Category Archives: Holiness

Praising Like Breathing

In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted; and the train of His robe filled the temple. Above Him stood seraphim, each having six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they called out to one another:

Holy, holy, holy

is the LORD of Hosts;

His glory fills all the earth. 

The doorposts and thresholds shook at the sound of their voices, and the temple was filled with smoke.  (Isaiah 6:1-4)

Last week, Ken and I listened to a sermon by a dear friend, Jameson Sofge.

Jameson was one of the founding members of our church 11 years ago.  For over five years we were on the leadership team of the church together with him and his wife, Danielle.  We have some wonderful memories of being in the trenches together and of fighting battles for our beloved church, and celebrating victories.

Jameson started his sermon by talking about the Lord’s prayer.  He told us how it can be a model for our prayers, and that the first line, “Our Father in heaven, holy is your name,” teaches us that an important part of prayer is praising God.  Jameson said that he wonders sometimes why he should praise God, because when he does, he often says the same as the last time he prayed.  But then he realized that our God is so awesome that we can never praise him enough. 

It’s like a line from one of my favorite songs, “If we had 10,000 tongues.  We would praise you with every one.”  And that is the picture we get in Isaiah — constant praise of the Lord, over and over again, because he is holy in an epic way. There’s a similar picture in Revelations 4: “Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under its wings. Day and night they never stop saying: “‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty,’ who was, and is, and is to come.” (Rev. 4:8)

So the fact that God is holy makes it even more amazing that God answers prayers. Jameson went on to read verses 5-13,  ending with, “So if you who are evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!”  He marveled that the glorious, all-powerful God actually cares, and responds to us when we petition him.  

But the reason God cares and responds is actually because of his holiness.  Love and faithfulness are a part of God’s holiness.  In Exodus 34, the Lord was with Moses in a the form of a cloud, and it says, “the LORD passed in front of Moses and called out: ‘The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining loving devotion to a thousand generations.'”  (Ex 34:6, 7a)

God’s very character is to have our back.  Although we may not be able to trust in the love of our fellow-man, God’s love is completely trustworthy.  That’s why we have verses like Romans 8:38-9 which say that nothing can separate us from God’s love.

This staunch devotion is like a family tie.  And I have to point out that, as God’s “family,” we are expected to be holy as well.  God proclaimed to the Israelites, “For you are a people holy to the LORD your God. The LORD your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession.”  The parallel passage for us today  is, “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” (I Peter 2:9)

But getting back to the sermon, Jameson concluded by sharing three immensely moving stories of how God showed staunch devotion to him.  He told how, when he was in college, he and some friends prayed a very intentional prayer for great wives and their prayers were answered.  He shared with tears how he and his wife prayed fervently for a long time for a baby, and God gave them a their son, Mason.  He related the summer he and interns here at Auburn prayed like they had never prayed before, and the Lord blessed the church with new members as never before.  

And now, as I reflect on all of this, I see how much these stories are just the tip of the iceberg.  All of us have our tales of the ways God has answered our prayers. Some of these answers are massive, and some are small day-to-day matters,  But if we enumerate them, our hearts want to lift up and praise the Lord over and over again. 

And then, if we look around at the world God has made, praise bursts out even more.  And if we think of his character of compassion, righteousness, love and faithfulness, still more praises overflow from our lips. 

God pours his glorious essence into the world, and into our lives, and our praise of acknowledgement becomes like constant breathing, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord. His glory fills the whole earth.”  

And maybe breathing is an apt metaphor.  God gives to us.  We give to God.  He blesses us.  We bless his name.  He is holy.  So we are holy. 

Like respiration, it’s an ongoing cycle that sustains life.  

 

 

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On Cleaning, and Staying Centered

house-cleaning

Those who are left in Zion, who remain in Jerusalem, will be called holy, all who are recorded among the living in Jerusalem. Isa 4:3

A week ago my company left.  It’s taken me days to get my house back in order.  I mopped the sun porch where the cat stayed, washed the sheets, cleaned the bathroom, and vacuumed up a ton of debris.  When I was done, it was like my head was clean, too.  Looking around at the spotless floor and furniture gave me a sense of clarity and peace.

There’s something about getting things in order that strikes a chord with me, and I think it dovetails nicely with today’s devotional.

Isiaiah 4:3 says that God’s people left in Jerusaelm would be called holy.  It was always the Lord’s intention for his people to be holy.  He said in Exodus 19:5-6, “Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.”

