All For Your Glory
(An Excerpt from the Sermon)
Sermon Series: UnPossible
You are part of an eternal kingdom that cannot be shaken. God possesses you and owns you, but there is no better Master because He always has your best interest in mind and what God does through the course of your life, when you think He's abandoned you, He's taking those things away that you think you can't live without. So you get to the end of yourself and glory primarily, only, and ultimately in Him. Because, when you do, then that shalom life, the inner peace, the inner joy comes your way.
Recently, my wife and I were talking – and I don't know why I do this, but sometimes men are a little bit in need of some words of affirmation. So I was talking to my wife, Robin and I said, “I was thinking, the other day, why I married you.” And she goes, “Why did you marry me?” I said, “Well, honey, number one, remember, I'm a guy. I'm unbelievably, physically attracted to you and it's still true today. It's just the way it is. You're beautiful. Your eyes are beautiful. When you go away like you did for a month, not too long ago, and when you come back, I realize how beautiful and gorgeous you really are and how lucky I am.” She shakes her head and I say to her, “Why'd you marry me?” Now when I said that, I was hoping to get: because you're unbelievably handsome, because I just can't see you enough. But instead, there's this long pause and I'm waiting. And I'm waiting. What is it? She has to think. Finally, in a slow, methodical way, she says, “Well, to tell you the truth, I married you because God brought us together.” That's all I got. Now that shows you her spiritual depth over my shallow feelings and emotions. But what she's basically saying is: I'm with you because I knew God made you for me and me for you.
Can I tell you something that I've been trying to say for a very long time? When I married Robin, I glorified and gloried in her. See, in my mind, at that time, she was my savior. Not from my sins, but I felt that when I got married, I'd have no more problems in my life. I'd never be lonely again. I'd have a relationship. I'd have someone in my corner. I would have someone to go through life with, to grow old together. Now five years into the marriage, you start to realize marriage is tough and the things, your expectations you place on your spouse, no man or woman can ever live up to. It's impossible. Then it dawns on you that marriage is going to take effort for the rest of your life and it's going to require give and take and grace and mercy.
I don't know at what age I realized that what I was asking of my wife was something only God could deliver. But let me tell you what happened. When I came to that realization, I stopped placing those kinds of pseudo savior thoughts onto Robin. I instead turned to God and said, God, I know that You're the only one that can give me what I'm looking for. Do you know what happened after that? I started loving my wife even more. Why?
You cannot be right with anything on the earth until you are ultimately right with God.
When you glorify most in Him, that's when He's most glorified, and when you're most satisfied in your relationship with Him. Then you relate to everything as you should. You don't try to get something out of it that it was never meant to deliver. So because God is jealous for you, He keeps trying to get you to turn your attention ultimately to Him, and then you'll relate to everything else in a healthy spiritual way.
So I'm telling you that until you're right with God, God is going to frustrate your lesser loves, that deal you lost, promotion, house, car, vacation, holiday, award, honor, notoriety. God did not abandon you, but was destroying your lesser loves so that you could turn to the one thing that could deliver everything for which you're searching. C.S. Lewis put it this way, “Aim at Heaven and you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you get neither.” Jesus said, “What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?” I'm trying to suggest to you that God loves you so much that He's willing to do something drastic to force you to open your eyes to the reality that Jesus is all you truly need. As we've said before, you're only going to see that when Jesus is all you have left.
Now let's go back to the story in Judges 7:2,
“The Lord said to Gideon, ‘You have too many men. I cannot deliver Midian into their hands or Israel would boast against Me, my own strength has saved me.’”
God asked Gideon to sift and decrease the army with two tests. The reason for such diminution would be that God might rise, might be high and lifted up and be glorified, that they would not put their trust and faith and hope in anything in the temporary, but ultimately would trust God's wisdom, His word, and His instruction because they're outmanned, out equipped, outnumbered. God wants total victory.
Someone will say to me, is God a glory hog? No, He's not a glory hog. He wants a relationship with you. A full trust and independence relationship because He's the only one who can and will deliver what you're ultimately searching for, that you might have the ultimate victories of your life. He is going to set about the journey in your life, frustrating the things that you put glory in until, ultimately you give honor and distinction and worth to Him.
Oswald Chambers wrote,
“Departure from God's love is the common nature of all sin; and when the departure from this love is associated with a desire to progress in the direction of a selfishly appointed end, rather than of the end divinely appointed, this is the common nature of the primal sin of the world-spirit and of humanity.”
What's he saying? He's saying that all desires have a fulfillment, that your desires are God-given until you meet them with illegitimate ways and then you have unholy desires. But, from the get-go, all desires given by God have a godly fulfillment. All desires given to you by God have a goal or an objective. That ultimate goal and objective is that you and I would go to God and allow God to meet the deepest desires of our hearts.
In the Lord's prayer, we're even told that we're to pray: Give us this day our daily bread. Even the basics, we go to God for. We are to trust God for our daily bread. We're told in the scripture that greater love has no man than this, that He would lay down His life for His friends. Jesus does for us what no one else does. In doing so, He meets the deepest needs of our hearts because the God of the universe who would die for us, gives us ultimate meaning and significance. Acceptance, we're told in the scripture, we're accepted by grace through faith in what Christ has done on the cross. Nobody gives us unconditional acceptance based on something someone else has done. Meaning only Jesus gives you the opportunity to live for eternity. Not just to get there, but to live right now.
There's no greater meaning in your life than to do what you do and to live how you live for something that's bigger and more lasting than yourself. Only when you keep moving through the things that promise ultimate fulfillment, only when we keep searching to the last limit, will we discover God. So here's what God is forced to do: He's willing to do whatever it takes for us to come to the end of ourselves and trust ultimately in His power and His wisdom and His love in all seasons of life. When you fail enough times, relying on your own power, wisdom, and love, it is God's hope that you then will turn to Him.
Oftentimes in our lives, God desires a different outcome than we do, but we don't see it so we keep fighting Him. Or, in the words of the Apostle Paul on the Damascus road, we keep fighting or kicking against the goads. God prods us in one direction and we keep fighting because we don't want that outcome, but maybe God does.
The less of you, the more you get of God. The more of you, the less you get of God.
God allows the unfortunate events of our lives in order that, ultimately, we will learn to depend on His way and His time. In doing that, we will glorify God. The people around us who are watching us will also glorify God because they'll know there's no way I could go through that. They must have something unique. There must be a secret to being able to stand in the midst of such difficulty.
The point is this: Do you really believe that God is able to work everything together for good, for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose? Do you really believe that? Even your sin, even your enemies, whatever it is that you're facing, do you really believe that sooner or later God can take things that are negative, in and of themselves, and bring them all together and accomplish something extraordinary?
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