Derek looks at four main areas in our thought life that needs to change if we are to bring our ways in line with God’s ways and God’s thoughts. These four areas are: objectives, priorities, attitudes, and categories. The first objective in living should be to aim for God’s glory and His satisfaction. For all things are from Him, and through Him, and to Him.
It’s good to be with you again as we continue with our theme for this week: Agreeing with God.
In my previous talks I’ve taken you through a number of logical steps in connection with this theme, Agreeing with God. And I want to begin today by reviewing those steps which are basically as follows:
First of all, we are invited in the New Testament to have fellowship with God. And that fellowship is pictured as walking with God. In order to walk with God, the Bible teaches we have to agree with God, harmonize with God, that is, bring our ways and thoughts into harmony with God’s ways and thoughts. By nature, our ways and thoughts are not in harmony with those of God, therefore God has to do something for us. God does do something for us and He does it by sending His Word from heaven like rain and snow into our hearts, and that enables us to begin to reproduce in our hearts and minds, God’s ways and thoughts.
The Biblical word for this change in the way we think is “repentance,” and repentance is always the first step in reconciliation with God. All the way through the New Testament, you’ll find from the ministry of John the Baptist, right into the Book of Revelation where Jesus addresses churches that have missed His purpose. The first requirement stated is, “Repent, change your way of thinking. Bring your thoughts into line with those of God.
Then, the Biblical word for thinking God’s way, when we achieve this, is “meditation,” meditation in God’s Law or meditation on God’s Word. And the indicates very clearly and consistently that right meditation opens the door to God’s favor and blessing, particularly, in Psalm 1, verse 3, speaking about the man who meditates day and night in the Law of the Lord. It’s summed up in one beautiful, simple conclusion, “Whatever he does prospers.”
Today I’m going to explain certain specific areas of our thinking that need to change. In other words, I’m going to consider what is included in that great, all-embracing concept of our thoughts. How can we classify our thoughts? What are the different kinds of thoughts or ways that we can learn from the Word of God? And I want to suggest four different kinds of ways or thoughts. And this is not intended as a complete classification, but just a simple, basic presentation.
I would suggest there are four main areas in which we have to bring our ways and thoughts into line with those of God and I will list them as follows: First, objectives; second, priorities; third, attitudes; and fourth, categories. In every one of those areas we have to learn to think the way God thinks. Let me just briefly recapitulate the four areas. First, objectives; second, priorities; third, attitudes; and fourth, categories. In other words, we have to learn to enter into God’s objectives. We have to learn to think in terms of God’s priorities. We have to learn to cultivate God’s attitudes. And we have to classify things in our minds according to God’s categories. That is a very far reaching revolution we’re talking about. That is the result of true repentance.
Today I want to begin to deal with God’s objectives, and I want to state what I believe is God’s first and ultimate objective, and it is, His own glory and satisfaction. I wonder if you’ve ever thought about that. What is the ultimate purpose of everything in the universe? It is God’s glory and God’s satisfaction. Somebody said once, “A person who does not exist for God’s glory has no right to exist at all.” I believe that’s true.
I want now to take some scriptures that bring out this ultimate objective of God. First of all, in Romans 11, verses 33 through 36, Paul says this:
“Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor? Who has ever given to God, that God should repay him? [In other words, we never can teach God. God doesn’t need our advice. We need God’s teaching. We need God’s advice. We’re dependent on Him. And then Paul sums it up in this very powerful statement:] For from him and through him and to him all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen.” (NIV)
Notice, it all comes from God, it all proceeds through God, and it all is consummated in God—from Him, through Him, to Him, all things. And what’s the ultimate objective? To Him be the glory forever.
One thing I need to say right now is that our minds need to be enlarged. We don’t see things that way. And I think one great enemy of happiness and success and fruitfulness is self-centeredness and I think it’s a problem most of us have by nature. Somebody, a friend of mine, a fellow preacher said, “When man fell from God’s grace, he shut himself up in his little ego box.” And I think that’s where many of us are, shut up in our own little ego box. Everything is referred to us as the center. But the truth is, we are not the center; God is the center.
Let’s look at some other scriptures that state this objective. Psalm 104, verse 31:
“May the glory of the Lord endure forever; may the Lord rejoice in his works.” (NIV)
So what’s the objective? God’s glory. What will be the outcome of that? God will rejoice in His works. He’ll be satisfied. There is no higher purpose than to satisfy God. And a similar statement is Psalm 145, verses 9 through 11.
“The Lord is good to all, and His tender mercies are over all His works. All your works shall praise You, O Lord, and Your saints shall bless You. All your works shall praise You, and your saints shall bless you. They shall speak of the glory of Your kingdom, and talk of Your power.” (NKJ)
So always, it’s God’s delight in His own creation and His glory that are the ultimate. That’s the primary objective that we have to learn to share with God.
The same principle applies no less in the new creation that has come about through the work of Jesus Christ. Listen to what Paul says about this in Ephesians, chapter 1, verses 5 and 6. He says:
“God has predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He has made us accepted in the Beloved.” (NKJ)
So God has a plan from eternity. It’s called the good pleasure of His will and it centers around those who become His children through faith in Jesus Christ, but its objective is to the praise of the glory of God’s grace. That’s true, you see, whatever God does, ultimately it’s for His glory. And I want to point that out particularly in connection with His grace that we receive through Jesus Christ. Ultimately God’s grace always works out for His glory. If there’s anything in our lives which is not producing glory to God, it’s not the product of God’s grace.
And then a little further on, again, in Ephesians 1:12, Paul states the purpose, “that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory.” So everything that results out of our trusting in Christ for salvation is intended to be for the praise of God’s glory.
Finally, in the Book of Revelation, we have a presentation of the praise and the adoration of all creation—everything that’s in heaven, everything that’s on earth, everything that’s in the seas—they all have one, common, collective utterance of praise and it’s so beautifully recorded in Revelation 4, verse 11.
“Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: [Notice, what’s the first objective? God’s glory, then His honour, then His power. And how is it brought about? The second part of the verse tells us.] For thou has created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.” (KJV)
What’s the ultimate purpose of creation? God’s pleasure. Another translation says, “By thy will.” We could put it together and say, “For the good pleasure of thy will.” There’s no higher objective in living than giving God pleasure. That God may find satisfaction in our lives is the highest objective that we can ever entertain. And when we begin to think along those lines, then we are beginning to cultivate God’s ways and God’s thoughts. We cannot afford to refer everything first to ourself—“What’s in this for me, what will I get out of this?” The question we need to ask is, “Will God be satisfied? Will this bring glory to God?”
All right, our time is up for today. I’ll be back with you again tomorrow at this time. Tomorrow I’ll continue with this theme of God’s objectives. I’ll be speaking about a second great objective of God.