We come now to a consideration of the very personal things that need to be evident in our lives—or absent from it, if we are truly consciously endeavouring to “do all to the Glory of God”. One of the very necessary things is prayer; and we know this is true because Jesus taught the practice of prayer—“Men ought always to pray and not to faint” (Luke 18:1). Notice it is “always” and not sometimes; not when we have the urge, but rather as the parables of Luke 18 illustrate, we need to pray always, recognising that to accomplish our salvation, our deliverance, God only can do it; in all our difficulties which we cannot solve, He is the only One to whom we can turn, believing, having “the faith” to trust in Him.

This is why “men [need] always to pray”. And notice Jesus’ question in Luke 18: “When the Son of Man cometh shall he find [this sort of] faith on the earth?”

Jesus also taught us how to pray—“When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed by thy name… ” (Luke 11:2–4; Matt 6:9–13). The form and content of this prayer is primarily about God, and secondarily about us, the true priorities of a Son of God. Prayer, too, is to enable us to involve our Heavenly Father in our lives: to enable us to draw near to Him, to involve Him in our endeavours to do all to glorify Him.

He wants us to talk with Him about our weaknesses and our failures, our joys and our sorrows, and, as a Father, wants us to seek His help, His guidance, His deliverance.

Do take a few minutes to consider this wonderful privilege. How greatly enriched our lives, our thinking, our doing, becomes when there is a consciousness that our God is with us all the time— that every day we can call on Him through His Son, every day we can talk with Him just as His firstborn son, our Lord, did in the days of his life on earth. Prayer lifts us up. Lack of it depresses us, leaving us truly on our own.

May we all have in our hearts an agreement with the words from hymn 152.

“When we disclose our wants in prayer

May we our wills resign

And not a thought our bosoms share

Which is not wholly Thine.”

God’s Word—The Daily Readings—The Gospel of God

Our next focus follows naturally and reasonably—if we want God to listen to our prayers, surely we would acknowledge we should not only talk to our God in prayer, we should also be ready and eager to listen to His Word to us.

In order to do this it is apparent we must make time available every day—not sometimes—not when we feel in the mood—not just to fit it in quickly—but precious time must be given to read, to listen to our Heavenly Father. We like to think, those of us who are parents, that our children will listen to us when we endeavour to instruct, to guide, to offer advice and when it is apparent they do we are glad. This, too, is our Heavenly Father’s reaction toward us when we listen to Him—this gives Him pleasure and we honour and glorify Him in so doing.

But, why is it so important to devote time to God’s Word, to readings, to study and to meditate upon it? The answer, simply, is that when God made us He made us to become like Him. Our lives in His sight have really only one purpose, and that is to change from what we are by nature to become like Him. His purpose which should become our daily objective, can only be developed upon a sound and true basis, which can only be found detailed in His Word.

One of the most notable passages in God’s Word teaches us this truth in a few simple terms. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God” (John 1:1). In verses 3 and 4 of this passage we are told in beautiful simplicity the purpose of God’s Word going forth and we note especially in verse 4: “In it was life and the life was the light of [the] men”. Though that beginning was a long 6 000 years ago, the statements are true and relevant to us. This realisation is emphasized even more when we notice the significance of the central statement of verse 1, “and the Word was with God”. That this is significant is indicated by its repetition in verse 2. So what is our God telling us in the briefest of comments? The meaning of the word “with” leads us to a most beautiful truth. It is the Greek preposition pros, meaning “towards”. So let us read John 1:1,2 this way and contemplate the simple yet profound truth thus revealed. In the beginning God spoke, His Word (logos) went out—what for?—to turn men from the darkness of sin and death toward God.

This simple statement comprehends in a few words the whole purpose of God in creation. Isaiah 55:11captures the imagery—“So shall my Word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please”. And what is it that God pleases with respect to us? Surely that everything we do in our life in the Truth shall be “towards God” and be daily changing us to be more like Him. This can only happen if our lives are based on the truths enunciated in God’s Word and exemplified in our Lord’s life. Or as our Lord also said, “… the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship Him” (John 4:23,24).

But how can we worship “in truth” without instruction in God’s truth, which can only come from each one of us taking in His Word? So back in John 1:5 is a question: “and the light shineth in [the] darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not”. Are we encompassed in this statement?

Reading and study of God’s Word is not about study for study’s sake, nor is it for leaders, speakers, teachers only, but for every brother and sister, because every one of us needs to change. The apostle Peter sums it up for us all: “Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, according as His divine power hath given to us all things that pertain unto [pros—towards] life and godliness through the knowledge of Him that hath called us to glory and virtue… that… we might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust” (2 Pet 1:2–4).

