1 Chronicles 29.11 – Jonathan’s memory verse

Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O LORD, and you are exalted as head above all.

This was my son Jonathan’s Sunday School memory verse this week. When I saw it in the email from his teacher, I thought, “That’s a great verse, I need to memorize that!”

Yours, O LORD, is the greatness…

There is no greatness that anyone can lay claim to that is not ultimately from God himself. God is not only great, all greatness is his. We are used to saying, “God is greater than…” and so he is, but we can say even more. All the greatness that any president or king or leader or any famous person can lay claim to, if it is a true greatness, belongs to God.

There is a greatness in our world today that is not great at all. It may be notoriety or celebrity or fame, but it is not true greatness (I won’t waste your time with examples). And yet there is a true greatness–that which is noble and pure and good. The greatness of Einstein’s mind was a gracious demonstration in a small degree of the intellectual power of God. The greatness of athletic achievement is a gracious demonstration in a small degree of the strength and power of God. The greatness of great acts of love, or faithfulness, or service, while they may be performed by human beings under God’s gracious influence, ultimately belongs to God. The apostle Paul’s greatness belongs to God. Hudson’s Taylor’s greatness belongs to God. Any greatness you may feel that you can lay claim to is God’s. Yours is the greatness, O Lord!

…and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty…

Now apply the same principle to each of these. There is no power except that which is God’s. Any worthwhile accomplishment, any work of service, any obstacle overcome, any foe defeated, all is owing ultimately to the power that belongs to God and God alone. Even the exercise of power for evil is God’s. There is no power that can be exercised for evil apart from God’s sovereign control of all things.

To God belongs all glory. The glory of creation is God’s. The glory of human accomplishment is God’s. The glory of nations and empires is God’s. The glory of angelic beings is his. At the end of all things, if there is anyone who can stand and display any glory of any sort, it will be only God’s glory, displayed as a tribute to him, bestowed by him, that he might be all in all.

There is no victory except that which is God’s. Any sin conquered, he gets the credit for. Any obstacle overcome, any race won, any superiority demonstrated, it belongs to God. His is the victory.

His alone is the majesty. The greatest kings and queens of human history have displayed only a derived majesty, given by God for a time. The majesty of the highest mountains is God’s. The majesty of distant galaxies that dwarf our entire solar system is a dim reflection of the glory of the One who called them all into being with a word.

…for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours…

Why is all the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty God’s and God’s alone? Because he is the Creator and owner of all. Look around you; everything you see is his. Everything you own belongs to God. Everything to the furthest horizons of your vision as you look up, down and all around you is God’s. Anything that you can imagine is God’s.

And God doesn’t just own all of this just to let it sit around useless in his backyard like all that junk in your storage shed out back. He has a purpose and plan for every vessel in his creation. There is nothing that is meaningless. He will use it all for his glory.

Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and you are exalted as head above all.

A kingdom is a place, but it is also a sphere of influence, a “dominion” or that which is dominated and controlled. Ultimately there is only one kingdom and it is God’s. He alone has a say. His decisions are the only ones that are final. He alone can truly be called the Head, and he is above all. He reigns supreme over every power, every purpose, every person, every particle of matter. There is nothing that is outside his active sphere of influence.

He is all in all.

And he has walked among us, in the person of the divine Son, Jesus the Anointed One from Nazareth–the only human being who has ever lived who can lay claim to the greatness, the power, the glory, the victory, and the majesty that is God’s alone. Jesus, the Lamb of God who was slain.

Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!” And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!” And the four living creatures said, “Amen!” and the elders fell down and worshiped. (Revelation 5:11-14)

Amen! I fall on my face in worship of you, Lord Jesus!


Exodus 14 The glory of God in our tough spots

“Who has known the mind of the Lord…?” Paul asks in Romans 11. It is true that “God’s ways are not our ways” and his “paths are inscrutable.” But this doesn’t prevent us from recognizing what God has clearly revealed to us in holy history regarding what is behind the sometimes baffling circumstances that we run up against.

Those of you who know me personally know that my family is in the midst of just such a baffling circumstance which I can’t describe in detail in such a public place as the world wide web. I was very encouraged recently by the reminder in Exodus 14 that the tough spots God often allows us to find ourselves in are opportunities for his glory to be revealed.

In Exodus 14, the Israelites are escaping from their long slavery in Egypt. God had Moses lead them straight to the Red Sea.

Then the LORD said to Moses, 2 “Tell the people of Israel to turn back and encamp in front of Pi-hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea, in front of Baal-zephon; you shall encamp facing it, by the sea. 3 For Pharaoh will say of the people of Israel, ‘They are wandering in the land; the wilderness has shut them in.’ 4 And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will pursue them, and I will get glory over Pharaoh and all his host, and the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD.” And they did so.

The Israelites, just like us many times, failed to see how God would get glory from them being pinned between the hosts of Egypt and the Red Sea. In spite of God’s word that the manifestation of his glory was the purpose of their being in such a tough spot, they complain to Moses…

10 “….Is it because there are no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? What have you done to us in bringing us out of Egypt? 12 Is not this what we said to you in Egypt: ‘Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.”

Here is the principle I want to draw out: We have a tendency to make our personal comfort our ultimate goal. We want God to order our circumstances in ways that make sense to us. God’s glory is not something we value enough to be willing to go through tough times so that it can be displayed in our lives. But over and over in Scripture, just as we see here in Exodus 14, God’s goal is the manifestation of his glory. God is glorified when he displays his strength and his wisdom and his sufficiency in getting us through the tough spots that he often puts us in.

Even though we know this principle, we often act just like the Israelites here. Our faith is weak that God will work in a way that magnifies his glory, and we slip into the same kind of questioning that we hear from them: “Why God? What good can come out of this? I just don’t see the point of having to go through such a trial?”

Notice that God doesn’t answer their complaining questions. Moses simply says,

“Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord.”

That is how we should respond in tough spots as well. “Fear not.” Don’t give in to the sinful tendency to worry and anxiety and fear. When such feelings assault you, commit them to the Lord and resolve to trust him in spite of your feelings.

“Stand firm.” Continue to make choices and live your life in a way that shows your faith and your confidence are in God. The Israelites could have bolted. They could have looked for some kind of escape route. And had they done that, they would have been robbed of the opportunity to see what has to be on God’s top ten list of the most glorious miracles of all time.

“See the salvation of the Lord.” Believe that in and through all your circumstances, tough spots included, God is working out an eternal salvation for you. This salvation is one that is 100% by his strength and initiative and 0% yours. Even if you fail to see how a particular tough spot fits into that salvation, believe that it does and that one day you will “see” it so, even if only in eternity.