worthy of more than our awe

“You are worthy, 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 4:24 VOICE]

In heaven there is a palpable sense of awe. When I consider the universe I am speechless. I echo our elders in heaven in their praise of God. He is worthy to receive any glory that I have amassed for myself. Worthy to be honored for all he has done. And worthy of our submission to him.

I touched on that last theme in my last post. In reality, the extent of our worship is dependent on whether we think the divine will to be greater than ours. Worship is all about the choices we make and the actions we take. One simply cannot put God on the throne on Sunday and replace him on Monday.

It is normal to look around and be in awe. Also normal to ascribe our origins to some sort of mystical prime mover or force. Many, like the Deists, call such an entity "god". Yet there are some, like me, who see God as one worthy of more than my awe. He is worthy of my submission to his will.

I bow again Lord. You are worthy to be obeyed. Help me to bow.

... this devotion is part of a series from the book of Revelation

the heart of worship

There in heaven was a throne ... In a circle around the throne were twenty-four other thrones, on which were seated twenty-four elders dressed in white and wearing crowns of gold. ... the twenty-four elders fall down before the one who sits on the throne, and worship him who lives forever and ever. They throw their crowns down in front of the throne [Revelation 4:2,4,10 GNT]

John's vision comes in stages. Perhaps there were several visions? The stage has moved from earth to heaven. He has left Laodicea and now finds himself in the throneroom of God. Yet the linkage to Laodicea is clear as the Lord promised thrones to overcomers in that city.

Still. The concept of thrones is a bit confusing though. I understand that God sits on a throne. But what about the other 24 thrones? Why are they significant? I think that they may indicate that heaven is not limited to either the 12 tribes of Israel and/or followers of the 12 disciples.

Interesting how the 24 elders pay homage to God. They worship with singing. They submit themselves by bowing and giving up their crowns. Perhaps the imagery is meant to teach us about worship. How, at the heart, worship is about offering up both our voices and our power to the Lord.

Perhaps the giving up of power, the proverbial casting of crowns, is at the very heart of worship? Maybe the prayer of submission, not my will but thine be done, is the truest form of worship? A good thing to remember when we ask for God's kingdom to come and his will to done.

Teach me to bow Lord Jesus. You are worthy.

... this devotion is part of a series from the book of Revelation

thin places

I saw a door standing open in heaven, and the same voice I had heard before ... said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must happen after this.” And instantly I was in the Spirit, and I saw a throne in heaven and someone sitting on it. [Revelation 4:1,2 NLT]

What do make of the phrase "I was in the Spirit"? The words speak to me of a spiritual experience. John's feet were on earth during the experience. Yet a part of him embraced a different dimension. I feel that I have traveled to that dimension. Some call the phenomenon "thin spaces".

There is a Celtic saying that heaven and earth are only three feet apart, but in the thin places that distance is even smaller. I have been in such thin places. Sometimes in song. Or in prayer. Or even in the shower. The presence of God almost seems tangible to my human senses.

The book of Revelation seems to be an extended experience of such thin places. John hears inaudible voices. Sees invisible doors. Receives messages that can only be discerned with spiritual understanding. Perhaps the idea of thin places is one that this book helps us to embrace?

Help us Lord to be open to the thin places where heaven meets earth.

... this devotion is part of a series from the book of Revelation

spiritual deafness

I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends. [Revelation 3:20 NLT]

It is an odd thing to think that it is possible for a person to be deaf when God knocks or speaks. It reminds me of how Jesus often said "If anyone have ears to hear, let him hear!" In reality there are things that cause us to be spiritually deaf. Things that cause our hearts to be hard.

In the parable of the sower and the seed Jesus speaks of the things that cause spiritual deafness. Shallowness. Hardness. Cares. Worries. Money. These all have the ability to make us spiritually deaf. Even so, Jesus persists in knocking and speaking. Calling us to open the door of our heart.

I think that this verse calls us to spiritual intimacy. In reality God does not want to just speak to us. He wants us to speak to him. He wants to share his life with us and our lives with him. He wants to walk with us. Eat with us. Be close friends. God wants to have a relationship with us.

Open our ears Lord. That we might hear your voice and invite you into our lives.

... this devotion is part of a series from the book of Revelation

the wealthy heart

You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. [Revelation 3:17 NIV]

Lately a song has been going through my mind. The refrain goes like this: "The best things in life are free". The sentiment is true but it is a difficult concept for some to grasp. Many work hard to achieve the 'American Dream' and they do not really understand what they are striving for.

In a very real sense, wealth cannot make one happy. It makes us poor if it gives us a sense of not needing others. Wretched wealth is pitiful when it causes us to sacrifice our values. Or when it blinds us to the suffering of others and clothes us with pride while leaving us spiritually naked.

In contrast there is a wealth that is not wretched, pitiful, poor, blind or naked. The wealthy heart causes one to live generously. To see those in need and respond. To be fully clothed in compassion. Such is the good heart that God gives to those who admit that they are poor without Him.

I am poor Lord. Fill my heart with the wealth of kindness, mercy and compassion.

... this devotion is part of a series from the book of Revelation

lukewarm waters

I know your deeds, that you are neither cold (invigorating, refreshing) nor hot (healing, therapeutic); I wish that you were cold or hot. [Revelation 3:15 AMP]

I have wondered about this verse and why it is bad to be lukewarm. I like to drink lukewarm water. I think Dr J Vernon McGee offers an interesting take on the setting for this verse:
"This had a background and a local meaning for the people in that day. Being down in the valley, they had difficulty getting water in Laodicea. The Laodiceans built an aqueduct to bring cold water down from the mountains. When it left the mountains, it was ice cold, but by the time it made that trip all the way down the mountains to Laodicea, it was lukewarm. And lukewarm water is not very good. Down in the valley where the Lycus River joins the Maeander River, there are hot springs. However, when they would take this hot water up to Laodicea, by the time it got there, it was no longer hot — it had become lukewarm water."
This makes sense to me. It is not so much that the water is lukewarm but that it is not what it was. It is no longer refreshing. Not therapeutic. It's intended purpose has been lost in the journey from the mountains or the springs. Seems to be a metaphor for our spiritual journey.

John reports to us in his gospel how Jesus spoke of rivers of living waters springing up from within the believer. Such spiritual waters heal and refresh. This to me the crux of keeping our lives from being lukewarm. Allowing the Spirit to flow in and out of us keeps us from lukewarmness.

Come Holy Spirit. Flow into us. Flow out of us. That you might heal and refresh.

... this devotion is part of a series from the book of Revelation

a heavenly wreath

Because you have obeyed My instructions to endure and be patient, I will protect you from the time of trial which will come upon the whole earth and put everyone in it to the test. I will soon return. Hold tight to what you have so that no one can take away your victor’s wreath. [Revelation 3:10-11 VOICE]

It is hard to read this and not think about a marathon runner crossing the finish line and receiving a laurel wreath. In truth, life is like a marathon. Endurance is required. Training is mandatory. Discipline becomes a way of life. The runner lives differently because they want to finish the race.

Trials come at us from every direction. Our endurance is tested in them. Patience is stretched. The mettle of our spirituality is either dulled or sharpened. And each time we persist in faith we get closer to that heavenly laurel wreath. In that sense, to simply finish the race is to win it.

Hard to read about the return of Christ and not envision a heavenly appearance in the skies. In doing that I think that we miss an important aspect of the message. The return of Christ is spiritual. It is an ongoing metaphor for our passing from this life to our meeting Jesus when we die.

Strengthen our hearts Lord that we might joyfully endure until we see you face to face.

... this devotion is part of a series from the book of Revelation