Who makes the plans?

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“We may make our plans, but God has the last word. You may think everything you do is right, but the Lord judges your motives. Ask the Lord to bless your plans, and you will be successful in carrying them out. Everything the Lord has made has its destiny; and the destiny of the wicked is destruction.

 The Lord hates everyone who is arrogant; he will never let them escape punishment. Be loyal and faithful, and God will forgive your sin. Obey the Lord and nothing evil will happen to you. When you please the Lord, you can make your enemies into friends. It is better to have a little, honestly earned, than to have a large income, dishonestly gained. You may make your plans, but God directs your actions.”    Proverbs 16:1-8

Our loving God holds the past, present and future in His hands. He knows His plans and will reveal them to you as you ask and seek the right path. We often think our ideas are in the right, and they may seem so, but His purposes are different and can sometimes seem like a bad idea! We can have ideas about where we should be and what we should be doing, but that’s not necessarily what God wants for us. Some seek fame and a name on the Christian social circuit, but God requires humility and the selfless giving of our time, effort and resources for others. To do that in an unseen way is a challenge for many.

Perhaps we wish for a quiet life, just looking after family and the church scene – but more is required of us. God will require a more outward looking spirit that seeks out the lost and alone and ministering to those who cannot return our service. Many tasks are thankless and require a diligent and loving person to reach out to people, with no reward in this life. This is the difficult road and the fighting within is hot and fierce. This life cannot be lived without the power of God and a personal, deep knowledge of His love.

As we commit our way to God and earnestly seek to obey His will, so He will prosper His work in us and through us. God’s way is not necessarily the same view as other people, and even seemingly “correct” groups of people, can lose the vision of God’s purposes in this world.

God has His purposes for all things and everyone, even wicked people, will show His holiness in their destruction.

If a Christian, or group of Christians become proud and confident in their own settled ways, they will be dealt with by God. His way is the only way, and we must seek it. This is the recurring theme of the prophet Jeremiah, who saw God’s purposes and the outcome of disobedience and idol- worship. Just because a revered person expresses a certain idea or teaches a set of behaviours, doesn’t make it true. Everything is measured against the character and truth of God.

Ever Christian must seek the Truth in the Word of God for themselves and read and pray and think. We cannot afford to put our trust in any kind of man, because all fall short of the glory of God. As we learn the Word, live it and obey it, so relationships are built on the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives, and brings sincerity. Our Christian life is hid with Christ in God, and not a social sideline that we like to pursue with other like-minded people. It is better to have little of this worlds goods or the acclaim it dishes out to those who acquiesce to its doctrines, as they are a trap and blind us to God’s provision in our daily lives. Our walk through life is a living communication with the living God Himself.

As we make plans in life and service, our prayer is that God’s will prevail and self is conquered. When I lose myself, I gain eternal life and save my life for eternity.

The message of Good News

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This message is the message of the whole Bible. It is the communication of a loving God to creatures who do not love Him, and who nailed Him to a cross in hatred and rejection of His love. This message is undeserved and reaches out to us in love and salvation. It is not understood by the natural heart of people, which is hard toward the Spirit of God and desires sin and a sinful life. The human heart is dead in its sins and cannot save itself.

The person in their natural state, stands condemned before God. In our deadness we do not feel it or see our need to get into a right relationship with God. We walk the earth physically alive, but spiritually dead. We do not know God, or love Him or His ways, and so we imagine we are ok and have wrong and fatal views of ourselves and God.

We avoid Him. We spend our lives running from Him and yet blaming all our ills on Him and hating His ways of holiness and praise. We get involved in sinful practices and hurtful pursuits and think it is ok and we will find satisfaction in the things of this life. We feel and know only the joys of this life, which will finally and disappointingly fail.

A dead person cannot choose. A dead person cannot feel or have any sensibility towards anything to do with God, or spiritual life. We are spiritually dead in our human existence, and full of corruption. We seek folly and walk in it. We will never choose the Lord. In our own foolishness we appreciate only the delights of this life.

