Singing in Heaven

“And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living beings. And they fell before the throne with their faces to the ground and worshiped God. They sang, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honour and power and strength belong to our God forever and ever! Amen.””
Revelation‬ ‭7:11-12‬ ‭NLT

If we had ever hoped to find a quiet and peaceful place in Heaven, when we get there, then we are going to be disappointed. Earlier in this chapter, we heard a “great roar” from a crowd too numerous to mention, making a shout of declaration about God’s salvation. And then in chapter five there was a new song being sung, the twenty four elders and the four living beings singing the verse, millions of angels singing the chorus, and then every living creature, on earth, under the earth and in the seas, making a tuneful contribution to the song for the bridge part. Well, here we are with another song being sung, and the lyrics are, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honour and power and strength belong to our God forever and ever! Amen.” Once again it is the twenty four elders and the four living beings who are singing, prostrated before God’s throne in adoration and worship. Heaven will be full of song, full of shouting, full of praise and worship to God, and full of much God-focused life. Not a quiet place for the dead at all.

How does that make us pilgrims feel? Challenged perhaps? Worried about having to take part? Unable to get our minds around what a different life with God in Heaven will be like? Do we have unrealistic expectations?  Perhaps there are golfers amongst us who expect Heaven to be full of wonderful golf courses, with perfect greens. Or musicians who expect to find Heavenly orchestras, playing with skills out of this world. Or physicists who are looking forward to answers to their unsolved problems and unanswered questions. Or ministers expecting to preach even longer sermons. But none of these worldly views or expectations feature in John’s vision. All he could see was an environment of totally God-focused worship and praise. There will be no room for anything else.

We of course do not know what we will find in Heaven but we do know who lives there. He is the King of kings and Lord of lords. He is the mighty and merciful God. He sent His Son, Jesus, to show us the way and invite us to spend an eternity with Him. When we look around us and see how wonderfully He has made us and the earth in which we live, and realise that, through Adam’s sin, this is a world under a curse, populated by sinful people, and then we turn our eyes to what Heaven must be like, totally untainted and just as God designed it, I know it’s going to be a wonderful place to be. So let’s fix our eyes on our Heavenly home, just over the horizons of our consciousnesses, and start to flex our praise and worship muscles so we’re ready and raring to go when the time comes.

Father God. You are worthy of our praise and worship, unrestrained from every part of our beings. Please bring a touch of Heaven to this sin-laden world, and increase our knowledge of who You are. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

The Vast Crowd

“After this I saw a vast crowd, too great to count, from every nation and tribe and people and language, standing in front of the throne and before the Lamb. They were clothed in white robes and held palm branches in their hands. And they were shouting with a great roar, “Salvation comes from our God who sits on the throne and from the Lamb!””
“Then one of the twenty-four elders asked me, “Who are these who are clothed in white? Where did they come from?” And I said to him, “Sir, you are the one who knows.” Then he said to me, “These are the ones who died in the great tribulation. They have washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb and made them white””.
Revelation‬ ‭7:9-10,13-14‬ ‭NLT

Again the scene changes before John in his vision. He now becomes aware of a “vast crowd, too great to count”. They were wearing white robes and held palm branches, and their focus was on God, sitting on His throne, and on His Son Jesus. A “great roar” rose from them, as they shouted out the phrase, “Salvation comes from our God who sits on the throne and from the Lamb!”

Immediately, our thoughts take us back to the last time a crowd shouted out praises to Jesus. Do we remember when Jesus was riding a donkey into Jerusalem and the people were crying out “Hallelujah”? We read in John 12:13, the people “took palm branches and went down the road to meet him. They shouted, “Praise God! Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Hail to the King of Israel!” 

But back to John’s vision. Who were this “vast crowd”? One of the twenty four elders must have had the same thought because he asked John the question, “Who are these who are clothed in white?” John was unable to comment and instead respectfully referred the question back to the elder, who then supplied the answer. The “vast crowd”, too numerous to count, consisted of all the Christians who had died in this time of Tribulation. And in the vision, John recorded, “They have washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb and made them white”. What can this be otherwise than a graphic description about how each of the Christians had gained righteousness and holiness through their acceptance of Jesus’ death on Calvary, crucified on a cross so that His righteousness would be traded for their sin. What a wonderful Saviour!

