Four Words Which Changed My Life
Dr. Jim Denison
A friend once sent me some advice from kids. It gives us a sense of what mothers must deal with: Never trust a dog to watch your food (Patrick, age 10); When your dad is mad and asks you, “Do I look stupid?” don’t answer him (Michael, 14); Never tell your mom her diet’s not working (Michael, 14); Stay away from prunes (Randy, 9); When your mom is mad at your dad, don’t let her brush your hair (Taylia, 11); Never allow your three-year-old brother in the same room as your school assignment (Traci, 14); Don’t sneeze in front of mom when you’re eating crackers (Mitchell, 12); Puppies still have bad breath even after eating a tic tac (Andrew, 9); If you want a kitten, start out by asking for a horse (Naomi, 15); Never try to baptize a cat (Eileen, 8); Don’t pick on your sister when she’s holding a baseball bat (Joel, 10); Never hold a dust buster and a cat at the same time (Kyoyo, 9).
This morning I am going to give mothers and the rest of us the best advice I know. The greatest solution to the challenges you face in raising your children and dealing with your problems, whatever they may be. The greatest help for the rest of us, wherever we need God’s help most. My advice takes only four words to state. It is going to seem paradoxical in the extreme, the last thing you’d think you should do when you need help and hope. But it is the key to living for Jesus, serving him effectively, and experiencing his power where you need it most this morning.
To get to that advice, first we need to set the stage.
Joining Jesus in heaven
We’re looking for pictures of Jesus in the Book of Revelation. We’ve seen him on his throne in divine majesty; we’ve watched him open the word of God in omnipotent power. Now we watch heaven worship him as King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
The DaVinci Code says that in early Christianity, “Jesus was viewed by His followers as a mortal prophet…a great and powerful man, but a man nonetheless. A mortal” (p. 233, emphasis his). Let’s see if John agrees.
“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” (v. 9).
This was the standard four-fold division of the peoples of the world. Today we might say, every nation and state and race and language. Despite the racial bigotry which was rampant in John’s time. In heaven’s worship of Jesus, everyone is included. Rich and poor, priests and people, sinners and saintly Christians–we’re all here.
We are “wearing white robes” (v. 9a). These refer to priestly robes as well as victory robes such as the Roman generals wore. Why are they white? Because “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” (v. 14). As every mother knows, blood on a garment is one of the hardest stains to remove. But not this blood: Jesus’ blood has bleached out all the stains of sin in our lives. His forgiveness has removed them forever.
We are “holding palm branches” in our hands (v. 9b). These were used by the Greeks and Romans as victory signs at the Games, like our gold medals today.
If Jesus is your Savior and Lord, you’re in this crowd. You’re one of the saints of the ages, joining the angels of all eternity. You’re wearing the white robes of salvation and holding the palm branches of victory. This is our future with Jesus.
What will we be doing?
“And they cried out in a loud voice: ‘Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb'” (v. 10). We are engaged fully in the worship of Jesus. We are loving him with all our hearts, souls, minds, and strength.
We will do this forever: “They are before the throne of God and serve him day and night in his temple” (v. 15a). This is not Sunday morning in heaven, but Tuesday evening. This is our eternal joy, and privilege, and delight.
What will Jesus be doing?
“Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat upon them, nor any scorching heat” (v. 16). Why not? Because “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” (v. 17). He will be the Shepherd of his sheep, leading us to green pastures and still waters. He will wipe every tear from our eyes, as he comforts and protects us forever.
When those in heaven worship Jesus, they are blessed by Jesus. When they honor him, they are honored by him. When they give him their highest praise, even though they have come through “great tribulation” (v. 14), he gives them his highest blessing and reward. Those who worship Jesus experience the presence and power of God.
Finding Jesus on earth
What does this scene in heaven have to do with mothers and the rest of us on earth? Let’s keep exploring. In Isaiah 43:21, God says that we are “the people I formed for myself that they may proclaim my praise.” We were created to praise God. That’s what we’ll do in eternity, and what he wants us to do now.
So worship is how we experience his presence and power today.
Psalm 22:3 teaches that God inhabits the praises of his people.
When Daniel was in danger of losing his job and his life, “Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before” (Daniel 6:10). And God spared him in the lion’s den.