In mercy, God has purposed to save people for Himself. People who will live and thrive in His spiritual life, with His Holy Spirit dwelling in them, purifying them and setting them apart for a life of such privilege and glory in His eternal kingdom. He is not willing that anyone should perish, but that everyone would come to Him and find this amazing life. He shows us Himself even in the things of this life, but supremely in the glory of the Holy Scriptures. Without the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit we cannot understand them, so He enlightens the minds of people to take in and comprehend the message of the Scriptures.

There are those who will be eternally lost. Those who will not listen to his voice of love and endearment, spoken into our lives by the Spirit of God. There is a heaven to be gained and a hell to be avoided. This is why we speak. This is why we tell people about a living and loving Saviour who will rescue them for their wrong desires and sinful practices and give them new life.

JESUS is our Saviour. He is able to save because of the most surprising and sacrificial act that there has ever been… He gave His life on a cruel cross to pay the price of sin for a race of scoundrels. He gave Himself for those who rejected His message and hated His deeds. Because of what Jesus did He can save those who trust in Him. He suffered dreadful pains and agony, and the final ignominy of hearing those he died for, curse His precious name. As His arms stretched wide on that cross, so they call out to every human heart and mind. “Come- all things are ready” there is nothing else to do.. salvation is the gift given to anyone who bows their knees and puts their trust in HIM.

The Lord Jesus gives life and light to all who come and follow. We must give up our hearts to His love and walk with Him, like small children, holding His hand, and trusting every step of the road that leads to heaven and home. We must come like children to a loving Father, and give up our sinfulness completely and forever. As we walk along the pathway, we reach heaven and enter into the joy that was bought for us at such a great price.

As we read the Word of God and obey, so we progress towards that wonderful place. We walk closer and closer to Him. We adore Him and keep ourselves in the love of God.

As Christians, this is what we live, speak and share with lost people who walk this earth without a loving Saviour and friend. We should be practicing speaking about Him and thinking about what pieces of the written Word we could give to people, so that they can look and see for themselves. Think of opportunities you could use to share this message. Think of how you could change your life practices to mirror theses great truths.

No one is beyond the pale until God says so.. Christians- get busy, get love, get mercy and learn to speak His name…

Psalm 116

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1 I love the Lord, for he heard my voice;
    he heard my cry for mercy.

These words are written by someone who has been very aware of their need for mercy. This sufferer has been brought low and has called out to God from the depths. God has heard their cry, their prayer for relief, and has answered them. This is a Psalm of deep gratitude towards a loving God.

2 Because he turned his ear to me,
    I will call on him as long as I live.

The writer promises total, life-long devotion to the God who has saved him. Because God has answered this man in his distress, he is now a devoted follower and set on maintaining a deep relationship with God until the end of his days.

3 The cords of death entangled me,
    the anguish of the grave came over me;
    I was overcome by distress and sorrow.

The Psalmist has suffer profound despair. He has gone down into the depths of the grave and the grip of sorrow has completely got the better of him. His whole mind and heart has been overcome by anguish and he has sunk into a place beyond suicide- a place of abject fear.

4 Then I called on the name of the Lord:
    “Lord, save me!”

In the middle of this distress, the writer calls out to God. He speaks few words. Three words that show his deep need and his understanding that no one can save except the Lord. The brevity of his prayer shows his faith in the one who can save him.

5 The Lord is gracious and righteous;
    our God is full of compassion.

The Psalmist calls out, because he knows what kind of God is the Lord. The God of all things, who made all things and upholds all things, is total compassion. The writer knows that God is more ready to save than he is to call out! He understands the holiness of the Lord, and the freedom God has to forgive, change and save those who call on His name.

6 The Lord protects the unwary;
    when I was brought low, he saved me.

The Psalmist admits his own naivety and his own disability to see the trouble coming. He does not recognise the signs in his life and becomes trapped in the vortex that leads him down to depression and a low mood. He trusts himself into the hands of God who knows all things and knows that when he is low, the Lord rescues him.

