January 24 “Glimpse”

Glimpse

Glory—the full weight of the magnificence of God—is so powerful, just a glimpse of it will change a life.
Jesus sensed in His spirit that the Father wanted to take the disciples deeper. He told the men that some of them would not taste death until they had seen the Kingdom of God coming in power. Six days later, it began to happen for three of them.

Every day with Jesus was unpredictable. It was at once the greatest adventure of their lives and the greatest mystery they could imagine. Jesus’ words about some of them living to see the Kingdom come were thrilling and frightening all at once. Would this be the day? This question rose in their minds with every sunrise.

Transfiguration
Shortly after one of these hopeful sunrises, Jesus selected Peter, James and John to go with Him up a high mountain. It was His practice to pray in such places, so it is likely that the three men thought this was the purpose of the climb. To their profound surprise there was another purpose—a revelation of the Glory of the Man they were following.

In the clear morning sunlight a greater light appeared, not from the sky but from Jesus Himself. His clothes glowed white, whiter than any white the men had ever seen. The light emanated from Jesus and soon lit the whole mountaintop with beams of glory. Out of the beams of light stepped two figures, similarly clothed in garments made white but of lesser magnitude than the robes Jesus wore. Without being told, Peter, James, and John knew who these two men were:

  • Elijah, representing the prophets of old, and,
  • Moses, representing the Covenantal Law of God.

These two beings of light were alive and well and were deep in conversation with Jesus. They were talking like old friends at a reunion.

Tabernacles
Fear seized Peter, James, and John. The language the other three were speaking was unknown to them but the holiness of the meeting was clearly understood. They could add nothing to the communion enjoyed by Jesus, Moses, and Elijah but each of the disciples wanted to join in somehow. Eventually Peter timidly offered a suggestion—they should memorialize this moment with booths to each of these heavenly figures.

The Voice
As if in response to Peter’s idea, a voice like thunder sounded in a language they could not misunderstand,

“This is My beloved Son. Hear Him!”

They fell face forward to the ground—the shining light, the three mystical beings, and the booming voice—were all too much for them. In the silence that followed, each regained the courage to open his eyes and regain his feet. The light was gone. The voice that echoed from the hills  sounded no more. Only Jesus stood before them. He took them back down the mountain commanding them to keep the glory they had experienced to themselves for now. When He rose from the dead, they would understand.

A Question
One of them ask what was meant when the Scriptures said that Elijah must come before the Messiah. Jesus made it clear that John the Baptizer came in the power of Elijah, fulfilling his ministry.

A Glimpse of Glory
The three of the Twelve who witnessed the Transfiguration did indeed see the Glory of the Lord Jesus before their deaths. This glimpse of Glory was a foretaste of their witness to the resurrected Christ and, for John, to his witness of heaven recording in the Revelation. We are invited to behold His glory in worship and we do we also, are changed!

Scriptures:
Mark 9: 1-13
And He said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you that there are some standing here who will not taste death till they see the kingdom of God present with power.” Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John, and led them up on a high mountain apart by themselves; and He was transfigured before them. His clothes became shining, exceedingly white, like snow, such as no launderer on earth can whiten them. And Elijah appeared to them with Moses, and they were talking with Jesus. Then Peter answered and said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; and let us make three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah” — because he did not know what to say, for they were greatly afraid. And a cloud came and overshadowed them; and a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son. Hear Him!” Suddenly, when they had looked around, they saw no one anymore, but only Jesus with themselves. Now as they came down from the mountain, He commanded them that they should tell no one the things they had seen, till the Son of Man had risen from the dead. So they kept this word to themselves, questioning what the rising from the dead meant. And they asked Him, saying, “Why do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?” Then He answered and told them, “Indeed, Elijah is coming first and restores all things. And how is it written concerning the Son of Man, that He must suffer many things and be treated with contempt? But I say to you that Elijah has also come, and they did to him whatever they wished, as it is written of him.”
2 Corinthians 3:17-18
Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, give me a new vision of Your glory. Reveal Your glory to me at my private altar and in my public worship. Let me see as Isaiah did the majesty of Your Throne. May the revelation of Your glory shake the foundations of my life as worship did the doorpost of heaven in Isaiah’s vision. Take a coal of fire from the altar before You and touch me lips with it. Help me hear the Father’s voice—“This is my beloved Son!” Let me hear Your voice, “Who will go for me?” I will go. I am going!–in the power of the revelation of who You are now, resurrected, enthroned in Heaven and in my heart, and soon to return. O, the Glory of Your Presence! Amen and Amen.

Song:
Oh, the Glory of Your Presence
Words and Music: Steve Frye

Refrain:
O, the glory of Your presence.
We, Your Temple, give You reverence.
Come and rise to Your rest and be blest by our praise
As we glory in Your embrace.
As Your presence now fills this place.

Verse:
Jesus, all glorious, create in us a Temple
Called as living stones where You’re enthroned.
As You rose from death in power
So rise within our worship.
Rise upon our praise
And let the hand that saw You raised
Clothe us in Your glory,
Draw us by Your grace.

Refrain

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

August 30, 2018 “Coronation”

Coronation

It was a temporary parting, not an abandonment.
Dr. Luke brings volume one of this historical treatise to a rapid conclusion. Jesus led His disciples as far as Bethany where blessed them. As He spoke this blessing, some sort of separation took place between Him and His followers. Perhaps it was an angelic visitation or perhaps some sort of cloud or even both. Luke does not explain his words. As a physical presence, Jesus left this world and took up residence in heaven. Other sources tell us of a great coronation as Jesus took His place on the Throne of Heaven. He returned to the location where the prophet Isaiah saw Him and received his life-changing vision he described in chapter 6 of His prophecy.

