Newsletter for Nov 2011
During my years as a Christian prior to recognizing the Lord’s call on my life to preach, I heard numerous ministers speak of the time they spent in prayer and fellowship with God. Back then, the idea of being in full-time ministry seemed to be the answer to all of life’s problems; after all, you would have hours upon untold hours to seek the Lord through prayer, worship and meditating in His word.
Boy, did I ever get a rude awakening! After I stepped into full-time ministry it seemed like the devil began fighting me harder than ever, not for just the hours, but even for the minutes of each day. In speaking with other full-time ministers who are truly pursuing God’s will, I found out I am not alone. It’s almost as though Satan says, “So, now that you’re full time in ministry you think you’re going to give God hour after hour of your life to gain greater understanding of His word and to walk in a greater anointing? Ha! I am going to assign more devils to you than you can imagine. If you think you’ve faced challenges before, you have no idea what’s on its way into your life!”
Trust me, you do not want to go into full-time in ministry until you are ready. How will you know when you’re ready? Well, if you are truly seeking God and His will, the day will come when – if His will really is for you to be full time in ministry – He will tell you when to take that step of faith. But get it settled in your heart: once you leave secular employment for full time service unto God, you have just stepped into a new arena of battle.
Attacks that come from the enemy are not just to steal your time, but also to create merciless upheaval in your emotions. This is true for Christians regardless of whether or not they are in full time ministry. You see, the devil knows that if he can do something that will cause you emotional distress, subsequently disrupting your spiritual peace, he can bring about confusion. Once confusion has settled in, you will act, react, say things and make decisions that are in no way birthed of God’s Spirit.
I used to get so frustrated when problems arose. The anxiety seemed like a thick blanket draped over me and feelings of hopelessness would pound my emotions. Sometimes this would go on for days over situations for which it seemed there were no solutions. Then, several years ago I heard some teaching about the power of worship. Not just singing songs in church, but true, genuine worship away from church when it’s just Jesus and me. I’m talking about the kind of worship where you demand that your thoughts stay focused on the One you are worshipping, not allowing your mind the luxury of drifting off to try and solve the problems of life.
Well, if you want to talk about a new arena of battle, entering into this kind of worship brought about a totally different kind of warfare: me against me! My mind was not accustomed to being ordered around and it put up a level of resistance that I did not realize was in me. I would begin to worship, not just singing or speaking my words of love for the Lord, but also thinking about the words I was saying and imagining I was in His literal presence. But after a few minutes, I suddenly realized that my mind had wandered down the street and was not at all dwelling on Jesus. So, I brought it back in line and continued to worship.
The trench warfare with my thoughts has continued to this day, but not as intensely as before. My mind still wants to rebel, yet with much less success. Now, it is so much easier to stay focused on the Lord during both corporate and private worship. This is because I have continued to exert the authority of God’s life in me over my thought life during praise and worship.
Some people might ask, “Why go through all that trouble? What’s the big deal about worship?” At one time, I would have asked the same questions. I had not really paid a lot of attention to what God said about worship in scripture. But I took a step of faith and began to worship…and thank God I did! Yes, it was a major struggle to stay focused, but what I have discovered is that worship does something for a Believer that prayer, meditating on scripture or fasting cannot do.
There is a kind of spiritual intimacy with God that comes with true worship; an intimacy that will never be experienced any other way than through worship. It is something that cannot be put into words. It is an experience with Jesus on a spiritual level that you will never know until you force yourself into that place of private worship, demanding that your mind honor the One who gave His life for you.
Is it worth the battle? Absolutely! I have discovered that in that “personal tabernacle of God’s presence” that I “build” through my worship, He truly does inhabit my praises. Not only that, but it is in His presence I begin to understand things as He understands them, realizing that He truly has the answer to every problem. In this place of Divine glory, you will begin to value His presence and the peace He brings more than anything else. You will also begin to see how to bring your life into order, recognizing the true priorities.
If praise and worship were not so important, God would not have said so much about it in the Bible. Likewise, out of all the prophecies which have come forth in our church, there have been more about praise and worship than any other single topic. During a recent time of prayer, the Lord began speaking again to me about worship. I’ll take this opportunity to share with you what He said.
Worship is like a jungle guide. In the jungle, the guide goes first with a machete to cut away all the brush. The result is a path which had never before existed so those behind can move ahead without resistance. The guide always works harder than those following the guide.
Worship is harder than praying in tongues because it requires a level of concentration not needed for praying in tongues. As you worship, you begin to cut through the brush and hindrances of your flesh and emotions to establish a path into My glory and presence; a path you have never seen and a level of glory you have never experienced.
