The Westminster Shorter Catechism begins with this famous question, what is the chief end of man? That is, what's the goal of man? Why are we here on earth?
What is the top priority of life? And the answer I would say you can't really improve on, it says man's chief end, notice, is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever. That is, when we glorify God, we enjoy God.
Perhaps you think that's strange. Perhaps you think of God as remote. But this is God who is your Creator. And as we glorify Him, we enjoy Him. Living a life in harmony with our Creator God, then, is the most joyful and the most fulfilling of all lives. You've heard repeatedly this week that the theme of our missions conference is, declare – listen to this – declare His glory among the nations.
And as I thought of that, as the missions council had chosen, this is the theme. I asked myself, well, what really does it mean to glorify God? That sounds very good, sounds very pious, sounds very noble, but what does it mean to glorify God? Well, unless we are God-centered in our lives, we're going to struggle with this whole concept of glorifying God. But when we have God, as we've been attempting to do in our worship today, when we have God as the center of gravity of our lives, we will respond to the call of Jesus to go and make disciples of all the nations.
So I want to help us to answer this important question. How can we declare the glory of God? And what does it mean to declare the glory of God? Our text is Psalm 96. I want us to stand and to read this together, all 13 verses.
I'm going to start and then use a congregation. I want to hear our children. I want to hear the seniors.
I want to hear everyone as the response. Here is the Word of God to us, Psalm 96, O sing to the Lord a new song. Sing to the Lord all the earth.
Singing to the Lord, bless His name, God bless our nation, for He gave it to them. Declare His glory among the nations, His marvelous works among all the peoples. Praise to the Lord, praise His grace, He is superior to all gods.
For all the gods of the people are worthless idols, but the Lord made the heavens. Ascribe to the Lord, O families of the peoples, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength. Receive the Lord in the splendor of holiness, tremble before Him all the earth. Let the heavens be glad and let the earth rejoice, let the sea roar and all that fills it, let the field exult and everything in it. He will judge the world in righteousness and the peoples in His faithfulness.
Thank you. Please be seated. You know, to see the glory of the Lord is to be changed. So I want us to think very briefly of the glory of the Lord displayed, and then secondly, the challenge for us is for the glory of God declared. First, the Lord's glory is displayed. And the Lord's glory is displayed when we understand that God, not us, that God is supreme. That is the glory of God, the glory of the Lord is displayed, is seen, is active in His supremacy. Verse 4 of our text, Psalm 96, great is the Lord and greatly to be praised. He is to be feared above all gods, for all the gods of the people are worthless idols, but the Lord made the heavens splendor and magister before Him. Strength and beauty are in His sanctuary. The Lord's glory.
Think of that. The first time this expression is used, the glory of the Lord is in Exodus chapter 16. The children of Israel have been delivered through the Red Sea, they're in the wilderness, and they, the people of God, begin to grumble. And they think, you know, when we were in Egypt, we had plenty of food, we had great food, and now here we are in the wilderness, and they're grumbling to Moses, and they're grumbling before the Lord, and through Moses, the Lord says, in the morning, you will see the glory of the Lord.
First time that expression occurs in the Old Testament. In the morning, you will see the glory of the Lord. And yes, in the morning, all of the congregation come, and they look, and Exodus 16 verse 10 says, the glory of the Lord appeared in the cloud. He was going to rain on them manna, He was going to rain on them meat, and as they looked, they saw the glory of God in the cloud. The glory of God, it was visible, it was active, it was a symbol of the presence and the power of God.
They were grumbling, and here God was revealing His glory to them. This concept of glory comes from a word meaning that which is heavy, that which is weighty. Therefore, by extension, when it applies to a person, it means the person has honor, the person is heavy, the person is important. Think of this concept of glory then, of that which is weighty, of that which is heavy, of that which has wealth. Clearly, the Lord is the weightiest, is the most important person in the universe. The Lord is unparalleled and preeminent in existence. He's infinite in His power, in His perfections, in His majesty. The Lord is not only the most important reality, He is the ground of all other reality. Paul says in Acts 17, in Him we live and move and have our being.
Isn't that true? He is supreme. He's glorious. He's supreme, and He radiates His light. Remember when the glory of the Lord appeared to the shepherds that first Christmas?
What does Luke record? That the glory of the Lord shone all around them. A visible manifestation that God was visiting His people. Here was the power of God, the majesty of God, the splendor of God being radiated.