Enthroned upon Our Praise
Physically Jesus left this world, but spiritually He remained with us, just as He promised. The ways of the Divine Godhead are well beyond our understanding. We must accept seemingly contradictory descriptions as true, for as Isaiah said, God’s ways are “past finding out.” So, He is gone and yet He remains. His physical, glorified body occupies the Throne of Heaven as is clearly seen in John’s Revelation. Yet, His spiritual presence is available to those who worship Him in Spirit and in Truth. This promise has proved more reliable than the turning of the earth. As sure as sunrise and sunset, as reliable as the shifting of the seasons and the cycles of creation, so sure is His promise to be with us.

He is omnipresent of course, but in a special way Jesus manifests His holy presence in our hearts when we praise Him. The Psalmist says He inhabits and is enthroned upon the praises of His Holy Nation of which all believers are a part. (Psalm 22:3) On every continent of the globe and in every culture of mankind, True Worship establishes the Throne of God and His manifest Presence.

Mt. Zion: The Throne of God and of the Lamb
Dr. Luke concludes with this emphasis on worship:

And they worshiped Him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy,
and were continually in the temple praising and blessing God. Amen.

The writer to the Hebrews declares that, when we gather to worship, True Worshipers are spiritually transported to the Throne Room of God, the heavenly Mt. Zion. This is the same presence of Jesus that the Disciples knew, that Peter preached, that Paul saw on the road to Damascus, and the same promised presence we will enjoy until the Return of our Blessed Lord.

The Promise of the Father
A few days after this departure, the Holy Spirit came into the church. This Promise of the Father is the reality of the spiritual presence of Jesus in this world. He sits as the Refiner’s fire to cleanse our hearts. He empowers our human efforts with a Holy Anointing. He leads us directly through both the Written and the Living Word. Did Jesus leave? Yes. Will He return? Yes. And, He is also with us every moment of every day.

Scriptures:
Luke:24:1-12
NKJV
And He led them out as far as Bethany, and He lifted up His hands and blessed them. Now it came to pass, while He blessed them, that He was parted from them and carried up into heaven. And they worshiped Him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the temple praising and blessing God. Amen.
Matthew 28:18-20
And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.
Hebrews 12:22-24
But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel.
Revelation 7:9-12
After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, saying, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” All the angels stood around the throne and the elders and the four living creatures, and fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying:” Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom, Thanksgiving and honor and power and might, Be to our God forever and ever. Amen.”

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, I will enter Your Gates with Thanksgiving and Your Courts with Praise. I will humble my heart before You with sacrifices of worship. I will center my life and conduct, my plans and my dreams, on Your Perfect Will. I know that You are always faithful to be enthroned upon my praise. You will walk with me through every valley and trek with me up and down every mountain. Your presence is my promise and my portion. Like the disciples, I will be continually in the temple praising and blessing You. Amen.

Song:
All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name

Words: Edward Perronet; Music: “Coronation” Oliver Holden

1. All hail the power of Jesus’ name! Let angels prostrate fall.
Bring forth the royal diadem, and crown him Lord of all.
Bring forth the royal diadem, and crown him Lord of all!

2. O seed of Israel’s chosen race now ransomed from the fall,
hail him who saves you by his grace, and crown him Lord of all.
Hail him who saves you by his grace, and crown him Lord of all!

3. Let every tongue and every tribe on this terrestrial ball,
to him all majesty ascribe, and crown him Lord of all.
To him all majesty ascribe, and crown him Lord of all!

4. Oh, that with all the sacred throng we at his feet may fall!
We’ll join the everlasting song and crown him Lord of all.
We’ll join the everlasting song and crown him Lord of all.

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

October 22, 2017 “Extol”

Extol

What is the difference between exalting the Lord and extolling the Lord? 
Since dictionaries tend to use “exalt” as a synonym for extol, finding the meaning can be confusing.  However, a comparison of how the words are used in the Psalms reveals the distinction:

  1. Extolling the Lord is the accumulated exaltation of the Lord.  The word “extol” (and its KJV equivalent “bless”) is usually given in the context of the corporate worship of the people of God.
  2. Individually, each of has the capacity exalt the Lord—to honor Him with the highest place in our hearts, to tell of His excellence, to sing of His grace and in many other ways acknowledge His greatness.
  3. When the people of God gather and we all begin to exalt Him, our praise accumulates as together we begin to extol.

OT:5549 calal (saw-lal’); a primitive root; to mound up (especially a turnpike); figurative, to exalt; KJV – cast up, exalt (self), extol, make plain, raise up.
OT:1288 barak (baw-rak’); a primitive root; to kneel; by implication to bless God (as an act of adoration),  KJV – X abundantly, X altogether, X at all, blaspheme, bless, congratulate, curse, X greatly, X indeed, kneel (down), praise, salute, X still, thank

Let us extol the Lord!
Today we will gather in the House of the Lord to mount up our praise, to exalt the Lord together!  The volume of sound in the room will mount up.  In the spirit realm, the value of the sacrifices of praise of the people of God will mount up to the heavens.  Just as the instrumentalists and the singers became “one, to make one sound” in praising and thanking the Lord, when King Solomon dedicated the Temple, the unity of personal exaltation of God becomes a corporate unison of bodies, souls, and spirits, as we join the hosts of heaven to extol the Lord.  Heaven and earth meet at His footstool to worship Him in Spirit and Truth.

This is one celebration we dare not miss!  This is a gathering in the Spirit.

  • Here we are seated together in heavenly realms for our exaltation has mounted up and the pleasing aroma of our collected sacrifices of praise has accumulated into a sweet smelling savor to God Himself.
  • Jacob’s ladder has been extended from eternity’s throne room into our moments and days.  Angels now ascend and descend with armloads of grace.
  • The Lord we extol presides over this gathering, His precious Spirit quickening yielded hearts and melting cold ones.
  • The focus is on the One Who Sits Upon the Throne, the Lamb, Slain Before the Foundation of the World who has formed for Himself a people out of every tribe and tongue and nation, a Kingdom of Priests and Priesthood of Kings to sing His praise.

And we have a place there. 
We have a verse to sing in the eternal song, a harmony to add, a grateful tear to shed, splashing at our feet, running together with all the grateful tears of the Redeemed and flowing together into the full tide of the River or Life.

