Friday, May 14, 2010

A Look at This Sunday's Lesson: Revelation 22:12-21

[To help the people of Saint Matthew Lutheran Church in Logan, Ohio, where I serve as pastor, and of any other congregation that uses the Revised Common Lectionary for their weekend worship, here are a few thoughts on the lesson on which I'll be doing my sermon on Sunday: Revelation 22:12-21.]

12“See, I am coming soon; my reward is with me, to repay according to everyone’s work.
(a) The speaker is the risen and ascended Jesus, the One Who John the Evangelist says has given him the revelation of the new Jerusalem that he has been given.

(b) Jesus says that He is "coming soon." First-century Christians were confounded by the fact that the risen and ascended Jesus had not returned yet. But Jesus had said even before His crucifixion that all the conditions for His return had already been fulfilled. He further said that His people shouldn't speculate about when the end would come, that the decision about that was in the hands of the Father. It was to assuage anxieties over Jesus' perceived "delay," that the apostle Peter wrote:
The Lord is not slow about his promise, as some think of slowness, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish, but all to come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9)
(c) "to repay according to everyone’s work": Be careful not to misread these words! Jesus isn't saying that if you work hard at being good, you'll get eternity with God. To those who asked what they needed to be doing to do the work of God, Jesus once said, "This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent" (John 6:29). Of course, if we believe in Jesus Christ--that is trust Him with our lives, that trust will be seen in what we do. That's the point of Jesus' foretelling of the end time in Matthew 25:31-46; there, believers will be unaware of their good works. They simply trusted in Christ and He worked in them. Also see Ephesians 2:8-10.

13I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.”
(a) Here, Jesus claims for Himself the same designation given to "the Lord God" in Revelation 1:8, "the Alpha and the Omega." These, of course, are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. Their use in Revelation 1 pointed to God as the One Who began creation and the One Who would bring it to a close. Only God has that power.

Throughout Revelation, we've seen that the Lord God and the Lamb reign from the same throne. In the Gospel of John, Jesus says, "The Father and I are one" (John 10:30).

Here, as we near the end of Revelation, the Lamb Himself is making clear His claim to be not only a man, born among humans, but also God. He has the power to create and end the lives of worlds.

14Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they will have the right to the tree of life and may enter the city by the gates.
(a) We've seen the imagery of washed robes already before in Revelation. In Revelation 7:14, John saw a great crowd. One of the elders told John, "These are they who have come out of the great ordeal; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb." Christians are sinners whose sin has been washed away by the blood of the Lamb of God, Jesus. This cleansing is available to all who believe in Jesus. (Check Hebrews 9:23-28.)

(b) The first human beings, Adam and Eve, along with all their descendants, have been denied access to the fruit from the tree of life since Adam and Eve fell into sin. Prior to that point, humanity could have gotten to that fruit, fulfilling God's desire to give us life. The only "forbidden fruit" came from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Once sin became part of us, God refused to take the risk of our living forever separated from Him.

But in eternity, after "the Alpha and Omega" has shut down the life of the old heaven and the old earth, the tree of life can do those washed in the blood of the Lamb no harm. Cleansed of the stain of sin, they can live for eternity as God intended humanity to live: eternally, in the presence of God. (See Genesis 3:1-24.)

(c) Remember that earlier, John described the vision he saw while "in the spirit" of "the new Jerusalem." It had twelve gates, he said, always open.

Of course, in the first century world, people lived in cities because, at night, their walls and locked gates provided protection not to be found in the countryside, where thieves and muggers loomed. But, as John has previously described the new Jerusalem, the city will be filled with endless light, coming from the Lord God and from the Lamb. The gates will be open because there won't be anything to fear, yet it's also clear that only those washed in the blood of the Lamb will be able to gain entrance.

15Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and fornicators and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood. 
(a) "the dogs": There is some debate among scholars over the precise meaning of this term. Among first-century Judeans like Jesus, for example, dogs weren't domesticated and never used as house pets. They roamed streets and countryside, scavenging food and menacing people. So, people of that tradition wouldn't have used the term, "dog," in any but disparaging ways.

