I am beginning a short message series tomorrow I’ve entitled “Encountering His Splendor,” and I’ve decided to allow one of my blogs each week be specifically related to my upcoming sermon I will share at SonRise Baptist Church. If you do not attend our fellowship, you can listen to my Sunday’s message online by the following Wednesday at www.sonrisebaptist.org. If you do attend, you can use this blog to help you prepare for worship. What do you think of when you consider the word splendor? A dictionary would define it as something that is magnificent and splendid in appearance; grandeur. When was the last time you encountered splendor? I’ve seen a few things in creation that would fall into that category: a sunset over the Gulf of Mexico viewed from a dock on Islamorada, the wide expanse of jungle viewed from atop a Mayan pyramid in Guatemala, the breathtaking beauty and color of a coral reef of the tropical waters of the Florida Keys, the unbelievable sight of the Grand Canyon, and looking out over the world from the top of a mountain in the wilderness of Colorado. Do you usually connect this view of creation to God’s splendor? Many of us do, and we worship Him as our Creator God – infinite in power. Can you imagine what it would be like to encounter God’s splendor first hand? I do not mean only seeing evidence of His power but encountering the reality of His presence.
God does not intend His splendor to be hidden from us. He does not mean for His presence to be elusive and unattainable. I believe this is one of the prominent messages of Christmas. God even chose for one of His names to be Emmanuel – God with Us. The question we must consider this week is how important is God’s splendor to us? Take a moment and read Luke 2:1-20. I know you might be able to almost quote the Scripture because you’ve heard it so many times, but read it again and think about the experience from the perspective of the shepherds. A shepherd was willing to risk his life to save his flock. He gave up everything in society to take care of his little family of sheep. He lived with them, he slept with them, and he watched over them. One amazing thing about this whole story is that in response to the angel’s message, the shepherds left their sheep to go encounter God’s splendor. We can assume they left someone in charge (how would you like to have drawn that straw?), but we don’t really know that. They may have all gone. Regardless, they left the sheep unattended or at least not adequately attended so they could go and see the Son of God.
One thing we must settle in our minds first, I suppose, is whether or not God’s splendor can be encountered. I have no doubt that it can be. Jesus even said in John 14:21 that he would show Himself to those who love Him and keep His commandments. The next question we must ask ourselves is this: “How big of a priority is God’s splendor to me?” Are you willing to leave everything to go meet with God? As you move into the Christmas holidays, are you willing to make encountering God’s splendor during this Christmas season a priority?