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Who do you Magnify?
I missed you all so very much! I was gone two months in Hawaii, writing and grandparenting, then one month on the road seeing God’s creation and family, and lastly two weeks at The Master’s Seminary working on my Doctor of Ministry (and wishing I was home the entire time). We had a blast–we rested and we were refreshed. In Hawaii, we had adventures—hiking, swimming with dolphins. Matt and I scuba dived with manta rays. We even took a helicopter ride around the big island.
We babysat at least four times per week, spent as much time as we could with Ryker, Finn, Danielle and Matt. We often walked a mile to town to get supplies or a meal, and always walked back via the beach. We were so tired when we first arrived, for the first two-and-a-half weeks we slept—one- to two-hour naps every single day. After that I relaxed and we really enjoyed ourselves.
I finished three sermons and wrote the very rough draft of a book on training laymen in the local church. We could walk to the beach in eight minutes and Jean and I went out by 6 or 7pm (as often as we could) for an evening swim. I started to run on the beach before sunrise each day in order to witness the sunrise and to pray in the mornings. I probably took 2,000 pictures of sunrises–it was glorious.
After two months, we said goodbye to Ryker and Finn and Danielle and Matt. My goal was to get Ryker to cry when we left. The little two-year-old didn’t cry, but I did. But the little boy who never cuddles with anyone was cuddling with his grandma Jean, his Tutu. (Grandma in Hawaiian is Tutu.) And His favorite Grandpa is Kuku–he knows who I am now. When we send him videos now he says, “Kuku!” We miss all four of them very much.
We allowed ourselves a two-day turn-around here at home–then we headed out on a massive western U.S. drive. We drove just 25 miles short of 5,000 miles total around the western United States to see God’s creation in Zion, Bryce, Goblin Arches, Canyon-land, Mount Rushmore, Custer, Needles, Deadwood, Devil’s Tower, Yellowstone, Spokane, Bend, Brookings, Napa, Solvang, etc.
We invested five days with my family up in Spokane, WA and catching up with my mom who is now in independent senior living. My sister Wendy and sister-in-law Cyndi are caring for her. Mom is doing okay, but is definitely getting older.
Five thousand miles later we returned home. The next day I stopped in at summer camp, went to Menifee church, visited at the end of our picnic, got ready for my doctoral class, and just returned from The Master’s Seminary Tuesday night. (And no, I was not sitting at home while Jean was at church–I was required to be at GCC on Sundays for my doctoral program, and it was encouraging.) And now, finally we are officially, fully back.
We had a great time, but we genuinely missed you. And you’ve been so encouraging—there hasn’t been one critical word. Jean asked me, “Honey, in all our travels, is there anywhere you’d rather live? Is there anywhere you’d rather serve?” Sincerely–of all the places we saw, this is our favorite place to live. Of all the other churches, this is our family. As long as I am not drooling and repeating myself and as long as you want me, I am hoping to serve here.
We did and saw great things. Jean would often stop, say, “Wow,” then start singing praise! “You are Lord of creation and Lord of my life, Lord of the land and the sea.” It reminded me of our study of Philippians, which we return to next week. Do you remember Philippians 1:20? As Paul talks about his purpose, which is to live for Christ, he also wants, whether he lives or dies, one thing.
Philippians 1:20, “According to my earnest expectation and hope, that I will not be put to shame in anything, but that with all boldness, Christ will even now, as always, be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.” Whether he lives or dies, Paul wants Christ exalted. Exalted is a great word. It literally means magnified–will be made great.
You know what a magnifying glass does–a magnifying glass makes objects bigger. A magnifying glass brings items into focus. It makes things which are too small to see, seeable. A magnifying glass magnifies that which you want to see. Paul wants his life to magnify God, to show Him big–to not merely see a man, but a man who is indwelt with God. To not merely look at circumstances, but see a God who is in control. Paul wants people to see God through him.
The red cliffs of Zion magnify God. The forty-plus sunrises on Kailua Beach all magnified God. The majesty of Arches magnified God. The awesome Oregon Beach of Brookings magnified God. Your everyday life is to magnify God. And I want my life, like Paul wants his life or his death, to magnify God–for God to be made great through Him. How about you? Too many today want to magnify themselves, their kids, their service, their giving, their relationships, but not God. Yet creation automatically magnifies God. Psalm 19:1, “The heavens are telling of the glory of God; and their expanse is declaring the work of His hands.”
