THERE’S FREEDOM IN GLORIFYING GOD
According to Westminster Shorter Catechism, “the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.”
The definition of “to glorify” is “to give the dignity, honor, respect, praise, and worship appropriate to the gift or standing of object or person.” “To glorify God” means to “give Him the dignity, honor, respect, praise, and worship due to God as the gracious gift He is to us.” “Glorify” can also be associated with the following: “to reflect, to show forth, to demonstrate and to express the image of an object or person so that it can be seen by all.”
So, why should we glorify God? First of all, “to glorify God” is one of man’s purposes. John Piper says: “Birds were made to fly. Fish were made to swim. We were made to glorify God.” In Isaiah 43:7, God says: “Everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.” Humanity exists to glorify God.
Secondly, God deserves to be praised. His creation reveals God’s glory and shows His powerfulness. Revelation 4:11 says: “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.” God commanded in words for creation to exist, and it is was formed. For example, in Genesis 1:3, “And God said, ‘Let there be light’, and there was light.“ Only God can do that.
God is the only being that pre-existed and wasn’t created by a being. He is perfect, without any flaws, in every infinite way. Perfect and complete, lacking or needing nothing, in every possible conceivable way. He is holy, mercy and truth, faithfulness, just, deliverer, sovereign, omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent, immutable, love, etc. – again He is infinitely flawless in all things.
If God is not insufficient in any way, then that would mean God doesn’t need to be glorified. Then why does God desire so immensely to be being glorified? The answer is because we need Him to be glorified for our own benefit.
First of all, the fact that we people are unable to perceive accurately God as being truly glorious shows we are inadequate, flawed creatures. No human can completely fathom how great God is. We are unable to comprehend the things of God without God first revealing it to us.
Glory has weight attached to it, and unless we see an object’s value, we won’t seek it.
A diamond has greater value than a rock, and thus has more weight or glory attached to it. A diamond can be worth a million dollars while a rock is basically worthless in monetary value. People treasure diamonds more than rocks because they can get rich by possessing a diamond, because a diamond’s value can provide monetary blessings and satisfy financial needs – thus, a diamond is comparably perceived as greater value than a rock because the glory of a diamond can fulfill more needs and provide more benefit to a person that a rock can.
God is more glorified than all of creation. There is no comparison. The gods of wealth, prestige, success, honor, and sex, for example, cannot satisfy man like God can. There is no greater enjoyment than an intimate, abiding, love relationship with God. And humanity lost it, starting in the Garden of Eden, when Adam and Eve sinned. After the fall of mankind, man became less cognizant of the glory of God, and thus, found idols in hopes of filling the void that man lost because of the consequences of their transgressions. Until man leaves its idols, and comes to God, man will never truly be happy.
God needs to be glorified – His greatness needs to grasped by man so man would realize his need for God and leave its idols and come to God. His glory needs to be reflected by Christians, so all people, including other Christians, would seek God with all their hearts, minds, and souls. Sin created a void, and all of humanity has suffered since. Thank God, God is a god of grace and mercy. He is the Father who longs for the return of every prodigal son.
Man’s biggest need: the glory of God is the salvation of its creatures.
Romans 3:23 correctly states: “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” Death and eternity in hell is the punishment for our sins; however, there is hope because of God’s mercy: “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23). Thus, God deserves praise and should be glorified because His mercy chose to give sinful man a chance to experience eternal life, in spite of the fact our sins merit punishment.
In this gift of eternal life, God chose His Son to become the atonement to pay the penalty of our sinful deeds in our place, which happened during Christ’s crucifixion. Believers and accepters of this gift of salvation will be pardoned from all their sins and escape hell, enjoy an inheritance in heaven, become a child of God, be protected by the Lord Shepherd, and have a restored love relationship with God that will never end. Once saved, nothing (even sin) can ever separate the love of God from His children.
“Christ, who knew no sin, became sin for us” (see 2 Corinthians 5:21), so believers and accepters of this gift could experience righteousness and be spared of having to serve the sentence themselves. The blood of Christ, that was shed on the cross when Jesus was crucified, satisfied a holy God’s wrath to bring justice upon us, by the means of death in hell.
If God’s perfect holiness and justice chose to overlook the penalty of our sins without someone serving time, God would not, of deserved to be glorified; nor would He deserve glory if His perfect mercy decided not to have compassion on the lost sinner, by giving him the opportunity of salvation. So, God in His perfect wisdom, chose His deity Jesus Christ to come on this planet as a man while still being God, and experience the same temptations to sin as man did (but Jesus chose not to sin) in order to become the atonement for our sins – allowing God to simultaneously remain perfectly just, holy, and merciful, while giving man an opportunity to experience eternal freedom and also, an abiding, intimate, love relationship with God. God’s perfect wisdom deserves to be glorified by man.