How wonderful it is to join the throng, to sing the songs of time and eternity, to exalt God with all our might, and to see our sacrifice of praise mount up with all the others until it is high praise indeed.

Scriptures:
Psalm 34:1-3
I will extol the LORD at all times; his praise will always be on my lips. My soul will boast in the LORD; let the afflicted hear and rejoice. Glorify the LORD with me; let us exalt his name together.
Psalm 95:1-2
Come, let us sing for joy to the LORD; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song.
Psalm 109:30
With my mouth I will greatly extol the LORD; in the great throng I will praise him.
Psalm 111:1
Praise the LORD. I will extol the LORD with all my heart in the council of the upright and in the assembly.
Psalm 145:9-12
All you have made will praise you, O LORD; your saints will extol you. They will tell of the glory of your kingdom and speak of your might, so that all men may know of your mighty acts and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.
Psalm 147:12-14
Extol the LORD, O Jerusalem; praise your God, O Zion, for he strengthens the bars of your gates and blesses your people within you. He grants peace to your borders and satisfies you with the finest of wheat.
Psalm 149:1-6 NKJV
Praise the LORD! Sing to the LORD a new song, And His praise in the assembly of saints. Let Israel rejoice in their Maker; Let the children of Zion be joyful in their King. Let them praise His name with the dance; Let them sing praises to Him with the timbrel and harp. For the LORD takes pleasure in His people; He will beautify the humble with salvation. Let the saints be joyful in glory; Let them sing aloud on their beds. Let the high praises of God be in their mouth, And a two-edged sword in their hand …This honor have all His saints. Praise the LORD!
Hebrews 12:22-24
… you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, You are worthy of all praise. Help me add my song to the song of the multitudes around Your throne. Amazingly, my heart-song has a place in this symphony! You have called me out of darkness into Your marvelous light expressly so that I might praise You with the saints gathered in grace. This is no solo; this is the ensemble of the ages, the choir and orchestra of the Redeemed! Together, from steadfast hearts, we sing and make the music of praise and worship. This amalgamated song of heaven and earth rises above exaltation to status of High Sounding Praise as we extol You! Bless the Lord, O My soul! Amen.

Song:
O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing
Words: Charles Wesley; Music: Lowell Mason

1 O for a thousand tongues to sing my great Redeemer’s praise,
the glories of my God and King, the triumphs of his grace!

2 My gracious Master and my God, assist me to proclaim,
to spread thro’ all the earth abroad the honors of your name.

3 Jesus! the name that charms our fears, that bids our sorrows cease,
’tis music in the sinner’s ears,’tis life and health and peace.

4 He breaks the power of cancelled sin, he sets the prisoner free;
his blood can make the foulest clean; his blood availed for me.

5 To God all glory, praise, and love be now and ever given
by saints below and saints above, the Church in earth and heaven.

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

October 15, 2017 “Praise!”

Praise!

Everything that exists in time has a beginning, a middle and an ending.
Worship is no exception. Praise is the starting place for a service of worship. Psalm 100 states that praise is the gateway to the courts of the Lord. We enter His gates with praise and thanksgiving.

If your worship leader understands his/her ministry, the praise part of the service today will enable you express your gratitude to God for His faithfulness to you. There should be an opportunity to boldly and joyfully proclaim the praises of God, perhaps with the ancient words of a biblical psalm or with a classic hymn of praise with four stanzas: one for the Father, another for the Son, still another for the Spirit, and a fourth for the Kingdom of God. You may be led in a contemporary song that extols the majesty and love of God or the supremacy of the Lord Jesus. However it is done, praise is the starting point.

There are many reasons for this:

  • Praise focuses our minds on God and not on us.
  • Thanksgiving humbles us before our God.
  • Exaltation of the Lord Jesus establishes His heavenly Kingdom here on earth.
  • The Lord responds to our praise with His presence and His sovereignty.
  • The praise of the Church is heard by the spiritual wickedness arrayed against us.
  • The greatness of God is revealed to us by the Holy Spirit.
  • If there is un-confessed sin in our hearts, humility leads to repentance.
  • Praise renews the mind and clears away any confusion we may have collected during the week.

Tempo is not the Issue.
Songs of praise do not have to be fast songs. Sometimes a slower song that really exalts the Lord can be an excellent starting place for a worship service. Many times, though, our bodies need a little help getting into a worship state of being. In times like these a little bit or rhythm can help us release our praise. A catchy tune can help us recall the words of scripture so we can enter into the service.

It is an act of obedience.
Praise has another strategic advantage: it is not a matter of feeling. Praising God is not an involuntary or emotional reflex, it is an act of obedience. The Bible says the Lord is pleased by the Sacrifice of Praise. King David set the example in a terrible, judgment-filled moment of crisis when he refused to offer a sacrifice to the Lord which costs him nothing.

Today, become a proactive praise-er.
Go ahead and praise God whether you like the music or not. Lift your heart, your mind, your hands, and your voice in praise as act of obedience. Don’t wait for a feeling. Let your praise be a costly sacrifice. It may cost your comfort, your position, your pride, your dignity, or even your embarrassment, but if you praise the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, you will find yourself through the gates and into the presence of the Lord.

Scriptures:
Psalm 22:3,
But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel. KJV … You are holy, Enthroned in the praises of Israel.
Psalm 147:1
Praise the LORD. How good it is to sing praises to our God, how pleasant and fitting to praise him!
Psalm 103:1
Praise the LORD, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
Psalm 100:4-5
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 generation
James 5:13
Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise.
2 Samuel 24:24
I will not sacrifice to the LORD my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing.”
Psalm 51:17
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
Romans 12:1-2
Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God-this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is-his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Ephesians 3:10-13 10
His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, 11 according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.
Hebrews 13:15-16
Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise-the fruit of lips that confess his name. And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, if I learn anything at all from the scriptures it is that You are worthy of praise. Your excellence is beyond our understanding so what we must do is celebrate it. Thank You for making praise and thanksgiving the gateway to Your presence. How fitting and pleasant it is for Your people to give thanks for all You have done and to praise You for Your excellent greatness. You found us in the darkness of our messed-up lives and brought sweet healing light to our souls. Now You have called us out of darkness for the purpose of proclaiming Your praise. This I will do today! Amen and Amen!

