Posts Tagged elders

Overseeing in Christ

Titus 1: 7

Since an overseer is entrusted with God’s work, he must be blameless – not overbearing, not quick tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain.

This is Paul’s message to Titus regarding the selection of elders for the church. We should all be pursuing spiritual maturity and this is a good measure of what it looks like. One might expect a spiritually mature person to have overcome any tendency toward drunkenness and we would expect that person not to attempt gain by deceitful or dishonest means. Certainly a spiritually mature person should not be a person of violence. Would we, though, have thought to include a quick temper and an overbearing manner to the list of characteristics that a spiritually mature person is not? 

Webster’s defines overbear as: to dominate, domineer over, overrule, or subdue; and overbearing as: acting in a dictatorial manner; arrogant; domineering, overriding. When we think we have the answers or God has shown us something that has helped us to mature we sometimes begin to shove those answers down other people’s throats. We sometimes try to overrule or subdue others thoughts or feelings. I doubt any of us wishes to be described using any of the terms above.

That is not God’s way. He was patient with us; let us, then be patient with others. Besides, our answers are not always their answers. If we are truly mature in Christ, then we can fully trust the Lord, even to helping others find their way.  

Incense Offering

Revelation 5: 8

And when He had taken the book, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, having each one a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.

Today is a visual day. I want you to look with me at the golden bowls which each of the elders holds. Did you notice that they are full of a substance which gives off a sweet smelling aroma? That substance is the prayers of the saints. Can you see the aroma wafting up from the bowls and filling the throne room? The vapors reach the Father and He inhales deeply of them. Think about when you walk into a kitchen where someone is baking. Don’t you stop in your tracks and take in a deep breath savoring the pleasant smell? Or I think about when I drive by someone mowing their lawn. I take deep breaths letting the scent fill me until I can no longer smell it. 

Those pleasant aromas arrest our attention. You may be in conversation but you immediately take that deep breath so you can enjoy the scent. This is the way our prayers are to our Father. They constantly fill His nostrils with the most pleasant fragrance of all. I like the idea that there is something we can do which brings pleasure to our Father. It is no coincidence that all twenty-four elders hold a harp and a golden bowl. These are the things which please God; musical praise and prayer.

As I read this verse today I found that I immediately wanted to pray and put a prayer in the bowl which would smell exceedingly wonderful as it is offered. Not surprisingly, the prayer was much more about how great our Father is than what I needed Him to do for me. I will confess that I found the prayer very fun and even gratifying for me.

Picture, if you will, an altar in the throne room where we give our offerings to the Lord. Rather than the meat of goats and lambs, we offer up music and prayer. We give to the Lord not something that is external like a sheep but rather that which comes from within us; our praise and our song. 

I wonder sometimes if our Father is tone deaf because I have noticed that He enjoys us singing to Him no matter how cacophonic the sound. You don’t have to have a good voice, just a heart of love for Him. He hears sweet music when you sing and He smells sweet incense when you pray. You cannot sing wrong or pray wrong when you give your offering from your heart.

It is amazing that the God who created Mt. Everest, the Amazon River and every star and heavenly body in the universe can be pleased with something as simple as our prayers. It sure makes one rethink one’s theology. It also reveals so much about our Father. It is delightful to realize that we can give Him joy. Even better, it is really easy for us to do so. We do not have to create a masterpiece. We have only to appreciate that which is. So, let’s fill up those golden bowls and flood the throne room with a sweet aroma.