Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Confidence in Challenging Circumstances

As I write this morning, we are under social distancing guidelines as a result of Covid-19. School is canceled, churches aren't meeting, stores are closed, people shelter in place.

And I have seen the people in the book of Luke differently.

Zechariah and Elizabeth were "both righteous in the sight of God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and requirements of the Lord. But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren..." (Luke 1:6-7). Zechariah and Elizabeth's life was not driven by their desire for a child. Apparently Zechariah had prayed and asked for a son (1:13), but his obedience and devotion to God was not dependent on God's gifts. It was dependent on God Himself. God was their audience. God was their heart desire. God was their motivation and reward.

The lack of a child, or God's answer to their prayer, did not inhibit their service. "Now it happened that while he was performing his priestly service before God in the appointed order of his division, according to the custom of the priestly office, he was chosen by lot to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense..." (Luke 1:8-9). Zechariah's ministry and diligence to his calling was not affected by God's answer, or lack of answer. He followed through. He was dependable. He was faithful to his calling--not resentful, withholding, or anxious--but steady and unmovable.

Elizabeth's response to having a child reveals her heart. She did not want a child so everyone would see, so everyone would finally notice and include her in conversation, in the responsibilities and company of children at play. She set herself apart, choosing communion with God over the enthusiasm and excitement of others. "After these days Elizabeth his wife became pregnant, and she kept herself in seclusion for five months saying, 'This is the way the Lord has dealt with me in the days when He looked with favor upon me, to take away my disgrace among men'" (Luke 1:24-25). Her desire and devotion was not to the women clambering at her door to share tidbits of advice on pregnancy, to ask after her health, to carry back news and gossip of her blossoming figure. Her focus and heart were set on the Lord Himself. Which led to her time with her relative, Mary.

And as I read of Joseph and Mary's journey to Bethlehem, I had to wonder that Mary didn't say, "Joseph, go ahead. Count me as one of your family. I'll be here when you get back." It seems that being "with child" is a good reason not to travel cross-country and endure uncertainty. After all, this wasn't just any baby--and what mother today would take on that journey under those conditions? This was the Son of God. The was not just a baby; it was THE baby.

But if Mary hadn't gone, prophecy wouldn't have been fulfilled, "And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah, are by no means least among the leaders of Judah; for out of you shall come forth a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel" (Matthew 2:6; Micah 5:2). If Mary hadn't gone with Joseph, there would have been no lowly stable birth, no shepherds, no proclamation to those who knew them. No doubt there would have been wonder and awe--but Mary's obedience to governing authorities led to a wonder-full, timeless, matchless birth of our Savior.

God uses the confines of our present reality to form and shape us into the image of Jesus Christ. He uses circumstances, government edicts, and even our desires to accomplish His will. There is no need for fear, anxiety or worry. He is powerfully, wisely, wholly, mercifully using all things for good. Yes, frustrated plans. Yes, disappointment. Yes, suffering and uncertainty. But in and through it all, God is at work.

"Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass." 1 Thessalonians 5:24

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Speak No Evil

Words are cheap. We can't see them. Like Snapchat messages, the appear and disappear. They can be misunderstood, misinterpreted, misapplied. Teaching children how to speak is important--not just word order and proper usage, but proper choices as well. "Watch what you say." "Say what you mean." "You shouldn't have said that..."



For years this passage in James bothered me,

But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God; from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way. (James 3:8-9).

No one can tame the tongue. No one. Really? Then why does the Bible teach so much about our words and controlling what we say? Why all the instruction if it's impossible?

Using the Bible to interpret itself, I discovered that

The heart of the wise instructs his mouth And adds persuasiveness to his lips. (Proverbs 16:23)

Jesus says it more clearly:
For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart. (Matthew 12:34)

But the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man. (Matthew 15:18)

The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart. (Luke 6:45)

When you and I are surprised by what comes out of our mouth in a heated situation, the truth is we really did mean it. Maybe we didn't intend for it to come out, maybe we hoped to keep it inside, hidden, and silent. Maybe we regret those inescapable words. But Jesus teaches that we said what we meant. It was already there, in our heart and mind.

In that case, it's true. We can't tame the tongue. We can work to change habits and patterns, but sarcasm, anger, crude language, and cutting remarks will find their way to the surface. They can't be quieted. When stirred, they rise to the surface and burst.

