his old friends. As for me, I had neglected my relationship with God and with my family due to alcoholism. The Lord delivered me from this addiction, and I was reconciled to Him. God also began to restore my marriage. My wife, Joy, was delivered from depression and her dependency on antidepressants. This firsthand experience transformed our lives and gave us purpose. It gave new destiny to my family and my future generations.
Jesus lives, and He continues to do miracles among us today. In MedellĂ­n, Colombia, there is a woman named Johanna who works with institutions for children who are orphaned, homeless, and infected with AIDS. A year ago, she accepted Jesus as her Lord and Savior when she visited our Miami church. There, she was trained to move in the supernatural power of God. When she returned to Colombia and to the orphanage where she works, she met Xiomara—a four-month-old girl who was diagnosed as HIV positive. The love of God came upon Johanna, so she began to pray for the little girl, breaking the curse that had come upon her through her bloodline. When she did, she felt the power of God and knew that He had done something supernaturally. Weeks later, after a series of exams, Xiomara was declared totally healed and was placed for adoption. Johanna witnessed the miracle take place before her eyes, and today, that little girl lives in a wonderful home with loving parents. Something similar happened to Laura, a two-year-old girl who had been abandoned by her mother—a sixteen-year-old prostitute. The doctors had declared there was no hope for her recovery, but Johanna prayed for her, also, and the power of God created a miracle by restoring her immune system and eradicating the viral infection. The last three times she was examined, the results came back negative. She was declared healthy by the doctors and was placed for adoption.
Can you imagine these types of miracles taking place on a regular basis? God can do exceedingly beyond what medicine can do! A supernatural power is in operation, and it comes through the glory of God.
Why does the manifest presence of God’s glory make such a dramatic difference in people’s lives? It is because of the nature of His glory.


The Essence of God’s Glory


“Weight”


The word kabowd is one of the most significant in the Hebrew language. Its literal meaning is “weight,” but the term is used figuratively in the sense of “splendor,” “abundance,” “honor,” or “glory”; it is something “glorious.” In the Old Testament, kabowd is used variously to describe an individual’s wealth, power or majesty, influential position, or great honor. Kabowd can also express fame, reputation, recognition, beauty, magnificence, strength, dignity, splendor, respect, excellence, holiness, and greatness. Hence, the glory (kabowd) of God expresses all of His attributes.
Today, people commonly use the term weight in a similar way. For example, we might say a person has “a lot of weight” (influence) with the particular leader of a country if that leader regularly listens to his or her counsel. We can also say that a person has “spiritual weight” (substance) if he possesses a mature, honorable, humble, and just character. This spiritual weight is his “glory,” which makes him stand out from others.


The glory of God is the essence of all that He is.


We need to see that God’s glory is the realm of eternity. It is infinite, boundless, with no restrictions—it is beyond the imagination of human beings. His manifested glory is eternity revealed on earth. Glory revealed is the impact of God’s powerful and unforgettable mark, seen and heard in the natural.


“Majesty”


Let’s look next at a Greek word translated as “glory” in the New Testament. When the first five books of the Hebrew Scriptures (the Pentateuch) were translated into Greek for the first time, the word doxa was chosen for the concept of God’s glory because it best expressed the meaning of kabowd, leading to the notion of reputation, honor, fame, praise, dignity, splendor, and brilliance. This translation, known as the Septuagint, was the first to use the word doxa to denote the majesty of God.
Later, that same word was used in the New Testament, including certain references to Jesus. (See, for example, Matthew 16:27; John 1:14.) Doxa speaks of the real majesty belonging to God as the Supreme Governor—majesty in the sense of the absolute perfection of His deity. When referring to the Son, it alludes to the majestic royalty of the Messiah—this being the highest level of exaltation and the condition to which the Father raised Jesus after He fulfilled His purpose on earth, defeating Satan and death.


The glory of an individual resides in his intrinsic worth.


