Thursday, December 20, 2012

Glory to God in the Highest

I've been listening to a lot of Christmas music (of course) but my favorite this year is Chris Tomlin's Christmas album. Yeah, yeah, it's a couple of years old & I'm a late-comer but it is so good. Our kids' choir sang a song from it and it's magnificent - and that has little to do with the fact that I'm partial to the drummer that played with them that day!

Jessica and I were talking about the songs that say "glory to God in the highest" the other day. The angels said it to the shepherds when they announced the Savior of the world's birth. Jessica asked if glory in the highest means highest praise to God or glory because He's the highest. What a great question and one that I certainly don't have the answer for. Perhaps it could be both.

That sent me on a search for use of the word glory in the Bible. It's over 300 times, by the way. The second time it's used in the NASB is in Exodus 16. The setting is after the Hebrew people were delivered from Egypt and had already crossed the sea on dry land. But, they were hungry and they started to grumble. I'm not judging, I'm just reporting. I've been known to grumble a time or one thousand myself.  The Hebrews even wondered if they would've been better off still in captivity because at least there they had food to eat and their physical hunger was satisfied. God's reply to their grumbling? Food. Moses said, "God will show you His glory by providing food for you to eat." (my paraphrase) God said, "You shall know that I am the Lord your God" because He's the one that satisfies every need.

My soul repeats glory to God in the highest these days because of His provision. In so many ways He has provided and satisfied. I am humbly grateful - and that seems like an understatement. I know all too well hunger, if not physical, and sorrow and despair. I'm grateful for provision in those cases too.

My favorite book of 2012 is Hudson Taylor's Spiritual Secret. It was written in 1932 but Hudson Taylor was a missionary to China beginning in 1853. He knew hardship and physical loss. In all that he experienced and endured he knew, really knew, about God's provision. I hope you'll read these words he wrote following the death of his wife:

"The present year has been in many ways remarkable. Perhaps every one of our number has been more or less face to face with danger, perplexity and distress. But out of it all the Lord has delivered us. And some who have drunk more deeply than ever before the cup of the Man of Sorrows can testify that it has been a most blessed year to our souls and can give God thanks for it. Personally, it has been the most sorrowful and the most blessed year of my life, and I doubt not that others have had in some measure the same experience. We have put to the proof the faithfulness of God - His power to support in trouble and to give patience under affliction, as well as to deliver from danger. And should greater dangers await us, should deeper sorrows is to be hoped that they will be met in a strengthened confidence in our God." (180) 

Glory to God in the highest. Highest glory to Him because He's proven Himself faithful, though He doesn't have to. Glory to God in the highest because He hears, He responds, He knows. Glory to God because He's the highest and I know He's the Lord my God. 

Merry Christmas and a blessed New Year!

Serving the King,