What Does 'For God's Glory' Look Like?

How we understand and interact with God's glory is important. 
Trying to define His glory is hard, but in essence it is the unsurpassed essence and beauty of His eternal spirit, the beauty that comes from His character and attributes. God’s glory is His splendor and greatness, we can do more and more to honor Him.
It’s not enough to say “do all to the glory of God” if we don’t understand what that means.
Here are eight things the Lord is teaching me about His glory and how I can live to the praise of His glory.
1. God is Worthy of Glory and Honor.
God alone deserves our highest praise. In one of the most beautiful scenes in Revelation (4:10-11), the 24 elders fall down before God and say He is worthy to “receive glory and honor.” Initially, I remember thinking, “Aren’t they the same?” No, they are closely related, but not quite the same.
GLORY refers to the inherent, intrinsic worth of God. What we see of His glory in the world is simply a small mirror reflection of who He is. And when we see this reflection, our desire as believers should be to demonstrate who He is to the world. We bring Him glory by highlighting or magnifying His character and attributes so there’s no mistaking He is God.
To HONOR God means to esteem Him as valuable, and this “esteeming” swells up within us. God desires honor from the heart (Isaiah 29:13). 
I can demonstrate the high regard I have for Him as I delight in Him (Psalm 37:4), sing praises and worship Him, and also through the choices I make that reflect the high and holy place He has in my life.

"For of Him and through Him 
and to Him are all things, 
to whom be glory forever. Amen" 
(Romans 11:36).
2. God Desired to Show His Glory.
In the Old Testament, the mercy seat was seen as God’s “throne” of glory on earth (Leviticus 16:2; 2 Samuel 6:2; Psalm 80:1; 99:1); and His “Shekinah glory” was revealed in Exodus 33 at the Tent of Meeting (vv. 7-10).
Shekinah indicates the “dwelling” or settling in of God’s divine presence with His people so they are aware of it. Moses asked to see God’s glory up close (vv. 17-18), and God allowed His servant to see just a part of that glory (vv. 19-23). The Bible says after that encounter, Moses’ face shined from the glory of God (Exodus 34:29-35). 
Clearly, God’s glory has the power to affect us!
But it wasn’t just God’s people who saw the glory of God’s presence. The Egyptian army understood God’s Shekinah glory was not to be resisted! (Exodus 14:24-25)
In a New Testament manifestation, Colossians 2:9 tells us Jesus is the visible dwelling place of God’s glory, and Jesus said of Himself, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9).
3. God Will Not “Share” His Glory.
Oprah Winfrey once said she was upset to read God is a “jealous” God. She started thinking God was angry and only cared about rules and control. But her theology about the jealousy of God was a bit skewed. 
Not understanding the reasons for Gods jealousy can affect how we think about His glory.
God is jealous as the lover of our souls. In the words of pastor and Christian apologist Mark Coppenger, “The Lord simply will not tolerate our ‘dating around.” He doesn’t want us to flirt with false gods and worship idols (Exodus 20:5), because He is the only true God and will not share His glory with others (Isaiah 42:8). He is jealous—protective and vigilant—about His glory (Romans 1:21-25).
We “steal” God’s glory when we give credit to creatures rather than the Creator, when we “exchange” the glory of God for the “glory of man,” or worship anything other than the Lord. We need to remember God is the “King of Glory” (Psalm 24:7-10), and as such, He should be taken seriously.
4. God Created Us to Glorify Him.
God made us with this purpose in mind, that we might live to “the praise of His glory” (Isaiah 43:7; Ephesians 1:12). One of the ways it might be said we “glorify” God is in the characteristics we possess that are like Him (love, patience, etc.). Yet we are only created “jars of clay,” fragile vessels that simply contain His glory—His light shining in our hearts (2 Corinthians 4:6-7).
All of nature shows forth His glory and points us to the Creator (Psalm 19:1-4).
A natural question to be asked is, “How do I give God glory if it’s all His anyway?” The answer is found in 1 Chronicles 16:28-29. We are to “ascribe” or attribute glory to God because it is due to Him. We give Him credit for who He is and what He has done—or as I once said after God showed up and showed off in my life, “I chalk that up to God alone!”
It should be our heart cry every day that God’s holy presence will flood our lives, reminding us to testify to others about His glory and power.
5. God Wants Us to Glorify Him in Everything.
Paul tells us to glorify God in 1 Corinthians 10:31: “whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” That “whatever” means everything! So how can we glorify Him in all things?
We glorify God when we honor Him with our heart, soul, mind and strength (Deuteronomy 6:5; Mark 12:30) as an expression of our love for Him. Our thoughts are Godward (Psalm 1:1-2) and grounded in scripture (Psalm 119:11) so we can make godly, wise choices.
This requires our whole heart, our full commitment, to the Lord (Colossians 3:23). Glorifying God means remembering who we serve, who is in charge. Paul used the example a Christian slave working for a human master when he explained we’re to do everything as if serving Jesus (v. 24).
As we try to navigate what will glorify God, we need to take care to ask Him for wisdom (James 1:5). Not everything we can do will be beneficial to us or please the Lord (1 Corinthians 10:23; Colossians 1:10). Paul specifically taught the principle of honoring God in our bodies (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).
1 Chronicles 16:28-29, which talks about ascribing glory to God, also says to “bring an offering” and worship Him. Our offering involves our obedience and submission to Him as well as agreeing with what He says about Himself (Isaiah 42:5; Psalm 19:7; 103:17-18; John 14:15).
6. Jesus Modeled Glorifying the Father.
While on earth Jesus lived to glorify His Father in heaven by pleasing Him and finishing the work the Father gave Him to do (John 4:34; 8:29). He used scripture to defeat Satan’s temptations (Matthew 4:1-11) and live a righteous life.
In the same way, we bring honor to God by seeking to please Him and finish the tasks He ordained beforehand for us to do (Ephesians 2:10; 5:10). We learn and use scripture to defeat our wily enemy (Psalm 119:11; Ephesians 6:10-12, 16-17)
7. Evaluating Our Lives Helps Us Honor God.
My friend Pam Farrel repeatedly told her sons and now tells audiences, “God honors those who honor Him.” 
If we want to honor the Lord, we will be careful to evaluate our lives every day so we can understand what might be standing in the way of esteeming and honoring Him.
Asking ourselves questions is a good place to start. For instance, we might ask:
·         Am I filled with the Spirit today? Am I walking in the Spirit so I will not “fulfill the lusts of the flesh”? (Ephesians 5:18; Galatians 5:16)
·         Am I practicing faith? (Hebrews 11:6)
·         Am I a “living sacrifice” that pleases the Lord? (Romans 12:1)
A one-time spiritual evaluation isn't enough. 
We need to consider our hearts for glory-stoppers every day.
8. The believer is headed for “Glory Land.”
Even though we can see parts of His glory in nature and especially in people who know Him, this beauty fades away in one sense (Psalm 49:17), because all earthly, material things—except for the Word of God and the souls of people—fade away. 
All present glories decline or fail us; only God’s glory is eternal.
But someday the believer will “know fully” (1 Corinthians 13:12). The Shekinah glory will no longer be veiled (1 John 3:2).
We say people have gone “home to glory” or are being “received unto glory” when they die (Psalm 73:24). But what we’re actually saying is they are being taken into God’s glorious presence, where His beauty resides. Everything that fades or fails in this life—like love, power, beauty, courage and talents—will be perfected in Christ in heaven.
“Face to face in all His glory, I shall see Him by and by!” 
“Oh that will be glory for me.”
How do you know your life is bringing glory and honor to the Lord today? Got any glory-stoppers?