Of course, through history, Gods’s people were often anything but holy.  So God instituted a plan to shake his people up and refine them. That’s what Isaiah 4:3 is about.  Earlier, in Isaiah 3 we read about the destruction that would overtake the Hebrews.  “They parade their sin like Sodom; they do not hide it. Woe to them! They have brought disaster upon themselves.” Isa 3:9

But then in Isaiah 4, God promised a restoration.  A remnant would remain, and this remnant would be purified.  The cool thing is this action was only a part of God’s amazing master plan to enable everyone to be his holy people.  Look at these later verses of Isaiah:

  • And there will be a highway called the Way of Holiness. The unclean will not travel it, only those who walk in that Way–and fools will not stray onto it. Isa 35:8
  • Behold, the LORD has proclaimed to the ends of the earth, “Say to Daughter Zion: See, your Savior comes! Look, His reward is with Him, and His recompense goes before Him.” And they will be called the Holy People, the Redeemed of The LORD; and you will be called Sought Out, A City Not Forsaken. Isa 62:12

God intended to make his people holy through a divine removal of their unholiness. Isaiah 4 goes on to read, “The Lord will wash away the filth of the women of Zion; he will cleanse the bloodstains from Jerusalem.”

Of course, we know this was untimately fulfilled with Jesus, and the incredible salvation we have through him!   “But you were cleansed; you were made holy; you were made right with God by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”  I Cor 6:11

Wow.  Do we remember that we are holy? That’s how the early Christians saw themselves.  They were even called “saints,” which is the Greek word, “hagios,” that can also be translated, “holy.”

  • To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints.” (I Cor 1:2)  (You can find other instances of Christians being called saints in Acts 9:32, 9:41, 26:10, Romans 1:7, 8:27, 12:13, 15:25, and the list goes on.)

So back to my analogy about cleaning.  I’m not like a German house frau.  My home isn’t always spotless.  But when my house goes on the market, that’s a different story.  Then I am wiping things down and vacumming every day!  My goal is not as much to clean, but to maintain the cleanliness.

So the way this all ties in is that we repent, and God makes us clean and holy, like when we do a deep cleaning on our house.  But just like I maintain the domestic tidiness when my house is for sale, it’s also up to us to maintain the holiness of our heart.  (Okay, it’s not a perfect metaphor, but work with me.)

And the verse that is powerful for me and I’ve been using lately is, “Remain in me, and I also will remain in you.” (John 15:4)  If I stay centered in God, it keeps me from cluttering up my heart with all kinds of other things.  It keeps me dealing with my sin.  It reminds me of what is important.

Here is a video I got from my life coaching studies that actually helps me with this.  It’s an exercise in staying focused.  When I do it, I think of being focused on God, not this guy’s face!  I think of myself choosing to think of God instead of the million other things that distract me. I picture myself settling into Jesus and staying in him.

Oh, how troubled and distracted we can be!  Our insides can feel like our house after a toddler play date!

God has made us holy, and when we center in him, we can maintain this holiness and feel clarity and peace.

Ahhh.  Do some belly breaths, and inhale God’s goodness.  It’s going to be okay.

 

 

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Filed under Holiness, Isaiah, Peace, Surrender, Uncategorized

Being a Positive Influence

Are we not all children of the same Father? Are we not all created by the same God? Then why do we betray each other, violating the covenant of our ancestors?

Judah has been unfaithful, and a detestable thing has been done in Israel and in Jerusalem. The men of Judah have defiled the Lord’s beloved sanctuary by marrying women who worship idols. May the Lord cut off from the nation of Israel every last man who has done this and yet brings an offering to the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.  Mal 2:10-12

This section of Malachi deals with the condemnation of the Jews who intermarried with women of other nations.  Ezra and Nehemiah chronicle how this was happening:

After these things had been done, the leaders came to me and said, “The people of Israel, including the priests and the Levites, have not kept themselves separate from the neighboring peoples with their detestable practices, like those of the Canaanites, Hittites, Perizzites, Jebusites, Ammonites, Moabites, Egyptians and Amorites. Ezra 9:1

Moreover, in those days I saw men of Judah who had married women from Ashdod, Ammon and Moab. Neh 13:23

It shows us that it is important to keep ourselves away from negative influences.

Ken has been really big on this lately.  He’s been listening to lessons by David Bercot, who espouses that Christians should maintain a strict purity of life.  Bercot says we need to be very vigilant against letting the world corrupt us through the media, etc, and monitor what we watch and listen to.  He says we even need to be vigilant against not letting worldly Christians corrupt us.

And then yesterday when Mike was preaching, he read, “bad company corrupts good character” in I Corinthians 15:33.  He said that we shouldn’t be best friends or spend much time with those whose lives aren’t centered around the resurrection of Christ.  I must confess, that sounded a little extreme to me, but I understand where he is coming from.  We don’t mean to, but we really do become like those we hang around with.

