Summary: All theology must lead to doxology. Our position in Christ should lead to praise which will lead to practice. Our response should be wow, wonder and worship.
Living for the Glory of God
Rev. Brian Bill
A generation ago J.B. Phillips wrote a book with this title: Your God Is Too Small. This captures the struggle many of us have because our God is much smaller than the God of the Bible. This morning one of my goals is to help each of us grow in our grasp of how great God really is because it’s so easy to fall into an inadequate view of the Almighty.
A week ago I listened to a podcast interview with Jim Nicodem, pastor of Christ Community Church in St. Charles. He’s written a new book called, Prayer Coach. One of the suggestions he made to help us magnify our understanding of God is to go through the alphabet each day, thinking of a different attribute or characteristic of God for each letter. I’ve been doing this for the last week and it has super-sized my view of God while down-sizing myself, which is a good thing. At our joint elder/deacon meeting this past Tuesday we opened our time with this exercise and I’d like to try it again this morning. This will get us in good practice for next Sunday’s services as we will give you opportunity to express your thankfulness to God publicly. Our title next week is “Thanks-living.”
I’ve put the letters of the alphabet up here on the whiteboard. Just shout out whatever attribute, characteristic or name of God that comes to your mind. I’ll pick one that I hear and write it down so we can all see it.
[For those reading this sermon, I’ve included an example of how to do this. This is what I came up with one morning this week].
A - Almighty
B - Beautiful
C - Compassionate
D - Designer
E - Everlasting
F - Faithful
G - Great
H - Holy
I - Indescribable
J - Jehovah Shalom
K - Kind
L - Living
M - Magnificent
N - No equal
O - Omnipotent
P - Personal
Q - Quiet
R - Resplendent
S - Savior
T - Total
U - Universe maker
V - Victor
W - Worthy
X - Extravagant (I cheated on this one)
Y - Yahweh
Z - Zealous
Let’s savor the Scripture this morning from Romans 11:33-36: “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?’ For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen.”
One of the best ways to study a passage of Scripture is to read it several times and then meditate on it. After reading and meditating, work at memorizing some of it so it gets in your head and down into your heart. I like to then make observations about what I’ve read. This is important to do before rushing into application. The best order for studying the Bible is this: Observation, Interpretation and then Application. Or to say it another way:
* What Do I See?
* What Does It Say?
* What Can I Seize?
Observation – What Do I See?
Here are some observations that I see.
* The passage begins with the word, “Oh…” This is an emotional and explosive expression. Something about what Paul has just written and what he is about to say causes a spontaneous emotional outburst.
* These four verses contain 11 references to “God,” “Lord,” His” or “Him.”
* There are two exclamation marks in verse 33: “Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable His judgments, and His paths beyond tracing out!” and one at the end of verse 36: “To him be the glory forever!”
* In verses 34-35, there are three question marks: “‘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?’”
* These three questions are rhetorical in nature with the answer of no one expected.
* The word “Amen” at the end of this passage expresses agreement or approval.
* The placement of this passage comes at the end of a long section of orthodoxy (correct thoughts) in Romans 9-11 and serves as a bridge to Romans 12-16 that focuses on orthopraxy (correct actions). The inseparable nexus between position and practice is praise.
* These four verses have been called a “doxology,” or an expression of praise to God.
Interpretation – What Does it Say?
After studying this passage, three simple words jumped out at me that will help us understand what God is saying – Wow, Wonder and Worship.