Psalm 19:1-2

1 The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.

2 Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge

So whose glory are you intent on displaying?  Whose knowledge?  If nature purposefully magnifies God, why don’t we?

These are questions I ask myself daily.  For over a year, I have been painfully aware that I am more interested in communicating my talents and my uniqueness, hence ‘my glory’ than I am about making God look good.  Yet my daily prayer is, “Give me this day Lord, an opening to say something that makes much of you”.  Rarely, do I achieve that.  Now, to be truthful, I pray in the morning and then the rest of the day I fall back into my natural thought patterns of wanting someone to find me fascinating and ask me about my life.  Yes, I am well aware that this is pretty pathetic and also sinful.  I am stealing God’s glory.  After all, the reason you & I are alive is to glorify God.  So daily, I am NOT fulfilling my God-given purpose.

Last week our school, Summit Christian Academy, dedicated 3 days to an off-campus retreat.  The schedule for teachers and 7th-12th graders included community service, outdoor activities, free time, a talent show, games, small group time and a speaker.

The pastor’s theme was something to do about living a radically different life.  But God’s theme for me was, “How NOT to Rob God of His Glory”.  I was primed.  The young man from Lynchburg spoke for 3 one-hour sessions and it was in the last 10 minutes of Session 3, that God gave me specific insight on how to accomplish my heart-felt prayer.

The text was Acts 19: 13-16.  There were seven sons of a Jewish priest named Sceva.  These sons were exorcists who had observed Paul invoking Jesus’ name and driving out evil spirits.  They tried to copy Paul, although they were not believers.  At one point during an exorcism, a demon spoke out, frightening the seven fakers.  He said, “Jesus I know, and I know about Paul, but who are you?” And of course, these startled and petrified men fled, leaving their very clothes behind them.

The pastor’s point (that God tailored to me) was that as long as we have our own agenda and are living for ourselves, we are NO threat to the spirit world, the world of demons. In fact, we are like the seven sons of Sceva, totally unknown to Satan’s minions.  Self-absorption, therefore, is a guarantee of totally ineffectiveness on behalf of the Kingdom of God.  I will add the other SELF-sins:  SELF-RIGHTEOUSNESS, COMPLAINING, WORRY, SELF-PITY, DEFENSIVENESS.  You get the picture.  As long as we are just about ourselves, we are certainly not glorifying Jesus.

But, if we realize that by our living for God’s glory, we can ‘stick it to the spirit world’ as the pastor put it, we are fulfilling our purpose.  When we don’t complain amidst difficult circumstances, we are a threat to the dark side.  When we are praising God for who He is, when we are praying, when we are patiently waiting year after year – in faith for God to work in someone’s life, we are taking a stand for the worth of God’s glory.   In short, when our thought life is so immersed in God instead of in us, we are confounding ‘the spiritual forces of wickedness’.

Paul is explicit in his letter to the Ephesians when he says that our fight is not against flesh and blood, but…..

We are ….contending against the despotisms, against the powers, against [the master spirits who are] the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spirit forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) sphere.

As you can see, this pastor’s words during our retreat were the practical ‘how-to’ I needed to actively glorify God instead of Maria.  What is SO encouraging to me is that in light of what my purpose is and equipped with these concrete steps, I can now see how every day matters.  There doesn’t have to be any such thing as a wasted day, no matter how my personal ‘stuff’ goes.  Problems, setbacks, failures as well as successes are ALL occasions to wait, thank God, trust Him and pray.   I can also encourage someone who is flat on her back in the hospital or constrained in a nursing home that her life also matters, no matter her physical limitations.  One’s good attitude matters, one’s prayers for others matter, one’s good cheer matters, and how one spends her waking hours DOES make a difference in God’s kingdom.

So thank you Pastor Matt.  I, too, will enjoy opening my eyes each morning and imagining the spiritual forces of darkness grumbling, “Oh no, she’s awake!”