And all of creation magnifies God at the same level, same intensity, same consistency–except for people. All people are made in the image of God. But every person does not reflect God’s image equally. All people give off an aroma of God–some are sweet, some more stinky. Second Corinthians 2:14, “Thanks be to God, . . . manifest[ing] through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place.”
But not all image bearers desire to magnify God. Their hearts, have not been transformed by Christ. And . . . not all believers work at magnifying God. Why? They are living in their own strength, there is un-dealt with sin in their lives, or most common, they’ve forgotten their purpose. You were created to magnify God, to point to God, to glorify God, to show off God, to cause people to think of God–you were meant to reflect God.
You are to be the moon. The moon does not have its own light. There’s no fusion on the moon. The moon reflects the sun–S.U.N. And you and I are to reflect the Son–S.O.N. You are just like the moon–you’re all a bunch of moonies. I’m calling you today and tonight to magnify God. Today is part one and tonight is part two. Do not miss tonight.
This call comes on the heels of my sabbatical and what I learned on my time away–kinda like a “what I did on summer vacation” sermon. But after being gone and visiting other churches, this call reflects many of the unique distinctives of Faith Bible Church. Plus it recalls some great truths from Philippians for us to remember.
Magnifying God gives purpose to your life–it’s your purpose. Magnifying God tells you what you’re supposed to do at home, at work, at school and with your friends. As a Christian, you may be selling medical supplies, but your real job is to magnify God as you sell a scope. As a student believer, you may be middle linebacker, but your overall purpose is to magnify God as you crush them. As a saint, you may be a housewife, but your home assignment is to magnify God by correcting and cleaning.
Too many of you are anxious, afraid, discontent, and distracted—but as you look back on your normal day, if you magnified God, you’ll grow in joy, enjoy contentment, and not be worried. You’re doing what you’re supposed to do. Start each day asking this, “Lord, how can I magnify You, point to You, glorify You today?” Your everyday life is to magnify God. The first step to pursue to magnify God is . . .
#1 By living DEPENDENTLY
Live by faith–but you must come to a deep realization. What? You can’t magnify God. You cannot magnify God in your own strength. You can’t live for Christ or live like Christ in your own strength. God must glorify Himself through you. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. Only God can glorify God through you.
True, you engage your will . . . true, you step out in obedience–but you do so by faith, a dependent reliance upon the Holy Spirit according to the Word of God. In order for God to magnify God through you, you must live by faith. Magnifying God is part of glorifying God, and both these universal priorities and essential motives of magnifying and glorifying can only occur in anything you do or anything you say this week as you live by faith.
Listen to Romans 4:20, “[Abraham] did not waver in unbelief, but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God.” Abraham glorified God by expressing strong dependent faith in God. He didn’t waver. Abraham wasn’t wimpy. The Greek says Abraham literally did not un-trust with doubt. But Abraham grew strong in faith. Abraham was literally empowered with faith.
The Greek word for grew strong is in a passive voice, meaning this–it was God who empowered him to depend in faith. We can’t live for Christ, only Christ can live for Christ. Only God can glorify God—but God can do so through you. And God alone can empower you to depend upon Him.
What is remarkable is this–Abraham is an old man. Older believers and younger Christians who’ve been believers for many years often stop living dependently–they go through the motions. They speak Christian words, do Christian things to appear godly, but no longer live by faith in God. Since they’ve got it down, they live by their own strength. At school, they don’t depend on God’s Word anymore. At home, they forget to rely on the Spirit of God. At work, they go through the motions with no thought of how desperate their unsaved workmates are.
But we can only magnify God, live for Christ at work, make an impact on our friends for Christ by depending on the Spirit of God by the Word of God. At FBC, you already know the key verse for a great marriage and godly parenting. Paul’s foundational verse for both marriage and parenting is Ephesians 5:18, right before he addresses marriage, then parenting. Ephesians 5:18, “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit.”
Filled is a loaded Greek verb—filled is present tense, meaning continually be filled all the time. Plural, meaning every single believer is to be filled. Imperative, meaning this is a non-optional command for all. And the crazy part of this verb is the voice–the voice is passive, meaning being filled is done to you. You don’t choose to be filled–be filled must be done to you. That is wild–you have been given a command for you to obey. Be filled–but it must be done to you.
When you desire to be filled, you saturate your heart with the Word of God, you repent of any known sin, you serve and share Christ by an act of your will, but you must rely dependently on God to empower you. You rely on God in order to be filled with the Spirit. God must fill you–you desire to be filled. Then when you are filled, you manifest the fruit of the Spirit.