7 Return to your rest, my soul,
    for the Lord has been good to you.

The deliverance of the Lord brings a state of rest. When the writer sees the work of God in his life, he is glad and full of joy. He sees how God works in his life and understands the ways of God, and so rejoices in the goodness of God.

8 For you, Lord, have delivered me from death,
    my eyes from tears,
    my feet from stumbling,

The Psalmist has been in the throes of deep depression and death has hovered at his door. Perhaps he is worried that his heart will give way under the anxiety of his thought processes. Perhaps he is afraid that God will judge him and that he does not really belong to the Lord. Perhaps he is terrified that he will die at his own hand in a moment of weakness. But the Lord has dried his tears and has instructed him again in the Way of peace, and he has been delivered. This is true deliverance, because God deals with the inner fears and the spiritual dilemmas which lead to distress. The psalmist’s feelings and doubts are dispelled and he is set strongly, on the right path again.

9 that I may walk before the Lord
    in the land of the living.

This is the purpose of all suffering and heartache. That God might teach us to walk uprightly in a holy fashion, before His gaze. The Psalmist walks before the Lord. His eyes are upon him, and as he walks he stays in the land of the living. God does not require death in the face of mental struggle, and we are required to walk this earth in the presence of the Lord.

10 I trusted in the Lord when I said,
    “I am greatly afflicted”;

The psalmist unpicks his experiences and thought processes. He examines himself and analyses the whys and wherefores of the trial he has been through. He discovers that when he admits his illness, he is actually trusting in the Lord. There are illnesses that are very hard to face. Illnesses that carry social stigma and periods of great sorrow and pain. The Lord requires some of His children to suffer mind illness and walk the pathways of deep suffering. This is called “the valley of the shadow of death” in other psalms. The intricacies of that place are very hard to face up to. Sorting out what is true and what is false, is very difficult and takes a long time. The writer turns to the Lord, and acknowledges his suffering and leaves the reality of it in the trustworthy hands of his God.

11 in my alarm I said,
    “Everyone is a liar.”

When the grip of fear had taken hold of his soul, his verdict on human behaviour and society is that it is false. He sees people as untrue and unreliable. When or minds are working fast and the self-analysis is oppressive, we see our own faults in other people. When the mood is low, the mind tends to see everything as a negative. The analysis against ourselves, becomes a mind-set. The fact that the sufferer sees things negatively, is not necessarily untrue, but the processing of thoughts need to be carried out in the light of God and His love. At certain points for this man, he has taken on board the thought processes of paranoia, and this has dragged him down into the negativity. But something pulls him up..

12 What shall I return to the Lord
    for all his goodness to me?

His eyes are lifted from the people and things of this life, and he focuses his gratefulness on the Lord. He speaks a rhetorical question. What can he give to God to pay Him back for all He has done for him in his life? God’s goodness is unfailing to those who walk in His ways. The Lord will not stop being good, even in the depths of despair.

13 I will lift up the cup of salvation
    and call on the name of the Lord.

The psalmist has grasped the remedy. He is going to exalt the fact that he is a follower of the Lord, and has been saved for death and hell, by his loving God. He is going to call on God. This is the key. The sufferer turns their eyes from themselves, and focuses on God, not in a vague way, but rejoices in His person and what He has done. Intercessory prayer is a most wonderful activity, and lifts the soul out of themselves and into the presence of God. This is the perfect remedy for paranoia and negative thinking.

14 I will fulfill my vows to the Lord
    in the presence of all his people.

The writer has made promises to God and has bound himself to God’s ways and Holy commandments. He is determined to keep those promises and to do so in the sight of all God’s people. This is no hidden activity, but is a sign and a signal to everyone that the sufferer’s testimony is true. No one can refute the work of God in a person’s life, and for an acute sufferer, the way is no less.

15 Precious in the sight of the Lord
    is the death of his faithful servants.

The thought processes that lead to thinking about death, are never far away. Death hovers over all our lives, but the depressive thinker, experiences it more. This is not necessarily ungodly, and it is wise to consider what we do in the light of our end. But here the Psalmist is rejoicing in the fact that when God’s people die, it is a most precious moment to Him. Those who serve faithfully and live lives of faith and sacrifice, are monuments of love in His eternal kingdom. Only a loving God can turn death to life.

