AN AUDIENCE OF ONE
DELIBERATELY PURSUING GOD
AN AUDIENCE OF ONE
In Matthew chapter six we find a very comforting aspect about our personal intimacy with God that confirms His awareness of what we think and how we feel. In verse four, six and eighteen we notice the phrase, “and thy Father which sees in secret. Years ago the Lord gave me a song called, “God sees, God hears, God knows.” The “secret place” where He “knows” is our conscience and the location where the bond of our salvation abides. This is the innermost area of trust where we can follow Him even unto death because we know our anchor holds forever. Our bond with God goes far beyond human love or any fleshly emotion and no matter how much persecution or the pain of our sacrifice, we will stay focused on Him alone. Walking in the Spirit means we have come to the place where we do not care what others say about us. We are joyful and content as long as we can hear His voice and feel His presence.
It is hard to imagine living without electricity or seeing abandoned church buildings. Many cannot even comprehend a worship service without the videos, graphics, lights, computers, instruments, sound systems and air conditioning that enhances our church experience. May we be careful that we do not spend more time playing with our toys than being with our first love. Our prayers and praise are not something we generate to prove our holiness or devotion in public but it is an “overflow” from our private closet and personal time of intimacy with Him. This level of spiritual learning and knowing that (hopefully) we are now developing will be exposed when the plugs are pulled and the doors are locked. The same is true with our faith and love; those who are not investing their time wisely now when we have so many resources and opportunities to minister – will struggle to stand strong when all of our “comforts” are stripped away. This does not mean that we cannot live in more joy than we have ever experienced before, in fact, it reminds us that His presence is ALL we will ever need or desire. Is Jesus alone enough to satisfy you? “But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ.” Philippians 3:7-8
Those of us that are married have learned that love grows. We listen, laugh, cry, reveal our most secret thoughts, pour out our views and learn to trust and “know” our soul mate deeper every day. And so it is with how we grow in our bond and adoration with our Lord. We come to Him with a pure humility and with as much sincerity as a human can have, (we call it; with our whole heart) and just crawl into his lap and lay our head on his chest in perfect peace. This is a place where the chaos of the world, the fears, worries, and stress cannot find us. It is a place where we do not have to perform or need to live up to an expectation. In His presence, we do not seek respect, honor or recognition. We do not have to fight for our rights, try to explain or wait in line for His attention. We simply relax and enjoy the contentment of being close to Him. “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in Him will I trust.” Psalm 91:1
One night I was visiting a church and after the teaching, they began to praise God with no time limits and no hurry to leave. In the service, I was feeling the freedom and power of God’s Spirit to just “soak” in His love and peace. It was so enjoyable to feel His tangible presence as I would go to the altar and talk with God then walk around waving my arms with joy. While I was in somewhat of an intoxicated state a wonderful lady came and handed me a small note and walked away. I looked at it with glazed eyes and it said, “Billy, live only to please God – worship to the audience of one!” My throat tightened and I felt a tear fall down my cheek as I thought of how profound this message is to my heart. In ministry, we have so much to think about and voices that try to influence our direction but it is so important to stay focused on the King. There is no higher purpose to serve, no greater reason to live than to constantly seek His face and listen to His voice. “For do I now persuade men or God? Or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.” Galatians 1:10
Notice the words from “Show me your Glory”; “I long to look on the face of the one that I love, long to stay in your presence it’s where I belong.” The desire to look into the face of the one that we love and adore them with all of our heart is the deepest need of human emotion. But this passion is even more profound than our mind and thoughts; it is the cry of our spirit to the Father of all creation. Our spirit loves to be as close to God as possible. Our spirit never gets tired of seeing His glory, soaking in His presence, serving Him, praying, learning, reading, studying, loving people, and is never bored with dreaming about Him. It is our flesh and the negative influence from the dark side that constantly gripes and complains about us going to the extreme with the Lord. The two natures are directly opposed to one another which reveal what spiritual “warfare” is all about. The enemy tries to influence our old mind to live for self – as the Lord desires to transform our mind so we can join forces with our new spirit and live completely for God. Living in God’s presence makes our spirit man very happy but distance from the Lord is what makes us sad and miserable. What is keeping us from being a complete fanatic for God?
