DELIBERATELY PURSUING GOD
THE BATTLE TO STAY FOCUSED
It never ceases to amaze me how many people never consider the Christian life as a full blown spiritual war. Some come in and out of church all their lives and never grasp the reality of spiritual resistance or the responsibility of intercessory prayer. If anyone does not sense or understand the difference between going to church and going to the movies they may need to double check Ephesians chapter six and make sure they personally know God. What does this have to do with worship? We will not move into the deeper glories of God’s presence without understanding spiritual warfare. Advancing in our knowledge of kingdom realities brings us closer to Christ.
Anyone that has ever led worship, been a part of a worship team, a pastor, preacher or has ministered from the pulpit knows exactly what I’m talking about when it comes to spiritual resistance. It is the same spiritual opposition that is felt when we become determined to increase our prayers, bible study, our giving or serving others. Unfortunately the devil sees our weaknesses and has learned how to push our “buttons” that can get us off track. It is no secret that he hates God and God’s people and works constantly to make everything as difficult as possible or stop it completely. So why is it important for our adversary to prevent God’s presence from manifesting? Because Satan knows very well that God’s presence is the highest power in all of heaven and earth. He realizes that people cannot change one another – only God can bring revelation and transform a spirit. He knows that in God’s presence, people’s hearts break and melt, the conscience becomes exposed, spirit ears are opened, conviction overwhelms the senses, blinders are removed from minds and eyes and lives are restored. He knows the more people that are touched by God’s presence the more witnesses there will be to tell the good news. The more deliverance and salvation – the more the world will change.
So, if we just stumble around in God’s Kingdom and allow our lives to be hindered and stay “beat up” all the time, how do we advance God’s Kingdom? Will we ever become the overcomer God wants us to be if we do not battle against this resistance? If Satan can keep worship to a few powerless songs he can keep God’s presence “top secret.” And if the enemy can bring intimidation to pastors that preach an uncompromising word, the devil can cause spiritual stagnation in the church which in turn breeds religious lethargy. The advancement of God’s Kingdom is at stake because the captives need to be set free and God’s people desperately need to be filled with the Holy Ghost, transformed in their mind, delivered from sin, healed in their bodies and empowered with faith. “Thy Kingdom come” will not come easy because every demonic imagination of spiritual darkness in the universe is equipped and ready to fight against God. That is why we must turn away from our “busywork” distractions and go to war with fervent prayer.
Many gripe and complain about all that happens in the church and yet never consider how much the leadership is fighting the forces of evil that desire to hinder and quench God’s desires. If the church is having problems it may not be the failure of those who are working hard in their ministry but maybe it comes from those who would rather whine than support. Instead of constant stabbing and murmuring behind the backs of those who are in the trenches doing hand to hand combat against Satan, maybe the arm chair quarterbacks should get on their knees and pray for the warriors. Friendly fire among brethren is what keeps God’s church bound up and powerless and is a shame to the Name of Christ. We are not at war with each other! Even if someone is doing something weird they are being influenced by confusing thoughts and us talking bad about them is not going to help because we need to use that energy to stand in the gap for them. Are we prayer warriors or pansy gossipers? “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds; Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” II Corinthians 10:3-5
It is elementary to say this, but it is crucial to be prepared. Preparation gives confidence – not in your flesh but in knowing that you have spent time with God and have heard His voice for what He wants to minister to the people. I make notes each day when something comes to me about a scripture or when listening to worship music and I use them to connect the dots until I can see an outline of God’s thinking. I try to listen as I read, pray and confess God’s word because I need to have an internal confidence that I am on the right track. I need to have a sense of relief that I have searched, obeyed, cried out, practiced and done all I can do before I step on stage which gives me courage to be a vessel for Him to use. If I did not depend on God’s strength, and know His anointing is being projected through me I could not even dream of opening my mouth. On the nights before I lead worship I already have some of the building blocks in place and as I sleep, the words of the songs and the direction of what I sense the Lord is saying will “play” in my spirit while my eyes and body rest. On Sunday mornings I wake up early and I am still listening for instructions as I try to find peace with the final details. After the process of seeking and finding, I can begin to extend my faith and confidence in that God has given the prescribed spiritual “medication” for the people and is going to empower me and the team to minister His word for that specific hour. This is the only way that I would ever have the courage to step on the stage to challenge, provoke and encourage the people to concentrate on the beauty of His presence and the promises of His unfailing word.
I have learned over the years to not only prepare to minister but to prepare my heart for distraction. I must meditate, focus and pray in the spirit before I enter into the spiritual arena. From the moment I walk in the door until the music begins to rumble I must stay calm with everything from equipment failures that can bring frustration, team members that are having personal problems (with me or with each other), to my own fatigue, and the congregations apathy. I also believe when someone new takes over in any leadership position the existing members will try to “test the waters” to find how serious they are with trying to establish order. In practice or just before service is probably not the best time to approach any leader with a disagreement about the music or a church member. Leaders prepare all week and extend their faith to follow through with what they believe is God’s vision. Pastors do the same thing as they are focused on their message and do not want to become heavily engaged with confrontations that may worry or upset them. I am concerned with everyone’s problems but it would be better to talk with me in private about it so I can focus my attention carefully before I respond. Trying to make correct decisions on the spot is difficult as I desire to do God’s will and not act on my emotions. True leaders that want to accomplish God’s perfect will must find the balance of having a direction and yet be open to what the Holy Spirit is saying – all at the same time.