1 Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name goes all the glory for your unfailing love and faithfulness.— Psalm 115:1 NLT
Psalm 115:1-8 NLT Our purpose while we are here on earth is to praise the Lord and to give all the glory to Him. Why does God deserve and expect all the praise? Because it is His “unfailing love and faithfulness” that has saved us and kept us safe this far. We have nothing else to offer God. There is nothing that God needs from us but He desires to hear our praises to Him and to fellowship with us at all times. Our God is the only true and living God. Others worship gods that are lifeless, unable to love and unable to communicate. Others have to go to their gods while our God is with us all the time. He is our foreguard, the One who goes before us. He is our armor and our present help, the One who provides for us and surrounds us with His love and protection. He is our rearguard, the One who washes away every stain from our past. He was with us in the past, He is with us now and is already ahead of us preparing the way. No religion has a god that can make such a claim. Our every thought, word and action should let the world know that “our God reigns” in majesty and in love. Our lifestyles should magnify His glory. As John the Baptist said, “we must decrease so that He can increase” in our lives.
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous
It is the old, old story, the story that has been told over and over throughout the centuries. It will continue to be told until every nation, tongue and tribe has heard it and Jesus returns. But, it is also a story that we, as Christians, should hold near and dear to our hearts. We should never hear it or think about it without being amazed by the great love shown to us by our Creator. God, Himself, left all of His glory in heaven and came to earth as a man to redeem a fallen world! He could have wiped us out and started over. He could have done anything He chose to do. And He did! He chose to give His life for ours! Love never-ending and beyond our comprehension led Him to a cross and us to eternal life in glory with Him! Then, He trusted a bunch of redeemed sinners to tell that story to everyone we know until the whole world would hear it. “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound!” May we never grow tired of hearing and telling the old, old story.
Although Jesus spent a lot of time in Galilee, He had fulfilled the prophecy by being born in Bethlehem, as well as being born in the lineage of King David. While the crowd continued to discuss whether or not Jesus was the Messiah, the leaders and the Pharisees sent the temple guards to arrest Jesus. They wanted to silence Him because more and more people were beginning to believe His story. But the guards came back empty-handed. When they were questioned as to why they had not arrested Jesus, their reply was that they “had never heard anyone talk like this”. The guards had been touched by the words that Jesus spoke, so much so, that they refused to follow the orders they had been given. The Temple guards, which were the ones that the leaders and Pharisees commanded, were Jewish.They realized that this man was different from any they had heard speak. They would also have been familiar with the Old Testament and would have known about the powerful prophets, such as Moses, Elijah, Isaiah and others. Still, nothing they had heard affected them like the words of Jesus. The words were so powerful, it required them to make a difficult decision.It is still the same today, when the name of Jesus is mentioned, we have to make a decision. It is “I accept” or it is “I reject”. There is no middle ground. 11 For Jesus is the one referred to in the Scriptures, where it says,
‘The stone that you builders rejected has now become the cornerstone.
12 There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.”–Acts 4:11, 12 (NLT) What decision have you made? Who do you say Jesus is?
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous
There are times in our lives when everything around us seems to be going in the wrong direction. There are situations that we have prayed about on a daily basis, we have checked the Scriptures to be sure that our request does not violate them in any way and we have agreed with others in our request. Yet, we still don’t see any positive results. It is then that we, as the Psalmist does here, must fall on our faces and ask God to fulfill our request, not for our sake, but for the glory of His name. The end of our rope is the beginning of our hope. The surety that God cannot be defeated and that He will not give His glory to anyone else is our hope and our reason for being confident that He will act. Yes, it will be in His time and in His way, but He will act. So, when satan seems to be winning the battle, we appeal to God to act speedily for His name’s sake. And He will do it.
10 Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.
11 For My own sake, for My own sake, I will do it; For how should My name be profaned?
And I will not give My glory to another. — Isaiah 48:10, 11 NKJV
Stephen has just recited a short summary of all the things God had brought the Israelites through and the miracles He had peformed in bringing them to the Promised Land. Stephen also reminded them that God did this for them in spite of their unbelief and unfaithfulness. He did it as a fulfillment of His covenant with their ancestors. Even though God was faithful, the Israelites were not, refusing to listen to Moses and any of the prophets God sent to them with messages warning them to repent and be obedient to God. Instead they persecuted and murdered the prophets choosing to remain in their sinful ways and worship idols made by human hands. The people Stephen was addressing were still following in their ancestor’s paths, choosing to kill the Messiah rather than to give up their worldly ways and repent. If Stephen were here today, he could add the history of our country to his discourse and the accusation would still be true. After all the years of God blessing this country with His abundance, we are still a “stubborn people, heathen at heart and deaf to the truth”. More and more, as each day passes by, we become a more sinful nation. We refuse to believe that God will punish us just as He punished the Israelites. We must pray that God will have mercy on this nation of ours, that He will replace our hearts of stone with hearts of flesh and write His name upon our hearts.
22 In addition, the Father judges no one. Instead, he has given the Son absolute authority to judge, 23 so that everyone will honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Anyone who does not honor the Son is certainly not honoring the Father who sent him. 24 “I tell you the truth, those who listen to my message and believe in God who sent me have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life. 25 “And I assure you that the time is coming, indeed it’s here now, when the dead will hear my voice—the voice of the Son of God. And those who listen will live. 26 The Father has life in himself, and he has granted that same life-giving power to his Son. 27 And he has given him authority to judge everyone because he is the Son of Man.—John 5:22-27 (NLT)
God the Father has honored His Son by giving Him complete authority to judge us. It is the Father’s desire for us to honor His Son just as He has honored Him. If we dishonor the name of Jesus, we dishonor God our Father as well. God breathed life into us, when He created us, He is the source of our physical life, as well as our spiritual life. The Father has given this life-giving power to His Son. Because of His obedience, even unto death on the cross, Jesus has been given all authority in heaven and on earth. 18 Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth.—Matt. 28:18 (NLT)
Now that we are in Christ and Christ is in us, we have access to the Name and the authority of the Name of Jesus. Just as Jesus only did what He saw the Father do and only said what the Father said, we must speak only those words that we hear Jesus speak and do only those deeds that the Holy Spirit leads us to do.
7 As the Holy Spirit says,
“If you hear God speak today, don’t be stubborn.
8 Don’t be stubborn like those who rebelled
and tested me in the desert.
9 That is where they tested me.
10 although they had seen what I had done for 40 years.
That is why I was angry with those people. So I said,
‘Their hearts continue to stray,
and they have not learned my ways.’
11 So I angrily took a solemn oath
that they would never enter my place of rest.”–Hebrews 3:7-11 (GW)
We should always be obedient and have a teachable spirit. If we become stubborn and rebellious, God will not be able to use us in His plan and He will remove us from the position He has allowed us to hold, just as He removed Saul from being king of Israel. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, He hath also rejected thee from being king.”–1 Samuel 15:23 (KJ21)
God sees an unteachable spirit as stubborn and rebellious and compares it to sin and idolatry. We must allow God to replace our stubborn, straying hearts of stone with hearts of teachable flesh and He will write His name upon those hearts of flesh. Then He will be our God and we will be His people.(Read Jeremiah 31:32-34). Then we will learn His ways and walk with Him into that land of rest.