So maybe we’re not guilty of being married to someone who worships other gods, but what kind of detestable practices do we tolerate?  How often do we look the other way?

Ken and I were listening to Proverbs when we were driving up to Atlanta this past weekend, and we heard this convicting verse: “Like a muddied spring or a polluted fountain is a righteous man who gives way before the wicked.”  Prov. 25:26

Do we give way before the wicked?  What do we do when our friends and coworkers cuss, lie, gossip, make sexual innuendos, and so forth?  Do we try to separate ourselves?  Or have we become so inured that we just carry on, or even join in?

Do we really think we can be keep ourselves from being polluted?  I think if we’re honest with ourselves, we can see that we ARE affected by proximity to the world, be it through the people we’re around, or the things we allow ourselves to engage in.  Either we are tempted by it, or our hearts are hardened to it, and it doesn’t seem as bad anymore.

And, like a virus, our  pollution becomes contagious.  “Don’t you know that a little yeast leavens the whole batch of dough?”  II Cor 5:6  We can’t fool ourselves.  Others Christians will do what we do, and they will be affected by it as well.

That brings me to one of the most convicting parts of this passage in Malachi:  “why do we betray one another?”   As it says, we are all children of the same Father, and when we cohabit with the world, we betray our sisters and brothers because we are not helping them have a pure holy life, with a hunger only for God.  Instead, we’re helping them to have a hunger for other things.  I have been realizing more and more how necessary it is that we feed our heart with good things, and not with junk that clogs our spiritual arteries and diminishes the flow of our love for God.

In the end, I don’t know how to sort all of this out.  We don’t want to become monks or Amish.  But I do think we need to be much more cognizant of how the world affects us, and how we affect others as we engage in the things we do.

I am going to close with a little story from this weekend.  Ken and I went to see our family and go to my granddaughter’s birthday party.  As we helped my daughter get ready for the party, my husband decided to scrub at some of my daughter’s walls, which had been scribbled on by the kids.  He knew that she was embarrassed to have the birthday guests see the walls, but hadn’t been able to clean them.  So my husband got a cloth and some cleaner, and applied a lot of painstaking elbow grease.  After awhile, my son saw him scrubbing, and got a cloth and helped too.  And they were able to get the walls clean, and it looked so much better!

My daughter told me later that it reminded her of Jesus, and how he washed his disciples’ feet.  Her dad washed the things that were dirty and embarrassing, that no one else wanted to work on.  And then his good deeds influenced her brother to wash as well.

Good deeds are contagious.  Bad ones are too.  Let’s make it our goal to live a holy life and be a positive influence, not be a negative one!

Therefore, since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God. II Cor 7:1

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.  James 1:27

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Our Deepest Purpose: To Be Transformed

 transformed

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what my purpose is.  Why did God create me?  So I started studying it out.  I wanted to discover that my purpose is to achieve some kind of great accomplishment.  And maybe that is true.

But maybe my deepest purpose isn’t to accomplish a great work.

Maybe it’s for a great work to be accomplished in me.

As I said in my last blog, the reason we were CREATED was to be holy and righteous.  (Eph 4:24)

Through Christ we are enabled to fulfill this destiny:  “For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love, he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ.”  Eph 1:4-5

But the creation isn’t finished.  Yes, there in no condemnation for those in Christ, yes, Jesus gives us his righteousness, but God’s also at work in us, molding and chiseling us into what His dream is for us to be.

  • for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.
  • Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,  Eph 3:20
  • God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness.  Heb. 12:10
  • He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.  John 15:2

Romans 8:29 says, “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son.”  The Greek word here for “conformed” is “symmorphos” which means to change to become like something.   God is transforming us to become like his son.

And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.  II Cor 3:18

The process of my transformation is epic.  With God as the craftsman, it is a meticulous beautiful process.

I see it as chaotic and painful.  Things go wrong.  I have health challenges.  I have mood challenges.

BUT– “Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.”  II Cor 4:17

Every day, I am being transformed.  WITH GOD, I am working out, fulfilling, my purpose.  I am being pruned.  I am being refined. I am being shaped into something multifaceted and wonderful.

scupture

A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart.  Luke 6:45

Jesus was concerned, first and foremost, with the inside.  He told the Pharisees to first clean the inside of the cup, and then the outside of the cup would be clean.  The most important thing in life is to work on your heart.

So if there are any worthy accomplishments I hope to achieve, they can only come from a heart that God has transformed.  This must be my focus — to trust and submit, and embrace my greatest purpose.

