Sunday, October 8, 2017

GLORIFYING GOD

GLORIFYING GOD
John 17:1-5 
Introduction: At a ceremony in Washington, D.C., on Dec. 6, 2001, Billy Graham received an honorary knighthood from Sir Christopher Meyer, the British Ambassador to the U.S., on behalf of Queen Elizabeth II. In this excerpt from his address, Billy Graham speaks about the great honor and gives all the glory to God: “I especially want to ask you, sir, to convey to Her Majesty the Queen, my deepest gratitude for the high honor she has graciously bestowed upon me this evening.  I accept it with humility and unworthiness.
            I read a quote that appeared in The Daily News in 1903 about Queen Victoria.  After hearing the dean preach a sermon about Christ’s return to earth, Queen Victoria said, “Oh how I wish that the Lord might come during my lifetime.”  When the dean asked her why, she replied, “I should like to lay my crown at His feet.”  And that’s the way I feel tonight about any honors that may come to me.  I’d like to lay it at His feet and plan to do it some day and at my age it won’t be too long.
            In the same way, I want to give God all the glory and all the praise for what has been accomplished in my life and those of my family and associates that are here tonight.  I, too, look forward to the day when I can see Jesus face to face and lay at His feet any honor I’ve ever received because He deserves it all.” Here is a noble man who knew how to truly Honor God.
            Last week we began to unpack our mission statement at Hope Church that reads: “Glorifying God by becoming devoted followers of Jesus.” We will look at the ultimate example of Jesus, to understand what it is glorify God, how Jesus glorified the father and how we might glorify God in this postmodern world where you and I are called to represent Christ.

GLORIFYING GOD! John 17:1-5
            Last week we looked at how God’s glory was manifested in nature and his creation, and how God wanted man to give him the glory that is due to Him. How can we mere mortals glorify God? Can anyone of us add anything to the splendor, and majesty of God? Then what does it mean to glorify God? Let’s refresh our memory again. What is glory? The Hebrew word Kabowd means, weight, honor esteem, glory, abundance and wealth. The Greek word, doxa from where we get the word doxology, means: appearance, reputation, glory, recognition honor and renown.
            In John chapter seventeen, Jesus offered a prayer which is known as the high priestly prayer. Jesus prayed this just prior to his going to Gethsemane, where He became the High priest offering Himself as the pure sacrifice. He prayed this prayer, for himself, for the disciples, and for all of us only hours before His betrayal, arrest, flogging, shameful ridicule and crucifixion.

I.  A PATH WAY TO GLORIFYING GOD.
            Vs1-2 “After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed: “Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him.”
            These two verses talk about the intimate relationship Jesus cherished with God the father in heaven, and the goal of Jesus’ coming to the earth and the path he took to accomplish that goal. When Jesus said, father the hour has come, glorify (honor) your son, so that your son will glorify (honor) you, he was talking about his imminent death which ultimately would glorify the son. The goal is that the father may be glorified.
            In Hebrews we read how this plan of glorifying God has worked out “But we do see Jesus, who was made lower than the angels for a little while, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone. In bringing many sons and daughters to glory..” Hebrews 2:9-10
            Jesus Christ came into the world to reveal the glory of God to man, “No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made him known.” John 1:18. The apostle Paul refers God’s glory to the hidden mystery which was made visible in Jesus Christ, “the mystery that has been hidden throughout the ages and generations but has now been revealed to his saints. To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Col 1:26-27
            If it was not for Jesus we would not know the essence of God’s glory let alone how to give him the glory. Jesu showed us what it means to glorify God through his exemplary living. Paul writing to the Philippines encourages them to have the same attitude of Jesus Christ. “Who, being in every nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing taking the very nature of a servant…humbled himself and became obedient to death even death on a cross.” Philippians 2:1-9.
            When we look at the life Jesus, he always did what he saw his father was doing. He lived and died and rose again in obedience to his father’s will. That obedience did not come automatically, he needed to learn through all that he suffered. Jesus was crowned with glory and honor which has always been there. Jesus brought glory to the father by completing the work of salvation, when he said it is finished on the cross.
            But that was not the end, after he rose from the dead, he was ascended to heaven, since that time he has not stopped working to bring many of his sons and daughters to glory. You and I and all those who are born again belong to that list of the ones who are being glorified. Since Jesus glorified God through his death, and God glorified him by raising him from the dead. Jesus sent his disciples to complete the remaining work of taking the good news of salvation to all four corners of the earth. Now the remaining work of glorifying God is left to us, his Church.
            The path way of glorifying God is marked with suffering, humility and obedience. Jesus, the son of God set the pace for us. The only way we can ever come to glorify God is through our humility, obedience and suffering, even if it means dying for the sake of the gospel.