Song:
Praise Him! Praise Him!
Words: Fanny Crosby; Music: Chester G. Allen

1. Praise Him! praise Him! Jesus, our blessed Redeemer!
Sing, O earth, His wonderful love proclaim!
Hail Him! hail Him! highest archangels in glory,
strength and honor give to His holy name!
Like a shepherd, Jesus will guard His children;
in His arms He carries them all day long:

Refrain:
Praise Him! praise Him! tell of His excellent greatness!
Praise Him! praise Him! ever in joyful song!

2. Praise Him! praise Him! Jesus, our blessed Redeemer!
For our sins, He suffered and bled and died;
He our Rock, our hope of eternal salvation,
Hail Him! hail Him! Jesus the crucified.
Sound His praises! Jesus who bore our sorrows,
love unbounded, wonderful, deep, and strong:

Refrain

3. Praise Him! praise Him! Jesus, our blessed Redeemer!
Heavenly portals loud with hosannas ring!
Jesus, Savior, reigneth forever and ever;
crown Him! crown Him! prophet and priest and King!
Christ is coming, over the world victorious,
power and glory unto the Lord belong:

Refrain

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

September 4, 2017 “Water

Water

Water is not alive but life is not possible without it.
The most far-reaching telescopes man has invented scan the depths of the universe looking for planets or moons than host the water cycle: vapor to liquid to solid—for without water, there can be no life as we know it. The human body can go many times longer without food than without water.

Water itself is not alive but life is not possible without it.
Water is also a major biblical metaphor for the spiritual life, both that of God and that of humankind. The flow of the Life of God is seen as similar to the flow of water:

  • The River of God that strengthens the individual and makes the city glad, (Psalms)
  • The River of Life flowing from the Throne of God, (Ezekiel 43; 47; Revelation 22)
  • The inner spring of Living Water in the believer’s Heart, (John 3) and
  • The River of the Spirit of God flowing from deep within the Christ-follower to bless the world (John 7)

The Bible even makes it clear that the life itself is in the blood. Science tells us that our blood is more than 90% water.

When and Where
If we are alive it is because our blood is flowing. If the earth itself is alive it is because the water cycle is in motion. God is alive and His Spirit is flowing, A Healing Stream from His Mighty Throne. Worship leaders don’t have to make it flow; the Life of God flows because it is the Life of God. Worshipers simply have to plunge into the flow.

God’s creativity flows in all of creation from the smallest particle of the atom rushing in its miniscule circle to the stars in their courses. The will of Jesus is the force scientist call gravity. How can I say this? The New Testament says that “He holds all things together.” The world sparkles with the colors God invented and all that is alive throbs with the life He supplies.
Where? The River of Life flows from the heart of God.

When? Now, unceasingly, something beyond the reach of time, it is a flow undiminished by floods past and always full to flow in each moment as it comes.

The only remaining question is the flow of our life:
Where? From within where Jesus lives and reigns,

  • a well of fresh life,
  • a spring of His Spirit to animate ours.

When? When we tend the spring.

  • In the Secret Place of Prayer,
  • in the Sanctuary of Worship,
  •  in the public space of service, the water of our life—mixed with His—flows like a river, a river of blessing.

And thus we know we are alive.

Water itself is not alive but life is not possible without it.

Scriptures:
Psalm 63:1-8
O God, you are my God; eagerly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my flesh faints for you, as in a barren and dry land where there is no water. Therefore I have gazed upon you in your holy place, that I might behold your power and your glory. For your loving-kindness is better than life itself; my lips shall give you praise. So will I bless you as long as I live and lift up my hands in your Name. My soul is content, as with marrow and fatness, and my mouth praises you with joyful lips, When I remember you upon my bed, and meditate on you in the night watches. For you have been my helper, and under the shadow of your wings I will rejoice. My soul clings to you; your right hand holds me fast.
Leviticus 17:11 KJV
For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.
Psalm 1:1-3; 46:4-5 NIV
Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners
or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day.
Ezekiel 47:1-2; 9 NIV
The man brought me back to the entrance of the temple, and I saw water coming out from under the threshold of the temple toward the east (for the temple faced east). The water was coming down from under the south side of the temple, south of the altar. …so where the river flows everything will live.
Revelation 22:1-5 NIV
Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever.
John 4:13-14; 7:37-38 NIV
“Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
“If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, asthe Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.”

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, I approach Your Throne with my praise and worship, ministering to You with the Living Sacrifice of Praise. I do this because it is the pattern of heaven, revealed to Moses in the mountain and seen on earth in the Tabernacle he built. My thanksgiving is the gateway to Your presence. I my humble praise brings Your majesty even closer. By Your holy blood I pass through the torn veil into the Holy of Holies. There in the stillness of Your Covenantal Love, all I need I find in You. And there beneath Your Holy Throne a spring bubbles with new life—the fountainhead of the River of Life! Thank You, Lord!

Song:
A Healing Stream
Words and Music: Stephen Phifer

Refrain:
There’s a healing stream from the Throne of God;
Enter in. Enter in.
Pain is swept away in this healing flood.
Enter in. Enter In.

Verse:
We enter in when we praise Him.
The waters flow in our worship of Him.
Through us a healing stream,
It’s the power of His presence!

Refrain

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

July 30, 2017 “Adorned”

Adorned

The Poet combines two words that do not, in our modern thinking, belong together.
They form a paradox:

“Holiness” and “Adorn.”

We think of adornments as decorations, surface improvements intended to enhance the appearance of something. Holiness is something deep and unseen.

  • Does holiness shine?
  • Does it sparkle?
  • What is its bling factor?

If the subject is your house or mine these terms do not go together.