If we unite the various meanings of the words kabowd and doxa, we could say that the glory of God is the total sum of His attributes, character, and intrinsic virtues, the brilliance of His presence, and the splendor of His majesty. Accordingly, we can conclude that the very essence of God is His glory.


The Glory of God Was Manifested at Creation


The glory (presence) of God is the spiritual atmosphere of heaven, like oxygen is the physical atmosphere of earth. Because the glory is the essence of who God is, everything is complete in the glory; nothing is incomplete.
This glory was the life and environment in which the first human beings lived. God created the first man, Adam, in an instant, out of the dust of the earth, and gave him His “breath of life”:
And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being. (Genesis 2:7)
Therefore, to truly live is to remain continually connected to God’s presence—to draw in His breath of life.


In the glory of God, every need is met.


Adam was never an infant, a child, or a teenager; therefore, he did not have to undergo the growth process we experience. The same was true for his wife, Eve. They were created and formed as adults because, in the beginning, God created all things in their finished form, while placing a seed in every kind of species so that it could reproduce.
And the earth brought forth grass, the herb that yields seed according to its kind, and the tree that yields fruit, whose seed is in itself according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. (Genesis 1:12)
In the glory of God—and in His manifested presence—everything “is”; therefore, every need of humanity can be met, so that we are complete. In the glory, there are healing, deliverance, and miracles (even creative miracles, such as new organs). When human beings were first created, they did not know sickness, poverty, or death because in the glory there is no sickness, poverty, or death. They had no knowledge of sickness or death. Yet, as we will see, after human beings sinned by rebelling against God, they had to be removed from His presence, and they began to experience these things. Also, since that time, all human beings have undergone a process of birth, growth, and eventual death.


The Presence of God Is an Environment


To comprehend what it means to live in God’s glory, we must first understand the contrast between the environment in which human beings lived in the garden of Eden before the fall and the environment in which they lived on the earth after the fall. In Genesis 1, we see that the first thing God did before creating each aspect of creation was to prepare the perfect environment for it. For example, He created the land and then created plants and trees that would thrive in the soil and its minerals. Likewise, this environment was in place before God created animals that would need to eat the vegetation for food.


Before God created anything, He first prepared the environment that would perfectly sustain it.


God created the oceans and the rivers, and then He created fish and other living creatures especially equipped to exist in an environment of water. God created the firmament of the heavens, and then He created the stars and planets that would be placed in it to function according to gravitational laws and orbital paths. (See Genesis 1:9–25.)
Similarly, when God created the environment of the garden of Eden, He designed the perfect setting for human beings. What was that perfect setting? God put Adam right into the environment of His presence and glory. He never told Adam, “I want you to search for Eden.” He placed him there. He didn’t give him any choice because that was the only environment in which he could be sustained and thrive. And, in that setting, God revealed Himself and His ways to humanity. (See Genesis 1:26; 2:7–9.)
Let us look more closely at the meanings of the words “garden” and “Eden” in the original Hebrew to draw out their meaning.
The word “Eden” means “pleasure” or “delight.” The word “garden” signifies “enclosure” or a “fenced” place. It comes from a root word meaning “to hedge about”; it is something that “protects,” “defends,” “covers,” or “surrounds.” When we are in the glory, we are surrounded by and protected by God’s presence. Therefore, I do not believe Eden was a particular geographical place, but rather a carefully prepared, delightful “spot” of glory that God designed mankind to dwell in.
Significantly, I also believe Eden was a “moment in time” in which the manifestation of God’s glory could be seen. Why do I use the phrase “moment in time”? Because God manifests Himself visibly in time (in the natural dimension) for the benefit of human beings, and because God’s glory is continually moving. When we are in the presence of the Lord, we go “from glory to glory” (2 Corinthians 3:18). No one goes from one place to another without moving. God is active and moving constantly, and He manifests Himself where He desires. And when we are in Him, we move with Him.
Almost all the geographical locations mentioned in the Scriptures have been found by archaeologists. Yet Eden has not been discovered. Why? Because it was a spot, a moment in time, where the presence came—and the presence was continually “moving.” As the presence was moving, Adam was moving.