II. WHAT IT MEANS TO GLORIFY GOD
            It is hard to wrap our minds fully around all the glorious aspects of God’s glory. The Greek word, doxa also means honor, praise or to esteem. When we say we glorify God one way we are saying we are honoring, showing reverence and esteeming him above all else. Keeping these aspects in mind let’s now read this verse again “Father the hour has come, honor your son, so that your son will honor you.” When Jesus said, the hour has come, he was referring to the time of his imminent death on the cross and followed by his resurrection was at hand. Vs, 4 “I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do. And now father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.”
            Jesus honored God by completing the work he was given to do on the earth, that was to bring salvation to all people. God honored Jesus by raising him from the dead (Acts 2:24). God honored him by esteeming him on high, “Therefore, God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,” Philippians 2:9-10.
            Can you imagine the weight, the scope, and implications of the name of Jesus that is greater than any other name? These days there is a controversy about taking a knee, but there will come a time when all the people in the world, including our president, and the world leaders will bow before Jesus, some out of reverence and others out of utter shame. How else God has honored his son?
            “The Father handed all authority to judge over to the Son so that the Son will be honored equally with the Father. Anyone who dishonors the Son, dishonors the Father, for it was the Father’s decision to put the Son in the place of honor.” John 5:22-23 (The Message). We know a thing or two about honor. We want our kids get into honor rolls in their education, we admire sports people who enter the hall of fame. We honor the firemen, police and the first responders who risk their lives. We honor our veterans, and those who are currently serving in the army.
            We stand up in respect and honor of our flag whenever it is raised, especially during the singing of the national anthem. When just mere humans of this earth are getting that much honor, and praise how much more our God the creator of the universe deserve honor? But where is the honor that is due to God? What does honoring God look like?

III. A FEW PRACTICAL WAYS OF HONORING GOD.
            Here I suggest a few practical ways whereby we at Hope Church can honor Jesus. By surrendering our whole life to him if you haven’t yet already done so. By practicing the empowering presence of God. By engaging in God exalting worship. We honor God when we recognize all good things, including our very own breath comes from our father and give him praise and glory for all who God is and all he has done, is doing and will continue to do.
            We honor him by committing ourselves to become healthy disciples. God is honored when we sharing the good news of the gospel with our family, friends and neighbors. We honor God when we esteem on another and not to judge, or gossip about one another.
            We honor God by giving and receiving forgiveness. We honor him with our tithes, offerings, and using our God given talents to serve one another, without complaining and grumbling We honor God by becoming Salt in the community and by letting our light shine through good works, people seeing our good works will honor our Father in heaven.
            Finally, we honor him when we live in unity and love one another. Listen to the word of Jesus, “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35. As we leave this morning, let’s take these words of Jesus to heart. It is not through our preaching, evangelistic efforts, or works of service people will see us as the followers of Christ, though they all have a place in the kingdom of God, but it is through our love for one another. If we love Jesus, then we must obey his commandments.
            How your love for Jesus is reflecting in your love for your fellow brother or sister in our Hope Church Family? I want to challenge all of us to make a firm commitment t to live out our mission statement that reads, “Glorifying (Honoring) God by becoming devoted followers of Jesus. Let’s honor one another by doing so we will be honoring God. Next week we will look into what it means to be a devoted follower of Jesus Christ. Amen



