Daily Walk With God

My Daily Journey With God in Athens Ga.

Holy Saturday Passion Week

Written By: Rev. Darryl Mathis - Apr• 18•14

Today is called Holy Saturday and it is the day after Good Friday. Holy Saturday is also  called Black Saturday. It is the last day of Holy Week, in which we await the resurrection of Christ on Easter morning. On Holy Saturday we remember the day that the body of Christ lay in the tomb.

From the book of Matthew we find this event happening on Saturday, which was the Sabbath. Matthew 27:62-66: The next day, the one after Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate. “Sir,” they said, “we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first.” “Take a guard,” Pilate answered. “Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how.” So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard.

John 16:20-22: I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.

On this day, I am certain that the disciples were confused and scared. Jesus had been crucified and all may have seemed hopeless and lost. We know that the disciples often struggled in their walk of faith and on this dark day they probably could not begin to comprehend what was about to take place the next morning. The despair that they must have felt and the guilt of abandoning Jesus would have been a heavy burden to bear. They probably could not see or imagine – the light and the hope that would forever change the world – come tomorrow morning. Even though it may have seemed that evil had prevailed we know that evil will never prevail against God’s Kingdom. Tomorrow we can say with complete joy and confidence that – Christ is risen – Christ is risen indeed!

 

Friday of Passion Week

Written By: Rev. Darryl Mathis - Apr• 18•14

Jesus’ trial took place in two stages: a Jewish trial and a Roman trial, each of which had three parts. For the Jewish trial these were: (1) the preliminary hearing before Annas, the former high priest; (2) the trial before Caiaphas, the ruling high priest, and the Sanhedrin; and (3) the final action of the council, which brought to a conclusion its all-night session.  The three episodes of the Roman trial were: (1) the trial before Pilate; (2) the trial before Herod Antipas; and (3) the trial before Pilate continued and concluded. [1]

The first trial occurred during the nighttime hours before Annas. In the second trial before the Sanhedrin, Jesus is pronounced “worthy of death.”  Matthew 26:67-68: Then they spit in his face and struck him with their fists. Others slapped him and said, “Prophesy to us, Christ. Who hit you?” The third trial occurred immediately at daybreak and the council condemns Jesus and leads him off to Pilate.

Matthew’s Gospel tells us that when Judas Iscariot, the betrayer, saw that Jesus had been condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty silver coins to the chief priests and the elders. “I have sinned,” he said, “for I have betrayed innocent blood.” “What is that to us?” they replied. “That’s your responsibility.” So Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself (Matthew 27:3-5).

Still early in the morning, Jesus goes before Pilate. When Pilate realizes that Jesus is a Galilean, he sends him to Herod Antipas, because Galilee was under Herod’s jurisdiction. Luke tells us that when Herod saw Jesus, he was greatly pleased, because for a long time he had been wanting to see him. From what he had heard about him, he hoped to see him perform some miracle. Luke writes that Herod and his soldiers ridiculed and mocked him. Dressing him in an elegant robe, they sent him back to Pilate. That day Herod and Pilate became friends – before this they had been enemies (Luke 23:11-12).

Pilate then examines Jesus and cannot find a basis for a charge against Jesus. Pilate wanted to release Jesus but the crowd kept shouting, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” (Luke 23:20-21). Herod then speaks to the crowd for a third time telling them that he will have Jesus punished and then released. “But with loud shouts they insistently demanded that he be crucified, and their shouts prevailed.” So Pilate decided to grant their demand. He released the man who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, the one they asked for, and surrendered Jesus to their will.

Jesus is crucified (from approximately 9 AM until Noon)

Mark’s gospel gives us the following account of Jesus’ crucifixion. A certain man from Cyrene, Simon, the father of Alexander and Rufus, was passing by on his way in from the country, and they forced him to carry the cross. They brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha (which means The Place of the Skull). Then they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it. And they crucified him. Dividing up his clothes, they cast lots to see what each would get (Mark 15:21-24).

John 19:25-27: Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Dear woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.

Luke 23:44-49: It was now about the sixth hour (noon) and darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour (3pm), for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last.

