Do All to the Glory of God

1 Corinthians 10:31 NASB is something I usually end my prayers with. It says, “Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” My prayer is that whatever we do, we do it with a mindset of giving God glory. I usually end my prayers by quoting this verse because it is all-encompassing. It just feels appropriate. Everything we do as Christians should (keyword being should) be within the scope of this verse. We could definitely have worse mantras in our lives.

As Christians, of course, we want God glorified, and we want to bring glory to God. But do we really know what it means? Do we really understand what we are talking about? Maybe we say it in our prayers because it feels like the right thing to say. It becomes a blanket statement to cover things we do just to make us feel that we are glorifying God in what we do. Like when we’re about to study for that exam, and we pray that God would bless our preparation. We pray that our exam preparation would glorify God. Although if we were being completely honest, we pray that prayer simply to give ourselves a “God-glorifying” stamp onto our study to convince ourselves that we glorify God regardless whether or not it in fact glorifies God.

We can save the topic of God’s glory for another time. That’s not what I’m writing about right now. I’m not talking about the Isaiah 6 glory necessarily. I’m talking about glorifying God in our actions. Remember? “Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” The verse is talking about glorifying God in whatever you do.

The context of that verse is at the conclusion to Paul’s answer to a question asked of him. The question was whether or not Christians are allowed to eat food sacrificed to idols. His answer begins in chapter 8 and ends in chapter 10. It is true that Christians are free in Christ and that all food is clean. Christians can freely eat any food, even those sacrificed to the Greek idols.

Paul’s response in chapter 8 is to his audience that if by eating those foods they stumble their weaker Christian brothers, they should not eat that food. If their actions tear down the local body of believers rather than building it up, they should refrain from eating. In chapter 9, Paul says that if any action would cause a “hindrance to the gospel of Christ”, it should not be done. So whatever we do as Christians, if it creates doubt in the minds of unbelievers or causes the gospel to be implausible in the eyes of the unbelievers, then we should be free to choose not to do it, for the sake of the gospel. Having addressed their actions influencing weaker brothers and unbelievers, he now addresses their actions influencing themselves. In chapter 10, Paul says that if any activity they do leads them to temptation, they should not engage in that activity. If by doing it, they are walking a fine line or testing God, they should flee from it.

So, indeed that verse is all-encompassing. In Paul’s mind, we must ask ourselves these questions about our actions:
Does it build up and strengthen believers? Or does it stumble or weaken the faith of our brothers and sisters in Christ?
Does it help the unbelievers to understand how the gospel is to be lived out? Or does it cause them to doubt the plausibility or the credibility of the gospel?
Does it help us stand firm in our faith in Christ? Or are we playing with fire or treading on the boundaries of our Christian ethics?

Another thing that crossed my mind as I was thinking about this was Deuteronomy 26:1-10 NASB. This section describes a Jewish feast called Firstfruits. Observed on the third day after the Passover and the second day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, this ceremony was a time of thanksgiving for God’s provision. Verse 1 through 9 are a reminder of all God had done for Israel as well as a call to continue in obedience. Verse 10 is the description of Firstfruits as a response.

In the New Testament, James calls believers “a kind of firstfruits among His creatures” (James 1:18 NASB). Just like the sheaf of grain was set apart for the Lord, believers are set apart for God’s glory. 1 Corinthians 15:20 NASB says, “But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep.” Jesus’ resurrection has paved the way for our resurrection. Paul taught the Corinthian believers to set aside a collection “on the first day of every week.” (1 Corinthians 16:2 NASB). And, just as the offering of firstfruits was an occasion of thanksgiving, so the Christian is to give with gladness.

In summary, the Feast of Firstfruits symbolizes God’s harvest of souls. It sets a pattern of giving back to Him the first (and the best) of what He has given us. How can you give God your first fruits? Let me give you two things.

First, is He the first thing you think of when you wake up in the morning? And do you then think of how to give Him the best portions of yourself? Of your day, your time, and your money? And second, do you enjoy doing things that give God glory? Or do you enjoy giving glory to God? What I mean is, do you do the things you enjoy primarily because you enjoy it but if asked you can somehow justify it as an activity meant to give God glory? Say you enjoy playing basketball. Do you then play basketball because you want to use the skill God has gifted you with to glorify Him? And do you use basketball as a means of fellowship with those in the church or as an avenue of evangelism to those outside of the church? Or do you play basketball with believers and unbelievers, never using what God has given you for His glory?

