Rss

Archives for : God’s Glory

HOW & WHERE DOES GOD GET GLORY?


God receives glory, honor, and praise in heaven continuously around His throne.  In Revelation 5, “And they sang a new song: You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals because you were slaughtered, and you purchasedpeople for God by your blood from every tribe and language and people and nation.”  This verse, according to the Tony Evans study Bible, “portrays the ethnic, linguistic, and national diversity that will be present in eternity. Difference and diversity are not problems to be solved; they were part of God’s plan from the beginning.”

The ultimate calling and priority for His followers is stated in Psalm 96:3, “Declare His glory among the nations, His wondrous works among all peoples.”  Why?  So every tribe, language, people, and nation might bring Him glory now and then be a part of this heavenly worship.  Everyone, regardless of the color of their skin, is invited to this grand celestial party one day. Racism is a sin and the truth of that statement is made abundantly clear in the word of God.  It is so clear that the scriptures tell us that you cannot love God and hate someone. 

Now, back to His glory!  In Matthew 6:10 we are told to pray this way, “Your kingdom come your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”  Jesus says we should petition the Father to manifest His presence right here and right now.  We are told to ask Him to do immediately in space and time what He is doing continuously in heaven with every tribe, language, people, and nation.  There is one unified praise team giving God all the honor and glory and praise.  James MacDonald points out that, “Refusing glory is not humility; it is honesty!”  It is recognizing He is God. 

Tying all of that together clarifies for us that not only are we to be unified in our celebration of the one and only true God but it also makes us aware that something is terribly wrong when we cannot celebrate the diversity and the uniqueness of how the Creator created each and every one of us.  We glorify God when we love Him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength.  We also glorify Him when we love our neighbors as ourselves.  

Can we truly expect God to send revival and heal our land if we do not first address those two great commands?

Hopefully, we are begging God to show us His glory just as Moses did in Exodus 33.  Our churches should be a place where through our worship there is a profound encounter with the glory of God.  Yet, could it be that Matthew 5 has been overlooked far too long?  Jesus makes it clear that it is possible to be guilty of murder because of hatred in our hearts.  He then says in verse 23, “So if you are offering your gift on the altar, and there you remember that your brother or sister has something against you.”  

Could that be hindering God’s glory being manifested?

Jesus continues in verse 24, “Leave your gift there in front of the altar.  First go and be reconciled with your brother or sister and then come and offer your gift.”  There are attitudes, motives, and hardened hearts that prevent us from being able to worship God in a way that His glory is made known in our lives and in our churches.  The availability of God’s manifest presence does not guarantee its inevitability.  

Will He manifest Himself when we are unwilling to accept every race or if we are harboring prejudice in our hearts?  

All of us have some prejudice in our hearts.  Why is it sometimes so hard and difficult to admit and confess that truth?  This is the beauty of the body of Christ.  When a local church comes together we are one in Christ and it is hard to hate someone you take communion with.  The worship service reflects His glory when we are unified in recognizing the glory of God and celebrating the way He uniquely created us.  His glory is manifested when we care so deeply about one another that what hurts one member hurts the entire body.  

Will God manifest His glory if we are unwilling to humble ourselves and listen to the pain of our brothers and sisters?

One observation about the current racial tension we are seeing in our country right now.  All my life I have heard people say that we really do not understand what someone is going through until we walk a mile in their shoes.  It seems that is wise council for today also but while we are willing to do that when someone is experiencing personal grief, a difficult job situation, or different phases of life are we unwilling to consider it for people of color?  

May we all look for those who are hurting, listen to their pain, and love them as Christ loves us! 

God is glorified through unity with diversity in how He uniquely created us to celebrate Him and one another.  Jesus was full of grace and truth so we must practice grace without overlooking truth and we must stand upon truth without forgetting grace.  As Christ’s ambassadors may we not retreat from this opportunity to represent Him well but instead relish the opportunity to invite Him to manifest His glory through the beautiful ministry of reconciliation!  

James MacDonald said it well, “Only the glory of Jesus Christ manifest will take you to the finish line and leave you accelerating as you break the tape into eternity.”

