Wednesday, January 02, 2013

THE WORSHIP CENTERED LIFE daily in the presence of His glory

We live in a time where people say that Elvis lives and God is dead. We live in a generation that plants trees but uproots marriages. We live in a culture where individuals will bring nations together to save a few dying whales, but are swift to kill unborn babies. It's against the law to post The Ten Commandments in public schools, but it's responsible education for teachers to hand out condoms. Sin is now called sickness; disobedience is now called disease; and adultery is now called addiction--nothing more than extra-curricular political activity for the politicians.

How is it in the midst of this kind of moral and spiritual chaos that we can and must live lives that will bring glory to God? I hope this article will in some way equip and encourage you to "live daily in the presence of His glory."

We all have Phd's in rationalizing our behavior, don't we? We can cast blame and avoid responsibility for our own actions by putting it off on others so effortlessly; this has even become acceptable within the church. I know that in Nashville, TN this technique is considered by many to be a "spiritual gift." Even Pastors have fallen prey to the times. Very seldom do men of God shepherd or disciple their own church people in and from the truths of God's Word. Sadly, the norm today is that the church has adopted a theraputic form of sanctification and become little more than a referral service for the local psychologist or counselor who are more than willing "fix" someone for only $150 an hour. Church Restoration  is rarely exercised for fear of being sued, viewed as judgemental, or unloving. This is caused, I believe, because people have lost a right view of the glory of God and their duty to live every part of their lives for His names sake. Let's take a look together at what it means to live for God and His glory each day.

I first began serving the Lord Jesus through song in 1974, a remarkable pastor/evangelist named Dr. Stephen Olford, who was arguably one of the finest orators for the gospel and whom I was privileged to call a friend, encouraged me with these powerful words, “Make up your mind, Steve, who will receive the glory—the Lord or you—for He will not share it with another.” Those words branded me like a hot iron and serve even today as not only a mantle for my life and work, but as a “grace reminder” that contrition, brokenness, and humility are not just spiritual hyperbole, but the essence of the servant-leader attitude for genuine ministry.

Paul’s exhortation to the church at Thessalonica to not waver in their worthy walk for the Lord brings a further dimension to this truth, “Therefore we also pray always for you that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfill all the good pleasure of His goodness and the work of faith with power, that the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thess. 1:11-12).

The Christian life is not first and foremost about man and his needs, but about God and His glory! As John Calvin so poignantly pens in his institutes, “The sum of the Christian life is the denial of self [and the glory of God].” And as the great Richard Baxter so humbly says, "I was but a pen in the hands of the Lord... and what glory is due a pen?" God won’t share His glory with another, beloved, and we must use all our gifts, talents, and abilities ultimately for one preeminent purpose—not to magnify ourselves or further our own name, but to glorify the Lord and Him alone!

The Westminster Shorter Catechism begins by asking this guileless and lucid question, “What is the chief end of man?” The answer is clear and biblical: “To glorify God and enjoy (worship) Him forever” (1 Cor. 1:26-31).

We are not to seek this glory from man (Matthew 6:2; 1 Thess. 2:6) for the glory of man quickly passes away (1 Peter 1:24); nor are we to glory in our own wisdom, might or riches, but to glory in understanding and knowing the Lord (Jeremiah 9:23-24). This glory is given by God (Psalm 84:11), secured in Christ, “And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one” (John 17:22), is the work of the Holy Spirit, “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of God” (2 Cor. 3:18) and is made evident in the new covenant—the ministry of righteousness (Ibid. 9-11).

Scripture makes it clear that God has created man to glorify Himself and this is the prominent purpose of all of our lives. From the common things of life, eating and drinking, to the most profound seasons of worship and praise—whatever we do in vocation and avocation, we are to glorify Him for who He is and all He has done.

Question: How do we bring glory to the Lord each day in the problematic world that we live in? We bring glory to Him when we confess Christ as Lord (Phil. 2:11), through praise (Psalm 50:23), as we plead in prayer (Ibid. 79:9), as we daily confess our sin in the beauty of holiness (1 Chron. 16:29), and as we exercise a recurrent life of repentance exemplified in the fruits of righteousness (Phil. 1:11). We glorify God when we are privileged to suffer for Christ (1 Peter 4:12-16), and are patient in affliction (Isaiah 24:15), even die for Him (Job 13:15a). We glorify Him when we rely on His promises (Rom. 4:20), and honor Him in our body and spirit—for we are the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 6:20). We glorify God for His holiness (Exodus 15:11), mercy and truth (Psalm 115:1; Romans 15:9), faithfulness (Isaiah 25:1), grace to others (Galatians 1:24), deliverance from sin (Ephesians 1:6-14), and for our eternal salvation (2 Timothy 2:10).

The greatest songwriter in the Bible, David, exclaimed, “Sing to Him, sing psalms to Him; talk of all His wondrous works! Glory in His holy name…” (Psalm 105:2-3). The centrality of glorifying God is also proclaimed in Psalm 29:2, “Give unto the Lord the glory due to His name; worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.” This Old Testament truth is brought forward into the New Testament. Notice how far-reaching it is in the Apostle Paul’s mandate for God’s believing children: “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31).