This fruit massively alters your marriage and parenting. Would being saturated with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness and self-control impact your marriage? Would it change the quality of your parenting? Yes! And that fruit through you will magnify God, just by living dependently.
What did Jesus say in John 15:8? “By this is My Father glorified, that you bear much fruit.” When you depend on God and His Word, you’re magnifying God. And as you continue to depend on God and His Word during your deepest trials and your greatest sorrows, the more it magnifies Him. That’s part of the reason you have trials!
But when you don’t trust, you minimize His greatness. When you don’t trust Him, you slam His character–instead of magnifying Him, you’re diminishing Him. And God is not talking about trusting Him with only big things, but trusting Him with little things–all things. Are you trusting Him for classes, college, cash or courtship?
Are you like the girl who signed all her letters, “SINBAD”–(an acrostic for Single Income, No Boyfriend And Desperate)? When you doubt and worry, you are telling the world, “My God cannot be trusted”–you minimize His character and you rob yourself of joy. So much of our joy and our trust while we were away was knowing you were praying for us–loving us. We help each other to depend on the Spirit, don’t we? Magnify God by depending on Him–trust Him. A second step to magnifying God is . . .
#2 By living SIMPLY
Magnifying the Lord means your mirror must be clean, not dirty. And magnifying Jesus means your mirror is not cluttered. In order to make your life count for the glory of God, you have to make choices not to live distracted. You have to be able to focus on what is most important. Half the reason why believers are less influential on society is this–they are so busy with good things, they don’t have time for the best things. You must un-crowd your life now to prioritize the eternal.
Jesus said it in Matthew 6:33, “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” John warned about it in Revelation 2:4, “But I have this against you, that you have left your first love.” Paul said it this way in Philippians 1:21, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” If your life is too busy to obey God, you’re too busy. If your life is too cluttered to focus on God, you’re too busy. If your life is too crammed to pursue God with all your heart, you’re too busy. Your everyday life is to magnify God.
I love working hard–I have a huge capacity for work. It’s a great blessing for His glory, and it’s a curse. The elders know my weaknesses and they care for me, but there are times I work myself to exhaustion. I’ve been living without margins, so if a crisis hits–like our parents get sick, fall or sadly die, then I was instantly overcommitted needing to cut things out. But I didn’t. So when we went away, I slept for 2½ weeks. I’m seeking to repent of the choices which led to exhaustion—but we can all mess up in this manner.
Most people are not warped like me, but they’re warped over their kids. Their kids dictate how they live. Their kids are placed in every program, attend every school event, participate in every sport so the family calendar is chaos. Then instead of serving the church or giving to the Kingdom, they’re too busy and too stretched financially to give to Christ’s work. Most singles have too many friends, no schedule and no budget–so the Lord only receives what is leftover.
Listen, busy is okay–serving Christ does cost time and effort. But chaos is never God’s will. But along with activity, we’re also cluttered with stuff. You and I have too much stuff. Get rid of it–sell it cheap or give it away, but unload it now. Jean and I just went through this twice. Picture your sudden death or your immediate departure from your home to now live in one room, and your children have to go through all your stuff. Do you know what they’ll do with your stuff? They will do what you should do now–throw it away!
I have way too much stuff. I was just slapped! I just lived three months out of a suitcase, and a quarter of it I never used. I don’t need all I have. I want to unclutter my life, and so should you. For Christ to be my first love, for His Kingdom to be first, I need to have less things to compete for His affection. How many shoes, purses, pants, electronics, toys do you need?
If you can’t get to church and minister to others, you’re too busy. If you can’t give sacrificially, your heart is wrong. Simplify your life, seek Him first, make certain Christ is your first love, or God will carve things out of your life until you do. To magnify God, you must live uncluttered but focused upon Christ and what He has done for you. Your everyday life is to magnify God–how?
#3 By living REGENERATELY
What is living regenerately? Live as if Christ is alive–He is. Don’t live by rules, live by relationship with intimacy. Don’t live religiously, live by relationship. Our salvation is a relationship with God. John 17:3, “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” Eternal life is knowing the triune God intimately.
Salvation is not merely being justified–it is being indwelt, made new, born again, Christ lives in you and through you. And once Christ is in you, you’ll want to live like Christ. You’ll have a new heart burning in you to live a new life. What’s it look like? Like Philippians 2:14 and 15 say, “Do all things without grumbling or disputing; 15 so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world.”
