Sunday, April 26, 2009

Soli Deo Gloria

Journal Entry, April 25:

I wake with self recriminations. Too public. Too vocal. Too out there. I wonder if Jesus “called” Judas and “knew him” the same way he chose the others (John 6). Did he love him, too? Likely so, as he IS love. He loves me too, even in my broken humanity.

I am not my own. I am bought with a price. Why do I keep putting my story ahead of God’s? How others must resent that. How it must grieve the Spirit.

Oswald Chambers writes in My Utmost for His Highest for April 24:

The Warning Against Desiring Spiritual Success

"Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven." Luke 10:20

Worldliness is not the trap that most endangers us as Christian workers; nor is it sin. The trap we fall into is extravagantly desiring spiritual success; that is, success measured by, and patterned after, the form set by this religious age in which we now live. Never seek after anything other than the approval of God, and always be willing to go "outside the camp, bearing His reproach" (Hebrews 13:13). In Luke 10:20, Jesus told the disciples not to rejoice in successful service, and yet this seems to be the one thing in which most of us do rejoice. We have a commercialized view— we count how many souls have been saved and sanctified, we thank God, and then we think everything is all right. Yet our work only begins where God’s grace has laid the foundation. Our work is not to save souls, but to disciple them. Salvation and sanctification are the work of God’s sovereign grace, and our work as His disciples is to disciple others’ lives.
Sometimes those of us in the church (who have the gift of creative communication) can be such actors. Is the person next to me deeper than I am? Does it even matter? How do I measure spiritual success? Those two words don’t even belong together.

A passage from Philippians 3 comes to mind where the Apostle Paul talks about not flaunting our human abilities:
Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord! ... If anyone else thinks he has reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: as for legalistic righteousness, faultless.

But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of
knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.

Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you. For, as I have often told you before and now say again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven.
The very same day, Dr. Neil Anderson’s devotional discussed temptations we face:
In 1 John 2:15-17, the three channels of temptation are the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life. The lust of the flesh preys on our physical appetites and their gratifications in this world. The lust of the eyes appeals to self-interest and tests the Word of God. The pride of life stresses self-promotion and self-exaltation. Satan confronted both the first Adam and the last Adam (Christ) through each of these three channels of temptation.
There is a danger for those of us in the organized church to pursue spiritual success, driven by the pride of life and a natural desire for the applause of people. I must lose myself in God for himself alone. Nothing else. No one else. Only then will his work be accomplished for his glory and not mine. I cannot judge my own humility. I must keep my eyes fixed on Jesus. When I am most humble, most sincerely worshiping, most unselfishly serving, I will not be aware of it, for my eyes will be focused on him. It is out of a love relationship that humility, worship and service spring. For God and God alone.

Soli Deo Gloria.

*image of "SDG" at the end of a G.F. Handel manuscript. Public domain. Source: Wikipedia. 

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