Honored by God
Posted on 01/31/2010 by Rev. Benjamin R. Faust D.D.
TRANSCRIPT: (does not contain everything found in the audio above)
*** listen to the audio for introduction and prayer ***
Public Prayer Requests:
It has been revealed to me, after months of my ignoring and refusing to recognize the obvious signs, that my best, closest and dearest of SL friends is a RL Wiccan. I believe with all my heart that she shall come out of it and that His voice said so to me, but this is a person who was raised in a Baptist household and exchanged the Truth for indefensible lies and inexplicable reasons. In my human weakness and threadbare faith, I need help for not only her, but for me as well, to be strong in what will transpire in the coming days, weeks and months, and that His will be revealed to me during that time and beyond. Thank you for prayer already answered, through much anguish, weeping and torment of my spirit.
I pray for forgiveness for the choices I have made with a selfish heart LORD and for guidance on how to repair the precious relationships with my family that I took for granted.
Please turn around and click one of the offering plates by the doors, and give as the Lord leads.
KING OF KINGS
King of Kings and Lord of Lords
King of Kings and Lord of Lords
Jesus, Prince of Peace
Jesus, Prince of Peace
INTO THE HOLY OF HOLIES
Take me into the Holy of Holies
Take me in by the blood of the Lamb
Take me into the Holy of Holies
Take the coal, touch my lips, here I am
Take me past the outer courts
into the holy place
Past the brazen altar
Lord, I want to see your face
Pass me by the crowds of people
and the priests who sing your praise
I hunger and thirst for your rightousness
and it's only found one place
TO HIM WHO SITS ON THE THRONE
To him who sits on the throne
and unto the Lamb
To him who sits on the throne
and unto the Lamb
Be blessing and glory
and honor and power forever
Be blessing and glory
and honor and power forever
*** listen to the audio for the message introduction ***
Last week, Mariposa shared with us a message she titled "Beautiful People." If you missed it, I encourage you to catch the audio in the archives at almcyberchurch.org. She talked about three different kinds of "beautiful people" -- beautiful only on the outside, beautiful inside and out, and beautiful only on the inside.
Near the end, she challenged us all to start seeing people differently, the way God sees them; not getting hung up on the outer appearance, but looking for the beauty of the heart... Including our own.
The Bible says in Proverbs 31:30 (KMV*),
30 Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain; but a woman who fears the LORD, she will be praised.
We want charm and beauty. We're drawn to it in others. We judge our own value by how much of it we see in ourselves. But charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain. And neither of these things makes us worthy of praise.
A few weeks ago, we talked about positive confessions and about changing our self-perceptions so that if we're poor or if people reject or avoid us, it's not because we're unknowingly bringing it on ourselves.
But there is a beauty that can come only from things you and I would see as anything but beautiful.
In Isaiah chapter 61, we see a prophecy concerning Jesus, which he quoted in the temple concerning himself.
Isaiah 61:1-3 (NKJV)
1 "The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon Me, because the LORD has anointed Me to preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
2 To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn,
3 To console those who mourn in Zion, to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified."
This talks about a glorious exchange, in which all we have to offer is ashes, mourning, and heaviness. Of course this is referring to the great exchange Jesus brings -- beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for morning, and the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness -- but this also echoes a recurring theme throughout Scripture: God exalting the lowly, giving strength to the weak, providing for those in need, exalting the humble.
Jesus told us in Matthew 20:26 that to be great in the Kingdom of God, we must be a servant. Of course we tend to think of a glorified servant, someone who people look at as holy and as a great leader because of our humility and selflessness. But what if no one ever sees your service? What if they see you as lowly, unimportant, and not worth their time?
Jesus told a story about a lame begger named Lazarus who used to sit outside a rich man's house and beg. The rich man pretended he wasn't even there. Lazarus was obviously sick, because the dogs used to lick his sores.
Lazarus was not nice to look at. He probably didn't smell very good. He may not have had any friends. People saw him as the scum of the earth, cursed by God and forsaken to a miserable life of sickness and poverty.
But then we see them after they die. The rich man, who during his life was probably well-respected and looked up to, was in torment in Hades. But Lazarus was in Abraham's bosom.
He was in a place of comfort. This man who once smelled too bad to get close to was now in the fatherly embrace of one of the greatest men who ever walked the earth.
If tonight you were to die, having never tasted of earthly riches and having never known anything but rejecting and lonliness, if you fear the Lord, you will know an acceptance, a love, and a feeling of being desired, that we who are more accepted here on earth will never know in this life time.
Of course I'm of the persuasion that God's plan for you is not to be a begger or be plagued by sickness and disease; but what if you feel as though you have to beg for attention? what if you can't seem to earn respect? what if you feel as though people see you as less desirable than everyone else?