Christians don’t complain. They do, but it is a vile evil. Complaining is an insult to the sovereignty of God. When you complain, you’re declaring at that moment that God is not in charge–God is not sovereign. Complaining is the height of arrogant, defiant pride, for when you complain, you are saying to the sovereign sustainer of all, “Lord, You don’t know what You’re doing. I know better than You.”
We are to live differently, see verse 15–as a light. True Christians want to live different from the world. Paul says you’re a light to the world. You’re the witness to the world. You show off Christ to the world. But this new behavior–all is motivated by, driven by the born again heart and the indwelling Holy Spirit. We are to live regenerately to magnify God, to show Him off.
You are not to live for your family–or your grandkids. Faith is not family first. Faith isn’t a focus on the family–it’s Jesus first, it’s focus on Jesus. Family is a part of that. Living regenerately is not living for your country. We live for Christ who miraculously transforms lives which, if He chooses and enough respond, transforms a nation. Isaiah 40 says the nations of the earth (the USA) are a drop in the bucket.
Our nation, these elections, are not the important issue–the salvation of its citizens is the important issue. Which means Christians must be lights to show off Christ. And living regenerately is not living morally. The Pharisees were the most moral, but Jesus Christ is holy. Morality is concerned about externals. Holiness is concerned about the heart.
The moral person abstains from wrong actions–what I don’t do. The holy person hates the very thought of wrongdoing. The moral person is preoccupied by what people perceive him to be–the holy person is consumed with what God wants him to be. The moral person mindlessly adheres to a cold list of do’s and don’ts, but the holy person ponders what brings the greatest pleasure to his heavenly Father. Moral people want the Ten Commandments restored to the walls of our courts. Moral people want Christians to be elected, but that’s all moral reformation.
God-authored regeneration is the life-altering, internal, heart-changing, radical-transformation salvation only Christ can bring about in your life and in others. Too many church-attenders are moral unbelievers. They are moral, but not regenerate. They are sweet, but not saved. They go to church, but don’t know Christ. Living regenerately means you have a living, alive, on-going relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.
Relationship means conversation, intimacy, interaction. You pray more than tweet, you think of Him more than Instagram. The true Church is all about people coming to Christ and becoming like Christ. We’re all about people being transformed. Jesus said to Nicodemus, “You must be born again.” Peter said, “God is the one who has caused you to be born again.”
To magnify God, you’re not pointing to a God who changes external behavior–you are exalting the God who internally transforms hearts. And it’s the regenerate heart which causes us to want to please Christ with our money, our friends, our time, and occupation. Your everyday life is to magnify God. A fourth way to magnify God is . . .
#4 By living COMMUNALLY
God wants you to be interconnected, intertwined, and interactive with the Christian community–the Church. The Bible is really pointed and clear. The Church is a body, and each of you is a body part. Do you see them? There’s a liver, a bicep, a tongue, an eyeball, hair, a hand, a foot, and the mouth! But the hand can’t survive or function without the body. There is no such thing as a bodiless body part. There is no such thing as a liver without a body. Each of us are parts of the whole.
First Corinthians 12:12, “The body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body.” Can you see how anti-biblical, ungodly and against God’s will it is to attend church but not participate in the body, to be a spectator and not a participant? You and I are to be so close to each other. First Corinthians 12:26 is true, “If one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.” When we function the way God designed, by serving, discipling each other, then the world sees more of Christ–we magnify God.
Have you ever watched a scary movie with the sound off? I don’t watch scary movies, but in seeing one briefly with the sound off, it was no longer scary, but funny and silly. Now look, she is going down to the basement–surprise! The movie loses the entire effect the director was going for. It is the same with the Church. A Christian without serving the Church is like a movie without a soundtrack. It misses the entire intension of our great director.
The soundtrack of the Christian’s life is the Church–you must be immersed in it to experience the director’s goal, the Lord’s goal. To put Christ on display, we must be interconnected with believers in the local church–to belong, serve, connect, give and be in community with. When you say, “I want to be a missionary,” what you’re saying is this–“I want to establish the local church in a foreign land.” God’s mission is the Church.
Read through Acts–the mission of the Spirit is to establish the Church. Missions is doing church somewhere else. You can magnify God better together than you can individually. You must transform into a fan of the local church. This is a call to come alongside those who are independent of the local church and show them they are out of God’s will. Are you connected–really intertwined? Pass these two tests.
TEST #1 Are you GIVING in such a way that pleases Christ?
