Week 30- God’s Passion for His Glory
Prayer - Our Father, we love You. You are so worth our lives. You alone are to be exalted as the only God among every person and people group. So we ask You, that You would do exceedingly more than anyone in this room has prayed or thought to pray. Fill our hearts with Your heart through the songs we sang and will sing later along with the message we are about to hear. May we receive a fresh, authoritative Word from You today. In Jesus Name. Amen.
We are more than half way through the Journey of reading the whole Bible, the Story of God, in one year. My prayer for you remains that you are receiving joy and life change. My prayer for you is that you would fight through the temptation of just going through the motion or giving up if you are falling behind. My prayer for you is that whether this is your first time or not of reading the Bible that God would be creating and reinforcing a framework of how God sees your life, your loved one’s life, and your local and global neighbor’s life. My prayer for you is that you would continually hear God personal invitation to be His instrument of redemption. If you are new to Sandy Ridge then thank you for being our guest. I want you to know that today’s message is going to be a little different. Those of you who call Sandy Ridge home know that we usually walk through one passage but today’s the message is going to look at several passages that all center around one theme. And those of you who read the passages from Week 30 may have noticed a dominant focus on God’s glory which will be the topic for today’s message.
By the way, if you would like to join us on this Journey to read the whole Bible or to hit the restart button then you can pick up a Bible reading plan on the back table and begin with Week 31. The Bible uses the word ‘glory’ over 400 times, and almost exclusively it is reserved for God. Our culture’s vocabulary does use ‘glory’ to describe what a person seeks when they pursue their own honor and importance; or when a sports team wants to achieve greatness over all the other teams. However, the Hebrew word for glory kabod (k-bod) means weighty, valuable, great importance. Therefore, a helpful definition to understand God’s glory is (show slide 2) the sum of His magnificent character of who He is and what He does. God created the world and He has a plan on how He would like to see it function. So it would only make sense to know what God is up because if you do not know the answer then how can one know their purpose, how they fit into God’s plan. And this is not an abstract idea or something to consider if finding your purpose intrigues you or if you have the time. This is serious because it has eternal implications. So my prayer for today’s message will be that you will leave with a greater focus with why God is concerned with what you and I do with our lives.
Some of you know that I changed stories from living for myself to living for God at 18. This was, by far, the most important decision I could ever make. It was the defining moment of who I was and who God was and is. I understood I was broken to the core and I couldn’t do anything about it. It would be accurate to say I was powerless to change because of my sins. I could never be good enough, not even my best efforts, could contribute to God saving me. So I had to totally lean, 100%, into God’s grace. That happened 20 years ago. A few years later I had another defining moment in my junior year of college and it dealt with the idea that God never expected me to live the Christian life. Does that surprise some of you? God desires Jesus to live His great, beautiful, and perfect life in and through me by the power of the Holy Spirit. This freed me up from the (show slide 3) performance trap which had me thinking: I must do certain things like read the Bible and pray for God to accept me.Or the (show slide 4) shame trap that says: I am what I am. I cannot change certain behaviors. Of course, these traps still try to tempt me and they get their occasional victories but not like they used to. I thank God that He accepts solely based on Jesus’ life in and through me. I praise God that Jesus’ life living in and through me will break any displeasing belief or behavior if I allow His power to have its way.
Yet there was another defining wake up call a few years after college when ironically I was training to be a pastor. Up to this point in my journey with God I had unintentionally hijacked God’s story. Sure, I had a strong conviction to live for God but there was another strong conviction at work which was if I follow God faithfully then He will make my life happy. But that is not true so God had to wake me up to reality which was: (show slide 5) God’s highest value is His glory, not my glory or my happiness. Of course, I knew the right answer that it was all about God but what I really believed deep down or at least wanted to be true was that God would always act in a way to make my life happy. After all, God loves meee! God saved meee! One of my favorite songs back then was called “It’s My Father’s House” and there was this line that said, ‘it’s a big, big house with lots and lots of room’ and I kept wondering what kind of room will Jesus build for me? I wondered when I saw this room if Jesus would ask: so do you like it?
Now just in case anyone thinks I am minimizing God’s love at all let me say that God loves you and me more than we can know or imagine. God loves you and me more than we love even ourselves so that translates to a lot. Yet that being said God’s highest priority in the world is not you or me. God’s world revolves around Himself. God’s highest value is His glory. Everything He does is motivated by this one thing: His glory. Take Jesus’ death which Isaiah 53 spoke out this past week. Who did Christ die for? You and me? Yes, but that answer is incomplete. What about the 17,000 distinct people groups of the world? Yes, but still incomplete. Ultimately, Christ died for God’s glory because God’s glory was violated, stepped upon and His wrath needed to be permanently satisfied once and for all. So God’s own glory drove Jesus to the cross.
