Jesus: The Glory Of The Father!

-Going To Church For The Wrong Reasons!

For most of my life, as a Disciple of Jesus, I went to church for all the wrong reasons. I went to be seen—so everyone would know that I was a faithful, born again believer! I went to see people—my friends at church! I also went out of duty or obligation—fearing punishment, from God, if I didn’t go! But, all those things left my faith experience empty. There had to be more to church than impressing people & fearing punishment!

-No More “Checklist Christianity”!

It’s been a spiritual work in progress for me—I had to move away from “checklist Christianity” or “cultural Christianity” where I did things, like church, so I could check them off my spiritual “to do list” & be accepted in the church culture; and, move toward God! I had to pursue Him! Church became a whole new experience when I began to pursue God—when I began to come to meet HIM; to worship HIM; to experience the glory of His work in HIS church! Here’s what I’m saying: “Church Is About God!” It’s not about US! Oh, we have to show up; but, we come to make much of HIM! We worship Him together as a community of faith; to praise Him & bring Him glory! And, if HE doesn’t show up, there’s something wrong with our worship! It’s misplaced; or, it’s misguided, isn’t it?

-The Glory Of God In Jesus!

And, God reveals His glory through His Son, Jesus. The Apostle John said that when they looked upon Jesus, they “…beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father…” John 1:14. They beheld God’s glory IN JESUS! And, the Father calls for His Son’s praise: “The Father,…has given all judgment to the Son, so that all people will honor the Son just as they honor the Father.  Anyone who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him” John 5:22-23.  The Father is offended when we fail to make much of Jesus! HE is glorified when Jesus is worshipped & praised: “So that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow—of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth—and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” Philippians 2:10-11. If the Father makes much of Jesus, the Son, than certainly so should we! God honors the church that makes much of Jesus—the church that worships Him; praises Him & glorifies Him.

-Jesus: The Exact Expression!

In Hebrews 1:3, the writer says that Jesus was “…the radiance of God’s glory and the exact expression of His nature…” In other words, to “see Jesus is to see the Father.” He said that, by the way, when they asked him to show them the Father! In Colossians 1:15, the Apostle Paul said, Jesus “…is the image of the invisible God.” You wanna see what God is like? Look at Jesus! You want God to speak to you? Listen to Jesus! He is the radiance of God’s glory! Like the radiance of the sun is inseparable from the sun, you can’t have the Father without the Son! The glory of the Trinity! Don’t ask me to explain it!

 

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Motivated By God’s Glory

-What Does A “Win” Look Like?

I greatly enjoyed the years I helped coach the varsity boys basketball team for our local Christian school! One of things we constantly focused on was cutting down on the number of “turnovers”—giving up the ball to your opponent because of a bad pass, a double dribble, or some other violation. Our mantra was: “Every PASS counts! Every SHOT counts! Every DRIBBLE counts!” The ultimate goal was to win more games & it’s hard to win when you keep giving the ball back to your opponent! So, what does a “win” look like, if following Jesus is the goal?

-It’s A “Win” When God Is Glorified!

To the Church of Corinth, Paul wrote:  “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for God’s glory” 1 Cor. 10:31. To use the basketball analogy, Paul is saying that a “turnover” occurs whenever we do anything that FAILS to bring glory to God! And, a “win” happens whenever God is glorified! In James MacDonald’s book, Vertical Church, he explains “glory” like this:  “When someone or something evidences the reality of God’s existence, that revealing is God’s glory. We don’t see God; we see the evidence that He has been at work; we see His glory.” So, glory is like a “trail” that evidences that God had been there; that, He had been at work! It’s His “supernatural signature”, MacDonald says.

-What Does God’s Glory Look Like?

That’s what Moses saw, in Exodus 33,  when he asked God for permission to see His glory. He couldn’t actually look upon God; or, he’d die, God said! So, God showed him his “back”; or, literally where God had been; or, His “trail.” Here’s the application we take from Paul’s admonition to the Corinthian believers: We will see the glory of God; or, the evidence of His presence; or, His supernatural signature, on our churches, in the changed lives of our members! Changed lives—that’s the proof that God has been there! Lives that do everything with a passion for God’s glory! And, we can’t manufacture that! We can’t produce changed lives! Only lives, under the influence of God’s Holy Spirit, will live for God’s glory rather than for self-glory! God’s glory isn’t present where ministry is done “in the flesh”—leaning on our own understanding! Worldly wisdom says, “God helps those that help themselves.” That’s man’s glory, not God’s!

-When It’s Not God’s Glory!

The more I get used to “walking in the Spirit”, the more terrified I become of doing anything, in my life, that’s not for God’s glory; for, His praise & honor! The opposite of His glory is “my glory”; and, that’s pride. God hates pride! Pray that Christ’s Church would be motivated by a passion & a desire that our Sunday Worship services bring Him glory; that, our Small Group ministries shine forth His glory;  that anything and everything we do be bathed, in prayer, with a God-honoring longing for God to be revealed in our cities and our nation! God is glorified when we make much of His preferences, plans & program!