The answer is to harness my heart. Words and actions are a vehicle for my desires. What I want, value, and treasure is communicated outwardly. It has been said that "My actions betray my beliefs." The same is true of words. Snippets of words can be controlled and managed, but the whole of my speech reveals my heart. And there's more bad news,

The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; Who can understand it? (Jeremiah 17:9)

That's the struggle. Not only is the tongue unstoppable, the heart is deceitful, sick, and wicked. We need a new one. But there is a way. There is hope.

Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. (Ezekiel 36:26)

Recognition of my sinful, wicked state, of my selfishness, arrogance and pride is the first step. The second is a humble plea that God would forgive and cleanse. He will, and He does, when we come believing that Jesus Christ already paid the price of our sin against Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. (1 John 4:10).

At that time we are given new life, a new heart, the very Spirit of God to fight the desires and sin that remain. Daily, hourly, as we renew our mind with the Word of God we replace our own desires with God's. Then, when difficulties arise, our plans are thwarted, and others sin against us, we respond with a different heart. Our words are different, not because we've wrangled them, but because they come from a different source altogether.

Put it into context and this is what you have:

If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body as well. Now if we put the bits into the horses’ mouths so that they will obey us, we direct their entire body as well. Look at the ships also, though they are so great and are driven by strong winds, are still directed by a very small rudder wherever the inclination of the pilot desires. So also the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things.

See how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell. For every species of beasts and birds, of reptiles and creatures of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by the human race. But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God; from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way. Does a fountain send out from the same opening both fresh and bitter water? Can a fig tree, my brethren, produce olives, or a vine produce figs? Nor can salt water produce fresh.

Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. (James 3:2-18)



Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Loss

It would seem that church goers, evangelical Christians, whatever-you-call-them-in-your-neck-of-the-woods, look down on depression and loss. They seem above it all. There is little or no room for despair. But as I read the Bible, it's there. It there among people who should "know better," among the good guys, so perhaps our platitudes and judgment should be applied to those who struggle with the idea of depression and despair being unbiblical.



Here's the thing. We say and think and rest on the fact that we are not to grieve as those who have no hope (1 Thessalonians 4:13). And I honestly believe that if Christ is our hope, we will not give in to despair for as long as others. That those who belong to Christ will receive comfort, peace, and a settledness even in affliction. But in reading the book of Luke, in contemplating Christ's death and resurrection, we must agree and see the true despair and loss. The disciples lost Christ. They lost the source of hope. They experienced true despair. We could counsel and encourage them till the cows came home, remind them of all Jesus had said, but the reality of the situation is that Jesus. Was. Gone. They had nothing. They were hopeless. And the fact is, what they experienced and the way they interpreted the situation was real. It was, in fact, the most hopeless, despairing time of all eternity--and they felt it. They knew it. They were immune to hope because they felt the weight of reality, loss, emptiness. It had a grip on the pit of their stomach--and it was justified.

What do you do when your foundation, your security, your reason for living is gone? We may use the term jokingly, but loss of hope is the worst. It's below bottom. There's no way out. The disciples had lost everything that mattered. Jesus really died. Gone. A lifeless body in a tomb. And in His last moments, they had deserted and betrayed Him. He would never know how much they missed Him. They blew it--and He died alone. What guilt! What shame! What fear, desperation and despair.

Is it any wonder that His resurrection was received with skepticism and trepidation? There were some who had lost loved ones and received them back. They may have understood a measure of the disciple's joy, but oh, what an energy-sapping turn of events to receive, not just Jesus, but the hope of all He'd promised. Their weeping, gloom, wracking grief had been for naught. Not only was Jesus here, "in the flesh," there was now multiplied hope, joy, and peace that everything else He said would come to pass. "For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us" (1 Corinthians 1:20 NKJV).

To their amazement, forty days later, He left. Again. But as always, He left with a promise. This time they believed Him. They had proof and confidence that in Jesus Christ, a promise made is a promise fulfilled. This goodbye was not accompanied by guilt, shame, embarrassment, fear, and betrayal but hope. Here is a description of Jesus leaving them a second time:

While He was blessing them, He parted from them and was carried up into heaven. And they, after worshiping Him, returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the temple praising God. (Luke 24:51-53)

To those who've lost the best, who have lost your foundation, your joy, your reason for living: you are not alone. You feel very alone. You are in a dark, desperate place. Here is a biblical example of those who know and understand what it is to grieve without hope. To grieve ugly. To grieve until your gut hurts and your tears run dry. God gave us a record of men who traveled beyond the rim of despair.

