For Whose Glory?

Posted on 04/20/2008 by Rev. Benjamin R. Faust D.D.

AUDIO: dialup - broadband - podcast

TRANSCRIPT: (may not contain everything found in the audio above)

Good morning, and welcome to Abundant Living Ministries CyberChurch!

A special welcome to our visitors. We're glad you've come to worship with us. Be sure to click the welcome sign in the foyer before you leave, and pick up a few free gifts from us.

You may have noticed our visiting celebrity here today. And he is the first to wear the new logo for Second Life Christians. Yes, the "king of rock and roll" is instead giving glory to the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords (and those of you present here in Second Life should know what I'm talking about).

If you can zoom in with your camera or see the overheads, this is the new logo for the Second Life Christians group. It shows that we follow the "Fisher of Men," Jesus Christ, and that he has not left us nor forsaken us, but is watching over us always.

If you're a Christian but are not a member of the Second Life Christians group, you're invited to click Search, click the Groups tab, type in "Second Life Christians," and click Join.

Many thanks to California, owner of the dokimos Cafe across from the church and the website dokimos.org, for designing this logo and using his skills for the glory of God.

If you didn't get a T-Shirt when you came in today, be sure you get one from us before you leave as a free gift.

Let's all stand to our feet and put our attention on the reason we're here.

Lord God, thank you for giving us the opportunity to gather here in your name and to seek after you. And thank you that you're here with us, and that you love us with an everlasting love. Thank you for your Holy Spirit, who comforts us, guides us, enlightens us, convicts us, and transforms us, as we seek after you and hide your Word in our hearts.

We pray for the needs our brothers and sisters have asked us to bring to you in prayer.


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I am a divorcee(before I was saved), Zambian-born, living in Botswana for the past 18 years. I am training to become a pastor in a local Baptist Church. One of my challenges has been to find a true believer for a wife. Kindly pray for me to find a partner who will satsify both God's requirements and the demands on a pastor's requirements.
   –Lucky Chishiki

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*** recurring requests ***

*** prayer for unspoken ***

*** prayer for service ***


Please remain standing. Turn around and touch one of the offering plates by the door, and let's worship God with our offerings.

Touch the pulpit for a notecard, and let's sing praises to God.

KING OF KINGS

King of Kings and Lord of Lords
    Glory, Hallelujah!
King of Kings and Lord of Lords
    Glory, Hallelujah!

Jesus, Prince of Peace
    Glory, Hallelujah!
Jesus, Prince of Peace
    Glory, Hallelujah!


I SURRENDER ALL

All to Jesus I surrender
All to him I freely give
I will ever love and trust him
In his presence daily live

All to Jesus I surrender
Humbly at his feet I bow
Worldly pleasures all forsaken
Take me, Jesus, take me now

All to Jesus I surrender
Lord, I give my self to thee
Fill me with thy love and power
Let thy blessing fall on me

I surrender all
I surrender all
All to thee, my blessed Savior
I surrender all


INTO MY HEART

Come Into my heart, come into my heart
Come into my heart Lord Jesus
Come in today, come in to stay
Come into my heart Lord Jesus


HE IS LORD

For he is Lord, he is Lord
He has risen from the dead
and he is Lord
Every knee shall bow
Every tongue confess
that Jesus Christ is Lord

For you're my Lord, you're my Lord
You have risen from the dead
and you're my Lord
Every knee shall bow
Every tongue confess
that Jesus Christ is Lord


God is here with us today. Can you sense him? If you lifted up your heart to God saying, "I surrender to you, come into my heart, Jesus is Lord," then something has happened inside of you. Just continue to let God do a work in you today, as we turn to his Word and hear the message he has for us today.


You can be seated.


The title of my message today is, "For Whose Glory?" And even though we may have never asked this question, it is answered for us over and over again.

Let's ponder this question in context of our lives today, then we'll talk about why this question even matters at all.

Think of your favorite actor or actress. When they play that star role in your favorite movie, who is your primary focus? And who gets the glory for their performance?

How about your favorite sports hero. When he's on the ball field, where does your focus lie? And who gets the glory for the homerun, the touchdown, or the slam dunk?

