Saturday, July 28, 2018

The Joy in Singing

1. It is good to give thanks to the LORD,
      to sing praises to your name, O Most High;
2. to declare your steadfast love in the morning,
      and your faithfulness by night,
3. to the music of the lute and the harp,
      to the melody of the lyre.
4. For you, O LORD, have made me glad by your work;
      at the works of your hands I sing for joy.
Psalm 92:1-4

    I have to confess yesterday was not the greatest of days. It was just one of those days that my attitude was not great. We are exhausted from a busy summer that is not over yet and the stress of the never ending pace of all the things that come with church planting were weighing on me. We were looking forward to an evening away at a marriage retreat in Denver but in the midst of that I had a couple of difficult phone calls and because of my fatigue and stress I was not the most pleasant. I wasn't the most pleasant on the phone and Amy gently reminded me that I was not the most pleasant in person either.

    As we had dinner and sat with other planters and began the retreat my mind and my heart were not in the right place. I was tired, stressed, frustrated and irritated. I didn't really want to be there and all I could think about were the things I had to do and dwell on the frustrations of the day. I was not focused on the retreat, enjoying the company of other planters or time with Amy. I was being selfish. I was being pitiful and I just wanted to go and get some rest. And then something happened. The worship leader for the retreat stood up and led us in singing. And this is what we sang.

Who breaks the power of sin and darkness?
Whose love is mighty and so much stronger?
The King of Glory, the King of kings!

This is AMAZING Grace, unfailing love, That You would take my place, That you would bear my cross.

   As I sang these words I realized how selfish and sinful I had been. I had allowed the enemy to take a foothold in my day and he did it through fatigue and stress. I allowed the little minor things in life to rob me of the joy of the greater things. I was robbed of the joy of being with friends and the joy of time away with Amy and I was also robbed of the joy of being known and loved by God, all because I was being selfish.

   We all get this way from time to time. We get tired and stressed and life comes at us from all different angles and the enemy comes at us hard and fast and often in ways we never see. After all he is crafty and prowls around like a roaring lion looking for weakness and pouncing on us desiring to devour us. He is a thief that comes to kill, steal and destroy and he loves to steal our joy.

   But God is good and gracious and He loves us and He has these ways of reminding us of who we are in Him because of what He has done for us. One of the most awesome ways He does this is through singing. Just as the Psalm says it is good to give thanks to The LORD and praise Him in song. There is just something about singing that has a way of opening our eyes to see and our herts to be reminded of His grace and mercy. He says it is good to sing and praise Him because it brings all other things back into perspective. It has a way of taking our focus off of our first world problems and allows us to focus on His glory and majesty and favor upon us. It is humbling and uplifting all at the same time. It is a game changer for sure. I know it was for me.

Monday, June 25, 2018

How do we Glorify God?

One of my favorite parts of the Westminster Catechism asks the question "What is the chief end of man?" It is answered with this statement. "The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever." I love this statement because it defines the purpose of believers and defines the reward for those who seek to live out this purpose. However, it brought to mind another question I had and was able to discuss this with some dear friends the other day. 

Here is the question; How do we, as weak, broken, fallible and imperfect people glorify an all sufficient, all knowing, perfect, all powerful, wise, awesome God? This is a difficult question to answer without the right context. We have to understand that God needs nothing from us because He is all sufficient in Himself. 

He says in Psalm 50:10-12  
10 For every beast of the forest is mine, 
 the cattle on a thousand hills. 

11 I know all the birds of the hills,  
and all that moves in the field is mine.

12 “If I were hungry, I would not tell you,  
for the world and its fullness are mine.

He says in Isaiah 64:4 that all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. 

What these passages tell us is that God is not a being that needs anything outside Himself and that when we try and offer Him what we may perceive as something He needs, we fail miserably. We do so because we have nothing, in and of ourselves, that He would desire. All we have is our brokenness. 

If this is so then how do we go about glorifying God? I would like to offer four ways we, as broken sinners redeemed by God's grace and mercy can Glorify God. 

1. Enjoy God. What this means is we enjoy His blessings and favor. We relish in the grace and mercy He gives. We wallow in His great love for us that while we were sinners Christ died for us. Enjoy the fact that He keeps us in His embrace as well. Like a small child that rests peacefully in the arms of their father while the conflict of the world rages around them, we too are to rest in Him joyfully. God is glorified when we enjoy His creation and splendor. Enjoy God, especially in the truth of the Gospel.

2. Be generous. God is a generous God and gives us all so much and we are to be generous as well. This does not mean that we are to simply give things away blindly. We are to steward what He gives us well. We see a great example of this in Matthew 25 where a master gave three servants different portions of money or talents. He trusted them to be good stewards of those talents that belonged to the master. Two of the servants did so and and brought honor to the master and increased his household. 

Like those two servants we are to examine the gifts and blessings that God has allowed us to steward and use them to grow His kingdom. Such things are more than money. Think of how you use your resources, how you spend your time, how you use your job, your home, and even your vacation. All of those things and more God has graciously given you and glorify God by using them to grow His Kingdom. 

3. Be obedient. I love the old hymn Trust and Obey. Those words mean a lot in glorifying God. For to obey Him means that we have to trust Him. We are to trust that He is God and knows best for us. A disobedient child dishonors their parents and we do the same when we disobey God. However a child honors their parents by their obedience and as well we bring honor and glory to God when we are obedient. If we are professing believers we are to strive to follow God's Word because our obedience is a direct testimony to the genuineness of the Gospel itself. 

4. Share God. God is infinite in all that He is and there is no danger of Him running out. But often we as believers treat Him as if there is not enough to go around to others. We have no problem sharing with others about our favorite restaurant and encouraging them to pay tribute to them without fear of them running out of food. But often treat Jesus as if He is just for us but that is not what scripture tells us. The Great Commission in Matthew 28 tells us that we are to GO and share the Good News of who Jesus is. The Gospel is the greatest manifestation of God's Glory and is to be shared because it is more needed and more beneficial than the greatest of meals at the best of restaurants. God is glorified when we direct others to His infinite goodness through the Gospel. 

Glorifying God is not a burden but a blessing. God does desire that we glorify Him in all that we do but this should be a joyful endeavor. For it is just a foretaste that all believers will experience in eternity in His unhindered glory.