Beautifully, that is not the end of the story. God intervened. He brought the only hope that matters. When Jesus breaks into your gloom and despair, you will live again. You will have peace and confidence. This world is a broken, sinful, wicked, dark place. You are not wrong. But God has entered. He promised to be with us, to give us the "light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God" (2 Corinthians 4:4). Cry out to Him. Don't stop. Turn to Him. Let loose the bindings that keep grief close, tight, and protected. Let Jesus see the pain. Invite Him to sit with you in the darkness. Pour out your heart. He is okay with your guilt. He isn't surprised by who you are or how you've responded. But He is waiting for your call.

For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves; we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death works in us, but life in you.

But having the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, “I believed, therefore I spoke,” we also believe, therefore we also speak, knowing that He who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and will present us with you. For all things are for your sakes, so that the grace which is spreading to more and more people may cause the giving of thanks to abound to the glory of God.

Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:6-18)

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

The Mind of Christ

My daily Bible reading has been a bit sketchy of late between travel, caring for parents, short nights, one thing and another. This morning, as I considered diving in to "to-do's" before taking time (because I'm already behind-!), I was reminded that I will not have the mind of Christ apart from time with Christ (1 Corinthians 2:11-16).

I cannot begin to fathom what He would do, how He would do it, and why He would do it until I immerse myself in His Word and character. Until I come alongside Him and put my mind where His mind is, my heart where His heart is, I cannot put my hands where His hands are.

That is abiding.... Not picking up the Word of God to check one more thing off the list, but to enter into the mind and heart of God. To realign this sinful, lazy, self-exalting, twisted self with the perfect, all-loving, all-knowing, all-kind, all-powerful Creator of the universe. In and of myself, there is no good thing. I will not seek Him. I will not understand. I am not righteous. Or good. Peaceful. Or profitable. (Romans 3)

In all this, in each word, each moment, each decision, each interaction, I must bring myself in line with the person and character of God--and that does not happen until I come to Him, ready to learn, hungry for His righteousness, disgusted with my pride, longing to be filled, changed and used. I need to get into Him, to think like He thinks, to climb into His ways, to empathize with God just as much as I need Him to come into me, to enter my heart and mind. I must open myself, question myself, be vulnerable, honest, and frank about our differences before I see the need to change.



Today--each day--I must interact with and recognize that the Bible is not me. It is not who I am, but who God is making me. Agreeing in the moment is not the same as adopting God's truth as my truth; living it out in the moments of life. It must enter and become part of me--like the bread and the cup... Taken with reverence and eagerness, becoming part of my physical composition; entering my bloodstream, making its way into my molecular biology. Essential to life. In that way, I live on as Christ's body... Christ in me, the hope of glory.... The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. He remains in and through His people as they do His will and walk in His ways.

As His beloved child, why would I forfeit precious time with God in His Word? It's the best part of the day.

Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls.  But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does.

If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is worthless. Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world. (James 1:21-27)

 Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.” So they said to Him, “What then do You do for a sign, so that we may see, and believe You? What work do You perform? Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread out of heaven to eat.’” Jesus then said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread out of heaven, but it is My Father who gives you the true bread out of heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down out of heaven, and gives life to the world.” Then they said to Him, “Lord, always give us this bread.”

Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst. But I said to you that you have seen Me, and yet do not believe. All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day.”

Therefore the Jews were grumbling about Him, because He said, “I am the bread that came down out of heaven.” They were saying, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does He now say, ‘I have come down out of heaven’?” Jesus answered and said to them, “Do not grumble among yourselves. No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day. It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught of God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father, comes to Me. Not that anyone has seen the Father, except the One who is from God; He has seen the Father. Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread which comes down out of heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is My flesh.”

Then the Jews began to argue with one another, saying, “How can this man give us His flesh to eat?” So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats Me, he also will live because of Me. This is the bread which came down out of heaven; not as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live forever.”

These things He said in the synagogue as He taught in Capernaum.

Therefore many of His disciples, when they heard this said, “This is a difficult statement; who can listen to it?” But Jesus, conscious that His disciples grumbled at this, said to them, “Does this cause you to stumble? What then if you see the Son of Man ascending to where He was before? It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life. But there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who it was that would betray Him. And He was saying, “For this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father.”


As a result of this many of His disciples withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore. So Jesus said to the twelve, “You do not want to go away also, do you?” Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life. We have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God.” (John 6:28-71)

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Confession of a Recovering People Pleaser

Only be as kind as you are.