Or how about your favorite musical artist. When your favorite song comes on, who is your primary focus? Surely not the background singers, unless he or she is one of them. And who gets the glory for his or her skilled performance?


Another question, for whose glory do you suppose the actor, sports hero, or musical artist is acting, playing, or singing?

Well, let's rephrase that question and make it a bit more personal. When you do something at which you're good, don't you want others to notice you and praise your tallent? And don't we all seek glory for ourselves?

Most of us have dreamed at some point in our lives about being a movie star or famous sports hero or singer or musician. It's exhillarating to think of being in the lime light, having thousands of people screaming out our names, being loved and adored by millions, and having glory lavished upon us.

But I'm going to challenge you today to do what few are brave enough to do. I'm going to dare you to look beyond the spinning, hypnotic chant of the masses and search for the fresh, living light of truth.


Let's take just a moment to consider some of those who have basked in the spotlight, with millions who loved, adored, and envied them, wishing they could be just like them.


Let's ponder the life of one such person, Marilyn Monroe. The women wanted to be like her. The men wanted to be with her. She was loved and adored by millions. She had great riches, and was bathed in glory and earthly splendor. Idolized and envied, the world wished they could have just a tiny drop of that in which she was immersed.

And yet there was something seriously wrong. While she wore confidence and joy for the public to see, she found herself more and more empty, miserable, and alone. After all, someone with true joy and peace doesn't need to find it in a bottle. And shortly after being given one last chance for true peace, and telling the evangelist Billy Graham, "I don't need your Jesus, Billy," she died of a fatal overdose.

Or how about Kurt Cobain, the founder of the group Nirvana. In 1991, the arrival of his group's song "Smells Like Teen Spirit" marked the beginning of a dramatic shift of popular rock music away from the dominant genres of the 1980s. The music media eventually awarded his song "Anthem-of-a-Generation" status, and Cobain was labeled as "a spokesman for Generation X."

He had riches. He had fame. He was part of a shift in popular music. He was labeled as a spokesman for his generation. And yet at the young age of 27, he shot himself in the head.

He found glory for himself. But he was empty and without hope, and took his own life.


Let's ponder the end of a few more celebrities, those who should have been happy and fulfilled, those who people looked up to and envied, those who had everything, including the glory for which we all seek. Here's a brief list of the hundreds of names of celebrities who comitted suicide.

Chris Acland, hung himself
Stanley Adams, shot himself
Chris Adkisson, shot himself
Ross Alexander, shot himself
Michael Alfonso, a.k.a. Mike Awesome, hung himself
Prince Alfred of Edinburgh, shot himself
Jeff Alm, shot himself
Hubert Aquin, shot himself
Edwin Armstrong, jumped out of a window
Albert Ayler, jumped in the river

We could go on and on...

James Robert Baker
Diana Barrymore
Peter Bellamy
Jill Bennett
Hans Berger
Mary Kay Bergman
Ricky Berry
John Berryman
Clara Blandick
Tommy Boyce
Jonathan Brandis
Barry Brown
Lindsay Crosby
John Reynolds
Paul Williams

We could keep on going, but I think you get the point. Those who have everything this world can offer and who seek after and achieve great glory and fame, are still left empty. And studies have shown that when someone in the spotlight ends their own life, some who worship them take their own lives as well.

This doesn't include those who have won millions in the lottery or an inheritance only to find themselves emptier than before, and after the glory of riches has been lavished upon them, they die from drugs, alcohol, depression, or suicide. That which they thought would make them happy and whole left them empty and without hope.

And consider all the musical artists and movie stars and other celebrities who are either dead or still living who are healivly involved in drugs and alcohol. Something is missing in their lives, and they try to escape the emptiness by turning to substances or illicit sex. But if they do not directly take their own lives, these choices destroy them and often end in their premature deaths.

So if you believe riches or fame or any other self-glory will make you happy, solve your problems, and fill your emptiness and longing inside, then your hope is in something that cannot deliver. And if you hope is in something that cannot save you, then all of its glory is in vain.


