Loving God for Himself Alone

This week I preached on the bigness of God from Isaiah 40:12-26. That because he is so big we can trust him with our lives. Now all of us that claim faith in Christ can on the surface agree to this and let it warm us on a Sunday morning, but how does it help us on a Monday afternoon?

Normal pressures of life punctuate the worship gathering and we swim back into the soup of the clamor of smaller things demanding to reign in our lives. We believe God is big enough to care for us, but how will the bills get paid? We believe God holds all of creation in his hand, but what if our adult children never speak to us again? We believe nations are emptiness before God, but what about the burden of our tax liability?

The list could go on, and sure it would be specific to you, external demands, responsibilities, emotions and the overall sense of exile without end weigh us down. Can we really turn to Jesus with all of this?

It is far too easy to turn faith into a transactional relationship. I believe in God so he gives me a job, or I pray hard and long enough and I will finally be delivered…etc. But is believing in and following Jesus worthwhile if none of the externals are dealt with? Do we love God for himself alone?

The thinking brings to mind one of the most popular of Bible stories. The fiery furnace. Disobedient to the cultural demands of worship at the golden image which would make their own faith in God private, the three Jewish young men are brought before the king.

“Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.” Daniel 3:16–18 (ESV)

They profess how big God is – big enough to deliver them out of the fire – but what’s more, they profess that even if he doesn’t they won’t bow to the fake gods. Even in the breakthrough doesn’t come, even if I remain in the valley, if I live and die in exile, I will still only worship God.

It is bold faith.

Yes, God delivers them. They are freed from the furnace and in many of our own “furnaces” God works to free us. But friends he is worth worshiping because of who he is. We don’t need the addition of circumstance or the change thereof.

Come what may, we will worship. Let’s say that. Let’s live that. Let’s rejoice when we come out the other side. Let’s look up and behold our God and gain an eager vision for eternity with him – the promise he is big enough to deliver. Let’s love God for himself alone.

What they will see

“Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. GOD, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer’s; he makes me tread on my high places.” Habakkuk 3:17-19 (ESV)

We might present all the glitz and glamor we can muster. We might drum up stories of success and wealth. We may insist there be smoke and lights with our music. We may dream up a million strategies… to win people to Christ. But this is what they will see that will make Jesus desirable. In fact, it is why he is desirable and worth your life to follow.

Because he is our strength. He is our joy. When life happens. When nothing goes “right.” When all our strategies have come up short. When we don’t know exactly how things will unfold. We can still take joy, grasp joy in the God of our salvation. He keeps our feet, he makes us stand in high places.

Jesus, I take joy in you, help my lack of joy. I believe, help my unbelief, that this is what they would see.

Diamonds

One of my favorite shirts to wear as of late is one that says “No Pressure No Diamonds.” It gets noticed and what was simply a 99 cent thrift store purchase is becoming a bit of a mantra for me.

It is not that I am experiencing a season of hardship or any terrible pressure, but a reminder that as someone who follows Jesus, suffering is a biblical guarantee. We are to expect it, but we are not left alone in it and it is not meaningless.

Truth is, I think the things of pressure, the difficult things in life position us to cling all the more tightly to the goodness and provision of Christ. When I have nothing else, he is more than enough. And I think this is right where the Lord wants us, fully dependent on him. In our dependence then, each struggle and pain is securing for us an eternal weight of glory. We are going to shine.

I know that sounds cheesy but I don’t care. All of this life will one day fade and glory will be fully revealed. The radiance of Jesus will shine on us and reflect beautifully off of the glorified existence of those that believe in him. We can’t imagine it. We can only anticipate it.

So we keep on trusting, relying and being comforted in the Lord’s care and purpose. He is making diamonds.

Evidentially the band Hawk Nelson knows something of this too!