Sermon Manuscript . . .
Who do you Magnify?
I just came back from two months in Hawaii and a drive around the western USA. When we got to Hawaii, I was a little anxious of heart and I was very tired. I was praying, I was reading the Word, but after I took a nap each day for 2½ weeks my heart stopped being anxious. I began to run on the beach for about one to three miles every morning prior to sunrise, and after my run I began to pray for longer periods of time on a certain beach log every morning. My heart grew more encouraged.
But no matter how good things can be spiritually, we are not yet in Heaven–amen? Even though Christians are freed from the penalty of sin, we still battle with the presence of sin. Even though Christians are freed from the power of sin, we still struggle with the presence of sin. Here I was in a very sweet spiritual place in Hawaii and I was suddenly battling with resentment in my heart. “Over what?” you ask.
Occasionally when I was running, I would arrive back at my log in order to pray, and there’d be someone else sitting on my log. Now I could’ve sat in the sand, I could’ve walked 100 yards to a different log, but at that moment for about seven seconds, I was resentful. “How dare that guy sit on my prayer log. I am a pastor–I need that log. That’s my log. Who do you think you are? How dare you, you log-hogger!” I hate my sin–the bile of my life.
My evil thoughts were only seconds long. And you have to know, on a beach three miles long with about fifteen people total on the beach, I’d never walk over and sit down next to him. He would’ve freaked. Thankfully I did not walk over and kick sand in his face. I quickly realized these were sinful thoughts. I quickly confessed them and didn’t act upon them. I put those thoughts out of my mind and stood to pray.
Later I prayed, “God, please send a crab over to pinch that guy.” No I didn’t, but it reminded me how easy it is for good behavior to be mixed with sin–how easy it is to do things for Christ but battle with sin. Here you are as a Christian, wanting to magnify God, reflect His greatness, show Him off, bring Him glory, enjoy and display His character, yet you battle with remaining sin.
You want to magnify God because Christ was tortured, then died for your sins. God was born a man to provide salvation for His children. God transforms His children from the inside out, giving them a new heart which desires to magnify God, even though you will struggle with sin until you get to Heaven. It seems unfair, until you remember as a Christian your redemption is not yet totally complete. You are not yet in Heaven. You are not home yet.
As believers, you are free from the penalty of sin and the power of sin, but not yet from the presence of sin. And until you are in Heaven and in your new body, you will not be free from your struggle with sin. Yet in spite of that, every Christian wants to please God. How can we magnify God? How do we show God as glorious in our flawed, sin-battling bodies? The answer is to live dependently upon the Holy Spirit, by following the Word of God so Christ lives through you.
Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” Christ lives in you—your life in your body now you live by faith, in a moment-by-moment dependence upon Christ who loves you.
This AM we looked at a few crucial ways to magnify God and tonight I will expose two more important ways. You magnify God by the way you treat believers and you magnify God by the way you treat unbelievers. You magnify God by how you treat those who know Christ and you magnify God by how you treat those who don’t know Christ. Why are relationships so important to God? Why?
Our God is an eternal, triune relationship of Father, Son and Spirit. And as the crown of His creation, we are made to experience an intimate level of that relationship, meaning this–your faith is not merely a decision, a doctrine, or a change of eternal dwelling. Your faith is a friendship–an intimate relationship. Just as John 17:3 says, “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.”
Thousands of church attenders today know about Christ, but don’t personally know Christ–they are not redeemed. Relationship is so important, listen to Jeremiah 9:23 and 24, “Thus says the Lord, ‘Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches; 24 but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things,’ declares the Lord.”
Christian, don’t boast about how much you know, how strong you are or how big your paycheck is–but boast about your intimate personal relationship with God Himself. God highly values relational intimacy–so much so it must spill out in your relationships with others. God is pointing right at you in 1 John 4:20 and 21, “If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. 21 And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also.”
My goal in this message is for you to view every interaction with friend or stranger, Christian or non-Christian as an opportunity to magnify God or to minimize God. Our relationship with the Triune God must be seen in our relationships with others. Every day relationships can magnify God. One way we magnify God with relationships is . . .
#6 By living SELFLESSLY
Are you struggling getting along with anyone? Is there tension between you and anyone right now? Then listen to Paul in Philippians 2:3 to 4, “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; 4 do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.”
Verses 3 to 4 are part of the intro to the example in verses 5 to 8. Paul follows the verse 1 to 4 exhortation with the most amazing example of Jesus Christ in verses 5 to 8. Paul proves Christ lived the most selfless life ever lived. Christ didn’t live focused on Himself, but Christ focused on others. Christ lived by pure humility and selflessness.
You might be a really humble person tonight. When others describe you they say, “Bertha is so-o-o humble,” or “Bob is such a self-effacing servant.” You may faithfully serve others, but you’ve never lived as low as Christ. The glorious, all-powerful, all-wise, sovereign God, the Creator of the universe was born as a baby, grew to manhood, lived like a servant and willingly died a horrific death–not for Himself, but for others. Jesus magnified the Triune God by living for others–living selflessly magnifies God.
