Tag Archives: Book of Revelation

A Hymn For Meditation

hymnalFor the Beauty of the Earth

For the beauty of the earth,
for the glory of the skies,
for the love which from our birth
over and around us lies;
Lord of all, to thee we raise
this our hymn of grateful praise.

 For the beauty of each hour
of the day and of the night,
hill and vale, and tree and flower,
sun and moon, and stars of light;
Lord of all, to thee we raise
this our hymn of grateful praise.

 For the joy of ear and eye,
for the heart and mind’s delight,
for the mystic harmony,
linking sense to sound and sight;
Lord of all, to thee we raise
this our hymn of grateful praise. 

For the joy of human love,
brother, sister, parent, child,
friends on earth and friends above,
for all gentle thoughts and mild;
Lord of all, to thee we raise
this our hymn of grateful praise. 

For thy church, that evermore
lifteth holy hands above,
offering up on every shore
her pure sacrifice of love;
Lord of all, to thee we raise
this our hymn of grateful praise. 

For thyself, best Gift Divine,
to the world so freely given,
for that great, great love of thine,
peace on earth, and joy in heaven:
Lord of all, to thee we raise
this our hymn of grateful praise.

By Folliott S. Pierpoint

  • When was the last time you spoke a whole sentence in prayer that was nothing but praise? This hymn is exclusively a prayer of praise. Count all the things the hymnwriter found praiseworthy.
  • What do the four living creatures do beside the throne of God? Revelation 4:6b-8
  • What do the twenty-four elders do when the living creatures praise God? Revelation 4:11 Notice the similarity of thought in the song of the elders and the hymn for today.
  • What do the living creatures and the elders do when the Lamb takes the scroll from God? Revelation 5:9-10 What has the Lamb done that is praiseworthy?
  • Many frightful scenes are described in Revelation 6-14. For what do the victorious ones praise God in Revelation 15? Revelation 15:3-4
  • When the battles are over and victory has been declared, the elders and the creatures sing again. What do they say? Revelation 19:4-8
  • Pray at least five sentences in a row without asking God for anything. Try praying that prayer several times through the day. What impact does it have on your day?
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A Verse for Meditation

Torah ScrollI am the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give water as a gift from the spring of the water of life.   Revelation 21:6

  • In another place, the author of Revelation speaks of God “who was, who is, and who is to come.” We Christians seem to be living in the time/space continuum just like everyone else. What is the realm revealed by these words? Why are these words comforting?
  • Think of the story of the Woman at the Well (John 4:1-42) Think of your own life and the challenges of your life today. Do you feel thirsty for the water of life?
  • When Jesus spoke with Nicodemus he promised eternal life to those who believed in him. In the words of this verse, Christ promises “the water of life.” In the context of all the gifts God gives to human beings, what is clearly the most precious gift of all? Why is life so precious to God?
  • If you could stand in heaven with Christ and look back at the world of time and space, what do you think would be the most grievous sight Christ and you would see in that world?

A Hymn for Meditation

hymnalCrown Him With Many Crowns 

1. Crown him with many crowns,
The Lamb upon his throne;
Hark! how the heav’nly anthem drowns
All music but its own:
Awake, my soul, and sing
Of him who died for thee,
And hail him as thy matchless King
Through all eternity.

‎2. Crown him the Lord of love;
Behold his hands and side,
Rich wounds, yet visible above,
In beauty glorified:
No angel in the sky
Can fully bear that sight,
But downward bends his burning eye
At mysteries so bright.

‎3. Crown him the Lord of peace;
Whose pow’r a scepter sways
From pole to pole, that wars may cease,
Absorbed in prayer and praise:
His reign shall know no end;
And round his pierced feet
Fair flowers of Paradise extend
Their fragrance ever sweet.

‎4. Crown him the Lord of years,
The Potentate of time;
Creator of the rolling spheres,
Ineffably sublime:
All hail, Redeemer, hail!
For thou hast died for me:
Thy praise shall never, never fail
Throughout eternity.
 

  • Where in the Bible do you find an image of Christ with many crowns? (See Revelation 19:12,16) Why do you suppose one crown is not enough?
  • The imagery of the “Lord of love” is that of the crucified Christ. (See Revelation 5:6-10) Why would angels be unable to bear the sight of Christ crucified? Can you bear that sight? How does it feel to know that Christ suffered so horrifically for the love of you?
  • Who doesn’t long for peace? What can ever bring peace to nations? What can ever bring peace to families? What can ever give peace to tormented individuals? What might it mean to absorb wars in prayer and praise? How might that concept change the way you pray?(See Psalm 46:9, Psalm 72:5-17, Isaiah 2:4)
  • Christ is God who is, who was, and who is to come? What does it mean to you in your daily time-bound life to know that Christ reigns eternally? (See Romans 8:34, 1Peter 1:12, Revelation 5:9)
  • We must visualize Christ when we pray, because our physical eyes cannot see him. Is Christ crowned in glory the image you see when you pray? Does that image change the way you pray? Do you sing and make melody in your heart to Christ on his throne?

