Scripture Reading: Romans 12:11 (RSV)
“Be aglow with the Spirit”
Recently, I read an article that reads,
“Take care that the face which looks out from your mirror in the morning is a pleasant face. You may not see it again all day but others will.”
In other words, take care of our countenance for others will see it evidently.
The Bible talks a lot about the countenance of man.
The word “countenance” in the Vines Dictionary simply means “appearance”.
The first thing God looks at Christians is the countenance of our heart. Man, on the other hand, looks first and foremost at the countenance of our face. They decide to like you or reject you by their first glance of your face. I was watching Channel News Asia and it reported that a survey was conducted by Yale University and it shows that women with attractive appearances has a 30% higher chances of getting employed; even felony of laws with that kind of countenance will get a lower court sentence.
God expects us to have the countenance of a heart that is aglow with the Spirit of God, according to our key text. When the countenance of our heart is aglow with the Spirit of God, the countenance of our face will also radiate with that glow.
The word “aglow” is from the word “to glow”. To glow according to Webster Dictionary means:
To give off light and heat
To shine as if greatly heated
To show a strong bright color
To be excessively hot
The synonym for the word “glow” is “light”. Light in the dictionary simply means:
This morning, I would like to share a sermon entitled, “THE GLOW OF GOD”.
What is the “glow of God”?
The glow of God is the strong, bright light of Christ which shines forth from our face due to the heart that is greatly fired up by the Holy Spirit.
Stephen of Acts is a case in point. The Book of Acts describes Stephen as a man “full of faith and of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 6:5). The Bible continues to say that
Stephen, full of grace and power, did great wonders and signs among the people.(v8)
When he was persecuted for his fiery ministry and brought before the council, Acts 6:15 records,
and gazing at him, all who sat in the council saw that his (Stephen) face was like the face of an angel.
Stephen has the glow of God on his face because his heart was set ablazed by the Holy Spirit.
You can say synonymously that the glow of God is the “glory of God” emanating from your countenance or your appearance.
It does not shine on its own. But it is an outflow from a heart that is aglow and aflame with the fire of the Holy Spirit.
It is a glow given only to Christians – Christians who have the light of Christ within their heart.
It is a glow that every one (Christians and non-Christians alike) can see obviously.
It is also a glow that can disappear if we as Christians are not careful to master over a few things in our lives.
2 Losing The Glow Of God
Only Christians have the glow of God. But the glow of God is not a permanent thing. It is subject to the way we live our lives.
It was during the Prayer Walk that I received the inspiration for this message. You see, Pas Toh Nee and I were walking down the stairs after the breakfast of the Prayer Walk when we met this sister-in-Christ, whom we have not seen for a long time. She greeted us and we were shocked to see her countenance. Pas Toh Nee commented to me in Chinese, “Hey, this girl has lost the glow of God. Her face wasn’t like this when she was working with so-and-so and ever since she changes to this present job, the countenance of her face has changed.”
Yes, we can lose the glow of God like this sister-in Christ whom we met on the staircase. Specifically, we can lose the glow of God if we do not master over 4 things in our lives.
Genesis 4:6 (KJV) – And the Lord said unto Cain, why art thou wroth? And why is thy countenance fallen?
V7 (KJV)- If thou doest well, shall thou not be accepted? And if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.
LB – “Why are you angry?” the Lord asked him. “Why is your face so dark with rage? It can be bright with joy if you will do what you should! But if you refuse to obey, watch out. Sin is waiting to attack you, longing to destroy you. But you can conquer it.
Cain’s offering wasn’t an offering from faith. He presumed to define what his sacrifice would be. He was the captain of his own heart. Cain was singularly unjust, unmerciful and unhumble. God had to reject his offering which made him very angry.
The giveaway to Cain’s sinful attitude was his COUNTENANCE.
V5 (KJV) – And Cain was very wroth, and his COUNTENANCE FELL.
NIV – his face was DOWNCAST
LB – his face grew DARK with fury
NASV- his face FELL
A feeling of resentment; a sense of disgrace and condemnation take possession of Cain’s heart. His fallen, dark look and countenance is indicative of evil thoughts and intention. Cain’s blazing resentment toward God welled in him. His hatred was so intense that it distorted his body, namely his face and nobody could miss it.
Brothers and sisters – today if you have a downcast face, a fallen countenance or a face of darkness, it is always indicative that there is sin in your heart. Whatever intensely sinful in our hearts, will well up in us and it will definitely distort our face. Every body around you can see that you are not doing well emotionally and spiritually just by looking at the countenance of your face.
When there is sin in our heart, it will affect our countenance. The glow of God disappears and in its place is a fallen, downcast, dark face.