Does the clay say to the potter, ‘What are you making?’ Does your work say, ‘The potter has no hands’?  Is 45:9

God wanted his people throughout the world to know the glorious riches of this mystery-which is Christ living in you, giving you the hope of glory  Col 1:27

 

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Filed under Favorite, Having the Right Heart, Holiness, Luke, Things I Am Learning

Covered with Brilliance

Sometimes we need more than love.  It is wonderful to call God our Daddy, and wrap ourselves in his unconditional embrace.  But a covering of love doesn’t change our weak and wounded sinful state.

We need righteousness.

I watched a documentary last night, “Desire of the Everlasting Hills,” about three homosexuals who chose to live a life for God and be chaste.

gay man

One of them had engaged in over one thousand sexual encounters with men. He discussed how 90% of the people he knew died of AIDS, so finally he went to get tested for AIDS.  On the way, in the car, he had a spiritual experience.  He said God told him that he did not have AIDS, that there was a purpose for his life.

Sure enough, in spite of his flagrant promiscuity, this man did not have AIDS.   It was profoundly life changing for him.  He, who thought his acts had given him the sentence of death, had been given the gift of life.

But that wasn’t what he was most grateful for.  He went to a priest and confessed his sins, not just his sexual immorality, but the selfishness that pervaded every area of his life.  He felt that he was forgiven, and in a right relationship with God.  For him this was the best thing.

And that is what we all long for, a state of righteousness.

light blinding

God is righteousness.  He isn’t just love, He is a consuming fire, blindingly radiant, awesomely holy.

  • God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see…  I Tim 6:15-16
  • “you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.”  Ex 3:20
  • Now the appearance of the glory of the LORD was like a devouring fire on the top of the mountain in the sight of the people of Israel.  Ex 24:17
  • And the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the LORD filled his temple.
      I Kings 8:11.  The same thing happens in Exodus 40:35,
  •  I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another:Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.”  Is 6:1-3

The Righteous Robe: John Katerberg.

The Righteous Robe: John Katerberg.

We’re the opposite.  No matter how good we are, no matter how hard we try, our righteous acts are as filthy rags (Is 64:6), we wallow in a slimy pit.  But God offers us his righteous, and it is like light covering a ball of sludge.

  • “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”  II Cor 5:21
  • In his days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely. And this is the name by which he will be called: ‘The LORD is our righteousness.”  Jer 23:6
  • It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God–that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.  I Cor 1:30
  • I delight greatly in the LORD; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.  Is 61:10

In the documentary, I loved to watch how God orchestrated times in these peoples’ lives when they could SEE.  They saw their moral poverty.  They saw that God is good.  They saw that there was hope. They saw the truth.

God gives us all such times in our lives.  Times when we realize, as in Rev. 3:17, that we are, “wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.”

What a comfort it is that we can approach an amazing transcendent God, who fills our heart to overflowing, and covers our inadequacies with his beautiful brilliance.

 

 

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Filed under Abundance/Greatness of God, Beauty of God, Holiness, Things I Am Learning

Above All Else: For God’s Glory

WE ARE CREATED TO GLORIFY GOD, ever and ever to praise Him, the Alpha and Omega, the Almighty.  This is His just due, not because He is an egotist, but because it is the natural order that the one who made everything and has power over everything should be acknowledged accordingly.

Throughout history, God shaped a people who would reflect His holiness and bring Him glory.  They would be His treasure and delight.  Look at the verses below that chronicle this plan from God’s very heart:

  • Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession.  Ex 19:5
  • But as for you, the LORD took you and brought you out of the iron-smelting furnace, out of Egypt, to be the people of his inheritance, as you now are. Deut 4:12
  • For you are a people holy to the LORD your God. The LORD your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession. Deut 7:6
  • Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth– every one who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory.   Isa 43:6-7
  • They will no longer defile themselves with their idols and vile images or with any of their offenses, for I will save them from all their sinful backsliding, and I will cleanse them. They will be my people, and I will be their God. Ez 37:23
  • Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word   Eph 5:26
  • who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good  Titus 2:14
  • But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.  I Peter 2:9
  • In him we were also chosen, … in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. Eph 1:11-12;

But too often we treat God as impotent and uncaring.  We don’t think He will answer our prayers.  We don’t live bold lives.  Instead, we are swamped with discouragement.  We compromise.  We lose our dreams.

God’s name is to be exalted, not profaned or belittled.  He is to be honored as HOLY, POWERFUL AND FAITHFUL.  Through the ages, He has upheld His name, and we should do the same.