Yes, God Does Hate Stuff. Do I?

I almost didn't post this, afraid some might think I'm "too negative."

But then I read a passage in the book of Numbers that I've never seen before and it hit me hard. So hard that I had to share. (More about that later.)

There are plenty of admonitions in scripture about avoiding evil—rejecting wickedness and staying clear of anything that would contaminate us, hinder our lives and ministry, or dishonor the Lord.

One that comes to mind is Proverbs 4:15: "Avoid it, do not pass by it; Turn away from it and pass on." (NASB)

That's pretty clear, I'd say!

Solomon says, "Give a wide birth to sin ... don't even think about it! Turn away and keep moving."

Wise counsel.

Paul also has much to say about avoiding evil and wickedness.

When we love the Lord with all our heart, soul, strength and mind, and allow that to overflow into love for others (Luke 10:27), we will become more sensitive to the things God hates.
We can avoid evil without becoming legalistic if we focus on pursuing God from a heart of love and surrender.
If we truly love God as He desires, we will want to please Him, and that will be a work of grace in our hearts.

I've thought much about my zeal for God in recent days. I used to think about zeal as working harder and harder for Him. But that's missing the greater meaning.

In Numbers 25, Phinehas, the grandson of the priest, Aaron, was one of the few people in ancient Israel who had such zeal for God that God honored him.

And why was he honored?

From verses 10-13 (LB): "...he was as angry as I, concerning my honor...."

The backstory:

  • Israeli men were partying with young Moabite girls and eventually stooped to worship their idols, kindling God's anger.
  • One Israeli even dared to bring a Midianite girl into the Israeli camp, right in front of Moses and others as they were weeping at the door of the Tabernacle—brokenhearted over Israel's sin!
  • God reacted with judgment, but one man, Phinehas, was zealous for the Lord's honor. He realized it was no small thing to trifle with what God had so clearly said He hated, and he wanted to uphold God's reputation for holiness in the land.

