Saturday, August 15, 2015, 12:22 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Above All.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Revelation 5 (NASB).
I saw in the right hand of Him who sat on the throne a book written inside and on the back, sealed up with seven seals. And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the book and to break its seals?” And no one in heaven or on the earth or under the earth was able to open the book or to look into it. Then I began to weep greatly because no one was found worthy to open the book or to look into it; and one of the elders *said to me, “Stop weeping; behold, the Lion that is from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has overcome so as to open the book and its seven seals.”
Do you ever have a sense of hopelessness? People are dying all around you and are going to hell. You have loved ones who are lost, who have not yet turned their hearts to Jesus. You see many broken lives in need of God’s saving grace and his healing power who have not yet yielded their lives to God. You watch what seems like the vast majority of the church going down the toilet, because they are following humans instead of God, because they have bought into Satan’s lies and deceptions delivered through false teachers, and because they have become one with the world in so many respects to where it is indistinguishable between the church – the people of God – and the world anymore.
Marriages are broken due to adultery, apathy and selfishness. Families are destroyed by worldliness and lack of parental guidance. So many men, including pastors, are addicted to pornography and other sinful behaviors, and so the church and our Christian homes are lacking in true male spiritual leadership, because the men have largely gone spiritually AWOL. Many of those who do seem to be taking their leadership roles seriously are following after false teaching, and thus they are leading their flocks astray. And, so we weep, because there seems to be no end of it all in sight, and it is heart-breaking. And, so we pray for God to move in people’s hearts and to turn them to Jesus.
The good news is that Jesus has overcome and he is worthy to do and to accomplish what others could not do, and what we, in our human flesh, cannot do. He died on a cross, taking upon himself the sins of the entire world. When he died and was buried, our sins were crucified and buried with him. When he was resurrected from the dead, he rose triumphant over sin, hell, Satan and death. Now through faith in Jesus Christ we can be saved from our sins, have eternal life with God, be delivered out of bondage to (the control of) Satan and sin over our lives, and be set free to walk in Christ’s righteousness and holiness.
As well, Jesus Christ has the power and control to save lives, to heal broken hearts, to set the captives free, and to deliver his wayward church out of her state of spiritual adultery and apathy, and to move her heart to desire her Lord above all else. What may seem or feel hopeless to us is not out of the realm of our Lord’s control and power. He is a God of miracles. He is a God who transforms human hearts, and who moves people to obey him. If we do not obey him willingly, he has the power to discipline us in such a way to where we will get on our knees in humility before him, and to where we will acknowledge and honor him as our only Lord. He said that those he loves he disciplines, reproves and scourges. He disciplines us for our good that we may share in his holiness. “All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness” (See: Hebrews 12:3-12; cf. Rev. 3:19).
The Prayers of the Saints
And I saw between the throne (with the four living creatures) and the elders a Lamb standing, as if slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God, sent out into all the earth. And He came and took the book out of the right hand of Him who sat on the throne. When He had taken the book, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each one holding a harp and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they *sang a new song, saying,
“Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation.
“You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth.”
Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne and the living creatures and the elders; and the number of them was myriads of myriads, and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice,
“Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing.”
And every created thing which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all things in them, I heard saying,
“To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever.”
And the four living creatures kept saying, “Amen.” And the elders fell down and worshiped.
God will answer our prayers. What is presently going on in the world is not forever. Although it pains us deeply to see the church in the condition that such a vast majority is presently, and we see so much wickedness in the world, and we know it is certainly going to get much worse, because prophecy of scripture says it will, we must endure patiently. We must trust our Lord that he has all things under his control, and that everything he allows is for a purpose, and he will get the glory through it all. We must bear patiently the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, and not grow weary in trial and in tribulation. We must lean on Jesus’ everlasting arms, rest in his love and grace, and keep praying, believing God to answer.
Yet, we must understand that the way in which our prayers will be answered is going to involve even greater tribulation, for the seals broken mean war, bloodshed, famine, pestilence, wild beasts, death, the conquering of kingdoms and peoples, and even more followers of Jesus Christ persecuted and put to death for their faith in Jesus Christ and for their testimonies for him and for his gospel of salvation (See: Rev. 6). Yet, we will be richly rewarded, for we are “obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls,” (See: 1 Pet. 1:9) but not ours only, for if we are faithful in sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ with others, we will have as our reward the hope of heaven for many others, too.
So, what is our hope in all of this? It is not merely that one day when we leave this earth that we will escape the fires of hell and that we will have an eternal home with God in glory. Jesus Christ is worthy to open the scrolls because he purchased us with his blood, and he made us to be a kingdom and priests to our God, and we will reign with Jesus upon the earth. This means that we are no longer our own, to do with our lives whatever we want while claiming salvation and the promise of heaven when we die. We are his, because we were bought with a price, so we are to honor God with our lives. Jesus did not just save us from the punishment of sin, but he saved us from the control of (slavery to) sin over our lives so that we might walk in his holiness and righteousness. And, that is true hope and joy and freedom! If we are not saved from slavery to sin, what kind of grace is that?
God’s grace, which brings salvation, is not a free license to continue on a course of conducting our lives according to our sinful flesh. His grace teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions and desires, and to live self-controlled, godly and upright lives while we wait for his return. Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. That is true grace! He died that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave himself up for us. He died that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us who walk not according to the flesh, but who conduct our lives according to the Spirit. He died so that we might be a kingdom (with him as King) and priests to serve our God, to do his will, to obey him, and to walk in his holiness.
So, live your lives for Jesus. Walk in his truth and holiness. Surrender your lives to him. Trust him with your circumstances and with other people in your lives. Believe in his many promises, rest in his love, lean on his strength and power to endure, and keep on keeping on. Don’t let discouragement set in, but keep praying, trusting and believing. One day we will get to be with our Lord forever and all this will be behind us. Amen! Even so, come Lord Jesus!
Above All /Artist: Michael W. Smith
Crucified laid behind the stone
You lived to die rejected and alone
Like a Rose trampled on the ground
You took the fall and thought of me