A thought occurred to me this morning. Are we pilgrims prepared to shout out the declaration John heard in Heaven? Or would we become all embarrassed and instead whisper it under our breath. Do we belt out the songs of praise in our churches and fellowships, or do we mutter under our breaths, afraid that someone might hear us? Are we a people who are openly and honestly prepared to state our faith before all men or do we hide our lights under a bushel, as the phrase goes? Do our workmates, neighbours or families know that we belong to God? Or would they have doubts? Hmmm…

One day, we hope to be numbered with the inhabitants of Heaven, shouting out our praises to our wonderful Heavenly Father and to His Son, Jesus. We need to get into practice here on earth – there will be no passengers in that mighty crowd, or any other gathering of God’s children in Heaven. We will find ourselves in an atmosphere of uninhibited praise and worship, straining every part of our new bodies and souls to give God all the glory.

Dear God. We thank You for all that You have done for us. How can we not praise and worship You? Please help us to cast aside our inhibitions and instead grant You all the praises, all the honour, all that You deserve. Amen.

A New Song

“And they sang a new song with these words: “You are worthy to take the scroll and break its seals and open it. For You were slaughtered, and Your blood has ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. And You have caused them to become a Kingdom of priests for our God. And they will reign on the earth.””
Revelation‬ ‭5:9-10‬ ‭NLT

John’ vision in Revelation continued, now with a multimedia theme. He heard a new song being sung by the four living creatures and the twenty four elders. And what a song it was! In just a few words it summed up the sacrifice Jesus made, His worth and authority, His saving act of redemption, the all-encompassing nature of the Gospel, and the establishment of a new order of priests who will reign with Him on earth. This was a song of triumph. A song that the devil would have cringed away from when he heard it ringing forth that day in Heaven. A song that established the relationship with God and His people forever.

It was a new song that John heard. He had not heard anything like it before. This was not a backward-looking song, such as would have graced the synagogues and Jewish worship, with words referring to God’s exploits in the past, good and significant though they were. This was a “now” song, bang up to date. A song encapsulating the New Covenant, sealed with the blood of Jesus not the blood of animals. This was a song containing lyrics that cemented God’s message of hope firmly in Heaven for ever.

What do we pilgrims think of new songs? So much of our church liturgies contain old songs and hymns. We retain them because of our traditions, not wanting to let them go, the familiarity somehow making us feel comfortable and secure. So many of our old hymns are riddled with archaic language that was great at the time they were written but the words have largely lost their meaning today. They celebrated a previous move of God.  Even in modern fellowships, singing songs, penned in the last two or three decades, can become a celebration of our heritage rather than an expression of praise and worship to our wonderful God. But having said all that, it’s not the song or hymn and their lyrics that can be a problem. It’s that somehow in their repetition, something spiritually can be missing when we sing them. In the familiarity our minds can switch off or our thoughts move into a different groove instead of the praise and worship God deserves.

In his vision, John saw Heavenly beings singing a declaration of praise to our wonderful Saviour. He had never heard anything like it before. If he had it wouldn’t have been new to him. The lyrics and the melody introduced a tremendous outpouring of praise in Heaven – but more of that later. Suffice to say today that whatever and whenever we sing, songs new or old, we must somehow always remember who we are worshipping. Remembering all that He has done for us. And in return giving Him all the glory, all the praise, all the worship. With every part of our beings.

Do we ever write new songs ourselves? Poetic lyrics expressing our love for God don’t initially need a melody. On my office wall, I have a poem penned by my wife in 1987. It was a wonderful outpouring of her love for God just a short while before her faith in God was severely tested by my daughter’s potentially life-threatening illness. But her “new song” stayed with her, and is still bubbling from her soul even today. When we write down our God-thoughts we capture something significant in our lives that can stay with us for the rest of our lives. So can I encourage us all to write a “new song”? Let’s put a smile on God’s face today.

Dear Lord God. How can we not praise and worship You? Our amazing and wonderful Father. You who have done so much for us. We praise and worship You today. Amen.

Falling Down

“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

How do we worship God? With our thoughts? Or with an extravagance of gestures or postures? There were no doubts in the minds of the twenty four elders – they fell down before God. And they selflessly handed over their precious crowns, laying them before His throne. 