The transaction process of Christ paying the penalty of our sins and we, thus, being forgiven and declared not guilty, because of grace, only takes place if a sinner accepts the Trinity’s gift of salvation toward mankind. If a person admits they are a sinner; believes Jesus is deity, was sinless, and that He died on cross to pay the penalty for our sins and resurrected three days later; is willing to accept this gift of salvation (of Christ paying the penalty of our sin in our place), and not work to earn salvation by any means; has an attitude of repentance; and wants to be a child of God, will experience eternal life and not go to hell.
God’s love gives every sinner free will to choose whether or not they want to go to heaven and become a child of God. God wouldn’t be perfect Love and thus not deserve to be glorified if God didn’t give man a choice, even when there are negative consequences for choosing unwisely. Eternal damnation is the irreversible consequence for not accepting Christ as your Savior; once a person dies in this world, their fate is sealed. For every human will be judged for ever action, thought, or decision made in their lifetime, good and bad. Accepters of God’s gift will be declared “not guilty”; those who refuse to become a Christian will be declared “guilty” – there is no escape from God’s judgment day which takes place after a person dies. No one except God knows the totality of a person’s life – so choose to ask Jesus in your heart before it is too late!
The freedoms of man are determined by whether or not man sees the glory of God. The two biggest reasons why God deserves glory because He is infinitely flawless and His value provides freedom to man’s two greatest needs: eternal freedom and intimacy with God. Click here to see further on how to become a Christian.
How the Christian can glorify God and experience freedom in the meantime
Freedom requires sound decision making, because there is a consequence to every decision made or not made. The greatest decision is in relation to your eternal salvation. Hell and total separation from God is the after life consequence to those who don’t Christ as their Savior. The second greatest decision is how to live your life on this planet:
“For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.” (1 Corinthians 6:20).
“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31).
According to these verses, “we are to glorify God in everything we do, in body and in spirit, because we were bought at a price” (the price for our salvation, which happened when Christ atoned for our sins on the cross). We have free will to glorify God, but we should daily choose to glorify God: out of gratitude, for Christ’s sufferings, and for God’s mercy and grace. Other reasons for doing so are that, one, God wants to reward us in heaven for our good deeds on this planet, and secondly, we experience overabundant joy when we abide in Christ, which requires when we obey God’s commands to love one another (see John 15:10-12). When we glorify God, we are loving others because, if we don’t reflect properly reflect God’s image so it can be evident to this world, we are not loving the unsaved believers by our actions, because they could possibly be saved from hell, if we choose to reflect God’s glory by being a living example of Christ. So, there is an urgent need for the sake of freedom of the unbeliever and for future rewards in heaven and overabundant joy and peace in this world, So, again, according to 1 Corinthians 10:31, “whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”
Again, Christian: the lost desperately needs to see the glory of God. Again, by definition, part of glorifying is ““to reflect, to show forth, to demonstrate and to express the image of an object or person so that it can be seen by all.” We are to “reflect God’s glory” in this world by striving to live holy lives, guided by the Word of God and by walking by the spirit, as we pursue our unique life purpose, guided by the Holy Spirit and empowered by abiding in the spirit (the Vine). We do it individually on our own (empowered by the Vine) and also in conjunction with the church body, united in God’s love. Whether or not the totality of our lives glorify God, is determined by our beliefs, desires, and decisions.
How To Glorify God and Experience Freedom in the Meantime
We glorify God by what we believe
We glorify God first by what we believe about God. God desires we know Him. The more we know God, the more intimate the relationship with Him, and the more we choose to obey and serve Him. The more our knowledge of God, we have of Him, the more we can trust and believe in Him, during all life events, including trials. Knowing God, though, means more than having intellectual knowledge about Him. “You may know of the President, but you don’t actually know the person intimately.” God doesn’t want us to know about God, He wants us to know Him intimately. Abba Father desires a close relationship with each of us, to give us everything we need in life, in every dimension, as we serve and obey Him in love. He desperately wants us to have deep, intimate conversations (prayer) to Him, as He also wants to talk to us – through His Word and into our hearts. He, though, demands faithfulness to Him and His purposes for our life, and to obey Him. What we believe about God, influences heavily our desires to know Him more and to please Him in all our decisions. It also impacts how much we trust in God and our willingness to be faithful to our life purpose, especially when we suffer and face adversity, for His name sake. What we believe affects how much we desire God in our relationship with Him and to do His will, and affects our decisions we make – in essence, what we believe about God influences how much glory we give to God.
The first step in knowing God is to have a relationship with God. We talked about that previously. Without having a relationship with God, and thus, having eternal life in heaven, you cannot know God and thus, you are unable to glorify God at all. Most fundamental and important way to glorify God is to believe in, and put your trust in, the gospel of Christ.
Next, it is important to understand some of the things God does and wants to provide for His children. Those being a child of God will be perfectly loved and cared for by God, will experience eternal life in heaven, inherit an inheritance in heaven, plus have the opportunity to serve God and be compensated for every good deed done for God’s glory, can live a successful and prosperous life to extent it obeys God’s commands, experience protection, provision, and direction for right living by the Shepherd, and experience true joy in an intimate love relationship with Abba Father whose perfect love never changes, receive discipline from wrongdoings for spiritual growth, to grow in perseverance and character through trials, all for our own good, and for God’s glory.