After a forest fire in Yellowstone National Park, the forest rangers began to hike up a mountain to assess the inferno’s damage. One ranger found a bird literally petrified in ashes, perched like a statue on the ground at the base of a tree. Somewhat sickened by the eerie sight, he knocked over the bird with a stick. When he gently struck it, three tiny chicks scurried from under their dead mother’s wings. The loving mother, keenly aware of impending disaster, had carried her offspring to the base of the tree and had gathered them under her wings, instinctively knowing that the toxic smoke would rise. She could have flown to safety but had refused to abandon her babies. Then the blaze had arrived and the heat had scorched her small body, the mother had remained steadfast…she had been willing to die, so those under the cover of her wings would live. God loves us as individuals and does not consider us as just a part of a flock. He would have died for you if you were the only person on earth. You are designed with a specific identity – not just a blended voice in a choir. He loves the one on one relationship with you. “He will cover you with His feathers, and under His wings, you will trust. His truth will be your shield and buckler. You will not be afraid for the terror by night; neither from the arrow that flies by day” Psalm 91:4
We see an example of personal worship with an audience of one in Mathew 26 when Jesus was in Bethany at the house of Simon the leper. Verse 7 say’s, “There came unto Jesus a woman having an alabaster box of very precious ointment, and poured it on his head, as he sat at meat.” You would think the disciples would have seen this as an honorable act of anointing and worship but actually became upset. Because of the high value of the perfume, they thought it had been wasted and thought if someone had intended to donate it to the ministry it should have been sold and the money distributed to the poor. Jesus spoke up and said the woman was proving that He was more valuable than anything on earth and in the future let it be known that wherever the gospel is preached in the whole world, this act of adoration will be a testimony of her love.
Jesus lived perfectly and his life brought glory to his Father in all of His words and deeds the same as we should. He willingly gave his body to be crushed like a rose and the holy fragrance was so beautiful to the Father that it paid for the sins of everyone who would believe. When we give our heart and will to God it is a sacrifice of praise and surrender unto obedience and this is received by the Father as an acceptable sweet odor, an offering of spiritual incense that pleases Him. “And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us, and has given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savor.” (Ephesians 5:2) Is your life a sweet-smelling aroma to Him?
Another similar story in John chapter 12, reveals Jesus visiting at the home of Martha and Mary. We find Mary wanting to show her affection by rubbing His feet with spices as an act of worship and adoration. “Then Mary took a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odor of the ointment.” Judas was the treasurer and carried the money and was angry about how the perfume should have been sold and the money used to help the poor. But Jesus said, “Leave her alone: against the day of my burying hath she kept this. For the poor always you have with you, but me you have not always.” You can picture this scene in your mind and it is a beautiful example of someone having their priorities in the right place. She was blocking out the stress, distractions, and concerns of this life because she is mesmerized by the aura of His person. She discarded what this realm considers valuable and wise and is only concentrating on the revelation of who He is – not just what He can do. She doesn’t care what people think or say about politically correct worship. She is so focused on her personal relationship with God that nothing is more important than becoming one with Him. She realizes the freedom of not living according to religious traditions or to a system of rules but she has committed her heart to live only to the audience of God Himself. All He has ever wanted from anyone is devotion and adoration – a humble, sincere heart of love – not a performance. “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Mathew 6:21
DELIBERATELY PURSUING GOD
LOVING AND CARING FOR EACH OTHER
Do you love Jesus? Well, of course, I do, what kind of silly question is that? Mmmm… the same response that Peter had, right? We sing about loving God and hear about others loving Him and know the stories that explain how He loves us but I believe there are “levels” of understanding love, just like we learn about everything else in life. For instance, if knowing about love is like knowing math, we might be able to add and subtract but not have a clue about calculus or trigonometry yet both are mathematics. We might “love” our new set of wheels but have never known romantic love. All things have layers of comprehension and each individual person may be at certain stages of perception in a particular field. In my personal development, I heard the word “love” from the time my ears could function and as I became a teenager my progression of understanding was still very weak. Even when I married I honestly believe my understanding of love was elementary to say the least. I followed my heart with as much knowledge and wisdom I had about love and listened to my senses but my realization was very shallow. With experience and maturity my capacity to reason has developed somewhat but now I view love as more of a spiritual “revelation” than an emotional goose bump. I have learned from the Lord that true love must go beyond the “phileo” physical connection of consciousness and be seen through the deeper discernment of our spirit man. This “spirit love” is called “Agape” love and is not counseled through psychiatric theories but can only be appreciated, experienced and comprehended when God opens the eyes of our heart.
