Live Vertical (Rev. 4:9-11)

Pray We and Our Children Live Vertically (Revelation 4:9-11)

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church in Poland, OH on Sunday, August 26, 2018

Praying Scripture Series

I read the following in the book, Vertical Churchby James MacDonald:

Something unusual captured the world’s imagination at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Australia. If you think back and squint, you may be able to recall the surprising word hanging from the Sydney Harbour Bridge unveiled at the opening ceremony. When the torch was lit to launch this long-awaited crown for the land down under, the background sky was illumined by an Olympic display of fireworks. Just then a massive sign that hung on the bridge flashed to brilliance, and in a moment people around the globe read what God has placed inside each of us. The word was Eternity. What a strange word to select as a theme for the Olympics. Was it intended only as a motivator for the athletes soon to compete for record-book immortality? To the Aussies it was much more, as even its “copper plate” font was rooted in the history of the island continent. Understanding the word’s significance leads us to the theme of this chapter and to where every discussion of the church and its purpose in the world must begin.

“In November 1932 in Australia, a down-on-his-luck, World War I veteran named Arthur Stace was homeless and hopelessly addicted to alcohol. His life of gambling and petty crime had only worsened his poverty and driven him to suicidal depression. Having failed at everything he could think of to content the aching cavity in his soul, he stumbled one Sunday night into a church. In God’s providence, preaching that evening was a man named John Ridley, who spoke on the subject of eternity. “You’re on your way somewhere brother! And God made you to long for the place you’re headed for.” Ridley eloquently described the settled destination of every human being with the word eternity, repeating it again and again. Eternity, eternity, eternity! Those eight letters captured Stace’s mind and demanded from his life a major course correction. ”

As Ridley proclaimed the truth of every person’s march toward eternity and the only gospel that prepares a soul for that inevitability, the God of the universe invaded Stace’s soul. Conquered by the message of salvation and Christ’s provision for his own eternity, Stace dedicated the rest of his life to doing what he could to help people find the God who had found him. Every day for more than thirty-five years, Stace rose before the sun, and after a cup of tea and a few moments in Bible reading, he’d go out into the streets of Sydney with a piece of chalk and write the word Eternity. Over and over, thousands of times Stace wrote this word in the same beautiful script. As the town awoke, people would see the word everywhere: on the sidewalk outside a coffee shop, on the backside of a street sign, and on the cornerstone at the base of a building. Eternity mysteriously appeared all over town. Somehow, instead of being insulted by the overtly spiritual message, people reported feeling strangely encouraged. From all walks of life, Sydney citizens were stumbling upon eternity scrawled in the most surprising places.

Until 1956, no one knew where the writing came from. But they finally found him, Arthur Stace, and no one demanded he stop his daily discipline. Instead they supported, even celebrated, his graffitied message of the life to come. If you go to Sydney today, you can enter a particular government building and up inside the bell in one of the towers you can find the word written by Stace still legible more than fifty years later—Eternity. Stace died in 1967 at eighty-three years of age, but he left an impact that will last long after every chalk mark has faded. His gravestone reads, “Arthur Malcolm Stace—Mr. Eternity,” a word he had written more than five hundred thousand times.

Thirty years after his death, the host country chose that word to express the longings of the world at the first Olympics of a new millennium. Eternity: it’s a powerful word that penetrates deep into the soul of every human being. And every time we make a choice that detours our search for fulfillment, eternity shouts within us, “You’re getting colder.”[1]

Eternity, think about it, how important is eternity?

Do we live for eternity or do we live for now?

Do we live for God?

In September of 2012 I went and saw Pastor James MacDonald preach about his book “Vertical Church.” Seeing him speak and reading his book gave vertical a new meaning to me. Our lives must be about God and not us.

My theme today is: Pray that you and your children live vertically, pray that you live out Revelation 4:11.

Let’s read Revelation 4:9-11:

And when the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, to Him who lives forever and ever, 10 the twenty-four elders will fall down before Him who sits on the throne, and will worship Him who lives forever and ever, and will cast their crowns before the throne, saying,

Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created.”

  1. Let’s talk about that passage:
    1. Who is worthy to be worshipped? God.
    2. Who created all things? God.
    3. Ephesians 1:3: Paul notes that our lives are immersed in blessings. Verse 4 even says that God chose us before the foundation of the world. “chose” this means to speak forth. Genesis 1: God spoke forth creation. Psalm 139 shows the Lord knit us together in our mother’s womb.
    4. We are not accidents.
    5. The only response is self-sacrificial worship. The only response is worship in humility.
    6. The only response is to join the elders, which we may be in that group anyways and say, “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power.
    7. In this case they are worshipping in Heaven. This is John’s writing of a heavenly vision.
    8. Who is this worship about? God. This worship is all about God.
    9. We exist because God chose to create us.
    10. This is vertical worship.
    11. Verse 10 tells us that these 24 elders are falling down and worshipping. In verse 10 we see that these 24 elders are surrendering their earthly crowns to King Jesus.
    12. Who do we think we are? Who do we live for?
    13. We must live for Jesus. We must pray for God’s help so that we live for King Jesus.
    14. We must live vertically, focused on Heaven and eternity.
    15. Oftentimes we are focused on this world. Listen to this example of how we worship people and not God. I read the following:

