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TEXT: I Corinthians 6:20
SUBJECT: Baxter on Glorying God #3
Tonight, with the Lord's blessing, we'll proceed in our study of Richard Baxter on Glorifying God. The Westminster Shorter Catechism says that
"Man's chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever".
And, of course, that's right. The Bible says,
"Whatever you do, do all to the glory of God".
Now, you glorify God--not by making Him more glorious than He is--but by praising Him with your thoughts, your words, and your deeds.
Two weeks ago, we looked at glorifying God with your thoughts. Last week, we began the part about praising God with your words. To do that--Baxter says--you must
"Conceive of this duty according to its superlative excellencies, as being the highest service that the tongue of men or angels can perform".
In other words, if you want to praise God with your voice, you've got to know how good it is to do that. It's good for you; it's good for others; but mostly, it's good for God. It makes Him happy.
Now, no matter how modest you are, you enjoy hearing people say good things about you. We all do. And so does God.
"Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. You praise the LORD".
We spent all of last week on one point. Tonight, we'll pick up the pace quite a bit, the Lord willing. And so, if you want to glorify God with your words, do this:
MEDITATE ON GOD
"Keep the heart admiring and glorifying God. It is the principal help to the right praising of Him with our lips, for `Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks'".
I don't need to labor the point; it's pretty obvious. No one praises God very often or very well who doesn't also think about Him with reverence and love.
If you wonder why some people are always griping, I can tell you why: Their minds are full of resentment. Why do some people curse every other word? Because their minds are full of hate and contempt. And why do some people always have a word of praise for God? Because their minds are full of His praises!
Meditate on God's glory and mercy and you'll soon be praising Him!
"Think on these things".
READ THE SCRIPTURES THAT MOST PRAISE GOD
"Read much of those Scriptures which speak of the praises of God--especially the Psalms. And furnish your memories with those holy expressions of His excellencies..."
"Every Scripture is inspired by God..." and is good for the soul. But some people become unbalanced in their Bible reading. A friend once told me how badly she struggled with assurance. I asked her if she read her Bible every day. "Yes" she said. "What are your favorite parts?" I asked her. "Ecclesiastes and James" she replied. "There's the problem!" I said. "Read the Psalms and Gospel of John for a while".
"Sin" occupies a big part of the Bible. Thus we have the Law that forbids it and the Judgments that fall on it. But sin and it's punishment are not the central message of the Bible.
What the Bible is really about is God! His holiness and grace--and His infinite love for sinners.
Baxter says concentrate on the Psalms. I can't argue with that because it's so full of God's glory,
"Great is the LORD and greatly to be praised; and His greatness is unsearchable".
But I think the Gospels reveal God's glory in a way the Psalms cannot. For there--in the Gospels--God puts a "human face" on His glory--John 1:14.
Read the Bible for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness. But most of all, read the Bible to see--and to feel--the glory of God. When you do that, you can't help praising Him.
"Be much in singing Psalms of praise--and that with the most heart-raising cheerfulness and melody".
Singing is a way of glorifying the Lord. When Israel crossed the Red Sea, they sang the praises of God. When Paul and Silas sat in jail, they sang hymns to the Lord. When our Lord finished the Last Supper, He and the disciples sang a Psalm. The Redeemed in Heaven--it seems--do nothing but "Sing the Song of Moses and of the Lamb".
When you think of the abuses of the Medieval Church, what comes to mind? The Pope, of course; the doctrine of Purgatory; the selling of Indulgences; and so on. But one of the worst things the Medieval Church ever did was to take Singing away from God's people and give it to choirs! Of course the choirs sang beautifully. But singing is not primarily an art, but a way of praising God. To which everyone is welcome--including the most tone-deaf!
If you don't sing well, then do the next best thing,
"Make a joyful noise unto the LORD".
The easiest way for you to do this is to sing the Scripture Songs in the back of our hymnals. They're all short and the tunes are pretty easy. If you prefer other songs, that's fine too. Or hymns. I'd only caution you to avoid songs whose tunes are not compatible with the lyrics.
In any event, if you want to glorify the Lord, then
"Sing unto God; sing praises to His Name. Extol Him that rideth upon the heavens by His Name, by His Name JAH".
GIVE PRAISE A BIG PART OF YOUR PRAYERS
"Be sure to allow the praises of God their due proportion in all your prayers. Do not forget it or cut it short with two or three words in the conclusion. The Lord's Prayer begins and ends with it; and the first three petitions are for the glorifying God...and all this before we ask anything directly for ourselves".
Most of my prayers are for things. They're good things, of course, like forgiveness or healing or the salvation of loved ones. Sprinkled on my list of "wants" are thanksgiving and praise. If the Bible is a guide for praying, it would be better to reverse my priorities. To put my "requests" last; then thanksgiving; and to top it all off with the praise of God.
Baxter cites the Model Prayer as proof. Long before we get to confessing our sins or asking for food, we hallow the Name of God!
If you want to glorify God with your words, spend a lot of time praising Him in your prayers.
GO TO CHURCH
"Be much in...the holy assemblies...The conjunction of serious and holy souls tend much to elevate the heart...The praiseful commemoration of the work of man's redemption is the special work of the Sabbath. It is not only a holy [time] separated to God's worship in general, but [to His praise] in a sense above the rest".
Richard Baxter was a Puritan, of course. And Puritans emphasized preaching--truth touching the heart. But in their scheme, preaching was not "the big thing" about Church. No, Church is about the praise of God--of which preaching plays only one part.
In other words, we go to Church--not mostly to learn--but to praise God together. And every part of the meeting should serve this purpose. Singing, praying, fellowship, preaching, the Lord's Table--everything!
If you want to glorify God with your words, go to Church. The Psalm says,
"Blessed are they who dwell in Your house. They will still be praising You".
AVOID FOOLISH TALK ABOUT GOD
"Speak not of God in a light, irreverent way, as if He were a common thing, but with all possible seriousness and gravity, as if you saw the majesty of the Lord...Speak not so foolishly of God as to tempt the hearers to turn it into a matter of scorn or laughter...Whenever God's holy name is blasphemed, be ready to reprove it when you can, and where you speech is likely to do more harm than good, leave the room".
Stupid words about God have a way of making us think stupid thoughts about Him. And this is one of the worst sins you can commit. The Third Commandment says so. And so does the Lord's Prayer.
If you want to glorify God with your lips, avoid all foolish talk about Him. Never take His Name in Vain. When others do, correct them when you can. When you can't do that, then leave. When that's not possible--Baxter says--"Let your looks, or rather your tears, show your dislike".
RECAP AND APPEAL
The Bible says you ought to glorify God--I Corinthians 10:31; Psalm 150:6.
One way you do that is to praise Him with your words. That's what you ought to be doing. But are you? Most people are not--[Their] mouths are full of cursing and bitterness".
But what about yours? I assume you don't say obscene words or cuss people out every chance you get. But Pharisees do that much. You've got to do more than "not say nasty words". You've got to glorify God with words.
If you want to do that, then Meditate on the Lord; read those Scriptures that most exalt His glory; sing to Him; praise Him in prayer; go to church; and never--ever for any reason--put that Holy Name to an Unholy Use.
May God mix these word with faith in our hearts. For Christ's sake. Amen.
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