Trading Glory

I’ve been thinking about Psalm 106:20 for a little over a week now and just in case this verse is not in your list of memorized verses (it was not in mine) it says, “They exchanged their glory for the image of a grass-eating ox.” The King James says it almost the same way, but some other versions say something along the lines of “they exchanged the glory of God…” either way I think we get the point.

Two other verses that seem to go along with this are Jeremiah 33:16 and Romans 3:22. These verses are good because they highlight the fact that it is God who is our righteousness and glory. It is Him and faith in Him that provides the blessing. I am intentionally not using Romans 1:23 because that is more about nonbelievers. Anyway, that is the housekeeping portion.

What I want to get at is there are times when we as believers in the Almighty trade His glory which is our righteousness for something else. Sometimes it is as harsh and dramatic as the Israelites making a golden calf and other times it is more subtle but the result is the same. The result is we trade our righteousness and God’s glory for something less. We have this gift as Christians of Christ being our righteousness and our glory. He is the “thing” inside us that makes us something different. The indwelling and filling of the Holy Spirit in us sets us apart and makes us more than we could ever choose to be. His gift to us is Himself and sometimes when we are not careful we trade that for something less. Really that is dumb. Kind of like this story…

We recently moved to Knoxville, so I can work on my degree full-time. The move has been awesome and amazing. God has been lining up all sorts of blessings. Some big, some small, and some just to show off. One such blessing is that the school provides internet. This was an unexpected blessing and will save us about $90 a month. I did not know that when we moved up here, so I had originally ordered cable from another company (rhymes with Bomcast). Today I called to cancel said service. It was easy enough but the young woman I was on the phone with kept trying to get me to keep Bomcast as my service provider. I explained to her a few times that I do not need it because I already get service for free (well I mean at least not a monthly payment) so I don’t want to pay for it. She wanted me to trade my blessing for something I would need to pay for. She was trying to get me to purchase something that had been given to me.

That is what we do sometimes. We have gifts from God and we instead fall into pride thinking we created something. We have blessings and think we need to work for more. We have faith and think work is required to earn more, and so on. We trade our glory and our righteousness for something else.

We must be careful to always turn our eyes back to the Master. We must turn our gaze back to Christ and seek His glory and kingdom and in doing so we lessen the possibility of trading Him for less.

Just a thought,

Mike

The Holy Spirit and Glory

I have been thinking about the Holy Spirit a lot lately. From Scripture, we know some things about this third member of the Godhead. For example, we know He gives gifts (1 Cor 12:4-11), we know that there is a baptism of the Holy Spirit, we know that He speaks only truth (John 14:17), we also know that He comforts believers (John 14:16), and on and on. While some debate the ability or manifestation today, we also know from reading the Acts that He empowered the Apostles to perform miracles, signs, and wonders.

We know these things but there is one other thing the about the Holy Spirit that I think, at least for me, is too often overlooked. Namely, that He points back to Jesus.

In John 16 Jesus tells us two functions or ministries of the Holy Spirit. First, He convicts the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment. Think about that for a second. The one who comforts also convicts. At first, it might seem odd but think about any person you know who is wonderful. Think of someone who is smart, wise, loving, kind, and generous. By their very nature, they seem to convict you of your wrongness. The Holy Spirit is infinitely more wonderful than we know so by His very nature He convicts of sin, righteousness, and judgment. His light is so bright it makes darkness more apparent.

Second and this where I have been lately, He tells us what He hears and glorifies Jesus. The Holy Spirit constantly points back to Jesus. There is something called Erdman’s Law which in essence says that those who are most filled with the Holy Spirit are the least conscious of it. All they want is to serve Christ. That is because one of the primary functions or ministries of the Holy Spirit is to glorify Christ. So, it reasons that if He is focused on glorifying Christ then the believer whom He indwells will be focused on that same goal. The believer who has given his life over to the control of the Holy Spirit will be focused on glorifying Christ.

This glorifying has two components. The first is that we lift up and exalt or make known the name and wonder of Jesus in word and deed. The things we do point to the glory and majesty of Jesus. We sing praises to His name and lift Him high. This is done through working in all things as if for Him, in choosing to place His glory and name before ours, and in spreading the good news of His victory over sin and death. This we all know and strive for to some degree or another. However, the second way we glorify Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit is by seeking Him in our weakness.

In our weakness and brokenness, we glorify Christ because the Holy Spirit leads us to confess our need for His power. Paul writes in 2 Cor 12:9 that the power of Christ is made known in our weakness. Our inability to perform and calling on the Holy Spirit to help us turn our eyes to Christ is giving glory to Jesus. It is giving glory to Him because it is a confession of His majesty and power. Your brokenness, my brokenness points to the fact that Jesus is able.

If we truly seek to be empowered by the Holy Spirit, then we must not only give over control to Him, but we must align our mission with His. We cannot request the power of the Spirit and expect Him to fall in line with our goals. We must align ourselves with His. His goal is to glorify Jesus and make Him known. As I said we generally know this and think of it as sharing the Gospel and in worship, but can we truly do this in brokenness as well? In our times of weakness, fear, and frailty can we glorify Christ by asking the Spirit to help us turn our eyes to Him?

Just a thought,

Mike

Prayer

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In Mark 11:24 Jesus says “Therefore I tell you, all the things you pray and ask for—believe that you have received them, and you will have them” and to be honest I struggle with this. It is not that I struggle to believe that God will hear my prayers, although sometimes this is the case, it is more of do I believe this is my prayer? Do I actually believe that this is the request I want to make to the God of heaven and earth?

I am approaching the God who sustains the universe, took on human flesh, died and rose again to save my soul, sits in glory surrounded by the praises of His angels, and I am asking for this. I am stunned by my selfishness, aware of my pride, and confused by my own self-interest. When I come before the King of glory I sometimes find myself understanding Isaiah who said: “woe is me for I am undone.” How can I ask for things, because as I stand in His presence all I can do is think “holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty.”

The amazing thing to me is I stand there before Him in awe of His beauty and majesty He asks what I request. The only answer I can find is that I desire to sit at your feet and worship you. Oh, how I wish this to be my daily encounter. Instead, I often allow my fears, confusions, and selfishness dictates prayers that I do not even believe.