We all desire the glories of wealth, or the glories of fame. We desire for others to acknowledge us, and to have an abundance. But if you ever do gain the glory of riches or fame, you'd better hope you know what to do with that glory, for misdirected glory will destroy you.


Let's look at a Biblical example of misdirected glory.

In Matthew chapter 19, Jesus was with his disciples ministering to the people and answering their questions. Let's listen in for awhile, starting in Matthew 19, verse 16.

Matthew 19:16-26

16 Now behold, one came and said to Him, "Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?"

17 So He said to him, "Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments."

18 He said to Him, "Which ones?"
Jesus said, "'You shall not murder,' 'You shall not commit adultery,' 'You shall not steal,' 'You shall not bear false witness,'
19 'Honor your father and your mother,' and, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'"

20 The young man said to Him, "All these things I have kept from my youth. What do I still lack?"
 
21 Jesus said to him, "If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me."
 
22 But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.
  
23 Then Jesus said to His disciples, "Assuredly, I say to you that it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.
24 And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."
 
25 When His disciples heard it, they were greatly astonished, saying, "Who then can be saved?"
 
26 But Jesus looked at them and said to them, "With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."


So we see here a very wealthy man. Since he was wealthy, we can assume he had a good deal of influence, and was probably known by a number of people as someone of power and respect.

At any rate, he was rich. And yet he realized that there was something he did not have. So he came to Jesus.

These two things displayed more wisdom than we generally see. First, although he was rich, he admitted that there was something he did not have that he needed. Second, he came to Jesus.

Have you come this far? Do you realize that even if you had all the riches and fame in the world, that would not meet your biggest need of all? And when your short life is over, gone like a mist that appears for an instant then vanishes away, you won't be able to take anything with you.

And have you come to Jesus? You can't pay him off to say what you want to hear, and he's not going to treat you any differently just because of what you do or don't have. And you can't even begin to find that for which your soul truly longs until you come to Jesus.

So the rich man came to Jesus asking how he could have eternal life. Now this rich man had a serious misconception, and it's one that most of the world shares. He asked Jesus, "What good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?" This man, just like many of us today, believed that he could earn heaven by doing good works.

And Jesus answered his mistaken belief by saying, "Why do you call me good? No one is good but God." This is the only place we hear Jesus responding to being called good by saying that "no one is good but God." And I believe that's because of the man's words, "what good thing shall I do to have eternal life?"

"No one is good besides God." Do you think you're a pretty good person? No one is good besides God. Do you think you can do enough good works to enter heaven? No one is good besides God.

And then Jesus made a statement that, at first glance, seems like a contradiction, but if we take a closer look, we see the message of grace.

He said, "But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments." This certainly sounds like salvation through works. But Jesus knew the conversation would not end there.

The man asked him, "Which commandments?" And Jesus said, "You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not bear false witness, honor your father and your mother, and love your neighbor as yourself."

And the young man answered, "I have kept all these from my youth. What do I still lack?"

The man knew he still lacked something. And he wasn't going to give up on finding the answer that easily. What would have happened if the celebrities we mentioned earlier had come to Jesus asking what they lacked?

Perhaps the young man had never murdered, never committed adultery, never stolen, never told a lie, and had honored his mother and his father. Let's just give him the benefit of the doubt.

But there was one of those Jesus knew he had not kept: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." So Jesus told him this:

"If you want to be perfect, go sell all you have and give it to the poor, and come follow me."

Did this young rich man really love his neighbor as much as he loved himself? Verse 22 says that he went away sorrowful, because he had great wealth. If he were equally sorrowful that his neighbors were in poverty, if he had truly loved his neighbor as himself, then perhaps he would not have been so sad.

The man desired to do what was right. He desired to have eternal life. He lived a good life and kept the commandments as far as he knew. But he had another god in his life, and that god was his glory. Jesus knew that this man's wealth was used for his own glory and not the glory of God. Jesus knew that his wealth was more important to him than pleasing God. But the man did not know. It probably never even occured to him.

