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Posts Tagged ‘Glorifying God’

… be of one and the same mind, 

have the same love, be in full accord …

 

You may be tempted to credit Oprah, Dr. Phil, Dr Oz, or one of a host of contemporary pop psychologists for this kernel of wisdom, necessary for building a strong marriage, family, or community. 

 

Pop psychologists love to borrow freely from scripture.  This nugget of wisdom is from Philippians 2:2. 

 

God’s desire is that His people get along.  Unfortunately, the church today is a hothouse of division and conflict.  Go into any church in America today and you’ll find a divided house.  

 

Congregations are divided over:

Dress codes for worship

The style of music used in worship

Use of videos and projectors

Times for worship

Coffee, thermostats, sound systems, and volume

 

None of these are burning biblical or theological issues.  They are all issues of personal preference.  

 

Somewhere along the way Christians have convinced themselves that the 1976 Burger King commercial, “Have it your way.” is a quote from scripture.  It’s not!

 

It’s easy for us to point the finger at others who want to have it their way.  But God’s desire is that we look within at ourselves.  

 

Are you looking for a Burger King Church?  If you are angry at your Pastor or the leadership board of your church; if you have stopped going to worship; if you frequently change churches, all because worship and community life does not suit your personal preferences, God has a Word for you.

 

My wife admires those older couples in the congregation who never complain when we sing contemporary praise music.  She equally admires younger members who are agreeable when we sing hymns from the 1800’s.  

 

God smiles on these saints because they get it.  They understand Philippians 2:2.  They have learned to put others ahead of themselves.

 

What about you?

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If you have been encouraged by Jesus …

if you have been comforted by His love …

if  you have fellowshipped with the Holy Spirit … 

if you have personally felt God’s tender love …

(Philippians 2:1)

In these words Paul reminds us of the personal blessings of our experiences of God’s grace, which God has showered upon up.

We frequently forget all which God has done for us in the course of our everyday lives.  It is these small yet significant blessings of encouragement, comfort, fellowship, and tender love which sustain us.

As a classic debater Paul uses his gift of persuasion to encourage us to live the life God calls us to live.  Paul believes we owe a personal debt to God.

His reasoning and pleading is, “Since God has been merciful and gracious to you, then you should joyfully live from the bounty of His love?”

As a Pastor, I fear that we live in a world where more and more Christians live with a sense of entitlement.

They believe God owes them.  They believe God is in debt to them. They believe they deserve special treatment from God.

I see this sense of entitlement expressed in worship.  Do you go to worship for the simple pleasure of adoring God and learning from His Word or do you go to worship expecting to be fulfilled, to sing music you enjoy, and to have worship your way?

I see this sense of entitlement expressed in our demands for grace. When you sin do you demand that their should be no consequences to your behavior or do you submit yourself to biblical discipline.

I see this sense of entitlement expressed in difficult times.  When life is hard do you complain to God, questioning His grace and love or do you see Him walking with you through the valley of the shadow of death (Psalm 23:4)?

Christians who live from a sense of entitlement will never be happy and will never find joy in Christ, much-less in life.

This is why Paul begs us to remember our experiences of God’s grace, they are key to your joy and peace today.

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Sometimes we are too concerned with protecting the reputation of people 

but too little concerned with protecting the holy name of God. (1)

 

The reputation which I want to protect the most is mine.

 

I want to be liked.  This is my greatest failing; it is my weakest link; it is my most serious sin.  

 

I want you to like me.  I even want my enemies to like me.  Furthermore, I am so vain that I want people I loathe to like me.

 

When we are in the business of guarding our reputation, of being likable and popular, we will throw anyone under the bus in a heart beat, including God.

 

In my desire to be liked, I frequently throw God under the bus.

 

When I finally learned that my calling as a Christian was to bring glory to the name of God, I started making enemies left and right.  My like-ability rating bottomed out.  The reason enemies rise up against us when we give glory to God is that He outshines them.

 

It is hard to outshine God.  

 

The only way to outshine God is to get rid of Him.  

 

It’s me or Jesus. 

 

Hmmm ….

 

“Give the Lord the glory due unto his name.”  (2)

 

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  1. Blackaby, Richard (2006-12-01). Experiencing God Day By Day (Kindle Locations 3991-3992). B&H Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. 
  2. Psalm 29:2.

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Inner peace through an implicit trust in the love of God 

is the real evidence of a mature Christian faith. (1)

Inner peace eludes us because we pursue it in venues in which it cannot be found.  It will never be found at the store, in the office, or under a trophy.  It can not be purchased, achieved, or won.  It can only be received.

Inner peace can only be found in the company of faith.  Thus, it is accessible to all.  You do not need privilege, wealth, or luck to have it.  In fact, these things have prevented many people from finding inner peace. 

My friend Earl had inner peace.  

In the eight years I knew him, I never saw him out of bed.  He spoke between shots of air delivered to his lungs by a ventilator.  He could not tend to any of his personal needs.  

While Earl was was totally dependent upon others to provide all of his physical and worldly needs, his mind and heart had been spared the disease which ravaged his body.

Earl could have given up, but he did not.

He could have instructed his doctors to pull-the-plug, but he did not.

He could have spewed anger, despair, and resentment on anyone who entered his room, but he did not.

Instead Earl was the happiest man I ever met.  

In contrast to Job who moped, whined, and raged when his worldly possessions and loves were stolen by an evil twist of fate, Earl smiled, praised God, and rejoiced after disease robbed him of anything which looked like quality of life.

