The Heavens Shall Praise The Wonders Of The LORD

“I will sing of the mercies of the LORD for ever: with my mouth will I make known Thy faithfulness to all generations. For I have said, ‘Mercy shall be built up for ever: Thy faithfulness shalt thou establish in the very heavens.’
‘I have made a covenant with My chosen, I have sworn unto David My servant, Thy seed will I establish for ever, and build up thy throne to all generations.’ Selah.
And the heavens shall praise Thy wonders, O LORD: Thy faithfulness also in the congregation of the saints. For who in the heaven can be compared unto the LORD? Who among the sons of the mighty can be likened unto the LORD?
God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints, and to be had in reverence of all them that are about Him.”  Psalm 89:1-7  (KJB)

Idols of the Heart

“Then came certain of the elders of Israel unto me, and sat before me. And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,

‘Son of man, these men have set up their idols in their heart, and put the stumblingblock of their iniquity before their face. Should I be enquired of at all by them? Therefore speak unto them, and say unto them, ‘Thus saith the Lord GOD; Every man of the house of Israel that setteth up his idols in his heart, and putteth the stumblingblock of his iniquity before his face, and cometh to the prophet; I the LORD will answer him that cometh according to the multitude of his idols; that I may take the house of Israel in their own heart, because they are all estranged from Me through their idols.’ ” Ezekiel 14:1-5 (KJB)

In the United States of America we love our cars, our houses, our freedoms, and just about anything else including sports and education. We far too often give more attention to those things than we do to the One who created us; and who has provided our eternal salvation.

Remember Ezekiel, and those “elders of Israel” who came to him were in Babylon; captives of Nebuchadnezzar. These men were coming to ask the prophet to seek God for them, but God knew their hearts.

“Should I be enquired of at all by them?” Did you catch that question from the LORD? That gets me to thinking of what prayers God will hear.

“The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.” Psalm 34:18

“The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, Thou wilt not despise.” Psalm 51:17

The broken heart is the one who realizes there is no help, no hope, no Savior but in the Lord. The contrite one is is one who is physically and mentally and spiritually collapsed. These are the sacrifices; the prayers God will hear.

The one’s who come to God in the pretense of worship, with feigned words and empty acts of reverence will not be heard.

Remember this. God knows your heart, and your mind. There is nothing about you that is a secret to Him.

Turn to the One [Jesus Christ] who died for your sins. Turn to the One who died on the cross, was buried and He rose again. Come to Him with a broken, contrite, and surrendering heart.

Prayers of the Saints Heard by the Great High Priest

“And when He had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour. And I saw the seven angels which stood before God; and to them were given seven trumpets. And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel’s hand. And the angel took the censer, and filled it with fire of the altar, and cast it into the earth: and there were voices, and thunderings, and lightnings, and an earthquake. And the seven angels which had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound.”  Revelation 8:1-6 (KJV)

The One who created all things, also still holds these things in His hand, to show forth wrath upon the “Inhabiters of the earth”; and the Priest who judges sin.

In the national life of Israel trumpets played an important role and had three important uses: 1) For calling the people together (Numbers 10:1-8); 2) For announcing war (Numbers 10:9); and 3) For announcing special times (Numbers 10:10).

And when He had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour. Revelation 8:1 (KJV).

The final seal is opened. Notice the response of Heaven. Silence. This could be caused by awe because now the book is opened and the glories and power of God are revealed. All that was concealed is now revealed to all of Heaven for the first time.

Not a whisper, nary a sigh, but only silence. Sometimes the greatest reverence is given God by our silence. The Psalmist even wrote, “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10a).

It is not told us why there is silence for one-half hour, but it does have to do with the seventh seal and the book [scroll]. There could be more than one reason, but I do believe the above reason is a biblical one. Other than that we just do not know.

It seems that the seven seals and the seven trumpets are interrelated. The seventh seal introduces the seven trumpets, and the seventh trumpet introduces the seven vials of wrath. These cannot be separated, then, because they all fit together. Each series of judgments seem to lead to a more severe wrath.

The seven angels are not named and it is not necessary to do so. They are given one trumpet each.

There is “another angel”, an eighth mentioned who seems to be a priestly angel. Some have equated this angel to being like the appearance of the pre-incarnate Christ – referred to in the Old Testament as the “Angel of the LORD”. It is not clear who this angel is. Jesus is the High Priest who atoned for our sin, and He is the One who will judge the world. Whoever he is he is fulfilling the work and ministry of a priest – unlike the work of any angel.  Since the Lamb is Christ Jesus and the One who opens the seals, I will believe this is just a completely different angel.