 The centurion, seeing what had happened, praised God and said, “Surely this was a righteous man.” When all the people who had gathered to witness this sight saw what took place, they beat their breasts and went away. But all those who knew him, including the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things.

Jesus Burial

 Later, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. Now Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he feared the Jewish leaders. With Pilate’s permission, he came and took the body away. He was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night. Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds. Taking Jesus’ body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs. At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had ever been laid. Because it was the Jewish day of Preparation and since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.

Jesus’ body would have been wrapped and placed in the tomb before sunset, when the Sabbath would begin and no work could be done.

[1] Zondervan NIV Study Bible, 2002, page 1559

Thursday of Passion Week

Written By: Rev. Darryl Mathis - Apr• 17•14

Thursday – The Last Supper and Gethsemane: Jesus prepares himself and his disciples for his death and gives the Passover meal a new meaning.

Luke 22:7-23: The Last Supper: 7 Then came the day of Unleavened Bread on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. 8 Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and make preparations for us to eat the Passover.”

9 “Where do you want us to prepare for it?” they asked.

 10 He replied, “As you enter the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him to the house that he enters, 11 and say to the owner of the house, ‘The Teacher asks: Where is the guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ 12 He will show you a large room upstairs, all furnished. Make preparations there.”

 13 They left and found things just as Jesus had told them. So they prepared the Passover.

 14 When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table. 15 And he said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. 16 For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God.”

 17 After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, “Take this and divide it among you. 18 For I tell you I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.”

 19 And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.”

 20 In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you. 21 But the hand of him who is going to betray me is with mine on the table. 22 The Son of Man will go as it has been decreed. But woe to that man who betrays him!” 23 They began to question among themselves which of them it might be who would do this.

Jesus Washes His Disciples’ Feet: John’s gospel tells us that “Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love” (John 13:1). John tells us that the devil had already prompted Judas Iscariot to betray Jesus. After the meal, Jesus gets up and begins to wash his disciples feet. Jesus tells his disciples, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand” (John 13:7). Jesus tells his disciples that they should also wash one another’s feet. Jesus knew that his disciples needed a lesson in humility and love for one another. In the foot-washing scene, Jesus gives us an extraordinary lesson in humility.

The gospel of Mark tells us that after they had sang a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives (Mark 14:26).

Gethsemane: Mark 14:32-42: 32 They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” 33 He took Peter, James and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled. 34 “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,” he said to them. “Stay here and keep watch.”

 35 Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. 36 “Abba, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”

 37 Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Simon,” he said to Peter, “are you asleep? Couldn’t you keep watch for one hour? 38 Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

 39 Once more he went away and prayed the same thing. 40 When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. They did not know what to say to him.

 41 Returning the third time, he said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Enough! The hour has come. Look, the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners. 42 Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!”

Jesus Arrested: Mark 14-43-50: 43 Just as he was speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, appeared. With him was a crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests, the teachers of the law, and the elders.

 44 Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: “The one I kiss is the man; arrest him and lead him away under guard.” 45 Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, “Rabbi!” and kissed him. 46 The men seized Jesus and arrested him. 47 Then one of those standing near drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear.

   48 “Am I leading a rebellion,” said Jesus, “that you have come out with swords and clubs to capture me? 49 Every day I was with you, teaching in the temple courts, and you did not arrest me. But the Scriptures must be fulfilled.” 50 Then everyone deserted him and fled.

Before the Sanhedrin: Mark 14:53-56;64b-65:  53 They took Jesus to the high priest, and all the chief priests, the elders and the teachers of the law came together. 54Peter followed him at a distance, right into the courtyard of the high priest. There he sat with the guards and warmed himself at the fire.

55 The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for evidence against Jesus so that they could put him to death, but they did not find any. 56 Many testified falsely against him, but their statements did not agree.

They all condemned him as worthy of death. 65 Then some began to spit at him; they blindfolded him, struck him with their fists, and said, “Prophesy!” And the guards took him and beat him.

This concludes the events of Thursday of Holy Week.