Do Not Steal My Glory

Jeff Christopherson in Kingdom Matrix says, “Churches can be reduced to man-centered organizations but the Kingdom of God cannot.  Should a church find itself functioning in the miserable state of pragmatic human-centered strategic planning, it is in exceedingly dangerous territory.”  The extreme example of this is putting into practice whatever works believing that the end justifies the means.  Churches focus on spicing up their messages, speeding up their music, and sprucing up their facilities and many times nothing actually gets any better. 

Paul tells us that one plants, one waters, and that it is God who gives the increase.  Christopherson puts it this way, “Whenever we focus on the goals over the process, we will always be tempted to produce the fruit ourselves,” This leads to a belief that bigger is better and size determines our worth.  The reality is that numbers do not equal gospel influence anymore than attendance to church guarantees spiritual maturity.  Just because you listen to truth it does not mean your values and priorities are being transformed. 

Joshua was a mighty warrior and man of faith.  He challenges the Israelites to decide, once and for all, who they will worship.  In Joshua 24:1-13 he communicates God’s word to them and shares seventeen rapid-fire proclamations.  It begins in verse 3, “But I took your father Abraham from the region beyond the Euphrates River” and ends in verse 13 with “I gave you a land you did not labor for, and cities you did not build.”  God tells these mighty warriors who had conquered this land in verse 12, “It was not by your sword or bow.”

We must be careful to never take credit for what God has and is doing.  Yes, we still must accept our responsibilities and obligations but we should always remember that God will not share His glory with anyone.  When Jeff Christopherson was planting a multiplying church in Toronto one of the things God impressed on their group very clearly was, “Do not steal My Glory!”  Joshua would concur and challenges us to always obey God’s word, to not pursue the gods of this world, and to never give our allegiance to anyone but God.

Planning and strategy are good things but it must be prayerful planning.  Thinking through how we can be more effective and efficient is important but we must remain true to the gospel and the scriptures.  While some will scream loudly that size does not guarantee spiritual maturity it could also be argued that small does not guarantee it either. Jeff makes this clear when he states, “Just because my church claims to be a community of Christ does not automatically mean that it is advancing the cause of Christ.”

New Testament churches have a purpose according to Ephesians 3:10, “This is so God’s multi-faceted wisdom may now be made known through the church.”  The local church does not so much have a mission for God but rather God has local churches to carry out His mission.  If we are not advancing God’s kingdom then is it possible that we are reducing its impact and influence?  In Revelation 2:5 Jesus says this to the church in Ephesus, “Remember then how far you have fallen, repent, and do the works you did at first.”  

Daniel Im in No Silver Bullets gives clear and sound biblical direction in developing strategies and systems.  He defines a system as “a group of related parts that move or work together.”  It requires training your members in the areas of assimilation, outreach, and discipleship to name a few.  All of your systems can use prayer planning, strategic thinking, and intentionality.  This is the biblical directive of equipping one another as instructed in Ephesians 4:12, “For the training of the saints in the work of ministry, to build up the body of Christ.”

In the area of discipleship Daniel Im states, “Since the starting point for every church’s vision should be the Great Commission and Commandment, it makes sense to view your discipleship pathway as the strategy that’ll get you to the vision.”  We know that our core identity is that we are His disciples (followers). In John 13:35 Jesus says, “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another.” Jonathan Parnell defines a disciple of Jesus as “a worshipper, a servant, and a witness.”  Are you identified as following Christ with precise compliance?”

Being identified as His disciples means that our core mission and objective is making disciples.  Matthew 28 commands us to go and make disciples of all nations. Daniel Im continues, “After all, a discipleship pathway is the intentional route that you have set up in your church to develop and form missionary disciples for Kingdom impact.” Most discipleship is pouring into people already saved, which is good, but it is not making “new” disciples, which is even better.  Evangelism is inviting people to Christ while discipleship is investing in them. 

Your discipleship pathway is what shapes character, transforms hearts, and develops the believer.  Your leadership pipeline is what equips these disciples to live out their calling.  Daniel Im uses a great analogy that helps us picture what this should look like.  “If your church was a car that had to get you to a particular endpoint, which would be the vision, the discipleship pathway would be the fuel, and the leadership pipeline would be the engine.  Both are equally important and have to rely on one another if the car is going to experience any movement.”

Galatians 6:14 says, “But as for me, I will never boast about anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.  The world has been crucified to me through the cross, and I to the world.”  Do not steal His glory!