 

 

All or Nothing

Sunday Readings:  Genesis 3:8-15     Psalm 130     2 Corinthians 4:13-5:1     Mark 3:20-33

 

When we first read about Jesus in the book of Mark, it says that Jesus came into Galilee after the arrest of John the Baptist and his message was: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.” John the Baptist had preached repentance, but he was not able to give people the good news that Jesus brought. It was good news to suffering people, but it was not good news to Satan. Jesus’ words announced that the war between good and evil, a clash between kingdoms battling for universal triumph, was on.

The kingdoms first clashed in the Garden of Eden. In that battle, Satan appeared to win. He deceived Eve. She lured Adam to join her. God’s supreme creation chose to reject his wisdom and do what felt good to them. It looked good, because Satan made it look good. Even as God pronounced judgment on his rebellious children, however, he served notice on Satan. In today’s Old Testament reading God says, “I will put enmity … between your offspring and hers; he will strike your head.” Those few little words were God’s promise of hope for humankind.

When Jesus showed up with his message that “the kingdom of God has come near,” Satan knew that his days were numbered. In fact, the image of Satan hearing Christ speak for the first time, recalls to us the image in the book of Revelation where the great dragon lashes out with his tail and stars fall.

In the Revelation story, the terrible dragon stood waiting for a son to be born, and as he waited, he twitched his tail, seemingly destroying stars as he did so. To be able to drag stars out of the sky made him appear powerful, but his seeming power was short-lived. The child escaped. Instead of devouring the child, the dragon was confronted with an army of angels, and soon he was utterly defeated. In the Revelation story, the dragon was thrown down to the earth. Ultimately the story says that he “went off to make war on … those who keep the commandments of God.” Using the imagery from that dragon story, it is easy to imagine that great dragon raging and lashing out with his tale when he hears Jesus speaking to people saying, “The kingdom of God has come near.” The clash of kingdoms had begun.

In Galilee, people who suffered mental illness, incurable diseases, social ostracism, fear, hunger, and hopelessness heard those words, and they came running to Jesus. Families and friends brought people who could not bring themselves. The excitement mounted. The crowds surged around Jesus, crowds of people who wanted to be healed, crowds of people who wanted to observe the healings, and crowds of people who wanted to figure out how this charlatan was pulling off such a masterful show. In the last category were quasi-religious leaders who could read and write for hire, who accused Jesus of complete fakery, of trying to lure people away from God to himself by working in cooperation with Satan.

When Jesus heard the accusation, he famously replied, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” Yet this dramatic moment is sandwiched between the hints of some family conflict that raises a confusing image. The crowds drawn by the spectacle of healings and exorcisms were so huge Jesus could hardly get a moment to eat. His family made early attempts to rescue him, because people were starting to talk as if Jesus were the madman, not those he had healed. And the religious leadership joined in the fray. The family understandably wanted him to be safe and to take time for a little R&R. It is hard to know if they stood outside because they could not push through the crowd, or if they stood outside, because they were actually afraid to get too close to such a controversial figure, but whatever the reason, they remained at a distance. They sent a message to Jesus asking him to come to them, but Jesus responded by dismissing them. His earthly family was, therefore, immediately divided.

As if the obvious division were not enough, Jesus went one step further. He looked around at the people crowded close, watching his every move, listening intently to his every word. He looked at the people who needed healing, and he looked at the people who had brought patients for him to help. Mark doesn’t try to read his mind, but when I read his words, I conclude that his mind was thinking, “The kingdom of God has come near. I can’t take it away from those who need it.” Aloud Jesus said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother,” These are shocking words. His family only wanted what was best for him – some rest, some food, some quiet, maybe even some sleep. How harsh those words must have sounded.

Yet this is not the only time Jesus said such things. When Jesus was calling people to serve him, some made excuses. They had work to finish. They had parents to take care of. They wanted to get their rest and their sleep and just a little bite to eat before they headed out to follow Jesus. Jesus told them, “Let the dead bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” In another place, Jesus said, “one’s foes will be members of one’s own household.” In today’s story, and in all these other instances, Jesus was talking about priorities. Nothing, absolutely nothing, is more important than doing the work God gives us to do. Jesus said, “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me.” We must put Christ above everything. He summed up this teaching one day when someone asked him what the most important commandment was. Jesus answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.” The Christ who tenderly looked down from the cross and made sure his mother would be cared for after his death, looked up from the center of a needy crowd and dismissed that same mother. Priorities.

So when Jesus’ mother and siblings showed up in the middle of his work, he wasn’t being petulant and egotistical. He was showing us where our priorities must lie. He was not rescinding the commandment to love and honor our parents. He had not lost his mind. He was busy fighting the battle with the kingdom of evil on behalf of people who needed to know that God’s kingdom was more important than anything else. It really was the pearl of great price. It really was worth more than life itself.

Because a kingdom divided against itself cannot stand.

That is the real message. When we work for the kingdom of God, everything else is secondary, maybe even less than that. We must do the work God gives us and fill our place in the kingdom. We can’t be partly committed to the kingdom and partly devoted to our own comfort or to pleasing our parents or our children. The battle between good and evil demands full commitment. Jesus said it very simply, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.”

The kingdom of God has come near. God will not permit his kingdom to be weakened by half-hearted promises. If you want to be part of it, you must commit yourself to God alone.