The glory of God was the original environment in which mankind lived.


God is everywhere, all the time, but He doesn’t manifest Himself everywhere on earth today. He manifests Himself where He is welcomed and where people are in right relationship with Him. Eden was an environment that was a “gate” or “portal” to heaven because God manifested His glory there to human beings who were made in His image and were in unbroken fellowship with Him. God’s presence with humanity was truly heaven on earth.
I like to define Eden as “a spot on the earth for a moment in time where the presence of God is a gate to heaven.” Jacob caught a glimpse of this type of glory when he dreamed of a ladder ascending into an opening to heaven. (See Genesis 28:12.)


Mankind Fell Short of God’s Glory

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23)
Tragically, human beings’ existence in glory did not last. Adam and Eve sinned by choosing to go against what God had told them to do and eating of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. As a result, they were disconnected from the life of God and were exiled from Eden—from the glory. (See Genesis 3.) They fell “short of the glory of God.”


Sin caused man to fall short of the glory of God and to be exiled from His presence.


What fundamental change happened when mankind fell? The Bible says that God sent cherubim to guard the entrance to Eden—to protect the presence—because the glory is not a place; it’s an environment. God’s presence is pure, uncontaminated. Mankind did not fall from a place; it fell from God’s presence, from the environment of glory. So, human beings as a whole have been “short” of His glory from that day.
In addition to protecting the presence, God protected human beings. He didn’t want us to be doomed to a state of eternal spiritual death, which might have happened if He hadn’t intervened to separate Adam and Eve from the tree of life until they could be restored to Him. As we will see, God had a plan of rescue and redemption for mankind that would unfold in human history, which He first announced directly after the fall of man. (See Genesis 3:15.)
When Adam and Eve sinned, their spirits—the essence of who they were as human beings made in the image of God—died. They also began to die physically. However, we read that it took more than 930 years for Adam’s body to completely stop functioning. (See Genesis 5:5.) I believe that the residual glory that remained in his body kept him physically alive for that long.


Life Outside Our Natural Environment


If something is removed from its natural environment, you don’t have to actively kill it; it will die on its own. For example, if you take a fish out of water, it will slowly die of dehydration. Likewise, if you pull up a plant from the earth and set it on top of the ground, it will soon wither and die from lack of water and nutrients.


That which is created cannot live independently of its God-given environment; it will die.


In the case of Adam and Eve, they essentially removed themselves from God’s presence by choosing to go against His ways and seeking to live outside the parameters of His glory and protection, so that they had to be exiled. Yet God created mankind to live in His glory—that was His plan from the beginning. This is the reason human beings die when they are estranged from His presence. It is the environment we were designed for!
Likewise, today, every human being experiences a process of death due to being disconnected from the glory and presence of God. In effect, this process starts from the moment of birth because it is at that moment that the curses of living under a “ticking clock” and moving toward the inevitability of death, which are associated with fallen humanity, begin to operate on us and in us.
Human beings’ life on earth under the curse of sin is one of lost relationship with God and lost potential of life in His glory. Left to ourselves, we are unable to live in accordance with the high existence we were created for.