In essence, God wants to give you and me freedom and benefits in countless ways, but we must make wise decisions to take advantage of His goodness – for we have been given free will.
2 Corinthians 3:17 says, “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” To experience it fully, we must follow the Lord Shepherd’s directions always, guiding us in our decisions: in Psalm 32:8, “The Lord says, ‘I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you.’” To further this point, Joshua 1:8 adds: “Study the Book of Instruction (the Bible) continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do.” As you do this, and become one of His sheep that follows the direction of the Lord Shepherd regularly, God will take care of your needs sufficiently: “The Lord is my shepherd: I have everything I need” (Psalm 23:1).
God gives every day man another chance to better themselves. Each day we have a decision to either follow our sinful natures and live like how we used to live, or start anew and following leadings of the Bible and God’s wisdom, which leads us toward a successful and prosperous life, in the way God intended. Galatians 5:1 says: “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”
The more you know about God by studying His Word daily, the more accurate your understanding of Him, and the more you know Him (intellectually and intimately), the more you trust Him (especially during trials) and recognize the voice of the Lord Shepherd whose there to protect, provide provision, guide you to your purpose, and lead you in paths of righteousness. Learning God’s commands by daily studying of the Bible helps us to learn how to successfully and prosperously live in the way God intended for us to live. When we don’t follow God’s leading, and obey His commands, we make unsound decisions, creating unnecessary trials and hardships that we must overcome, and depending upon the decision, possibly undermining personal freedoms for self and possibly, those around us, making us feel miserable and possible regretful for bad mistakes made. God wants us to be free creatures, for that happen, we must make sound decisions, and God gave us His love laws found in the Bible, to “lead us into paths of righteousness for His name sake”.
We were created to be free creatures for God’s glory. That is the purpose of every man and woman. When we live free lives by making sound decisions – this is the third step toward reflecting God’s glory (#1: become a Christian; #2: desire to know God more by studying His Word; #3: obey God’s law and make sound decisions).
How do we reflect God’s glory, when His creation doesn’t behave like Him and fail to live a life of freedom, the way God intended? We cannot. It doesn’t glorify God when His creation behaves contrary to His will, when it is disobedient, and constantly creates unstable conditions that threaten to tyrannize self and others. Our world today is lawless, violent, and unloving – because of man’s free will, our actions fail to glorify God often. Our decisions is influenced by what we desire and believe.
We glorify God by what we believe. Believe that God’s law is perfect, and should be followed the best we can each day. And the more we believe in that, and abide in Him by following His love laws: the more overabundant joy we experience in an intimate, abiding, loving relationship with God in the meantime (note John 15:10-12).
The more we obey Him, the more we know Him and experience His perfect love, joy, and peace in our lives. And the more we know Him, by studying His Word, and learning to recognize His voice talking to us, the more accurate our knowledge of Him, and the more we trust Him. This all begins with a belief that it is crucial to obey God commands, which starts with a belief (that grows into a desire and leads to a decision) that God’s Word should be studied habitually.
To follow God and fulfill our life purpose, especially during trials, we desperately need to learn to trust Him. And how can you trust God without daily spending time studying His Word (hearing His words talk to us) and in prayer (we talk back to God). Relationships and trust are formed by taking time to get to know someone. Believe that it is crucial to study God’s Word, not just to learn God commands, but also so you can study God’s Word, to know God more intimately.
We glorify God by what we desire
The more habitual daily we are in studying His Word, the more knowledge of God, we gain of Him. To gain knowledge of God requires more than just reading His Word. When we study the Bible, we just meditate upon His Word, to ponder and think intensely what it means. We should listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit talking to our souls, giving us inspiration to what it means. As we learn something new about God and about ourselves, in relation in how we should act and live, we should make decisions about making possible changes in our life. More than just striving to intellectually gaining new information about life, yourself, and God, we must also trust or believe in what you learned, and then surrender to God and strive to obey and put into practice, God’s Word in our lives.
“Prayer is a personal, communicative, response to the knowledge of God.” After we make a decision upon what you learn of God in your Bible study, we communicate that response (of the new knowledge of God that we learned from God’s Word) in words called prayer. Our hearts of prayer should be of helplessness, and dependency upon God, and of surrendering your will and thus, choosing God to be the Lord of our lives. When we let the Trinity control our lives, not only does it speed up the process of knowing God more intimately, but we also experience joy in the process. Jesus said in John 15: 9-12: “I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow! This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you”.
The two greatest commandments, in which every law of God, is the basis of the following: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments” (Matthew 22:36-40).
