Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Discerning God's Will Together Part V

Carly Simon took a page right out of scripture when she sang, “You’re so vain, you think this song is about you, you’re so vain.” We are so vain! We as believers have a tendency to think this song, this life, this age is all about us. Well, let me tell you right now it is not about us. It is all about Him!

We think that God is all about us. Well, let me tell you, God is all about Himself. God is all about promoting, preserving, and protecting his glorious character and nature. Everything God does is motivated by a desire to be praised.

Don’t get me wrong, we benefit tremendously by what God does for us including our redemption. We are not the center of the universe. We hear many times praise to the glory of God for the results of God’s actions – God answers prayer and provides say a house payment or a job, and we give glory to God for his actions – He provided what was needed. God is great and we love God for that.

We don’t hear praise often to God’s glory for the goal and purpose of that action. The goal or purpose was to find satisfaction in him and in our praise of him to enjoy him to the fullest.

God governs this world and everything in it to the end that He might be admired, marveled at, exalted, and praised. Jesus is returning one day, why?

II Thessalonians 1:10 – “when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints and to be marveled at among all who have believed…”

It is ok and easy to think that God is worthy to be praised, but it is hard to imagine that God actively seeks to be praised. God’s clear purpose in Scripture is to exalt Himself in the eyes of man. He is to be admired, praised, and marveled by man. 

Christ is returning to this earth so that he can be marveled at, did you see that? God wants to be admired. I hope to show you as best as I can that God’s aim and effort is glory for Himself and that there is no fault in God for that.

Why is this important to understand?

First it is important to understand because God is worthy of glory – He is worthy to be admired & praised!

Secondly, it is important to understand, because if we are not careful we begin to think that all of this is about us.

  • We are prone to think that God must always do right by us by our standards of what is right. We are prone to fail to see God’s ultimate purpose for either all of the good stuff in our lives or the bad stuff in our lives.

  • We are prone to misrepresent God and teach falsely that God had a need, or that God was lonely, or that God created us for fellowship, or that God created us in order to save us.

  • We are prone to think more highly of ourselves than we should and we are prone to make ourselves the center of our universe rather than God as the center of our universe For the record by the way, this makes us many times no different than the prosperity gospel or health and wealth false teachers:

  • We begin to think that God is only good when my bills are paid, my children are behaved, my car is running, and I am happy! God is good when the bills aren’t paid, and the house is foreclosed upon, and the children don’t behave, and the car died, and you are sick and not happy. 
Thirdly, it is important to understand because God is unique as he is the most glorious of all beings and He is totally self-sufficient. God must be for Himself first and foremost in order to be for us.

Let me share this truth with you that I learned from John Piper. He learned this truth from C. S. Lewis. I really want you to get this. C. S. Lewis describes his insight from his book on the Psalms

“But the most obvious fact about praise -- whether of God or anything -- strangely escaped me. I thought of it in terms of compliment, approval, or the giving of honor. I had never noticed that all enjoyment spontaneously overflows into praise unless sometimes even if shyness or the fear of boring others is deliberately brought in to check it.

The world rings with praise -- lovers praising their mistresses, readers their favorite poet, walkers praising the countryside, players praising their favorite game -- praise of weather, wines, dishes, actors, horses, colleges, countries, historical personages, children, flowers, mountains, rare stamps, rare beetles, even sometimes politicians and scholars…

My whole, more general difficulty, about the praise of God depended on my absurdly denying to us, as regards the supremely Valuable, what we delight to do, what indeed we can't help doing, about everything else we value.

I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation. It is not out of compliment that lovers keep on telling one another how beautiful they are, the delight is incomplete till it is expressed. (Reflections on the Psalms, pp. 93-95)

What does Lewis mean? Did you get what he meant? Do you see what he said? He said… We praise what we enjoy because the full enjoyment is not completed until our enjoyment is expressed in praise. Let me say it again.

We praise what we enjoy because the full enjoyment is not completed until our enjoyment is expressed in praise. If we are not allowed to speak of what we value or enjoy or delight in, our joy would not be full or complete.

Therefore God makes it His aim to win our praise for Himself, Not because there is a weakness or flaw in God and it is not because God is compensating for some kind of deficiency, but God seeks our praise because he loves us and wants your joy to be full or complete. Your joy of God can only be full or complete when you are praising him and exalting him.

So, when God says in Ephesians 1 that He does all things for “…to the praise of His glory.” He is giving you and me the only thing that can satisfy of our all heart, the opportunity to fulfill our joy by praising Him.

This is the answer to the faulty charge of why God does what he does in the exercise of his will. Yes, God could prevent cancer, he could prevent divorce, adultery, bankruptcy, foreclosures, job loss but it is through these things that he seeks to be praised in order for our joy to be complete in him and not in those things. God is not operating to make our life easy, fun, fulfilled, or grand. Joel Olsteen is as far wrong as a person can be. Our best life will never be now. In this life we are called to a life of suffering. Our best life will be when we are in the presence of God and he lavishes the grace of Christ on us for all of eternity. (Ephesians)

God in his grace and wisdom is always moving in our lives to drive us to himself. Everything is necessarily in his will and it those things determined or purposed by God that becomes the means or the vehicle in which God presents himself so that we can admire him, love him, and praise him.

