Who Gets the Glory?

The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? Psalm 27:1

In our self-help culture, there is confusion about the difference between helping oneself and being helped by God. “What does it matter?” some would ask. “Getting the job done is what’s important.” It matters because of the thin line that separates pride from praise. And there is only one answer: As creatures, it is only right that the Creator deserves praise in all things.

When the psalmist declared himself to have light, salvation, strength, and courage (Psalm 27:1), he didn’t say he created them on his own. He said it was “the Lord” who gave him light and salvation; the Lord was his strength. Therefore, he had courage in the face of fear. When the three Hebrew young men were faced with a fiery furnace for not worshiping the king of Babylon, they didn’t say they were fearless because of their own power. They would have been reduced to ash in a second in such flames. They said God could deliver them. When God did, it resulted in praise from the king himself (Daniel 3:28).

If you are seeking deliverance, don’t try to do it on your own. Ask God to glorify Himself through your situation.

The end of our election is that we might show forth the glory of God in every way. John Calvin

Accountability Is Scriptural

James 5:13-16

There are plenty of biblical directives about making ourselves accountable to one another. But for many, the idea of revealing personal information seems restrictive or even an invasion of privacy. Such confession may feel like a hindrance to the pursuit of pleasure, prosperity, and prestige. Most people prefer to keep to themselves and not involve others in their business.

The Bible, however, makes it clear that Christians are to be mutually supportive and accountable: “Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed” (James 5:16).

Accountability in the body of Christ is a biblical principle. Church members take direction from their pastor (Heb. 13:17). Paul tells us to be subject to one another (Eph. 5:21); yet he was answerable to the church (Acts 14:27), just as Timothy was subordinate to him (1 Tim. 4:13-16). The apostles were certainly under the authority of Jesus (Luke 10), even as Jesus was subject to the Father (John 8:28-29). Of course, the Bible tells us that the whole church is obedient to the Lord Jesus Christ (Eph. 5:24). Regardless of one’s position, everybody is accountable to somebody. And this holds true for the entire family of faith, from the congregation to the ministers to Jesus Himself, who serves God the Father.

People avoid accountability for various reasons, including pride, ignorance, fear, and self-reliance. This is a dangerous approach to life. Our enemy knows our weaknesses and how to exploit them. But we can prevail with the support of friends. There is strength in the body of Christ.

Dogs and Dangers

“Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision.” (Philippians 3:2)

Although our salvation is secure, Paul alerts us to the possibility that we can be spoiled (Colossians 2:8), our faith can be shipwrecked (1 Timothy 1:19), and we can fall from our own “stedfastness” (2 Peter 3:17). These are not idle threats. There are those who are the “enemies of the cross of Christ” (Philippians 3:18), hence these startling descriptions in today’s verse.

Dogs, both literally and metaphorically, are never mentioned in a positive context in Scripture. “Dogs” encircled the Lord Jesus while on the cross (Psalm 22:16). Blind watchmen are “dumb dogs” and ignorant shepherds are “greedy dogs,” since neither are seeking the good of God’s people (Isaiah 56:10-11). We are explicitly warned not to give “that which is holy unto the dogs” (Matthew 7:6). We must “beware of dogs” indeed.

Those motivated by evil come under severe condemnation. False prophets are called “wolves” (Matthew 7:15), false apostles are deceitful (2 Corinthians 11:13), and those who falsely profess Christ are abominable, disobedient, and reprobate (Titus 1:16).

The concision (mutilators) are those who demand the Old Testament circumcision as proof of conversion (Galatians 6:12-15), thus ignoring and nullifying the grace of God given through the Lord Jesus Christ.

All such workers of iniquity will be rejected by this same Lord Jesus when they insist that their works are sufficient for salvation (Matthew 7:22-23). HMM III

Be Exalted, O God

Be thou exalted, O God, above the heavens; let thy glory be above all the earth. —Psalm 57:5

This was written by David when fleeing from Saul and surrounded by his foes. In that brilliant way he had of describing things, David said that he found himself among lions, men whose teeth were spears and arrows and whose tongues were as sharp swords. He was surrounded by them and they had the authority of King Saul back of them, and David had nobody but God. So David, being taught in the ways of the Spirit, did something that we probably wouldn’t have thought of doing. David immediately put God between him and his enemies.

David knew that he must have the victory; but he knew if he was to have anything like permanent victory he couldn’t ask God to exalt him. So he didn’t say, “Oh God, I am Your king, to be successor to Saul, the sinning king. Now God, I want You to come to my rescue and crush these enemies under my feet.” He knew better than that. So, he prayed,… “Be thou exalted, O God, above the heavens; let thy glory be above all the earth” (57:5).. He was saying, “Whatever happens to me, God, be exalted. Whatever these men with sharp teeth and claws and spears and arrows do to me, God, let Your glory be over all the earth. My heart is fixed on this, O God, and I will sing praise because I want You to be exalted above the heavens and Your glory over all the earth.”

Lord, it is my prayer today that You are exalted in all circumstances. Whatever I may face today, Lord, I exalt You. Amen.

Are You Longing to See Jesus?

Behold, I come quickly; holdfast that which thou hast, that no man take thy crown. (Revelation 3:11)

There is no doubt in my mind that millions of Christians in our day yearn within themselves to be ready to see the Lord Jesus when He appears. These are the saints of God who have a real understanding that what our Lord Jesus Christ is to us in our personal lives, moment by moment, is more important than merely dwelling on “what He did for us!”

I say this because a great segment of Christian theology emphasizes the “utility” of the cross on which Jesus died, rather than the Person who died on that cross for our sins.

Because of that view, many really have no emotional yearning for the return of Jesus. The best hope they know is a kind of intellectual, theological hope. But an intellectual knowledge of what the New Testament teaches about the return of Christ is surely a poor substitute for a love inflamed desire to look on His face!

While we await Him, our Lord expects us to love one another, to worship Him together and to send this gracious gospel to the ends of the earth.

Love which the early Christians felt towards the Lord

The love which the early Christians felt towards the Lord was not a quiet emotion which they hid within themselves in the secret chamber of their souls, and which they only spake of when they met on the first day of the week, and sang hymns in honor of Christ Jesus the crucified, but it was a passion with them of such a vehement and all-consuming energy, that it was visible in their actions, spoke in their common talk, and looked out of their eyes even in their commonest glances. Love to Jesus was a flame which fed upon the core, and heart of their being; and, therefore, from its own force burned its way into the outer man, and shone there.