After reading Lou Priolo's book, Pleasing People, I realized how much of my life functioned around others: their preferences, schedules, unspoken expectations. Almost everything I did was for, or because of, someone else. When I realized it was okay, godly even, to have preferences, I didn't know what they were. My default answer to "What would you like?" was, "I don't know" or "It doesn't matter. I'm good either way." Suddenly chocolate wasn't my favorite. Blue wasn't my color. It took time and prayer to work through who I was and who I wasn't.


Not falling in line for the sake of wanting to be liked or "nice," affected my relationships with others. I became brutally honest, refusing to flatter or bow to other's opinions. As I worked through what was true and what was not, I was no longer socially pleasing. Or nice. I wasn't kind, loving, or tasteful. I was an honest hot mess, fighting to do what was right and see the world the way it is, not the way people (or I) wanted it to be.

God graciously intervened. Honesty results in being marginalized, set aside, and discounted by others. Yes, God is Truth. He is also Love. I needed to learn the balance between the two. Thus today's proverb: "What is desirable in a man is his kindness, and it is better to be a poor man than a liar." (Proverbs 19:22). If Jewish literature proves true and each phrase defines the other, then we are known by our kindness. But if we cannot be kind, it's better to be friendless and poor. Don't lie as a means of pretending kindness and gaining friends; be who you are.

In my case, that meant I needed to change. Kindness is not a reflection of others; it is a reflection of my own heart, who I am. Kindness means letting go of my agenda and expectations. In kindness, I look for the image of God in others and respond based on who He is, instead of who I am or what I want.

Jesus was not nice. He was kind. And poor. But He was rich in relation to His Father. He was rich in deed. He, Himself, is the source of wealth: "And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:19).

The answer is not to "be nice" or act kind and lie to myself (and others). The thoughts in my head that are unkind, untrue, ungracious need to be captivated and taken to the cross. There, they must be sorted and my sinful desires crucified, mortified, put to death. Only then can I be lovingly, genuinely kind.

Today, seek to be as kind as you are. Don't lie. If you must, be unkind. It is only as the darkness is exposed--as the filth comes out from within the cup--that true righteousness and holiness reveals the forgiveness and goodness of God.

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone. Blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee, first cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be clean also.

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness." (Matthew 23:23-28)

For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another!

I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another. (Galatians 5:13-26)

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Prayer--A Hard Question

When I'm counseling, I try to give people a heads up before asking a hard question. So, here's your warning. Are you ready?

When you pray, are you more interested in how you will be justified the sight of others, in the ease and relief that comes with God's provision, or glorifying Him?

I recently read the simple story of the ten lepers who cried out for mercy, were healed, and only one returned to give thanks. That one was a Samaritan. He couldn't go and show himself to the priest as Jesus commanded because he was not welcome in the temple. Infirmity makes strange bedfellows. Nine were Jews. One was Samaritan. They lived together. Walked together. Requested healing together. But when healing came, there was a division. 

Now one of them, when he saw that he had been healed, turned back, glorifying God with a loud voice, and he fell on his face at His feet, giving thanks to Him. And he was a Samaritan. (Luke 16:15-16)

And he was a Samaritan. Oh, by the way. If you hadn't noticed. It might make a difference... He wasn't concerned about what the priests or his community would say or the benefits his healing would provide in that moment. He was moved with gratitude at the generous goodness of our kind, loving Savior. "He turned back." How often do we turn back to God when He answers our prayers beneficially? Or how often do we fail to stop and give thanks?

"...glorifying God with a loud voice..." How consistently do let others know God has answered my prayers and so we can glorify Him together? So they can see and experience the goodness of God?

"...and he fell on his face at His feet, giving thanks to Him." Praise takes time. Worship takes effort. It is an outpouring of heartfelt gratitude and humility.

"And he was a Samaritan." Those on the outside are often much more genuine and expressive than those of us in the church. Isn't that sad? Shouldn't it be the other way around? But we expect God to do things for us. We expect Him to answer prayer. We have expectations as His children.... and we often respond as naughty, spoiled children do.

Maybe today it's time to rekindle love and affection for God, to confess a heart of entitlement, privilege and consumerism. Maybe it's time to praise Him with a loud voice, falling on our face at His feet and giving thanks..because He is worthy.

...the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each one holding a harp and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they *sang a new song, saying,

“Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation.

“You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth.”

Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne and the living creatures and the elders; and the number of them was myriads of myriads, and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice,

“Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing.”

And every created thing which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all things in them, I heard saying,

“To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever.”

And the four living creatures kept saying, “Amen.” And the elders fell down and worshiped.
(Revelation 5:9-14)