  • What can we add to a home to tell the world that a husband and wife, still deeply in love and continuously faithful to each other, live inside?
  • Do the glittering ornaments on an artificial Christmas tree make it real?
  • Do the bright green plastic leaves give it life?
  • Beautiful jewels may highlight a beautiful face, but does that mean the heart is beautiful as well?

The Beauty of the House
How different is the House of God!

“…holiness adorns your house, O Lord…”

The beauty of the Kingdom of God is the beauty of the King Himself—the beauty of holiness! This is gold tried in the fire. This is the beautiful Rose of Sharon shining in the sun. This is the Day Star from on High, the Bright and Morning Star. This is the constant dawning of the Sun of Righteousness with healing in His wings.

It is in the beauty of this Holiness that we are commanded to worship.
This is not a decoration. It is a deep condition of the soul—our whole being. When the world hears the church singing the praises of God, there is more to hear than music. There is a note that only sounds in the redeemed human heart. The world can sense this spiritual adornment but cannot understand it or its source—the absolute purity of the heart of God! Untouched by sin, there is no dissonance without resolution in the music of the holy. The dissonance of Calvary was resolved at the Empty Tomb.

The Beauty of the Dove
The strength of God is seen as the dove—a primary symbol of the Holy Spirit. The two covenantal shifts between the Old and the New Covenants are the true forgiveness of sins and the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit in the believer.

The Bible explains to us that the Spirit of God speaks to the human spirit. This is the source of the universal longing for beauty—for adornment that is more than outward decoration. We long to observe beauty through our five senses and also to sense that authentic, inner beauty of holiness.

Worship is all about this sixth sense of the holy.

The Brooding Dove of the Spirit
So as the Dove broods over our hearts, those who can sing and make music must sing and make holy music. Those who can write must find pen and paper, their hearts “stirred by a noble theme.” Artists and art lovers must bring the inner beauty of Christ inside out into the open to be seen, heard, and felt by others.

The Beauty of Holiness is no veneer, pretty on the outside but cheap on the inside. It is no shiny decoration that glitters but is not gold. It is the splendor of a God who is good and whose mercy endures to our generation expressed in the works of the hands and hearts of those who worship Him.

The arts of True Worship, adorn the Father’s House with the beauty of Holiness.

Scriptures:
Psalm 93
The Lord is King; he has put on splendid apparel; the Lord has put on his apparel
and girded himself with strength. He has made the whole world so sure that it cannot be moved; Ever since the world began, your throne has been established; you are from everlasting. The waters have lifted up, O Lord, the waters have lifted up their voice; the waters have lifted up their pounding waves. Mightier than the sound of many waters, mightier than the breakers of the sea, mightier is the Lord who dwells on high. Your testimonies are very sure, and holiness adorns your house, O Lord, forever and for evermore.
2 Chronicles 20:21 NKJV
And when he had consulted with the people, he appointed those who should sing to the Lord , and who should praise the beauty of holiness, as they went out before the army and were saying: “Praise the Lord, For His mercy endures forever.”
Psalm 29:1-2 NKJV
Give unto the Lord, O you mighty ones, Give unto the Lord glory and strength. Give unto the Lord the glory due to His name; Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.
Psalm 45:1 NIV
My heart is stirred by a noble theme as I recite my verses for the king; my tongue is the pen of a skillful writer.
1 Peter 3:3-5 NKJV
Do not let your adornment be merely outward — arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel — rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, what a wonder You are! You are the object of our worship today, the content of our liturgy, the passion of our souls. I will lift my voice with the People of God in the Sanctuary of God for it is our chief purpose in life. One day all the work of the ministry to mankind will be done—no more sermons to preach, to more hurting souls to touch—but in that golden day we will still be occupied with the ministry of worship. Eternity must expand forever because we, the church and the hosts of heaven have so much worship to bring to Your Holy Name—Jesus! This is the holiness that adorns Your house. Amen and forever Amen!

Song:
O Lord, You’re Beautiful
Words and Music: Keith Green

Oh Lord, You’re beautiful.
Your face is all I seek.
For when Your eyes are on this child,
Your grace abounds to me.

I want to take Your word and shine it all around.
But first help me to just, live it Lord.
And when I’m doing well, help me to never seek a crown,
For my reward is giving glory to You.

Oh Lord, please light the fire
That once burned bright and clear.
Replace the lamp of my first love
That burns with holy fear.

Oh Lord, You’re beautiful
Your face is all I seek.
For when Your eyes are on this child,
Your grace abounds to me.

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

July 23, 2017 “Gates”

Gates

Ancient Gates
Ancient cities crumbled into ruins with their ancient gates still standing guard, the only remaining testament to the greatness of the city. It requires little imagination to stand under the naked arch of an ancient gateway and visualize the traffic that once crowded through the fortified entrance to the city. With the sunrise the gates were opened to commerce and soon after dark they were closed to danger. High walls protected against the enemies, real and imagined, out there somewhere in the dark who wanted the city and all it contained for themselves.

Gates, themselves, were keepers. They kept people and things out and they kept them in. Important zones were protected by gates. They opened for the right people and closed to the wrong people. Gates were strong points made even stronger by the gatekeepers stationed near them to man the mechanisms that made the gates operate. Armed soldiers patrolled the approaches to the gates, inside and out, ever on the alert for the saboteur or the spy. Lookouts manned the heights above the gates to scan the horizon for enemies who might try to violate the security of the city.

Contemporary Gates
There are real gates, still today. Adjacent countries have borders with armed guards at the check points. These are the gates—of entrance and exit points for the neighboring citizens.

As metaphors, gates are even more numerous. There are behaviors, compromises, substances, and seeming innocent images or presentations that can all act as gateways to sin, disease, and addiction. As we walk the Path of Life, the Spirit warns us where to step, which fork in the path to take, and with whom we should choose to walk.

Ancient Gates Still in Power
The good news is that there are still Ancient Gates guarding significant places. The Poet reveals them to us:

Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. Ps 100:4 NIV

“His gates” means that God has gates. There is a way to approach Him and a way not to approach Him. Three words describe “His Gates:”

  • Gratitude,
  • Praise, and
  • Humility.