When we love God with all our heart, soul, and mind, we glorify God to the fullest. Loving God supremely involves delighting in God completely and surrendering will to God totally. When we love God completely, we desire to glorify Him totally. And part of loving God totally is loving people in this world completely. Doing this involves surrendering to our life purpose to be the person God desires of us, and doing the work He purposed of us, for His glory – which involves many things, one being, to model our lives to how Christ lived through the power of the Holy Ghost, to the best we can, and reflect the light of Christ, working in our lives in us, toward those in darkness, so this lost world can see the value or worth of God’s glory, creating a change and better our lives. If our testimony of Christ is pure, if the world can see the light of Christ and the glory of God creating success and freedom in our lives, they can hopefully bear witness to the fact that they may need Christ too, and desire to experience the glory of God working in their lives also. In addition, those who have the light of Christ already in them (Christians) also need to see our light of Christ in us, too. Christians should live the way God intended for them to live, so they can be models of how to live the Christian life, not only to other Christians, but also to the unsaved person.
“Every Christian is to become a little Christ. The whole purpose of becoming a Christian is simply nothing else.” ― C.S. Lewis,
Glorifying God requires daily choosing to walk by the spirit
When Adam sinned, every human ever since was born with a sinful nature or flesh, that craves to do evil. When people surrender to the temptations of the flesh, they sin. Fruit of the flesh behaviors include according to Galatians 5, “sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions, and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like.”
Once a Christian, the Holy Spirit creates a new heart and spirit in us. Ezekiel 36:26-27 says, “A new heart I will give you and a new spirit I will put within you . . . I will put my Spirit within you and cause you to walk in my statutes.” This new heart and spirit, when in control of the Christian, produces fruit of the spirit, which never sins. “Love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control”: these are the fruit of the spirit. (If a believer wants to obey love thy neighbor as thyself” command, it is essential that he or she allows fruit of the spirit love be evident in that individual’s life.) Exhibiting fruit of the spirit fruits is essential to obeying the laws of the Bible and a part of making sound decisions, which is needed to be prosperous and successful the way God intended for us to live. Unfortunately, there is a battle in the life of the Christian of what spirit and heart is going to be in control: sinful nature (flesh), which desires to produce fruit of the flesh fruits, which is sinful and leads to destruction, or our new Holy Spirit-created one that produces fruit of the spirit fruits, which is critical toward sound decision making, freedom, and obeying God’s commands.
We are to walk by the spirit, which is “what we do when the desires produced by the Spirit are stronger than the desires produced by the flesh.” “Walking by the spirit” is essential to obeying God’s love laws, and not sinning, and living a life of freedom which benefits us and glorifies God in the process. Here are five steps toward “walking by the spirit”:
Five Steps Toward Walking by the Spirit
- Acknowledge in our heart we are helpless, apart from enablement of the Holy Spirit, not to sin. (Romans 7:18, John 15:5)
- Pray: Ask Spirit to take control of our lives, to be Lord of my life, and to empower me not to sin.
- Trust: Must believe Spirit will prevent me from sinning. (faith)
- Act in the way that thou should act. (Must do steps 1-3 first, all your actions would be works of the flesh, not fruit of the spirit)
- Thank God for any virtue attained or any good deed performed.
When we are walking by the spirit, we don’t gratify the desires of the flesh and thus, don’t sin. For the sake of freedom, it is critical we take these steps to yield to the desires of the fruit of the spirit. Daily we are faced with choices of what spirit (sinful nature or our Holy Spirit new heart and spirit) of what is going to be in control. If one doesn’t control the desires of the flesh through the Spirit’s empowerment habitually, there will be presumably be much more instability in the life of the Christian, obviously depending upon the nature of the sin and the consequences that the fruit of the flesh fruits produce. To glorify God, and to be used by God for His purposes, we must habitually choose to let the Spirit control us, and not our sinful nature.
We glorify God by how we make decisions.
God is glorified when a Christian lives the life He is meant to live.
Charles Stanley once wrote, “Success is the continuing achievement of becoming the person God wants you to be and accomplishing the goals God has helped you to set.”
Success is choosing to habitually walk in the spirit and follow the leading of the Shepherd to guide us into righteousness. It is also being the object God created us to be. When we be the creation that God created us to be, we glorify God:
“How does a star “speak of the glory of God”? It’s an inanimate object. It makes no sound, much less language — how does it speak?
By being a star.
How does a tree speak of the glory of God?
By being a tree.
How does a lion speak?
By roaring loud.
How does a flower speak?
By unfolding its color every spring.
When we see the world in the shape that God intended, the way it’s supposed to be, God gets glory, without a word.”
A created object is deemed successful by its creator, when it effectively performs the functions and meets the needs intended by its creator, determined before the creation of the creation. Even if the creation, after its creation, excels at performing functions and meeting needs contrary to what it was purposed to do by its creator, a consequence occurs (because the needs that the creation supposed to meet failed to get met), and probably, at least in the eyes of the creator, the creation failed to be a success, therefore.