Sunday, October 1, 2017

THE HEAVENS DECLARE THE GLORY OF GOD

THE HEAVENS DECLARE THE GLORY OF GOD
Psalm 19:1-6, 
Introduction: Let me begin with some words from the famous American colonial missionary to the Indians, David Brainerd, who died at the age of twenty-nine. His diary reveals a young man intensely committed to God. Brainerd once said to Jonathan Edwards:  I do not go to heaven to be advanced but to give honor to God. It is no matter where I shall be stationed in heaven, whether I have a high seat or a low seat there. My heaven is to please God and glorify Him, and give all to Him, and to be wholly devoted to His glory."
            The greatest musician of the 1700 AD Johann Sebastian Bach said, "All music should have no other end and aim than the glory of God and the soul's refreshment; where this is not remembered there is no real music but only a devilish hub-bub." At the beginning of every authentic manuscript one will find the letters “J.J.” This stands for Jesu Java (Jesus help me). At the end of each original manuscript you will find the letters “S.D.G.” This stands for Soli Deo Gloria (to the glory of God).
            Brainerd and Bach remind us of our ultimate purpose in life and in the life to come is not to live for ourselves but to live to glorify the one and only God, the father of us all who is worthy of all glory and power. Our mission statement at Hope Church reminds us every week of this very fact: “Glorifying God by becoming devoted followers of Jesus.” Do we really know and understand the depth and the scope of our mission statement?
            When people see or hear our mission statement they may think what a lofty statement. It may sound great but it would do nothing if it remains on the Church board outside or on the bulletin. But it can make all the difference when we understand what it means to glorify God, and what it takes to become a devoted follower of Jesus.
            Before we look at what is to glorify God we need to understand what is the glory of God and how is it manifested in the world, and why we should give glory back to God in all that we do. Let’s begin our Journey. Psalm 19:1-6

I. WHAT IS GOD’S GLORY?
            It is very difficult to define what the glory of God really is. It is like defining the word Beauty. We say something or someone is beautiful because we see them. We can point. But if we try to explain beauty in words it would be very difficult. Similarly, when it comes to explaining the glory of God. In the Biblical history people after seeing the powerful manifestation of God’s glory, fell short of words in explaining it. All they could come up with two words.
            The Hebrew word Kabowd means, weight, honor esteem, glory, abundance and wealth. The Greek word, doxa from where we get the word doxology, means: appearance, reputation, glory, recognition belonging to a person, honor and renown. It also means, magnificence, splendor, grandeur, majesty, and greatness often attributed to God.
            John Piper attempts to explain this difficult concept, “The glory of God is the infinite beauty and greatness of God’s manifold perfections. The infinite beauty and I am focusing on the manifestation of his character and his worth and his attributes, all of his perfections and greatness are beautiful as they are seen, and there are many of them.”
            In essence the glory of God is, all that comprise of who God was, is and is to come, and what he did, is doing and all that he will be doing during his final revelation. Let’s see how God’s glory is manifested in the nature, in mankind and in His Son Jesus Christ our Lord.
            When we look at the star light sky in the night or clear bright blue sky in the day, what comes to our mind? When we look at the luscious green valleys, or colorful flowers, beautifully snow caped majestic white mountains, who do you think created this beautiful world?
            How absurd it is for anyone to think that all these wonderful wonders came into existence by chance or due to a BIG bang in the cosmos?  Or may be a better way to respond is to say what a splendid world we are living in, who is the architect and the sustainer of this wonderful world, how do I get to know Him? Well we, see the handiwork of God, in all that he has created.