We should approach the Gates of His presence with thanksgiving and praise springing from a humble heart. Pride and self-centeredness will close the Gates to us.

When we gather to worship, our greatest desire should be to see these Holy, ancient doors open in response to our thanksgiving and praise. Why? Because above all other considerations, we need for the King of Glory to come in! He is the answer to all the world’s problems from the most private pain to the most public pandemic. If we are faithful to tend His Gates, if we guard the City of God from lesser, frivolous pursuits in public worship, if we lift up our heads, these organs of speech designed in Eden for the praise of Heaven, The Lord Will Come In!

And He will make all the difference.

Scriptures:
Psalm 24
The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it, the world and all who dwell therein. For it is he who founded it upon the seas and made it firm upon the rivers of the deep. “Who can ascend the hill of the Lord? and who can stand in his holy place?” “Those who have clean hands and a pure heart, who have not pledged themselves to falsehood, nor sworn by what is a fraud. They shall receive a blessing from the Lord and a just reward from the God of their salvation.” Such is the generation of those who seek him, of those who seek your face, O God of Jacob. Lift up your heads, O gates; lift them high, O everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in. “Who is this King of glory?” “The Lord, strong and mighty, the Lord, mighty in battle.” Lift up your heads, O gates; lift them high, O everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in. “Who is he, this King of glory?” “The Lord of hosts, he is the King of glory.”
1 Peter 5:5-7 NIV
Young men, in the same way be submissive to those who are older. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
Psalm 51:17 NIV
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
Isaiah 57:14-15; 66:1-2
And it will be said: “Build up, build up, prepare the road! Remove the obstacles out of the way of my people.” For this is what the high and lofty One says — he who lives forever, whose name is holy: “I live in a high and holy place, but also with him who is contrite and lowly in spirit to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite. This is what the Lord says: “Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. Where is the house you will build for me? Where will my resting place be? Has not my hand made all these things, and so they came into being?” declares the Lord. “This is the one I esteem: he who is humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at my word.
Psalm 84:10 AMP
For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand [anywhere else]; I would rather be a doorkeeper and stand at the threshold in the house of my God than to dwell [at ease] in the tents of wickedness.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, Today I will process with the People of God through the ancient Gates of Thanksgiving. I will lift my voice in the Courts of Praise. I will bow at the Altar of Repentance in deep humility. In the midst of the congregation I will enter the Most Holy Place to pray and hear Your Word in the light and power of the Holy Spirit. Then we, the saints and I, will pass through the Riven Veil to wait before Your Holiness. You will meet my every need, here at the summit of Mt. Zion. How is all this my destiny? Because when we, the church, lift up the ancient Gates of Praise, You, the King of Glory, came in! Thank You, Lord! Amen.

Song:
Jesus, We Crown You King
Words and Music: Stephen Phifer

1. Jesus, we crown You the King of all kings.
Jesus, we crown You the King of all kings.
You’re the joy of all Creation, make the morning stars to sing!
Jesus, we crown You, Lord, We exalt You.
Jesus, we crown You the King of kings.

2. Jesus, we crown You the Lord of all lords.
Jesus, we crown You the Lord of all lords.
On a thrown of greatest splendor You are worshiped and adored!
Jesus, we crown You, Lord, We exalt You.
Jesus, we crown You the Lord of Lords.

3. Jesus we crown you the Prince of all Peace.
Jesus we crown you the Prince of all Peace.
For You ride on every tempest, make the wildest storm to cease!
Jesus, we crown You, Lord, We exalt You.
Jesus, we crown You the Prince of Peace.

King of kings, Lord of lords. Prince of Peace, Mighty God
We crown now, as we sing. Jesus we crown You King of kings!

You’re the joy of all Creation, make the morning stars to sing!
Jesus, we crown You, Lord, We exalt You.
Jesus, we crown You the King of kings.
King of kings, Lord of lords, Prince of Pease,
Mighty God! King of kings!

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

June 25, 2017 “Glorious”

Glorious

“Glorious” is easy to define and difficult to describe.
It means, “full of glory,” John’s famous testimony of Jesus. But what is glory?

  • The Hebrew words are “tip’ret” and “kadowd” meaning: “beauty; ornament; distinction” And “weight, but only figuratively in a good sense, splendor or copiousness”
  • The Greek word is “doxa” which “signifies an opinion, estimate, and hence, the honor resulting from a good opinion.”

To be glorious is to be filled with beauty, distinction, honor, and significance.

Jesus, today, at this moment is glorious and worthy of our praise.
He is no longer pinned to a cross. The Lord is glorious on a throne of majesty, dominating Heaven’s architecture, the focus of thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly and an ever-increasing gallery of sanctified saints, witnesses from earth to His heavenly glory.

The Lord is glorious, bearing that glory in scars.
Look closely at His hands and feet and his riven side and you will see His glory, the glory of blood, innocent blood, shed for the sins of all of us, and the glory of nail-scars, wounds by which we are healed.

The Lord is glorious in majesty.
Here is a reason to play our instruments in a fitting and orderly way! Here is a theme for a new song and for an old song, songs for all the generations to sing. Here is a cadence to which we, as the Army of God, can march, singing into battle, “The Lord is Good and His Mercy Endures Forever!” Here is a beat we can dance to letting our joy overflow into witness. Because Jesus is glorious in majesty, we have to “make His praise glorious,” too!

The Lord is glorious in truth.
Opinions fly around like aimless insects, buzzing here and there. But His truth is marching on! He has never been wrong so He never has to amend His words! His truth is for all, no matter from what continent or climate, culture or circumstance, generation or gestalt. Read it. Believe it. Obey it. It works.

