Each year we get to start a new fresh page.
This year that page is named 2010, and it contains 365 1/4 days, 8766 hours, 1/2 million minutes , and 31 1/2 million seconds.
But more than anything else, this new year is a new opportunity for each of us to invest as much of that time as we want to into the First Eternal Bank of Jesus Christ, located at the Throne of the Almighty Ancient of Days, at the source of the River of Life, in the center of the Crystal Sea, also commonly known as Heaven.
As we open to Revelation 4, we all need to hit the reset button of our souls. The scene we read here is REALITY. Sometimes when our computer, phone, or even heating/air conditioning system gets messed up, we hit the “reset” button and restore the “factory” settings to get it back to working correctly. So tonight we need to spiritually:
That is exactly what Revelation 4 is, a reset for our immortal and eternal souls. It is a migration of our spirits back to what God intended us for; and where we shall be eternally so we should point that way now. Revelation 4:1-11, please stand, follow along as you listen with the spiritual ears of your hearts:
After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven. And the first voice which I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me, saying, “Come up here, and I will show you things which must take place after this.” 2 Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne set in heaven, and One sat on the throne. 3 And He who sat there was like a jasper and a sardius stone in appearance; and there was a rainbow around the throne, in appearance like an emerald. 4 Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and on the thrones I saw twenty-four elders sitting, clothed in white robes; and they had crowns of gold on their heads. 5 And from the throne proceeded lightnings, thunderings, and voices. Seven lamps of fire were burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God. 6 Before the throne there was a sea of glass, like crystal. And in the midst of the throne, and around the throne, were four living creatures full of eyes in front and in back. 7 The first living creature was like a lion, the second living creature like a calf, the third living creature had a face like a man, and the fourth living creature was like a flying eagle. 8 The four living creatures, each having six wings, were full of eyes around and within. And they do not rest day or night, saying:
“ Holy, holy, holy,
Lord God Almighty,
Who was and is and is to come!”
9 Whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, who lives forever and ever, 10 the twenty-four elders fall down before Him who sits on the throne and worship Him who lives forever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying:
11 “ You are worthy, O Lord,
To receive glory and honor and power;
For You created all things,
And by Your will they exist and were created.”
Tonight, everything surrendered and consecrated and yielded to God flows upward to that Throne. What is your balance in your account there before the Throne we just read about, in the Bank of Jesus? Have you paused to:
How many moments have you sent to Him wrapped in prayers and praises that rose before Him and He placed them into your account with joy accepting your offering?
How many hours have you gift wrapped in worship and adoration, and express shipped to the Lord, and as He opened them, they were a fragrant offering that pleased Him?
That scene of the Throne, and those offerings of time redeemed for eternity are the ultimate reality, all else is temporal, imitational, and unimportant. Reality is seeing life both as it really is, and as it really will be. Only God's Word can give us a perspective grounded in reality.
Who is your model for daily living? Is it someone who sees life as God wants it seen, or someone who is fooled by the temporal and material instead of the spiritual and eternal?
Some of the greatest role models for us are the saints who have gone ahead of us in the race. At the end of his life the great Reformer and servant of the Lord, Martin Luther shared what kept him going through such lifelong adversity and hardships. He said he lived by this simple truth:
"I have but two dates on my calendar today and the day I stand at the judgment seat of Christ!"
In other words he lived each day like he was on his way to explain what he did with his life to the One who gave him life – Jesus Christ.
Jonathan Edwards, one of the greatest minds ever produced in an American had this as his constant plan:
“Resolved, never to do anything I would not want to be found doing—by Christ, when He returns.”
Are you ready this moment, to appear before Christ's Throne? That Throne we will each someday stand before was described by the Apostle Paul in several places, none is clearer than 2nd Corinthians 5:10. Open there with me next.
When we take pilgrims to Greece, the most moving spot of all is in the city of Ancient Corinth. I have seen travelers who were just tourists the whole trip until they reached that spot. And there beneath the raised stone platform called in Greek the bema suddenly the awesomeness of the moment overtakes them and they see themselves at a future day standing at Christ's Throne. Often tears, often deep silence, and always reverence fills each one, as the scene unfolds before their eyes. They are asking themselves at that spot, “Am I ready if it were right now, that I had to appear and answer to Jesus for me life?” That should be the direct, personal question to each of us:
What will matter when you stand alone right in front of Jesus?
II Corinthians 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.