For example, a tire wheel has been designed and created by a manufacture with the purpose of assisting a motor vehicle in transportation, by helping a vehicle to roll, with the help of the other parts of the car – the engine, the steering wheel, the gear shifts, the seat, the accelerator, etc. As a team, each component of the vehicle represents the totality of the composition of a car, working together to help people meet their personal needs of transportation. A car benefits a person very well in transportation – it completes the purpose of transporting of a person or a group of people very quickly in time and of traveling lengthy distances, helping them to meet needs of going to work to earn money to live, going to store to buy food and other necessities, going to the doctor to check health and wellness, to see friends and family, so they won’t be alone, etc. If it was decided that the tire wheel was to be used for a different purpose and not to help a car move, or it was defective in doing the purpose of making a car roll (not to perform its specific function), a car as a whole would be unable to transport a person and thus, consequences occur as needs fail to get met. Success of a created object is measured by its effectiveness of performing the functions and meeting the needs, purposed by its creator, to meet and satisfy.
A tire is made with specific specifications and designs by its designer to perform the function of aiding a car to transport people from one location to another. A tire has to be designed properly, it has to be of the right shape, for example. If a tire was shaped like a square, triangle, hexagon, and not a circle, it wouldn’t be conducing to rolling well, because of a round shape rolls the best.
God, our Heavenly Creator, created each of us with a certain SHAPE before we born, in order for us to be conducive to meeting the needs and performing the functions that our God-designed unique life purpose has purposed for us to meet and do. Before we were born, He desired that each of us would bear spiritual fruit, in which each of us are commanded to do, uniquely based upon our SHAPE and unique life purpose He has for each of us. Our success is determined by how effective our life purpose meets the needs and performing the functions, defined by our Creator when He determined the life purposes of every man and woman before the creation of the world. Our free wills must surrender daily to our unique life purpose and we must allow the Lord Shepherd guide our paths and the power of the Vine to empower us to complete it, or we won’t be considered successful in the Creator’s eyes, as our life fails to fully complete the purpose, meet the needs, and perform the unique functions, that our life was meant to do and satisfy. Obviously, if we fail to walk by the spirit in controlling the flesh, we won’t make sound decisions and live as free people, and the completion of our life purposes will suffer in the process. Thus, if we fail to fulfill our purpose, we won’t be glorifying God in the manner He intended for us. And the consequence is the unmet freedoms of people in this world in our purpose sphere.
Let’s talk further about the SHAPE God has for you and me. Before we were born, our Heavenly Creator desired every human to bear spiritual fruit, and designed for each of His Christian creations a unique way of doing it, planning the shape (spiritual gifts, heart, abilities, personality, experiences) based upon its unique life purpose or way of bearing fruit, and planning every action and decision He intended for us to make, in order to complete His goal of glorifying God. For example, God purposed some Christians to be a writer, a preacher, a mechanic, a computer programmer, a Sunday school teacher, a stay home mom, a mental illness overcomer, a factory worker, etc, each with its own spiritual gifts, heart, abilities, personality, and experiences, to serve God for God’s glory.
Rick Warren has a SHAPE ministry for God’s glory – one of the purposes of his ministry is to help Christians find out how God shaped them to do ministry work, in each of their unique way. Online there is a SHAPE test to help interested peoples figure out their unique purpose. Below is a description of the SHAPE acronym, which you may find helpful. Feel free to do a web search for RICK WARREN SHAPE MINISTRY and study Warren’s material further.
ABOUT S.H.A.P.E. – Five Ways God Has Shaped You: S – Spiritual Gifts – What has God supernaturally gifted me to do? H – Heart – What do I have passion for and love to do? A – Abilities – What natural talents and skills do I have? P – Personality – Where does my personality best suit me to serve? E – Experiences – What spiritual experiences have I had? What painful experiences have I had? What educational experiences have I had? What ministry experiences have I had?
Ponder these questions, with the leading of the Holy Spirit, to help guide you to figure out what your SHAPE is, which partially helps to define your unique life purpose. Spend time considering what is the unique spiritual gifts, heart, abilities, personality, and experiences God gave you, and use that as a beginning to figure how you are purposed to bear spiritual fruit.
“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10).
“By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples” (John 15:8).
Vine Empowers the branch to be a little Christ
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).
In John 15:5, the Vine is Jesus (Lord Shepherd) and we Christians are the branches. Just like how a branch draws its strength by staying connected to a vine, we must walk by the spirit constantly in order to stay connected to Jesus, our power source to live the Christian life the right way. When we are “apart from Jesus”, that is, we choose to gratify the fruit of the flesh, we can do nothing fruitful. Since Jesus can do all things, and we draw power from Him to be fruitful, we have the potential to do all things through His power, strengthening us, if Christ chooses for that to happen. Living in the Spirit is critical to human potential, and we often thwart His work in us when we fail to surrender and live the Christian life. Success and freedom both require sound decision making, which entails many things, including choosing to habitually walk by the spirit. If we don’t walk by the spirit, we fail to glorify God, in retrospect to living the life we are meant to live, for His glory.