The Lord is glorious in love.
God is love, the Scripture says and Jesus has revealed the details of that love to us. The love of God is glorious in mercy, compassion, kindness, and long-suffering. It is also stern and demanding, full of justice and equity. The glorious love of the Lord is not always to be felt, but it is always there making all things work together for good to those who have covenanted with Him with this New Covenant in His blood. His ways are past finding out, it is true, but His love is not past finding; glorious it is and readily at hand.

The Lord is glorious in His faithfulness.
He is there for us because He promised to be. He is coming for us because He promised He would. Our joy is to seek Him now and to prepare to meet Him then. As we are faithful to Him we enjoy of a foretaste of what is to come. A trumpet will sound and we will be ready for a glory never before seen!

Jesus Is Glorious!
Splendor and majesty are before Him. Justice and peace are the foundations of His throne. A River of Life flows from a spring beneath that glorious throne. Let us enter that River today, ankle-deep with thanksgiving, knee-deep with praise, waist-deep with worship, and let us swim in the glorious grace of His fullness, a river indeed that one cannot cross.

Let us make His praise glorious—it is only right that we do so!

Scriptures:
Psalm 145
I will exalt you, O God my King, and bless your Name for ever and ever. Every day will I bless you and praise your Name for ever and ever. Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised; there is no end to his greatness. One generation shall praise your works to another and shall declare your power. I will ponder the glorious splendor of your majesty and all your marvelous works. They shall speak of the might of your wondrous acts, and I will tell of your greatness. They shall publish the remembrance of your great goodness; they shall sing of your righteous deeds. The Lord is gracious and full of compassion, slow to anger and of great kindness. The Lord is loving to everyone and his compassion is over all his works. All your works praise you, O Lord, and your faithful servants bless you. They make known the glory of your kingdom and speak of your power; That the peoples may know of your power and the glorious splendor of your kingdom. Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom; your dominion endures throughout all ages. The Lord is faithful in all his words and merciful in all his deeds. The Lord upholds all those who fall; he lifts up those who are bowed down. The eyes of all wait upon you, O Lord, and you give them their food in due season. You open wide your hand and satisfy the needs of every living creature. The Lord is righteous in all his ways and loving in all his works. The Lord is near to those who call upon him, to all who call upon him faithfully. He fulfills the desire of those who fear him; he hears their cry and helps them. The Lord preserves all those who love him, but he destroys all the wicked. My mouth shall speak the praise of the Lord; let all flesh bless his holy Name for ever and ever.
Psalm 66:1-4 NIV
Shout with joy to God, all the earth! Sing the glory of his name; make his praise glorious! Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds! So great is your power that your enemies cringe before you. All the earth bows down to you; they sing praise to you, they sing praise to your name.”
Isaiah 12:4-6 NIV
“Give thanks to the Lord, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done, and proclaim that his name is exalted. Sing to the Lord , for he has done glorious things; let this be known to all the world. Shout aloud and sing for joy, people of Zion, for great is the Holy One of Israel among you.”
John 1:14 NIV
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
2 Corinthians 3:17-18 NKJV
Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.
Isaiah 60:13 NKJV
“The glory of Lebanon shall come to you, The cypress, the pine, and the box tree together, To beautify the place of My sanctuary; And I will make the place of My feet glorious.

Prayer:
A Song of Creation
The Book of Common Prayer
Invocation
Glorify the Lord, all you works of the Lord, praise him and highly exalt him forever.
In the firmament of his power, glorify the Lord, praise him and highly exalt him forever.
I. The Cosmic Order
Glorify the Lord, you angels and all powers of the Lord, O heavens and all waters above the heavens. Sun and moon and stars of the sky, glorify the Lord, praise him and highly exalt him forever.
Glorify the Lord, every shower of rain and fall of dew, all winds and fire and heat. Winter and Summer, glorify the Lord, praise him and highly exalt him forever.
Glorify the Lord, O chill and cold, drops of dew and flakes of snow. Frost and cold, ice and sleet, glorify the Lord, praise him and highly exalt him forever.
Glorify the Lord, O nights and days, O shining light and enfolding dark. Storm clouds and thunderbolts, glorify the Lord, praise him and highly exalt him forever.
Doxology
Let us glorify the Lord: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. In the firmament of his power, glorify the Lord, Praise him and highly exalt him forever.
A Song of Praise
Glory to you, Lord God of our fathers; you are worthy of praise; glory to you. Glory to you for the radiance of your holy Name; we will praise you and highly exalt you forever.

Song:
Glory to the Lamb
Words and Music: Larry Dempsey

Glory! Glory! Glory to the Lamb!
Glory! Glory! Glory to the Lamb!
For He is glorious and worthy to be praised,
The Lamb upon His throne
And unto Him we lift our voice in praise.
The Lamb upon His Throne!
Glory! Glory! Glory to the Lamb!
Glory! Glory! Glory to the Lamb!

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

May 28, 2017

Seen

Some things are so beautiful they have to be seen to really know them.
The Northern Lights are like that. My father saw them in Alaska in WW2 and he told me about them. I was fascinated. Over the years film and pictures failed to help me see them. A few years ago on a teaching trip to Alaska I stood on a hillside in Kotzebue, inside the Arctic Circle. While the heavens danced over my head, a verse of Scripture repeated in my heart: “The heavens are telling the glory of God.”

Now I can say I have seen the Northern Lights—I have experienced them for myself.

When something has been “seen,” this often means more than a visual recognition of it. We use the word to also mean “understanding,” as in “I have seen the light!

How many eyes do we have?

  • the mind’s eye,
  • the eyes of the heart,
  • the eye for beauty, and
  • the eyes of our understanding.

In a biblical sense, all three parts of our humanity have their own kind of vision:

  • the eyes of the body see the reality of creation,
  • the eyes of soul see patterns of human behavior, the intricacies of mathematics and logic, and wide-screen technicolor movies of our imagination, and
  • the eyes of the spirit, the God-conscious part of us, see the throne of God.

With these eyes we perceive the world, we understand what is observable in life, and we obtain by the Holy Spirit an inner vision of the world beyond our senses and our minds.

This wonderful impartation of inner sight is the work of the Holy Spirit.
It happens when we worship God.

