February 09, 2016

Be Still and Go?

Five years ago, as we stood by watching our boy as he lay unresponsive in the ICU, not knowing what the outcome would be, we spent many hours in prayer. Each morning I would open my Bible and read out loud with Garren, his motionless body being kept alive by machines and bags of medicine. One day as I was reading through Exodus, I came across Exodus 14. It's the account of the Israelites being led by Moses out of Egypt into the wilderness. After leaving Egypt, the people came to what seemed to be the end of their journey - the Red Sea. There was no where to go! They were trapped, and the Egyptian army was closing in on them quickly! You can imagine how confused and terrified Moses must have been. After all, it was God who had led them to this point, and it all seemed to be ending rather unexpectedly.

In the midst of his terror Moses cried out to God, and God's response is found in verse 14 "The Lord will fight for you, you have only to be still." What an amazing promise and reminder that God is in control. It's God's fight! We have only to trust Him - to be still and know that He is God - He will fight for us!"

I've rested many times in the promise of that verse over the past 5 years. But this year, as I read that verse, as if reading it for the first time verse 15 jumped out at me. The Lord said to Moses, “Why do you cry to me? Tell the people of Israel to go forward."

I understand that God is sovereign, that He is in absolute control of everything. He leads us where He needs us, and we are to trust His ways. God's plan is always better than our plans. But in this verse we are confronted with yet another truth. It is not a contradiction, but a completion of our relationship with our God. "Go forward." God says to you and to me "Be still, I will fight for you. But you must do your part as well. Go forward." This may seem like a contradiction, but it's not! While God is in absolute control, you and I are given a responsibility to do our part, to go forward in the way that God is leading.

What is your struggle right now? What are you dealing with? First, commit that situation to God. He is in control, the battle is His, and He will fight for you. Then go forward. What are you responsible for in the midst of this situation? What should you be doing in partnership with God as you struggle through your current circumstances?

January 21, 2016

To God be ALL Glory

Thomas Ken was orphaned as a young child when both of his parents passed away. His sister took him into her care, eventually enrolling him in an all-boy’s school called Winchester College. Several years later he ended up returning to the same school as a chaplain to the students there. In an effort to motivate his students in their devotions, Thomas wrote a three-part hymn - one verse was to be sung when the students woke up in the morning. One verse was to be sung at night before going to bed. The third verse was to be sung at midnight if for whatever reason the boy was having trouble sleeping.

One of the verses of this song has come to be known in church history as the Doxology. It is possibly one of the most well known choruses in recent church history.

I can remember singing this chorus in church from the time I was a young boy. Some churches would sing it every week. Every time I’ve heard it sung, everyone would stand in tribute and recognition to the glory of God. It is a simple yet absolute reminder that God and God alone deserves all the glory.
"Praise God, from Whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye heavenly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost."
1 Corinthians 10:31 says
“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” 
There is so much we can learn from reading our Bibles about how to live our lives to the glory of God. We need to first understand what it means to glorify God. Glory is that which makes something impressive, radiant with splendor. Our God certainly is impressive. He is certainly radiant with splendor!

There are three things to keep in mind when it comes to glorifying God:

1. We were created to glorify God

In Genesis 1 we read the creation account. God created everything - out of nothing. He arranged the oceans, He placed the stars and the planets, and on the sixth day He created man.
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.” So God created man in his own image, ... And it was so. ... And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. (Genesis 1:26-31
To say that we were created in God’s image doesn’t mean that we look like God physically...God is spirit. It means that we were created to reflect the attributes and characteristics of God. We were created to glorify God.

God created you - just the way you are - with a perfect plan and purpose for your life. That plan and purpose primarily has to do with the way you live your life - not with the job you have or the school you go to or even the person you marry. God is Primarily concerned that we reflect His glory. He certainly does care about those other things - whom we marry, what job we get - but God is primarily concerned with our holiness, with our desire to obey and follow Him.

First and foremost we were created to glorify God in all things.

2. We have a responsibility to glorify God

Having been created in the image of God, we have been entrusted with a tremendous responsibility. We’ve been given the great responsibility of representing God to the world around us. We have a responsibility to glorify God in all things.

Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 6:20 that “you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”

If you are a believer and follower of Jesus Christ, you are not our own. You weren’t created for your own personal gain. You weren’t created for your own personal enjoyment. Your life is not your own. You were bought with a price, you belong to God. As a result we are responsible to live our lives in the way that God our Creator intended for us to live our lives - for His glory!

We have a responsibility to God, and we also have a responsibility to those around us.

We have a responsibility to ensure that we protect our weaker brothers and sisters in Christ, in everything we do and say. We are all at various stages of spiritual growth and maturity There are non-essentials in life that are not clearly or directly prohibited in the Bible. There are some activities that are considered questionable by some, yet are non-issues for others.

Warren Wiersbe said:
“We cannot glorify God by causing another Christian to stumble. To be sure, our own conscience may be strong enough for us to participate in some activity and not be harmed. But we dare not use our freedom in Christ in any way that will injure a fellow Christian.” (Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, vol. 1 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1996), 597)
We have a responsibility to protect our fellow brothers and sisters.

3. We are destined to glorify God

One of the characteristics we receive as those who are created in the image of God is that we will continue to exist for all eternity. Our physical bodies will die, but our souls will continue to exist forever. We were created to glorify God in all things, and we must realize that we are destined to glorify God in all things for all of eternity.

There are some who will do this gladly and willingly. There are others who will refuse to glorify God, yet the Bible tells us that
“at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Phil. 2:9–11)
It was C.S. Lewis who said
“There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done,’ and those to whom God says, in the end, ‘Thy will be done.’” (C.S. Lewis, The Great Divorce)
Some will bow the knee willingly. Some will not. But in the end every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father. We choose our final destination. No matter where we end up, we share the same destiny. We are destined to give God the glory.

We were created to glorify God; we have a responsibility to glorify God; and it is our destiny to glorify God.

Are you faithfully fulfilling your purpose? Are you living your life to the glory of God the Father? Pray right now that God would help you to remember to give Him the glory in all things.

“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all to the glory of God.” (1 Cor. 10:31)