It is evident with so much divorce and violence that most of the world’s understanding about love is phileo. It is a no-brainer why there is such a need to sow the gospel 24/7 because the world is very ill and is sitting in God’s waiting room. Until men and women hear God’s Kingdom word and receive Christ as their Savior they cannot function or operate in the Holy Spirit which is the channel for learning and manifesting agape love. In other words no one can understand God’s feelings or allow Him to minister through Him without knowing Him within salvation. Even when we receive Christ as Lord we must study and pray constantly in order to evolve and progress in our knowledge of love. When Jesus was having a last minute farewell with Peter, it was more than just a hug and salute for good luck; it was to plant a seed within Peter’s heart that would “haunt” and inspire him the rest of his life. Jesus, (as God) knew that powerful questions can pierce the very soul of a person, triggering a spiritual avalanche that can change the world. (Go through the New Testament and notice how many questions Jesus asked so that His words might penetrate the mind and heart of the listener.) Jesus “provoked” Peter with his words and that is what Holy Ghost conviction is all about! Listen to the account again found in John 21:15-17, “So when they had dined, Jesus said to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonah, do you love me (loyally- willing to sacrifice) more than these? He said unto Him, yes, Lord; you know that I love you (have affection for you.) He said unto him – feed my sheep. He said unto him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonah, do you love me? (Agape spiritual love.) He said unto Him, yes, Lord; you know that I love you (have affection for you.) Jesus said unto him – feed my sheep. He said unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonah, do you love me? (affection – phileo love, are you even my friend?) Peter was grieved, (upset, hurt) because he said unto him the third time, do you love me. And Peter said unto Him, Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you. Jesus said unto him – feed my sheep.” What exactly does all that mean?
Actually, this is one of the most powerful exchanges between God and man. Jesus allows us to listen in on this conversation not just so we can know what He was telling Peter, but for the purpose of speaking to every Christian of all time. The driving force behind all of God’s children being a disciple and follower of Christ is walking in the Holy Spirit in obedience and submitting under the direction of the Father. Christianity is not just a set of religious rules or a 100 question exam that will be graded on judgment day. Works has nothing to do with going to heaven; it is “personally knowing” Christ as Lord. It is all about our love for God and allowing that love to spill over to people. God knows the only spiritual rewards for any deed will be based on the motive of love. Sadly, many have given their life to religious service in the name of tradition, doctrine and obligation without even having a personal relationship with Jesus. The Lord was trying to clarify the philosophical world view of the meaning of church – not as an organization but a living “organism.” God’s vision of feeding the sheep was a divine, holy revelation that was (and is) trying to reveal the difference between going through the motions of self-righteous deeds and actually “falling in love” with what God was already in love with. We are not like a pig farmer that throws the feed over the fence and walks away – that is not love – that is a task. Shepard’s lead the sheep to the best places, love the sheep dearly, they pet them, guide them and call each one by name. They live to care for the sheep, have a heart for them, they put medicine on them, are bonded to them, protects them, will fight for them and die for them. You see, we must try to understand where Jesus was coming from as He used His life as a demonstration and example for us because He knew He would eventually be using you and me as His hands, feet and mouth. These were not instructions to a future pastor – but to all of us.
