Posts Tagged glory of God
Yesterday I posted 10 questions to help you discern whether you struggle with the fear of man. These are helpful ways to diagnose what is, for many people, a big spiritual problem. But what’s the antidote to this issue?
In his booklet “Gospel Relationships,” Tim Chester provides this answer:
The answer to the fear of man is the fear of God. We need a big view of God. To fear God is to respect, worship, trust and submit to God. To fear God is to have a proper appreciation of his holiness, majesty, glory, power, love and wrath. Christians can now call God our Father, and fear in the sense of ‘terror’ has been taken away…
…[We need] to meditate on God‘s glory, greatness, holiness, power, splendour, beauty, grace, mercy and love. Encourage them to compare the person(s) they fear with God. [We should] imagine that person next to God. Who is the most majestic? Who is the most loving? Who is the holiest? Who is the most beautiful? Who is the most threatening? Who is the biggest?
How would this perspective change your concerns about people’s approval?
NOTE: MPOW stands for Ministry Passage of the Week, and contains a weekly verse that comes from Bible Boot Camp, an intensive leadership development course that I am teaching this fall to about 20 growing leaders. Click here for other MPOWs.
1 Chronicles 29:11-12 – God Owns It All
Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and you are exalted as head above all. Both riches and honor come from you, and you rule over all. In your hand are power and might, and in your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all.
Few truths have the same power as this one in the life of well-to-do Americans. When we realize that all that we have is God’s–when this truth sinks in deeply–it has tremendous power to free us from thinking that we are in control of our lives and our stuff.
This passage reminds us of a few important things:
1. Everything belongs to God. All that is in the heavens and the earth–ALL of it–belongs to God. There is nothing outside of all that is in the heavens and the earth. This is intended to be comprehensive.
2. God rules everything. Not only does God own everything, but he also is actively involved in ruling it. He has the power to make great and give strength.
3. God is the only one truly deserving of glory. Because of his unique ownership and rulership over all things, David showers the Lord with praise. He alone deserves the power, the glory, the victory, and the majesty.
This passage not only reminds us of God’s ownership over our finances and possessions, but also over our talents, abilities, and endeavors. God reigns over all of it, and deserves praise for it.
May we be men and women who acknowledge that God is God and we are not. May we be people who rejoice in God’s power and glory and rule. May we humbly submit to his wisdom, and may we seek him to give us strength.
Yesterday we began our Living in 4G series and we took a look at the reality that God is Great. We saw that because God is great, we don’t have to be in control. God is sovereign and ruling over the universe that he created — so we can trust him. It raises the question, “What is the extent of God’s control over the world?”
Charles Spurgeon answered the question this way:
I believe that every particle of dust that dances in the sunbeam does not move an atom more or less than God wishes—
that every particle of spray that dashes against the steamboat has its orbit, as well as the sun in the heavens—
that the chaff from the hand of the winnower is steered as the stars in their courses.
The creeping of an aphid over the rosebud is as much fixed as the march of the devastating pestilence—
the fall of sere leaves from a poplar is as fully ordained as the tumbling of an avalanche.
HT: Justin Taylor
Last night our community group was studying prayer and praying. A question occurred to me during our discussion:
If you were God (with all the character of the God of the Bible), what would you want your children to ask from you?
It struck me that God probably doesn’t get too excited about all our prayers/vain repetitions for him to “bless this day” or “bless this food to our bodies” (see Tim Hawkins joke about this), but probably gets very excited about us asking him to reveal his glory to our hearts in a way that causes us to treasure Jesus and keep in step with the Spirit.
This idea was confirmed by our reading from Redeemer’s “Studies in Prayer”:
‘Had God nothing better to bestow upon you, when he had made you his children, than a little money or land, that you seem so much to behave yourselves as if you thought this was your chief good?… I am bold to say that God is now offering the blessing of his Holy Spirit to this town, and I am bold to say we may have it only for the asking. But if we ask in such a manner that, at the same moment we ask, we show that we have no sense of the value of what we ask — if we ask in such a manner as implicitly to ask and deny at the same time — then we have no reason to think that we have truly asked.’ (Jonathan Edwards)
It is a powerful argument. The fact that we pray so much more instinctively, consistently, and fervently for money, health, reputation, approval, and social status than we do for the glory of God and the work of his Spirit shows what our hearts are really after and really trusting in. And, as Edwards argues, formal, infrequent, dispassionate prayers for the Spirit are not genuine requests at all. To ask in a way that shows we have no idea what we are asking for is the same (if not worse) than to not ask at all.
What will you ask God for today? Will you be content with just praying for him to bless your health and your food and your finances or will you ask him for more of himself? Will you ask him to bless you with his Holy Spirit in a fresh way?
Justin Taylor recently posted some excellent things to pray for our church. Pray that God would move in such a way that would result in:
- hundreds of people coming to Christ,
- old animosities being removed,
- marriages being reconciled and renewed,
- wayward children coming home,
- long-standing slavery to sin being conquered,
- spiritual dullness being replaced by vibrant joy,
- weak faith being replaced by bold witness,
- disinterest in prayer being replaced by fervent intercession,
- boring Bible reading being replaced by passion for the Word,
- disinterest in global missions being replaced by energy for Christ’s name among the nations, and
- lukewarm worship being replaced by zeal for the greatness of God’s glory.
Then in a follow-up post, he shared a comment from John Bryson:
If Jesus answered all your prayers from the last 30 days, would anything change in THE World or just YOUR world?
That puts some things in perspective doesn’t it?
It’s sort of silly to talk about things that God won’t forget — after all, he knows everythin (past, present and future) and always will. But Scripture does say that there’s something that should be an encouragement to those who are doing loving, heartfelt, behind-the-scenes ministry. I know at Second Mile, these are the people who really make a difference in a bunch of ways that aren’t always seen or known.