I often think it a shame that many people like me, who yearn for the ability to be unconsciously uninhibited in their worship of God, find it so hard to break through the conditioning of those early years, when we were taught that emotion, particularly in men and boys, was not to be displayed. The “stiff upper lip” prevailed. Pain and tears must be suppressed. And, sadly, it is very difficult to cast all that aside. In my morning prayer walks through the West Fife woods in Scotland, I would often wish to cry out to God in praise and worship, overcome by the beauty and awesomeness of God’s creation. But what if someone heard me? Happily, one day all the inhibitions will be discarded, because there will be no choice. God has to be worshipped with every fibre of our beings. 

Worship of God can take many forms. We sing and shout. We compose lyrics for songs. We write poems and prose. We raise our hands in times of praising God, as exhorted in Psalm 134:2, “Lift your hands toward the sanctuary, and praise the Lord“. Incidentally, do we do that? The Christian church has adopted the pose of two hands clasped together at chest height. A safe way of raising our hands? Perhaps. But was the psalmist proposing that we stretch out our arms and hands towards Heaven? The unsafe way?

But with a sigh, we pilgrims reach out to God, who understands our difficulties. We thank Him for His encouragement as He walks and talks with us through our lives. Step by step. Day by day. Responding to His grace and love in the way that we can. Looking forward to that day when the worship of God will be as natural as breathing.

Dear Heavenly Father. We praise and worship You today. We’re so deeply grateful for Your presence, Your loving kindness, and graciousness. What else can we do but worship You? Amen.

Seven Times

I will praise you seven times a day
    because all your regulations are just.
Psalm 119:164 NLT

The Psalmist says he is going to praise God seven times a day. Why seven? Why not six or eight? What’s so special about seven? In Scripture, the number seven refers to completeness, perfection even, so the use of this number by the Psalmist is particularly significant. In essence, he was saying that he was going to praise God continually and totally. Why? All because he attributes justice to God’s ways. 

To someone today this might appear to be archaic, unnecessary, unachievable or even just plain wrong. But nothing could be further from the truth. Superficially, we probably associate praising God with singing a hymn on a Sunday morning in church. Perhaps, “Praise, my soul, the King of Heaven..”. Or if we’re really bold we might praise Him every day in our “Quiet Times”. And our praise merges into thankfulness for things God has done for us. But when was the last time we praised God for the justice of His ways? Either this Psalmist was on a different planet to us, or there is more to praising God than we might think.

When we become a Christian we embark on a journey aligning our lives to God’s ways. And as we do so, the Holy Spirit works in our lives producing fruit, the fruit of the Spirit that we read about in Galatians 5:22, “But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,”. (We have that number again, with seven different flavours of fruit.) We praise God with our lives as we get closer to Him, following His ways more closely. As we remain in contact with Him. As we respond to Him in obedience. 

We are on a pilgrimage of praise. We praise God when we are faithful to Him. We praise God when we refuse to get angry with the bad driver in front of us. We praise God when we love those around us. We praise God when we wait patiently in the queue for our Covid jag or the supermarket checkout. We praise God when we offer a kind word to someone we meet in the street – sometimes just saying “Good Morning” might cheer someone up – who knows – they might not have heard a kind word for days. The list of praising opportunities are endless. And don’t forget, we praise God because of who He is – our wonderful and amazing Creator, our Heavenly Father. Let’s look around for even more opportunities to praise Him today.

Praise the Lord

“Praise the Lord, all you nations. 
Praise Him, all you people of the earth. 
For His unfailing love for us is powerful; 
the Lord’s faithfulness endures forever. 
Praise the Lord!”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭117:1-2‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Now here’s a short Psalm. Just two verses. But it’s very clear in its content. In its exhortation, everyone is instructed to “Praise the Lord”. No exceptions. No time off for doing other things. And the Psalmist seriously lays out the reason for the praise – the powerful nature of God’s love for us, and the everlasting, eternal, nature of His faithfulness. If we look closely we can see that both His love and His faithfulness are not just passing whims, sputtering out after a while like a candle at the end of its usefulness; God’s love and faithfulness are unfailing and enduring. They go on for ever. Regardless of circumstances.