To trust someone else to feed and care for the ones He came to sacrifice His life for would definitely be the most serious and emotional event imaginable. This is God’s precious creation in “His image” we are talking about. He has led them through the Old Testament and sent His Son to be crucified for them so they might be redeemed and be made righteous with His blood. Giving His Kingdom over into the hands of His disciples as the new caretaker was (and is now) the most important commission and responsibility the Good Shepard could ever give. Jesus had sealed the New Covenant and was now leaving the earth in His bodily form to go to heaven and is assigning orders to the new “under-shepherds”, to “minister” to the flock just like He would do. It is clearer to see what we have been called to do in this light and why it is so urgent and critical to God that we walk in His Spirit because He is constantly providing divine appointments for us to “take care” of people.
The first disciples lived a heavily persecuted life and through the centuries many have suffered with pain and death. I now see the Christian church in America as warriors that began running to the battle but the journey was long and tiring. The army was very determined at first but when they stopped along the way to be refreshed they became distracted with pleasure. The followers have become overweight and sleepy and willing to compromise instead of staying loyal God. Who will be strong and watch over God’s flock? Will you live each day with the purpose to lay down “your” life and pick up “His” staff? Since we are now God’s living sacrifices giving ourselves to mediate and connect all people with God, we can read the twenty third Psalm with not just a comfort in knowing who Jesus is but also with an awareness of our personal “love” responsibility. Follow me through verse one. We are to tell everyone who the true shepherd is and help (teach –provide spiritual nourishment) them to lie down in green (truth) pastures. We need to pray for them and help lead them beside quiet waters (comfort, encourage, edify, strengthen, console) where they can find and hear God. It is our calling to teach that God forgives and restores. We are to help them understand about the gift of the Lord’s righteousness and (justification) how He receives all glory and honor (leading them in praise and worship.) We are the ones that need to hold their hand in the valley of death, (we need to intercede and stand in the gap for their healing when our friends are under attack – confessing, decreeing and agreeing in faith) We need to remind everyone that God is near and His Name and authority is above all other powers in all the universe. We need to preach that God has our back (watching over us and has assigned angels to protect us) and will work on our behalf (binding and loosing – on earth as it is in heaven), bringing all blessings that we might walk in peace with all men even with our enemies. We are the ones to anoint the people with oil, praying for them, prophesying to them, supporting them and blessing them as they work in the harvest fields. (We do not just pat them on the back and say, “be blessed” but are led by the Spirit to help supply their needs for the gospel sake.) We rejoice with them – weep with them and embrace them as trusted Brothers and Sisters that will dwell with God forever.
Jesus goes on to tell Peter that his life will end in the destruction of his flesh but that no matter what happens he must embrace the command to follow Jesus. When the trials become severe and people turn against you in the battle – keep going forward. When the finances are gone and they turn out the lights and lock the doors – keep walking! Keep serving; keep teaching – keep worshipping the Lord and keep loving everyone. And if the wolves encircle the flock (or turn on you) confess out loud that you “know” you have pressed toward the mark for the prize of the high calling in Christ Jesus, that you have won the race, fulfilled your destiny and accomplished your mission – for His glory! “These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full. This is my commandment, that you love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love has no man than this – that a man lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends, if you do whatsoever I command you. From now on I call you not servants; for the servant does not know what his Lord does: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known to you.” John 15:11-15
DELIBERATELY PURSUING GOD PART 51 LOVING AND CARING FOR EACH OTHER Do you love Jesus? Well, of course I do, what kind of silly question is that? Mmmm… the same response that Peter had, right? We sing about loving God, and hear about others loving Him and know the stories that explain how He loves … Continue readingLoving and Caring for Each Other
DELIBERATELY PURSUING GOD
THE BEAUTY OF DESCENDING
When we understand that something is evolving we think of development and progression. So our spiritual growth or the “evolution” of our personal relationship with Christ would be another way to explain the process of our Christian maturity. We can visit many different types of churches and see traditions and styles that have been passed along through generations and we should desire to be strong in preserving truth but what we must “untie” is our false sense of dignity. Somehow we must learn how to grow in our knowledge of God’s word without allowing it to inflate our pride to the point we lose our joy of being free. Freedom to do what, some might ask; to express the innocence, sincerity and humility that govern the conscience to live in the delight of liberty. But many will argue, “We are adults and must be act sensible!” Just because we become older in age does not mean we allow the child within us to pass away. One of the worst enemies against the church is this misunderstanding of spiritual growth. The Lord is very disappointed in the arrogance and coldness of churches that think more highly of the concept of dignified religion than the intimate spiritual relationship between The Father and His child.