Do all to the glory of God. It’s a pretty important thing to be thinking of. And like the Westminster Shorter Catechism says, it is our sole purpose, really our only purpose. “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.”

The Cost of Evangelism

There was once a minister who felt burdened in his heart to provide help to a recent widow. One day, he knocked on her door with money in hand, but she did not answer. Trying a few more times, he concluded she was not at home and went on his way. A little while later, he saw her at the church and told her that he had remembered her need.

“I came to your house and knocked on your door. There was no answer, so I went away assuming you weren’t home.”

“Around what time was this?”

“Around noon time.”

“Oh dear, I heard you, but I just assumed it was the landlord coming to collect rent.”

Last month, I had the opportunity to go with some men and women from Redeemer’s Grace Church to do some open air preaching. Two brothers and I took turns preaching, while the sisters supported us by going around evangelizing to the surrounding people. Overall, it was an enjoyable experience. We were sharing in fellowship with one another, loving the lost, and obeying our Lord.

“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20 NASB

The brief story above was an illustration I used that Saturday. As Christians that obey the Lord in evangelism, we aren’t like the landlord coming to collect rent. Contrary to what much of the world thinks, we aren’t coming to collect a debt that is owed, but to bring people something. Our desire is to be heard, to let them know that salvation is by grace alone. It is a free gift that does not require any working on their part. For although “the wages of sin is death”, “the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 3:23-24 NASB

But this should be true no matter the method of evangelism we use. Whether that is open air preaching, door to door evangelism, or evangelism to family, friends, and coworkers, we are to be faithful in preaching Christ crucified. One form of evangelism isn’t better than the other. Who else but God can cause one to believe? 1 Corinthians 3:7 NASB plainly tells us that it is only God who causes the growth.

I strongly believe that open air preaching is a sign of great boldness in the Lord for the one who does it. Such zeal is highly commendable. However, it is far from the most difficult or the most costly. If those walking by and listening disagreed, how might they react? By turning their head and walking faster. Maybe even calling the authorities or slandering the preacher. But to the one who makes a stand for Christ to their family, friends, or coworkers, what is the cost? The line from the hymn “Jesus I My Cross Have Taken” comes to mind: “Foes may hate and friends disown me.” Disownment. Alienation. Getting fired from your job. And what do you gain? For Paul it was everything. For us as well, it is everything.

“More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ…” Philippians 3:8 NASB

Christ should be everything to us. He is the one we love to follow after and the one we love to proclaim to others. So to the open air preacher, to the door to door evangelist, and to the one that makes a stand for Christ to family and friends, you are doing the work of God. And let us all rejoice with Paul who stated “What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed; and in this I rejoice.” Philippians 1:18 NASB

What we bring to people is really very simple. It is the very same message that when brought to our attention, we believed and were saved. So go out and preach to all who have not heard. Go out and proclaim without fear He who bought you with a price. Fear God and do not fear man. Do not fear the cost of evangelism.

One way to heaven and that is all
One way to avoid the consequences of the fall
One way to be justified
Accomplished by Christ’s blood on the day that he died

Don’t let God’s patience make you confused
His goodness and mercy must not be abused
Jesus is coming on His white horse
And will punish all sin with all of His force

The day’s soon coming that He’ll take a hold of the Globe
When men’s blood will be dripping off of His robe
One simple question I ask you my friend
How often does your mind think about the end?

Does this reality not astound you?
And make your heart break for the souls around you?
Fear and shame must vanish away,
The split second we think about that fateful day

When God in His justice all men will destroy
And His fury and wrath He will completely employ
Hell is a thought we should think about more
It should keep us awake and shake us to our core

It should get you off your couch and put you to labor
For the sake of your family, your friends and your neighbor
And despite the fact that the world remains hostile
Unashamed you should go preaching the gospel!

-Jordan Standridge

When David Speaks…

If you have been reading the Bible for a while now, you’ve noticed how often King David is talked about. In fact, his name is mentioned more times than any other person!

You’ve read about David, the second king of Israel, God’s choice for His nation, who reigned for forty years (1 Kings 2:11 NASB). Or about David’s relationship with his adversary’s son, Jonathan, which is clear model for biblical friendship (1 Samuel 18:1-4 NASB). You’ve also probably read about David the psalmist, who wrote around half of the book of Psalms.

