Who Gets the Glory?

Monday, October 13, 2014, 7:40 a.m. – the Lord Jesus put in mind the song, “Bring Back the Glory.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Ephesians 3:14-21 (ESV).

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. ~ Eph. 3:14-19​

The Riches of His Glory

Glory here can be defined as “magnificence, splendor, excellence, beauty, wonder, infinite and essential worth, and/or substance,” etc. In other words, this word here describes God’s divine qualities, the essence of who he is. He is love, mercy, grace, kindness, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, and faithfulness. He is all powerful, all knowing, and he is everywhere at all times. He is compassionate, comforting, nurturing, and forgiving, but he is also a just God and thus also can display his wrath and his righteous anger. As well, he is truthful, demonstrating complete integrity, and so we can take him at his word forever and always.

Because of God’s great love and mercy to us in sending his Son Jesus Christ to die on the cross for our sins, we can be forgiven of our sins, and set free from the control of sin over our lives, as well as be set free to walk daily in his righteousness and holiness – all in the power and working of the Spirit within us. Amen! All we have to do is to accept by faith what Jesus Christ did for us in dying for our sins. Yet, this faith is not an intellectual assent to what he did for us nor is it an emotional one-time experience at a church altar. This faith is described for us in the word of God in terms of us submitting to the cross of Christ and in surrendering our lives to God by us willingly dying with Christ to the sin which once enslaved us; by yielding to the transformation of heart and mind of the Spirit of God, and by us allowing the Holy Spirit to make us into new creations, “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (See: Eph. 4:17-24; cf. Ro. 6-8; 2 Co. 5:15; & 1 Jn. 1-5).

Through our faith in Jesus Christ we can now come before God with boldness and confidence, as well as we can share his gospel of salvation throughout the world with that same boldness and confidence in our relationship with God through our faith in Jesus Christ. We don’t have to wonder if we are going to heaven when we die. We don’t have to guess and just hope that we are forgiven of our sins and that Jesus has truly set us free. We can know this without a shadow of a doubt. I love the old song that says, “You ask me how I know he lives. He lives within my heart.” Amen! Our faith is not a religion or a set of religious rules and practices. Through faith in Jesus Christ we have been given new lives in Christ, and our faith is now a relationship (intimate) with Almighty God, whom we serve.

For this reason, i.e. because of this confidence and boldness in our relationship with our Lord, we can come to the Father with our prayers and requests, believing that he hears us, that he cares about us, and that he will answer us. And, included in our times of prayer with our heavenly Father should be prayer for our brothers and sisters in Christ, as well as we should be praying for the people of the world and our unsaved family members to come to faith in Jesus Christ. Yet, to know how to pray for the church, the body of Christ, which is our family through faith in Christ Jesus, we need to be made aware of their spiritual needs, so we know how we should pray for them. So, if we ask the Lord to show us, he will.

This prayer of Paul’s is a wonderful prayer for the church which we can incorporate into our own times of prayer for our brothers and sisters in the Lord. Because God is all powerful, full of grace and mercy, and he is love, he is anxious to meet our true needs, and he is fully able to meet them, as well, for his resources are unlimited. They know no bounds. Amen! If we ask, he will empower us with inner strength through his Spirit to live godly and holy lives pleasing to him, to be his witnesses throughout the world, to fight off Satan’s evil attacks against us, and to boldly defend the truth of his word against all opposing forces. No matter how timid we might be by nature, and no matter how many times we have been shot down for our faith, he will give us the boldness and confidence in Him we need to keep on speaking his truths, and to keep on telling people about his wonderful love and grace to us.

When we walk by faith, and not by sight, and we allow the Spirit of God free access to our lives – our time, emotions, intellect, reasoning, thinking, money, possessions, etc. – and we allow him to empower us with inner strength through his Spirit, then Christ Jesus can feel at home and he will make himself at home in our hearts, because we made the room for him. When we willingly let go of all the junk in our lives which is crowding him out of our lives, and we yield control of our lives over to him, then he is free to rule and to reign in our lives. When this happens, then we can grow in our faith, and then our commitment and allegiance to Christ and to his word will deepen and will become stronger and more secure, and we will be confident in his love and his care for us, and thus we will trust him even more.

