Glory and Honour and Thanks

“Whenever the living beings give glory and honour and thanks to the One sitting on the throne (the One who lives forever and ever), the twenty-four elders fall down and worship the One sitting on the throne (the One who lives forever and ever). And they lay their crowns before the throne and say, “You are worthy, O Lord our God, to receive glory and honour and power. For you created all things, and they exist because you created what you pleased.””
Revelation‬ ‭4:9-11‬ NLT

Glory, honour and thanks. Three important factors bound up and interwoven into our worship of our wonderful Heavenly Father. So what do these three words mean and how do they connect with God? 

If we take the word “glory”, we immediately relate it to something worldly. We say a warm and sunny day is glorious. The British national anthem, referring to the Queen, has the lines, “Send her victorious, happy and glorious”. A dictionary definition defines glory as being of great beauty or worthy of honour. But God’s glory, though incorporating these thoughts, is a lot more than anything we can define in human terms. The glory of God is who He is, the Creator of the Universe, emanating His beauty, His worth, His Name. And much of our human lives can convey a hint of what the glory of God is all about, in the things that we behold as being of beauty, precious and lovely. These hints of glory can also encompass less tangible thoughts and feelings. Our emotions will perhaps be moved by a piece of music, or a scene in nature. God’s glory is unlimited and, like Him, omnipresent. Ancient Jewish traditions talk about the shekinah glory of God, meaning that His presence is so intense that it is living with us. The pillars of fire and smoke in the Israelites exodus from Egypt are perhaps examples of this. Or the smoke filling the temple in Isaiah 6.

God is worthy of honour. How else can we think of, or consider, our wonderful Heavenly Father? Jesus, in the prayer we call the Lord’s prayer, taught His disciples to hallow or honour His name. We speak of Him reverentially. In fact, the Jews so revered God they wouldn’t even mention His name. We honour God in all that we are, and do. And those around us will perhaps gain a glimpse of God through us, as we speak or behave in ways that honour Him. 

And we thank God for all He has done. For the creation of our world and all that is in it. For ourselves and His presence with us. For being a Father to us, listening to, and answering, our prayers. For His Son, Jesus, who died for us, so that we would be able to enter His presence. The list is endless. Perhaps we can see why it has taken eternity for the living beings to worship God. And they haven’t finished yet!

Such was the Apostle John’s reverence of God that he wouldn’t even mention His name, instead referring to Him as “the One sitting on the throne” and “the One who lives forever and ever”. This description of God was echoed by the twenty four elders, as they too joined in the song of worship and praise.

Dear Heavenly Father. We pilgrims enter into the Heavenly worship, desperate to be included, as we earnestly model a piece of Heaven here on earth. On our knees we too express our glory and honour and thanks. Amen.

Obedient Children

“Children, obey your parents because you belong to the Lord, for this is the right thing to do. “Honour your father and mother.” This is the first commandment with a promise: If you honour your father and mother, “things will go well for you, and you will have a long life on the earth.””
Ephesians‬ ‭6:1-3‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Paul continues his instructions about family life, with this section addressed to children. There are two other possible translations to the first verse, one just simply saying, “Children, obey your parents”, and the other “Children, obey your parents who belong to the Lord”. But I like the way the NLT translates today’s verse because it implies that children have a special place in God’s family; they belong to the Lord regardless of their situation or family background. Hopefully, these junior pilgrims, our children, find it easy to be obedient to their parents, with a relationship of love and respect laying a foundation for them. Sadly, so many families today are dysfunctional, lacking a moral compass, sometimes blighted by drugs and alcohol, domestic strife common. And increasingly, children are growing up in a home where one of their parents is missing. There can be so many factors that conspire to make obedience difficult or impossible for children. My wife and I know – we fostered children for many years. But we found over and over again that if a child can be given a secure, warm and loving family, then they will thrive and move into adulthood better equipped for continuing the way God has marked out for them.

The instruction from Paul goes on to quote Exodus 20:12, “Honour your father and mother. Then you will live a long, full life in the land the Lord your God is giving you”. It’s there in the Ten Commandments, sandwiched between taking a Sabbath rest and not murdering anyone. And Paul repeated God’s instruction, given to Moses so many years before, that honouring parents is a fundamental ingredient in living life to the full. It is there in the family home that children find honour, respect and love, grace and compassion, qualities that will stand them in good stead in their lives ahead. 

Both my parents have now passed on to a new life with God. I will always be grateful for their love and commitment to me in my formative years. Their example, honouring their own parents, filtered down into my own life. And they continued to stand with me through the difficult years as I transitioned from childhood into adulthood. Even when they were grandparents, their influence continued. 

We thank God for our parents. Families are modelled on God’s family and we honour too our parents in the Lord, our ministers and pastors. And particularly we obey and honour God our Heavenly Father. Where would we be without Him!

Honour the Lord

“Honour the Lord, you heavenly beings; honour the Lord for His glory and strength. Honour the Lord for the glory of His name. Worship the Lord in the splendour of His holiness.” Psalms‬ ‭29:1-2‬ ‭NLT‬‬

This Psalm of David starts with the words, “Honour the Lord”. Other versions read “Ascribe to the Lord”. And they build a picture right at the start of how we should come into the presence of our amazing Creator God. With a reverence so deep, so significant, that we cannot do anything else than acknowledge who God is. With a realisation that He is infinitely great and we are infinitely small. That He is so holy and perfect and we are not.

I’m reminded of two things. The Lord’s Prayer right at the beginning states that our Father God lives in Heaven and we should “hallow His name”. The word “hallow” is an old fashioned verb expressing honour and respect. It contains a hint of God’s awesomeness. His lofty elevation above His creation.

Secondly, in those denominations that inhabit those ornate churches and cathedrals that can be found everywhere in our lands, there is a deep respect manifested in people who approach the altar. A respect seen in congregants bowing and prostrating themselves before an ornate and raised table, or platform, richly decorated, presumably because that is what they associate with the presence of God. And I must admit that I often feel “something” approaching this respectful stance in such places, perhaps because that is how I was raised as a child.

The Psalm says who should honour God, for what they should honour Him – His glory, strength and name – and how He should be honoured – with a worship enwrapped in His infinite and splendid holiness. And the Psalm continues as a hymn of praise underpinned by God-wonders, as many as David can think of.

What a wonderful place to be, lost in the presence of God. A place that many can only dimly see in the distance, with a yearning unrequited. But it is there nevertheless. I find it often in His creation. At this time of year there is an explosion of greenery in the woodlands near where I live. A place of blessing because I find God there. Because He made it and His fingerprints are all over it.

Let’s worship our amazing Creator God together today.