 

Longing For Something Bigger

-Living A Conflicted Life

When I came to faith, in Jesus Christ, as a 13-year old boy, I suddenly had this longing to live for something bigger! Like my life had suddenly taken on a bigger meaning than it had before; and, I didn’t want to waste it. My spiritual mentors taught me about Jesus’ 2nd Coming; and, challenged me to be looking for Him with eager anticipation! Instead, I found myself becoming this double-minded man—if Jesus returned, while I was 13 years old, I’d never have the chance to grow up & be an adult. That meant I’d never experience marriage; never have kids; never fulfill all my dreams! So, I was conflicted!

-Aware Of Our Brokenness

It wasn’t that I didn’t want Jesus to come back… I just wanted Him to wait 20 years or so! Perhaps that resonates with you because you thought the same way if you knew the Lord Jesus as a teenager. For those of us truly “born again”, we live in that tension between today and eternity, don’t we? God created us with this survival instinct; so, if we’re mentally and emotionally healthy we wanna live! But, spiritually we’re aware of our brokenness; and, we long for something bigger!

-Made For Vertical Worship

In his excellent book, Vertical Church, James MacDonald starts the 1st chapter with these words:  “Deep in the soul of every human being is a longing for transcendence created within us by God Himself.” Our ministries are not primary; nor, is our fellowship with our faith community! Vertical worship is primary! We are called to make much of our Awesome God! He has called believers out of this world to be His “worshippers”!

-Nothing Bigger Than Pursuing Jesus

Because He alone is worthy of worship, theologically we speak of His “Transcendence”—that He surpasses & exceeds the universe, time and space! His wisdom transcends human wisdom and logic! Scripture puts it like this:  “His ways are not our ways” Isaiah 58:9.  The Apostle Paul’s words to the Church of Ephesus probably define what we mean by God’s Transcendence as accurately as any:  “One God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all” Ephesians 4:6. That’s what we mean by His Transcendence—God is “above all”; He is “through all”; and, He is “in all.” As believers, there’s nothing we could pursue in life that’s bigger than Jesus! Chase Him!

-All Of Life Is Sacred

The book of Ecclesiastes details Solomon’s experimental pursuits of the intellect, of wealth & luxury, of politics & religion; and, he concluded that all of life’s pursuits are futile by themselves! Solomon concluded:  “When all has been heard, the conclusion of the matter is: fear God and keep His commands, because this is for all humanity.” (ch. 12:13) He learned that you can’t “compartmentalize” life! You can’t separate the “spiritual” from the rest of life; or, you can’t separate the “sacred” from the “secular.”! He’s saying that ALL of life is “sacred.” “Fear God & pursue Him” in all things! Otherwise, life is futile!

 

Gripped By God’s Greatness

-Satan Always Offers A Counterfeit

When Adam & Eve chose to listen to the wisdom of a talking snake shortly after taking their 1st  breath—air, compliments of their Creator God, by the way—the result was more than just a severed relationship with God. It was more than getting kicked out of paradise. What the serpent offered them, in exchange for their soul, was individual sovereignty;—or, “god likeness”—without the Power of God! The Power of God, necessary to carry out individual sovereignty, was NOT the serpent’s to give! So, they chose to accept Satan’s counterfeit offer “to be LIKE god”; but, without the “Power of God” all they could make was a decision to disobey.

-Our False Sense Of Individual Sovereignty

So, that decision to “be like god” was hard-wired into every individual through Adam & Eve’s original sin.  We’re all born into the world “acting” like we believe we’re “God”; and, growing up with this false sense of “individual sovereignty” without the “Power Of God” to back it up! The result is what some people call a “god complex”—it’s in our DNA. We’re self-deluded from birth! We’re arrogant! We think we’re infallible! We seek to control our environment from the moment we’re aware of it! It doesn’t help that we have parents; or, other people in our lives, who say silly things to us like: “You can do anything you put your mind to!” Really?

-You Can Do Anything You Put Your Mind To! Really?

So, I started putting my mind to it—I was going to be 6’ tall and play basketball in the NBA! I was going to be valedictorian in my class! I was going to become independently wealthy! Guess what! I’ve never been any of those things! It’s not until God lets us “crash & burn” a few times that we begin to realize we’ve been duped; and, with the Holy Spirit’s help, the Gospel begins to make sense to us! Hey! We’re NOT in control! We’re out of control! We’re broken; and, we need a Savior because we can’t save ourselves! Jesus became that Savior through His work on the cross! And, He saves us from ourselves—from our “god complex”! Then the Holy Spirit moves in & begins to “reprogram” us; so, we start to look more like Jesus! Let us be gripped, Church, by the greatness of our God!

-Above And Beyond

In Ephesians 3:20, the Apostle Paul encouraged the Church of Ephesus with these words: “Now to Him who is able to do above and beyond all that we ask or think according to the power that works in us.” God can do more than we could ever ask or think because His Spirit indwells us! It’s not about US! It’s about the BIG GOD who indwells us! That’s where the power is! If our ministry is not about Him & His glory our efforts are futile! “Self-Reliance” is such a subtle sin! It constantly slips into our ministry efforts! Let us humble ourselves before Him—“He must increase; and, I must decrease!”  Dear God…bring Revival!