Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Worship Songs: "The Song of the Lamb"

Revelation 15 Then I saw another sign in heaven, great and amazing, seven angels with seven plagues, which are the last, for with them the wrath of God is finished.
And I saw what appeared to be a sea of glass mingled with fire—and also those who had conquered the beast and its image and the number of its name, standing beside the sea of glass with harps of God in their hands. And they sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying,
“Great and amazing are your deeds,
    O Lord God the Almighty!
Just and true are your ways,
    O King of the nations!
Who will not fear, O Lord,
    and glorify your name?
For you alone are holy.
    All nations will come
    and worship you,
for your righteous acts have been revealed.

The Songs of the Revelation are simple, yet strong. They simply point us to what God has done, and to the Character His acts reveal. When it all boils down - after all the acts of history are past and He has judged righteously, it comes to this: He alone is Holy and worthy of our worship. These songs are great primers, rehearsal tracks, for what we will sing. Let us practice well and often, focusing on God's mighty deeds, and His flawless character, giving Him the glory He deserves.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Judgment Day as Worship Day...

Revelation 11:15 Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever.” 16 And the twenty-four elders who sit on their thrones before God fell on their faces and worshiped God, 17 saying,
“We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty,
    who is and who was,
for you have taken your great power
    and begun to reign.
18 The nations raged,
    but your wrath came,
    and the time for the dead to be judged,
and for rewarding your servants, the prophets and saints,
    and those who fear your name,
    both small and great,
and for destroying the destroyers of the earth.”

This chapter actually begins with instructions for John to measure the temple, and the altar, AND "those who worshiped there." God was not just measuring a place, but also worshipers. The following verses talk about the testimony of the two witnesses, while the nations oppose God's people, and begin to suffer the consequences for doing so. Then this great announcement talks place: The King is now taking full control; judgment is about to commence - good news for the faithful servant-worshipers; bad news for the rebellious destroyers.  It is a time for worship: to acknowledge God as King, as worthy of praise, and as just in His judgment. We are not to view this scene as in a distant time and place, but for it's impact on us.  Are we being His servant-worshipers now? However long it is until God chooses to bring this all to pass does not matter, for we are told here that then the dead will also be judged. Let us live and worship today in such a way that we will be rewarded worshipers on that day. 

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Still worshiping evil???

Revelation 9:20 The rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands nor give up worshiping demons and idols of gold and silver and bronze and stone and wood, which cannot see or hear or walk, 21 nor did they repent of their murders or their sorceries or their sexual immorality or their thefts.
As John describes the horrors of judgment that will come to the peoples of the earth for their rebellion against God, he pauses to look away from those being punished to look at the response of those who are not.  They refuse to repent. They still chose to worship everything but God.  They continue to live lives of blatant sin before God with no remorse.  It seems insane because it is. When we see the end result of our rejection of God and rebellion against His will and word, then continue unchanged, how crazy is that? When we give anything or anyone else the worship on He deserves, what are we thinking? Are we at all?May we heed John's repetitive call: "Did I happen to mention: 'Repent!?!'"

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Worship and "no more tears"

Revelation 7:9 After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10 and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”11 And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12 saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.”
13 Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?” 14 I said to him, “Sir, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
15 “Therefore they are before the throne of God,
    and serve him day and night in his temple;
    and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence.
16 They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore;
    the sun shall not strike them,
    nor any scorching heat.
17 For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd,
    and he will guide them to springs of living water,
and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

Often we think about and hear people talk about heaven as a place of no more tears, as well as the removal of all things evil and hurtful. But we often forget that these things take place in the context of worshiping God and the Lamb.  Those things will be gone because we will be in His presence, giving Him due praise, along with all those who began their worship of Him before arriving there.  There is to be no disconnect between now and then.  True worshipers don't wait to worship Him there. Those who wait won't be there. 

Friday, October 27, 2017

Worship forever and as far...

Revelation 5:11 Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, 12 saying with a loud voice,
“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain,
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might
and honor and glory and blessing!”
13 And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying,
“To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!”
14 And the four living creatures said, “Amen!” and the elders fell down and worshiped.
In this scene John looks all around, and all he can see are angels worshiping the Lamb. He then looks to the center and there are the four living creatures leading the worship service, acknowledging the worthiness of the Lamb to receive such worship - as far and as long as one can see.  It is hard for us to even imagine such a fullness and freedom and openness in worship.  It is what we anticipate. But it all focuses on the Lamb.  As overcome as John was by the experience, he never gets so "caught up in it" that he loses focus, that it is the Lamb Who is worthy, and that it's not about our feelings. He is the Center, as far and as forever as we can see or imagine. 

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Worship: "Holy, Holy, Holy"

Revelation 4 After this I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven! And the first voice, which I had heard speaking to me like a trumpet, said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.” At once I was in the Spirit, and behold, a throne stood in heaven, with one seated on the throne. And he who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian, and around the throne was a rainbow that had the appearance of an emerald. Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and seated on the thrones were twenty-four elders, clothed in white garments, with golden crowns on their heads. From the throne came flashes of lightning, and rumblings and peals of thunder, and before the throne were burning seven torches of fire, which are the seven spirits of God, and before the throne there was as it were a sea of glass, like crystal.
And around the throne, on each side of the throne, are four living creatures, full of eyes in front and behind: the first living creature like a lion, the second living creature like an ox, the third living creature with the face of a man, and the fourth living creature like an eagle in flight.And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and within, and day and night they never cease to say,
“Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty,
    who was and is and is to come!”
And whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to him who is seated on the throne, who lives forever and ever, 10 the twenty-four elders fall down before him who is seated on the throne and worship him who lives forever and ever. They cast their crowns before the throne, saying,
11 “Worthy are you, our Lord and God,
    to receive glory and honor and power,
for you created all things,
    and by your will they existed and were created."

Holy. Altogether Unique. That is our God. Worthy of every word, act, and thought of blessing and positive expression we can find.  Somehow, that old hymn that reflects on this scene helps us catch the vision, if we sing it with heart, soul, and mind.  Holy, Holy, Holy is our God. The Only Creator. The only Redeemer. The only rightful Ruler and Judge.  How can we do anything but worship Him?  A great hymn to practice for the Throne room.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Worship: I don't have much to say...

Hebrews 12:18 For you have not come to what may be touched, a blazing fire and darkness and gloom and a tempest 19 and the sound of a trumpet and a voice whose words made the hearers beg that no further messages be spoken to them. 20 For they could not endure the order that was given, “If even a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned.” 21 Indeed, so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, “I tremble with fear.” 22 But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, 23 and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, 24 and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.
25 See that you do not refuse him who is speaking. For if they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape if we reject him who warns from heaven. 26 At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” 27 This phrase, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of things that are shaken—that is, things that have been made—in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain. 28 Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, 29 for our God is a consuming fire.
Worship: Stand back, shut up, and listen. Be grateful for the opportunity, based upon what God has done in Christ.  This is acceptable worship. It's not so much about what we say and do, as to how we present ourselves before Him. Listen.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Worship on your tombstone...

Hebrews 11:21 By faith Jacob, when dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, bowing in worship over the head of his staff.
In this listing of the hall faith, some men of scripture are listed with a summary of their lives, while others, like Jacob, the Patriarch of the nation of Israel, is given a one-liner like would appear on a tombstone. What is the great feat of faith for which he is remembered? His actions on his deathbed: blessing his two grandsons through Joseph.  Why this one small snapshot in a life and family so big and full?  It was an act of worship, as indeed many of those listed in Hebrews 11 are acts of worship in some form. It was a recognition of God's sovereignty over his life, his family, their future, and the impact God had had on the world through guiding Joseph's steps through his time in Egypt. It was in this act that Jacob worshiped the God of all history. Not a bad epitaph for a tombstone after all...

Monday, October 23, 2017

The Passageway for Worship

Hebrews 9 Now even the first covenant had regulations for worship and an earthly place of holiness. For a tent was prepared, the first section, in which were the lampstand and the table and the bread of the Presence.It is called the Holy Place. Behind the second curtain was a second section called the Most Holy Place, having the golden altar of incense and the ark of the covenant covered on all sides with gold, in which was a golden urn holding the manna, and Aaron's staff that budded, and the tablets of the covenant. Above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat. Of these things we cannot now speak in detail. These preparations having thus been made, the priests go regularly into the first section, performing their ritual duties, but into the second only the high priest goes, and he but once a year, and not without taking blood, which he offers for himself and for the unintentional sins of the people. By this the Holy Spirit indicates that the way into the holy places is not yet opened as long as the first section is still standing(which is symbolic for the present age). According to this arrangement, gifts and sacrifices are offered that cannot perfect the conscience of the worshiper, 10 but deal only with food and drink and various washings, regulations for the body imposed until the time of reformation. 11 But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) 12 he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption.
The preacher here paints a picture, vividly describing how and through whom sacrificial worship took place in the Old Covenant.  It was a very special and tedious process, involving just the right time, person, place and process, and was limited in its scope and duration. Under the New Covenant in Christ, there is a greater time, Person, place, process, and duration. It is once for all, by the One and only Holy Priest, in our lives, ongoing and eternally extensive.  What a way to worship!  May we be just as overwhelmed by how God has provided such a great salvation and entrance into His presence as this writer was, and may we take full advantage and worship Him freely.