  • I acted for the sake of my name, that it should not be profaned in the sight of the nations, in whose sight I had brought them out Ez 20:14;
  • for the Lord will not forsake his people, for his great name’s sake. How can I let myself be defamed? I will not yield my glory to another. Is 48:11;
  • But for the sake of my name, I brought them out of Egypt. I did it to keep my name from being profaned in the eyes of the nations among whom they lived Ez 20:9
  • I will make known my holy name among my people Israel. I will no longer let my holy name be profaned, and the nations will know that I the LORD am the Holy One in Israel. Ex 39:7
  • Tell Aaron and his sons to treat with respect the sacred offerings the Israelites consecrate to me, so they will not profane my holy name. I am the LORD. Lev 22:2
  • But the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, ‘Because you did not trust in me enough to honor me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them.’
  • And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.  Heb 11:6

I am posting a picture from a church wedding I recently attended.  Look how everyone is celebrating!  Our hearts were bursting with joy and praise for God.  He worked powerfully to save and to bless abundantly, to give hope.

1529840_651025674952839_752902502142490133_o

On Friday night I went to a Bible talk and we talked about the parable of the unmerciful servant. (Luke 18)  I thought one reason the servant didn’t forgive his fellow servant was that he took for granted the amazing mercy he had been shown when his own debt had been forgiven.

Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.  At this the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.  Matt 18:25-27

We have been given so much.   We should be filled with joy, live lives of celebration, constantly giving glory to God and Christ.  We have a wonderful merciful savior.  He is faithful to us, His treasured possession.  We must honor HIS HOLINESS AND HIS NAME by living powerful, effective lives that DELIGHT in Him.  Amen.

 

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Shattered

shattered

Yesterday I dropped the lid to my crockpot and it shattered all over the kitchen floor.   Of course, it happened at the worst time, when I was juggling several things (not the lid!)  to try to get as much done as possible.  I was feeling overwhelmed, and then the lid slips and pretty crystal bits of glass go everywhere!

Interestingly, the glass kept on popping and cracking after it broke.  It sounded like Rise Crispies!  It would even jump a bit.

But I digress.  The lid breaking seemed to be a metaphor for how I was feeling.  My focus was shattered.

An hour or so later, at yoga,  the leader read a devotional that said, “Don’t let your focus be shattered.  Keep your eyes and thoughts on Jesus.”

Wow.  That word “shattered.”  That exactly applied to me!  The pressures of life make me feel fragmented.  The smallest thing happens and I  disintegrate.

I am trying to learn instead how to stay focused, centered,  in that sweet spot where I am resting in Jesus, in tune with Him, connected to Him.

So I’m looking at how Jesus stayed centered.  Here is one way:

 “Now my soul is deeply troubled. Should I pray, ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But this is the very reason I came! Father, bring glory to your name.”  Then a voice spoke from heaven, saying, “I have already brought glory to my name, and I will do so again.”

Jesus was centered by focusing on bringing glory to God.

Here’s another verse along that line that has been magical to me over the years:

“Whoever speaks on their own does so to gain personal glory, but he who seeks the glory of the one who sent him is a man of truth; there is nothing false about him.”  John 7:18

We are PURE, single-minded, when we seek God’s glory.  We are not distracted by other motivations, most notably desire to please self or others.

To finish this morning’s devotional, I read the PERFECT thing — a selection from Gordon Ferguson’s book, “Golden Rule Leadership.”  In it, Ferguson talks about how to focus on God better, and not on self.  Here is what I loved that I read:

“Seeing great things happen in the church is not determined by the talent of the group.  It is determined by our understanding of and our convictions about how to gain strength for the task.

“The biggest mistake we make as leaders is when we take stock of our strengths and weaknesses, and then we rely on our strengths.   . . If we lead spiritually by relying on our strengths, we are doomed to fail.  (This) leads to arrogance, pride, competitiveness and humanism.

“Spiritual leadership first and foremost involves being spiritual.  And being spiritual first and foremost involves crucifying our dependence on self and replacing it with reliance on God.   We truly rely on God by focusing on our weaknesses and on God’s call to lead his people.  . . We will say, ‘Woe is me.  I need help,’ like in Isaiah 6.”

Here are some awesome verses about this:

Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help, who rely on horses, who trust in the multitude of their chariots and in the great strength of their horsemen, but do not look to the Holy One of Israel, or seek help from the LORD.  Is 31:1

This is what the LORD says: “Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who draws strength from mere flesh and whose heart turns away from the LORD.  Jer 17:5

But you have planted wickedness, you have reaped evil, you have eaten the fruit of deception. Because you have depended on your own strength and on your many warriors  Hos 10:13

But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.  II Cor 1:9

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.  II Cor 12:8-9

Such confidence we have through Christ before God. Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God.  II Cor 3:4-5

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