When I read the story of Phinehas, I wondered, "Lord, do I hate the things you hate?"

I've come to love so many of the things God loves as I've focused on seeking Him. But I think I have a long way to be as zealous as Phinehas in hating what God hates.

Some of the things God says—with certainty—He hates or dislikes:

It is sad how people in today's culture try to argue or rationalize away what God says He hates.

It's tempting to lessen our zeal for God under the guise of tolerance or modern "sensibilities."

I am grateful for grace. I am grateful I am not "under the law" as the Old Testament Jews were.

Yet God's holiness never changes. 

Instead of kicking against the prodding of the Holy Spirit that urges me toward holiness, I need to pursue God and ask Him for the wisdom to know what would please Him and then instantly, completely and cheerfully obey (James 1:5).

What would please God? Here are just a few ideas:

Do you struggle with a certain sin? Can you honestly say you hate it like Father God hates it? Or are you rationalizing it—tolerating it? Are you pursuing God and earnestly desiring to please Him?

Ask the Holy Spirit to tenderize your heart and help you see your sins the way He sees them.  

Remember the standard: God wants to make you more like Jesus.

Graphic adapted, courtesy of John Hain at Pixabay.


Start Again, but THIS time ...

To be honest, I stopped making New Year's resolutions years ago. My hashtag now is #NewYearResolutionsNOT.

But that doesn't mean I don't take time to stop and reflect, observe and correct—and pursue a fresh start in so many areas of my life.

I like goals... not resolutions.

But that doesn't mean I can't approach those goals with resolution! And that doesn't mean I can't take those goals to the Lord every day and admit my total dependence on Him.

It's taken me many years to even begin realizing: Apart from Jesus, I can do nothing! (John 15:5)

I have no doubt many things would change if I would remember that every single day.

It's not so much about making huge changes in my life as it is listening to the Lord, learning from my mistakes and tweaking my choices to better serve God, others, and even my own legitimate needs.

For example:

1. This year, I'm starting my Bible reading plan again; but this time I'm forgetting about all the "shoulds" and focusing on delighting in and pleasing the Lord as I read. It's too easy for me to get caught up in perfectionism and make my reading a matter of performance and "checking it off my list.

So what is my reading plan for 2018? Keep moving forward on what I started last year. Be faithful.

2. This year, I'm noticing what hindered my health choices in 2017; but this time I'm challenging myself to slay those dragons, or at least locked them up and give the Lord the key.

For me, it's all about daily surrender so the Lord can conquer my gluttony addiction.

3. This year, I'm finally writing a book. I thought about this for years, but this time I'm actually setting in motion a plan of action for bite-sized productivity. 

The truth is, I've been a great starter for years. And a lousy finisher. So this time, to help me facilitate my goals, last week I started reading Finish: Give Yourself the Gift of Done by Jon Acuff.

That one choice was amazing, eye-opening and motivating.
So ... my New Year's advice for my friends?
If you don't do anything else in the New Year, get Finish and read it. Don't quit the book until you finish it (HA!). And put what you read into action!
I think that will help you with whatever else you decide to do in 2018.

If we don't stop, be still and consider 
what hindered us last year, 
and ponder what needs to change, 
we'll likely repeat last year's poor choices.

I don't want that. You probably don't either.

Finishing should not be a foreign topic for Christians.
  • Paul urges us to "press on toward the goal" for our reward (Philippians 3:14).
  • He also says, don't grow weary of doing good so you can reap at the right time (Galatians 6:9).
  • We must count the cost for pursuing our goal (Luke 14:28-30).
  • And throw off hindrances and sins that hold us back from the "finish line" (Hebrews 12:1).
  • The good news is, we can trust the Lord to complete His work in us, one day at a time (Philippians 1:6).
  • But we're not to become lazy. We need to put forth our very best effort—cooperating with the Lord and striving to please Him! (Colossians 3:23)
It's almost 2018. And it's never too early to say, "Finish well!"

What will you do differently THIS time?


Hallelujah! Our Savior Prays for Those He Came to Save.

When mothers, fathers and relatives see a newborn, they often dream of what their child may become someday.
"Will my daughter be a great artist... or a scientist?" 
"Will my son be a teacher... or a baseball player?"

I wonder if Mary and Joseph thought ahead to the days when Jesus would be a man. 

We do know Mary "pondered" and treasured many things in her heart.

We get a glimpse into her ponderings:
  • She pondered the angel Gabriel's words about her pregnancy (Luke 1:26-38). She said, "How can this be....?"
  • She pondered the Shepherds' testimony about her newborn son (Luke 2:8-21). 
  • Some years later, she would treasure her Son's own words as they left the Temple together (Luke 2:51).
Feeling so greatly blessed, she understood something of the greatness her Son would someday manifest from his humble birth (Luke 1:46-49).

