Monday, August 3, 2015

Teach us to pray, part 30:Thy Kingdom Come/heaven-style worship

And He said to them, "When you pray, say: 'Father, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. 'Give us each day our daily bread. 'And forgive us our sins, For we ourselves also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.'" (Luke 11:2-4 NASB)

We began a study of the Kingdom of God yesterday to help us understand Jesus' prayer, "Your kingdom come." Today, we consider the Kingdom of God as it currently is in heaven. Perhaps the first thing we need to understand is that it is the dwelling place of God and He has established His great white throne there. (Rev. 20:11) An emerald rainbow surrounds the throne and lightning and flashes of thunder emanate from it. (Rev. 4:1-4) God is in charge, and what he says goes. (Isaiah 6:1-5)

There is a golden altar before the throne of God (Rev. 8:13). Golden bowls of incense, which are the prayers of the saints, sit before God on the altar as a sweet smelling sacrifice. (Rev. 5:8) Our prayers are so precious to God that they are ever before Him as a pleasing aroma.

We will not be wearing crowns to indicate our status or our service. Any service we have done that earns a crown will have been done for God, not for self. If we earn any crowns on this earth, they will be deposited at the feet of God, because it was all done for Him in the first place. (Rev. 4:10)

The only ones who will be in heaven are those who have their name in the book of life. (Rev 3:5). It will not matter how many good deeds we did, how much money or time we gave to worthy causes, or how many church services we attended. Our name goes in that book of life based on our relationship to our Lord. If our name is not there, we will not be getting in the gate, so we do well to consider our relationship to Christ. (Rev. 3:5) 

There is no sorrow, death, crying, or pain in heaven. (Rev. 21:1-5) There is also no sin in heaven. Instead, righteousness dwells there. (2 Peter 3:13)

Jesus sits at the right hand of the Father and ever makes intercession for us. He prays for us continually. (Heb. 7:25) He is the only one in heaven who does intercede with God for us. (1 Tim. 2:5) 

There are many rooms in heaven and Jesus has gone to prepare a place for us. He will come back and take us to our eternal heavenly home. (John 14:2-4) There will be no segregation there. It is not divided according to skin color or nation of origin, nor by socioeconomic status or the number of good deeds we performed here on earth.

We will not be married in heaven. (Matt. 22:29-33) Instead, we will "be like the angels". There is a mistaken idea that we become angels, but Scripture does not say that at all. There are "innumerable angels" there, serving as messengers of God. (Heb. 12:22) We will not become an angel. Instead, we are "like" angels in that they are not married. Angels exist to do the bidding of God and offer praise continuously. If we are like angels, that's what we will be doing, too. (Isaiah 6:1-7). Our song will be "Holy, Holy, Holy". If you don't like praising God here on earth, that should give you pause, because we will be praising God in heaven, and doing so continuously. It will be one non-stop praise and worship service. 

There is a great multitude of people who have died and gone to heaven and they are at the heavenly worship service. They are all clothed in white and, according to John, they are carrying palm branches and are before the throne of God, praising Him and bowing down to Him. 

Those in heaven can see us, and are cheering us on in our efforts to live the life of a disciple. (Heb. 12:1) but they do not return to us as angelic beings. They watch from heaven.

It is worth considering what a worship service in heaven looks like in comparison with one here on earth. In heaven, no one is constrained by the watchful eye of the other people in the pews. No one holds back because of timidity or fear. In heaven, everyone has on the same white robe and everyone has the same palm branches. We will all raise our arms and lift our hands toward God as we wave the palm branches before the throne of God. It is a very exciting time of worship, with all the people, palm branches, singing, and thunder and lightning happening, and we will bow before Him. We will probably be on our knees, face down before Him and we will be singing enthusiastically. We will not be frowning or grumbling about the music. No one will refuse to sing because they don't like the song. We will choose to sing because we love our Lord and because the music pleases Him. 

If the worship in heaven is so enthusiastic, and it is, should not my worship on earth be just as enthusiastic? In eternity, I'm going to be bowing before God, singing to Him, and waving my palm branch. Everything, everything will be about Him. If that is true, and it is, then I need to be preparing for that day now by the way I worship here. 

As I read these words, I wonder how many times my corporate worship has looked like heavenly worship. The vast majority of times, it is so constrained as to be unrecognizable as heavenly worship at all. Why not join with me in heavenly-styled worship, enthusiastic and unrestrained, full of joy and love for the One who gave Himself for us? As we approach our celebration of the Resurrection of our Lord, let's worship Him the way He longs to be worshipped, heaven-style, with unrestrained love for the One who first loved us.