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by David Phelps

“Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person.” - Mother Teresa

September, 2002

One day recently, our almost-ten-year-old daughter, Monica, noticed the veins on the back of my hand. "What are those, daddy?" she asked. I explained to her that they were veins and that she had them too. I then explained that the reason they were visible was that the blood was blue, so that it contrasted with my skin. I went on to describe how blood changes from red to blue and back again as it travels through the circulatory system, and how the iron in hemoglobin "rusts" in the presence of oxygen, giving blood its red color.

When blood passes through our lungs, it is infused with oxygen -- with life -- and its appearance changes. In the same way, when we are infused with the spirit of God, we are changed as well. The earliest example of this is Moses: "When Moses came down from Mount Sinai . . . his face was radiant because he had spoken with the LORD." (Exod. 34:29 NIV). Moses had experienced the presence of God and everyone could tell by looking at him that he had been changed by the experience. His face shone so brightly that no one could bear to look at it, so Moses covered his face with a veil (Exod.34:30-33). Afterward, whenever Moses had been in the presence of God, his face shone (Exod. 34:34-35).

The prophet Daniel wrote that, in a vision, he had seen a man with a "face like lightning, his eyes like flaming torches," (Dan. 10:6b NIV). Daniel knew right away that this man represented God (Dan. 10:1, 16-19), and that the man's words were "a revelation . . . Its message was true" (Dan. 10:1b NIV). He knew this because of the appearance of the man in the vision, which was unlike that of ordinary men.

One day, Jesus went to the top of a high mountain with Peter, John, and James (Matt. 17:1-8). While they were there, Jesus ". . . was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light." (Matt. 17:2b NIV). The three disciples saw Jesus speaking with Moses and Elijah and they realized that this was no ordinary man. They didn't know what to think but they knew something significant had happened. Afterward, Peter suggested that they build three shelters -- or booths -- to commemorate the event (Matt. 17:4).

When the apostle Stephen was on trial for his life for speaking ". . . blasphemy against Moses and against God," (Acts 6:11b NIV) the members of the Jewish Sanhedrin ". . . saw that his face was like the face of an angel." (Acts 6:15b NIV). Stephen was filled with the Spirit of God and it allowed him to face his accusers -- and his fate -- with confidence. He spoke boldly before his accusers. And, as he died, he was able to say, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them." (Acts 7:60b NIV).

The same thing can happen to us. We may not necessarily have "the face of an angel" but others will be able to tell there's something different about us. Imbued with the Spirit of God, we will be transformed. The Spirit may not show in our faces but it will show in our actions. We can speak out against injustice, work for peace, bring the message of life to a dying world, and proclaim the gospel without fear. We can lift up our neighbors and show them the way to God. As Paul wrote to the Corinthians, we have seen ". . . the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ." (2 Cor. 4:6b NIV). When we shine God's light into our world and into the lives of those around us, we can banish the darkness and, infused with light and life from God, bring that light and life to those in need.

"Now if the ministry that brought death, which was engraved in letters on stone, came with glory, so that the Israelites could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of its glory, fading though it was, will not the ministry of the Spirit be even more glorious? If the ministry that condemns men is glorious, how much more glorious is the ministry that brings righteousness! For what was glorious has no glory now in comparison with the surpassing glory. And if what was fading away came with glory, how much greater is the glory of that which lasts!" (2 Cor. 3:7-11 NIV.)

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Copyright © 2002 by David Phelps