Commonly, in Jesus' day, Gentiles were referred to as "dogs" by Jews. Jesus had this meaning in mind, when he used the epithet in his conversation with the Canaanite woman who asked Jesus to cast a demon from her daughter. Jesus had told her, "It is not fair to take the children's food [the children being Jesus' fellow Jews] and throw it to the dogs." Jesus was astounded by the woman's faith and granted her request when she answered, "Yes, Lord, even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters' table." (Matthew 15:21-28).

Some scholars believe that the term "dogs" as used by John in our Revelation text is meant to be a blanket categorization for all the other notorious sinners presented in the balance of the verse. But if anything, the final term, "everyone who loves and practices falsehood" would seem to more likely cover all the categories of sinners preceding it. Jesus says that all who spurn Him spurn the truth and trust the father of lies.

(b) Sorcery is relying on "powers" other than God to live one's life, control one's destiny, or to make decisions. (See What's Wrong with Reading the Horoscope?)

(c) Fornication is sexual intimacy outside of marriage. Marriage, of course, is a lifetime covenant between a husband and wife, with God. It was instituted by God apart from the "piece of paper" issues by local governments. 

(d) Idolatry is the worship of false gods. Our "god" is what we derive ultimate meaning and purpose from in our lives.

(e) Of course, all these sins can be forgiven by God. When we repent in Jesus' Name and trust in Him, we are washed in the blood of the Lamb and made fit for citizenship in the new Jerusalem.

16“It is I, Jesus, who sent my angel to you with this testimony for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.”
(a) An angel is a messenger. The term, angelos, in the original Greek of the New Testament, means just that, messenger.

(b) "the root and the descendant of David": Jesus claims here to be the one who established the family line of David and, as a man, a descendant of David. David died in 970BC, nearly one-thousand years before the birth of Jesus. The Davidic line was chosen by God to be the kings of Israel. (See Isaiah 11:1; Jesse was David's father.)

(c)"the bright morning star": See Numbers 24:17. The "morning star" brings a new day.

17The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” And let everyone who hears say, “Come.” And let everyone who is thirsty come. Let anyone who wishes take the water of life as a gift. 
(a) "The Spirit" is the Holy Spirit.

(b) "The bride" is the Church. See here.

(c) There are three invitations to "come" in this verse. The first two are addressed to Jesus. The last is addressed to all who haven't been washed in the blood of the Lamb.

(d) The invitation echoes the invitation to receive the body and blood of Jesus in Holy Communion.

(e) "And let everyone who is thirsty come. Let anyone who wishes take the water of life as a gift": This echoes the prophecy found in Isaiah 55:1-5, written centuries before the birth of Jesus. Jesus is the living water who gives life to all who turn to Him.

Notice too, that salvation or an eternal relationship with God is not forced on anyone. It's available to "anyone who wishes [to] take the water of life." See here.

18I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to that person the plagues described in this book; 19if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away that person’s share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book. 
(a) This is a solemn and bracing warning to any who want to pick and choose among the truths that God has revealed to the world. Just as Jesus couldn't go halfway to the cross in order to win our salvation, we dare not go halfway in faith. We either trust in Jesus as Savior and God or we don't.

20The one who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!
(a) Here, we have a call and response. Jesus affirms that he is coming to the world soon. The response is agreement (amen means truly or it is so) and invitation, "Come, Lord Jesus!"

21The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all the saints. Amen. 
(a) "the saints": All who repent for sin and trust in Jesus are counted among the saints. Saints are forgiven sinners who, in this life, wrestle with temptation and sin.

Faith Tidbit #51

Anyone who has been to a Christian wedding has likely heard a reading from what's known as the Bible's "love chapter." Actually, the words usually read at weddings encompass the final verse of one chapter and all thirteen verses of the next one, 1 Corinthians 12:31-13:13. This passage, which should be seen as a unit, is probably most famous for its final line: "And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love"

There's nothing wrong with the love chapter being read at weddings. Its portrait of love as self-giving, forgiving, and forbearing is a good reminder for people in all their relationships.