Some of you today have a countenance of darkness because of a habitual sin of anger, bitterness or even sins of the flesh like drinking, gambling and adultery. You cannot hide the sin in your life from God or sometimes even from men. Sin displaces the glow of God from your heart and it will well up on your face. So don’t fool the church, the pastors or even God with your habitual and secret sin. It will show.
God gently responded to the seething man with remedial question:
The Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted?” (v6-7).
Literally, God said
If you do right, there is uplifting.
If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up?”(NASB).
The downcast lines of Cain’s mouth could yet become a happy face.
In a last ditch attempt to deter Cain, God pointed to him “to do well”. “To do well” is to retrace his steps; to consider his ways and to find out where he has been wrong; to amend his offering and his intention accordingly. The word “accepted” means “lifted up” and contrasts sharply with Cain’s fallen countenance. But this word suggests much more than a brighter face. It suggests rather that there is restoration for all who will turn to the Lord from the heart.
God personifies sin as a wild beast, lurking at the door of human heart and eagerly desiring to devour his soul. If Cain didn’t master it, he would be its victim. To make good, Cain must direct his heart to what is good. Cain is to rule over sin, to get rid of the sins in his heart. It is only after he gets rid of sins in his heart that God promises that his countenance will be lifted up.
The lifting up of our countenance is a free open look and it is a mark of a good conscience. When your heart is right with God, you will have a glowing heart and this glowing heart will translate itself to your face or countenance- your countenance will be glowing with the light of God.
You either have the glow of God or the darkness of sin on your face. You can distinguish some people (who are strangers) as having evilness in them just by looking at their faces. Why? Because their heart is so evil that it wells up (culminates) in their face.
Have you ever heard comments made about some people – “Oh, this guy has a bad boy face,” or “This girl has a rebellious face?” I remember looking at this girl in our church. Twice in the service, I caught her countenance when I was preaching and I could discern rebelliousness in her heart. I warned the Region Pastor many times but they refused to take my advice and they even proposed her name to be the peer leader for HOF. Soon, in months to come, what I discerned about her countenance came to pass. Rebelliously she walked out of our Christmas concert without any advance notice and left us helplessly looking for a last-minute replacement for her.
How is the countenance of your face this morning? Does it have the glow of God? Or is the countenance of your face fallen, dark and downcast? Has it to do with sins in your heart that you have not mastered yet and it is devouring your inner man?
Let him who is in the wrong today, retract at once, consider his ways; find out where he has been wrong; amend his offering and his intention accordingly and return to God with humble acknowledgement of his own guilt and unreserved submission to the mercy of his Maker.
The Lord does not immediately reject you but with longsuffering patience directs your attention to this issue of sin in your heart so that you can amend it. Only in returning shall you find mercy and forgiveness in God. For if you persevere in sin, there can be no hope and mercy.
Our Intimacy with God
You will lose the glow of God if you do not master your intimacy with God.
Exodus 34: 29 (KJV) – And it came to pass, when Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tables of testimony in Moses’ hand, when he came down from the mount, that Moses wist not that the skin of his face shone while he talked with him.
V30 – And when Aaron and all the children of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone; and they were afraid to come nigh him.
V31 – And Moses called unto them, and Aaron and all the rulers of the congregation returned unto him; and Moses talked with them.
V32 – And afterward all the children of Israel came nigh and he gave them in commandment all that the Lord had spoken with him in mount Sinai.
V33 – And till Moses had done speaking with them, he put a veil on his face.
V34 – But when Moses went in before the Lord to speak with him, he took the veil off, until he came out. And he came out, and spake unto the children of Israel that which he was commanded.
V35- And the children of Israel saw the face of Moses, that the skin of Moses’ face shone; and Moses put the veil upon his face again, until he went in to speak with him.
LB – Moses didn’t realize as he came back down the mountains with the tablets that his face GLOWED from being in the presence of God. Because of this radiance upon his face, Aaron and the people of Israel were afraid to come near him. But Moses called them over to him, and Aaron and the leaders of the congregation came and talked with him. Afterwards, all the people came to him, and he gave them the commandments the Lord had given him upon the mountain. When Moses had finished speaking with them, he put a veil over his face; but wherever he went into the Tabernacle to speak with the Lord, he removed the veil until he came out again; then he would pass on to the people whatever instructions God had given him, and the people would see his face AGLOW. Afterwards he would put the veil on again until he returned to speak with God.
Moses had been praying and fasting in the presence of God for eighty days and he had seen a glimpse of God’s glory. No wonder his face shone (KJV) or glowed (LB). He didn’t realize that he had “absorbed” some of the glory and was reflecting it from his countenance. And so it is with us, when we lived in fellowship with God, our lives reflect His life. Because of this glory, the people were afraid to come near him but he summoned them to come and they talked as before. However, after he was finished speaking to the people, Moses put on a veil to cover the glory.
