by Anita Wansley
September 23, 2007
Usually I sense God speaking a sermon theme to me over a course of months. This one came out of what God has been reminding me of over the last couple of weeks. I didn’t want to speak about this one–I was afraid then I would really have to practice what I preached and quite frankly a little uneasy about what that might bring. I even tried to switch to another theme that seemed easier. I had a Bible story that would have lent itself to a nice 3 point, neatly organized, “got this one covered–so now I can speak about” sermon. So I when I was talking to Dave one day last week I kind of tossed the idea out to him and he wisely stated that the one in which God could teach me the most was the one to do. I am thankful that God is teaching me on this matter of giving him glory no matter what and hopefully you will hear Him speak to you today as well.
When I sat down to write this sermon I went back and forth in my mind–it just wasn’t lending itself to being neatly organized. Then I felt God telling me to just speak about how he spoke to me. There is no magic in my words. There is no great formula to this sermon. I just want to share what I feel God is placing on my heart.
A few weeks ago I found out that my ex-father-in-law died and the realization that I really was not part of that family anymore hit me like a ton of bricks. For about 3 days I relived the pain of my divorce all over again. I was mad after all these years, after much counseling, after going to the Dwelling Place, after doing some theophostics, after having this incredible grace epiphany a couple of years ago that I was seemingly right back in the middle of this old pain. I cried, I had weird dreams about the past, I couldn’t seem to get anything done, I had that old sick feeling in my stomach. During these days every time I would get in the car and listen to the radio this song that Chris just sung from MercyMe was playing and it seemed like it would be playing from the very beginning–I wouldn’t miss a part of the song. God wanted me to hear every bit of it. It finally hit me–Oh, God is trying to tell me something.
He was trying to tell me to stop asking why me and ask why not me. There was something in this experience that I could learn from. It would eventually give Him glory and I was to stop moping and take time to seek Him and praise Him. It just so happened I had this great realization in the car on the way to the church to do something at the tutoring program on about the 4th day of this journey. Lisa was there that morning and asked me how I was. Well, I felt like God had just spoken to me and I was on a roll. I shared with her and she made a comment about it sounding like a good start to a sermon. I thought, Yeah, like I have the time to do a sermon right now.
Well, what do you know, a couple days after that Lisa called me to ask about doing a sermon. There had been an opening in the schedule and she was sure that I would say no because of my schedule but thought she’d ask. Okay, God doesn’t let you go just because you are busy. I knew that I needed to do this sermon for a listening exercise in hearing what God has to tell me. I also had confidence that He would use it to His glory somehow.
This Mercy Me song is very powerful, and I am thankful that God used it to speak to me. Even during a time this week when I doubted what it had to say and what I was going to say, God used it still. On Monday Christine asked what I was doing my sermon on. I tried to explain and it didn’t seem to make much sense. I went to my car feeling a lot of doubt and dread and like I was so on the wrong path. I turned on my car and guess what. The song was playing. Moses got the burning bush–Anita got a song.
This song reassures me about how my foundation in Christ can always make me strong to face whatever rain comes my way. I can ask God for gifts of joy and peace but the pain in life is inevitable and what I choose to do with that or chose to do during that time will either give God glory or make me more miserable. I want to be who I was created to be–a source of glory to my heavenly Father.
Here is my attempt at 3 good sermon points:
- 1. We are created to give God glory.
- 2. In a fallen world we are guaranteed to face suffering.
- 3. This giving God glory will share our faith in a way that brings even more glory to our Lord.
We are created to give Him glory!
In the midst of my recent journey, we have started a quarter in Sunday school on the book of Genesis and we reviewed the creation story. I was hit by the truth that God created this world and then He created humanity. He always has been and He is in charge. We were created to glorify Him. We are created to be His children. We are created to be under His power. We are created to be in His image. We are created to be under His wing.
We are His children. He made us. In Isaiah 43 it refers to, “everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made” –when we begin to see who we really are to God then our identity in Him can serve as a foundation from which to live our lives. When we know whose we are, our circumstances and what we face everyday change how we view them. We can take the attitude of “bring on the rain” because we have shelter in Him. We can say “I can deal with this circumstance” because we know the One who has power over it. We can take life’s pain and realize that on the other side of that pain is joy from the only joy-giver in this life. We can face decisions knowing that our all-knowing Father is guiding us. We can be assured that God is in all the minute pieces of our lives. The one who created majestic mountains and took the time to create tiny little caterpillars also created us. He is our heavenly father who knows what is best for us. He knows how many hairs we have in our heads, he knew us while we were being knit in our mother’s womb, He knows the number of days we have in our lives. What does he want in return? He wants our praise and for us to give Him all the glory, for us to acknowledge Him and his authority to create us and to be Lord over us.
Judy Halliday in Thin Within writes, “God created us for His Glory. He wants our lives to reflect His joy, love, grace and compassion so that people will recognize Him in our countenance. The Bible calls this glorifying God. You might say that we become advertisements for how wonderful God is when our lives display His majesty and wonder to the world.”
I want people to recognize in me God’s reflection as I journey through whatever this life can bring. I want to be a demonstration of praise whether I am facing life’s joy or life’s pain.