But the original situation to which the apostle Paul sent these words in about 55AD, had nothing to do with wedding days. The first-century church in the Greek city of Corinth was, to put it mildly, deeply dysfunctional. I'll skip the bill of particulars for now. But one favorite dysfunctionality among them was the prideful elevation of some spiritual gifts over others. The "in crowd" among the Corinthian Christians insisted, for example, that the gift of tongues, that special prayer and praise language which God's Holy Spirit still gives to some people today, was the ultimate sign of God's approval and presence. Absent that, these "tongue snobs" said, Corinthians church members were only playacting at being Christians.

That's where the love chapter comes in. Paul himself possessed the gift of tongues.* But it is just one spiritual gift, he told the Corinthians. It's better, Paul said, to "strive for the higher gifts." The greatest gift of all, as Paul tells it, is love, not the mushy, indulgent, spineless stuff that passes for love in today's world, but love that comes straight from the Holy Spirit to all who believe in Jesus. It's love like that of Jesus, a love that we can't muster on our own, but which God will supply to those who truly trust in Jesus: love so great that is willing to die for the other.

And "the other" for whom such love is willing to die isn't just a family member or a friend. It may even be a stranger. It could be those who hate us.

This is the kind of love we need to make our relationships and lives work. Yet if we try to manufacture that sort of love on our own, we will always come up short. That's why Paul names it not only as one of the greater gifts (1 Corinthians 12:31), but also as the greatest of gifts (1 Corinthians 13:13).

Gifts cannot be earned. They come from God to those who open themselves to trust--or faith--in Jesus. "And the greatest of these is love."

*Later, in 1 Corinthians 14:18-19, Paul says, "I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you; nevertheless, in church I would rather speak five words with my mind, in order to instruct others also, than ten thousand words in a tongue"

For anyone who has endured "the silence of God"

Today's devotional piece from Our Daily Bread, written by David C. McCasland, is deeply insightful and helpful. If you've ever gone through seasons of silence from God, this devotion will ring incredibly true!

Make sure that you read the Scripture passage on which it's based first.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Selective Trust is No Trust At All

Eric Swensson posted this on Facebook this morning:
"If you believe what you like in the gospels, and reject what you don't like, it is not the gospel you believe, but yourself. (Saint Augustine) 
This absolutely cuts to the heart of what is most wrong with the Church--liberal and conservative--today.

First Questions

"The first question which the priest and the Levite asked was: 'If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?'But...the good Samaritan reversed the question: 'If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?'"(Martin Luther King, Jr.) (Thanks to the Facebook account of a great organization, Interparish Ministries in Cincinnati for citing this insightful comment by King.)

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Feel-Good Video from Ohio State

Ohio State University president Gordon Gee and OSU Alumni Association president Archie Griffin are shown surprising a number of faculty members for outstanding scholarship, researching, and teaching. It's fun!

Will There Be Some Left Outside the 'New Jerusalem'?

This coming Sunday, as I wind up my sermon series on Revelation, the text will be Revelation 22:12-21.

Actually, the second lesson appointed by the lectionary used by we Lutherans for our weekly worship is Revelation 22:12-14, 16-17, 20-21. (For an explanation of what in blazes a lectionary is, go here. For more background, you might want to look here.)

This Sunday's appointed reading chops up what, to me anyway, is John's careful, cohesive closing of his letter to the seven first-century churches of "Asia," the first-century world's name for an area we know as western Turkey. In the final ten verses of Revelation, John refers to a series of images and themes that have appeared throughout his letter. He's wrapping things up and the lectionary muddles John's ending.

Why the creators of the Revised Common Lectionary (RCL) decided to dump certain verses of this unit can only be guessed.

But it is clear that the verses deleted are a bit disturbing and might well offend modern ears. That's OK, though. Often, the Good News of the Bible can only be heard once we get disturbed by the Bible. The Bible's primary message--that of new, eternal life for all those who repent of sin and trust in Jesus Christ as Savior and God-in-human-flesh--has always been offensive, even to those who come to believe in Jesus.

Besides, one of the deletions made by the lectionary in this Sunday's passage from Revelation can create incorrect impressions about this last book of the Bible, even of the entire Bible.

