This is Part 2 of a 3-part series called, “The Law of Divine Elevation.” This article is excerpted from my worship study, Pure Praise: A Heart-focused Bible Study on Worship (Group Publishing, 2009). To pre-order Pure Praise, go here. Thanks! – Dwayne
Three Clues That Verify True Success
Though I’m not a professional investigator, I’ve always heard that a good starting point is to ask probing questions. So to get to the bottom of why God’s success is true success, let’s start by asking, “Why would God elevate us?” To find the answer, we need to carefully examine the word exalt. How did God respond to Jesus’ humbling of himself? Because Jesus willingly lowered himself and became a servant, “God exalted him to the highest place” (Philippians 2:9a).
The same Greek root word that is used for the word exalted in this verse in Philippians is also used in 1 Peter 5:6, where God says he will exalt us! The word includes the idea of elevating above others. In other words, those who humble themselves before him will receive the same kind of lifting up that Jesus experienced! The only difference is that he has, of course, been lifted up the highest, above all of us.
Understanding that God elevates us in the same manner he does his Son, we now need to ask another “why” question: Why did God elevate Christ? The answer is simple: to bring glory to himself. (See Philippians 2:11.) Obviously, therefore, God’s intent in elevating us is the same as with his Son: to be glorified by our lives.
So now we have Clue 1: We are elevated in order to bring God glory. How is that evidence that God’s success is best? Again, the answer is simple: We were created for God’s glory. Therefore, glorifying him brings us the most fulfillment possible. You might say that God’s success strategy comes with a huge tag that reads, “Complete Satisfaction Guaranteed”!
The next question we need to ask is “How are we elevated?” Our key verse, 1 Peter 5:6, clearly says that God lifts us up. Yet how often do we run out of patience as we wait for his uplifting? We want to forgo his plan and manipulate our circumstances. However, for God to elevate us to our highest possible level, we must be faithful at each stage of experience and opportunity. We can’t expect God to trust us with great responsibility down the road if we don’t properly handle the small, “less significant” tasks he assigns to us everyday.
The Promotion of Asaph
Worship leaders are rarely mentioned in the Bible. Asaph, however, was one exception. He was the most famous of the many worship leaders in those days. Each reference to him in the Old Testament shows his gradual elevation from virtual obscurity to national notoriety. He is the ideal example of how God elevates a minister.
If you were to carefully study every reference to Asaph, you would not find the slightest hint that he ever campaigned for any of his “promotions.” Yet his fellow tribesmen took note of his godliness and skill and chose him from among the masses. God honored him as he remained faithful at each level of responsibility.
Throughout Asaph’s story there is a strong sense of the sovereign hand of the Lord. And therein lies our second clue to true success: We are elevated by God’s sovereign will. There is nothing more comforting than knowing that omnipotent God exalted us to whatever position we’ve attained. Such knowledge removes the stress of feeling we have to fight to maintain our position. So we can now see that true success (God’s way) not only brings us satisfaction, it also gives us security. (I’d say that smokes the world’s definition of success!)
But for the really hard-to-convince investigator, we need to examine one more compelling clue. It answers the question “When are we elevated?” Clue 3: We are elevated in God’s perfect time. First Peter 5:6 says, God will exalt us “in due time.”
Of all the clues, this might seem to be the most discouraging; in fact, “anti-climatic” might be a better way to describe it! After all, how could waiting and waiting for someone else to act (even if it is God) be a plus? I don’t even like waiting in line at Wal-Mart! I sure don’t want to wait around for weeks, months, even years while my hopes and dreams fade out of sight!
Do you sense the fear, the impatience in those words? That’s how the world feels, but we’re not of the world. Our God has a plan for us; our every step is already determined by him. And in his good time, he’ll raise us up as he sees fit. Clue 3 is huge because it brings us serenity. Rather than fretting about the future, we can focus on the present-on the awesome opportunities right before us now.
I recently helped at a crusade service at a local trailer park. No more than 50 or 60 attended. I added nothing to my résumé by being there that evening. So was I wasting my time? Hardly. I got to look into the eyes of two little boys who said they wanted Jesus in their hearts. I got to pray with them and see God’s love pour all over them. I’m at perfect peace knowing God has me exactly where he wants-and I’m in no hurry to “move up”!
Excerpted from Pure Praise: A Heart-Focused Bible Study on Worship by Dwayne Moore (Group Publishing, 2009). Used by permission.