What do you wish to have in your hands to give to the One who loved you and gave Himself for you?
What ever that is, that is what we need to live for TODAY!
Come with me to that Throne, and let the Holy Scriptures transport you out of this world and into God’s.
Now, move on to II Peter 3:10-11 where we get a lesson from God in what really matters in life. Listen to the voice of that wizened old fisherman, with a glowing heart of hope and joy, named Peter. He is speaking to us by the power of God’s Spirit.
2 Peter 3:10-11 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. 11 Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness,
All of life is about getting ready for Christ's Judgment Seat or Bema Seat. Are you ready? Our future is all about little choices we make that reveal what we really are in the sight of God.
Open with me to Romans 14:10b-12
“. . . For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. 11 For it is written: “As I live, says the Lord, Every knee shall bow to Me, And every tongue shall confess to God.” 12 So then each of us shall give account of himself to God.”
What will matter when you stand alone right in front of Jesus?
What do you wish to have in your hands to give to the One who loved you and gave Himself for you?
What ever that is – that is what we need to live for TODAY!
Will you come with me to that Throne? Will you let the Holy Scriptures transport you out of this world and into God’s?
Watch with me as God pulls back the veil. Through John’s eyes in Revelation we see Heaven as he seems to rise on the wings of angels to get his guided tour of Heaven. His inspired words portray for us a scene of angels—hundreds of millions of angels—“ten thousand times ten thousand”—all clustered about the smooth crystal sea that reflects awesome images from its mirror like surface. Our senses are besieged by so many different sensations. The colors of the materials surrounding God’s Throne are beyond description.
First, ANGELS capture our attention. These countless white robed angels standing like living walls of pure white robes rising in circular rings reflecting the light of God. They rise and fall to the sounds of the four creatures crisscrossing the expanse on the four corners of the Throne. They move as one – falling down on their faces as they speak the wonders of God’s Glory.
Revelation 5:11-12 Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne, the living creatures, and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands, 12 saying with a loud voice: “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom, And strength and honor and glory and blessing!”
Sea of Glass
Next, the FLOOR if it can be called that, is an ocean of completely clear and reflective glass. In this crystal sea we can see all the colors, lights and objects are reflected and amplified.
Revelation 4:5 And from the throne proceeded lightnings, thunderings, and voices. Seven lamps of fire were burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God. 6 Before the throne there was a sea of glass, like crystal. And in the midst of the throne, and around the throne, were four living creatures full of eyes in front and in back. 7 The first living creature was like a lion, the second living creature like a calf, the third living creature had a face like a man, and the fourth living creature was like a flying eagle. 8 The four living creatures, each having six wings, were full of eyes around and within. And they do not rest day or night, saying: “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, Who was and is and is to come!” 9 Whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, who lives forever and ever, 10 the twenty-four elders fall down before Him who sits on the throne and worship Him who lives forever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying: 11 “You are worthy, O Lord, To receive glory and honor and power; For You created all things, And by Your will they exist and were created.”
Then we see, central to Heaven is the Throne of God. Completely encircled by the emerald green rainbow that is over, around and beneath the Throne – we are overwhelmed by the massive rumble of power, as endless peals of thunder and flashes of lightning seem to radiate outward from within. Listening carefully we hear with John the loud voices like roaring waterfalls rolling past the seven blazing pillars of flame that burn in a circle around God’s Throne. An exiled Jewish prophet named Daniel writes these words in chapter 7:9-10:
“I watched till thrones were put in place, and the Ancient of Days was seated; His garment was white as snow, And the hair of His head was like pure wool. His throne was a fiery flame, Its wheels a burning fire; A fiery stream issued And came forth from before Him. A thousand thousands ministered to Him; Ten thousand times ten thousand stood before Him. . .”
Then the BURNING ONES, that is what seraphim means, capture our focus. As our eyes turn to follow the four glistening living beings each with four distinct faces – lion, calf, man, eagle – and completely covered with eyes as they move like flashes of light with fire passing between them, gliding through the expanse around the Ancient of Days in theocentric orbit always facing the Almighty One.
Isaiah 6:1-7 In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple. 2 Above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. 3 And one cried to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; The whole earth is full of His glory!” 4 And the posts of the door were shaken by the voice of him who cried out, and the house was filled with smoke. 5 So I said: “Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, The Lord of hosts.” 6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a live coal which he had taken with the tongs from the altar. 7 And he touched my mouth with it, and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; Your iniquity is taken away, And your sin purged.”