16 Truly I am your servant, Lord;
    I serve you just as my mother did;
    you have freed me from my chains.

How wonderful to know that we belong to Him and are His servants- not servants, but friends. This writer has had a godly Mother, and his remembrance of her, stirs him to follow closely with his Lord. He has seen the effect of a godly life in his Mother, and knows what it is to be free from all hindrances and forces that would hold him back from doing the will of God. Only God can free a person from chains- body, mind, soul…

17 I will sacrifice a thank offering to you
    and call on the name of the Lord.

The only response to this freedom and liberty is further sacrifice and further praise to the mighty God who can set people free from all prisons. Prisons of the body and of the mind.

18 I will fulfill my vows to the Lord
    in the presence of all his people,

Again the writer is concerned to do all the Lord requires of him and to be seen to do it. It is the Lord, who puts such motivations in the human mind, and it is His power that will bring the work of His people to full fruition.

19 in the courts of the house of the Lord—
    in your midst, Jerusalem.

This service and dedication and devotion will carry on past this life and into the next. The people of God wills see each other’s work and will rejoice for ever. There is no slavery of pressure in serving the Lord, but only Praise. Praise is the state of the heart of every Christian and chases away the enemies of depression and mania. This dear believer has left us this record…

Praise the Lord.

The love of the Father

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John 15:9-17 NIV
As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. This is my command: Love each other.”

To know that God is your Father and loves you as He loves His Son, Jesus, is a knowing not of this world. It is a reality that only the Holy Spirit reveals and allows your mind and soul to take hold of. It is a spiritual knowing that fills and enervates the heart and works out practically in the Christian’s life.

It is not just doing works to show God’s love, but is a deep inner expression of heartfelt compassion, grace, mercy… love. There is nothing in life like it, and cannot be worked up or manufactured. This love is not a strategy or a mission to achieve something, but is the deep inner work of the Spirit of God in the life of the Christian that produces a vibrant relationship with God the Father. The fruit is prayer. We offer good deeds as fruit, but the truth is, we can do nothing eternal or spiritual, without the Spirit.

We must remain in this love. This is a daily walk with God, a constant seeking Him and to be filled with the Spirit in all circumstances. As we do so, He will change our outlook, our motivations and we will recognise His perfect work in our own lives and in the lives of the people around us.

The Father loves His children, made right with Him through faith. He loves us His people as He loves Christ. This is a perfect and undying love that gave everything to the most unworthy. God gave His Son, His eternally beloved Son, for the sake of sinful, selfish and proud people, who hated Him. This is a shocking truth.

God’s love does not centre on Himself and what He has, but He gave all for love of those outside Himself. Love is not selfish and a sentimental focus on an ideal. Love is real and costs everything we have, if we should have this love at all.

Love will require each of us to look beyond ourselves and our families and reach out. Love always requires sacrifice- the sacrifice of our whole lives as we serve God. We do not serve as slaves or servants, but as dearly beloved friends, sharing in His sacrifice and becoming more and more like Him.

We have the responsibility to stay in the love of God, to foster a frame of mind that gives freely, especially to those who are undeserving- which is us all. We are precluded from making value judgments about people, for we ourselves are at the bottom of the pile. We deserve nothing, yet possess everything and give it without hesitation to whoever is in need. This will make our joy in the Spirit, and in our earthly lives, complete.

This is the purpose of the life of the Christian. Jesus has taught us everything we need to know and we have dwelling in us the power of the Spirit of God. We must exercise this power, insight, and love, as Christ constrains us to do. If we do not, we are not His, for we are not like Him.

If I see I am lacking, I can ask for this power and love to serve as He intends me to. If I have no fruit that will last, the Father will give me fruit, when I ask. Bearing fruit for God is something I seek.

The defining feature of the Spirit-filled Christian is love – the huge and limitless love of Christ presiding in the life and working out in potent prayer and deeds of grace. It produces an unlimited relationship with God the Father, Jesus our Saviour and the Holy Spirit who lives in every Christian.