Who was David? He was many things. He was a shepherd boy, a warrior, a king, a poet, and a musician. He was a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22 NASB). He was a man quick to place his trust in the Lord (Psalm 27:1 NASB) and quick to repent (2 Samuel 12:1-13 NASB). In many ways, David is a model for all Christians to follow.

We are first introduced to David when he was but a shepherd boy, the youngest son of Jesse. In 1 Samuel 16 NASB the prophet Samuel appeared during the annual sacrificial feast in order to anoint God’s chosen. When David is first mentioned, he is described as having a ruddy complexion, a handsome appearance and beautiful eyes, highlighting the fact that he is still quite young.

After his anointing, David continued to live life normally until the servants of King Saul seek him out in order to calm the evil spirit terrorizing the king. That’s where David is when the famous David and Goliath narrative occurs. And that’s where we first hear David speak.

Of course, David isn’t mute or anything like that. But the first time Scripture actually has record of him speaking is in 1 Samuel 17 NASB. Perhaps you are familiar with the story, but in case you aren’t, let’s go through it.

In the beginning of the chapter, we find that an army of Philistines was encamped in Socoh which belongs to Judah. The Philistines were enemies of Israel and had a champion named Goliath who was over nine feet tall. In 1 Samuel 17:8-11 NASB, we read how Goliath issued his challenge to Israel, calling for them to choose a champion to fight him one on one. In the last verse of that passage, we read how Saul and all Israel were dismayed and greatly afraid.

What’s ironic is that’s exactly what Israel did in 1 Samuel 9 NASB! In that chapter, Israel chose a champion, a king who was to lead them into battle. Eight chapters later, we read how instead of fulfilling his role, he cowers in the back. This was supposed to be God’s champion but doesn’t even give God any thought. Fast forward to 1 Samuel 17:20 NASB, David has now entered the scene. We learn that David was given the task of bringing some food for his brothers and their commander, but verse 23 is where things get really interesting.

“As he was talking with them, behold, the champion, the Philistine from Gath named Goliath, was coming up from the army of the Philistines, and he spoke these same words; and David heard them. When all the men of Israel saw the man, they fled from him and were greatly afraid.” 1 Samuel 17:23-24 NASB

This already happened once before when Goliath first issued his challenge. But there was one who was not present at that earlier time and that was David. The response from the men of Israel was an expected one. Similarly in Deuteronomy 1:26-27 NASB Israel was unwilling to enter the land that was promised because they saw that the people and their cities were so large.

David’s response however is new and unexpected. He questions, “For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should taunt the armies of the living God?” What’s amazing is that this is the first time in the narrative that God is even mentioned! The so called “armies of the living God” did not once ask this question. It took a shepherd boy to remind them that God was with them. And we know what happened next. He faced Goliath and defeats him.

“You come to me with a sword, a spear, and a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have taunted… and all this assembly may know that the Lord does not deliver by sword or by spear; for the battle is the Lord’s and He will give you into our hands.” 1 Samuel 17:45, 47 NASB

What can we learn from this? We need to be like David who considered what God thought first, instead of like Saul who gave no consideration for what God thought. As Christians who are chosen by the same living God, we need to go to the ends of the earth with boldness and faith. Don’t be like Saul and all Israel who were fearful of man, fearful of what lay before them. Be like David, a man after God’s own heart and a man that was only concerned honoring God.

There’s Always Tomorrow…

Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth.

Proverbs 27:1 NASB

One of the great errors in our thinking is the word “tomorrow”. Whether that’s with our work when we say, “I can worry about studying tomorrow. Today I’ll just be lazy and unproductive.” Or with broken relationships with friends or family. “We just had an argument but I’ll apologize tomorrow.” But the most dangerous usage of all is in regards to sin and repentance.

Satan’s arsenal of weapons is quite large but one of his most effective is the deception of tomorrow. Do you ever find yourself making an excuse to sin today because tomorrow is a fresh start? Have you ever encountered an unbeliever who gives you the excuse of later?

But, the great word of the Bible is always “today”.

Therefore, just as the Holy Spirit says, “Today if you hear His voice,”

Hebrews 3:7 NASB

It is never sometimes, but always now; never tomorrow, but always today. We must say with the Psalmist, “I hastened and did not delay…” Psalm 119:60 NASB

Don’t be like the Roman governor Felix who when he heard Paul preach in Acts 24:25 NASB, waited until tomorrow. In the verse, Paul preached just as we ought to preach, as a dying man to dying men and Felix was greatly afraid. This pagan man who was very much in love with his sin had his conscience stirred. He must have been in a mood when he might have repented and turned back to God. But instead of acting upon his conviction, Felix dismissed Paul saying, “Go away for the present, and when I have time I will summon you.”