The Messiah had come. Here the Psalmist says in verse 4, that the Lord is great. We often say great is Thy faithfulness. The Lord is great and greatly to be praised. The Lord is supreme. Do you know anyone greater than God?
That's the point. Louis XIV was called Louis the Great. If there's anything about your history, Louis the Great.
And he had given instructions regarding his funeral, which was going to be held in the great cathedral of Notre Dame. And he had given the instructions that the only candle, the only light in the cathedral was to be the one over his casket. He was Louis.
He was Louis the Great. But as the Bishop, Master Yong, came and began the service, he snuffed out the candle and came and said twice in French, only God is great. Only God is great.
That's the point. That God is great and greatly to be praised. How do we know that? Verse 5, he made the heavens. In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The Psalmist tells us that the heavens declare what? The glory of God. A couple of weeks ago, I went up to Michigan to conduct a funeral, and I was staying with friends, and in the morning, I got up and I… I put up the blinds, and they lived by a lake, and I looked out early in the morning. The sun was just coming up over the lake, and you could see the light over the lake, and there was a little bit of ice on it, and there was snow on the ground.
And I thought, here is a speck, a speck of sand as it were in a huge universe, but what is that doing? It is declaring the glory of God. That this God is great.
He's beautiful. He's splendor. He lives in holiness, and He is glorious. Verse 6, splendor and majesty are before Him.
Strength and beauty are in His sanctuary. Do you understand that when you come to Calvary Church on Sunday morning, as you do through our worship, through all we do, what are we trying to do? We are trying to help us understand that God is supreme.
In our world, we tend to think we are number one. We tend to put ourselves at the center of our existence, but as we come and as we focus on the greatness of God, we understand that we are transformed. And understanding transforms our worship from the mundane, from the trivial, from that which seeks to copy the world as it were. And we are transformed into a transcendent meeting with this great, glorious God who is so great that His greatness is indescribable. Verse 9, worship the Lord in the splendor, in the beauty, in the majesty of His holiness.
You find it difficult to worship God? One of the reasons I tell you to bring your Bibles, many reasons, one is I prefer people come with their Bible rather than their phone. Do you know why I prefer that? Because if you're sitting with a phone, it is so easy to be distracted, isn't it? You want to check the scores.
If I've got a phone, fortunately my team doesn't play till 1130, so I'm OK. My session united against Liverpool kick-off at 1130, but if I was sitting there, the kick-off was at 10 o'clock and I've got a phone, do you know what I'm tempted to do? Some of you are more spiritual than I am, you might be tempted to check the score. You might be tempted to check a text, and how easy it is in our worship of God to be distracted. We understand surely as we come that there is no one higher, there is no one greater, there is no one more powerful than the Lord. Isaiah describes it beautifully in chapters 40 through 66 of Isaiah, let me read a couple of verses. Isaiah 42 verse 8, I am the Lord, that is my name, my glory I give to no other nor my praise to carved idols. You want the spotlight to shine on you? God does not give His glory to anyone else.
Why? He is supreme. Chapter 44 verse 6, thus says the Lord, the king of Israel and his redeemer the Lord of hosts, I am the first and the last. Anyone before God? No. Anyone who is going to outlast God?
No. He's alpha nimiga. He's no beginning and He's no end. He is a self-existent God. He is the great I am who is like me. Let Him proclaim it. Does anyone here know anyone who is greater, more powerful, more supreme than the Lord? Then you declare the glory of that person. Isaiah is reminding us, verse 8, fear not nor be afraid. Have I not told you from of old and declared it and you are my witnesses? Is there a God beside me? He's challenging us as I would challenge you. What do you live your life for?
Is there anything more important than this? There is no rock. I know not any. The Lord is unique. He's eternal.
He's great. He's the supreme creator. First commandment, you shall have no other gods before me. Why do we declare His glory? Well, because He is the supreme, unique God.
Paul says from from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. That is, without God, we're absolutely nothing. The Lord's glory is displayed in His supremacy. That's when we come to worship. We want you to fix your eyes on the great God.
We live lives with our own little focus as it were. We want to take off the blinders and remind ourselves that this is a great God and greatly to be praised. The Lord's glory is displayed in His supremacy. Secondly, the Lord's glory is displayed in His sovereignty. Here's what the psalmist says, Psalm 96 verse 10, the Lord reigns. See among the nations, the Lord reigns. He will judge the people with equity. Verse 13, He comes to judge the earth.
