Worship Belongs to the Little Children

“Out of the mouths of infants You have ordained praise for Yourself, because of the foe and the adversary.” “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these.” “Truly, truly I say to you, unless you receive the Kingdom of Heaven like …

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All is Sacrifice and there is No Cost

“In view of God's mercies, therefore, I urge you, present your bodies as living sacrifices to God, holy and acceptable, which is your reasonable act of worship.” “In Him, let us, therefore, continually offer to God the sacrifice of praise, the fruit of lips that confess His Name.” “The Kingdom of Heaven is like man …

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The Church: Participation in Heaven on Earth

I cannot stop thinking about what I can only term “The Liturgy of Heaven.” Revelation forms the greater part of the imagery, of this thought of mine, but other passages of the Bible and some of my experiences with Nature contribute. I see all the angels and saints arrayed around the Throne, in the midst …

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The Reward of Christ and the Glory in His Saints

“He is coming, and His reward is with Him and His recompense accompanies Him.” Whenever I read or remember these words I see two pictures in my mind, that mean the same thing: I see Jesus, coming, with all His holy ones, redeemed by His blood, around Him, the reward of His suffering, the recompense …

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The Gift of God: The Worthiness of Christ to Eat His Flesh and Drink His Blood

“The Lord Jesus, on the night He was betrayed, took bread, and when He had blessed it, broke it, saying, 'This is My body.' In the same manner, after supper, He took the cup and said, 'This is My blood of the new covenant; do this as often as you drink it.' For whenever you …

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All Things Are Yours: Knowing and Praising God in Pleasure and Pain

One of the beautiful truths about the Christian life, is that God always gives us His absolute best – which, of course, points us to His Son, because it is for us in His Son that He gives us His absolute best, which is Jesus Christ Himself, in Jesus the Son. All things He makes, in our lives, to be very good. Not a single hair of our heads will perish. That is, nothing will be lost. Nothing will turn out to the worse. Nothing will be less than the absolute best and perfect. The statement that not a hair of our heads will perish was made in the context of being persecuted, hated, and killed, and it holds for all of life. “What, then, shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son for us, but freely gave Him over for us all, how will He not, with Him, graciously give us all things?” writes St. Paul, and in another place, “For all things are yours, whether Paul, or Cephas, or Apollos, or the world, or the present, or the future, or life or death – all are yours, and you are Christ's, and Christ is God's.” Everything was made for us. Pleasure is made for us. Suffering is made for us. Life is for us. Death is for us. We are the heirs of all things, because we are in the risen and glorified Christ. He died for our transgressions and rose for our justification, and in Him all must be ours. The whole world belongs to us in Him – we may enjoy the stars and the flowers and the sunsets. When pleasures are given to us, we praise and thank God for them. We worship Christ. We see His glory and are turned to Him by the majesty of a mountain, the beauty of the sky, the pleasure of a drink of water, the clarity of a color. We see His love for us in the placement of every blade of grass, in the bark of a tree, in food when we are hungry, in the song of a bird. In the same way, when sufferings are given to us, we praise and thank God for them, and we worship the Son, drawn to Him by our suffering, seeing His glory in the midst of it, knowing His love for us in every pain, grief, and shudder. The truth is, for those who have open eyes, the whole world proclaims the glory of the Lord, and in every experience – whether pleasant, even ecstatically pleasant, or painfully, perhaps searingly so – you can know God more, and know more about Him, too. In both pleasure and pain, you can know God in ways you never knew Him before; you can see truths about Him you never realized before; you can know truths you already knew in such a way, with such knowledge, that it is as if you never knew them before. I have never been able to understand the inability of some to see enjoying enjoyable things and giving thanks for painful things as somehow incompatible; there is a huge difference, because pleasure is pleasant and pain is painful – there's a difference between pleasures and between pains, too – which I have no desire to go into here, and I am certain that I could not describe this to anyone who did not already know, but there's also a similarity, even, perhaps, a sameness: we accept both for God's sake and give thanks to Him. One of the things about suffering is this: because of the idolatry in our hearts, it is very easy for us to become distracted by pleasures and to want the pleasures themselves, more accurately, to mistake our desire for our Creator for desire for created pleasures, instead of worshiping God and desiring and delighting in Him and in the pleasure for His sake – which is not to say that the delight in the pleasure (there is a reason pleasure is the word both for our experience and for that which produces the experience in us) is artificial; in suffering this is impossible, or nearly so, since the nature of suffering is pain, not pleasure, so that one must delight in God without distraction, worshiping Him without any danger of worshiping that for which one gives thanks. In Heaven, we will know God so truly, see Him so well, delight in Him so fully, ever satisfied in Him and ever seeking more of Him, that there will be no danger at all of our hearts mistaking created pleasures for our desire, thus idolizing them and rendering our worship and joy impure. (I say one of the things about suffering, because there is glory in suffering that is particular to that suffering, for the suffering becomes itself glory and is itself drawn up into the glory; the glory or reward that rests over suffering is not artificial, but is in fact related to the suffering itself.) It's true, that all is ours and nothing is against us. I write this partially to clarify. Some people draw a line between the “Theology of the Cross” and the “Theology of Glory,” as if the two could ever be separated. There is no glory without the cross, and there is glory in the cross. This is proclaimed in the Gospels and the entire New Testament, and, indeed, the Old Testament also. The Cross and the Resurrection are inseparable. Some people seem to be obsessed with suffering and death, to the extent that they ignore life and resurrection. Redemption begins on earth. Copyright 2018 Raina Nightingale

Temples of the Holy Spirit and Living Sacrifices

It is like the parable of the talents. He loans us all we have, including our bodies and our minds. Spending your whole life trying to take care of your body and eat healthy because you say to yourself, “I belong to God; I should take care of myself,” is like the servant who buried his talent and then said to his master, “Master, I knew you were a hard man, taking what you did not sow and harvesting what you did not plant. So, for fear of losing it, I buried this, your talent. Here is what belongs to you.” We may just as easily be called upon to lose it all for His sake; and, this is no loss, for it was His to begin with. He has the right to demand it back whenever He pleases, in whatever way He pleases, and in whatever portions He pleases... Do not sin; do not live for yourself; do not live or act or choose for your own pleasure; “You are not your own; you were bought with a price. Therefore, honor God with your body.” All your functions, all your parts, are to be at His disposal. Everything you do should be an act of worship. You should use your body in a way that is worthy of your calling as saints; in a way that is worthy of the Lord Jesus... God Himself lives in us. How dare we unite the very temple of God, the members of the Lord, the Lord Himself, with sin and unholiness? Because we are temples of the Holy Spirit, all sin is sacrilege – sin committed against that which is holy.