And in two short sentences, "No one is good except God," and "go sell all that you have and give it to the poor," Jesus revealed to this man three things:

1. He was not as good as he thought he was,

2. He had broken the commandments and therefore was not right before God, and

3. His money was his god, an idol of wordly riches, glory that was directed toward himself, instead of to God.

Scripture tells us that if we break any one commandment, we are guilty of breaking them all. Jesus tells us that if we lust, we commit adultery in our heart. If we hold anger toward someone, we commit murder in our heart. And even if we ever fail to love someone else as much as we love ourselves, we are breaking a commandment, and it's as if we have broken them all. We are guilty of death, and guilty of hell. This is why we need grace, and why we need the blood Jesus shed in our place to wash away our sins and make us right with God.

After the man left, Jesus turned to his disciples and made a little comment. He said, "It is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven."

Some have said that "the eye of a needle" was a small gate into the city or a small doorway, but there's no evidence for that. We just have to assume that Jesus was saying it's impossible for someone rich in earthly glory to enter into the kingdom of heaven.

Why? Because there's too much of them, and the entrance is too small.

Is it easier to surrender all you have to Jesus, even if he were to tell you to sell all you own, give it to charity, and go follow him, would it be easier to do this if you were poor and had nothing, or if you were rich and famous and were asked to give up all that glory for something unseen?

You see, glory that is directed upon yourself will keep you away from God. And it will cost you lasting peace and true joy, and will ultimately cost you your soul.

God did not tell Abraham to sell all he had. Even though satan took away all of Job's wealth, God returned it to him multiplied. There are people today who are wealthy and have positions of power, fame, and influence, who God has not asked to abandon those things.

The point is not that glory is bad, but that glory misdirected will destroy you.

1st Corinthians 10:31 says, "Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God."

Do you have skills and tallents? Use them for the glory of God.

Do you have riches or fame? Use them for the glory of God.

Do you have knowledge or influence? Use them for the glory of God.

They can simply go to waste and their glory die.

They can be used to glorify yourself, or some person, or some cause.

But if they are misdirected like this, they are in vain and they will destroy you and keep you away from life.

Or they can be used to glorify God, and in directing all glory given to you back to God, he will give you lasting peace, he will give you true joy, and as you exchange any glory you might have for the free gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ, he will give you everlasting life.


The glory of money and fame will tell you that you don't need God. But there isn't a time in your life when you will need him more. Only he can give you the grace to keep your earthly glory from destroying you. And only he can give you the grace to keep the envy or resentment of the glory of others from destroying you.


Jesus ends his statement concerning the impossibility of those wealthy in riches or any other thing entering the kingdom of heaven by saying this: "With men, this is impossible. But with God, all things are possible."

You might be facing a dire situation, and from whatever angle you look at the problem, it looks impossible. But with God, all things are possible.

You might feel trapped by something that has proven impossible for you to overcome. But with God, all things are possible.

You might have a mind and heart clouded with doubts and endless unanswered questions, and you sense that it is impossible for you to ever break through and accept God's Son. But with God, all things are possible.


I'd like for the ministry team to come stand at the front.


Have you been struggling with God? Or with addictions? Or with pride? Or with misdirected glory? Any time we say that a situation is hopeless, we are giving glory to the power of our problems. Instead we should direct the glory to God, acknowledging his greatness and giving him control of the situation so he can turn it around for his glory.

This altar is open, and I'd like to invite you to get out of your seats and come to the front. If you feel as though God has spoken to you today, or if he's tugging at your heart right now, then come stand or kneel at the front as an act of saying, "Here I am, Lord. All of me. I give glory to you instead of to my problems. I give glory to you instead of to myself. And I give you the reins of my life so you can direct me in your paths for your glory."

If you need prayer or ministry, instant message someone on the ministry team.

And if you don't know Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, you can be forgiven and have the load of sin and guilt removed from your shoulders right now.

Just talk to Jesus right now. Ask him to forgive you for your sins. Ask him to come into your heart and make you a brand new creation. And just surrender your life to him.

You can pray with me now. Just say, "Jesus, forgive me for my sins. Come into my heart. Make me a brand new creation. I give my life to you. Lead me, and with your power, I will follow. Thank you Jesus. Amen."

If you'd like to carry on a conversation, please do so outside or next door so you don't distract those seeking after God. Come to the altar, and together let's seek to give all the glory to God.