“The Glory Has Departed”

Then she named the child Ichabod, saying, “The glory has departed from Israel!” because the ark of God had been captured and because of her father-in-law and her husband. (1 Samuel 4:21)
The loss of God’s glory on earth was a tragedy that is graphically illustrated in the account of the death of Eli, the high priest and judge of Israel.
Eli had judged Israel for forty years, and he lived in Shiloh, where the tabernacle (the center of worship) was located. When he learned that the ark of the covenant—the place where the presence of God was manifested—had been taken by the Israelites’ enemies, the Philistines, he fell backward and died of a broken neck. Then, when Eli’s daughter-in-law heard of his death, as well as the death of her husband by the Philistines, she went into premature labor and gave birth to a son. Before she died, she named him Ichabod and said, “The glory has departed from Israel!” In Hebrew, Ichabod means “without glory.”The manifest glory of God had departed from Israel when the ark was taken. Shiloh had been the center of Hebrew worship until that moment, but it never recovered that distinction.
It is sad when the presence of God departs, and it is pitiful to observe believers, churches, and ministries today that “survive” without it, having only an appearance of holiness and godliness. On the surface, everything may appear to be fine, but the truth is that the presence of God is no longer on the inside. When you see a church in which no one is getting saved, people are not changed or transformed, holiness is not encouraged, miracles, healing, and the power of God are nonexistent, and God’s presence is no longer evident, it means that place is without glory—and this is equivalent to death.
We were created to live in His presence; otherwise, we’re going to die.



Restored to Glory!


The Bible says, “The Lord is…not willing that any should perish” (2 Peter 3:9). God provided a way for us to be restored to Him and His glory, implementing a plan of action to rescue us that included: (1) sending His Son, Jesus, to earth to be born and to grow as a Man who lived a completely sinless life; (2) Jesus dying in our place as our Substitute, taking our punishment for sin; (3) Jesus being raised from the dead and ascending to heaven, thereby conquering sin and death. With the shedding of His blood, Jesus redeemed human beings from sin and sickness; and, with His resurrection, He gave us access to eternal life.
The final objective of Jesus’ sacrifice was to restore human beings to the realm of God’s glory, for which we were created.
For it was fitting for [God], for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation [Jesus] perfect through sufferings. (Hebrews 2:10)
When we are reconciled to God through Jesus, we receive His Holy Spirit, our spirits are brought from death to life, and we have access to His glory. Spiritually, we can now live in the environment of heaven. We still die physically because our bodies have not yet been resurrected in glory for eternity—an event that will take place when Jesus returns. (See 1 Corinthians 15:42–45.)
The plan of salvation demonstrates that, even though mankind sinned, God’s purpose will be carried out according to this cycle: the glory of God was present at the beginning of creation, and it will manifest powerfully in the last days—it will be seen in our time—and we will be returned to living in His presence. The redeeming work of Jesus allows us now to approach, walk in, and live once more according to God’s glory in spirit, in soul, and, even to a large extent, in body. It may not be easy, but we will go “from glory to glory” (2 Corinthians 3:18) if we believe and persevere. His glory is in us. Jesus’ atoning blood gives us access to the Father and once again connects us with His presence while our bodies wait to be completely redeemed from death as well.


We are carriers of God’s presence through His indwelling Spirit.


In Christ, we are all carriers of a “portable Eden”; in other words, wherever we go, we carry with us His glory through the indwelling Holy Spirit. We have access to our original environment through the blood of Jesus. When we remain in our true environment, we will have true life. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6), and “He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me, you can do nothing” (John 15:5).
Remember, you are made for glory—for existing continually in God’s presence as you live your life. Although the Holy Spirit already dwells within you, you need to actively seek God and His glory through worship, praise, surrender to His will, and faith. Why? Jesus said, “The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:41; Mark 14:38). Until the day when we will once again live in uninterrupted glory, we must seek God’s glory daily!
In the next chapter, I will share how God manifests His glory, even in our day, just as He did in biblical times.


EXPERIENCES WITH GOD
  • Commit to praise and worship God for a certain amount of time each day, to generate an atmosphere of glory. Prepare your ears to hear, because God wants to talk to you from a “cloud of glory” generated by your worship.
  • If you have trouble accepting God as your Father and considering yourself His beloved child, ask Him to reveal Himself to you as Father as you meditate on Scriptures such as Matthew 6:32–33 and Ephesians 5:1.

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