VIDEO Worship Now and Worship Then

Now when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song. Revelation 5:8-9

When the apostle John saw the revelation of heaven, one theme dominated much of the vision: praise and worship. Despite the conflict and struggles on earth depicted in John’s vision, there is never any doubt about Who reigns over all. Everyone in heaven and on earth is occupied with praise that will go on forever.

In Revelation 5, John pictures three categories of beings who are seen praising God in what is perhaps the Bible’s greatest chapter of praise: the elders, representing the redeemed (verses 8-10), innumerable angels (verses 11-12), and every other created being in heaven and on earth (verse 13). Each group has their own refrain of praise extoling the One who sits on the throne and the Lamb of God. The impression is that this praise is ongoing, never-ending—the continual refrain of heaven.

If you are one of God’s redeemed children, a future of praise and worship awaits you in heaven. How better to prepare than to join in that refrain now!

Public worship will not excuse us from secret worship. Matthew Henry


The Book of Revelation: The Last Days According to Jesus with R.C. Sproul

Reckless Decisions

Because you did not trust in me . . . , you will not bring this community into the land. Numbers 20:12

As a teen, I was driving way too fast trying to follow my friend to his home after a high school basketball practice. It was raining hard, and I was having a hard time keeping up with his car. Suddenly, my wipers cleared the watery windshield only to reveal my friend’s sedan stopped in front of me! I slammed on the brakes, slid off the street, and struck a large tree. My car was destroyed. Later I awoke in the comatose ward of a local hospital. While by God’s grace I survived, my reckless ways had proved to be very costly.

Moses made a reckless decision that cost him greatly. His poor choice, however, involved a lack of water—not too much of it (as in my case). The Israelites were without water in the Desert of Zin, and “the people gathered in opposition to Moses” (Numbers 20:2). God told the frazzled leader to speak to a rock and it would “pour out its water” (v. 8). Instead, he “struck the rock twice” (v. 11). God said, “Because you did not trust in me . . . , you will not [enter the promised land]” (v. 12).

When we make reckless decisions, we pay the consequences. “Desire without knowledge is not good—how much more will hasty feet miss the way!” (Proverbs 19:2). May we prayerfully, carefully seek God’s wisdom and guidance in the choices and decisions we make today.

By:  Tom Felten

Reflect & Pray

What regrettable decisions have you made based on impulse? Why is it vital to slow down and prayerfully seek God’s wisdom before reacting?

Jesus, please help me to follow Your wise instruction as Your Spirit leads me.

For further study, read Making Decisions God’s Way.

The Blessing of Prayer

Seeking God’s face makes a radical difference in us and in the lives of those around us

Psalm 17:1-8

God doesn’t need us. He knows exactly what steps to take in order to accomplish His purposes. Yet at the same time, He calls us to be devoted to prayer (Colossians 4:2). And if we’ll obey, here are some blessings that await us:

  • Prayer changes us. As we seek the Lord’s face and spend time in His Word, we’re transformed. His desires become ours, and our thinking more closely aligns with His thoughts. 
  • The Lord answers our petitions. He promises to listen and respond to the prayers of His children and assures us that He’ll act when our requests are in accordance with His will (1 John 5:14-15). 
  • God works through our prayers. He’s chosen the prayers of His people to be one of the means through which He accomplishes His will on earth and in the believer’s personal life. 

Prayer allows inadequate people to connect with an all-sufficient God. He alone knows our needs and can meet them as we depend fully on Him. As our understanding of His character grows, we’ll have a better idea what to ask, and our prayers will become more effective. So don’t give up! Keep spending time with God, and you’ll discover the blessings of prayer.

The House of the Lord

“One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to enquire in his temple.” (Psalm 27:4)

The theme of the house of God is prominent in the book of Psalms. The phrase “the house of the LORD” occurs seven times, plus once each for “the LORD house” and “the house of the LORD our God.” There are three references to “the house of God,” one to “the house of my God,” and one to “the house of our God.” Then, “thy house” is mentioned 11 times, making a total of at least 25 explicit references to the house of the Lord in the book of Psalms alone.

Many of these passages refer, of course, to the actual temple in Jerusalem. On the other hand, since it was in the temple’s holy place that the Shekinah glory dwelled and where the high priest met once each year with God on behalf of the people, there naturally follows a personal metaphorical application with the house of the Lord referring to the spiritual presence of the Lord in the life of each believer.