What does all this talk of being a child have to do with praise and worship? Pull up a chair and think with me for a minute. Children have a clear conscience and do not worry about what other people think. They have not learned about being self-conscious or embarrassed. They respond according to how they “feel.” For example when they are hungry they cry and when they do not want to sleep they cry – and they do not care about how loud or irritating they are. But have you ever thought about the way a child reacts when they are standing at the door and see their daddy walking toward the house? They start laughing, hollering, stomping and clapping – why? Because they want to be close to him, they want him to hold them and squeeze them. They long for the feeling of security, the bond of love, his strength and protection, as his presence brings excitement and joy. So why don’t we act like this in church when God’s presence comes in? (You knew where I was going didn’t you?) I admit there is a difference between the emotional realm and the spiritual realm and we definitely desire the spiritual, but that does not mean we throw our emotions completely out the window. Our deepest expressions toward God are still intertwined in our emotions, including our passion for Him.
As we grew up, we were taught to stop running and jumping on daddy and to become more reserved and dignified. We learned to tone down our emotions and be more in control of our words and actions. We went through a process of transforming from a spontaneous and impulsive child to being more “repressed.” In this development we learned to hide our thoughts and wear a mask that covers our real feelings and protects what is socially unacceptable. We discovered how to go through the motions and how to play mind games and adapt to situations. And when the freedom and transparency is put away we are left with a mechanical robot existence which has a direct effect on how we express our worship. We are afraid to run to Him with open arms in reckless abandonment. We are embarrassed to jump up and down and scream daddy, daddy. Yet, that is exactly what God wants. There is nothing that can describe the feeling that comes from your child being so happy to see you. What joy it is to see their love for you as they stretch out their arms and cry out your name. Likewise our Father is thrilled with our joy for Him and longs to “see” our excitement.
Let’s look at a passage of scripture in I Corinthians 13:11, “When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.” Some might think this means to become “dignified” to be quiet and “reserved” in church and in the Christian life. But actually this is referring to the differences in our mortal ability to comprehend the depths of God – and when we will be transformed into our resurrected body in heaven. You must read the verses 10 and 12 that allow the train of thought to flow into the correct context. The Lord never intended His children to become estranged to Him in public or private. There is a difference between man’s “religious piety” and having the revelation of the reverential fear of God’s omnipotence. The enemy wants us to exchange spiritual peace for carnal misery. In Luke 9:26 we are reminded that, “For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when He shall come in His own glory, and in His Father’s, and of the holy angels.”
I have had the privilege of being involved with spiritual music and have experienced many interesting situations. I have come to the conclusion that praise and worship is just as much a place where we go as it is an act that we do. The “secret place” is a spiritual place where we fall at His feet and adore Him. It is the place of refuge where we abide under the shadow of His wings and this can happen whenever or wherever we want. I see people worship in many different ways and the amount of evolution they have allowed to happen in their mind and spirit is directly connected to how free they are to express. How we connect with God in our private time will be revealed in how we respond in corporate worship AND with our daily testimony.