Wednesday of Passion Week

Written By: Rev. Darryl Mathis - Apr• 15•14

Wednesday – A Day of Rest and Silence

For Jesus, Wednesday was a day of rest and he most likely remained in Bethany throughout the day and also spent the night there again. The Gospel accounts are mostly silent in regards to any activity by Jesus on Wednesday – although Luke tells us that Jesus was teaching at the temple each day of the final week of his life – Luke 21:37-38.  Jesus, knowing what he was about to endure, probably spent time in the company of his friends only two days before he is to be crucified.

One can hardly imagine what was going through Jesus’ mind on this apparent day of rest. In two days, the “light” that came into a dark and fallen world would be crucified. Jesus would take on the sin of the world and suffer a painful and agonizing death on the cross at Calvary. As I write this today, I am painfully reminded of how much pain and suffering Jesus endured so that my sins and your sins could be forgiven. It gives me greater strength to approach life differently, to live a life that is focused on following my Lord and Savior without hesitation. Jesus reminds us that we are to take up our cross daily and to follow him. That is a calling that we as followers of Christ should not take lightly.

There was much activity going on by those who were plotting to kill Jesus. It could have been on Wednesday that Judas went to the chief priests with an offer to betray Jesus. Matthew 26:14-16: Then one of the Twelve – the one called Judas Iscariot – went to the chief priests and asked, “What are you willing to give me if I hand him over to you?” so they counted out for him thirty silver coins. From then on Judas watched for an opportunity to hand him over.

Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ – only two days from the cross at Calvary.

Tuesday of Passion Week

Written By: Rev. Darryl Mathis - Apr• 14•14

According to the Gospel accounts, these events took place on Tuesday of Passion Week.

A day of controversy and parables: In Jerusalem, Jesus eluded the traps set by the priests. On the Mount of Olives overlooking Jerusalem, Jesus taught in parables and warned the people against the Pharisees. He predicted the destruction of Herod’s great temple and told his disciples about future events, including his own return.

Jesus engages in conflict with the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem: Mark 11:27-33: They arrived again in Jerusalem, and while Jesus was walking in the temple courts, the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders came to him. “By what authority are you doing these things?” they asked. “And who gave you authority to do this?”  Jesus replied, “I will ask you one question. Answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I am doing these things. John’s baptism—was it from heaven, or of human origin? Tell me!”

They discussed it among themselves and said, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will ask, ‘Then why didn’t you believe him?’ But if we say, ‘Of human origin’ …” (They feared the people, for everyone held that John really was a prophet.)

So they answered Jesus, “We don’t know.”   Jesus said, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.”

Jesus then began to speak to the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders and he spoke to them in parables. Jesus tells them the parable of the tenants, a parable that exposed the planned attempt on Jesus’ life, and God’s judgment on those who were planning it. After Jesus told this parable, the gospel writer Mark tells us: “Then they looked for a way to arrest him because they knew he had spoken the parable against them. But they were afraid of the crowd; so they left him and went away” (Mark 12:12).

Luke 21:37-38: Each day Jesus was teaching at the temple, and each evening he went out to spend the night on the hill called the Mount of Olives, and all the people came early in the morning to hear him at the temple.

This concludes the events of Tuesday of Passion Week.[1]

 



[1] NIV Study Bible, Zondervan Publishing, Passion Week Chart, pages 1556-1557

Monday of Passion Week

Written By: Rev. Darryl Mathis - Apr• 14•14

Yesterday was Palm Sunday, the day when Jesus made his Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem. Matthew 21:10 reveals to us that when Jesus entered Jerusalem, “the whole city was stirred.” Many in the crowd, who were waving palm branches and shouting “Hosanna in the highest,” (Matthew 21:9) would turn against Jesus and would shout “crucify him” (Matthew 27:23) only a few days later. Mark tells us that after Jesus entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, he went to the temple and “looked around at everything, but since it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the Twelve” (Mark 11:11).

Mark 11:12 tells us that on the next day they left Bethany, (“the next day as they were leaving Bethany”…) And then in 11:15, Mark records, “On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple area and began driving out those who were buying and selling there.” According to Mark’s Gospel, the clearing of the temple took place on Monday.