The picture that's painted in the movies of someone who's achieved what all of us are supposed to desire is of someone who's not only rich, but also famous and loved by everyone. Those who are supposed to be the "good guys" are always the envy of everyone else, and are hated only by the "bad guys."
They're not insecure and underaprecciated like us.
Sure, God created us to desire acceptance and plenty of friends. We want to be desired, to be looked up to, to be respected and loved, and for others to seek out our company.
The way we're wired, it can be very sad and lonely to be a Lazarus. But if we fear God, we can know that the depths to which we are brought low in this life could be the heights to which we are exalted in the life to come.
Of course we want people to think we're beautiful; we want to be exalted; we want to be lifted up; but James 4:6 tells us that "God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble."
That word translated there as "grace" means this:
"That which affords joy, pleasure, delight, sweetness, charm, and loveliness." It also means "Good will, loving-kindness, and favor."
How about that first definition: "That which affords joy, pleasure, delight, sweetness, charm, and loveliness." That sounds like beauty. And this is what God gives to the humble.
Thankfully, God doesn't humble us all at once. We'd be devistated. And I've often wondered what it would take to get rid of all my human pride and become completely humble. Who knows? I sure don't. But God does.
Humility is a prerequisite for true inner beauty. If you want to have a really bad taste in your mouth, just spend some time with someone full of pride and conceit. And if you want to get that horrible taste out of your mouth, go spend some time with someone who is truly humble and who fears the Lord. Just maybe you'll better appreciate the joy, pleasure, delight, sweetness, charm, and loveliness that comes from inside them; this is the grace of God that he gives to the humble.
Just maybe if we could have seen past the way he looked and forgotten about the way he smelled, perhaps we would have seen the grace of God overflowing from Lazarus's heart.
Thankfully for Lazarus, and maybe for some of us, being exalted in the eyes of others is not the highest honor. Instead, our greatest exaltation comes from a place of the greatest humility, and it is usually our circumstances that humble us the most.
Proverbs 18:12 (KMV*) puts it this way:
12 Before destruction, the heart of man is proud; but humility comes before honor.
Maybe we didn't know the rich man or Lazarus; but we can see plenty of examples of pride and a lack of the fear of the Lord, and hopefully we can see just how ugly it really is.
Take, for example, Kathy Griffin when she was awarded an Emmy. She told Jesus to "suck it," that her award was her god now. Commenting on that, Adrianne Curry said Jesus can do the same thing to hers, and says, "get over it, you f-ing mormons."
Actresses used to at least try to act appealing. I don't know about you, but watching those two women say those things made my stomach turn. My overriding reaction was, "Yuck!" They have no honor. They have no true beauty. Seeing what is coming out of their heart, all the harshness, obscenities, and open rebellion against God, I find it disgusting to even look at them.
They both, along with a lot of famous female movie stars, remind me of the Proverbs 7:11 description of the prostitute, "She is loud and rebellious; her feet do not stay at home."
Pride is a kissing cousin of a lack of the fear of God, and it is so incredibly ugly. It devours any bit of honor you might have once had.
In the spotlight, loved and admired by millions, people like this have rejected the holy God of the Bible and have been corrupted by pride. Don't envy them. They are disgusting, and unless they are humbled and come to the cross begging for forgiveness, they will spend eternity right along with the rich man in hell, along with all others who refuse to humble themselves and fear God.
You who are lowly, who are looked down upon by others, who don't have an abundance of friends, who are thought of as lower or less; If you fear the Lord, you are more honorable than those the world worships as virtual gods and godesses; for to honor God and to be honored BY God is the only true honor. Nothing else matthers. Nothing else will last.
Sure, Kathy and Adrianne could become beautiful and honorable with time and through much pain. But they would need to be humbled and learn the fear of the Lord.
So just remember these examples the next time you are feeling rejected and unloved. Don't envy the destruction of the world; instead, thank God every day for keeping you humble. Accept and embrace who he has created you to be, and the place you are right now on your way there.
I think sometimes we don't think very highly about the idea of being honored by God. And just maybe that's due in part to our misunderstanding of love.
We know that God is love, and we tend to thing that means he wouldn't hurt a fly. But God is far from being a pacifist. If he tried to pastor some churches today, he'd be kicked out because of his views concerning violence.
But it's just because we simply don't understand love. Love is not the sugary sprinklings of a sweet daddy pie in the sky. Instead, love is strong enough to deliver strong discipline when needed, and to visit judgment on those who would harm the innocent.
Was God acting in love when he commanded the Israelites to kill every single Amalekite man, woman, and child? Remember, God IS love.
Let's read what God said in 1 Samuel 15:1-3 (NKJV):
1 Samuel also said to Saul, "The LORD sent me to anoint you king over His people, over Israel. Now therefore, heed the voice of the words of the LORD.