Be Glory in The Church

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. ~ Eph. 3:20-21​

Glory can be defined here as “honor, prominence, popularity, recognition, value, worth, praise, fame, admiration, stardom, credit and/or approval,” etc. So, in our churches here in America, who truly gets the glory? Who gets the prominence? Be honest! It is easy to mouth the words, “God does,” because we know he should, but is that true? - Really? We may sing praise and worship songs in which the words give God glory, honor and praise, but are we truly giving him top billing in our churches, in our public meetings, in our personal times of worship with him, and most importantly, with our lives (with our whole being)?

The scriptures teach that, because of God’s great mercy to us, we are to give our very lives to God, holy and pleasing to him, which is our reasonable and acceptable service of worship of him. Included in that is that we are to no longer be conformed to the ways (patterns; behaviors; philosophies; and values) of this world, but we are to let God transform us in our minds (thinking) so that we will learn to know (discern) God’s good, pleasing and perfect will for us. In other words, we should no longer live like the world does by copying their behavior and customs (See: Ro. 12:1-2). The word “holy” means to be set apart (be separate; unlike; different) from the world, and to be set apart to God and to his service.

So, again I ask, “Who gets the glory in our churches?” I believe, from what I have personally experienced in churches here in America in the past 15 years, and from what I have observed from conversations with others, from what I have read in books and in blogs, and on Christian discussion and social media sites, or in published articles, and from what the Holy Spirit of God has impressed upon my own heart, that God is not truly the one getting top billing in our churches, in our public or private meetings, and not in many of our lives personally, either.

Instead, I believe human beings are the ones getting the bulk of the honor, recognition, praise, prominence, and admiration from us both in our personal lives and in our churches. Don’t believe me? Examine your own lives and see who it is you are honoring most by what you think, do, believe and say throughout your day. Is Jesus truly your all in all? Is he truly Lord (master; ruler) of your life? Pay attention in church. Is the Holy Spirit the one truly leading and guiding your times together, or are your meetings all orchestrated of humans in order to be appealing to other humans? Who is on stage? On whom is the primary focus? Who is the one discussed after the service is over? Jesus? - The band? – Or the preacher?

Testing Ourselves

When you are on social media or on Christian or other discussion sites, who or what do you primarily speak about? When you are with friends and/or with family, who or what is the main topic of conversation? When you make decisions for your life, who do you consult first and foremost for counsel? When you plan out your day, do you take God into consideration in your plans? Does he enter into your thinking throughout your day? Do you converse with him during the course of your day? Do you sense his presence with you always, guiding you, leading you in the way you should go? Do you consider whether or not he would approve of your entertainment choices? When you are watching or listening to something, and it has something obviously offensive in it, do you turn it off or walk away, even if you are with your friends, or do you continue so as not to cause embarrassment to anyone?

In your churches, what is the main source for the teaching? You say, “The Bible.” - Really? Are you sure? Does you pastor teach chapter by chapter and verse by verse, and does he cross reference the verses with other verses, and does he explain what these verses mean in context, and does he then apply the core meaning of the passage to your lives? Or, does he teach topically and jump around? Topical studies are not bad, mind you, but there is a danger with them in that scriptures are taken out of context and they can be made to mean anything. So much of what is being passed off as teaching from the Word today is really humanistic philosophy with scriptures thrown in there to give it credence. So, test everything you hear, read or see, to make sure that what is being taught is the truth.

Bottom line: We need to bring back the glory of God into our lives and into our churches by following the teaching of Romans 12:1-2 in giving our lives wholly to God for his service, living holy and pleasing lives unto him, no longer behaving just like the world around us, but truly being transformed in heart and mind of the Spirit of God. For, Jesus died so that we would die to sin, be changed, and be given new lives to live in the power and working of the Spirit within us (See: Ro. 6-8; Eph. 4:17-24). He died so that we would no longer live for ourselves but for him who gave himself up for us (See: 2 Co. 5:15). And, his grace teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled and upright lives in this present age while we wait for his glorious return (See: Tit. 2:11-14).

Bring Back the Glory / Wm. Gaither, Gloria Gaither & Bill George

Bring back the Glory
Won't you show us what life is for
Bring back the Glory
Make us open once more
Bring back the music, the trust, the wonder
That's just like a child who has never known pain
Bring back the Glory
The Glory again