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A Life of Worship and Witness

by Cindy Wallace on August 24, 2020

A couple of weeks ago my sister was here for a visit.  She had cleaned out her garage and brought with her some of the treasures she found tucked away in a plastic box for safekeeping.  So tucked away were they that she had forgotten all about them.  They were memories written down by my grandmother.  One was entitled, “Time of Prayer and Worship at the Family Altar” and was dictated by my grandfather about how as a child his parents led the family in “reverence to God… prayer and reading of the Family Bible,” and “leading us in paths of righteousness.”   Hidden among his memories was this treasure, no doubt a life lesson he had learned along the way:  “Prayer is not an easy way of getting what we want, but the only way of becoming what God wants us to be.” 

There were three articles of furniture in The Holy Place:  the Golden Lampstand, the Table of Showbread, and the Altar of Incense.  Last week we looked at the Golden Lampstand and the Table of Showbread and how without the Holy Spirit opening our eyes to see the truth of God’s Word, we will never know or understand God, His purposes or His plans.  We looked at Jesus, the Bread of Life who through satisfaction and fellowship gives life abundantly.  This week we’re going to look at the Altar of Incense which represents the place from which our prayers ascend to God.  Inside the Holy Place you must pass the Golden Candlestick and the Table of Showbread to get to the Altar of Incense indicating how important they are to the work of intercession.  As God reveals His will by His Spirit through His Word we know how to pray and what to ask for. 

What no eye has seen and no ear has heard, and what has never come into a man’s heart, is what God has prepared for those who love Him. (I Corinthians 2:9)

To quote a former pastor of mine, Dr. Tom Elliff, “God has given us prayer, not primarily as a method for getting things or changing circumstances, but as a means of cooperating with Him.”  Did you notice in the Scripture above that God is the one who does the preparation?  He’s prepared things that cannot be perceived with physical senses.  You can’t see it with your eyes, you can’t hear it with your ears, and you can’t even think it up in your mind.  In fact, it’s above beyond all that we ask or think. (Eph. 3:20)  So, how are we to know what God has prepared for us?  Now God has revealed them to us by the Spirit… (I Cor. 2:10)

Now God has revealed them to us by the Spirit, for the Spirit searches everything, even the deep things of God.  For who among men knows the concerns of a man except the spirit of the man that is in him?  In the same way, no one knows the concerns of God except the Spirit of God.  Now we have not received the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, in order to know what has been freely given to us by God….For who has known the Lord’s mind, that he may instruct Him?  But we have the mind of Christ.
(I Corinthians 2:10-12,16)

There’s a lot in this passage to digest.  Consider these truths from this text:

  • There are no limits on who, what, when, where, why, or how the Spirit probes.
  • The Spirit searches the deep things of God.
  • The Spirit reveals to us what God has prepared for us.
  • The Spirit of God knows the concerns of God.
  • God gave us His Spirit so that we can know what God has freely given to us.
  • We [as people controlled by the Spirit] have the mind of Christ.

We have the mind of Christ because God has given us His Spirit which knows what the mind of Christ is.  Now does that mean because we have the Holy Spirit living inside us everything we think or do is right and spiritual?  Of course not!  Remember, we still live in bodies of flesh.  What the Holy Spirit does is give us understanding of God’s Word so that we may know how to apply it to our lives and become more and more life Christ—HOLY.  And that’s something the natural man, the one who lives outside the Holy Place, doesn’t have.  In fact, that’s why he’s not able—because He lives outside the Holy Place.

When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all truth.  For He will not speak on His own, but He will speak whatever He hears.  He will also declare to you what is to come.  He will glorify Me, because He will take from what is Mine and declare it to you. (John 16:13-14)

If you are to be complete in Christ—that is, equipped for every good work—you must allow the Holy Spirit to use God’s Word to teach you what you don’t know, to get on to you when you need it, to show you the things in your behavior that need to change and then to show you how to change.  The more of the Word we hide in our hearts, the more the Spirit is able to open up our understanding.  The more we yield to the Spirit’s control and demonstrate faith through obedience to the Word that we do understand, the more truth the Spirit entrusts to us.

If you’re not in the Word enough to know what it says, how can the Spirit enlighten your heart as to what it means?  You may not—NO…you will not understand everything you read immediately.  But, as you implant the Word in your soul you will reap a harvest of fruit.  At the very moment you need it, the Holy Spirit takes the Word you’ve hidden in your heart and brings it to your mind and in an instant like a flash of light He gives you understanding and you say, “Oh, that’s what this means.”  The Holy Spirit comes along beside you to guide your journey through the Word of God and show you how to live.

And whenever you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear this command behind you:  “This is the way.  Walk in it.”
(Isaiah 30:21)


*Speak to me, I will listen, speak to me
And I will obey Your voice, my God
Speak to me, I will listen, speak to me
I will follow You for You are the Truth
And the Life and the Way

Take my heart and make it Yours
Every part is Yours for Your glory
You alone I long to hear
Every word I will hide in my heart 

Now I break my fallow ground
Cultivate my heart to receive Your Word
That it may overflow in every thought
Every word, every deed 

Speak to me, I will listen, speak to me
And I will obey Your voice, my God
Speak to me, I will listen, speak to me
I will follow You for You are the Truth
And the Life and the Way
Jesus, I’ll obey

As Jesus reveals Himself and the purposes of God to us, we are empowered to do greater works than Jesus did during His ministry on earth.

I assure you:  The one who believes in Me will also do the works that I do.  And he will do even greater works than these, because I am going to the Father.  Whatever you ask in My name, I will do it so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.  If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it. (John 14:12-14)

Jesus is willing to do whatever we ask in His name in order to bring glory to the Father.  Just think how much can be accomplished from believer’s multiplied over the face of the earth all asking and receiving in the name of Jesus.  As God reveals His will through His Word by His Spirit we know how to pray and what to ask for.  Even when we don’t know what to pray as we should, the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness and intercedes for us according to the will of God. (Rom. 8:26-27) This is the ministry of the Altar of Incense.  It is a ministry of adoration and intercession.

Let my prayer be set forth before Thee as incense; and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice. (Psalm 141:2)

When He took the scroll, the four living creatures and the 24 elders fell down before the Lamb.  Each one had a harp and gold bowls filled with incense, which are the prayers of the saints.  (Rev. 5:8)

Another angel, with a gold incense burner, came and stood at the altar.  He was given a large amount of incense to offer with the prayers of all the saints on the gold altar in front of the throne.  The smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, went up in the presence of God from the angel’s hand.  The angel took the incense burner, filled it with fire from the altar, and hurled it to the earth; there were thunders, rumblings, lightnings, and an earthquake. (Rev. 8:3-5)

In this verse we see a most dramatic and really beautiful event.  Can you visualize the prayers of the saints—your prayers—ascending into the very presence of God where God’s messenger hurls the answer back to earth and as a result dramatic and significant things happen?  Prayer and meditation of God’s Word aided by the Holy Spirit gets God’s attention.  “For the eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His.”  (2 Chron. 16:9)

In the candlestick we learn the secret of illumination; in the table of showbread the source of satisfaction; and in the altar of incense we experience the strength of intercession.  They are all inseparable to a life of worship and witness in the holy place.  Let us see to it that we do not neglect our "so great salvation."—Copied from The Tabernacle: Camping with God by Stephen F. Olford

*Speak to Me | James Bradford
Words and Music © Copyright 2005 by Cindy Wallace


Tags: worship, music


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