Tag Archives: Worship

Who will you worship?

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As 2013 breaks in amongst us, we, along with the rest of humanity have to once again come to grips with this most vital of questions. What will our hearts and souls long for this year?

Cosmic and earthly history play out a dynamic, bellicose narrative of this worship wager.

Bob Dylan put it more simply in his song, “You gotta serve somebody….It may be the devil, or it may be the Lord, but you gotta serve somebody.”Beast-of-the-Sea_Tapestry-of-the-Apocalypse_France

An end of year reading has once again brought to me the delights of the book of “Revelation” and its wonderful unveiling of the person of Jesus, the Gospel and the Church. There is a lot of crazy stuff written nowadays concerning the so-called “end times”, and quick visit to the “God Channel” will take you into some very weird and scary realms of sensationalist and superficial scholarship. I’m still on my own awestruck pilgrimage through this tome, but I am indebted to Michael Wilcock and his book “The Meaning of Revelation”, for giving me a Christ centred Biblical pathway to follow.

The unfolding of Revelation leads us to the same challenge. Who will you worship? We see a whole horde of satanically inspired beasts and harlots craving worship. Icons, images (screens?), become animated snares to entrap the mind to Godless ideology. All of this “calls for patient endurance and faithfulness…and wisdom” from the Christian church.

temptation_of_christ_10_3The beginning of the book of Matthew 4:1-11, also recounts the way the Holy Spirit led Jesus into the desert to face the twofold satanic challenge on his identity – “If you are the Son of God…”, and a brazen attack on His worship orientation – “If you will bow down and worship me.”

It always amazes – almost shocks me to think that Satan even had grounds to believe that Jesus might actually cave in and worship him. It says something about the “kenosis” of Christ, emptying himself to be tempted in every way.

Much has already been written on this event. We often equate Jesus overcoming the fleshly temptation with the “stones to bread”, the spiritual pride with the “temple miracle”, and the lust for power with the “world kingdoms.” I’ve always been intrigued that the Gospel of John does not mention the temptations – but instead gives parallel positives. Water to wine, temple cleaned out and a simple Samaritan woman worshipping in Spirit and truth!

However, let me bring a new angle on this passage by linking it to the symbolic battles of Revelation. Using Wilcock’s “Apocalypse Now”, amillennial approach, I will attempt to see the three temptations in the light of the two beasts and the harlot.

Wilcock’s sees the first beast as representing the challenge of the power of “the state” – the powers that be, to all the people of God throughout all the ages. The second best (and false prophet) is false religion and all Godless ideology. The harlot may be another way of seeing the second beast and represents the world’s seductive power and rule. “Do not love the world or anything in the world.” 1 John 2:15

Just like the four horsemen of the Apocalypse, they too have been galloping over world history since the beginning. No doubt there will be a climax to all this, culminating in the ultimate return of Jesus, but He has already met and overcome their earthly challenges. This gives us hope, as we rest in Him, empowered by the Holy Spirit, to overcome in our own everyday lives as we face the temptations to give our hearts to other loves.

The Roman state controlled the people by giving them “bread and games.” Not much has really changed. In my country, France, the State sets itself up as some providential entity aiming to meet the needs of all. “L’Etat Providence” is a well-known slogan here. It’s materialistic, humanistic ideal of solving all mankind’s problems with more “bread” squeezes out God from the agenda. Its velvet glove of tolerance conceals an iron fist for all who would hold to the absolutes of God’s Word.prosperity0909

Jesus refused the identity of the first beast, knowing that “man does not live on bread (or games!) alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”

He knew that the “Word” system was more vital that the world system. Do we?

State religion has always gone arm in arm with the powers that be. All sorts of monstrous wars and abuses have been sanctioned by the “temple.” Just throw yourself down, play the “miracle game” right and you will be popular, beautiful and rich. Even the radical “stateless” versions of the temple can still fall prey to the “ideology” of bloodless success. The second beast even called fire down from heaven!

Jesus again refused this cheap, worthless identity, preferring to lay a foundation of naked faith than build on the superficial sand of temple performance.

I’m pretty sure that Jesus’ mountain view of “the kingdoms of the world and their splendour” was not that different to the horrific whore that John saw in Revelation 17 & 18. A grotesque antithesis to the Bride of Christ she is greater than the cities of Rome, Babylon and Tyre, the ultimate ethos of materialism and humanistic society – the world. Who can resist a sip from her polluted golden cup?

Temptation of ChristJesus could indeed – and he knew (as did Satan), that every poisonous sip would lead to the ultimate depravity of turning away from the King of love to worship the lord of the flies.

If you, like so many of us, have been tempted to drink from “broken cisterns” take courage, and be empowered with the victorious words of Jesus who was the first (and last) to see Babylon sink like a stone.

“Away from me, Satan! For it is written: “Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.”

May it indeed be written for every one of your days in 2013…

  

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Sonship, grace and destiny…

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 Mission and service do not begin with a verb! They begin with a relationship.

All too often we quote the word “Go!”, forgetting that,

When they saw him, they worshipped him;”

 The Father in the parable of the two sons in Matthew 21:28 also uses the verb “go.” However he precedes the verb with a relationship.

“Son, go and work today in the vineyard.”

It is no use going and getting on with it if we haven’t had a clear revelation of our preciousness as sons and daughters of a loving Father. This principle was manifested in Jesus’ own life. He went into the waters of baptism and,

“as he was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”

 This “Spirit baptism” brings a revelation of sonship. In the same way, we also need to be renewed in the revelation of God’s Fatherhood in order to fully accomplish the works which he has prepared in advance for us to do. Perhaps the first sign of being truly filled with the Holy Spirit is to do with “hearing” rather than speaking.

Do you hear the Father affirming you as a loved son or daughter?

Without this revelation our service can be full of fear and duty. The famous verses from Romans prove an effective remedy to such slavish toil.

“For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry “Abba, Father.”

 The apostle Paul encourages Timothy not to be ashamed or fearful but to boldly suffer for the gospel,

by the power of God, who has saved us and called us to a holy life- not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace.”

Grace and destiny, two pillars of strength for our Christian walk.

What is my destiny? A verb, a relation or a vocation? Try these two biblical destinies.

“For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son.

 “In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ…to the praise of his glorious grace.”

 We are called to be “grace in action” truly “charismatic”. And we need such active grace if we are to become like Jesus.

Paul’s missionary endeavours hung on his capacity to understand and receive grace. For him, grace was much more than a sort of “mess up, clean up” agent. It was his motivation and strength.

“…and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them-yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.”

 Have you learned the secret of the “yet not I, but the grace?”

Where were you before you were born ?

God says to the prophet Jeremiah:

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,

Before you were born I set you apart;

I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”

 Are you secure in God’s passionate prognosis ? His fantastic foreknowing.

I have forever existed in God’s intention which is now manifest in space and time. Faith in Christ and obedience to the Holy Spirit brings a fruitful collaboration with the divine intention.

Don’t get too focused on the problem of sin. We are not called to be under the yoke of condemnation, begging a few morsels of hope through our contrition but we,

“who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness”, are called to reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ.”

 Remember that,

“where sin increased, grace increased all the more…”

 My prayer is that through these few lines God will renew you in the fundamentals of adoption grace and destiny. Receive a fresh baptism in the Spirit and hear that you are His precious son or daughter.

You are not a failure, He is well pleased with you !

I’ll finish by encouraging you to meditate on Paul’s personal missionary testimony to the Galatians which is soaked in the security of destiny, inspired by grace and caressed with the revelation of sonship.

“But when God, who set me apart from birth and called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles…I went immediately…”