Mark 11:15-18 (NIV): On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple courts and began driving out those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves, and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts. And as he taught them, he said, “Is it not written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations’? But you have made it ‘a den of robbers.’”  The chief priests and the teachers of the law heard this and began looking for a way to kill him, for they feared him, because the whole crowd was amazed at his teaching.

In the evening Jesus and the Twelve leave Jerusalem and return to Bethany (Mark 11:19). It is likely that Jesus spent the night at the home of his friends; Mary, Martha and Lazarus. It was Lazarus that Jesus had raised from the dead after four days (John 11:38-44).

According to the Gospels, these events took place on Monday of Passion Week.

 

 

Living a Thankful Life

Written By: Rev. Darryl Mathis - Apr• 10•14

Psalm 100 (NIV)

Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.

Worship the Lord with gladness;

come before him with joyful songs.

Know that the Lord is God.

It is he who made us, and we are his;

we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.

 

Enter his gates with thanksgiving

and his courts with praise;

give thanks to him and praise his name.

For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;

his faithfulness continues through all generations.

Last week, I had the honor of participating in a funeral service that celebrated the life of a wonderful lady in our church. Several years ago, she had written down the scripture verses that she wanted to be used at her service. My assigned passage was the Psalm 100 text above. This Psalm was a very fitting passage to use in describing her life and her close relationship with God.  She spent a lifetime giving praise and thanksgiving to her Lord for life’s blessings and struggles. Yes, she was the type of Christian that would praise God especially during tough or challenging times. She knew that God would use those difficult times to further refine and mold her into the kind of Christian that He created her to be.

I have contemplated and struggled with this Psalm 100 passage all week. If I am honest, I must admit that I often fail to give God the proper praise and thanks that He is so worthy of. I tend to forget that it is the Lord who has created me and I belong to him. “We are his people, the sheep of his pasture.” While we strive to be self-made people, we must remember that we are first and foremost, God-made.  If we claim to follow God, we must yield our lives to Him, so that he can refine and mold each of us as we traverse life’s challenges and struggles. As the psalmist reminds us, “Worship the Lord with gladness.” Can you be thankful and worship God each day in spite of what that day holds?

I don’t know what challenges and difficulties you may be facing at this very moment. Maybe you have prayed and prayed to God and you just can’t feel God’s presence or direction. It could be that God has given you an answer but it’s not the answer you wanted or hoped for. Life throws so many challenges and disappointments our way and we sometimes feel helpless, hopeless, or lost. We feel the weight and the burden of this world upon us and it eventually begins to wear us down. If you feel this way you are not alone, many other Christians are struggling with these same fears and doubts. Continue to pray and talk to God, asking for discernment and strength for the journey ahead.

Psalm 27:1 (KJV): The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?

Psalm 27:1 is my favorite go-to verse when I am feeling discouraged or afraid. If you don’t already know this verse you may want to write it down or even memorize it. Remember that God has promised to uphold you with His mighty strength and mercy. “For the Lord is good and his love endures forever, his faithfulness continues through all generations” (Psalm 100:5). Trust in God and continue to seek His faithful presence in the midst of your hectic and worry filled life. May God’s blessings be upon each of you.

 

Encouragement for the Journey

Written By: Rev. Darryl Mathis - Mar• 31•14

As you begin a new week, I hope that these words from scripture will prepare and encourage you for whatever circumstances you will encounter. None of us knows what the future holds and often we are afraid of things we can’t control. It is during these times that we must remind ourselves that we serve and worship a God who walks with us and before us. God is ready and more than capable of bearing our burdens and worries. Trust in God, let go of your anxiety and believe that God is ready to shower you with His peace that transcends all understanding.

Philippians 4:7: And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Psalm 55:22: Cast you cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall.

Psalm 56:3-4: When I am afraid, I will trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can mortal man do to me?

1 Peter 5:7: Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

The Lord prepares a way for us, a path that ascends and descends. Remain on that path and God will be with you through the blessings of the week and also during the difficulties that you will surely face. As believers, we are not promised an easy, problem free life but we do have the assurance that Christ is present with us. He walks alongside us and carries us when the road that we are traveling on is too grueling for our weary souls.