Likewise Paul to Timothy sums up our need when he says, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God… that the man of God may be perfect [fitted] and thoroughly furnished unto [pros—towards] all good works”.

Are our daily lives in all their varied activities in and out of the meetings taking us “towards God” or away from Him? Once again the words of John 1 are very brief, but telling—“the Law was given by Moses [ie in written form], but grace and truth came [ie in living form as the Word made flesh] by Jesus Christ”; who also said, “this is [the] life eternal that they might know Thee the only true God and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent”.

Are we all listening?

Listening to Other Things

Again as we pursue our theme “Do all the Glory of God” we surely see the need to listen to God, but what else do we listen to? We need to think and talk about this, I believe, at some length and with carefulness and frankness—bearing in mind God’s purpose in calling us through His Word. There are today many things we can listen to and watch, eg radio, television, videos, tapes, the internet, music, gossip, to name some of the more obvious.

We will all admit that all God’s Words are worth listening to, but I am sure we would agree, too, that all the things listed in our previous sentence are not. Much of the content of these programs is unfit for our purpose in life, not to mention the ever present advertisements, which cater mostly to our vanity and pride and natural desires. I am sure all of you, my brothers and sisters, would accept that these do not take us towards God in any way, or help us follow the living example of our Lord. Let’s make note in particular, out of the above list of music.

Today it forms an increasingly large portion of the listening time of people young and old, but especially young people and children. Therefore the sort of music that we listen to may well be affecting our lives, our thinking, and our actions to a large degree.

Sometimes when we are relaxing and have gone specially to a beautiful part of the country or down to a lovely beach, the whole scene is devastated by the sudden invasion of terribly loud ‘music’ and the all pervasive beat of drums. This, too, is usually accompanied in those who have introduced this ‘music’ into the surroundings with swaying hips, heads, bodies and jigging or tapping feet—not to mention unmentionable words oft times. There are two things of note about that sort of ‘music’ and they are:

1 it induces the almost total absorption with the ‘music’ and

2 of those who listen to it, almost uniform response to the ‘music’.

This means, doesn’t it, that this sort of music is having considerable influence upon the lives and thinking of all who fill their ears and minds with it.

Now this is not an argument to the effect that we should only listen to Bach or Beethoven and not the modern composers like Gershwin or whoever. Nor is it about preferences for classical as opposed to modern music.

It has been said that of all living creatures Man is the only one that can make a noise in addition to the normal calls or sounds of communication of each species. I suspect this is true and I also believe we have been given this ability for a reason—that is, to lift the inner self and feelings in the beauty of playing or singing and to render, in so doing, glory to God.

In particular let us note its use in the Scriptures. It is first mentioned as early as Genesis 4, and in such events as the singing of Israel after their deliverance through the Red Sea. However it is in such chapters as 1 Chronicles 15 and 16 that we are told that David introduced music into the worship of Israel.

From the time of Moses until David there is no record that music had any part in Israel’s worship at the Tabernacle. But now David makes a change. Why? There are, I believe, three reasons in particular.

1 It began when the Ark was first taken into Jerusalem and for the next 1 000 years was continued daily in the Temple after it was built by Solomon.

2 It was introduced to lift the spiritual content of Israel’s worship. The emphasis of the rituals, sacrifices and feasts was mostly about sin and death and the shedding of blood. Imagine the spectacle on these occasions when many animals were slain—the blood and smell everywhere, the confessions of sins, the all-pervading sense of sin and death all around. This, of course, was part of God’s intention to impress Israel with the fact they were sinners and in need of deliverance from sin and death. But there was little in their worship that lifted up the heart and mind spiritually to God. The music and singing were designed to do just that!

3 In their singing and in the music that accompanied it, there was praise and thanksgiving and the proclaiming and acknowledging of the glory of Yahweh their God. This was worship in the beauty of holiness. We see this in the words of l Chronicles 16:7–29, the expression of thanks and praise, the lifting up of the hearts and voices as all sang the “Hallelujahs” to honour and glorify God.

