Today I am just finishing a wonderful weekend in Deming, New Mexico. God was very good! Thanks so much to my Deming church family. You guys are great. Pastor Cesar is doing a great job and God is moving in Deming.
Let me continue today with another aspect of honor. I have addressed the need to honor God as the first and the best in all things. Abel was a man who understood this principle of honor. The life that Abel lived opened the door for the life that came through Jesus Christ. It was not the death of Abel, but the life of Abel. Abel gave God the first and he gave God the best. This His attitude and actions of love for God opened the door for God to be who He is among men, the first and the best. At the death of Abel his blood cried out for the blood of Jesus to redeem the nations and generations of men! Jesus was the first and the best for all of mankind, but the honor that Abel showed to God opened the door for the gift of life that came to all men through Jesus Christ.
In Exodus chapter 20 we have what is often called Ten Commandments, but I believe that they are really the ingredients found in a culture of honor. In any culture of honor, honor must be given where honor is due. Our honor is first to God, for He is the One who brings salvation and the liberty of life in every way. He is the deliverance from every form of death in our lives. He is the source of life for our families. He is the source of all of our ways in life. It is His kingdom and His will that is paramount in all things because He is the source of all things. Everything that we do, we do first to honor Him. Even when we are confident and bold in the things that we know we must confess that the source of our confidence is that we have discovered that God is the source of our will. We are becoming a letter written by Him. A letter written by His Holy Spirit in our hearts and in our minds. We cannot just do anything we want to do in life, we first want to honor Him in our wills and actions in life. When we honor Him, He gives us desires that match what He wants. In Exodus 20:4 we see second value found in a culture of honor.
Exodus 20:4-6 “You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.”
These verses are about worship. God does not need for us to worship Him. We need to worship Him. Our worship determines what happens to our world, not His. The environment of heaven is nothing but the fullness of life, so our worship is not to make heaven great. Our worship brings the heavenly things of God into the earthly world we live in. Whatever we worship determines the environment of our world. If we worship an image of something created, our world becomes an expression of something created. If we worship the Creator our world becomes an expression of the Creator. The Creator doesn’t tell us to worship Him because He needs something from us. He doesn’t need anything from mankind. He is a jealous God, but He is not jealous in the way that we view jealousy. When we think of jealousy we often think in thoughts like: “I wish had what you have”; “I wish I could get what you have”; “I am really jealous.” If I said to my wife, “Honey I am jealous of you. You are giving your love to other places and you should give it to me.” This is not how God thinks. God doesn’t need anything from us. God is not jealous because He is not getting something from us. He is jealous because we are not allowing Him to give to us all that He desires to give us. When we fail to worship Him, we bind Him from being Himself in our lives. God is not a taker; He is a giver! He is not lacking so that He needs our worship. He has too much to overflowing. When we worship Him He gives us all that He has, not because He is giving us a payment for worshipping Him. He gives to us because we have discovered who He is. When we worship Him we are allowing Him to be Himself in our lives. Instead of giving our love to something that is taking our love, something that needs our love, we are giving love to someone who appreciates our love. When we love Him, He extravagantly loves us because He is honoring us for our love for Him. When we give our worship to God we inspire Him to say, “WOW! I know who you are. Here – this is who I am. Wow! You didn’t have to do that. I don’t have to either, but here let me give of who I am to you. You are being yourself with Me. You are giving our yourself to Me. I am a jealous God. I have always wanted to be Myself with you. Let me give of myself to you. You are being yourself with Me. I want to be myself with you. I have always wanted every opportunity to be myself with you. I have always wanted to give you my love; to give you my blessing.”
We don’t worship Him to get His blessing. We worship Him to be like Him. We are the likeness and image of God, but when we create an image and worship it we are declaring that we can only worship what is like us or what we like. We are declaring that we can only be in relationship with what looks like us. With this, the greatest world we can create is a world that looks like us in whatever image we have seen it to be. We can only create a world in whatever image we have carved. Our world is limited to our own vision and abilities. Whether it is things on earth, in heaven, or in the sea; we are limited to a world that we can create. Whatever we give our lives to is what we worship. Whatever we worship determines the world that we live in because whatever we worship gives its life back to us. This is why the iniquities of the fathers come upon the children, because the illegitimate worship of humanity is less than the values of the Father, God. The weaknesses of our hearts cannot see the greatness of God brought into our world, therefore God must visit our iniquities to transform our worlds by the goodness of His strength.
Ted J. Hanson