Proverbs 3:5-6:  “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.”

John 16:33: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

John 14:1: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me.”

John 14:27: Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

Are you tired? It could be your job that is wearing you down. Maybe you have the responsibility to care for family members that are aging or ill. Just being a parent these days is a difficult job and it seems that problems just continue to multiply. You do so many things for others. Often it feels like no one seems to appreciate it and as a result you feel weary and burdened. Turn to the one who has already conquered this world and can take away the weight of the world.

John 11:28-30: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Philippians 4:6-7:  “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Matthew 6:25-27:  “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear.  Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?  Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not much more valuable than they?  Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?”

Remember that God the Father and Christ the Savior loves you and wants all things to work out for your own good. Nothing in this world can come between us and the saving grace of Christ our Lord. Remember that Christ has already conquered the world and nothing can separate us from His love.

Romans 8:28: And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Romans 8:37-39: No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Be blessed this week and know that you are a beloved child of God. May the peace of Christ be with you and your family in the days ahead.

 

To Whom Shall I Go?

Written By: Rev. Darryl Mathis - Mar• 29•14

John 6: 61-69: Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, “Does this offend you? Then what if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before! The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit and life. Yet there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him. He went on to say, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled them.”

From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.

“You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve.

Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.”

These words from Simon Peter have been with me all week, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” For me, God has seemed so far away and unattainable these past few days. This “world” has brought to me some challenging and difficult obstacles this week. And during all of this I have cried out to God for some relief and answers. However, God has remained silent. So these words of the disciple Peter have lingered in my mind all week, “Lord, to whom shall I (we) go? You have the words of eternal life.”

I have tried everything I know to get closer to God this week. I have prayed many times during the day, begging and pleading with God for some answers. My Bible has been open all week as I try to find some comfort and reassurance for my sense of distance from God. Many times this week, I read the parable of the persistent widow from Luke 18 to remind myself that we learn how to persevere through our many trials. I’m not really sure how comforting that is however, when the trials just keep coming and coming. Then I find comfort in the words of Jesus when Luke writes, “Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up” (Luke 18:1). Jesus wants us to know that God has our best interests in mind and through persistent prayer, God will answer.

 I have repeatedly prayed the promises of Jesus from scripture in order to find some relief. “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” (Matthew 7:7). However, the door remains closed and I fear that it will not open anytime soon. Many of you know the feeling, you pray about something for a long period of time and you do not have a sense that an answer is forthcoming. When we suspect that an answer to our prayers is not imminent, we have to ask if what we are praying is God’s will for us. Again, those words from Peter continue to replay over and over in my mind. There is no one or nowhere to turn to, except you God. The words of eternal life are found only through Christ our savior. I will continue to trust and believe.

Richard J. Foster, the author of, Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home, writes “I want you to know that to be faced with the ‘withering winds of God’s hiddenness’ does not mean that God is displeased with you, or that you are insensitive to the work of God’s Spirit, or that you have committed some horrendous offense against heaven, or that there is something wrong with you, or anything. Darkness is a definite experience of prayer. It is to be expected, even embraced.”[1] It is comforting to know that many other Christians have this same struggle with hearing from God during times of difficulty and trials. There is hope to be found, but we must endure the sometimes long period of waiting on God.

In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus says, “If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer” (Matthew 21:22). This doesn’t mean that if we ask for a new car or a new house that those material things will magically appear. Our prayers will be answered in accordance with God’s will. “This is the confidence we have in approaching God; that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us – whatever we ask – we know that we have what we asked of him” ( 1 John 5:14-15). Still, I have not found any answers this week as I plead with God to be present with me. Yet again, the words of Simon Peter keep me believing and focused upon God, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”

Peter’s theology may not have always been sound; he often spoke impulsively and emotionally. However, on this occasion when Jesus asked a question, Peter got it right. Jesus said to his twelve disciples, “You do not want to leave too, do you?” And Simon Peter answered that there is no one else to turn to, only Jesus has the words of eternal life. Peter then declares, “We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God” (John 6:69). Peter has misspoken and failed to grasp the truth on many previous occasions, but this time he nailed it. Peter’s words encouraged me this week to focus my faith on Christ who alone has the words of eternal life.