In case we miss the point of these two verses and consign them to history as being Old Testament, we have an example of God’s love and its extent laid out in the first century AD. The Apostle Paul reminded the early Roman church about the love of God. He wrote in Romans 5:8, “But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” And he goes on to say, “So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God.” How can we ever get our minds around the fact that God loved us so much, even when He endured so much abuse from sinners, and yet He still pressed through in displaying and implementing a love for us beyond comprehension. That is truly “powerful” love. And regarding God’s faithfulness, Paul again writing to his protégé Timothy, said, “If we are unfaithful, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny who He is.” (‭‭2 Timothy‬ ‭2:13‬).

So there we have it. The loving and faithful God working through the centuries. Never changing. Never leaving us. Day after day. Problem after problem. We can see why the psalmist finished this Psalm with a “Praise the Lord!”. Let’s do the same.

Old 100th

“Shout with joy to the Lord, all the earth! 
Worship the Lord with gladness. 
Come before Him, singing with joy. 
Acknowledge that the Lord is God! 
He made us, and we are His. 
We are His people, the sheep of His pasture. 
Enter His gates with thanksgiving; 
go into His courts with praise. 
Give thanks to Him and praise His name. 
For the Lord is good. 
His unfailing love continues forever, 
and His faithfulness continues to each generation.”
Psalms‬ ‭100:1-5‬ ‭NLT‬‬

The 100th Psalm. An icon in the Book of Psalms. A pillar of praising poetry that has passed the passage of time. Enriched by words such as “joy”, “gladness”, “praise”, “thanks”, “faithfulness” and “love”. All words expressing God’s character and our response. And the whole Psalm describes a relationship between our wonderful God and His people, you and me. So before Him we shout, we worship, we sing, we give thanks, we praise, and we bask in His love and faithfulness. There’s not much else to say about this Psalm. It is an essential part of the pilgrim’s library. A place to go to on the journey through life. A place where our souls can be refreshed in this topsy-turvy world. Let us all read it again this morning, eating and drinking soul-food beyond anything that the secular world around us can provide.


Sing a new song to the Lord, 
     for He has done wonderful deeds. 
His right hand has won a mighty victory; 
   His holy arm has shown his saving power! 
Shout to the Lord, all the earth; 
    break out in praise and sing for joy! 
Let the sea and everything in it shout His praise! 
    Let the earth and all living things join in. 
Let the rivers clap their hands in glee! 
    Let the hills sing out their songs of joy 
    before the Lord, 
for He is coming to judge the earth. 
    He will judge the world with justice, 
    and the nations with fairness.
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭98:1, 4, 7-9‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Another tremendous Psalm of joy and praise. Reading it, I get the impression that there has been a victory after a battle, and the Psalmist is giving God the credit, mentioning His “mighty deeds”, “mighty victory” and “saving power”. In those earlier days in Israel’s history, there was constant friction between the Jews and their neighbours. I suppose it hasn’t changed much today.

But I also get the impression that the Psalmist, probably reflecting national thought, expected this to be perhaps the first, or another, skirmish in what he hoped would be the process of God judging and passing sentence on the hapless neighbouring countries in that war-torn region on our planet. The Jews had an expectation that God would ultimately deal with the political situation in Palestine and fulfil His promise of driving out the nations that were populating their “promised land”.

We also have skirmishes in our lives. We have a “promised land” in the Kingdom of God, and although, as Christians, we are already populating it, we are still having problems with the  “neighbours”. Our sins encroach on our inheritance. The enemy, the devil, is doing his best to stop us settling into our new life in God. Secular society ostracises those who stray away from the herd, taking the moral high ground, adopting counter-cultural ways, challenging belief systems. But we look to God for salvation, for a new life free from sin and the devil and all things bad. We can thank God for the small victories in our pilgrimage through life. We can praise and worship the Lord Almighty, the God who graciously loves us, who supports us, who picks us up when we fall, and beckons us on to the new Jerusalem, just over the horizon of our consciousness. 

