To God Alone Be the Glory

May 23rd, 2017

Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us, but to Your name give glory, because of Your mercy, because of Your truth. (Psalm 115:1 NASB)

Here is a truth that we must be constantly reminded of, that only God deserves the glory.

Glory, as we use the word, has two basic meanings. First, it describes an objective reality. It can be defined as “majesty and splendor,” in the sense of the objective reality of God’s Person. Second, glory can also mean our response to God’s majesty, or “praise, renown, fame, prestige, honor, recognition.” The praise of heaven is the praise of angels, who know clearly the difference between truth and falsehood, and between reality and pretense.

Whatever fame or recognition we gain on this earth is fleeting. Even the greatest among us will at the best only be remembered for a few years, perhaps a few centuries, and then forgotten. Who can forget the moving poem of Shelley, “Ozmandius.”

I met a traveller from an antique land,
Who said—“Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. . . . Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal, these words appear:
My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings;
Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare

The lone and level sands stretch far away.”

We are passing away, and if our life is invested solely in ourselves, in establishing our name brand, our glory, we will have chosen to invest our lives in fleeting things. But If our lives are invested in God then we will have chosen the best, for His reality and His glory is eternal.

It is also of a much higher character than ours. Our best is weak and faulty. We do have something to do on this earth. We are to make a difference for Christ. We are to love our spouse and children. We are to love our family. We are to love our neighbor. We are to love even the whole world of people and seek to win them to Christ. We are to do good for Jesus’ sake. We are to grow in our faith and in our knowledge, in our prayer and in our love.

But all of this comes from God and not from within us alone. He deserves praise because of His character, His love, His mercy, and His truth. God is the only One in the universe that can be trusted with real power because He will always use it rightly. We will abuse it, but about God it can be said truly, “He does whatever He pleases” (Psalm 115:3b), and said in joy and gladness. For God is love and truth and peace.

He speaks the truth because He is the truth. He tells us the truth about His love, about our sin, and about His power to forgive and transform. Praise Him and let Him be the center of your soul and of your choices. Worship Him in your heart, considering Him as the greatest good. Trust in Him in all that you do and leave matters in His hands that are beyond your ability to understand or control.

To praise God alone also means to lay aside all personal efforts at attaining salvation and find your acceptance by God in His grace and in His grace alone. John Calvin wrote, “Let us also, in all our approaches unto God, remember to lay aside all self-righteousness, and to place our hopes entirely on his free favor.” We praise Him because our salvation is entirely by Him. We trust in Him, not in our selves or in our devotion or good works.

There is a problem around young people today that many do not feel the sharpness or weight of their sin. They look at the death of Christ on Calvary as something that God did for God’s sake and not really for ours - after all, they reason, we were rather happy in our sin. We are like children playing in disease-infested filth, not realizing the seriousness of our condition. We must constantly be reminded that the cross means God sees our sin very differently, as something terribly serious. We must be converted from this worldly disregard to sin and repent and mourn again for how we have offended God. And we need again to be delighted and amazed, truly grateful, for the gift of God through Jesus Christ.

To Him belongs all praise and glory.

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Grace Means Blessing Imperfect People, Too

May 22nd, 2017

Our fathers in Egypt did not understand Your wonders; they did not remember Your abundant kindnesses, But rebelled by the sea, at the Red Sea. Nevertheless He saved them for the sake of His name … (Psalm 106:7-8 NASB)

Grace means not only saving sinners, it also means blessing imperfect people. According to our faith we receive blessings, but let us never imagine that our faith is perfect. Or that by our walk with Christ we earn the blessings of being a child of God. God’s grace ALWAYS outshines our contributions to our spiritual life.

Paul said, “By the grace of God I am what I am” (1 Cor. 15:10), and though we are taught to strive and to seek and to serve - to take seriously our own part in our Christian growth - the grace of Christ is always greater than we deserve and more than we have earned.

This is why the Spirit, who knows our hearts, inspired John to write to the churches and said:

My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. (1 John 2:1 NASB)

We ought not to sin, but we will sin. We ought not to sin, but we may confess our sins and be cleansed. We ought not to sin, and our sin does impact our Christian life and witness - “Whatsoever a man sows, that shall he also reap” (Gal. 6:7). Yet we will also find that some blessings exist entirely within the realm of grace-gifts, undeserved favor, and they come our way simply because God has promised them to us the moment we believe in Christ.

The scripture says that God blesses those who earnestly seek Him (Heb. 11:6), and this is the heart of a true believer. In all of our failings, let us never fail to continue to seek God. When you sin, be quick to repent, and be quick to seek God again. Seek Him humbly, and repentantly, but never turn away from Him. It is one of the lies of the devil that tells us when we sin that God has ceased to love us and to welcome us back to His arms. That is a lie of the devil.

Our redemption is God’s idea and He knew what He was taking on when saved us. He will continue His work until we are made perfect, until we are able to stand fully in Him. “Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass” (1 Thes. 5:24 NASB). Whatever is left undone here, will be perfected in heaven. Paul wrote:

Who are you to judge the servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls; and he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand. (Romans. 14:4 NASB)

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