I’m not a historian by any means, but I have long been fascinated by the Second World War. Specifically, I have studied the gradual ascendancy that led to Hitler’s iron-fisted control of all things Germany. Inflaming a common hatred of the Jews, random raids, relentless surveillance, and the beating or imprisonment of all opponents were the major factors in Hitler’s meteoric rise to absolute power. William Dodd, the American ambassador to Germany, warned President Roosevelt continuously, but most world leaders preferred a version of “facts” that discredited reports of Nazi insanity to avoid another “great war.” A final factor cannot be ignored. Even as news circulated that Hitler had ordered the murder of Ernst Röhm and hundreds more, proclaiming himself Der Führer (grand leader) upon Hindenburg’s death that summer of 1937, almost no one resisted, or even objected. Why? What kept world leaders at bay and fashioned a sterile environment for the incubation of insanity was the adoration of Hitler by the majority of the German people.

The German masses worshipped Adolf Hitler with a loyalty and passion that insulated his rise from sustainable opposition. Women wept in the streets as his car passed by, men would dig and save a portion of sod upon which Der Führer’s foot had fallen.[2]

  1. Did you notice that? Did you notice the worldly and idolatrous worship?
  1. Let’s look at another passage.
    1. Exodus 33:15: Then he said to Him, “If Your presence does not go with us, do not lead us up from here…”
    2. I am making the case that we must live vertically. We must live for eternity. We must live for God. Notice what Moses said: “If Your presence does not go with us, do not lead us up from here…”It must be all about God. It must be all about His presence.
    3. Now, let’s connect the dots with the context.
    4. Israel has deserted God. In Genesis and Exodus God had continually taken care of His people. He led them out of slavery in Egypt, He divided the Red Sea and He showed His power and might to Pharaoh with the plaques on Egypt. Then Moses goes up on the mountain to receive the law from God and you know what Israel does? They create a golden calf and worship it. What a mockery of everything the living Lord has done for them. In fact, in Exodus 32:24: Aaron says: “I said to them, ‘Whoever has any gold, let them tear it off.’ So they gave it to me, and I threw it into the fire, and out came this calf.” Yea, right, really? Like they had nothing to do with this.
    5. So, sticking with the context, we find out that God loves the people of Israel, but they committed idolatry. So, later on in Exodus 33:3 God is not going to be with Israel on the rest of their journey. Now, know that the people have rejected God, so God is simply following what they chose. Later in Exodus 33:16 Moses basically says that God is the one who separates them from the other nations. Moses basically intercedes for the people in that He wants God’s presence with them. Moses is saying, “This is pointless without the Lord.” Isn’t that true? We need the Lord to. Why go to church without the Lord and His glory? Why live except to glorify the Lord?
    6. Do you see the point I am trying to make? It has to be all about God.
    7. We must live for God. C. S. Lewis noted:

Because God and you are two things of such a kind that if you really get into any touch with Him at all, you will, in fact, be humble—delightedly humble, feeling the infinite relief of having for once got rid of all the silly nonsense about your own dignity which has made you restless and unhappy your whole life. God’s trying to make you humble in order to make that moment possible: Trying to get you to take off a lot of silly, ugly, fancy-dress in which we have all got ourselves up in and are strutting about like the little idiots that we are.[3]

  1. Who are you living for?
  2. Do you live vertically for God?
  3. Do you want your children and grandchildren to live vertically for God?
  4. Do you pray that way?


Holy, holy, holy
Lord, God Almighty
Early in the morning our song shall rise to Thee

Holy, holy, holy
Merciful and mighty
God in three persons blessed Trinity

Holy, holy, holy
Though the darkness hide Thee
Though the eye of sinful man thy glory may not see

Only Thou art holy; there is none beside Thee
Perfect in power, in love, and purity

Holy, holy, holy
Lord, God Almighty
All Thy works shall praise Thy name in earth and sky and sea
Holy, holy, holy
Merciful and mighty
God in three persons blessed Trinity[4]

Let’s pray.

God created us to be with Him. (Genesis 1-2)

Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)

Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)

Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)

Everyone who trusts in Him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)

Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)


[1]Excerpt From: James Macdonald. “Vertical Church.” iBooks.

[2]Excerpt From: James Macdonald. “Vertical Church.” iBooks.

[3]Excerpt From: James Macdonald. “Vertical Church.” iBooks.

[4]Songwriters: John B. Dykes / Reginald Heber / George S. Schuler

Holy, Holy, Holy lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc, Universal Music Publishing Group

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