“I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. Following this advice daily is essential toward glorifying God” (Matthew 5:14-16).
We are to be a “little Christ”. We do that be staying connected to the Vine. When we gratify the desires of the flesh, we do the opposite of abiding in the spirit (staying connected to the Vine). We are the “light of the world’ – it’s not our light that shines, but Jesus’s, through the power of the Vine. Again, when we abide, we draw power from Christ’s power to do all things. We have to abide daily – if we don’t, it would be the same as “lighting a lamp and putting it under a basket, where it is hidden”. The world desperately needs see the light of Jesus in us. How can people see the light of God’s glory if we keep it hidden because of sin? Be a “little Christ”: model after the life of Christ, choose to let Him control your life, and let the Lord Shepherd guide you and the Vine empower you to be like Christ. That is how we show God’s glory: daily surrender, daily abiding, to become a “little Christ”. It isn’t our own light that makes us a “little Christ”, it’s His light taking control of us.
The Church body working together as a team
Just like how a car is comprised up of many parts (tire, steering wheel, motor, seat) with its own particular purpose and shape, God has designed you with a particular shape and purpose to work together with other Christians, with the overall mission to produce spiritual fruit. Just like how every part of a car has an important role for the overall mission of transporting a person, every member of the church is beneficial to God’s glory and has a role to play in the church’s mission of making disciples. There is no such thing as an insignificant church member.
Shine God’s light so the lost can become saved by them seeing the glory of God. Shine it so other Christians can also see God’s glory and model after that. The church body is a team, like a car, with a purpose designed by its Creator. Don’t extinguish the light by choosing to gratify the flesh. Don’t choose another purpose other than what God designed you for, for the sake of God’s glory. Love thy neighbor, including the church body, as thyself. Love God with all thine heart, mind, and soul. For the sake of God’s glory and for the freedom of mankind, let the Holy Spirit control you daily. Like how a car cannot work best when some of its parts malfunctions, the church body cannot function properly when its members are not walking by the spirit consistently. As Craig Groeschel wrote: “A divided world needs to see a united church”.
“You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. 14For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Galatians 5:13-14).
God commanded us to love. Jesus said in John 14:15, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” In our own strength, we lack the ability to do so the way God intended; but by walking by the spirit, we can. It is a choice we have to make daily and we as flawed creatures, will fail often. However, we must strive to develop habits of righteous living, for the sake of God’s glory.
Timothy Keller once said, “Glorifying God does not mean obeying Him only because you have to. It means to obey Him because you want to – because you are attracted to Him, because you delight in Him.” One of the greatest things that I delight in God is His perfect love and mercy.
The prodigal son story portrays God’s perfect mercy and grace to us prodigal sons, every time we sin. In the Prodigal Son story, the prodigal son deserted the father, wanting to have no further part in the relationship. He left town and squandered his inheritance money on wild living – he certainly was a dirty sinner. However, feeling brokenness from the consequences of his sins, he felt remorseful. He wanted to come back to the father for forgiveness and mercy, but was afraid his father would reject and have no longer part of him. Thinking he would work as a hired servant, the prodigal son returned home to the father. Meanwhile, the father, waiting and desperately wanting his son to return, was full of compassion when the son returned: overjoyed, excited, and accepting the son with open arms. The father then immediately asks his servants to prepare an enormous feast to celebrate His son coming back to father.
When I fail Him each time, He continues to love me the same as before. Perfect love. Every time I sin, He declares me “not guilty” because of what Jesus did on the cross. He will never stop loving me – no matter the totality of all my sins in my lifetime. Because His love is unconditional, and that He has always been faithful to my needs being met, I am motivated to please and obey Him, because I delight in Him. He is perfect Father even when I’m a dirty sinner. Praise the Lord, for God’s unconditional love and never-bending faithfulness is the same for all of His children!
God is glorified every time a sinner sincerely comes back to Him because God is perfect grace!
God is glorified by our responses to trials.
In this sinful world, we will face many life struggles. Trials tests what we believe about God and the Shepherd’s ability to protect, provide, and lead His sheep. When we trust in God, tests of faith build our perseverance, faith, and character. They reveal to the world the glory of God. When we overcome against great odds, it spreads a message to this dying world, that “all things are possible with God.” They can hopefully see in our actions that “God can be trusted” and “The Lord is my Shepherd; I have everything I need”. (In his mind and heart, someone needing God might think “There must be a God out there. If He can meet that individual’s needs, then maybe his God could satisfy my needs too!”, which begins the process of him experiencing God in his heart.) Our job is not to live lives of ease and comfort, but to overcome, and be a light that reveals the glory of God.
