Sunday, August 19, 2012

For the Glory of God Alone

On a sunny cool August morning Pastor Brad opened the service with his usual welcome ("I'm grateful you're here") and, noting the chattering going on, said it's nice how much we all enjoy one another's company, that we could probably chat all day if we didn't start the service. He summed up the past few messages stating that we've been doing a series on the basics of our faith… Jesus alone is our savior. Grace alone is good enough. An that Elsa Holmgren would be bringing us the message today on the theme, "For the Glory of God Alone."

Announcements included the following:
1. Council meets Tuesday at 7:00 p.m.
2. Gail noted that there is a large assortment of fresh vegetables downstairs
3. It's time to sign your kids up for Sunday school.
4. Sept 9 we’ll be worshiping at the park to kick off the new year…
5. Tonight at 6:30 there is a special evening of Old Time Gospel Music with a free will offering to benefit the vulnerable and homeless of Duluth.

Darlene and brother Darrell ushered us into worship with a piano and violin medley that included Fairest Lord Jesus as an interlude.

Brad led the worship today. The offering taken, followed by a reading from John 6:35, 41-51 and a time of prayer. Brad then invited Elsa to come forward and deliver the message.

For the Glory of God Alone

I’m going to come at this topic in a roundabout way… I've been reading book about the prodigal son. It's the story of a son who asks for his inheritance in advance. The son squanders it and sinks so low that he has nothing so that he ultimately comes back and asks permission to be his father's servant. The father celebrates this son’s return and kills the fatted calf.

There is a second part to the story though. The older brother is paralyzed by resentment. He is angry that the father celebrates instead of punishing the younger son. "All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!" (Luke 15: 29, 30)

The Father says to this son “You have always been with me. Everything that I have is yours.”

Too often we do not take advantage of all that God has for us. This enormous gift of being sons and daughters of the God of the universe is ours.

The Old Testament is filled with stories where the glory of God shows up in amazing ways. The glory of the Lord appeared on Mount Sinai after Exodus. In chapter 24 it is written, "To the Israelites the glory of the Lord looked like a consuming fire on top of the mountain."  

Moses later asks to see God’s glory, and God places Moses in the cleft of the rock and passes by but it would kill him to actually see God’s glory.

The Hebrew word actually means dwelling. It is understood in Scripture as the visible manifestation of the presence of God… God who is everywhere, localized. Ezekiel writes that when he saw the glory "I fell on my face…" He was  lifted up and the glory filled the temple.

For years this was what was meant by the glory of the Lord. But then one day there is a baby born and the baby is the radiant glory of God, in human form. Here is the radiance of the glory of God… The very same God who said "Let light shine out of darkness." II Cor 4:6

The whole earth is full of the glory of God. The heavens declare the glory of God. Paul wrote to the Colossians that all things were created through Him and for Him and that in Jesus all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell.

When Moses came down from Sinai he put a veil over his face to hide radiance. But in Jesus we behold God's glory and as we do are being transformed into the same image of Christ Himself.
This is God’s huge promise to us. “YOU will be the radiance of My glory” God says.

It is God’s gift to us… those of us who are beholding Christ are being transformed…

In His last hours Jesus prayed, "The glory you have given to Me I have given to them." (Jn 17:22) It's not because we've earned it or have done such a good job of praying for it.

If your eyes and heart are fixed on Jesus, God promises you are being made into the image of Christ. The forgiveness of sins is the first step only, not the end point. God’s aim is to make us like His firstborn son…

The cherry on top: It is not your job to make yourself into the glory of God. That is His promise. Most of us can’t lose five pounds let alone trying to transform ourselves into the replica of His glory.

Trust in Jesus and leave it there. Believe God’s promises and receive it.

Too many of us settle to serve a miniature God instead of letting this enormous God move our mountains and fulfill His grand plans for each of us.

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