Why did Moses wear a veil? Not because he was frightening the people but because the glory was fading away (2 Cor 3:13). The Jews saw this glory as something wonderful and exciting, but what would they say if they knew it was fading away? Who wants to follow a leader who is losing his glory or the glow of God? So Moses would go into the tent of meeting to talk with God and the glow of God would return but then he would wear the veil so that the people wouldn’t see the glory disappear.
In 2 Corinthians, Paul made several applications of this remarkable event. First, he pointed out that the glory of the Mosaic legal system was fading away but that the glory of the gospel of God’s grace was getting more glorious. He also applied the event to the lost Jews of his days whose hearts were covered by the veil of unbelief so they couldn’t see the glory of Christ.
Finally, he applied Moses’ experience to Christians who by faith see the glory of Jesus Christ in the Word and experience a spiritual transformation (v17-18). This is why Christians read the Bible and meditate on it because when the child of God looks into the Word of God and sees the Son of God, he or she is transformed by the Spirit of God into the image of God for the glory of God.
Moses didn’t depend on his 80-day fasting and prayer for the glow of God. After he came down and did what God commanded him to do, he went back to the Tabernacle to restore the glow of God because it is fading.
We cannot depend on a one-time spiritual encounter with God to maintain the glow of God. Each time we serve God, the glow of God dissipates and we have to keep going back to the presence of God, which is our devotional time, to restore that glow of God. A person that keeps himself long in the presence of God will absorb the glory of God’s presence in his face and heart. People will notice the glow of God in your face as well as the transformation in your heart. Conversely, when you don’t pray, it shows on your countenance.
How about you? How’s your intimacy with God? It is a simple question about a simple thing, and yet many of us fail. How is your time spent with God? Is it constant or occasional or none at all? You need time to absorb the glory of God’s presence. One minute of prayer can’t absorb much. Like a sponge that needs time to soak up the water, we as believers need to take time in the presence of God to “absorb” His glory. The key word here is “TAKE TIME TO WAIT UPON THE LORD.” How long has it been since you behold the Living Word, who is Jesus in the Word of God? How regular is your Bible reading?
How often are you reading the mind of God through the Word of God? You cannot whip up the glow of God on your face not even with make up. I know there are many make-up products that enhance the glow on your face. That’s pseudo glow. The real glow is the glow of God that comes from your intimate time in His presence. Even if you are without make-up or if you have the ugliest face, just by spending time with God will bring in the glow of God on your countenance and that glow is much more glorious and beautiful than man-made glow.
Master your prayer time and your Bible devotion time with God, without which you will never have the glow of God in your life.
Luke 11:34 (NIV) – Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eyes are good, your whole body also is full of light. But when they are bad, your body also is full of darkness.
V35 – See to it, then, that the light within you is not darkness.
V36 – Therefore, if your whole body is full of light, and no part of it is dark, it will be completely lighted, as when the light of a lamp shines on you.
The light of the body depends on the eye; if the eye is healthy, the body receives all the light it needs. If the eye is diseased, the light turns to darkness. Just so, THE LIGHT OF LIFE (GLOW OF LIFE) depends on what enters our eye-gate. If what enters our eye gate is right, our whole life is irradiated with light, that is, aglow with the radiance of Christ. If the things that enter our eyes are wrong, all life is darkened. Jesus urges us to see that the inner lamp is always burning. The inner glow of our spirit must be kept burning brightly by the right things that enter our eye-gate.
The “lamp” is Christ’s message and the “light” is the truth of His revelation and guidance; the “eye” represents spiritual understanding and insight that are filtered through the “good” or the “bad” in a person. When eyes are good, that is, when they are operating properly, the illumination makes it easy for the body to function. Those with “good eyes” are those true disciples who listen and respond to Jesus’ guidance. By contrast, when eyes are bad, that is, when they are not operating properly, the result is impaired functioning for the rest of the body. Those with “bad eyes” are those who reject Jesus’ words: all they have is the darkness and futility of their own evil ways.
In simpler words, when we trust Jesus Christ, our eyes are opened, the light shines in, and we become children of light. The important thing is that we take advantage of the light and have a single outlook of faith. If we keep one eye on the things of God and the other eye on the world, the light will turn into darkness. There is no “twilight living” for the Christians, for God demands total submission and obedience.
What are the diseases of the bad eye?