In our text, the psalmist expresses as his highest desire that of continually dwelling in God’s presence all the days of his life. A number of the other references express the same holy desire, and the New Testament response is that, indeed, “ye are the temple of God, and…the Spirit of God dwelleth in you” (1 Corinthians 3:16).

It is wonderful to “dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life,” but that is not all we can look forward to. The glorious concluding assurance of the 23rd Psalm is even greater. “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever” (Psalm 23:6). HMM

Beware the File-card Mentality

Pure religion and undefiled…is this, To visit the fatherless and widows…and to keep himself unspotted from the world.James 1:27

The essence of true religion is spontaneity, the sovereign movings of the Holy Spirit upon and in the free spirit of redeemed men. This has through the years of human history been the hallmark of spiritual excellency, the evidence of reality in a world of unreality.

When religion loses its sovereign character and becomes mere form, this spontaneity is lost also, and in its place come precedent, propriety, system—and the file-card mentality.

Back of the file-card mentality is the belief that spirituality can be organized. Then is introduced into religion those ideas which never belong there—numbers, statistics, the law of averages, and other such natural human things.

And creeping death always follows. OGM079

[T]here are churches so completely out of the hands of God that if the Holy Spirit withdrew from them, they wouldn’t find it out for many months. COU052

Some Things Bitter to Digest

Woe to them, for they have brought evil on themselves.Isaiah 3:9

The fifth Beatitude, when practiced, engenders within us good mental and spiritual health. Psychologists have shown that those who lack the qualities of mercy and compassion are more likely to develop physical problems. Harsh, judgmental attitudes may bring a sense of satisfaction to the person who does not know the meaning of mercy, but it is a false sense of satisfaction.

A verse that, strictly speaking, does not apply to what I am saying here, but nevertheless has some application is this: “It was as sweet as honey in my mouth, but when I ate it, my stomach became bitter” (Rv 10:10). That is what happens whenever we adopt any attitude that is not in harmony with Jesus Christ. At first it is “as sweet as honey”—its beginnings are apparently sweet—but it “[becomes] bitter”—it cannot be assimilated. Our human constitution is not made to function effectively on any attitude that is foreign to the spirit of Jesus Christ.

A Christian doctor says: “We are allergic to wrong attitudes just as some people are allergic to shrimps.” I am physically allergic to red and green peppers. I have tried them scores of times, but the result has always been the same—I get sick. I am just as allergic to harsh, judgmental attitudes. I can’t assimilate them. They disrupt me—body, soul, and spirit. And what goes for me, goes also for you. When we fail to practice the principles which our Lord outlined for us in the Beatitudes, then our sense of well-being is lowered, depleted, and poisoned. Goodness is good for us—spiritually, mentally, and physically.

Prayer

Father, something is being burned into my consciousness: there is only one healthy way to live—Your Way. When I break with You, I break with life. Help me always to maintain a close connection with You. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Further Study

Ps 23:1-6; 31:9; Ex 34:6; Gl 5:22; Eph 5:9

Goodness is a characteristic of what?

Can you make the same declaration as the psalmist?

A Pure Heart

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying:

Who should I send?

Who will go for Us?

I said:

Here I am. Send me.—Isaiah 6:8

It takes a pure heart to see God (Matt. 5:8). You can attend church services, read your Bible, and pray, but if sin fills your heart, you will not see God. You will know when you have encountered God because your life will no longer be the same.

Isaiah was concerned with the death of King Uzziah, the able king of Judah, but was disoriented to his heavenly King. Then something happened that forever changed Isaiah’s life. God, in all His awesome majesty, appeared to him in the temple, surrounded by heavenly creatures. Instantly, God’s presence made Isaiah aware of his sinfulness. One of the seraphim came to him with a burning coal and cleansed Isaiah of his sin. Immediately, Isaiah began to hear things he had never heard before. Now, he was aware of a conversation in heaven concerning who might be worthy to be God’s messenger to the people. This prompted Isaiah’s eager response: “Here am I! Send me.” Now that God had cleansed Isaiah, he was aware of heavenly concerns and prepared to offer himself in God’s service. Whereas Isaiah had been preoccupied with earthly matters, now his only concern was the activity of God.

If you have become estranged from God and His activity, you need to experience His cleansing. Sanctification prepares you to see and hear God. It enables you to serve Him. Only God can purify your heart. Allow Him to remove any impurities that hinder your relationship with Him, and then your service to Him will have meaning as you offer Him your consecrated life.