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Archive for the ‘glorifying God’ Category

wisdom

“Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!” (Romans 11:33)

Wisdom can be defined as “knowing the best goal and the most effective way to achieve that goal” (hat tip to J.I. Packer). God is wise – the embodiment of wisdom. In fact, His wisdom is perfect, holy, and righteous. He knows which goals are best as well as the most effective ways to achieve them. We can absolutely count on that.

I’m convinced that we will fully appreciate the wisdom of God only when we are in His presence. Then, and only then, will we understand what God has done and why He has done it. Thankfully, we will see that everything God has done was wise – He knew the best goals for us and He knew the most effective ways to bring them about. We’ll say, with all praise to God, “Lord, You did what was best for me (even though I didn’t like it at the time and wanted You to take it away), and the way You did it was the most effective possible – it couldn’t have happened any other way! You knew exactly what You were doing, Lord!”

May we pray for wisdom from the God who is wisdom!

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intro

I read something on Twitter the other day that got me thinking. The author’s gist was that he had had a bad experience with a Christian “celebrity” and it left a bad taste in his mouth.

The author, along with several others including the “celebrity” (a well-known pastor), went to a local restaurant for a meal and some time together. The well-known pastor treated the wait staff horribly. He was rude, demanding, and demeaning. He treated those who served him as if they were beneath him. In case you’re wondering, the author of the tweet spent most of the day with this same group of people and, sadly, discovered this was “standard operating procedure” for the well-known pastor. The way he looks at this pastor has been radically changed.

I can sympathize with this author. I’ve had the “pleasure” of being around several well-known Christians (not too many, though) who treated people terribly, were arrogant, in addition to being demanding. They didn’t act very Christlike. In fairness, I need to say that I’ve also had several very positive experiences with well-known Christians, too. Michael Card – the musician – is one of the most humble, kind, and caring men (not to mention incredibly talented) I’ve had the pleasure of knowing.

You can tell a lot about someone’s character by the way they treat the people who serve them (waiters, waitresses, receptionists, custodians, doormen, delivery people, cashiers, Uber drivers, front desk agents – you get the picture) – those who can’t do anything to “help” their career. When you treat people who serve you like dirt, it reflects badly on Christ and His church. It turns them off and gives people another reason to reject the gospel. It also has the effect of discouraging fellow believers in Christ, not to mention disillusioning them. (By the way, while that can happen with well-known pastors, musicians, conference speakers, authors, and the like, it can also happen with those of us who aren’t well-known, too. How we treat people matters.)

James and John – two of Jesus’ disciples who happened to be brothers – came to Jesus and asked Him to give them seats (positions of power) on His right and left when He comes into His kingdom. Jesus answered by saying, Calling them to Himself, Jesus said to them, “You know that those who are recognized as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them; and their great men exercise authority over them. But it is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant; and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be slave of all” (Mark 10:42-44). The Lord makes clear that James and John’s perspective is backwards. Non-believers (or “Gentiles” as He calls them) are domineering (“lord it over”) when it comes to those “underneath” them. In contrast (“it is not this way among you”), those who belong to Christ are servants and slaves. We serve others for the glory of God and don’t “lord it over” others, especially those who we think are “beneath” us. 

How we treat people makes a difference – a bigger difference than we think. The gospel is offensive by itself; we don’t need to add to it by being obnoxious.

(Author’s note: I don’t know the identity of the well-known pastor.)

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calvin

After quoting Romans 12:1-2 (“Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”), Calvin writes,

This is a marvelous thing – we are consecrated and dedicated to God to the end that we might not think, speak, meditate, or act unless it be to His glory. The sacred can’t be put to profane use without injustice to God.

If we are not our own but the Lord’s, it’s clear what errors we must flee, and what we must direct our whole lives toward. We are not our own; therefore, neither our reason nor our will should dominate our plans and actions. We are not our own; therefore, let us not make the gratification of our flesh our end. We are not our own; therefore, as much as possible, let us forget ourselves and our own interests.