But just like in the natural as the brush puts up strong resistance against the guide and his machete, your emotions will put up strong resistance to you and your worship. Even so, you are always gaining when you worship; it is impossible not to make progress into me when you worship. If I have said that I inhabit your praises (Psalm 22:3), why would you think that worship will not result in greater and greater waves of My glory filling your life?
I suggest you examine My word and take note of what happened when people praised and worshipped me. Why would you think I would do any less for you?
When He said that, immediately I thought of these three passages in scripture:
2 Chronicles 5:1-7, 11-14
Thus all the work that Solomon made for the house of the LORD was finished: and Solomon brought in all the things that David his father had dedicated; and the silver, and the gold, and all the instruments, put he among the treasures of the house of God…And the priests brought in the ark of the covenant of the LORD unto his place, to the oracle of the house, into the most holy place, even under the wings of the cherubims
And it came to pass, when the priests were come out of the holy place: (for all the priests that were present were sanctified, and did not then wait by course: Also the Levites which were the singers, all of them of Asaph, of Heman, of Jeduthun, with their sons and their brethren, being arrayed in white linen, having cymbals and psalteries and harps, stood at the east end of the altar, and with them an hundred and twenty priests sounding with trumpets:) It came even to pass, as the trumpeters and singers were as one, to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the LORD; and when they lifted up their voice with the trumpets and cymbals and instruments of music, and praised the LORD, saying, For he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever: that then the house was filled with a cloud, even the house of the LORD; so that the priests could not stand to minister by reason of the cloud: for the glory of the LORD had filled the house of God. (5:11-14)
In this passage there is very powerful imagery which speaks prophetically of the Church:
Ø The ark being brought into the temple symbolizes the life of God entering a person when he accepts Jesus as Savior. Scripture even refers to Believers as the Temple of God (1 Corinthians 3:16)
Ø The singers and trumpeters of the Levites (the priesthood) praising and worshipping the Lord while in the temple represents Christians, the new priesthood (Revelation 1:5-6), praising and worshipping God in spirit and in truth out of their born again life (John 4:23-24), the kind of worship I described earlier in this letter.
Ø God’s glory filling the natural temple through the worship signifies His glory filling our lives as we worship in spirit and in truth.
2 Chronicles 20:20-25
And they rose early in the morning, and went forth into the wilderness of Tekoa: and as they went forth, Jehoshaphat stood and said, Hear me, O Judah, and ye inhabitants of Jerusalem; Believe in the LORD your God, so shall ye be established; believe his prophets, so shall ye prosper.
And when he had consulted with the people, he appointed singers unto the LORD, and that should praise the beauty of holiness, as they went out before the army, and to say, Praise the LORD; for his mercy endureth for ever.
And when they began to sing and to praise, the LORD set ambushments against the children of Ammon, Moab, and mount Seir, which were come against Judah; and they were smitten.
For the children of Ammon and Moab stood up against the inhabitants of mount Seir, utterly to slay and destroy them: and when they had made an end of the inhabitants of Seir, every one helped to destroy another.
And when Judah came toward the watch tower in the wilderness, they looked unto the multitude, and, behold, they were dead bodies fallen to the earth, and none escaped.
And when Jehoshaphat and his people came to take away the spoil of them, they found among them in abundance both riches with the dead bodies, and precious jewels, which they stripped off for themselves, more than they could carry away: and they were three days in gathering of the spoil, it was so much.
Sending the army first would have represented the people trying to win the battle by their own strength and abilities. By sending the worshippers first, it symbolized a complete trust in God that He would give them the victory. Afterward, they discovered that the enemies had stored up immeasurable amounts of wealth in their camp; so much that God’s people spent three days in taking possession of it.
Jesus arose on the third day. He has given us His victory over the enemy. Fighting our battles with worship instead of human reasoning will always result in confusion being released into Satan’s camp and the attack being thwarted. Likewise, worship will help bring about the manifestation of God’s blessings for our lives that the enemy has tried to keep from us.
And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them. And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one's bands were loosed.
You can read the entire story of this event in Acts 16:5-40. In spite of the beatings they had endured and knowing there were people who wanted to execute them, Paul and Silas worshipped the Lord. Not only did their own shackles fall off and cell door open, but the shackles fell off and prisons doors opened for every other prisoner!
The power that is released when we worship our Savior can create an atmosphere of God’s presence so powerful that people around us will be impacted. Not only can we break free from physical, emotional and spiritual bonds, but worship can release an anointing through us to help others break free.
If you have never spent time just worshipping the Lord (with and without worship music playing) I encourage you to do as I did: take a step of faith and do this. Yes, your mind and emotions will put up a fight, but don’t give up; keep sowing to your spirit through worship and you will reap a harvest of God’s life and glory!
May His presence fill your life!