So even though I was an active, committed Christian for over 8 years I basically looked at life from wrong perspective. To visually illustrate this it was like I was looking through the wrong end of these binoculars. Right now you are all very small but if you came up and looked through these lenses then I would be very big. So when it came to serving God which I did a lot it had to be within my comfort level and within my scheduling convenience. I wonder how many of you can identify with that? Thankfully, God was faithful and kept pursuing me to wake me up that life makes a whole lot more sense if you turn the turn the binoculars around. And when I did that I began to allow some timeless truths about God’s to be absorbed into how I saw life. What happens to you, me, and what we see in current events? And this past week we saw a few of those truths in Isaiah with the first one being Isaiah 42:8. So I encourage you to turn there. If you forgot your Bible make a note to bring it with you next week. Until then Isaiah 42:8 is on pg. 632. And as you turn there the first truth we are going to see is: (show slide 6) God knows who He is. Read. God is not having an identity crisis here. He says this for our benefit. Are you glad that God knows who He is? This is why v. 8 God says He will not share His glory with anyone (you, me, a church or ministry). God does not say to anyone, “hey, why don’t you be the center of attention for a little while?” Now up on the screen are going to be 4 additional verses that came from this past week’s reading that is centered on God’s glory.
Isaiah 43:7 (show slide 7) “everyone who is called by My name, whom I created for My glory, whom I formed and made.”
Isaiah 44:6 (show slide 8) “This is what the LORD says – Israel’s King and Redeemer, the LORD Almighty: I am the first and I am the last; apart from Me there is no God.”
Isaiah 44:24 (show slide 9) “This is what the LORD says – your Redeemer, who formed you in the womb; I am the Lord, who has made all things, who alone stretched out the heavens, who spread out the earth by Myself.”
Isaiah 48:10-11 (show slide 10) “See, I have refined you, though not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction. For My own sake, for My own sake, I do this. How can I let Myself be defamed? I will not yield My glory to another.
Thank you for speaking forth God’s Word publicly. Now some of you might be wondering why God repeats Himself? Well, it is for our sake. Humanity’s natural tendency is to look at life from the wrong lens. Genesis 3 tells how and why Adam and Eve listened to the voice that said they should have a starring role in God’s story rather than a supporting role. So they put their own glory over God’s glory and therefore the Bible tells us this becomes everyone’s story.
Now a second truth is found in Isaiah 46:8-10. Let’s turn there. Read. show slide 11) God is full of Himself. Now this may rub some people the wrong way because from our understanding it sounds like God is being selfish and egoistical? An honest question until we ask a follow-up question: “if God was not full of Himself then who would you want God to be full of? You, me, our nation. If God allows anyone or anything to be first then He no longer is God. So God has to be first. He is God. Now when you and I are full of ourselves that’s selfish because we are not even close to the greatest thing in the world. God deserves and is worthy of worship or every person, family, community, and people group because He is the greatest thing in the world. And because God knows who He is and is the greatest thing in the world this is the very reason why those who run after things and relationships besides Himself He disciplines and brings pain and suffering to wake them up. Yes, people struggle with this towards God but they are chasing something less than the best which is Himself. And God being the greatest thing cannot stand back and do nothing. He acts. So God being full of Himself or saying to anyone: I want to be the center of your world is in no way He being insecure like He needs people to build Him up. Living for God’s glory is just acknowledging what His creation and the angels already know. God is full of Himself and that is a very good thing. This makes Him God, makes Him worthy of worship. Living for God’s glory also let others see and know how great He is through the words and actions of His people who care for this broken world. What an incredible opportunity God invites into His story of glory.
A third truth is found in Isaiah 63:11-14. Let’s turn there. It is on pg. 653. I realize this passage is in this coming week’s reading but it focuses on the topic today of God’s glory. Read. (show slide 12) God is motivated in everything He does for His glory. God is thinking about Himself in every situation and relationship that you and I are a part of. The question that is always on His mind is: what will bring Me the most glory here? He is committed to that. So committed He uses our unwise and sinful choices along with the brokenness of our communities to accomplish what will make Him look great. Now the historical background here is God rescuing His people out of Egypt. God involves Himself with people to make Him look great. So when you and I pray for God to come through and He does. We may think to ourselves, “God acted because He didn’t want me to be unhappy, or to be in pain any longer, or He wanted me to know that He answers prayer.” But the passage we just read reveals that God’s primary motive of why He delivered the Jews, heard their prayers, and demonstrated His power through the 10 plagues and the Red Sea being parted was as v. 14 says to make for Himself a glorious name or as v. 12 says to gain an everlasting renown. Renown simply means having widespread fame. So God is going to work in your life in the way that brings Him the most glory. As Isaiah 45:7 says God brings both prosperity and disaster. So people of Sandy Ridge, may the glory of God impact how you pray, how you view the events and relationships that you are in, and what motivates you to fulfill the responsibilities that have been given to you. May you wake up tomorrow expressing your commitment to embrace the invitation as His supporting role to make Him shine as the star. Now before Joe comes up to pray for us I wanted to show a short video that puts an exclamation point on God’s glory which is the sum of His magnificent character of who He is and what He does. Let’s Watch