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“How Shall We Then Live? As those who worship in the Spirit and in truth”

July 31, 2016

Revelation 4:1-11

“How Shall We Then Live? As those who worship in the Spirit and in truth”

 

Intro:

What arguments do you get sucked into that really don’t matter when all is said and done?  Toilet Paper – over or under? Better drink – Coke or Pepsi? Listen to these real church arguments.  I won’t read all 25.

  1. Arguments over what type of green beans the church should serve (I could have resolved this conflict quickly: none.).
  2. Two different churches reported fights over the type of coffee. In one of the churches, they moved from Folgers to a stronger Starbucks brand. In the other church, they simply moved to a stronger blend. Members left the church in the latter example (Perhaps they started a new church: The Right Blend Fellowship.).
  3. An argument on whether the church should allow deviled eggs at the church meal (Only if it’s balanced with angel food cake for dessert).
  4. A disagreement over using the term “potluck” instead of “pot blessing” (I get it! The concept of luck contradicts the theology of a sovereign God. This issue is very serious. Good luck trying to resolve it. ).
  5. A dispute over whether the church should allow people to wear black t-shirts, since black is the color of the devil (Are you sure he’s not red? That’s what I’ve heard.)

 

In his conversation with the woman at the well, recorded in John 4:21-24, the woman asks Jesus about the right place to worship and the difference of opinions held between the Jews and the Samaritans – an issue that would divide these two races and keep them from worshipping the same God in unity.  Jesus sets her straight by saying:

21 “Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22 You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”

 

Let me repeat those last two verses as a response to the question, “How then shall we live?” as true worshipers who will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.  God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” Any questions? 

 

This week I had the opportunity as I do every 4th Tuesday, to lead worship at the Towanda Personal Care Home.  I chose to focus on worship and used Rev. 4:1-11 as my text.  What a picture it provides of what worship of God looks like!  Would you turn there with me and we will read it.  This passage follows the instructions/warnings to the seven churches.  READ

 

 

After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven. And the voice I had first 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 there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it. And the one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and ruby. A rainbow that shone like an emerald encircled the throne. Surrounding the throne were twenty-four other thrones, and seated on them were twenty-four elders. They were dressed in white and had crowns of gold on their heads. From the throne came flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder. In front of the throne, seven lamps were blazing. These are the seven spirits[a] of God. Also in front of the throne there was what looked like a sea of glass, clear as crystal.

In the center, around the throne, were four living creatures, and they were covered with eyes, in front and in back. The first living creature was like a lion, the second was like an ox, the third had a face like a man, the fourth was like a flying eagle. Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under its wings. Day and night they never stop saying:

“‘Holy, holy, holy

is the Lord God Almighty,’[b]

who was, and is, and is to come.”

Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor and thanks to him who sits on the throne and who lives for ever and ever, 10 the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne and worship him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say:

11 

“You are worthy, our Lord and God,

    to receive glory and honor and power,

for you created all things,

    and by your will they were created

    and have their being.”

 

How do you imagine heaven?  What words would you describe what you hope it’s like?  The Apostle John used these words to describe what he saw.  I wonder what words our loved ones who have entered glory would use to convey what they see to us?  My mom would probably not describe it using jewels and gems, rubies and emeralds were not things she cherished.  So would she use things from nature, from farm life, from things she saw on the Oregon coast?  She would use words that would appeal to me.  But the bottom line is that what John saw and attempted to describe was full of beauty, awe and wonder.

 

What do you imagine based on what John reports?  It sounds loud!  It sounds busy! And worship seems constant.  I don’t know if you have had this experience but there are times when worship ended and I wasn’t ready!  I craved for it to continue.  It continues in the heavenly realms. 

 

Read with me what the creatures never stop saying in verse 8: “‘Holy, holy, holy

is the Lord God Almighty,’ who was, and is, and is to come.” Repeat. Again. Louder!

 

And then look at what happens! Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor and thanks to him who sits on the throne and who lives for ever and ever, 10 the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne and worship him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say:

11 

“You are worthy, our Lord and God,

    to receive glory and honor and power,

for you created all things,

    and by your will they were created

    and have their being.”

 

What’s the difference between the 24 elders who fall down and worship and us?  They see it!  They are there in the midst of the creatures and the presence of God!  The crowns they cast are victors crowns.  Through Christ they have triumphed over sin and death and they give God all the glory.  They surrender their crowns because they KNOW they are not worthy of them and did not earn them of their own accord.

 

Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary: All true believers wholly ascribe their redemption and conversion, their present privileges and future hopes, to the eternal and most holy God. Thus rise the for-ever harmonious, thankful songs of the redeemed in heaven. Would we on earth do like them, let our praises be constant, not interrupted; united, not divided; thankful, not cold and formal; humble, not self-confident.

 

Part of our worshipping as true believers who worship in the Spirit and truth involves our constant gratitude and praise of God for what he has accomplished on our behalf.

 

What is your daily, personal habit of worship?  What goes on in your heart and mind daily to remind you of God’s worthiness to receive all glory, honor, and power?

 

Friends, we are called to be worshippers.  This is God’s purpose for us.  This is what we are made for.

 

Concl.  What might happen if we lived more deeply into this identity as true worshippers?  How might it shape our thoughts and our actions and our words?  How might it shift our priorities?  The 24 elders know where their loyalty lies – they give it all to God.  How about us?  Do we ration out our praise of God or are we all in?  How should we then live?  As those who worship God in Spirit and in truth.