Now as we watch, 24 ELDERS rise and fall, under the awesome expanse of space over the Throne that sparkles like pure on the crystal blue pavement as it is called in Exodus. Then we see a circle just beyond the burning pillars of fire, and the four living creatures that surrounds God’s Throne--made up of 24 small thrones seated with white robed celestial men. An exiled Jewish prophet by the name of the Apostle John wrote to us from Patmos at the end of the 1st Century in Revelation chapter 4:4:
“Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and on the thrones I saw twenty-four elders sitting, clothed in white robes; and they had crowns of gold on their heads.”
Revelation 5:8, 14 “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. 14 Then the four living creatures said, “Amen!” And the twenty-four elders fell down and worshiped Him who lives forever and ever.”
Each man holds a harp, wears a crown, and holds a golden bowl. These golden bowls contain the worship offered by God’s saints on Earth. And repeatedly we see those twenty-four elders fall on their faces pouring out to the Lord, the collected worship of the saints as the hosts of Heaven loudly chant the Glory of God. With the mighty sound of seraph wings we hear the voices, thunders, and sounds of the entire Universe blending into one crystal clear affirmation:
Holy, holy, holy
Is the Lord God Almighty,
who was, and is, and is to come.
Finally, at a special moment every angel and every elder and every saint fall prostrate before him—those four great angels, those twenty-four elders, the hundreds of millions around the sea—and most of all, us! And we all join together to sing with them:
Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain,
to receive power and wealth
and wisdom and strength
and honor and glory and praise! (5:12)
So what is valuable here? What is the currency of Heaven?
The Currency of
Today -- you and I are God’s priest’s on earth, offering to Him our worship that He receives in Heaven. This is what I would be trying to do as much of as possible if I really believed that I would stand in front of Jesus Christ some day—and I do believe that. Do you? Does your life look like you believe this to be true?
God collects our devotion when we send it as a burnt offering:
Mark 12:33 And to love Him with all the heart, with all the understanding, with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is more than all the whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.”
Have we offered our devotion up to Him irretrievably, completely, and lovingly—by giving Him time each day because we love Him; by giving Him our complete attention as we focus upon Him in His Word and in prayer?
God collects each moment offered when our bodies as a living sacrifice:
Romans 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.
Have you recently renewed that offering of all you are to Him? Have you repeated those simple words of the child Samuel, that the Lord so delights to hear from us, “Speak Lord, for your servant is listening!”
God collects our good works in serving others when we offer them as a Drink offering to Him:
2 Timothy 4:6 For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand.
Are we pouring out what we cannot keep--to Him so we cannot lose? Each time you serve look up in your heart from the classroom, nursery, choir room, AWANA room or where ever you offer that service, and say to the Lord, “I am giving this time to you. I can’t keep it, I could selfishly squander it, but instead I give it to YOU as an act of devotion and worship!”
God collects our gifts of adoration, thanksgiving, and praise to Him, when they are given as fragrant Worship offerings:
Hebrews 13:15 Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.
What is the aroma ascending from our living before Christ's eyes today? Make more of your offerings by praying over each check, hold it in your hand as you mail it or place it in the offering and breathe out to God, “I give this to YOU as an offering of love and gratitude!”
When is the last time we stopped and launched a wave of praise filled worship toward His Throne? Plan to burst forth in your car, or on a walk, or when you are all alone into a cry of love to the Lord. Say something like you sing, “I love YOU Lord and I lift my voice to WORSHIP you…!”
God collects our good works when we offer our deeds as spiritual sacrifices:
1 Peter 2:5 you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
What acts of kindness have we premeditated and carried out this week? Plan to do intentional sacrificial acts of kindness for others. Do things unasked, unseen, and not expecting of any thanks. As you do that act (like the trash, laundry, sweeping, mowing, what ever) lift you eyes above and say, “I am doing this in YOUR Name Oh Lord because I love YOU and I want to serve like You served!”
God collects all our prayers as an incense offerings:
Revelation 8:3-4 Then another angel, having a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar, which was before the throne. 4 And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, ascended before God from the angel’s hand.
What do we have in the bowl of our collected prayers? If God loves our prayers so much that He collects them all (like notes from my wife & kids) why don’t we send more? Up your times of prayers. Invite God into every praise and problem, every fear and frustration…your life will be revolutionized as you say to the Lord, “I need YOU in every part of my life!”