Big names

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They say we need some big name, some great motivational leader to represent Christians in the public place, but we already have One. This philosophy is not the path to evangelism, or getting Christians a better public persona – we all just need to love Him and live for Him with all our hearts, every day, and in whatever way he wants us to.

This will change the world….

The enemy is not intimidated or afraid of some person at the front, speaking out against social issues, wrong, injustice and the sick and poor. He is terrified of the perceived “silent” Christian who picks up those who fall, deals with trouble, alleviates the effects of wrong-doing and who cares for all those in any kind of need. He hates the word of encouragement, given to someone struggling to cope, and sharing the reality of sins forgiven to those with no hope.

These people he is truly frightened of, because they speak the loudest and demonstrate the love and power of Christ. These are the ones to be stopped and silenced, because people all over the world, in every culture and language “hear” them. Small is the new big. Low media profile is the priority.

It is easy to get the idea, that Christ is not enough. He needs intelligent people to stick up for him and to get the ideas across, so that everyone gets the right idea about what we are about. Check out when the Master walked the earth, and was misunderstood even though he stood right in front of human eyes and spoke into human ears, but they just couldn’t acknowledge him. Many remained blind and deaf, and even thought Him evil, so they nailed him to a cross to keep him quiet, and put an end to the message.

The message rumbled in the ground for three days and then broke out in glory and no one was able to stop it. Puny, cowardly men hid from it and then suddenly put themselves forward and spoke his words again so that many were changed. So the pattern ran, and still runs. Love spoken, lived and given so that others might live.

This is the power of Christ. He speaks through every one of his children, as they live and speak for his glory. He is the motivator, not fear. He is the strength of his people, not funds. All who follow him follow this truth, and remain small yet reaping a huge harvest for the glory of the master.

Don’t lose your crown

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“Watch out that you do not lose what we have worked for, but that you may be rewarded fully.” 2 John 1:

It is possible to work your whole life for God, and end up with it not mattering at all. It is possible to work and do many great works for the Kingdom and for someone else to take the credit and the reward. It is possible to lose your reward, through some failing that over-arches the work you have done. It is possible to work for God and find out at the end, when it faces the fire, that it is worthless. We must constantly examine our motives and our single-mindedness in the work given to us, so that we do not lose the reward.

God tells us to “…prove our own work, then you will have glory in yourself alone, and not in another.” Galatians 6:4

God lifts His people above their sinful state, and makes them kings and queens in His mighty eternal empire. God does not think of us as pawns in His game, but precious daughters and sons and servants who will serve Him in great joy eternally. Do we also have this viewpoint, or are people just there to fill the spaces in our personal vision?

The idea of “using” people is a curious stand-point and the idea that God “uses” people is rather unattractive. We use tools in our daily lives, but “using” people is not acceptable. God does not use His people, but lifts them up to high service for Him. This means humility and submission to His holy will and purposes, but that does not make God a “user.” Those who serve with all their beings, are laying up an eternal treasure, that no one can touch. Recognition in this life is almost always detrimental and our singleness of purpose easily becomes tarnished.

It is too easy to get the idea that we can “use” people to further the ends of our own ideas, with no thought for the bigger picture.

There is a tendency in some people to take credit for something they haven’t done. There can be dishonesty in the way we go about our ministry, and plagiarism in spiritual work happens just as in other areas of life. Gifts are used and hi-jacked and so pride and conceit come into ministry and hurts many. It seems that in the drive for results, anything goes, and honesty goes out the window. It is crucial that our work happens as we follow God and teach His Word, not our own ideas, or someone else. The encouragement is to hold on, persevere and follow God’s ways.

It can often seem that the individual does not matter in the organization of the church, and all too many never get to exercise their abilities in the church setting. Little is done to encourage people, and many give their abilities to secular work, where they are acknowledged and valued. This seems often true of women, who are left sitting in the pews and labeled “optional extras.” The activity centers around the men and with the people who seem to be in charge and decide all that happens and how it happens. Too many lose their reward by just being left out. Every Christian has to examine this issue and how they are going to respond to it.