God’s glory is described as being great (Psalm 138:5), eternal (Ibid. 104:31), rich (Eph. 3:16), and highly exalted (Psalm 8:1; 113:4). God’s transcendent glory is a visible manifestation of His presence (Ezekiel 1). All the heavens declare the glory of God for they demonstrate His eternal power and divine nature (Psalm 19:1-6; Romans 1:20-21). God will even be glorified in His wrath, for in judgment too He is holy, just, perfect and righteous (Romans 9:22-24).

God is the only One worthy of praise, worship and glory, “and My glory I will not give to another” (Isaiah 42:8). The Psalmist again exhorts us by saying, “Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but to Your name give glory, because of Your mercy, because of Your truth” (Psalm 115:1).

Lucifer fell from heaven because he would not glorify God and tried to exalt himself above God by desiring worship for himself (Isaiah 14; Ezekiel 28). King Nebuchadnezzar lost his throne and was driven to insanity for seven years for not giving God glory (Daniel 4:19-36). Herod in Acts 12:20-23 was struck by an angel of the Lord, eaten by worms, and died. Why? “Because he did not give glory to God” (verse 23). And this will be our end too. As Charles Bridges has said, "Pride is self contending with God for preeminence."

But nowhere is God’s glory more magnified and exhibited than in the incarnation, life, death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ (John 17:1-5; Hebrews 1:1-4). “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). Jesus Christ is the full expression of the glory of God. “For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Cor. 4:6). But He is just not a reflection of God’s glory—for He, Himself, is God of very God (Phil. 2:9-11; Hebrews 1:8). “For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily” (Col.2:9); “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM” (John 8:58); “He who has seen Me has seen the Father" (Ibid.14:9b); “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made the Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36); and as the writer of Hebrews affirms when describing the supremacy of Jesus Christ, “Who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high” (Hebrews 1:3).

When we live our lives with a clear understanding and knowledge of the character of God, then it is out of the depth of that knowing we worship Him. What we will do in eternity, let us begin to do here in time—let us live daily in the presence of the glory of the Lord.


Paula said...

I wrote about disobedience at my site today too! We seem to forget there are consequences for our disobedience! You're becoming quite and e-vangelist!!! Keep blogging for Jesus!

your Sister In Christ,

Jeremy Weaver said...

Timely and timeless.

divinium said...

You Seem to forget, that only education can make the world better. And for such, ALL education should be made, as for people to be more open. Open to all religions, all opinions. As I respect you, I ask to be respected. Thus, sex education, is the only way to help the children to NOT contract deseases or unwanted pregnancies. And never forget, "and eye for an eye, will make us all blind"...

Not only musulmans can be fanatics, so are few jews and christians.

D.R. said...

Great job with the blog. This is my first visit and I will be back. Glad to see that you joined the blogosphere and are allowing us to interact with you more now. Your God-centeredness always brings me back to my need to focus more on Christ and less on my own self.

Phil (Col 1:27-28) said...

Steve, great post and timely word. May the Lord continue to give you such clarity and to boldly declare that which he gives and has given you.
Thankyou again!

Blessings in Christ Jesus!

John D. Chitty said...

So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members.
Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?

Thanks be to God
through Jesus Christ our Lord!

So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin. There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do.

By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.

Romans 7:21-8:11

God finally showed me what the "Therefore" (8:1) is there for! Ironically, while Romans 8 proclaims that there is no condemnation, reading this description of the Spirit-indwelt person in that chapter always left me feeling condemned, then one day recently, it finally occurred to me to attach the "therefore" of 8:1 to the material which chapter 8 is concluding -- chapter 7! At last I realized, even though I still can't find the way to obey like I want to, there is no condemnation for me for the Spirit indeed dwells in me even at such a time as this!

There really is

Pray for me, the devil's at work.

Carla Rolfe said...

What a great way to start my week. Amen to all you've said.

4given said...


Mike Messerli said...

great post! I couldn't agree more, it's all about HIM. great words, thanks.

gigantor1231 said...

It is so true, there is nothing that exists apart from God and apart from God everything is meaningless! I find it so amazing though that there are so many that will not walk with Him, they even hate Him, what a tragic and sad thing.
I have a desire in my life, a dream that I have carried since my youth. I almost feel immature sharing it but it is something that I would die for and will die seeking. The dream is this;
Gen. 5:21-25

21 When Enoch had lived 65 years, he fathered Methuselah. 22 Enoch walked with God after he fathered Methuselah 300 years and had other sons and daughters. 23 Thus all the days of Enoch were 365 years. 24 Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him.

The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001 (Ge 5:21-24). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

I want to know what Enoch had, I want to be one who God takes. Sometimes I ware myself out because I want to know God so bad. I even feel at times that, although not intentionally, my desire is so strong that I alienate myself from my brothers and sisters in Christ, this tends to be a lonely path.

ZOverton said...

Response to John D. Chitty.

What an encouraging truth it is to grasp that revelation. We aren't perfect, but we aren't condemned. Such security, such stability, and it is like the foundation of living in the victory of Christ. Hold onto that truth, resist the Devil and he will flee from you, grow in it and so will your testamony and effectiveness for Christ, as you are empowered by the Holy Spirit. Thanks for that great reminder brother.

Rick Warden said...

Worship is very important, agreed!

But, unfortunately, I've found that many Christians avoid looking into important and pressing issues:

The 'Other' 2012 Christian US Voters Guide