“He looks just like his dad!”
“She has her mother’s eyes.”
We hear expressions like these all the time, especially when a new baby is born. We delight in the fact that, in one way or another, our children look like us. In the story of Creation, God is the proud Father as He creates the first man, Adam. God had already created all of the animals, all of the trees and plants, the rocks and hills, the mountains and the seas. But His most cherished creation was man because he looked just like Him. God created man and woman in His own image (Genesis 1:27). I can imagine the pride that God must have felt as He stepped back and looked at the man He had created. “He looks just like Me!”
Unfortunately, man’s resemblance to his Father was soon to change. Through the disobedience of Adam and Eve, sin entered the world and marred man’s resemblance to God. They no longer bore the image of their Father. That image was covered by the veil of sin. This meant that all future generations, the offspring of Adam and Eve, no longer carried the image of God. They looked just like their earthly parents (Genesis 5:3).
But God desired that His children should look like Him. He wanted to hear people say, “Wow! You look just like your Father!” So, God sent His only begotten Son, Jesus, to pay the penalty for our sin and restore us to the image of God. Jesus is the visible image of God (Colossians 1:15). Jesus Himself said that if we have seen Him, we have seen the Father (John 14:9). He looks just like His Father!
Because of Jesus’ sacrifice, the veil of sin has been removed from us and we can now not only see, but also reflect, the glory of God. And, as we come to know and follow Jesus, the Holy Spirit makes us look more and more like Him (2 Corinthians 3:18). As a result, we can now proudly say, “I look just like my Dad!”
What does it mean to give someone or some thing glory? The dictionary defines glory as praise, honor, or distinction. So, when we give glory to a person or thing, we are declaring to the world that this person or thing holds a place of honor in our hearts, that we glorify them.
We glorify our children or our spouses by displaying their pictures on our desk, in our homes, or even in our wallets. We glorify our favorite sports teams by wearing team jerseys, hats and jackets, or displaying banners in our rooms or outside our homes. But, how do we glorify the one person who deserves that glory more than any person on earth or any earthly thing? How do we glorify God? Do we have God’s picture hanging on our walls or wear jerseys bearing His name? In this day and age, we might actually do these things, but are they the best ways to give Him glory?
God is worthy of glory and Scripture is very clear that we should give glory to God. Psalm 96:3 says that we should glorify Him among the nations of the world. We are instructed in Psalm 29:1-2 to give God the glory due His name. We can give glory to God by the way in which we live our lives. When we follow His ways and obey His commandments, His name is glorified. When we live lives that are holy, turning from sin, we glorify Him with our bodies and our spirits, which belong to Him (1 Corinthians 6:20). And we give glory to God when we seek to live in unity with each other, when we have the mind of Christ toward each other.
God saved us from our sins to show His glory. May the lives that we live give Him the glory, honor, and praise due His holy name!
Who should praise the Lord? The answer to this question can be found in Psalm 148.
The first four verses (Psalm 148:1-14) tell us that praise should be offered from the heavens. The angels, the heavenly host, the sun, the moon, and the stars should offer Him praise. So, the responsibility for praise rests on every creature and every thing in the heavens.
But the responsibility for praise goes beyond that!
Verses 7 through 10 (Psalm 148:7-10) tell us that praise should be offered from the earth. The creatures of the sea and the sky, every animal that walks or crawls on the earth, the mountains, hills, trees and plants. Even the weather should praise the Lord.
But the responsibility for praise goes beyond that!
Praise is the responsibility of every person who ever has or ever will walk on this earth. That includes the kings, princes, and judges of the earth, all the people of the earth, men and women, young and old.
Psalm 148:5-6 tells us why praise should be offered by all of these creatures and all of these things. It’s because He spoke and they were created. They exist because He commanded it. They were created to give Him praise. The Lord is deserving of the praise of His entire creation, including us. His name alone should be exalted and His glory alone is above the earth and the heavens (Psalm 148:13).
Let everything that has breath, everything that exists in the heavens and on the earth, give Him praise.
Praise the Lord!
Where should we worship the Lord? In church? In our homes? In our cars? The answer is that we should worship Him wherever His Spirit is found. Psalm 139:7-10 tells us that there is no place that we can go where the Spirit of the Lord will not be with us. His presence is with us 24/7. Since His Spirit is found wherever we are, anywhere and everywhere we are is a place to worship Him.