Here’s the promise:
For God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love that you have shown for his name in serving the saints, as you still do. (Hebrews 6:10)
This is a great encouragement to do things today to please the Lord and serve people even if it doesn’t earn us immediate recognition or thanks. God won’t overlook it.
May the Lord bless you with the joy of doing unknown ministry that only he will notice. That will be a much better reward anyway.
One thing that I get asked a lot from people who are wanting to be part of Second Mile is, “What can I do to help?”
Here’s my typical answer: “Well, there are a lot of things that can be done in terms of tasks — there are many opportunities to volunteer on our various ministry teams — and these tasks are really important. But what I really want you to do is help us build a culture that will be something we’re happy about 10 years from now.”
This is so important because every group of people has a culture (some have called it a “code” or “DNA”) that reveals who they really are and what they really care about. This culture is often unspoken and subtle–it’s more felt and experienced than articulated. And, regardless of what a group’s stated values are, their culture is what their actual, lived-out values are. One definition for culture is “the set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes a” group of people (Merriam-Webster).
I think it’s likely that the culture that is created at Second Mile in the first six months will be the culture that exists six years from now, even though the programs, structures, and people of the church will be very different. That’s why I’m exhorting people not just to do some tasks, but to build a culture of love, grace, servanthood, hospitality, warmth, authenticity, community, compassion for the hurting, and life-transforming passion for God.
How could you help build a great culture? Here are a few ideas:
- Get white-hot for God. Do whatever it takes to stoke your passion for Jesus. Repent of sin. Pray. Dig into Scripture. Serve those around you. Tell somebody about what Jesus has done for you. Do whatever it takes.
- Depend on God’s Spirit every moment. Scripture tells us that the fruit of the Spirit is “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control.” That would be a pretty good culture, eh?
- Cultivate a servant’s heart. Do anything you can to help anyone at anytime. Serving people is one of those things that makes us more and more like Jesus.
- Be generous with your time, your resources, and your money. Look for opportunities to bless people with the resources God has given you. You’ve been blessed to be a blessing.
- Have somebody over for dinner. Find a person you don’t know very well yet and open your home to them with love and hospitality.
- Smile and laugh. Enjoy your life. Create opportunities for fun. Laugh at yourself.
- Extend care to someone in pain. Hurt and brokenness are all around us. Find somebody experiencing pain and walk alongside them with care and compassion.
Building a culture is both exhilarating and frightening at the same time. I think we’re on a good track and our leaders and team have been incredible. Let’s keep it up and build a community that loves and honors God with everything that we are.
The end of Acts 12 has a startling description of the death of Herod, who had been a chief persecutor of the early church:
On an appointed day Herod put on his royal robes, took his seat upon the throne, and delivered an oration to them. And the people were shouting, “The voice of a god, and not of a man!” Immediately an angel of the Lord struck him down, because he did not give God the glory, and he was eaten by worms and breathed his last. But the word of God increased and multiplied (Acts 12:21-24, emphasis mine).
The first-century Jewish historian, Josephus (not a Christian), confirms this hard to believe account, vividly describing how Herod suffered:
His entrails were also exulcerated, and the chief violence of his pain lay on his colon; an aqueous and transparent liquor also settled itself about his feet, and a like matter afflicted him at the bottom of his belly. Nay, farther, his privy member was putrified, and produced worms; and when he sat upright he had a difficulty of breathing, which was very loathsome, on account of the stench of his breath, and the quickness of its returns; he had also convulsions in all parts of his body, which increased his strength to an insufferable degree. (The Works of Josephus: Ant 17.169).
Ouch. This is obviously a horrible way to die. The question that comes to my mind is, why would God strike Herod down in this particular way? There were many ways to strike Herod other than this. What might we learn from it?
I think the lesson from this is that giving way to pride and self-exaltation is like allowing your life to be eaten alive from the inside out. Pride is an inner disease that sometimes even hides itself in those who appear humble. It eats away at your heart and slowly decays your ability to love, worship, serve, and give.
Want to die on the inside? Then don’t give God the glory, honor, and credit he deserves. It might feel good now, but soon enough your life will be ruined from the inside out.
Spend any amount of time with anybody right now and it won’t take long before issues of the economy or other troubles come up. We live in challenging days. I wonder, where will our hope come from? Martyn Lloyd-Jones offers some help (it’s a touch long, but worth it):
The real cure for our subjective ills is ultimately to be so enraptured by the beauty and glory of Christ that we will forget ourselves and will not have time to think about ourselves at all…The trouble with our generation, and let us not be too hard on ourselves, is that we are living in a very difficult age. We have had to face problems which mankind has scarcely ever had to face in such an acute form, and such an age always tends to produce morbidity, a concern about oneself. We are living such a ridiculous type of life that our nerves are tired and frayed, and as a result we are all of us concerned about self, and hte great problem is how to get away from it. The high road to that is to be so absorbed by someone else, something outside oneself, which is so glorious and wonderful that, without knowing it, we forget all about ourselves. This can happen as you look at some marvellous scenery, or fall in love and forget yourself; well multiply that by infinity and look into the face of Jesus Christ and catch something of his glory, and I assure you that most of the ‘mumps and measles of the soul’ will automatically be cured, and you will find yourself in a healthy condition, mentally, spiritually and even psychologically. (The Assurance of Salvation, p. 71-72, originally preached in 1952)
May God grant you a glimpse of the majesty of Jesus that allows you to stand on solid ground during shaky times.
One sermon that I go back to repeatedly is Tim Keller’s “The Gospel and Yourself,” which is a terrific message on Isaiah 6. The big concept is that there’s a difference between experiencing God as a concept and as a reality. I think you’ll be encouraged.
For more Tim Keller resources, click here.