Too many times we want the gift and not the giver of the gift. We want the grace and not the giver of grace. God allows evil and heart-ache and sovereignly uses it in order for us to seek him and to be totally satisfied with him. This total satisfaction causes us to praise him which is the expression of our joy in its fullest state.

Tomorrow, I want to look at two situations engineered by God for his glory. I also want to tie in comments from the first post also.



A thought provoking post which ave set me thinking about many issues.
I really do enjoy your daily post.

Thanks for your visit on my Heaven Eleven, I suppose being on opposite sides of the ocean there are bound to be songs/singers one dosn't know about, also you mentioned about the singers singing about God but whether they belive in God, Well I can vouch for Daniel O Donnell who I personally know, he is a devout Catholic and wherever he is in the world he always attend Mass on a Sunday, Perhaps some singers sing insprational songs for their image I can't answer for everone I wrote about but those songs/singers impressed me to write about them.

Have a grand day.

arlee bird said...

This post is fairly clear to me.

My question: If we are made in God's image, is that why we often individually seek praise for ourselves and our accomplishments--or at least appreciate the praise and recognition? Does this also explain why we would see ourselves as "the center of the universe"? Is there something about our limited base nature that causes us to put ourselves in a sort of internal competition with God?

Tossing It Out

Victoria said...

I am an editor for Christian.com which is a social network dedicated to the christian community. As I look through your web site I feel a collaboration is at hand. I would be inclined to acknowledge your website offering it to our users as I'm sure our Christian reformed audience would benefit from what your site has to offer. I look forward to your thoughts or questions regarding the matter.

Vicky Silvers

Gregg said...

Yvonne - thanks again for your comment. I am that it is causing you to think - not that you don't, but we need to be thinking people when it comes to the Scriptures and their meaning for our lives. Le me know if I can help.

Lee - I am so glad this post was clear. I will answer you request along with a number of others that are related over the next several days. Thanks for hanging in there and thanks for not simply slamming the door shut.

As far as why we seek praise and adoration, and accolmation for ourselves is partly based on our similarites in attributes to our God who created us. The main reason is that it is vanity and pride in us.

Now, it is sinful pride that causes us to think that we are "the center of the universe." Human pride exalts us to a status of "all things revolve around me" syndrome. For some this is very serious, meglomaniacs, Napolean complexes, ego-maniacs down to normal humans who are by nature ego-centric at the least. Regardless of how we have been trained, developed, coerced, motivated to be giving - some natures are more than others - we still at bottom line are ego-centric. Even the man who hangs himself, Blaise Pascal says, is seeking his own happiness. Albeit a happiness in an unkown future as compared to the present - but if he hangs himself he is seeking self, centered happiness.

Even the soldier who jumps on a gernande to save his buddies, is motivated by ego-centric designs originating from his sinful innate human nature. Those designs are to be brave, to be well thought of, to be a hero, to do what others wouldn't do, etc. In this sinful state in which we now live, even our best efforts, best motivations, etc, are still tainted with sin.

Yes to your last answer it is called sin. Sin puts us at odds with God. Sin must be mortified or put to death. Redemption frees us from the penalty of sin, and the power of sin, but we are not free from the presence of sin until we step into the presence of God. So, even in a redeemed state we still sin. Through the power of the Holy Spirit we are to put to death sin, Paul says in Romans and Ephesians in particular.

Victoria - I sent you an email. How can I help?

Pilgrim Mommy said...

Great series of posts. I think mankind's default is vanity and self-centeredness. The root of why we want to be the center of the universe goes back to Genesis 3 and the first lie, "You will be like God." Man bought into that lie, and we've been wanting to deify ourselves ever since, but for the saving mercy and grace of God in Jesus Christ. That's why my gut reaction to circumstances is often "Is this what I want?" rather than "Does this glorify God?" This will be a fight until the day I die or Christ comes back.


Gregg, your quote from C. S. Lewis - Reflections on the Psalms - was very helpful and "yes" I do get what he means. I saved this quote and plan to read it often.

Thanks again, Ron

Psalm 150:6 (King James Version)
Let every thing that hath breath praise the LORD. Praise ye the LORD.

IanH said...

Gregg, it's very easy to say when things are going good " Wow, I did great today". Rather we should be giving thanks to the Lord for allowing things to go well, for his help, and for all his blessings.
When things are going bad, we should be thanking Him for the opportunity to grow wiser in life through our mistakes. Too many people blame God in this scenario, and miss the opportunity for wisdom.

It is definitely not about me, you, or us.

Kansas Bob said...

I have always thought it interesting how God commands us to to love Him with all we have and our neighbor as ourself. It does seem that when we love others we become an extension of God.. like John says.. how can you say you love God who you can't see when you do not love a person that you can see. I guess what I am trying to say is that loving God many times looks like loving people. It may not be about me loving me but it could be about God loving you through me. Hope that makes sense.

Scott Weldon said...

There's a great book called Cat and Dog Theology by Bob Sjogren & Gerald Robison. It compares our attitude toward God to that of either a dog, in which we focus on the Master, please Him, etc.; or that of a cat, which focuses on self and sees God as there simply to serve us. It's a great addition to the conversation in this post. Thanks for sharing this. It's much needed.