But, in addition, in such worship and singing the truth of God’s word and purpose were proclaimed for all to hear that witnessed and heard it. Such was the beauty that developed in this worship that the male and female choirs became world famous. Tradition says that King Nebuchadnezzar gave strict instructions to his generals that the Levitical choir must be captured intact and taken to Babylon. Perhaps this is so, for Psalm 137:1–4 does say that the Babylonians required of the captives to sing the songs of Zion, but they could not bear to do so and “hanged their harps upon the willows” of Babylon. Also it is noteworthy—there are no drums mentioned associated with this Biblical music, but rather the time and tempo was provided by Asaph on his cymbals (1 Chron 16:5). Drums in those days were associated with idolatry and all its evils. In the heavy ‘rock’ music of today the relationship seems to prevail, the accentuated beat reminiscent of pagan music of earlier times.

In addition to that already spoken of we need, for our children’s sakes, to be aware that access to all things evil is already at hand on the Internet. Do we imagine our Lord will allow the Internet to continue in the Kingdom or, for that matter, evil music or vile literature?

Let us think upon these things and keep ourselves from being addicted to evil—not only of smoking, drinking or drugs—but also to modern ‘pop’ music and all the evils it proclaims and encourages. For neither the music nor its rhythms nor its words proclaim glory to God, but rather the opposite.

Remember to ask ourselves frequently, Is the music I am listening to taking me towards God or away from Him?

Sin—Human Rights—Rebelliousness

Strangely our next theme, though seeming not to be, is in fact about God, for the most common meaning of the word “sin” in both Old and New Testament Scripture is “to miss the mark”. Which and what mark? Undoubtedly God Himself. But we may object in the words of John, “no man hath seen God at any time” (John 1: 18); so how can we know with surety what God is like and what therefore is “the mark” which He has set before us?

John supplies our answer: “the only begotten Son which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him”. That is, Jesus in his life and work has given us a living exposition or explanation of what our heavenly Father is like. He (Jesus) further affirms in John (again) in answer to Philip’s request to “show us the Father, and it sufficeth us” (14:8), that “he that hath seen me hath seen the Father”.

So then we all are without excuse.

“The mark” has been clearly put before us in God’s Son and therefore when we sin we— note!—by omission, and/or commission miss, fall short of the mark, the pattern, the example set us by our Lord.

But further there is the “sin of lawlessness” (1 John 3:4). That is, the thinking which goes something like this, “Well, I know what the Bible says—or I know God wants us to live this way, but I want to do it my way”. This is lawlessness/rebellion and takes us straight back to Adam and Eve in the Garden (Genesis 3).

What we have to be very careful about nowadays is that the philosophies and teachings of the world encourage us from the age of kindergarten up to do just that. After all we have Rights, don’t we? God’s answer to this sort of thinking will be the same now as it was to Eve and Adam in Eden—because we have hearkened to the voice of our own thinking rather than God’s thinking—“dust thou art and unto dust shalt thou return”.

Our objective is, in Christ, the same as Jesus’ objective as emphasized in Jesus’ own words: “I have glorified thee [not myself] on the earth, I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do… I have manifested thy name unto men …” (John 17:4–6).

To this we have committed ourselves from the day of our baptism, when we put on the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Be Ye Holy For I am Holy

Lastly, in an endeavour to summarize some of the things we should and/or should not be doing to glorify God, listen to this wonderfully positive assertion and commandment from God Himself— “ye shall be holy, for I am holy” (Lev 11:44,45; 1 Pet 1:14–16). Israel were commanded to be “holy” and Christ’s disciples likewise.

Why? Because God is!

Such a simple concept—lovely—uplifting— eternally beneficial, and yet we instinctively do not want to be Holy. The reason primarily is because the world around us is not and because the desires and pride of life won’t let us.

So how then can we glorify God? By everyday striving to change ourselves into what God wants us to be. Impossible? No, it is not! On our own and with our own resources only, yes, it would be impossible. But God has not left us on our own to do this.

Hear the Apostle’s confident call, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Phil 4: 13). Hear his prayer: “I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ… that he would grant you… to be strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man” (Eph 3:14–16). Hear Paul’s wonderful promise: “Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you, will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil 1:6). That is, what God has begun He will finish—if we let Him. Holiness does not just mean separateness. What it means is being different from the world—but like God.

God helps us in our endeavours by His mercy and grace daily available, if we seek them. God helps us, if we acknowledge our need of Him and His Son. God helps us if we submit our will to His—“not my will but Thine be done”. He not only helps us, He will help us to help our children, our brothers and sisters, and our friends—if we ask Him.

In every department of our lives let this be our endeavour: “Be therefore imitators of God as beloved children” (Eph 5:1), and in so doing we will glorify our Father which is in Heaven.