Think of that. He is the judge of all. He is supreme. He's sovereign. And every single person is accountable to Him.
You and I will one day stand before this supreme God. The Lord is the almighty God, the glorious God, and He's the absolute ruler over all of His works and all of His creation. That's a great God, isn't it? He controls all of the affairs of men and nations. He knows everything about everything. He's totally in control. He is the sovereign God. He watches the rise and fall of the sparrow. He watches the rise and fall of the great kingdoms of this world.
Everything is under His sovereign purposes. To us there are accidents. To us there are disappointments in life.
To us there are surprises. To us there are things that we simply do not understand, but every single part of it is under the sovereign purposes of God. Paul says in Ephesians 1, He works all things after the counsel of His will. He's all glorious. He's sovereign.
So when these disappointments and issues and heartaches come into our lives, we're not to panic. We're not to go into despair, but we are to understand that this God not only is supreme, He is sovereign in His purposes. Again, Isaiah can help us. Isaiah 46 verse 9, he says, I'm God and there is no other. I'm God and there is none like me.
Think of His uniqueness. Declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient time things not yet done, saying my counsel shall stand and I will accomplish all my purpose. How can God know the end from the beginning? Because He is the supreme God who knows everything, but He's also the sovereign God who knows how everything will turn out because He is totally in control and there is not one thing that can thwart His purposes. Even that which seems evil in our life, remember Joseph says to his brothers, you meant it for evil, and it was evil, but God meant it for good. And so when things happen in our lives, brothers and sisters, there's much that we can't understand about God's purposes.
They are unfathomable, they are unscrewedable, they are unsearchable as it were, and we're tempted to ask the question why, but usually there is no answer. Rather than asking the question why, we are to understand that God is so glorious. He's supreme and He's sovereign, and rather than asking why, I am to trust this great God, particularly in the mysteries of life. And we are to live in such a way, if we're a follower of Jesus Christ, that our lives display that God is number one in our lives. How wonderful that God can take someone like Megan and place her in that city.
It doesn't look like a very attractive city, does it? Humanly speaking, God can put someone there to shine with the beauty of Jesus Christ, and to bring healing of the body, but to present the wonderful message of the gospel. That we, if we believe this, if I believe that God is supreme, if I believe that God is sovereign, He must be number one in my life. And that it is often, isn't it, in the hard and the difficult situations of life, in difficult ministry, in difficult personal circumstances, it's often there, isn't it? That we grow in our relationship with God, and in a sense we're declaring His glory because we understand that God is not only supreme, He is sovereign. His glory is displayed in His supremacy, His glory is displayed in His sovereignty, but also His glory is displayed in His salvation. Notice verses two and three of Psalm 96, our key passage. Why should we sing to the Lord?
Why are we so joyful this morning as we watch our children and students? Why, why are we singing to the Lord? Bless His name. Tell of His salvation from day to day. His salvation. That this God who is supreme, and that this God is sovereign, is a God of great love, and who sees us in our darkness, in our self-absorption, in our pettiness, in us trying to make ourselves king of our tiny little world, and rather than rejecting us and condemning us, which we would deserve, no, He comes as a Savior. This Lord, yes, He's supreme, He's the only God.
Yes, He's totally in charge. No one can stand against Him, but He's a God of infinite love and grace, and His glory is displayed in His salvation. Paul, writing of this great salvation then in Ephesians 1, refers to the praise of His glorious grace. His grace is glorious. We are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, that Paul says no, for by grace are you saved through faith, that and that of yourselves. It's the gift of God, not a result of works that anyone should boast.
No, it is 100 percent grace. This supreme God, this sovereign God is also a Savior. Isaiah says in Isaiah 43 verse 11, I, I am the Lord, and besides me there is no Savior. Verse 22 of Isaiah 45, turn to me and be saved all the ends of the earth.
Why would all of the ends of the earth turn to Him? For I am God, and there is no other. There is no other way of salvation.
