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TEXT: I Corinthians 6:20
SUBJECT: Baxter on Glorifying God #1
Last week, we finished our study of Richard Baxter on Gratitude or Giving Thanks to the Lord. Now, we take up a similar theme, Baxter on Glorifying God. Before we get to it, though, allow me to quickly introduce the topic.
To glorify God means to praise Him with your words, thoughts, feelings, and actions. I Corinthians 10:31.
It is everyone's duty to glorify God. In Romans 1, the unsaved are condemned for not glorifying God because they ought to be doing that; they owe it to Him. But if they owe Him their praise, how much more do we, His people? I Corinthians 6:20.
Why should you glorify God? Because He's worthy of it. "Great is the LORD and greatly to be praised and His greatness is unsearchable". (Psalm 145:3).
God cannot be overly-glorified or praised too often or too lavishly. "I will bless the LORD at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth; my soul shall make its boast in the LORD..." (Psalm 34:1-2a).
Do you want to glorify God? If you do, the old Puritan can help you. His first chapter is titled, "Directions for glorifying God with the heart".
This is of primary importance. For whatever you say or whatever you do, what matters most is what you think of and feel about God. The paralytic who has warm thoughts for the Lord glorifies Him more than the most successful preacher who's just "going through the motions".
How do you glorify God with your heart, soul, and mind? Baxter says
DON'T VISUALIZE HIM (OR, PICTURE HIM IN YOUR MIND)
"Abhor all blasphemous representations and thoughts of God and think not of Him lamely, unequally, or diminutively, nor of any bodily shape".
This is terribly old-fashioned. But it's still true. The Second Commandment remains intact: "You shall make no carved image..." Carved with the hammer and chisel; or carved with the imagination.
Do you know why? Because every Image of God is uglier, smaller, and less holy than He really is.
If you hired an artist to paint your portrait, and he put a big wart on your nose, took out three front teeth, and added a double chin, you wouldn't much like it, I suppose. Well, that's what every Image of God does to Him. Even the great Masters cannot represent the Lord. And neither can we with our feeble imaginations.
If you want to think big and beautiful thoughts of God get rid of the small and ugly mental pictures you have of Him.
"Behold His glory in His works of nature, and see Him as the soul, the glory, the all of the whole creation--What power! What wisdom! How good He is!"
The power of God is suggested by the staggering size of the creation. The sun is many times bigger than the earth, yet it is one of the smaller stars that dot the Milky Way. And who can tell what wonders are out there way beyond our telescopes? What power created all this--and created it "out of nothing!
The wisdom of God is implied by the complexity of creation. Take something a simple as a worm. Worms eat dirt. The dirt they eat leaves tunnels in the ground. The tunnels let in air and water which make the ground more fertile. Grass grows on the fertile ground which is eaten by cows who give us our milk. The milk makes our bones strong enough to dig up the worms, put them on a hook, and catch a fish. Worms have no brains, eyes, legs, or hands, yet even they are brilliantly designed and prove the infinite wisdom of God.
The goodness of God is seen in the variety of creation. The sky is blue; the sun is yellow; the moon is white; grass is green; poppies are orange; apples are red; coal is black--on and on it goes. Everything could be gray. But it isn't. If it were, we'd all be bored to tears. But the Lord wants us to--not only survive--but to enjoy life. Why? Because He's so good.
If you had the eyes to see the power, wisdom, and goodness of God--in everything--you'd praise Him with every breath.
BEWARE OF WORLDLINESS
"Take heed of sinking into flesh and earth, and being diverted by things sensible from the daily contemplation of the glory of God. If your mind is set on earthly things, you will have no leisure to look up seriously to God".
You can't meditate on the glory of God if your mind is bogged down with earthly things. Some of them are bad things--"Lusts of the flesh, lust of the eyes, the pride of life". These things, of course, are incompatible with thinking about the Lord.
But they're not the only things that "horn in" on sacred meditations. So do innocent things, like --"The cares of the world".
You have legitimate concerns: Family, work, school, health, money, retirement, and so on. These things have to be thought about. But they mustn't become your chief--no less your only--interest. If they do, God is expelled from your heart. Or, something worse--He's given "Second Place".
Beware of the things that distract you. If they take your heart away from the Lord, they're idols. And the Bible says, "Flee idolatry".
THINK OF HIM AS REVEALED IN JESUS CHRIST
A pastor once told me, "If we didn't have the Old Testament, we wouldn't know anything about God". Now, I value the Old Testament as much as he does, but to say the attributes of God shine brightest from the Law and Prophets is...Judaism.
In fact, the glory of God is fully revealed in one place only: Jesus Christ. Cf. John 14:9; II Corinthians 4:6.
"Whoever has seen Me has seen the Father".
"God, Who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, has shone in our hearts to give the light of the glory of the knowledge of God in the face of Jesus Christ".
On this, Baxter has a lot to say.
"Behold Him in the Person, miracles, resurrection, lordship, and glory of His Son".
The character of God is precisely what we see in Christ. Is our Lord loving and patient? Then so is the Father.
The miracles of our Lord displayed God's power and mercy.
His Lordship--universal, wise, gentle, and almighty--is God's Rule on earth.
Our Lord's resurrection shows God's life in the world.
My friend the pastor was completely wrong. It is very difficult to "get a grip" on the Character of God--until you see Him "Made flesh".
Baxter goes on to say that you ought to see Christ--not only in the Bible--but,
"By faith as always present with you".
Could you be in the Physical Presence of Christ without being filled with wonder and fear and love? No, you couldn't. But why must He be here physically to evoke those sacred feelings? By His Spirit, Jesus Christ is as much with us--right now--as He was with the disciples in the Upper Room.
Why don't you glory in His Majesty? Because your eyes of faith are shut tightly.
To this, Baxter adds,
"Think of Him as in heaven. Nothing helps us to glorify God in our minds as by faith we behold Him where He is most glorious".
The Lord Jesus is always the same--and perfect in glory. But in heaven His glory is most fully revealed. Read the Bible and feel how gripping the visions of God Lifted Up are to people who see them, see
Read these Scriptures (and others like them) till you get bigger thoughts of God.
Baxter has one last thing to say,
"Foresee by faith the coming of Christ, and the day of universal judgment, when Christ shall come in flaming fire with thousands of His holy angels, to be glorified in His saints, and admired in all who believe".
Nothing will fill your mind with reverent and awesome thoughts of God than to see Him coming in the Clouds to judge the Quick and the Dead.
CLOSE AND APPEAL
Do you want to glorify God? To live for His praise? If so, you've got to begin with the heart--Proverbs 4:23.
If you want your heart filled with His praise,
1.Don't picture God in your mind,
3.Beware of worldliness, and
4.Think of Him as revealed in Jesus Christ.
The love of God be with you. For Christ's sake. Amen.
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