Never again did Felix tremble, though he must summoned Paul to preach for him many more times. Never again was his conscience stirred as that first time. All because he said “tomorrow” when God’s word is today. For to the one who says “tomorrow”, James says, “You do not know what your life will be tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.” James 4:14 NASB

No one should put off anything that can be done today for tomorrow. No one should leave for tomorrow the breaking of a bad habit but most of all, no one should leave until tomorrow repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. You can say tomorrow to anyone or anything. But not to Christ, and not to eternal life.

“Tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow! Alas, tomorrow never comes! It is in no calendar, except the almanac of fools.

C. H. Spurgeon

 

 

What Grace Is This!

Romans 4:5 NASB is a beautiful verse that I fear at times we glance at just briefly. We read it with such a flippancy that it becomes cold, mechanical even as we come to this portion of Scripture. And perhaps we pray to God often; we read the Word often; we evangelize often. But how often do we go back and marvel at the Cross? Marvel at Christ? We should do this often. So that when we pray to God it is because the very posture of our hearts is surrender and that we may thank God often for the Cross. And we read the Word because we want to know more about this amazing truth. And we evangelize because we believe that the gospel is the power of God to save.

I find this verse to be a wonderful verse. It might be no surprise to us that have been in the church for a while now that such an expression as “justifies the ungodly” is in the Bible. But let’s examine this phrase together. One of the more common things I hear among friends, family, and even the random person off the street is that it is the very fact that God saves wicked men is what they have against Christianity. And the complaint is that many who are good people, doctors that save lives everyday. social workers that look to the interests of children and families in need, will not be saved. All because God did not choose to justify them.

But Scripture accepts this charge and even plainly states it! From the very mouth of the apostle Paul, God “justifies the ungodly”. Those who are unjust, He makes just. Those who deserve no favor, He forgives. Did we think that salvation was for the good and that God’s grace was for the pure and holy who are sinless? So we might be tempted to think that if we have good behavior, and are good to others, that God would reward us. In our heart of hearts we are good and worthy and we somehow believe that there must be something in us that God saw. Something in us that won the favor of God. But Romans 3:10 NASB is quite clear. God sees through all deceptions and knows that there is no good in us. He knows that “all our righteous deeds are like filthy garments” (Isaiah 64:6 NASB).

Jesus Christ did not come to look for those who are good and righteous. No, He “justifies the ungodly”. Mark 2:17 NASB is another verse we may point to. Jesus tells us that He came not for the healthy, but those who are sick. The fact that Jesus Christ came into this this world to save sinners should a thing to be marveled at! It should be, to us, the greatest wonder we ever did hear. Apart from His great love, we are a hunk of sin, a thing of unworthiness. But, to the one who submits himself to Christ. The one who proclaims Christ as risen from the dead. This one is loved with as much love as if they were godly. Who can help being astonished at this? We should never be.

The salvation of God is for those who do not deserve it and have no preparation for it. If in reading this, you grow tired and bored. If this marvelous truth does not cause you to weep over your sins that have been paid for and cry for joy at the One who paid for them, then you are as surely lost as you are alive. Those who are righteous, who see their righteousness as all of their own doing, are either deceivers or deceived. See your own righteousness and flee from it! There is no substance to it. Matthew 7:24-27 NASB.

The only people in need of justification are those who are not just themselves. Something needed to be done for them to make them just before God’s judgement. And that was the Cross. So cling to it. Depend upon it. Lose yourself in it.

There is a man who is owed some money. One person owes him a thousand dollars, and another owes him fifty. In the end, each one of their debts is wiped out. That is what happens to us. Whether we have lived a life of rampant sin, or whether we live generally “good” lives, if we come to have faith in the work of Christ, the debt is paid. The most generous person cannot forgive the debts of those who do no owe him anything. Pardon, therefore, cannot be for those who have no sin. Pardon is for the guilty. Forgiveness must be for the sinful. Do you think yourself lost because you are a sinner? Then call upon the name of Christ Jesus our Lord. Such grace is ordained for one such as you.

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