That's why we should not be ashamed of the gospel, as our children were singing. We believe that there is no other name, there's no higher name, there's no greater name, there's no more beautiful name than the name of our Lord Jesus Christ who is God, who is supreme, who is sovereign. And that is the name, and the only name by which we can be saved. And therefore, because the Lord's glory is displayed in His supremacy, in His sovereignty, and His salvation, what are we to do? The Psalmist tells you, declare His glory among all the nations. The word there, declare, in verse three is translated in the Greek translation of the Old Testament as the word we talk about evangelize. We are to evangelize. We are to tell everyone, if you believe that. Now, if you don't believe that He is God, if you don't believe that salvation is in Jesus Christ, you will have other priorities in life.
You will tell other stories. But we who believe this, we are to tell of the magnificent, all-powerful God who in His grace reached down to us. And the writer of Hebrews says that this one, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is the radiance of the glory of God. And when His disciples saw Him, they said, we beheld His glory, the glory of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. Here is God's way of salvation, reaching down to us in the person of His Son, Jesus Christ, the glory of God coming into our dark world. And the writers of the Old Testament, they look forward as we do to that great day when the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of God as the waters cover the sea. To realize that in the New Jerusalem, John, book of Revelation 21 says, that in the New Jerusalem there's no need of the sun or moon, no candles, no lights.
Why is that? He says, for the glory of God gives its light and its lamp is the lamp. What a future we have. Yes, the glory of God will be declared to all of the nations. Every knee will bow, and we who are part of the family of God will be part. We will be in that New Jerusalem where there is never a power failure, where the lights never go out, where there is an eternal light and the glory of God will radiate and will light up that New Jerusalem, and we will understand in a greater way the beauty and the magnificence and the brilliance of our wonderful Savior.
So the question then is, as we've already been challenged this morning, what's your response? I've got to live a life of holiness surely, a life of surrender, a life dedicated to the Lord Jesus Christ who died for us, who rose again. Is your trust in Him? Do you know the Savior? There is no other one. It is by grace that you're saved. It is by receiving Jesus Christ as your Savior, and those of us who are believers, what an opportunity today at the end of this conference to rededicate our life to Him. Is your heart not moved by the unreached people of Brazil? Is your heart not moved by the people in Bolivia?
Is your heart not moved by the multitudes around us here in Charlotte who do not know Jesus Christ? There's a command. It is a command. It's an imperative. That's the theme of our conference. Declare His glory. And we glorify God in our whole lives, and one of the ways we do it is by being obedient.
So take that card that Jim has already referred to. One of our themes this year is reaching out, reaching out. Where are you reaching out?
Where do you discern that God is leading you to serve Him? Tell everyone that He's the true God. Tell everyone that He's sovereign. Tell other ones that He is our magnificent Savior, and when we do that, we declare His glory. Take the card.
Children, students, if you didn't get one of these, you can use the guest form. Where are you going to serve? I want you to complete this. We're going to stand and sing a hymn, and I want you to make a response. I don't want this to be a mission conference when you say that was very interesting.
I'm interested in what's going on in the world, but we go and live as we continued before the conference. I want you, yes you, to make a response up in the balconies as well, and I want you, June and him, to come down and it's an act of consecration. It's an act of decision.
It's an act of worship to put it down in these steps. Mission service, challenged. Sergio called mission service when he was 13. Was it 13?
13-year-old boy, girl. That's what God is calling me to do with my life. Short-term missions trip, go trips. Think of all of the ministries we have here at Calvary.
You see them, I want to enumerate them. High schoolers, we've got a jungle camp coming up, organized by new tribes. Middle school, going to jars, understanding about missions. Praying, how our missionaries need your prayers and mine. Other, we need people in children's ministry. Hundreds of children come to Calvary Church and sometimes we don't have volunteers for the nursery for children's ministry, champs. Hundreds and hundreds of children coming to us and students through sport, many coming from non-Christian families. We need coaches.
We need assistance. Perhaps God is calling you there. I'm going to pray, won't you, whoever you are, if God has moved you to understand something about the glory of God, this is the best life. This is what it means to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.
There's no greater life, as we live a life in harmony with our Creator, submitting to Him and obeying Him. Our Father and our God, we come humble ourselves. We've been challenged through the music, through Sergio, through Megan, through Your Word, and may our hearts be soft. We get careless. We get self-absorbed. We get too comfortable with our life. We become too predictable. We lack faith, strengthen as Father, forgive us for our lethargy, and may even now Your Spirit be working in our hearts, that we will have the joy of declaring the glory of God among all of the nations. And we ask it in Christ's name. Amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-06 12:52:41 / 2023-03-06 13:02:32 / 10