Leaving Jesus and following the ways of the world is not an option for those of us who believe. The road of faith is filled with many dangers and distractions and we are tempted to take the easy route and give in to the ways of this world. As a believer, we know that following the world and not Jesus would only bring a temporary solution to our problems. Only Jesus offers a permanent way out of our “flesh” and sin filled bodies. “The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing” (John 6:63). To whom shall I go? For me, I will continue to follow and trust in Jesus.

1 John 3:21-24: Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from him anything we ask, because we obey his commands and do what pleases him. And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. Those who obey his commands live in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.


[1] Richard J. Foster, Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home, (San Francisco: Harper & Row), p.19

Heavenly Worship

Written By: Rev. Darryl Mathis - Mar• 23•14

We all come to worship with a myriad of purposes or intentions. As we encounter God in the worship service, we usually have many self-centered thoughts going through our minds. For many, the work week has been stressful and difficult and we strive to find some peace and reassurance in the house of the Lord. We don’t intend for this time of worship to be about ourselves, but the feelings of being overwhelmed with the everyday aspects of life are just too great to suppress. We attempt to block out these worries and concerns but we fail to do so. Worship should be about God and not ourselves, we know that. The question then would be: How do we make worship all about God and not about ourselves? Let me take you on a journey to the throne room of heaven to explain.

John, the writer of Revelation has a vision and he is taken up to the throne room of heaven. He saw someone seated on the throne whose appearance was almost indescribable. At once I was in the Spirit, and there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it. And the one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian. A rainbow, resembling an emerald, encircled the throne (Revelation 4:2-3). This image of God on his throne is the predominant image in the Old Testament. Paul, writing in 2 Timothy, also gives us a related image of God: God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honor and might forever. Amen (2 Timothy 6:15b-16).

You are probably thinking, “What does this have to do with how to worship God?” Bear with me for another description from John of heaven and I think you will understand where I am going with this. Surrounding the throne were twenty-four other thrones, and seated on them were twenty-four elders. They were dressed in white and had crowns of gold on their heads. From the throne came flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder. Before the throne, seven lamps were blazing. These are the seven spirits of God. Also before the throne there was what looked like a sea of glass, clear as crystal. In the center, around the throne, were four living creatures, and they were covered with eyes, in front and in back (Revelation 4:4-6).

The book of Revelation is all about symbols. The audience to whom this was written would have easily understood the meaning of these symbols. This writing would stand as encouragement to them during their time of persecution by Rome. The four living creatures are positioned on each side of the throne and their primary purpose is to protect and proclaim the holiness of God. These four living creatures are most likely “cherubim,” and they are perhaps the highest order of angels who continuously serve and praise God.

Day and night they never stop saying:

“Holy, holy, holy

Is the Lord God Almighty,

Who was, and is, and is to come.”

Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor and thanks to him who sits on the throne and who lives for ever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne, and worship him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say:

 “You are worthy, our Lord and God,

to receive glory and honor and power,

for you created all things,

and by your will they were created

and have their being.”

(Revelation 4:8b-11)

The twenty-four elders represent the people of God under both the old and new covenants. The twelve patriarchs of Israel and the twelve apostles of the church make up the twenty-four elders. Their primary purpose in this vision is to worship God. In fact, each time the twenty-four elders are mentioned in Revelation, they fall down in worship before God on the throne or before the Lamb, which is Christ.

Revelation 5:11-12: Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. In a loud voice they were saying:

“Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain,

to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength

and honor and glory and praise!”

This image from Revelation, of this assembled congregation in heaven, gives us some understanding about how we should approach worship. Instead of coming to worship with our own self-centered needs in mind, we should come prepared to give glory and praise to the one who is worthy of our praise. Rather than viewing worship in terms of meeting our own individual needs and expectations, we should  be prepared to burst forth in praise to the one who is worthy of our worship and praise. This vision from John, reveals to us that true worship is entirely about devoting our complete attention and praise to our creator God and our Redeemer Christ. That is what worship in heaven will be like and we should strive for that ideal here on earth as well.