Verse 15 says:
Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and fornicators and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.  
In continuing to describe the new Jerusalem mentioned in last Sunday's lesson, John says that outside this city with its multiple gates that are never locked shut, will be those who don't gain entrance.

For some post-moderns, with their assertions that "all roads lead to the same place," whether the place they refer to is satori, nothingness, some universal mind, or to some version of deity fashioned by human imagination, the idea that anyone would be outside of the eternal city John describes is deeply offensive.

There are also some Christians who subscribe to universalism, the notion that what people believe about the God revealed in Jesus Christ, whether they repent of sin or not, whether they even believe in God or an afterlife or not, doesn't matter. They hold that everyone's going to be saved from sin and death. One of my seminary professors, the late Walter Bouman insisted even as he was dying of colon cancer, that he fully expected to see perpetrators of the Holocaust like Adolf Hitler in eternity.

One of the scandalous messages of Christianity is that if someone like Hitler did genuinely repent and truly trust in Christ as God and Savior, he would be saved because of the grace made available to all through Jesus. But the assertion made by Bouman, an undeniably brilliant man, that Hitler would be in the eternal city simply because God loves all people, doesn't square with the witness of Revelation or the rest of Scripture.

Consider a few passages:
[After being ordered by religious authorities to stop sharing the message of new life through Jesus Christ, the apostles Peter and John said:] "There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among mortals by which we must be saved.”(Acts 4:12)

[Jesus said:] "The one who believes and is baptized will be saved; but the one who does not believe will be condemned" (Mark 16:16)

[Jesus also said:] "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6)

[And Jesus said:] “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Those who believe in him are not condemned; but those who do not believe are condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God." (John 3:16-18)
Salvation--life in the eternal city with God--comes to those who entrust themselves, including their past sins and their eternal futures, into the hands of Jesus Christ.

Lutherans have boiled the witness of Scripture about how God saves humanity from sin and death down to three principles: "Grace alone. Faith alone. Word alone."

As Jesus Himself indicates in the last passage cited above, there will be those who are outside the new Jerusalem, not because there are limits to God's love, but because there are no limits to God's willingness to respect the decisions made by the only of His creatures made in the image of God.

The mission of Christ's Church and of individual Christians is to be God's loving witness to in the world, to spare no effort in inviting others to repent and believe in the Good News of Jesus so that they too can be part of the everlasting city.

[More on the deleted passages later, I hope.]

Great thoughts for Christian laypeople...

...and for pastors, who tend, let's face it, to be control freaks.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Is the Tooth Fairy Dead?

Thomas Friedman says so. (Thanks to Jill Miller Zimon for linking to this over on Facebook.)

For an eye-opening discussion of the US national debt and what it may take to dig out from under it, I recommend David M. Walker's book, Comeback America.

I watched the BBC coverage of the British elections, first online and then on CSPAN, this past Thursday evening. Commentators indicated that whoever finally heads a coalition government in the UK may, if they do their work well, consign their parties to opposition status for some time to come. That's because all the parties acknowledge that grim, unpopular measures are needed to salvage a British economy that is falling ever more deeply into paralyzing debt. The new government will have to officially announce, in Friedman's terms, that the Tooth Fairy is dead.

A similar, if less immediately dire, prospect faces the US president who dares to say that our national debt is unsustainable. If the federal government is to continue doing what the American people say they want the government to do, changes must come. That means cutting expenditures and it means increasing taxes.

At least that's Walker's message in his readable, credible book. (And as an appointee of both Republican and Democratic presidents who has dealt with the federal budget for years, he has earned a hearing.)

Presidents and members of Congress don't like cutting back on programs or increasing taxes because the people who vote for them don't like them, even as the latter scream for fiscal responsibility.

The President who pronounces the US Tooth Fairy's death (or hastens her demise), may turn out to be a hero of history--returning the government to solvency, restoring the health of the US economy, providing Social Security, Medicare, and other benefits to people who really need them, and getting the country out from under indebtedness to the Chinese government, among other things--but also incur the wrath of contemporary voters.

The people who will be served best by the eradication of our national debt are our grandchildren. They may one day be grateful to the courageous president and Congress who put the policies in place that lead to solvency. But the problem for any pols courageous enough to slay the debt dragon is that our grandchildren can't vote.