He stands at the brazen altar of judgment and sacrifice, with a golden censer [cup or bowl] for the incense which was given him. The incense is offered with the prayers of the saints [your prayers and mine, as well as the saints of the tribulation]. The incense is a symbol of prayer and worship.

In the Old Testament the high priest would kill the sacrifice at the brazen altar, collect the blood, and God received the offering by fire. The priest would take the golden bowl and take fire from the altar [which was never to go out Leviticus 6:12-13, and it was lit by God Leviticus 9:23-24], and enter the holy place with the blood, and with the fire, take the incense from the golden altar which was located outside the Holy of Holies [the presence of God], and he would enter the presence of God veiled in the smoke of the incense, pouring out the blood of the sacrifice at the throne of God – the presence of God. This made atonement for the people’s sins for one year.

Notice after the prayers and incense is offered to God the eighth angel takes fire in the golden censer, from the brazen altar of judgment, and casts it upon the earth.

Our prayers for deliverance; the prayers of the tribulation saints for deliverance and retribution, and for the glory of God to come will be done in God’s time. The “Imprecatory Psalms” (Psalms 7; 26; 35; 52; 55; and 58 are examples); these are not cries from selfish people, but cries for God to vindicate them according to His Word and grace.

It is amazing that God seems to store our prayers as a sweet fragrance to Him and will carry out their request in His time and according to His divine will. Have you grown weary and tired of prayer? Keep praying from a yielded and repentant, and broken heart. He hears you.

After the fire is taken from the altar and cast to the earth it causes great upheaval. Voices, thunderings, lightnings and an earthquake. It seems clear that the censer used for offering up worship and prayer is now used to hurl judgment and vengeance upon the earth.

Nothing is said about how the seven angels “Prepared themselves”. It could be a simple thing as raising the trumpets.

Let us as the saints of God raise our hearts and voices in prayer to God.  The time which we live is urgent.  Let us begin by repentance, seeking forgiveness of sin, and seeking revival of the Church.  The world is in grave need.  Let us be the Church; the Body of Christ. The Great High Priest who forgives our sin; also judges sin.

Reverence, Rest and Results

“Then had the churches rest throughout all Judaea and Galilee and Samaria, and were edified; and walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, were multiplied.” Acts 9:31 (KJV)

Chapter nine begins by telling us of Saul.  He is known as Saul of Tarsus a Pharisee, passionate about the Hebrew religion, and the death of any who spoke of the Christ as the Lord Jesus.

In his endeavors of religious lust he set out to kill, and destroy the Christian faith, and was very aggressive in doing so.  This chapter deals mostly with his glorious conversion to faith in Christ Jesus, believing in His death, burial and resurrection.

The early Church was fearful of Saul.  They fled from Jerusalem because of him; not knowing it was the will of God to scatter the Gospel of Christ into the world.  It is amazing and wonderful and marvelous how the Spirit of the Lord moves and works in our lives.

I have, for many years, found verse 31 of chapter 9 fascinating, and enlightening.  After Saul’s conversion the churches of Judea and Galilee and Samaria experienced “Rest” – the persecution had lightened up.

I want you to notice what happened, and this is a lesson for the Church of all ages;

  1.  They were walking (the Church was walking) in the fear of the Lord;
  2.   They were experiencing the comfort of the Holy Spirit;
  3.   The Church was multiplying in number – people were coming to faith in Jesus.

What does that mean for the Christian Church today?  We must walk in the Spirit of God; that means with reverence, fear of God, His Spirit and His Word; believing His Word, loving His Word, and applying it to our lives, in daily living.

If we are to experience the “Comfort of the Holy Spirit” that comes also loving God, and His Word.  How can a child of God through Jesus Christ grow in faith in Him without a daily diet of God’s Word?  We cannot.  Neither will their be any comfort of the Holy Spirit.

Finally, the Christian Church today can only rightly increase in number as people come to Christ, not necessarily “To Church”, but to Christ Jesus through His death, burial and resurrection.

When the Church; which is the Body of Christ – has Reverence and Rest, then there will be Results.

A Journey To Rest

Acts 9:26-31

It was at Saul’s feet the stoners of Stephen laid down their garments.  I suppose he was responsible for caring for their clothing while they stoned a man to death.  That sounds so heartless, because it is, and it was, however; at least it seems to have been this event; his hearing the word from Stephen, seeing and hearing his dying testimony; which had an impact on Saul coming to faith.

When Jesus confronts Saul as he is traveling to Damascus to capture, persecute, and jail Christians; Jesus says to Saul, “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.” Acts 9:4-5 (KJV).  His “kick against the pricks” is evidence that before the Lord confronted him he was deeply under the convicting power of the Spirit of God.  Saul met Jesus Christ on that day, and he has been a blessing to Christians, the Church and the world ever since; because of the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

THE CONVERSION OF SAUL, AND THE CHURCHES REACTION (v. 26).  Upon his salvation Saul is led to a man named Ananias, who shows Saul the way he is to go for the Lord.  He is received by the disciples of Damascus.  Saul had spent time in Damascus preaching the gospel.  He was new to it for sure, but he started in faith and kept on faithfully until the day he died by losing his head at the hands of Rome.

The church of Jerusalem was reluctant to receive him into their midst.  He had been their persecutor, he had shown them nothing but hate, and now he’s wanting to come into our fellowship.  Can you understand their doubtful thinking about him?  I can.  He had received orders from the religious establishment of Jerusalem, and it was in Jerusalem where most of the persecution was still going on, and Saul had been the chief persecutor.

The Jerusalem church could not believe that their chief persecutor was now one with them.  The disciples there – not the apostles – were afraid of him, not believing that he was a disciple of Jesus now.

It is an awesome thing when one who has been against the church of Jesus Christ is changed and begins to walk, live, serve and glorify our Lord.  Their testimony will be one of glorious change and the glory will belong to Jesus Christ.  The glory will not return upon the professing individual, but go to the Lord.

BARNABAS RECEIVES SAUL, AND ENCOURAGES HIM AND THE CHURCH, AND THEY WALK AND WORK TOGETHER (vv, 27-28).  Barnabas sees the rejection Saul experiences, sees a life who has been changed by the blood of Jesus Christ and takes Saul and makes him his disciple.  The call of the great commission of Jesus Christ is to “Go and make disciples” there are more than twelve disciples; there are only twelve apostles; thirteen counting Saul – who later became Paul.  We are not commanded to “make apostles” but disciples which is a “follower of Jesus Christ”

Known as an “encourager” Barnabas walks along side Saul when no one else will.  He even takes him to see the apostles, and Saul shares with them his testimony of how he met the Lord on the road to Damascus, and they are told of his bold preaching in Damascus.  After his visit with the apostles he is then seen leaving and entering the city with the apostles; they have received him as one of themselves.

The work of an encourager is a great work, and is much needed in the work of Christ and His Church.  We all need someone to come alongside us, to pick us up when we are down on occasions.  There are also occasions where we need to be the encourager, and pick up a friend, family member, church member, or a neighbor who needs to just get things clicking and right between them and the Lord.

SAUL’S PREACHING IN JERUSALEM IS BOLD, AND HE IS RUSHED OUT OF TOWN TO HIS OWN TOWN (vv. 29-30).   Why is it a lot of preachers think they are called to popularity.  Jesus was popular while He did His miracles, but when He got bloody and doctrinal concerning His body and the blood many of “His disciples left Him” (John 6:60-68).  If popularity, or drawing a crowd, was the agenda of our Lord, the message would not be so hard and difficult for people to hear and believe.  The message of the gospel of Jesus Christ is the simplest message ever proclaimed, yet people do not want to hear it.

Have you ever been run out of town for your preaching?  I have not, but there are some places I have not been asked to return.  I am grateful for the church where I am currently pastor.  The Carr Lane Baptist Church maybe small in number, but we are big in heart for hearing the word of the Lord.  When a preacher can stand in the pulpit week after week, Sunday after Sunday, and preach expository messages straight from Scripture, and you hear no negative comment, and you hear an “Amen” ever once in awhile you just got to know that they are hearing God, and not you.

The preacher when he is preaching the word of the Lord can boldly proclaim the message of God without fear or favor to those who are listening; and will glorify the Lord in the preaching.  An Old Testament Prophet name of Jeremiah was one who convinced me that I needed to come out of my shell, preach the word and be faithful to the Lord.  Jeremiah says, “Thou therefore gird up thy loins, and arise, and speak unto them all that I command thee: be not dismayed at their faces, lest I confound thee before them.”  Jeremiah 1:17 (KJV).  When you know you are delivering the word of God you have nothing to fear.  Be bold, proclaim from the rooftops what God says in His Word.