Rather, we are God’s. Therefore, let us live and die for Him. We are God’s. Therefore, let His wisdom and will govern all our actions. We are God’s. Therefore, let us – in every way in all our lives – run to Him as our only proper end. How far has he progressed who’s been taught that he is not his own – who’s taken rule and dominion  away from his own reason and entrusted them to God. For the plague of submitting to our own rule leads us straight to ruin, but the surest way to safety is neither to know nor want anything on our own, but simply to follow the leading of the Lord.

Let then our first step be to abandon ourselves, that we may apply all our strength to obedience to God. When I say “obedience,” I don’t mean giving lip service to God; but rather, being free from the desire of the flesh, turning our minds over completely to the bidding of the Spirit of God.

(A Little Book on the Christian Life, by John Calvin, translated by Aaron Denlinger and Burk Parsons, pp. 22-23; Reformation Trust, 2017.)

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sdg

Last night and this morning, I had the privilege of preaching on Psalm 115. Here is a summary of my sermon in one sentence: The God-centered life is characterized by giving glory to God alone. On a side-note, I used Power Point for the very first time!

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This evening, I had the privilege of preaching on Psalm 11. Here is a summary of my sermon in one sentence: When crisis comes (and it will), the righteous should trust God, be faithful, and be courageous for the glory of God.

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therefore-we-ought-to-support-people-like-these-that-we-may-be-fellow-worke-esv14665

I had the privilege this morning of hearing Darren Carlson, founder of President of Teaching Leaders International, preach on 3 John 1-8. Here is a summary of his sermon in one sentence: A faithful church receives and sends missionaries for the glory of God.

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Steinberg New Yorker

Politicians have a way of disrespecting much of the American voting public. They sometimes refer to everything outside of the New York-Washington, D.C.-Boston-Los Angeles bubble as “flyover country.” In other words, the parts of the country you fly over when you’re going to the “important” places. They don’t realize what they’re missing.

As bad as that is, those of us who love God’s Word can do the same thing by the way we treat books of the Bible. If we’re not paying attention, we can look at the very beginning of a number of books – the greeting – as flyover country. We skip it in order to get to “the good stuff.” If we do that, though, we miss out on some very important truths.

Philippians 1:1-2 should not be ignored or rushed over in our haste. Paul writes, “Paul and Timothy, bond-servants of Christ Jesus, to all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, including the overseers and deacons: grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” 

Much could be written about these two verses, but I’ll limit myself to a thought from verse 1. Paul says that as Christians, we are simultaneously “in Christ Jesus” and “in Philippi.” 

Through faith in Christ alone for our salvation, we are united with Christ. We are in Him and He is in us. By God’s grace and mercy, we’ve been brought into a living and legal relationship with Jesus and we share in the redemption He accomplished and all of His blessings. Union with Christ is the basis from which our election, calling, regeneration, repentance, faith, justification, adoption, sanctification, and glorification take place. We are “tied” to Christ in such a way that we’ll never be untied.

At the same time, we are in the world – “in Philippi,” so to speak. God didn’t remove us from this world the moment we repented and believed the gospel, did He? If He did, you wouldn’t be reading this and I wouldn’t be writing it, either! We’re “in Christ,” but we’re not yet in heaven. God has given us a job to do as long as we’re living in this world – to glorify Him and to enjoy Him forever (1 Cor. 10:31 and Question and Answer #1 of the Westminster Shorter Catechism). We’ve been called to make Him visible, put Him on display, and reflect Him wherever He’s placed us. He has set us apart (the meaning of “saint”) to serve Him.

The Lord determines who we are (united with Christ), where we live (our particular place in this world), and what we’re supposed to do (glorify Him in all things). It was true for the Christians in Philippi and it’s true for us, too.

There is no “flyover country.” If only we, and the politicians, would realize it. We don’t know what we’re missing!

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