Saturday, May 16th

Saturday, May 16th

You are worthy, O Lord our God, to receive glory and honor and power. For you created all things, and they exist because you created them for your pleasure. Revelation 4:11

Do not be afraid—I am with you! From the distant east and the farthest west I will bring your people home. I will tell the north to let them go and the south not to hold them back. Let my people return from distant lands, from every part of the world. They are my own people, and I created them to bring me glory. Isaiah 43:5-7

We—every one of us—have strayed away like sheep! We, who left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet God laid on him the guilt and sins of every one of us! Isaiah 53:6

For God’s gifts and his call can never be withdrawn .... Oh, how great are God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge! How impossible it is for us to understand his decisions and his ways! For who can know the Lord’s thoughts? Who knows enough to give him advice? And who has given him so much that he needs to pay it back? For everything comes from him and exists by his power and is intended for his glory. All glory to him forever! Amen. Romans 11:29, 33-36

This week we have examined what it means to be a new person with a new life through our relationship with Christ in terms of three words: surrender, identity, and vocation. Today we seek to wrap all this up with some very interesting but very challenging considerations.

The Revelation passage above says we were created for God's pleasure. The Isaiah 43 passage above says we were created for God's glory. The fact that we exist for God and that which brings pleasure and glory to him brings us face to face with two extremely important truths: we do not exist for ourselves and God does not exist for us. How do we exist for God and bring pleasure and glory to him?  The Isaiah 53 passage tells us that all of us have gone astray and gone our own way. So the first thing that brings God pleasure and glory is our return to him (there is no one who does not need to return). As we see from Isaiah 53 it is Christ's sacrifice for our sins that facilitates our return. Our return brings us back into to a full relationship with God. So, the second thing that brings God pleasure and glory is the intimacy of the love relationship he is able to begin sharing with us upon our return. The third thing that brings God pleasure and glory is the transformation he is able to bring about in our lives through the intimate love relationship he shares with us. The fourth thing that brings God pleasure and glory is the blessing our lives become to other people as he manifests himself through us so that we are used to reach and touch other people for him.

The notion that we can somehow live for ourselves is an instrumental part of our going astray from God and doing our own thing with our lives. The notion that God exists for us is an instrumental part of why so many people struggle in their relationship with God after they return to him through Christ. Is it not true that we tend to view Christ's sacrifice for sins (that enables us to return to God) as something he does for us. Have you ever considered that God did this for himself more so than for us? If he created us for his pleasure and glory and we live life for ourselves as we go our own way and do our own thing, then God does not have us available to live for his pleasure and glory. So, God's provision of redemption is something he does for himself before it is something he does for us. It brings us back to himself so that he has us available to live for his pleasure and glory. Would it not make a huge difference if when we responsed to Christ and his provision of forgiveness for our sin, we were viewing it as the means for God to have us back so he could do with us whatever he wanted and not so that we could get in on all that he could do for us?

To come to Christ in this way would mean that we were repenting of the independent, selfish, and sinful use of our lives that kept God from having us available to exist for his pleasure and glory. And then it would mean that we were trusting Christ for the forgiveness of sins (our wayward and rebellious life) so he could live in us and produce a life lived for God's pleasure and glory. Coming to Christ in full repentance and faith would mean that right from the start our surrender, identity, and vocation would be in place and we would be a new person with a new life in the full and powerful way God intended. We are looking at the way it might have been in order to see the way it can be. Regardless of the struggles we have had in our relationship with God in terms of being a new person with a new life, we can begin anew this very moment. In the light of today's considerations, go back and read again the devotionals on surrender (Wednesday), identity (Thursday), and vocation (Friday).

God is waiting and longing to do amazing things in our lives. He does act on our behalf in so many wonderful ways, but he does this most easily and most fully when we are wrapped in him and that which brings him pleasure and glory rather than our being wrapped up in ourselves and what he will do for us. We have three weeks of our "Framed" series that lies before us. It is hoped that the foundation of this week's devotionals will prepare us in some very special ways for what God has in store for us.

Once again it only seems fitting today that you put together your own prayer response to God for those ways he has been working in your life this week. God Bless!  Ken Hart

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