The bottom line is that the Tooth Fairy really is dead, we're living in denial, and it's long past the time for us to finally wake up.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

How God Comes to Us

[This was shared during worship with the people of Saint Matthew Lutheran Church in Logan, Ohio, earlier today.]

Revelation 21:10, 22-22:5
I read once about a reporter who spent time with a young man whose life didn’t make sense to the reporter. You see, the life of this young man was a sad inner city cliché: His father had left when he was a baby. He and his mother lived in ramshackle government housing surrounded by kids his own age who were involved with drink and drugs and crime. Most of his classmates regarded doing well in school as a waste of time. Yet this young man was an honor student. He kept out of trouble in the evenings, even though his mother's two full time jobs kept her away from him most of the day and he, like many of his peers, had way too much time on his hands. The reporter wondered why. What was with this kid?

So, the reporter trailed this young man for a week. He had been with him for several days and still didn’t have a clue about what helped this kid to swim against the tide, to dare to be so different, to risk being weird in spite of all that pushed him to conform to the world around him. But the reporter got an answer to his questions one Wednesday night when he followed the young man to his church. There, in the balcony of the church sanctuary, the reporter watched this teen, often tempted to depart from the straight and narrow, as he was shared in the enthusiasm of several hundred others as they all sang praises to God. The reporter watched as this young man threw himself heart and soul into worshiping God. He perceived a change come over the young man. A weight seemed to be lifted from his shoulders. He had arrived at church crushed by his burdens, tempted to give in to the easy sins of his environment. But as he praised the God made known to us in Jesus Christ, he abandoned his fears and took the hand of God to walk with Jesus. He committed himself again to giving his all to the God Who, in Christ, gave His all for us.

You know what? It isn’t just teens trying to rise above the low expectations, the grave temptations, and the grim prospects of the ghetto who need to know a few things about God. We all need to know that God doesn’t want to be separated from us, that God wants to be with us forever, and that, if we truly want Him, God will come to us always.

Maybe the apostle John, exiled on the island of Patmos, back sometime between 81 and 96AD, needed to be assured of these exact same things as he lived and slaved each day in shackles as a prisoner of the Roman Empire, convicted of the crime of being a follower of Jesus Christ. And maybe for John, as was true for that inner city teen, it was easier to believe that God was with him when he worshiped. Scholars tell us that whenever the phrase “in the spirit” is used in this book of Revelation, it signals a time when John was worshiping God. Our lesson from Revelation for this morning starts out with John telling us: “And in the spirit [I was] carried...away to a great, high mountain and [I saw] the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God.” As John turned his eyes and his life upon Jesus, God was able to come to him with a consoling vision. And it was an incredible vision! Consider what John saw:

First: He saw what he calls “the new Jerusalem” come down from heaven. God came to him. To me, this vision is about the past, the present, and the future. Two-thousand years ago, Jesus came to our world where He died and rose for us. But He didn’t leave us orphaned. Today, we have the presence of His Holy Spirit and the encouragement of our church with us. And in the future, He will come to us bodily, too. We’ll see Him as surely as the first disciples saw Him risen from the dead on the first Easter Sunday.

Second: John describes this new Jerusalem. The old Jerusalem, you know, is a city that still exists in modern Israel. Long ago, it was the site of the Temple where pious Jews would come to worship. It was a place they had to go to if they were going to really worship, they thought, because that was where the presence of God resided in a section of the Temple known as “the holy of holies.” But John says that one day, at the end of the histories of the old heaven, the old earth, and the old Jerusalem, when the new Jerusalem comes to us, there will be no temple. John explains that, “its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb.” This is what Jesus had been talking about when once, knowing that a conspiracy was being hatched to kill Him, He told the conspirators, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” Jesus, God in the flesh, is the temple. In the new Jerusalem that God is bringing at the end of history, believers in Jesus will have direct access to God.

But even today, though we can’t see God, Jesus tells us that if we will pray in His Name, God will hear us! Many of you here today have seen the power of prayer in Jesus’ Name too many times to have any doubts about its reality!