Do I take the view that the church authorities are “ordained by God” and therefore I must just do what they say, and it will be ok? We don’t have to look too far to see a whole plethora of churches where self-interest and pride are the rulers of hearts. So what do I do? God gives abilities, and we are responsible. What path will I take, and who is trustworthy and has truly spiritual attitudes and desires? In these godless and complacent days, it is very confusing. We each must examine our selves and situation.

“I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown.” Revelation 3:11

Whatever God has called us to do for Him, we stick at it and pursue the objective to the end. We must hold on to our labours and keep faithful to the calling, right to the end, so that no one else will get the reward. We hold on to Christ, so that our salvation is complete. I am ruled by God’s will and not my desires to improve my Christian career. Service is lonely and unsung in this life, but it is also a protection that keeps our hearts from pride.

“work out your own salvation with fear and trembling? for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.” Philippians 2:12-13

Every Christian is responsible for the outworking of God’s will in their lives and to act to fulfill His eternal purposes. If we succumb to another will other than God, then we loose our individual, spiritual life walking with God, and miss the joy of close fellowship with Him. We must not let others confuse and confound what God wants to do in our lives. We are answerable to God and for the gifts He gives us.

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9

Again this verse stresses the importance of keeping going and maintaining personal discipline and stamina in the Christian life and work. It is easy to become discouraged and undermined in what you are doing. This is a universal experience and requires maturity to overcome. Whatever we feel or think we know, the Lord requires that we don’t give up. Stick with His vision and He will show you the way through. Immerse your mind and soul in the Word of God and be diligent in prayer, and he will keep you, no matter how discouraging your circumstances might be. You will gain clarity and wisdom, as He promises. Then there will be a harvest and we will enjoy the first-fruits with Christ.

Hold on to your crown, so that on that great and beginning, eternal day of the everlasting Kingdom, we will have treasures to lay at His feet with great joy….

 

 

Overcomers

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God is not looking for people who will just tiptoe over the line into heaven. He is looking for over comers. People who fight and speak up for Him and bring many daughters and sons into the kingdom.

Revelation 3:11 NIV
“I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown.”
We must be vigilant that our minds and hearts are centred on Christ and the crown. The crown is not some gaudy, worldly golden trinket, but a life of sacrifice and service for the King of Kings. It is the crown of sacrifice.

As we fight the fight of faith, we overcome in the power of the Spirit and the crown is won. For God’s people this is a life long conflict and will require every part of our being, human and renewed, and will involve suffering of some kind. The Christian life is no easy dander up the road to heaven, but takes place in a battle field. There will be fear, failure and injuries, but The King himself fights with us. We have all the armour and the holy boldness that comes from the daily testing of the Spirit’s power as we fight in His name. The King himself fights alongside, so that we can learn His skill and His moves in the battle.

No saint who has been redeemed from the slavery of sin and the dark forces of the evil one, can ever ultimately fail. Christ has promised His victory is also ours, and the power of His shed blood can never loose its potency to save. So we go forward in His might.

“Not by might or by power but by my Spirit”
No earthly strength or might can ever separate us from our Lord and God. The over arching power of the Holy Spirit cannot be thwarted, we overcome in His power. There is no other power like His.

“Should all the hosts of death and powers of hell unknown, put their most dreadful forms of rage and malice on. I shall be safe, for Christ displays superior power and guardian grace.” Isaac Watts
We can fight with confidence that He will bring me through the day, whatever that day is like, to face the next one in the knowledge that we overcame yesterday. Day us built upon day.

As time passes and we find out more and more of that strength, so our faith and confidence in the Lord grows. The further we fight on the battlefield, the greater should be our exploits and we rejoice in the power of our mighty Saviour to be victorious. Victory is sealed and when the time comes, we enter heaven with those glorious crowns to fall at His feet with total joy…

Lord, may this be true for those who love you with true hearts.

 

Women who glorify God