Sunday, November 30, 2014, 5:58 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song, “Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus.” 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.”
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.
Why Was I Crying?
This morning, as I sat down here at my desk in front of my computer, with this passage of scripture before me, and a new Word Document opened up, ready for me to write (type) whatever the Lord Jesus would lay upon my heart for me to write from this passage today, I began to weep, literally. I was suddenly overcome with enormous sorrow in my heart, and tears began streaming down my cheeks. Why was I crying? I miss church!
Now, when I say I miss church, what I mean is that I miss real church, you know like the Body of Christ, believers in Jesus Christ, meeting together with one another to study the Word of God together, and to share burdens, heartaches, joys and praises from the depths of our souls, and then to pray for one another, fellowship in the Spirit together, and then to minister in the Spirit to one another using the gifts given us by the Spirit to encourage and to strengthen one another in the faith – with each part doing its work.
I miss preaching that is straight from the Word of God, in context, and of the Holy Spirit’s leading – the kind of preaching that convicts of sin and pierces through our hearts, that lifts us up when we are down and strengthens us when our faith is weak – that draws us close to the Lord in the knowledge of who he truly is and in what he is honestly all about. I miss hearing testimonies of other believers as they share what God is teaching them through his word each day and how he is growing them in their faith. I miss how Mrs. Dittmar used to just break out in singing a hymn during our time of personal reflection during communion, and how the rest of the congregation would join her in singing praises to Almighty God.
I miss the friendships I used to have with other women who would call me and share a scripture with me the Lord Jesus had laid upon their hearts to share with me in order to encourage or counsel me, because they knew what I was going through, and they cared, and they were listening to the Spirit’s voice, and they were walking in obedience to him. I miss those long conversations which we used to have with each other over the phone, or sitting across from each other at a breakfast table, where we talked about Jesus and our walks of faith and what we were learning, and how God was encouraging us. I miss how we would then be sensitive to the Spirit’s voice with each other and would pray in the Spirit one for the other. My friend Mary even, one day, made me a prescription bottle with capsules with scripture verses in them, and she prescribed I take one a day. I saved it now 35 yrs.
Why Don’t I Have Church?
So, why don’t I have church today? Church is not what it used to be. It has evolved. We, as the people of God, have evolved. So many Bible studies are not Bible studies at all. They are studies in books written by humans in which the Bible may be mentioned or quoted, but in the context of the philosophy of the person who wrote the book, and so we end up studying human thinking instead of God’s thinking. And, if we would try, in many cases, to introduce a teaching from scripture in contrast to the human’s teaching, it may well be thrown out, even though it may be biblically sound, because it doesn’t fit with the message written by the person who wrote the book – a message that group is all following blindly. So many of these books, too, are way far away from the gospel as taught by the apostles, too.
In so many churches today so much of everything is so orchestrated and controlled by humans that there is not much room at all, if any, for the Spirit to even work. There is not much space, at all, given for the body to use their spiritual gifts and to work in the roles God has assigned to them, unless their body parts and gifts fit neatly into the prepackaged way of doing church as is being passed down from globally recognized pastors and Christian leaders who have developed materials for pastors across denominations to follow for how they should grow their churches.
Many of these church growth methods teach the pastors to avoid people strong in their faith or in Bible knowledge and to filter them out because they are not a “good fit” for what they are trying to do, and even to encourage all the “misfits” to go someplace else. In fact, many of these pastors say they will help you find another place to go, just so you leave their place. Whatever happened to not saying to any part of the body, “We have no need of you”?
In so many churches today their “worship services” are major stage productions and everything is completely orchestrated by humans in order to appeal to the emotions and desires of human flesh, diluting the gospel, and making everything fun and entertaining, light and fluffy, in order to make the world comfortable in the church so the world will want to come back. The church has adopted the ways of the world, and has led their people to immerse themselves in worldly cultures so that they can “win the world,” but to what?
So, what is wrong with this picture? Most everything! If the world is comfortable in our churches, then we are not the Body of Christ. The Body of Christ may attend these “churches,” but so much of what is called “church” today is just businesses of humans, and corporations under the government, and run just like any other business, replacing the leading of the Spirit with marketing schemes, manipulations of emotions, trickery, and with a conforming of “the product” to the desires and wishes of the “customers” so they will want to come back, and so they will keep “buying.” Oh, how I miss church!
After I expressed to my husband, who was sitting across the room from me at his desk, how I was overcome this morning with how much I miss church, and how tears were streaming down my cheeks, I read this passage again, and read how John was weeping because it appeared there was no one worthy to open the book or to look into it. One of the elders, though, told him to stop weeping, because the Lion of Judah (Jesus Christ) has overcome so as to open the book and its seven seals. Amen!
I asked the Lord Jesus to give me understanding into all this, and to help me to see how what I was weeping over related to this passage of scripture, as I believe he put that into my heart this morning. What was written on the parchments represented God’s purposes, his sovereign will, and his protective care over the church and over the people of the world. What was written on the sealed parchments also represented future events yet to take place which would fulfill God’s purposes and will for the church and for the world. In other words, God has everything under his control, and he has a plan in place, I believe, to bring his church back to him as their only God and Lord, and to revive his church so that they will be his holy people once more, enjoying his sweet fellowship with him and with one another.
When Jesus Christ, the Lamb who was slain for our sins, took the book, then the creatures and the elders fell down before the Lamb, each one holding the prayers of the saints. This morning, but not unlike most days for me, I was praying for unsaved family members to come to Christ, and for the revival of God’s church. God listens to my prayers, and I believe he is responding this morning to my prayers by the message he is giving me here. He is encouraging me that he is in control and that he is completely sovereign over all things, that he has a plan and a purpose for everything that is presently going on with the church, and that his plan is for his church to be a kingdom and priests to their God and to reign with him upon the earth. Amen! In other words, things will not remain as they are forever. Praise Jesus! There is hope! One day his wayward people will return to him and the church will be like he intended her to be all along. Oh, how wonderful that day will be!
‘Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus / Louisa M.R. Stead / William J. Kirkpatrick
’Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus, just to take Him at His Word;
Just to rest upon His promise, just to know, “Thus saith the Lord!”
O how sweet to trust in Jesus, just to trust His cleansing blood;
And in simple faith to plunge me ’neath the healing, cleansing flood!
Yes, ’tis sweet to trust in Jesus, just from sin and self to cease;
Just from Jesus simply taking life, and rest, and joy, and peace.
I’m so glad I learned to trust Thee, precious Jesus, Savior, Friend;
And I know that Thou art with me, will be with me to the end.
Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Thee! How I’ve proved Thee o’er and o’er
Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus! O for grace to trust Thee more!