What is more important than where we worship Him is how we worship Him. I don’t mean what kind of music we use or even if we should use music at all. I don’t mean the posture we take in worship. It doesn’t matter if we are lifting our hands, bowing before Him, sitting, standing, or even kneeling. What matters is the posture of our hearts. Our hearts need to true.
Speaking to the Samaritan woman at the well, Jesus said that true worshipers must worship the Father in spirit and truth (John 4:24). To do so, our hearts must truly belong to Him. To worship God in spirit and truth, we need the help of the Holy Spirit and we need the help of Jesus because Jesus is the truth (John 14:6). We need to have a personal relationship with God–Father, Son and Holy Spirit. When we do, no matter where we worship, our worship will be pleasing and acceptable to the Lord.
In my quiet time, I read Isaiah 53:5. This verse, which prophesied the suffering that Jesus would endure really sums up exactly what He did for us at Calvary.
Jesus suffered by being cruelly beaten, by having a crown of thorns on His head, and by being nailed by His hands and feet to the cross on which He would die. Why did He do this? For our transgressions and our iniquities. For the sin of which we all are guilty. He took our place and the punishment we deserved in order to bring peace to our lives, peace with God.
Through the wounds that He suffered we received healing, both spiritually and physically. He gave His life as a ransom for our sins, then rose from the grave, conquering death so we may have eternal life. He did all this because He loves us and wants us to have eternal life with Him and with our heavenly Father.
There are probably hundreds or even thousands of books published that promise to give us the keys to a successful and prosperous life. They claim to have the formula for changing your life for the better. But, despite all these claims, there is only one book that truly has that formula, one book that can lead to a successful and prosperous life. That book is the Bible, the Word of God.
In this one book, God has placed all of the instruction, wisdom, and encouragement that we need to lead lives that are successful, prosperous, and transformed. The Bible provides the formula for changing lives. It is the key to becoming the best we can be, people whose lives are pleasing to the Lord.
It is important to read the Bible, but just reading it is not enough. In Joshua 1:8, God tells us that we need to study it continually. We need to meditate on it day and night. The words that we read should be stored and treasured in our hearts and mind, so that they will always be there to help us through life. One of the best ways to accomplish this is to read the words of the Bible aloud. When we have His Word in our hearts and minds, it becomes easy for us to follow and obey His Word. And that will lead to a prosperous and successful life.
In James 1:22, God’s Word tells us that we must listen and hear His Word, but we must also do what it says. If we don’t, we are only fooling ourselves. But when we listen to His Word and do what it says, when we obey His Word, we are showing God just how much we love Him.
This morning, I happened to read Philippians 2:14-15. In verse 14, Paul writes that we should do everything without complaining, or grumbling, depending on which translation you read. When I read these verses, I felt very convicted. I don’t do everything without complaining. I don’t do everything without grumbling. If something I am being asked or required to do is inconvenient or bothersome, I may do it but I will complain and grumble as I do.
In these verses, God is telling me that, if I want to shine, if I want to be His light in this dark world, then I need to act differently from the way in which the world acts. The world teaches that it’s okay to put ourselves first. Do what feels right for you! If you don’t want to do something because it’s inconvenient, don’t do it! But, as a child of God, I need to live in such a way that no one can criticize me. That begins by having a giving and caring heart, a heart that enables me to do not just some things, but everything without complaining or grumbling. That’s the kind of heart that allows me to shine His light in the world.
Fear is a human response to something that is either threatening to us or that we cannot grasp or control. Feeling fear is not wrong, but we should not live in fear or let it control us. Psalm 46 tells us why we should not live in fear.
Psalm 46:1 says that God is our refuge, a place where we can go when fear threatens to overtake and control us. It also says that He is our strength. We can rely on Him to uphold us through our fears. But, the thing that really stands out to me in this verse is that He is our very present help in trouble.
Think about that for a moment. He is not just our help but our very present help. When we are in those times of trouble, when the situation we find ourselves in is causing fear to rise in us, He is always there. Not sometimes, not once in a while, but always. All we need to do is reach out to Him and He will help us. Now that is good reason not to live in fear.
Back in the early 90’s, a new film version of the story of Robin Hood was released. The soundtrack of that movie included a song titled, “(Everything I Do) I Do It for You,” a love song in which a man is pledging his love to a woman and telling her that everything that he does is done for her.