How that warps the judgment and blinds the eyes of men. Determined to recognize one object only, men can see no other. It was prejudice that made the men of Christ’s time fail to perceive that the kingdom of God had come among them. His wisdom, his worth, his power, everything was distorted and misconceived by them. Their inward eye was diseased and how great was the darkness that resulted (Matthew 6:23).
How many men that are walking, strutting across the stage of life, confident, complacent, contemptuous, that have been too proud to learn! Pride has bent their judgment, the truth has become distorted; there is darkness in his soul. Well does the apostle say, “If a man think himself to be wise, let him become a fool, that he may become wise.” Pride blocks the path, while humility opens the gates of the kingdom of truth.
This is the worst of all diseases, spoiling the spiritual sight. The man who lives in selfishness is mentally confused and wanders in bewildering error. The slave-owner could not see the sin of his own slavery when his temporal interests covered the eyes of his mind with a thick film of deception. Worldly interest, fleshly indulgences – all these form a thick scale which cover the eyes of the children of God, leaving them in the darkness of error and of sin.
Three men in the Bible illustrate this truth – they began in light and ended up in the darkness because they did not master over the things that enter their eye-gate. Their eyes were diseased. The name SAMSON probably means “sunny”, yet he ended up a BLIND slave in a dark dungeon because he yielded to the “lust of the flesh” (Judges 16). LOT began a pilgrim with his uncle Abraham. He ended as a drunk in a cave, committing incest (Gen 19:30-38), because he yielded to “lust of the eyes” (Gen 13:10-11). Lot wanted to serve two masters and look in two directions. KING SAUL began his reign as a humble leader but his pride led him to a witch’s cave (1 Sam 28), and he died of suicide on the field of battle (1 Sam 31). His sin was the “pride of life”; he would not humble himself and obey the will of God.
How about you today? How’s your outlook in life? How do you view life today? Do you look at life through the illumination of God’s word or do you look at life through the perversion of the world’s value? Do you have a prejudicial, prideful and selfish outlook of life? Or do you have very humble, illuminated and enlightened Christlike outlook of life? What are you allowing to enter your eye-gate this morning? Does the thing that you allow to enter your eyes, enhances the glow of God within you or does it snuff off the glow of Christ inside you and turn it into utter darkness? What are you allowing your eyes to see today? Pornography? Violence? Lies? Negativism? Pessimism? Hopelessness? Evil and occultism? Hollywood entertainment with its trashy values?
Indeed our eyes have a spirit of Christ. Either we have the spirit of Christ or the spirit of the world. It all depends on what you feed through your eyes. If it is the spirit of Christ, then the glow of God within you is bright and your heart is soft towards God but if it isn’t, then great is the darkness within you. William Barclay commented that a darkened inner light causes our heart to be hard, dull and rebellious. Sometimes, we turn hard, dull and rebellious in our hearts simply because we allow the wrong thing to enter our eye-gate.
Master the things that enter your eye-gate.
What enters your eye-gate determines the internal glow of God in your heart. Let good things and Christ’s outlook enter your eyes so that the glow within you will indeed be the bright light of Christ.
Our Good Works
Matthew 5:16 (KJV) – Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
The light (which is also the glow of God) streams out by means of good works. The world cares little for our words, but it has a sharp eye for our works. We want a new gospel for the present age, one written on the lives of Christians, that the world may see the reality of what we preach and give glory to your Father in heaven. The believer’s light shines not for himself but to reflect the light back to the Father and so direct people to him.
In an attempt to steer clear of works for gaining righteousness, good works are often neglected in church life today. But the Bible supports the importance of doing good. Good works are important not only as a witness to others but as a continuation of the work of Christ began on earth.
The glow or the light of Christ within us must be translated into external good works so that people can really see the light of Christ. You don’t light a lamp and hide it in the bushel. Similarly, God has sparked His glow in your heart so that you can translate it outwardly into good works.
It is so sad to see that other religions touch the communities around them more than the born-again Churches through their good works. Mother Theresa is the epitome of the ministry of compassion to Calcutta for the Roman Catholics. What about the born-again? Can the destitute see the light of Christ through the born-again churches?
Master our good works. Yes we do not depend on good works to go to heaven. But good works shines the light of Christ to the unsaved community. They see the love and compassion of Christ through your good works and not just your good words. So be a beacon of truth – don’t shut off your light from the rest of the world. Try to meet the needs of the world through good works.
Born-again Christians have the glow of God. We have the light of Christ and the fire of the Holy Spirit within us. This internal glow will culminate and emanate from our physical countenance. But we can lose this glow of God if we do not master over our sin; our intimacy with Christ; our eye-gate and our good works. Do you have the glow of God in your countenance this morning? Or is there darkness? Retract our steps, repent and return to God if we have allowed sins in our heart to block the glow of God.
End of Sermon