Next: John tells us that the new Jerusalem will be a place in which the blazing light of God will illumine us. Unlike the cities of those times, the gates will never be shut. There will be reason for gates to be closed, locks to be secured, or alarm systems set. There will be no night, no fear. And, John says, the tree of life, access to which had been denied to Adam and Eve for fear that they or any of us who descend from them, would eat its fruit and be consigned to an eternity of separation from God, will fill all who have repented of sin and trusted in Jesus with the goodness and power and life of God forever.

John presents us with staggering images of the eternal future promised to believers in Jesus. When life lays us low or when death stares us in the face, these images may be difficult to see. But even in the most dire circumstances, many followers of Christ have been sustained and encouraged by the promise of the new Jerusalem we have in Christ.

George Friedrich Handel was already writing cantatas when he was nine years old. Not long after that, he presented his music to the king of Prussia. But then, things took a turn for the worse. His father died. His music, to use more modern nomenclature, was no longer at the top of the charts. Bankrupt and hopeless, Handel locked himself away for twenty-four hours and in the end, emerged with his oratorio, The Messiah, based partly on John’s visions as recorded in the book of Revelation.

Something like 15% of all adult Americans living today have sung the The Messiah at some point in their lives. That's more people than know the words and movements to The Macarena! Obviously countless millions have also heard it. Three-and-a-half years ago at Christmastime, my family and I attended something called The Candlelight Processional, a fantastic straight-forward musical and narrative presentation of the story of Jesus' birth, at Disney World. Actor Mario Lopez narrated. A mass choir, partly composed of high school and college groups from throughout Florida, flanked him. Near the end of the performance, he asked all in the audience who had ever sung the Messiah before to stand and join in singing it. Hundreds rose. Philip, Sarah, Ann, and I also stood, Ann sandwiched between our two adult "kids." As Ann heard Phil and Sarah sing Handel's words at the tops of their lungs, tears streamed down her face. Think of that: A work of art composed at what was a low point in Handel’s life has lifted millions of people into an experience of God and of what it means to be blessed by God’s love, seen even in our own families. When asked how he was able to compose The Messiah, Handel said, “I did see the heavens opened and the great God himself seated on his throne.” Handel worshiped God and God came to him.

One of my favorite Christian heroes of more recent vintage is a man named Frank Laubach. Laubach was a missionary concerned with the grinding poverty in which most of the people of the world still live. He wanted to do something about it, but had no idea what it might be. So, this man of prayer turned his eyes on Jesus, asking for guidance. It was while praying that God gave Laubach a vision. Teach adults to read, God seemed tell him, and they could learn...about agricultural methods, about the importance of clean drinking water and hygiene, about the God Who loved them and could help them pursue love and justice in their everyday lives. Laubach began what became a worldwide literacy movement still active today. There was a Laubach literacy agency in our former community. Frank Laubach worshiped God and God came to him.

One of the lessons I have learned as a Christian is that when we take the time to worship God, praise God, thank God, and seek the will of God, it displaces things on which our minds and lives would otherwise be focused. You don’t have the time or energy, for example, to feel sorry for yourself when you’re intent on worshiping God. There’ll be room for people you would otherwise ignore when you worship God. Resentment will be replaced by gratitude to God and compassion for others when you worship God. In short, when we focus more of our lives on God and less on ourselves, we become a lot less distasteful to ourselves and more useful to God and to the people around us. When we worship God, we learn that God is still God, still there, still for us! Do you need assurance that God won’t turn you away, now or in eternity? Do you have a problem you’re trying to figure out? Is there some need in your family, our community, or our church you’d like to address, but you’re uncertain how?

Worship, give yourself over to the praise of God. Give God the opportunity to descend to you the way He did in the new Jerusalem to John. You’ll be strengthened in the knowledge that God really is with you. You’ll know that all believers in Christ belong to God forever. And even when things seem dark, God will lighten your way. Jesus says that if we will come to Him, He will always come to us. 

Besides, one day in the new Jerusalem, we will be constantly worshiping and enjoying God's fellowship. So, we may as well start practicing worshiping and enjoying God right now! It’s a great way to live!