But I wonder whether she fully understood, until perhaps after Jesus went to the cross, that her son would also be her Intercessor.

In His great High Priestly prayer, Jesus prayed for those who followed Him while He was on earth, as well as those who would believe through their testimony (John 17:20-23).

The writer of Hebrews said of our Lord, "...he always lives to make intercession" for those who draw near to God through Him (Hebrews 7:25). Though His work was "finished" on the cross (John 19:30b), His loving care for His own continues throughout eternity. 

We were not only saved by His death, but by His life (Romans 5:10); and now our exalted Lord is interceding for us before God's throne (Romans 8:34) as our great Advocate—always pleading our case—when the accuser, our enemy, comes against us before the Father (1 John 2:1). He is our all-wise and worthy Mediator (1 Timothy 2:5).

This great work on our behalf should cause us to bow before the Lord in unending gratitude and give us courage to ask great things (Matthew 21:22; 1 John 5:14; John 14:13; 16:24; Hebrews 4:16).

As the great Scottish preacher, Robert Murray McCheyne, said:

"If I could hear Christ 
praying for me in the next room,
I would not fear a million enemies. 
Yet distance makes no difference. 
He is praying for me."

Did Mary and Joseph fathom the extent of Jesus' great work on our behalf? Did they understand He would be their Mediator and Intercessor?

Regardless, we know... because the Bible tells us so.

Our Savior prays for those He came to save!
And because of Him,
we can come boldly to God's throne of grace.


Cleaning Out the Christmas Clutter

I opened up box after box of Christmas decorations this year and sighed.

"When was the last time I used that?" I said. "And that. And that!"

Year after year, I have re-packed Christmas-y items that I never used. I just couldn't seem to part with them.

But this year, I changed my perspective and took action.

As I unloaded the "Christmas boxes" and put up the tree and all the decor around the house, whenever I came across a never- or seldom-used holiday item, I set it aside temporarily.  

Then I followed a plan.

I decided:

1. To throw out everything that was broken beyond repair.
2. To mend anything that was still usable and potentially "keep-able."
3. To ask my children and nieces if they wanted the things that are still nice, useful or heritage-based.
4. If they didn't want them, the items would be donated to a women's club who sells things—even Christmas things—in January. The women use the funds to contribute to college scholarships for high school seniors in their town.

Less stuff just makes more sense. 
Release it and let it go!

Releasing things makes sense spiritually too.
I'm asking the Lord to help me clear out the clutter in my life that obscures seeing and worshiping Him. 
What kind of clutter?

1. I need to examine the clutter in my CALENDAR.

Instead of taking time to be still and meditate on why Jesus came and what He is doing in my life, it's off to another concert... off to another party... off to whatever!

Busyness does not contribute to godliness at any time; and "crazy-busy" gets in the way of our celebration of the Lord's birth.

Pursue peace. And if you're not sure what that looks like, talk to the Lord. He is not a God of confusion, but of peace (1 Corinthians 14:33a). Plan time to sit down and be still before the Lord so you can rise up to praise Him! (Psalm 46:10)

2. I need to examine the clutter in my PRIORITIES.

I need to get back to the basics: God, family, ministry.

Other things may be good. But when life gets busy, we have to focus on the best!

We don't want to honor the Lord only with our lips at Christmas, but also with our hearts (Matthew 15:8). Focus not so much on fleeting things that eventually fall apart; focus on things that are "above"—the things that are worthy and eternal (Colossians 3:1). Focus on Jesus! (Hebrews 12:1-2)

3. I need to examine the clutter in my CHECKBOOK.

Do I really need this thing or that? Does it truly contribute to Christmas joy, or will it simply be another thing to pay off later or even to regret purchasing.

Sometimes the things we think will be "treasures" end up being trinkets. And they steal away the focus of our hearts.

     "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also" (Matthew 6:21).

4. I need to examine the clutter in my ATTITUDES.

When stressful times come—and Christmas can be a stressful time—it's easy to get upset, "short" with family and friends, crabby and complaining.

I can let bad attitudes negatively color the environment and clutter what could be simple and beautiful. Or I can choose to respond in love and wisdom, giving people grace just as I would want grace too.

"Do all things without grumbling ... Let love be genuine..." (Philippians 2:14-15; Romans 12:9-10).

I encourage you to do what I'm doing—draw away from the busyness long enough to actually examine personal clutter.


We can get comfortable in our clutter and forget what life feels like without any clutter:

It feels like FREEDOM!

Is there some sort of "clutter" in your life? Can you "release it" and let it go so you can experience more freedom and joy?

I truly believe cleaning out the Christmas clutter will prepare our hearts for worshipful opportunities we might never imagine possible. 

Graphic adapted from a photo by Cheri Durbin at Morguefile.