The world is a fallen place and we will face suffering.
People sin and do hurtful things to each other. We have struggles and we should expect it. I don’t believe God is a grand puppeteer up in heaven saying “okay, I need some glory and Anita is needing to learn some patience, some calmness, some honesty so I’ll send… to happen.” No, I believe God is a just God and a God who desires what is best for us. I do believe that God allows people to make choices and sometimes those choices hurt us. I believe that acts of nature, events in our lives just happen and it is not up to me to understand why. What is up to me is remember whose I am and to continue to give Him glory and praise no matter what.
The dictionary defines glory as exalted honor and a source of pride. Wow! To think that I could be a source of pride for God! By giving Him praise in the midst of whatever life hands me could give God exalted honor and be a source of pride. Oh, I love images and my favorite is the possibility of God in heaven saying “look, there’s my Anita… life on earth hasn’t always been easy, but look at her. She could have turned her back on me years ago and even last week, but she keeps coming back to me and giving me praise… can you believe it?! Yup, that’s my girl!”
Psalm 8: 11-13 says,
- “Teach me your way, O Lord
And I will walk in your truth
Give me an undivided heart
That I might fear your name
I will praise you, O Lord my God, with all my heart
I will glorify your name forever
For great is your love toward me
You have delivered me from the depths of the grave”
I want to understand God’s ways. I want to walk in His truth. I want an undivided heart. I want to fear His name. On the one hand, we can understand God and His truth by the blessings he bestows upon us and by how He works things for our good. On the other hand, sometimes I believe this happens in the rainy times in life. As the rain brings growth it can eventually bring glory. Romans 5 tells us that “suffering produces perseverance, perseverance, character, and character, hope, and that hope does not disappoint us because God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit.” Suffering brings perseverance. Perseverance brings character. Character brings hope. I want hope, I want character, I want perseverance. So I guess I should say, Jesus bring the rain. I guess I should say, God, I know that this situation isn’t what you want us to have to endure, but I’ll journey through it for your glory. I guess I should say, Jesus, whatever it takes to bring you glory go ahead and let it happen.
I guess I should remember my dead flowers in my front yard. These flowers after a summer of too much heat and sun and too little care were dead. I cut them off and let the pots just sit there until I was ready to redo them for fall. Then the rain came. To my delight these flowers that looked dead and gone came back to life with a little pruning and a little rain. There are little green leaves sprouting up all over the stems I left. I hope that during the periods of rain in my life whether those huge life crisis, those bumps in the road, or even a bad day I can praise God in some way knowing that He can bring those green leaves back into my life. I may need to hurt for a while and walk through the pain or frustration, but in time he can make me bloom. In turn He can gain all the glory.
This bringing glory to God will share our faith in a way that glorifies God even more.
I love the quote by Judy Halliday that I referenced earlier. By reflecting God’s joy, love, grace, and compassion when we glorify Him, we can be an advertisement for how wonderful God is. As I shared a couple of weeks ago during prayer time, my sister-in-law, Emily, demonstrates this glorifying God in the midst of whatever life brings beautifully. As many of you know, they are in the midst of adopting a little girl Sam’s age from Guatemala. They have had many bumps in the road. Here is part of her email she sent to me several weeks ago:
- “After learning that the US Embassy is requiring a second DNA test, we’ve learned they don’t have a plan/policy in place to implement the new law. This means she’s stuck there until they figure out how this will be done. My best guess is we’re probably looking at October now.But here’s the Good News….We’ve embarked on a new journey. We’ve decided to act like Christians!!! We spend all this time in Bible study, church, and Sunday school saying things like, “God has a perfect plan,” and, “God will work it out in His perfect timing.” We’ve decided to act like that and claim it!!! Honestly, since I made this conscious decision a few days ago, I’ve had that ‘peace that passes all understanding’!
I am viewing this as an opportunity, not a setback. It’s a precious, rare opportunity for us to be an example of what Christian faith is about. Everyone we come into contact with (neighbors, friends, family, co-workers, our church family) asks us when we’re getting Erin. I have taken this as an invitation to be a witness for Christ.
Here is what I’m telling people: We are Christians and we are going to act like it! My whole life I’ve reacted with anger when things don’t go my way. Even though everything seems out of control, it’s not–God is completely in control. None of these delays are news to Him. If I had always gotten what I wanted, when I wanted it, we’d have missed out on everything! We’d have missed out on Ramey. God knows what’s best for us and we trust Him. He’s proven himself to us too many times to discount His authority. We will get Erin when it’s time. We are taking this time to draw closer to God and depend on Him. His grace is sufficient.
I have, over the past few days, echoed this to everyone I’ve come into contact with (at least 20 people)”
Wow! What an awesome example to me! God wants us to praise Him. He wants us to acknowledge his power and trust Him to journey with us. He wants us to be an advertisement for Him. He wants people to recognize Him, to be drawn to Him by the way we handle life. We were made to glorify this God who created us. We will experience much joy and much sorrow in this life. In the midst of my journey I am going to pray: Lord, may I be an advertisement for you, may I glorify your name forever. Amen!