Earl had a peace which surpassed all understanding because he had faith in God.  This peace, his companion in faith, guarded his heart and his mind. (2)

Earl’s faith grew while his body decayed.  

Earl knew that his body would not last forever, it does not for any of us.  Thus, he placed his whole life into the hands of Jesus.  When troubles came and health declined, Earl found peace not in little things, but in the great and wondrous grace of God.

When Earl died, we sang Horatio Spafford’s great hymn, “It Is Well with My Soul” (Click the title to hear this great hymn.)

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way, 

when sorrows like sea billows roll,

Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say, 

It is well with my soul. (3)

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  1. Kenneth W. Osbeck, Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1996), 202.
  2. Philippians 4:7.
  3. Kenneth W. Osbeck, Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1996), 202.

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The serene beauty of a holy life 

is the most powerful influence in the world

next to the might of God. (1)

I want to believe that Pascal is speaking truth because it seems that sin, evil, and self-centered hedonism has become the prevailing influence of our culture.  Everywhere we turn, we see evidence of the destructive power of sin and evil.

To witness the serene beauty of a holy life would be a burst of fresh air for our world.

Every evening I sit outside and watch the beauty of God’s creation unfold as sunset turns to dusk and then to night.

In a slow progression of moments stars appear one by one to populate the sky above my head, while fire-flies sparkle as they hover over the grass and between the trees of the forest preserve beyond my yard.

The beauty of these moments is greater than anything on TV or You-Tube.  The unfolding story of God’s life and light as darkness surrounds me bests the plot of any novel every written.

After an hour of beholding this serene holy beauty my soul troubled by the day’s events finds rest and peace.

Night is always considered the time when monstrous evil and sinful powers emerge to do their thing.  Perhaps they do, but only under the watchful eye of God’s serene beauty, which is holy light in the midst of darkness.

This gentle beauty and light lingers for each season of darkness before the glory of God’s sun bursts into radiance at dawn, welcomed by the holy music of His feathered flock.

In morning’s light, after begin guided by the serene and holy lights of darkness, my soul awakes refreshed.  I move into the new day with my heart and mind renewed and restored.

Pascal was right.

If only we can witness the serene beauty of a holy life in the lives of more people.

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  1. Blaise Pascal from Pascal’s Pensees as quoted in Samuel G. Hardman and Dwight Lyman Moody, Thoughts for the Quiet Hour (Willow Grove, PA: Woodlawn Electronic Publishing, 1998).

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Christians should not be surprised 

when the world treats them with hostility. (1)

Why?

Why doesn’t the world appreciate and honor Christians?

I do not mean to brag, but:

  • I am a good husband, treating my wife (and all women) with honor and respect;
  • I am a good father, who taught my boys to be men of character with values;
  • I give my time and money to care for the poor, hurting, and homeless;
  • I am a good citizen, volunteering to help those in need;
  • I promote fairness, justice, and strong values;
  • I forgive others and confess my mistakes.

Yet the moment I mention I am a conservative Christian Pastor the world turns on me.

Why?

Is it my faith in Jesus which offends?

Is it my endorsement of family values which offends?

What is it?  I am not the holier-than-thou type.  I am an ordinary person seeking to live my life as God desires, which should be a blessing to all.

Why is the American media on a campaign to attack Christians, the Christian faith, Christian values, and the Christian Church?

Behaviors and beliefs which were honored when I was a child are now scorned.

Why?

Jesus told me that I would be persecuted for righteousness sake!

He was persecuted and suffered, why should I expect any less?

Peter wrote:

Have a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. It is better to suffer for doing good, than for doing evil. (2)

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  1. John MacArthur, Truth for Today : A Daily Touch of God’s Grace (Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman, 2001), 117.
  2. The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), 1 Peter 3:16–17.

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Easter has come, but it does not need to be gone.

If yesterday’s celebration is beginning to fade, I encourage you to print and post this personal affirmation of faith on your computer screen, refrigerator, mobile devices, and anywhere else you regularly look during the course of your day.  

Read it, memorize it, and recite it.  Jesus went all the way to the cross and through the crucifixion to secure for you the forgiveness of your sins and the resurrection of your body at death.  Surely, you and I can do the same.

Unfortunately, I am unable to tell you who wrote this commitment.  Regardless, make it yours.

My Commitment as a Christian

I’m part of the fellowship of the unashamed. I have Holy Spirit power. The die has been cast. I have stepped over the line. The decision has been made. I’m a disciple of Jesus Christ. 

I won’t look back, let up, slow down, back away, or be still. 

My past is redeemed, my present makes sense, my future is secure. 

I’m finished and done with low living, sight walking, small planning, smooth knees,  colorless dreams, tamed visions, mundane talking, cheap living, and dwarfed goals.

I no longer need preeminence, prosperity, position, promotions, plaudits, or popularity. 

I don’t have to be right, first, tops, recognized, praised, regarded, or rewarded. 

I now live by faith, lean on His presence, walk by patience, live by prayer, and labor by His power.

My face is set, my gait is fast, my goal is heaven, my road is narrow, my way rough,  my companions few, my Guide reliable, my mission clear. 

I cannot be bought, deluded, or delayed. I will not flinch in the face of sacrifice,  hesitate in the presence of the adversary, negotiate at the table of the enemy, or meander in the maze of mediocrity.

I won’t give up, shut up, let up, until I have stayed up, stored up, prayed up, paid up, preached up for the cause of Christ. 

I am a disciple of Jesus. I must go till He comes, give till I drop, preach till all know, and work till He stops me. 

And when He comes for His own, He will have no problem recognizing me, my banner will be clear!

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