II. THE NATURE SHOUTS GOD’S GLORY
            “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun. It is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, like a champion rejoicing to run his course. It rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other; nothing is deprived of its warmth.” Psalm 19:1-6
            The heavens are telling the glory of God and the skies are speaking of the work of his hands. What does that mean? It means God is shouting at us. He shouts with clouds. He shouts with blue expanse. He shouts with gold on the horizons. He shouts with galaxies and stars. The Psalmist is saying, in this passage, “Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.” The heavens are shouting that God is glorious. God is shouting at us through all that he has made saying I am glorious. Are we opening our eyes and see this marvelous creation of God? Are we opening our ears to hear God’s voice shouting through his creation?

III. THE PEOPLE DECLARE GOD’S GLORY
            Not only God is the master architect who designed this wonderful earth for us to call our home, but he also sustains it by his powerful hand. Among all his handworks, he created man, and endowed him with his glory, so that they will declare and reveal his glory on the earth.
            The Psalmist was amazed at the wonder of man was created, “When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them? You have made them a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honor.” Psalm 8:35
            That was how God created man, so that man can reflect and represent God’s glory on the earth. But man sinned against God and had fallen short of God’s glory God got involved again to display his power and glory to man through his wondrous works so that man will glorify Him.
            “O give thanks to the Lord, call on his name, make known his deeds among the peoples. Sing to him, sing praises to him, tell of all his wonderful works. Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice. Seek the Lord and his strength, seek his presence continually. Remember the wonderful works he has done, his miracles, and the judgments he uttered, O offspring of his servant Israel, children of Jacob, his chosen ones.” I Chron 16:8-13
            Let’s recount some of God’s wonderful works:  Sending unbearable plagues on Egyptians to let them see the power of God.  Parting of the red sea so that his people could walk on a dry ground. Bringing water from the rock and feeding 600,000 people for 40 years with food from heaven, breaking down the walls of Jericho, conquering the land of Canaan to mention a few.
           
            The Israelites witnessed these awesome acts of God, so one would think that they would be grateful, right? Yet they failed to recognize and give God the glory. This Psalm one way was a rebuke and a call to repentance. Elsewhere the Psalmist laments, He saved them from the hand of the foe; from the hand of the enemy he redeemed them. The waters covered their adversaries; not one of them survived. Then they believed his promises and sang his praise. But they soon forgot what he had done and did not wait for his plan to unfold…. They exchanged their glorious God for an image of a bull, which eats grass.” Psalm 106:10-2-

III ARE WE DECLARING GOD’S GLORY?
            So far, we talked about, what the glory of God is like, how the nature declared God’s glory, and how His people who were redeemed and set free from bondage, quickly turned away and exchanged God’s glory to an image of a bull, which eats grass. What is going through your mind as you hear this message? Are you declaring God’s glory as you were meant to?
            Living in a postmodern world it is very hard for us to recognize the work of God in our lives let alone to pause and give him the glory and praise. Weather we admit or not we all are being jaded, tired, bored, and lacking enthusiasm when it comes to worshipping the true and living God. What can we attribute this modern-day malady that seem to be affecting all of us?
            Pete Scazerro in Emotionally Healthy Spirituality says, “the global culture like a beast threatens to swallow us these days. The core values of the twenty first century tend to scream at us for attention for example computers, billboards, televisions, DVDs, I pods, music, schools, newspapers, movies, magazines and so on.” We falsely believe the notion that happiness is found in having things, the more things we have the more we will be happy. We work hard, sacrifice relationships in order to acquire things but in the end, we are more dissatisfied than before.
            How can we say no to the pressures this culture is putting on us? It can only happen when we can regain what was the original purpose that God created us for. Let, me reiterate what I said, earlier, our ultimate purpose in life and in the life to come is not to live for ourselves but to live to glorify God. That’s why St. Augustine cried out, “Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord and our heart is restless until we find rest in thee.” I want to challenge you with these questions. What is truly valuable to you? Who are you living for? Are your restless? Have you discovered the purpose for which God has created you? Are you willing to keep God at the center of your life, and worship him in spirit and truth, giving him all the glory? Amen