“All things are possible with God” is true because God is a perfect, omnipotent God who can do all things. Also true is that the Lord Shepherd is always there to protect and provide for His sheep, because of His intense unconditional love. The Shepherd sacrificed His life on the cross for the sake of every sinner, so He surely would be willing to lay down His life for His children. If the Shepherd was willing to die for our eternal freedoms, then He would also strongly desire to take of us when we face life struggles. Not only does the Love of the Father overflowing, so is also perfect His ability to protect, provide, and lead. God is perfect in all ways, remember.
The more you study of the Word, the more you know and trust the Shepherd. The more you know of God’s promises and have successful experiences of resting upon them during trials, the greater your faith becomes. One of God’s promises is Psalm 121:7-8, “The Lord will keep you from all harm – he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.”
Psalm 23:1-7 says: “The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” Focusing upon the protection and provision of the Lord Shepherd can provide great comfort in times of duress.
Our Shepherd: Lord of every storm we face in life
Again, there is nothing the Trinity cannot do. In Mark 4:35-41, Jesus protected His disciples from a fierce storm by simply commanding the storm to “Quiet down!”:
“That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”(Mark 4:35-41).
The disciples saw Jesus asleep and presumably thought the Shepherd was going to delay too long in protecting them. We are in the midst of the storm and haven’t experienced yet God’s deliverance and might also believe He will fail us. We may say to ourselves: “Lord, I’m going to drown! Where are you? Are you asleep?” However, Jesus tested the faith of the disciples and came at the perfect moment; He will also always do the same for us too. He simply commands the storm, either the external storm or the one inside us, to cease, and it is gone. So why doesn’t the Shepherd save us sooner, but instead seem to be asleep to us, like He initially was with the disciples in Mark 4:35-41?
Jesus could have saved the disciples but He waited because He had a perfect reason. By waiting for the storm to get really bad, it first tested the faith of the disciples, and it secondly allowed the disciples to witness a miracle of Jesus – the storm ceased after Jesus commanded it to do so. The disciples grew in its faith as they learned the miraculous power of the Almighty God Jesus in action. They witnessed a miracle: a storm stopped after a man told it to stop. They then realized the glory of God; how great and powerful He is. If Christ spared them of that trial, the disciples’ faith would not have expanded, because they would not have seen the glory of God in action. But because Jesus waited, since that event, people like me and you who read that passage of Mark 4:35-41, have been given the opportunity to hear of the Shepherd in action, taking care of His sheep. Think of the countless lives the “peace be still story” has transformed, as spiritual fruit has been produced from the writings of Mark 4:35-41, all because Jesus chose to wait until the perfect moment. God wants His glory to be revealed to the world, so He waits for the perfect moment, either to strengthen your faith, so you can face bigger giants in the future, and or because, He wants people to witness a miracle done by Him.
In your life, you will face storms of life. In some of them, you may be crying out: “Teacher, don’t you care if I drown?” And in the midst of anxiety and fear, the Shepherd will wait in His perfect timing, to deliver you through the trial. But He may arrive later than when our anxiety desires, so we can learn to trust Him and the rest of the world can be able to witness the glory of God at work in your life. But like He did for the disciples, and to every other sheep, the Shepherd will never fail to be on time, or fail to be effective in providing you perfect provision and protection from life struggles.
Rejoicing in the midst of trials
The apostle Paul tells us: “Rejoice always, pray continually, in all things give thanks” (1 Thess 5:16-18).
Paul believed this in spite of great struggles: “Five different times the Jewish leaders gave me thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked. Once I spent a whole night and a day adrift at sea. I have traveled on many long journeys. I have faced danger from rivers and from robbers. I have faced danger from my own people, the Jews, as well as from the Gentiles. I have faced danger in the cities, in the deserts, and on the seas. And I have faced danger from men who claim to be believers but are not.I have worked hard and long, enduring many sleepless nights. I have been hungry and thirsty and have often gone without food. I have shivered in the cold, without enough clothing to keep me warm.
Then, besides all this, I have the daily burden of my concern for all the churches” (2 Corinthians 11:24-28).
Paul was a great saint and witness for God. His rejoicing and giving of thanks, especially during trials, revealed great character in Him, but more importantly, became a living example and model of how to live for God. His life certainly bore witness to the world of the glory of God.
In the future, dear Christian, you may have opportunities, in your troubles, to be a model that bears witness to Christ to this dying, lost world. Your life purpose can be used by God to reflect God’s glory to others. Will your life glorify God when people around you hear your beliefs, watch your decisions, and observe your responses to trials?
“And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13 NKJV).
Glorifying God happens when people see faith, hope, and love in our lives. We cannot let fear and selfish desires prevent us from fully reaching our life purpose, one that reveals God’s glory and light to those blinded by darkness. Love God and people and do what is right. Have sufficient hope and faith to overcome the stormy waves of life. Rely upon the Shepherd whose purpose is to provide, protect, and lead. And enjoy God in the process as we obey and surrender to Him. “To God, be the glory.”
God’s Evaluation Of Man In The Afterlife
Every human will be judged in the afterlife for every decision made during his or her lifetime. The unbeliever will be judged for every sin committed and experience eternal punishment in hell. The believer will also be judged to see what heavenly rewards he or she will inherit. Here are some verses about God’s evaluating man on judgement day.
“Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things” (Colossians 3:2).
“Each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire” (1 Corinthians 3:13-15)
“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.” (2 Corinthians 5:10)
“For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done.” (Matthew 16:27)
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also”. (Matthew 6:19-21)
“His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’” (Matthew 25:21)
“For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?” (Mark 8:36)
“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it”. (1 Cor 9:24)
God is glorified when His creation desires to praise Him
God is glorified when His creation desires to praise Him. As you have probably learned, God completely deserves to be praised and thanked. In this article, when I refer to praise, you can perhaps attribute to also giving thanks.
None of us praises God as we should. God is such a perfect God and we don’t praise Him enough. But He still loves us the same when we don’t, in comparison when we do. He is remarkably full of love, grace, goodness, and mercy.
God deserves our praise. His Son paid the penalty for our sins, and we escape hell, therefore. He chose to adopt us as His children. We sin repeatedly and He continues to declare us nonguilty. He chose to give us an inheritance in heaven. He gives us daily the opportunity to serve God in order to earn heavenly rewards. He listens and answers our prayers in wisdom and in love. He is faithfulness in provision, protection, and guidance. Only He can do the impossible. Only He can completely satisfy our longings. We always have everything we need. He strengthens our courage when we afraid. When we leave Him, He patiently waits for our return. Only He pre-existed, only He can create the heavens and earths with such precision and perfection. He is always sovereign and in control, even when chaos and instability is at its worse. No one can completely comprehend the thoughts and intentions of God. When we abide, He gives us overabundant joy and happiness. Every time we fall and fail, He lovingly and patiently picks us up back on our feet and says “try again.” His law is perfect, providing justice and guiding us toward further holiness. He is perfectly holy, truth, mercy, grace, sovereignty, immutability, always keeps His promises, faithful, goodness, patience, joy, peace, longsuffering, self-control, omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent, wise, caring, loving, to name a few. I can go forever in listing reasons to praise God, and I still would come nowhere even remotely close of listing one percent of all His good attributes.
Not only should we praise God because He infinitely deserves it, but by us doing so, it gives us enjoyment. C.S. Lewis once wrote: “But the most obvious fact about praise — whether of God or any thing — strangely escaped me. I thought of it in terms of compliment, approval, or the giving of honor. I had never noticed that all enjoyment spontaneously overflows into praise unless (sometimes even if) shyness or the fear of boring others is deliberately brought in to check it. The world rings with praise — lovers praising their mistresses, readers their favorite poet, walkers praising the countryside, players praising their favorite game — praise of weather, wines, dishes, actors, motors, horses, colleges, countries, historical personages, children, flowers, mountains, rare stamps, rare beetles, even sometimes politicians or scholars. I had not noticed how the humblest, and at the same time most balanced and capacious, minds, praised most, while the cranks, misfits and malcontents praised least . . .
I had not noticed either that just as men spontaneously praise whatever they value, so they spontaneously urge us to join them in praising it: “Isn’t she lovely? Wasn’t it glorious? Don’t you think that magnificent?” The Psalmists in telling everyone to praise God are doing what all men do when they speak of what they care about. My whole, more general, difficulty about the praise of God depended on my absurdly denying to us, as regards the supremely Valuable, what we delight to do, what indeed we can’t help doing, about everything else we value.
I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation. It is not out of compliment that lovers keep on telling one another how beautiful they are; the delight is incomplete till it is expressed. (Reflections on the Psalms)
Since God is the greatest object to admire, more elegant and beautiful than all of creation, then to admire and praise Abba Father would be “’simply to be awake’, to have entered the real world, while not doing so would be to become far more profoundly crippled than those who are blind, deaf, and bedridden”. ”When we find something admirable or fascinating, we have the instinctive desire to tell someone about it”. Praising something we enjoy “completes the enjoyment”. If we delight in God, then we should praise Him, not just to reaffirm His glory, but so we can fully enjoy Him in the process.
We will never praise God as we should. Part of the reason is we will never comprehend how great He is. Another reason is that we are flawed creatures because of our sinful natures, and because of that, we don’t love God supremely. Because of our cravings to satisfy the flesh, we will never love God as much as we should until we go to heaven. We still have idols to cling to, we have selfish desires, we still have some pride in us. However, God still loves us the same as if we loved Him completely with all our hearts, minds, and souls. He still and always will treat us like the father did in the prodigal son story. That is because He is perfectly holy, love, longsuffering, grace, faithfulness, and mercy. That is why He is God, flawless, indescribable, and incomparable. He definitely deserves our praise, so let’s try to do the best we can to praise Him, again not just to be reverent by appreciating His glory, but also do it for our own enjoyment.
“Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together!” (Psalm 34:3)
God’s Will: Finding Guidance For Everyday Decisions, J.I Packer.
Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy With God, Timothy Keller.