At times, men want to become elders, then join the TC–and in second year they turn in their family budget, as we teach the Bible on money and stewardship. One of the men wanting to be an elder was shocked to discover when he worked out his budget that he was giving less than 2% of his income to the Lord’s work. It was a heart shock and a heart check–why is that?
Matthew 6:21, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Your heart is exposed by what you give to. And your heart is exposed by how much you give. First Corinthians 16:2, “On the first day of every week each one of you is to put aside and save, as he may prosper.” Are you a faithful, generous, joyous, hilarious giver to others? Christ is a giver–Christians are givers. Are you known as a giver? If you are, you magnify God. Your everyday life is to magnify God.
TEST #2 Are you SERVING in such a way that pleases Christ?
Liver, mouth, hand, eyeball–you each have a function. When the individual parts don’t function in the body, it weakens the body and threatens that part. Too many churches struggle because the members function like fans in the stands, not players on the field. You have a job to do.
First Peter 4:10 and 11, “As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. 11 Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.”
You read it here–as each one of us functions the way the Holy Spirit designed each senior and student in the body, then God is glorified through Jesus Christ. We can give a clearer picture of who God is together than we can separately, but it means we all serve like Christ, with joyful attitudes and a heart to honor our Savior. We are all commanded to function in service in the church, so Christ is wonderfully magnified through our lives. Finally for this morning, a fifth way to magnify God is . . .
#5 By living TRUSTINGLY
You know these verses–Proverbs 3:5 and 6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. 6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” Do you trust the Lord with all your heart? Are you leaning on your own thinking, or trusting in His Word? Are you acknowledging Him all day, or forgetting about Him? Test yourselves.
#1 Do you trust God when things go SOUTH?
When the government decides to burn you alive if you don’t bow down to a statue of the President, like the three at the fiery furnace–they trusted God. They did not know if they would be rescued. They said to the king in Daniel 3:18, “But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.” When you trust God during a hot hurt, you magnify God, you demonstrate He is big enough to have confidence in, no matter what.
#2 Do you trust God when you don’t have ANSWERS?
When a little boy gets eaten by an alligator, what can you say to parents who’ve experienced the worst thing a parent can go through? You don’t give flippant answers. Our goal in situations like that is not to toss out patent answers, even if they’re theologically accurate. Our response is to weep with those who weep, and trust God to work in the hearts of those affected by such a tragedy. Can you trust the Lord, even when you have no answers?
I was sad when I clicked too fast–I booked what I thought was a California Crescent City hotel, discovering after I purchased that it was in Oregon, thirty minutes north. I apologized to Jean–I messed up. Yet through God’s providence, that mistake ended up being one of the best places we stayed, forming some of the sweetest memories. Can you trust God when you have no answers? And, are you magnifying God by living dependently, by living simply, regenerately, communally and trustfully? So who are you magnifying? Does your life magnify God?
There’re more ways to magnify God–two crucial ways tonight. Do not miss our time together at the park this evening. Are you ready to respond to God’s Word? Will you depend on the Spirit, engage your will, and take some steps to magnify God? Then . . .
1. Make the choices to live SIMPLY
Cut out the clutter–decide some good things you won’t do. Say no to good things in order to say yes to the best things. Evaluate your life and ask, “How much of my life is dedicated to eternal things, to Christ and His glory? How much of my life is seeking Christ first?
2. Get serious about TRUTH
If there is any command you are disobeying or not obeying, commission or omission, repent today. Are you loving others, giving financially, discipling your children, loving your wife, investing into the lives of the church family? Obey the commands of the Scripture to serve your giftedness in the church, to care for others, to minister to one another. Get serious about God’s Word.
3. Live more DEPENDENTLY than ever before
You can’t live the Christian life–the Spirit must live through you. God is sovereign and you are responsible. Be responsible to obey, to depend, to rely, to be the glove for the Spirit to direct in order to point to Christ.
4. Turn from your SIN and depend on Christ by FAITH
You can’t magnify God unless you have surrendered to Christ in salvation. You must realize God must condemn you for your sin, and your only hope is someone to take care of your sin for you, because you can never live good enough.
The good news is, Jesus Christ took the Father’s judgment for your sin upon Himself on the cross. The Father took the worst about us and laid it on Christ–then the Father took the best about Christ and laid it on us. All the punishment, which should’ve been poured out on you, was poured out on Christ. So turn from your sin in repentance and depend on Christ in faith in order to be saved. Depend upon Him now. You are in church today, but are you in Christ? Let’s pray.