Sadly, this has become rarer than ever. Christians treat waitresses terribly–why? “She messed up my order and we’re tipping her.” So they feel justified to ream her. Believers treat the woman at the front desk rudely because the company made a mistake on their bill. Christ-followers treat other believers in their church indifferently–why? “They’re not my friend.” That behavior does not magnify God.
If you love God, you will love His children. When you live selflessly–self gets out of the way so people can actually see Christ. Self must be out of the way for God to be magnified. Jean and I just returned from a month drive—amazingly, during that time and two months in Hawaii, we had maybe five moments of tension. What a joy to be married to a woman who you want to be around 24/7. It really helps when she is a double G, right? Double G is godly and good looking.
As we traveled, we tried to minister to strangers. We stopped at a Cracker Barrel during an 8-hour drive day, because we both really wanted a salad. The Barrel was packed, and seniors were pounding down half chickens, but we just wanted to split a salad. The waitress came to our table, she was in a hurry, a little frayed and she was moving fast to get it all done. We immediately said, “Hi,” with a smile, greeted her by her nametag, told her to relax, we were happy customers who don’t mind waiting.
She left, came back with waters. Before she left our table again, even before she had our food–with genuine sincerity she said to us, “You just made my day.” Living selfless magnifies God. So what if our food was late, it’s just food–a thing. The waitress is a person, made in God’s image. Living selflessly involves politeness, courtesy, a kind word and helping others.
In northern California I walked into a Starbucks, saw two police offers sitting at a table talking. I’d seen their patrol cars in the parking lot, and thought of my son Dan. While in line to order, I walked up to them and said, “Men, my son is a deputy. I really appreciate what you do—if there is anything I can get for you both right now, it would be an honor.” Their heart encouragement exploded into a smile, even though they refused.
Others will not see Christ when you’re in the way. One of our biggest problems is our self-perception. If you have too high a view of yourself, you can’t magnify God. If you are one who is easily offended by what others say, if you are one who is continually hurt by comments, you will not magnify God because your eyes are not looking up at His majesty, they are constantly looking in at your petty hurts and looking around at those who hurt you.
One of the greatest distinctives of FBC is this–we are a people who do not take ourselves seriously, but we are a people who take God seriously. There’s good reason for this. Paul describes you clearly in Galatians 6:3, “For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself.” Absorb this doctrinal truth–ready? You are nothing. In Greek, maa-dice, i-me being nothing.
Stick your hand in a bucket of water, then carefully pull your hand out–look at the impact your hand left in the water. The answer is nada–Spanish for nothing. Paul’s self-concept is in your face. As the years pass, Paul bows lower and lower—look. “I am the least of the apostles,” 1 Corinthians 15:9 in A.D. 59. “I am the very least of all the saints,” Ephesians 3:8 in A.D. 63. “I am the foremost of sinners,” 1 Timothy 1:15 in A.D. 64.
Don’t take yourself seriously, but take God very seriously. You can’t magnify God if you’re continually wounded by Christians. If their sin was not defiant, continual, damaging or public then get over yourself and remember 1 Peter 4:8 says, “Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.”
Why cover over their sin? It wasn’t intentional, it was the type of sin you struggle with too. Remind yourself of all the dumb things you have said. Remind yourself of how sinfully flawed you are. Remind yourself of your sinful bents and battles. Get over yourself and live selflessly–how? Stop being the victim. Joy is found in a life which lives three letters–J.O.Y. Jesus, Others, You equals J.O.Y. Live selflessly to magnify God. You have to depend upon the Spirit according to the Word of God to pull this off, but through Christ you can live selflessly. And one final way to magnify God is . . .
#7 By living EVANGELISTICALLY
We magnify our God by proclaiming His Word. Paul tells us how important evangelism is in 2 Thessalonians 3:1, “Brethren, pray for us that the word of the Lord may spread rapidly and be glorified, just as it did with you.” When you share the truth of the Bible, and you live the truth of the Bible, God is magnified.
Don’t forget why we’re here. God created us in His image, left us here to display His glory, His purposes, His character, His message. Recall what you can do here that you can’t do in Heaven? Three things—1) sin, 2) share the Gospel, and 3) have children. Which do you think He left you here to do?
God did not leave you here to sin, and sharing the Gospel and having children have the same goal–to produce Christ-followers. No Christian parent has children without a passionate heart to see them come to a saving knowledge of Christ. This is why Paul says in Colossians 4:5 and 6, “Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity. 6 Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned, as it were, with salt, so that you may know how you should respond to each person.”
Does your marriage have a Gospel-centeredness to it–not only living by grace, but together you both are burdened for the lost where you make choices, even some sacrifices to share with the lost? Parents, do your children know why you are here on planet Earth? Do they see in your behavior a heart for the lost? If they don’t see God’s purposes lived out in your lives, I guarantee they’ll live a purpose that’s not of God.