I’m overwhelmed by God’s grace this morning. As Christians we worship a God who is not a remote and distant deity, only interacting with His people on a whim, when He feels like it. We worship a God who so loved us that He actually came to this planet. God’s Son, Jesus, took on human flesh, and lived amongst us. He was part of a family. He worked for a living. He had such compassion on His fellow countrymen that He worked tirelessly amongst them, healing, teaching, loving. He felt the rejection of being counter-cultural, challenging the value systems and beliefs of His day. And He died for us, taking on our sins at Calvary. Through love He paid the ultimate price so that we could one day not only see the new Jerusalem in the distance, but one day live there with Him. What grace! What love! In this season of Advent, let us anew praise and worship the Lord “who has done wonderful deeds”.


Your procession, God, has come into view,
the procession of my God and King into the sanctuary.
In front are the singers, after them the musicians;
with them are the young women playing the tambourines.
Praise God in the great congregation;
praise the Lord in the assembly of Israel.
Psalm 68:24-26

Processions. The British people love their processions. At royal weddings. On days of great occasions. Cavalry, beautifully dressed on especially chosen horses. Lines of soldiers marching in perfect unison. A band playing rousing music. The cheering crowds waving flags. A great time of national fervour. In Scotland, we have the occasional town gala, with floats depicting local and other themed displays, accompanied by pipe and accordion bands, threading their way through a town centre and ending in a park for a picnic or some other event. But there are, of course, sad processions as well. The funeral cavalcade. People dressed in black, walking slowly and sadly behind a black hearse and a limousine or two.

But when did we last observe a procession in honour of God? A procession made up of God’s people, playing instruments, musical and percussion, and choirs singing His praises? It must have been a wonderful sight in David, the Psalmist’s, day. A wonderful time to join in the experience and get lost in an abandonment of praise to our wonderful and amazing God. Occasionally we have a procession of religious or academic dignitaries pompously walking through a university city. Or sometimes a church will have an Easter parade for a short distance, ending in the local church. But what about the praising excitement of a procession in honour of our God? The King above all kings. Our wonderful Saviour. Not an embarrassed walk of a few people in a line, largely ignored by the community through which they pass. A procession worthy of God’s honour, noisy with shouts of praise, attended by many people, with cheering and a wonderful sense of God at the head of the procession. In several places in Scripture there are references to wonderful processions – we have a Biblical model to follow.

O Lord. Please forgive us for not giving You the honour and the public praise that is Yours by right.


“May the nations praise you, O God. 
Yes, may all the nations praise you. 
Then the earth will yield its harvests, 
and God, our God, will richly bless us. 
Yes, God will bless us, 
and people all over the world will fear him.”
Psalms‬ ‭67:5-7‬ ‭NLT‬‬

We continue in Psalm 67. Just a short Psalm but it’s positivity uplifts and encourages our lives. And at the end of this Psalm, the Psalmist makes the connection between the national praise of God and universal provision for mankind. But how can that be? How can that connection work in our so called sophisticated societies, consumed by our love of gadgets and secular philosophies? The answer is that it won’t, and doesn’t. There is a special relationship available to all, between us and our loving Creator God. That personal connection started at Calvary’s cross and will never end because we will live with God Himself forever. 

But back to praise and provision. When we start praising God we are transformed into a new dimension where He Himself overtakes the world in relevance and importance. Where the Divine supersedes the mundane. Where we are elevated into Heavenly places far from the drudgery most experience. The Psalmist paints a picture of a perfect world where every person in every nation knows God intimately and all praise Him together. What an amazing place that would be. And to be an inhabitant of such a world would be too wonderful to get our minds around. But that’s never going to happen, I hear the sceptical and cynical unbeliever say. Well, I’ve got some good news and bad news. One day such a world will exist, because God said so. Read Revelation 21. And we who are God’s people will populate that new Heaven and new Earth. The bad news is for those people who have chosen not to be inhabitants of the new world to come. But don’t worry. Another place has been reserved for them.

The last line of this Psalm brings in the word “fear”. Do I fear God? As a child of God, I don’t “fear” Him with feelings of terror and panic, imagining being in perilous and life-threatening situations. The “fear” I have of God is a sense of respect and awe. I am not afraid that He is about to zap me because I’ve done something wrong. We have a wonderful Heavenly Father. A God who loves us, cares for us, forgives us, is gracious to us. Is patient with us. The wonderful qualities of God fill His Book, the Bible. When we read it we are changed. Transformed. And all we can do in response is praise Him.