Though Saul did get rushed out of town it was for a greater purpose.  He would return to Jerusalem at a later time, and then be shipped to Rome.  Saul’s/Paul’s message of Jesus Christ was not loved nor appreciated.  Check your message; if you have crowds following you; change your message to the message of Jesus and Saul.

THE CHURCHES OF JERUSALEM THEN, HAD REST (v. 31)  It was because of the change in Saul’s life that there was rest in the Jerusalem churches.  The persecutor of persecutors was now one of them and being persecuted.

A few years ago I took the thirty first verse, disected, prayed, and developed a sermon, and called it  THE THREE R’s FOR THE CHURCH getting the idea from what used to be the words for education Reading, ‘Riting’ and ‘Rithmetic; but changing that to be Reverence, Rest, and Results, as three points for the sermon.  You can see the Reverence, “walking in the fear of the Lord”; the Rest in, “Then had the churches rest…” and the Results, “in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, were multiplied.”  Acts 9:31 (KJV).

There is little fear of God, even in church these days we live in.  There is more talk of “perfect love casts out fear”, so we don’t fear God.  NOT!  John’s writing has absolutely nothing to do with the reverence and fear of God.  It does have to do with the condemnation of our sins, the lies of the devil, the lies of friends and family.  It has to do with everyday events of life.  Someone has said, “When we fear God; we need to fear nothing else.”  If there is no fear of God, there will be fear of all else.  Paranoia, schizoprenia, trouble and danger lurking behind every closed door, fear of darkness, fear of storms, fear of failure, fear of bankruptcy, fear of world financial failure.  When even the child of God is not right with Him, out of His fellowship, we too can be fearful of these things.

Rest has come to the Jerusalem churches because the one who pursued them unto death was now one of them.  He now was being persecuted.  He had been pushed out of town; but unto a great endeavor of preaching the Word elsewhere; to his own home of Tarsus.

Results, come when the Christian and the church practice their faith, and live by that faith through their everyday lives.  We have seen examples of this multiplication earlier in the book – 3000 saved on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2), more were saved according to Acts 4:4.  It seems that people were being saved everyday in the early church.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful to baptize at least one every Sunday during a worship service, maybe even more?  Remembering it is the Lord who adds daily to His church.  It is not programs, or money, but by and through the faithful witness of the Spirit of God through His faithful witnesses.

The rest you need can be found only in the Lord Jesus Christ.  You may despise the gospel right now but realize, as did Saul, that Jesus died for your sins, was buried, and rose again the third day that we all who call on His name have eternal life with Him.  Call on His name believing Him, and trusting Him with all your life, confessing your sins and repenting of them.

-Tim A. Blankenship

This is the study notes for a sermon preached in the morning worship at Carr Lane Baptist Church on October 12, 2008.

Be Wise – Be Instructed

“Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth.  Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling.  Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, and ye perish from the way, when His wrath is kindled but a little.  Blessed are all they that put their trust in Him” Psalm 2:10-12 (KJV).

It is wise to be on the King’s side.  Whatever one’s place in this world; be we king, prime minister, senator; our place is to glorify our King, and that King is Jesus Christ.  When we are “nudging up” to the man of flesh, then Jesus is not the One who is being “kissed”. “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom” Psalm 111:10; and there is a lack in this great wisdom for our day.

Wisdom is a necessary attribute.  Godly wisdom is what we are concerned with in this text and context.  It is sad to think that there are many world rulers in our day who do not have godly wisdom, and are working against all things godly.  The rulers of our world are working against the Nation which God has ordained, and called out as a Nation in our days; to even remain a Nation.  They are not wise.  It is written in THE TREASURY OF DAVID by C. H. Spurgeon, “True wisdom, fit for kings and judges, lies in obeying Christ.” Vol. 1, p. 20.

A love for God with fear brings rejoicing, and causes us to serve and joy in His presence.  He is our hope, our cause for rejoicing. Serve Him with fear, ie., great awe, and reverence.

To “Kiss the Son” is to be in complete agreement with Him.  We acknowledge He is always right, and will never lead us astray.  Many will reject Him and refuse to kiss Him, unless it be as Judas who betrayed Him, and those who refuse will go into eternal judgment of fire.

Happy [Blessed] is the lot of those who put their trust in the blessed King of kings, Judge of judges, and Lord of lords.  Put all your trust in Him.  You are Blessed.

-Tim A. Blankenship