Monday, December 05, 2011


Jesus taught in several parables how important it is for his servants to be ready for the Master's return. The instruction is made explicit in the admonitions to "abide in Him; that when He appears, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him" (1 John 2:28). "looking forward to these things," we are to "be deligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot, and blameless" (2 Peter 3:14).
Also, the Bible teaches that we should find comfort in the prospect of our LORD's return (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18). Indeed, our love for Jesus should be so great that His near return is our fondest hope. Paul expressed this outlook when he wrote, "Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the LORD, the righteous Judge, will give me on that Day: and not to me only, but to all who have loved His appearing" (2 Timothy 4:8).
Jesus taught repeatedly that it is not for us to know when our Master will return (Luke 12:40, 46; 21:34; Matthew 24:44; 25:13). In fact, He said, "But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only" (Matthew24:36). The reality of Christ's imminent return - and the idea that we must be ready for it at every moment - should affect the way we think, talk, and live. It should also affect the way we worship. Would we want to find us occupied in mere "religion" when He returns? Or in worship that is more concerned with meeting our own needs than with glorifying Him? Or in worship in a place where His WORD is denied? Of course not!
Some of the last words in God's Revelation to John emphasize the imminent return of Christ and the need for His servants to faithfully keep His words. As John himself learned in this passage, when we are tempted to allow our worship to become skewed, the principles of the WORD of God correct us and drive to TRUE WORSHP.
As we near the end of the Book of Revelation, John is faithful to record even his own monetary failures to heed God's WORD. First, when the apostle witnesses the joyous marriage supper of the LAMB, he is overcome. John turns to the angel messenger who has conducted him through heaven, "and [he falls] at his feet to worship him."
But he said to Me, "See that you do not do that! I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren who have the testimony of Jesus. WORSHIP GOD! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy." (Revelation 19:10)
Then a second time, when John had at last seen everything granted to him to see - captured by Jesus' glorious promise to come again quickly - the apostle was overwhelmed. " I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel who showed me these things" (Revelation 22:8). John worshipped the messenger instead of the Author of the message.
John's failure warns us of how easy it is to stray in our worship. In fact John erred twice. If this beloved apostle could deviate in his worship , even while being enlightened by an angelic messenger specially sent by God, so can we. What, then, is the remedy for misdirected worship? The angel's response to John and to his wrong worship is instructive.
"Then he said to me, "See that you do not do that. For I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren the prophets, and of those who keep the words of this book. WORSHIP GOD." (Revelation 22:9)
First, the angel corrected John, clearly stating that his activity was wrong. It was outside the boundaries of God's word. Although the apostle was sincere, the messenger from God pointed out that John was in error. It is to John's credit that he did not become offended, as do so many in our own day when unbiblical practices are exposed.
Second, the messenger offered John an important reminder. Although angels are superior to mankind in many ways, both the angel and the apostle were created beings and fellow servants of God. All of us are created to serve God for His glory. To Him alone belong all worship and honor. Even in our churches, often, we pay more attention to the messenger than to the message. Like John, we end up worshiping a fellow created being and servant, rather than the One to whom all our worship is due.
Finally, the angel declares to John the most important lesson of all. When the apostle tried to worship the angel the first time, the angel stated to John that "the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy." This statement means, quite simply, that the Person and message of Jesus is the ESSENCE OF ALL TRUE PROPHECY. TRUE WORSHIP focuses on the One who is TRUTH! The second time John erred, the angel reminded him that God's servants are people who "keep the sayings of this book." It is the words of the Book that keep our focus on its Author and drive us to bow before Him in TRUE WORSHIP, worship that honours Him alone! This same Book - the WORD OF GOD that is "forever ... settled in heaven" (Psalm 119:89), declares that the return of Christ is imminent. He is coming again! Since this is so, "what manner of persons ought you to be" (2 Peter 3:11).
When we think of the awesome power of God who at this very moment is working out His great redemptive plan, our response can be only this: We must recognize His majesty. We must be humbled by His grace and mercy, We must be emptied of self and we must fell on our faces before our God in TRUE WORSHIP!

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