Each week I attend two unique types of church services which are somewhat similar yet contrasting. Church one is a more traditional service where I lead some of the songs along with a full band while the congregation remain at their seat, raise their hands, read the words of the songs on the overhead and sing along. The other service has no one leading, no instruments and no words, just a pre-recorded disc of various praise and worship songs. I have noticed some things that are interesting:
Church one seems to need more encouragement to focus on the Lord. Sometimes if they feel like praising they will respond and sometimes they will not. In this environment there does not seem to be as strong of an expectation or craving. It is more reserved and more selective to the “menu.” Many become dependent on the words of the songs because that is what they have grown accustomed to. Sometimes I wonder if the words about God do not distract from focusing on the Lord Himself. The old idea of holding hymnals also seem to focus on singing the song more than entering into deeper intimate worship.
In church two there is no one trying to prepare the people to praise. It seems the ones who come are so hungry and thirsty they are ready to enter the gates and courts of the Lord instantly. There is an expectation of knowing they are going to “taste” the Lord and cannot wait to be with Him. The moment the song is started the people open up like a flower and begin to drink God’s presence. They do not even care who is singing, what the song is or even if they have ever heard it. All that matters is connecting with God and telling Him in their own words how much they love Him.
In church one, it seems that staying at your seat is the custom and “normal” place to sing and lift your hands. This is fine but does tend to hold down the confidence and freedom that little children have when they run and play. (When it comes to decency and order it seems that praise to God would trump the roar of screaming, jumping and excitement at sporting events.) God is our hero and we should cheer Him with all of our might. Unless of course we are not really getting along with Him or have drifted away in our relationship with Him. If we cannot worship to an audience of one and are not thirsty for His presence, we will be satisfied to just sing a song about Him.
In church two, there is complete freedom to do whatever you feel comfortable with in worship. You can get out of your seat and walk around the sanctuary, pray for others, lay on the floor, wave banners or dance, jump and run. This freedom brings us back to the childlike freedom to enjoy God’s presence. This liberty to have fun without the fear of embarrassment is something very special and refreshing. If we dance around the house or walk down the street singing praises to God we can feel the release of our inhibitions. If we have a merry heart and make melody in our souls throughout the week we will be more likely to enter into His joy in the corporate assembly.
We come to any church – one of two ways. We are either pumped up and looking for Him or looking for Him to get us pumped up. The people that can encourage themselves through the week, who get into God’s word and allow God’s word to get into them are looking for the power and presence of God. Man’s idea of normal church will no longer satisfy those who want to continue to go deeper. God’s idea of “normal” church is to fill His people with His glory! He wants them to know His will and be the channel that allows His power to be made manifest. God’s “normal” is signs, wonders and miracles. God’s “normal” is for His children to walk, decree and release the “halogen” brightness of His love and victory. The evolution of God’s church is moving away from a mundane meeting of focusing on itself to – rolling up its sleeves and extending Christ to the community. The river coming down is the outpouring of the Holy Ghost to prophesy, spread the gospel, heal the broken hearted, set the captives free and reveal the living Jesus to those who desperately need to SEE truth. Going down in God’s Kingdom, (humility) is spiritually going up, (exalted). Spiritual evolution is not ceasing to be a child – it’s learning how to stay one. “Verily I say unto you, except you be converted (changed), and become as little children (humble, trusting, honest, pure), you shall not enter into the Kingdom of heaven.” (Mathew 18:3)
DELIBERATELY PURSUING GOD PART 50 THE BEAUTY OF DESCENDING When we understand that something is evolving we think of development and progression. So our spiritual growth or the “evolution” of our personal relationship with Christ would be another way to explain the process of our Christian maturity. We can visit many different types of churches … Continue readingThe Beauty of Descending
DELIBERATELY PURSUING GOD
THE UPPER ROOM CHURCH
We recently had an evangelist come to our church that laid hands and prophesied to most everyone, not trying to promote his ministry but to take his time with the people and simply relay God’s thoughts. His ministry style was maybe a little different but his emphasis was focused on the deeper spiritual message that; God is trying to remind us how important it is to remember the church are the people and the people need personal attention as much as corporate ministry. I agree with his Kingdom message that the Lord is sounding a wake up call. A wind of “change” is blowing within the body of Christ that is stirring pastors and ministry leaders to listen intently to what God wants to do in this last hour. The Lord is pouring out His Spirit and concentrating on His disciples because they are the Holy Bride of Christ. God desires to ignite their passion, increase their anointing and fill them with His joy as He leads them to build HIS Kingdom. Those who are hungry for His presence and power are being nourished NOT with the traditional ceremonies of religious church but are reaching out to Him with more vision, freedom and intimacy of a deeper spiritual reality.