Colossians 3:17 tells us that everything that we do should be done for, and in the name of, the Lord Jesus. And not only that, but we should also be giving Him thanks through what we do. This applies not just to our service to Him in our church, but also in the things we do in our everyday life as well. When we spend time with our spouses or our families, in the jobs that we go to each day, even when we do things around the house like cooking and cleaning. In everything we do, whether spiritual or mundane, we need to honor Him.
The verse also mentions our words. That means that we must not only honor Him in what we do, but also in the words that we speak. How do we make sure that the words we speak honor Him? For one thing, as it says in Philippians 4:8, we can start by focusing our thoughts on things that are excellent and praiseworthy, things that are noble and true. There is a saying in the field of computer science that says, “garbage in, garbage out.” This applies to our minds just as much as it does to computers. If we put garbage in our minds, what comes out of our mouths will be garbage. So, it stands to reason that when we think about the types of things listed in Philippians 4:8, what comes out of our mouths will be true, noble, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy. And, of course, it will honor the Lord.
I am the first to admit that I have struggled with prayer. Praying, especially in the presence of others, has not always come easy for me. There have been times when I have felt that, because I may not be as eloquent as others when I pray, prayer is just not my gift. I would think, “I’ll just do the things I’m good at and leave the praying to others.”
I have since come to understand that my fear of prayer was unfounded. After all, what is prayer but having a conversation with God? I have no problem having a conversation with my wife, my kids, my friends, and even total strangers. So, why should I find it so difficult to talk to my heavenly Father?
Thankfully, that “prayerphobia” has subsided! A big reason for this is that I have fully grasped the necessity and delight of spending quality time with God. In our relationships with family and friends, the more one on one time we spend with the person, the more we know about them and the easier it is to communicate with them. The same holds true in our relationship with God. So, because I am spending more time with God, I know Him more and I am better able to communicate with Him in prayer.
I also believe that prayer can be effective in helping us to grow as a man or woman after God’s own heart. There are several reasons for this.
First, as we grow closer to God through prayer, our faith increases. When we have faith, when we believe, we will receive what we ask for in prayer (Mark 11:24). Second, seeking the Lord in prayer helps to develop a more humble heart. God’s Word says that He opposes the proud and favors the humble (1 Peter 5:5). Since that is the case, a more humble heart leads to receiving God’s favor. Third, prayer can help us to be more wholehearted in seeking the Lord. When we seek the Lord with all our heart, we will find Him (Jeremiah 29:13). The final and most important reason is that, when we seek His Kingdom above all else, when we pray for His Kingdom to come into our lives, our prayers become more effective (Matthew 6:33, James 5:16).
Lord, I thank You that we can come to You in prayer knowing that You will hear us and answer us. Keep our hearts and minds focused on You as we seek to become more and more the men and women You want us to be. In Jesus’ name. Amen!
Ephesians 5:15 tells us that we should be careful how we live. We should live wisely, not unwisely. But, what exactly does it mean to live wisely? And where does the wisdom we need come from?
The book of Proverbs talks a lot about wisdom and the characteristics of a person who is wise. A person who is wise seeks to increase learning and will seek the counsel of others when necessary (Proverbs 1:5). The wise person is happy to receive instruction from others (Proverbs 10:8). Rather than live foolishly, thinking that his own way is right, the wise man listens to the opinions of others (Proverbs 12:15). Those who are wise are not quick-tempered and they keep their cool even when being insulted (Proverbs 12:16). While a foolish person may allow his anger to erupt, the wise man quietly holds back his anger (Proverbs 29:11).
Proverbs 3:13-15 says that a person who has wisdom is happy. This is because wisdom has great value, value far greater than any precious gem. But the wisdom that we need to be truly happy, the wisdom that we should seek with all our hearts, is not the wisdom of the world. The wisdom we need comes from above–from God. And that wisdom is pure, peaceable, and gentle. It is willing to yield. And it is full of mercy and bears good fruit (James 3:13-17).
To obtain this wisdom from above, we need to listen to Jesus’ teaching and then follow it. When we do, as Jesus says in Matthew 7:24-25, we are like the person who builds his house on a rock. That rock is Jesus. He is our firm foundation. When we build our house–our lives–on Him, when we have that rock as our foundation, no storm can tear it down. Now that is wisdom!