  • As we give God the glory due His name, He enables the eyes of our spirit to see Jesus.
  • To see Jesus is to be changed. To behold Him, to contemplate Him. is to be changed from glory to glory.
  • This is a Bible promise and it really does happen.

Seeing is knowing.
On this Lord’s Day when it is time to sing to the Lord, let’s give it all we’ve got! There is no greater enterprise for the expenditure of our energy. What other activity can open the eyes of our heart? Is there another One we can behold and be changed into His likeness?

When we have seen with the eyes of our own spirit, then we will know as never before because, like those dancing streams of light in the Arctic sky we will have gone beyond the testimony of others or even the high definition photos others have taken. We will have seen for ourselves that God is good and His mercy endures forever, even to our generation.

Scriptures:
Psalm 63 NIV
O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water. I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory. Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you. I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands. My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you. On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night. Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings. My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me. They who seek my life will be destroyed; they will go down to the depths of the earth. They will be given over to the sword and become food for jackals. But the king will rejoice in God; all who swear by God’s name will praise him, while the mouths of liars will be silenced.
Psalm 34:8 NKJV
Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good; Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!
Isaiah 6:5 NIV
“…my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.”
Isaiah 9:2 NIV
The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.
John 1:14 NIV
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
John 14:9 NIV
Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.
John 20:18 NIV
Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her.
2 Corinthians 3:18 NKJV
But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.

Prayer Songs:
Exalted Lord
Words and Music: Steve Phifer

I came into Your holy presence loaded down with care and fear,
Just one hope that something good might happen for me here.
As I hear Your people singing songs of worship, songs of love,
Something stirs within my heart; by faith I’m looking up.

I lift the eyes of my heart toward Your Holy Temple.
I lift my heart with heaven’s songs of love.
I lift my soul to see a throne of majesty and then
I see You, Lord, high and lifted up!

Exalted Lord, I hear Your angels singing,
“Holy, Holy! Holy, Holy!”
I join their song for You alone are worthy.
Exalted Lord, You’ve come and lifted me!

Open My Eyes that I May See
Words and Music: Clara H. Scott

1. Open my eyes, that I may see
glimpses of truth thou hast for me;
place in my hands the wonderful key
that shall unclasp and set me free.
Silently now I wait for thee,
ready, my God, thy will to see.
Open my eyes, illumine me, Spirit divine!

2. Open my ears, that I may hear
voices of truth thou sendest clear;
and while the wave notes fall on my ear,
everything false will disappear.
Silently now I wait for thee,
ready, my God, thy will to see.
Open my ears, illumine me, Spirit divine!

3. Open my mouth, and let me bear
gladly the warm truth everywhere;
open my heart and let me prepare
love with thy children thus to share.
Silently now I wait for thee,
ready, my God, thy will to see.
Open my heart, illumine me, Spirit divine!

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

April 23, 2017

Throne-room

To worship the Lord Jesus is to be found in a crowd, not lost in one.
We belong here with the angels, seraphim, and winged creatures with multiple eyes and faces.

  • Without our voices the choir is incomplete.
  • Our hearts beat in time with the multiplied meters of eternity as if they themselves were eternal—for they are!
  • Formed in His likeness, we gather with other hot-hearted worshipers of earth and sky and the heavens beyond, to make the music of worship.
  • The doorposts shake in sympathetic vibration, matching pitch with the multitudes.
  • The flaming of so many ignited hearts fills the Throne Room of Almighty God with smoke.
  • No conflagration, this, no fire of destruction, it is an eternal flame rising from creation to mingle with the flaming Shekinah of the Creator, bathing the Throne Room in living light.

The Majesty of the One
Even with the roar of worship and the sensual overload of lightnings and thunders and instruments and voices, we hardly notice each other. All we can see is the majesty of the One-Who-sits-on-the-Throne. All our hearts can hear is the wonder of His voice singing over us. His song is a song of love and covenant and peace, of victory and the end of conflict—a brilliant counterpoint to the song of the angels and the church.

We who think of ourselves as earthbound, need to see beyond our sanctuaries to the Throne Room of God, for where we worship Him, He is enthroned there. We must sense the presence of the church but stretch beyond our five senses to return the Divine Embrace of Jesus, for when we worship Him, He is with us, close enough to touch. We must enter the circle of the One-in-Three and let the mutual love of Father/Son/Spirit whirl around and through us for this is the source of worship.

On the Lord’s Day, let us reach out and touch the Lord, for He is passing by. There is a touch that only He can give, a word that only He can speak, and a name, our name, that only He can whisper as we pray.

How wonderful to be found in a crowd.

Scriptures:
Revelation 7:9-17 NIV
After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.” All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying: “Amen! Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever. Amen!” Then one of the elders asked me, “These in white robes — who are they, and where did they come from?” I answered, “Sir, you know.” And he said, “These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore, “they are before the throne of God and serve him day and night in his temple; and he who sits on the throne will spread his tent over them. Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat upon them, nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”
Isaiah 6:1-7 NIV
In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.” At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke. “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.” Then one of the seraphs flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.”
Hebrews 12:22 NIV
But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, Lord and King, King of kings, Lord of lords, Wonderful Counselor, Prince of Peace, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, who can cease to give You Praise? Who can dare to be silent before such glory? Yet silent we must be when You speak. Somehow words from Your Throne room echo in our hearts. We want to run the aisles of glory but we dare not, for it is in our stillness that we know that You are God. With bursting hearts we bow before Your Majesty. Awash in Your glory, we are healed. Thank You, Lord! Amen.

Song:
Majesty

Words and Music: Jack Hayford

Majesty! Worship His majesty!
Unto Jesus, be all glory, honor and praise.
Majesty! Kingdom authority,
Flows from His throne, unto His own, His anthem raise.

So exalt, lift up on high the Name of Jesus.
Magnify, come glorify Christ Jesus the King.
Majesty, worship His majesty!
Jesus who died, now glorified, King of all kings!

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved