Crafty

Scripture Reading: Genesis 3-4

Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”  Genesis 3:1

Revelation 12:9 reveals that this serpent, who is so very crafty, is Satan. While he is crafty, his story really hasn’t changed all that much. It is very predictable and, as such, I should be much better at recognizing it and calling it what it is. But for some reason, his age-old lie still carries power, mainly because I give it power. I listen to the lying voice of the one who hates me instead of listening to the voice of truth spoken by the Lover of my soul—the One who created me for His pleasure.

The lie of the serpent that I so easily believe convinces me that am entitled to something which God has revealed is harmful for me. And so, I sin. I choose to take that which I want even though I know it is against God’s revealed best plan. I hold on to the thought that I am somehow better suited to choose what is best for me. And the crafty serpent wins yet again. I must remind myself often that God has not withheld His best from me, even though that is what Satan would have me believe. God has lavished me with every good thing I need. I must learn to be satisfied with His provision.

Dear Lord, please help me hear Your voice of truth and may it drown out the voice of the crafty liar. May I be satisfied with Your provision and not seek more. Amen.

Rested

Scripture reading: Genesis 1-2

By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.         Genesis 2:2-3

In the beginning, a glimpse is given of that which was undistorted by sin. Resting on the seventh day is part of that design. God sets a day apart and makes it holy. He creates a sanctuary in time in which men and women can come to worship Him. It is the Sabbath. That is the meaning of the word we translate as “rest.” It means “to cease.” God rested—not because He was weary. God rested to set aside a day for His children to rest. Eventually it would become a commandment, but first it was a gift (Exodus 16:29). Most people shrug off this gift and do not care to open it. It is a shame. Many people boast of their workload and how much they do. This exhibits a lack of self-control. God has designed us for rest. He has designed us to cease on the seventh day. How have I viewed the Sabbath? Is it a priority for me? This text calls me to worship God in this special sanctuary of time each week, as the Sabbath comes to remind me that I have been given permission to cease from the busyness of the world.

Dear Lord, please search me in this. Do I rest? Do I cease? How have I rationalized Sabbath out of my life? Help me open and value the gift of the Sabbath each week as I look forward to special time with you. Amen.

Eternal Song

Eternal song

“To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!”                                                                Revelation 5:13      

Forever and ever. Amen. The choir that is singing to the Lamb grows yet again! Every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea. All creation singing praise to God the Father and the Lamb—the Son. Every knee shall bow, and every tongue will confess. All creation. Imagine this moment! It is the moment right before the first seal is broken. In one way, it is anticipatory praise in that it is an eternal song—forever and ever. In this scene we get a glimpse of why corporate worship is so important. As more and more voices and hearts are added to the praise and worship the crescendo builds and builds to untold volume and yet contains crystal clear clarity and unity. It is as we come together and as we bring our individual voices and hearts of worship that have been proclaiming the worth of God nonstop during the week that we begin to see this imagined on earth. We encourage one another to stay focused on the One who is worthy. It reminds us that we are part of a whole—the family of God. The worship service on earth is a family reunion of sorts and it is a foretaste of the eternal choir we are part of on earth as we await the eternal presence. It is critical to maintain the unity for which Jesus prayed in John 17. Thanksgiving is the entry to worship, but prolonged attendance in the presence of God brings a depth of worship that draws a person into closeness with God and a desire to be close with and in unity with others who are drawn in as well. We will be part of this eternal song forever and ever. And the four living creatures said, “Amen!’ and the elders fell down and worshiped. What does it look like for you to join in with others to praise God and to know him more? Today ponder how you may prepare your heart to be part of a worship experience with other believers tomorrow. As you come together how can the glimpse into the door of Heaven impact your worship here on earth?

Worthy

Worthy

“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!”                                                                                                                          Revelation 5:12

Read or listen to all of Revelation 5 today. Today we focus on the praise song of Revelation 5:12. Look carefully at verse 11 to see who is singing this song. The living beings and the elders are joined by the voice of many angles—look at how many. Myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands. This basically means an uncountable number and then some! Now look carefully as they declare that the Lamb is worthy to receive worship. Notice what they sing that he is worthy to receive in contrast to what he set aside to come to earth so that he could be the Redeemer. He came to earth in the weakness of frail humanity, yet he is omnipotent. He came to earth in great poverty, yet he has unlimited wealth. He was mocked and thought a fool, yet he has all wisdom. He died in apparent weakness on the cross and yet he is almighty. He was dishonored and discredited, yet all honor is his. He became a curse for us (Galatians 3:13) yet he is worthy of blessing. Pause and consider the contrast. Look carefully at the list. Realize the grace and humility of our King. Read Philippians 2:5-11 to gain a perspective of what is happening in this glimpse into heaven’s praise. Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive your praise. Thank you, Jesus. We are truly in awe of you and our voices join with those of the heavenly choir! Let your vice sing to the Lamb today!

Redemption

Redemption

“Worthy are you to take the scroll and open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.” “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!”                                                                                                       Revelation 5:9-10, 12

The scene changes as we move to chapter 5. A scroll becomes visible. It is a scroll with seven seals. The opening of this scroll will bring about the final judgments. But also, the opening of this scroll will consummate redemption. The not yet aspect of our salvation will not be realized apart from the opening of this scroll. The promised eternal peace, the promised justice of God will not come to pass apart from the opening of the scroll. In some ways, we can see this scroll as a title deed or a will. It can only be opened by the heir. A loud cry goes out from an angel, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?” No one is found able—not in heaven, on earth, or under the earth! John wails and weeps (5:4). John knows that his inheritance is contained within the scroll as well, the redemption plan cannot be completed. But one of the elders tells John that the Lion of Judah (Genesis 49:8-10), the Root of David (Matthew 22:41-46 reveals that in his humanity he was from David, but that in his deity he is the root of David). This is the designation of the conquering Messiah. John turned to see this One who is worthy to open the scroll. Through tears he saw not the lion he expected, rather he saw the Lamb (John 1:29). And the lamb looked as if it had been slain. There were scars. This Lamb is standing even closer to the throne than the elders. He reaches out and takes the scroll from his Father. He is worthy because not only can he open the seals of the scroll, he has the ability to make them come true!!! The Messiah is the Redeemer. He is worthy. Because he is worthy the living beings sing to the Lamb. Chapter 4 directs praise to the Father, chapter 5 to the Lamb. Look carefully at what the Lamb is bring praised for in the verses above. He ransomed people from every nation, language, tribe, and tongue for God. He made them to be a kingdom and priests to God. They shall reign on earth. The Lamb is worthy to receive our praise. As you go through this day, consider all the ways that Jesus is worthy of praise—consider all the ways he is worthy of your praise.     

Creator

Creator

“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.”                                                                                                                                  Revelation 4:11

As the four living beings begin to sing, the twenty-four elders fall to the ground and cast their crown before the throne. They worship God for what he has done in creating. God is worthy of praise because he has created all that there is. Those in his presence seem to realize this at a great depth. They worship the Creator. He is the source of everything—everything. He is the source. He created all there is from nothing. That is the power he has. He is worthy to receive glory and honor and power. It is not that the elders are giving him those things, it is that they are declaring he is worthy of those things that are his. What a contrast to the worship on earth where the created is worshiped rather than the Creator (Romans 1:25). Last week, we considered pagan and partial worship and how those are the types of worship that most define worship on earth. It is not the pure worship that we see here. So many times, on earth, it is denied that God is the Creator. Even when it is not denied it does not necessarily lead people to worship. We do not see the need to fall before our Creator. Just the fact that God is the Creator should move us to joy-filled submissive worship and adoration. But even more it should move us to mouth-dropping awe of his unlimited and amazing power. That should cause us to honor him and give him all the glory.  Have you ever fallen down in worship before the Creator? Find time today to kneel before God. Even lay prostrate before him proclaiming these words to him, joining the chorus of heaven. “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

Holy, holy, holy

“Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!”                                      Revelation 4:8

Again today, take the time to read or listen to Revelation 4-5. Today we consider what it means to worship God because of who he is. The essential qualities and nature of God make him alone worthy of worship. There is none other that deserves this worship. As we continue to look through the open door, we see who worships God in heaven. We see who is around the throne. First, we are introduced to twenty-four elders seated around the throne on thrones of their own. They are clothed in white and have golden crowns signifying victory and purity. Further in we see the seven torches of fire and then we see four living beings. There is lightning and there is thunder. What a scene! Imagine this if you can! Imagine seeing it and then needing to put it into words. The twenty-four elders are possibly angels or possibly men who symbolize the people of God in heaven. The latter would align with the twenty-four priests that represented the whole of the priests in 1 Chronicles 24:3-5. The seven torches represent the completeness of God and symbolize the Holy Spirit, the fire reminds us of judgment. Lightning and thunder are a signal that the storm is coming. The four living beings remind us of the seraphim of Isaiah 6 and the cherubim of Ezekiel 1. They are the ones closest to the throne. They are in a constant state of worship. Even as they perform the roles they are given (as seen in chapter 6) they are in a state of worship. The first worship we see is worship that is motivated by who God is. It is not about what he has done—it is about who he is. God is worthy of worship because he is God. He is holy, holy, holy. His attributes and nature are worthy of adoration and praise. The four living beings declare God’s holiness, his omnipotence, and his eternality. Just those three aspects of his essential nature are enough to incite spontaneous, ecstatic praise! Today, think about the nature and character of God. Try to think of him considering not what he has done, but in light of who he is. Consider his attributes and his nature. Think of the ones you know—look up some you do not. Cry out in song to the Almighty Lord God who is forever and who is holy, holy, holy.  

Open Door

Open door

After this I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven!          Revelation 4:1

This week we will look at Revelation 4 & 5. Find the time each day this week to read or listen to these two chapters, asking God to teach you about worship. Revelation is written by John the Apostle. Most believe that it was written around A.D. 95 while he was in exile on the island of Patmos. While there, God gave him a vision. He was commanded to write it down. It would consist of things that he had seen, those that are, and those that are to take place after this (1:19). This lays out the outline for the book. Revelation 1 reveals the things that he had seen, chapters 2-3 declare the things that are (the letters to the churches of John’s time) and finally chapters 4-22 tell of the things that will take place after the time of writing. The book itself contains a wonderful presentation of prophecy which is best understood alongside the prophecies of the Old Testament that speak of the end times as well. But we will look at that at a different time, should the Lord allow. This week, we will focus on a moment in heaven that is captured in the section of the book that had not happened at the time of John’s writing this letter. A door standing open in heaver is what John sees and he is taken up to see what must take place. As he is taken up, he sees the throne of God. The throne is of major emphasis in the book of Revelation but look how many times the throne mentioned in Revelation 4.  The throne of God represents his sovereignty. In John’s vision of the throne (4:3) he sees God having the appearance of jasper, carnelian, and an emerald rainbow around the throne. The jasper stone(clear) is believed to represent his holiness and the carnelian (red) his justice. The emerald rainbow seems to be a full circle that reminds the reader of the covenant of God with Noah and the mercy revealed by that rainbow. This will have significance as these chapters introduce the coming judgement. The rainbow is a reminder that God’s mercy is as great as his majesty. His sovereignty will not triumph at the expense of his mercy. Justice and mercy. As you go through your day, consider the throne of God. Is he sovereign over your life? Consider the justice and the mercy of God. How does each impact your worship of him?     

Sacrifice

Sacrifice

For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.                                                         Psalm 51:16-17

For this is what the high and lofty One says—he who lives forever, whose name is holy: “I live in a high and holy place, but also with him who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite. Isaiah 57:15

There is a lot of emotion that goes with the word “sacrifice”. It is something that I struggle with! The desires I have for myself are so great that many times I look right past the needs of others. Our world does not really understand the concept of sacrifice, so it is a bit counter-cultural. When it comes to worshiping God, sacrifice is a requirement. Paul says that we are to present ourselves as sacrifices that are living. That means moment by moment, but it also means that sacrificing ourselves to God is what makes us truly alive! David cries out in his psalm of repentance that the real sacrifices of God are a broken spirit and a contrite heart. This is speaking about a breaking of our pride. The sacrifices that are pleasing to God are brought with a heart of humility. It is required (Micah 6:8). See the account of Cain and Abel in Genesis 4:1-16. Through Isaiah, God reveals that the heart of the contrite (the humble) is actually his “second address”. We expect that God would live in a high and holy place but to consider that he would also live in the lowly heart of a broken and humble person is a miracle. Consider that the heart of the contrite is the heart of one made holy. Consider that the spirit that has been broken has been empowered by the Spirit of Life. So, the heart of the humble is a holy, Spirit-filled place—a temple of Almighty God. A temple that radiates his goodness and love from a deep place of adoration and awe—worship. The follower of Jesus brings not self-effort as a sacrifice. They bring a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving for a heart of flesh that has taken the place of the heart of stone. God is approached on his terms with joy and delight. And the worship that he seeks comes from the heart of one who knows that the Father delights in his child. Joy, peace, life, light, grace, mercy, goodness, kindness, gratefulness, and satisfaction all found in the life of one who is given over to offering their body as a living sacrifice to our amazing and awesome God and Father. May you know the joy of pure sacrificial worship in your life today and every day—seek it with all your heart!!

Pure Worship

Pure Worship

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.     Romans 12:1-2

Today, we look at pure worship—the worship that God seeks (and deserves)! Pure worship comes from a heart of a person who has been reborn, who knows God and is gratefully sacrificing of themself for the Lord—who seeks to worship God fully understanding the need for thanksgiving. Idols are rejected and denied in exchange for true worship of God. As we saw earlier, the doorway to pure worship is thanksgiving for the mercies of God. When Jesus met the Samaritan woman, he was able to share with her what the type of worship is that God seeks.          

But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”     John 4:23-24

The mercy and grace of God poured out into the life of a repentant sinner transform a person into a child of God. It makes a person holy so that they can offer themselves as a holy sacrifice. Buddy Owens has rightly said, “Holiness is not what God wants from you. Holiness is what God wants for you”. Both the one who makes people holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. (Hebrews 2:11 NIV) As followers of Jesus we come to God as new creations and stand before him having been made holy. While I seek to act holy, it is not the acting holy that allows me to worship God. It is the truth that I am positionally holy which allows me to worship God purely. I have been given the Spirit of God in my life. I can worship God in spirit and truth because I have been made new in the Holy Spirit and he is in me. His truth permeates through my life. As I continually surrender to his leading and presence in my life, my life overflows with delightful worship and adoration of the one who has set me free from darkness and is alone worthy of every drop of my praise!!  Jesus said that this hour is coming and has already come. Consider the worship of Revelation chapters 4 & 5. Look at Revelation 11:17 and notice the thanksgiving. This is eternal worship in the actual presence of God apart from sin. Every follower of Jesus will worship fully in his presence in this manner for all eternity one day, but Jesus tells us we can begin that worship here and now—in spirit and in truth. Consider today what it means to worship the Lord truly and purely.