Students, do your friendships demonstrate a commitment for the lost to hear the Gospel? You don’t save people, but you are here to share with them. We have good news to share. Every other religion in the world except one tells you to work your way to Heaven by keeping the rules. Christianity alone teaches you will never live good enough. But the good news of Christ is this–God Himself provided a way for sinful people to be made right with Him.
God became a man in the person of Jesus Christ so He could be our substitute, be punished in our place on the cross, then rise from the dead, and now offer salvation to all who surrender their lives to Him. Do you realize what God did for you? The Father clothed Christ with our sin and punished Him for it. Then the Father clothed you with Christ’s righteousness and rewarded you for it.
The only people on planet Earth who end up in Heaven are those who’re covered in the perfect righteousness of Christ. If you turn in repentance from sin and depend on Christ alone by faith, you can be saved–not on the basis of your works, but the work of Christ on the cross for you. The good news is, God alone did the work of salvation. What do they gain? Christ, Heaven, forgiveness, eternal life, joy.
The Gospel is the message about God taking action to rescue His children from their sins. It is news to declare. I’m not here to share the Gospel–I am here to declare. Don’t think because there are other religions that the Gospel is not the only way of salvation. It is. We declare the Gospel because God is not negotiating. God is not striking a bargain. God is not making a counteroffer. God is not dickering. God is not making a suggestion. God is demanding compliance.
The Gospel call is not an invitation. The Gospel call is a summons. If I am invited to a party, I can decline. But if I am summoned and I refuse, I am being defiant. Call people to respond to God’s summons. My friends, every second in our country, three people die and go to Hell. Think about that–time it. Own it. Three people every second die and go to Hell–EVERY SINGLE SECOND: 3, 6, 9, 12, 15, 18, 21, 24, 27, 30. Every ten seconds, thirty more people in Hell.
Friends, family, fellow-students, folks at work–we are here to warn sinners they’re under condemnation. And that judgment will certainly fall. Warn them. During WWII, just before America began bombing Japan, Air Force B-29s flying at 20,000 feet dropped 500-pound M-16 fire-bomb containers converted into leaflet casings. These opened at 3,000 feet to deploy millions of leaflets, effectively covering an entire Japanese city with information.
Three months prior to dropping the atomic bomb, the Office of War Information produced and deployed over 63-million leaflets informing the Japanese people of the true status of the war and provided advance warning to 35 cities targeted for destruction. Postwar surveys showed that the Japanese people trusted the accuracy of the leaflets and many residents of the targeted cities prepared immediately to leave their homes. The Japanese government regarded the leaflets with such concern, it ordered the arrest of those who kept or read the leaflets and did not turn them into their local police stations.
On August 1, 1945, five days before the bombing of Hiroshima, the U.S. Army Air Force dropped one million leaflets over Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and 33 other Japanese cities, warning those cities were going to be destroyed within a few days and advised the residents to leave those cities in order to save their lives. One side of the leaflet had a photo of five U.S. bombers unloading bombs and a list of the targeted cities.
The other side of it carried this warning: “Read this carefully as it may save your life or the life of a relative or friend. In the next few days, some or all of the cities named on the reverse side will be destroyed by American bombs…unfortunately, bombs have no eyes. So, in accordance with America’s humanitarian policies, the American Air Force, which does not wish to injure innocent people, now gives you warning to evacuate the cities named and save your lives…You can restore peace by demanding new and good leaders who will end the war. We cannot promise that only these cities will be among those attacked but some or all of them will be, SO heed this warning and evacuate these cities immediately.”
How did they respond? Just like some of your family and friends respond to the Gospel: 1) some rejected the warning as mere propaganda, 2) others wondered if it were true but did nothing, and 3) others packed up what they could and immediately fled to escape certain destruction. Only some took the warning seriously and acted upon the information of impending doom and fled for their lives.
Let’s warn our friends and family now. And tonight, there are a few of you who need to heed the warning–the judgment of God is going to fall. It will not merely lead to death, but eternal suffering. Your only hope is to turn to Jesus Christ. Turn to Christ now. Turn from your sin and depend on Christ by faith now.
Many of you are loving. It is time for you to grow in love–learning to love others in a more intense manner, to live selflessly and sacrificially, more giving, caring. Be gracious, polite, caring, and giving to all people, to become more like Christ, to truly magnify God. Many of you have a heart for the lost, but it is time for you to be intentional–to declare the Gospel to those who are lost. To not only show it, but say it.
There are heartbreaking tragedies all around us. The inheritance check which is lost in the mail, the US soldier in Afghanistan who proposes to his girlfriend by letter, but the letter remains unopened by his girl for fearful reasons. The lighthouse signal missed by the boat headed toward rocks and certain sinking.
But nothing is more tragic than this–the only message of the only way to be made right with the only true God being lost in conversation, being left unsaid to friends, being unspoken to family, or being unsent via letter to those you love. We have good news–God accomplished salvation for us. We magnify God not by getting a response—that’s God’s job. We magnify God by declaring the good news. God has provided salvation through His Son. Let’s pray.