2 Thus says the LORD of hosts: 'I will punish Amalek for what he did to Israel, how he ambushed him on the way when he came up from Egypt.
3 Now go and attack Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and do not spare them. But kill both man and woman, infant and nursing child, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.'"
Kill them all. Not just the men, but the women. And not just the women, but the babies.
Maybe this was just a test, just like God told Abraham to sacrifice his son, and then stopped him at the last moment. Surely God didn't really want them to kill babies. And why kill the animals? The animals didn't do anything wrong.
Well, let's see what happened when King Saul did not slaughter every living thing.
1 Samuel 15:10-11 (NKJV)
10 Now the word of the LORD came to Samuel, saying,
11 "I greatly regret that I have set up Saul as king, for he has turned back from following Me, and has not performed My commandments."
It wasn't good for Saul. In fact, let's read verses 22 and 23 to see how God reacted to Saul's sparing of lives:
22 "Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams.
23 For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, He also has rejected you from being king.
You see, Saul had lost the fear of the Lord, and he was corrupted with pride. And as a result, he lost his honor, and God cast him down.
It's interesting to note here that Saul saved the life of the king. Samuel was the priest. But he was far from being the pacifist we'd expect a pastor or priest to be today.
Here's what Samuel did to the king, in verse 33:
33 But Samuel said, "As your sword has made women childless, so shall your mother be childless among women." And Samuel hacked Agag in pieces before the LORD in Gilgal.
The interesting thing is, Samuel was obeying God.
We don't understand love. So we don't understand God.
We don't understand God, so we don't know the value of his honor.
Was God still a God of love when he opened up the ground and killed the men of Korah, along with their women and children?
Was God still a God of love when he struck Annanias and Saphirah dead by his own hand while they were giving money to the church?
Will God still be a God of love when he returns as the conquering king, destroying his enemies with his sword?
The answer, of course, is a resounding "Yes."
Obtaining honor from the Lord is no small matter. He owes us nothing. He is patient and merciful, and yet he is holy and just. Kathy Griffin and Adrianne Curry with both fall before him and confess him as Lord some day, hopefully before it's too late.
The Athiests and all others who reject Jehovah God and his Son Jesus Christ will cry out in terror, begging for the rocks to fall on them to hide them from the face of God and from his wrath.
And just as strong and passionate as this is, that's how strong and passionate his love is for you. He gives us chance after chance. His mercy is new every morning. And to think that he would honor us is almost too amazing to believe.
But God honors the humble, those who are lowly, those who are rejected and cast down, those who fear his name.
When you think about it, no one else's opinion matters besides God's. And to be honored by him is worth more than all the riches, fame, and adoration the world can give.
So does it really matter if people honor you? Does it really matter if they respect and look up to you? Does it really matter if people accept or reject you?
Yes, it hurts. But when you are going through that pain, remember that while God may not be causing it, he is using it to humble you. And God exalts the humble. He gives them grace. He fills them with joy, pleasure, delight, sweetness, charm, and loveliness. He shows them good will, loving-kindness, and favor.
And with that, what can possibly compare?!
I'd like anyone here today on the ministry team to come stand at the front, as we prepare to close with a time of prayer and ministry.
The Bible tells us this in Romans 12:2 (KMV*)
2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good, acceptable, and perfect will of God.
Have your perceptions been conformed, at least in part, to those of the world? Or do you long for humility so that God will honor you?
The truth of the matter is that all of us have some of the perceptions of the world. What's important is whether we're doing something about it.
We need to be being transformed by the renewing of our minds.
You are wonderfully and fearfully made.
God's thoughts toward you are peace, not evil, to give you a future and a hope.
You were created in the image and likeness of God, and he sees you as beautiful.
It's okay to be rejected. It's okay if everyone doesn't like you. It's okay to feel pain and heartache.
As long as you are growing in the fear of the Lord and bringing all your burdens to him, then he will use all these things to build humility and character in you.
And who knows. At the right time, when it will do you good and not harm, other people just might honor you a little more too.
This altar is open for a time of prayer, worship, and ministry. You're all invited to get out of your seats and come gather at the front.
Whenever you need to leave, you're dismissed. If you'd like someone to pray or speak with you, feel free to instant message me or someone else on the ministry team.
As usual, we'll be meeting in the room to your left after this time at the altar for some fellowship, and you're all invited.
If you're on the outside looking in -- meaning you are not sure you're right with God -- then put off whatever might be calling you away, and get that taken care of right now!
All you need to do is talk with God. Tell him you turn away from your sins, and ask him to forgive you for them. Tell him you accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior, and that you choose to follow him the rest of your life.
Then get in touch with one of us so we can welcome you to the family of God and help you along the path.
Come, let's gather at the front, as we embrace the path of humility and the fear of the Lord, so we can be honored by God.