I personally do not see why our services cannot be glorious every time we come together and I have no problem believing that God feels the same way. There is no such thing in God’s Kingdom as a laid back, mundane, low key service. The first thing that comes to me is that it would be our highest priority and personal responsibility to find the “key” that releases His presence to fill the temple with His glory – every time! The days of boring programs and flesh “led” agendas must come to an end. People who love God and desire to progress with Him are starving to soak in His power and love. The traditional church must shelve its worn out ceremonies and allow the true church to come alive. God’s people who are listening can hear the sound of triumph and are drawing near to His Kingdom message of faith, fervent prayer and anointed worship.
It is difficult to find the balance between organization and freedom. The structure is necessary but the power seems to come as we allow God to have His way. I believe every service He knows what He wants to do but it is common for church leaders to not really know His specific plans. We work on our presentation all week and come prepared and even have faith expectation but most of the times have not been given a vision of everything that is going to happen. Many times it is the split second decisions while in the “heat of the battle” so to speak, where we find God’s mind in the service. This is why it is crucial to be super-sensitive in His Spirit and that comes from praying before the service. It is the only way we can flow with God’s decisions, like knowing how long to sing, how much to teach, who to call on to share and when to pray for needs.
Preparing for the service is like preparing for a journey that we know will be good but when we get there we must listen carefully to what we are to do in order for it to be a successful trip. If we choose to do it our way everyone leaves with a sense of mediocrity, dryness, distance and melancholy. This feeling of heaviness is many times blamed on the leaders not being able to hear clearly what God was saying. And of course leaders many times blame the people for not receiving or their lack of spiritual preparation. But whoever is to blame, one thing we know for sure; it is not God’s fault in forgetting to arrive or choosing not to appear. If miracles and blessings happen we know it is from God. If we try to perform without the anointing of Holy Spirit it will be painfully powerless and “humanly” flat.
Another aspect that is very hard to learn; it is not the quantity of our program because a lengthy service filled with everything we can think of is not necessarily always better. Being short and straight to the point can be better because many times it is simplicity that carries the power punch. It has been said that most people have a short attention span and can only retain a certain amount of content at one sitting. Of course under the power of the anointing I believe we can absorb more revelation but there again it is crucial to know when you are anointed to minister and when God wants to do something else. The Lord knows every heart and how to touch them and what is the most effective approach and if He whispers to change direction we need to obey. How effective we are is a direct result of laying down our agenda and yielding to release HIS ability.
I have noticed something very basic yet important about church members; they need to know that ministry leaders care about them. They are thirsty for attention and affection and want to be listened to when they talk. It is a basic human need that we all love to be loved. The relationships we are developing in the church is what God wants us to continue pressing toward. As we band together in love we will grow strong in our commitment to the church and our personal mission. God has called each of us to fulfill His destiny – in His Spirit of unity and love. The church has grown cold because they have built walls of false security. People come in and leave without getting to really know each other. A spectator mentality has developed in many churches which causes the assembly to stay in a neutral gear. It is time to change the way we do church! It is time we spend more time with one another, going to each others houses, helping each other, working together, praying together. How can we be a light to the community if we do not even have a vision for ministry – and are comfortable with that? How can we reach out to the lost and win souls if we do not even associate with one another? How can we believe and seek God’s glory and presence in the church if we do not seek Him in our personal life? How can we pray and intercede for one another if we do not even like each other?
It is time that we stop and think a minute about what the church is supposed to be and what we are now. The “normal” church has two meanings; what is normal to God and what is normal to us. Our concept of normal church is steeped in tradition and religion and for too long people have thought that attending an assembly would counter balance living in sin. God is not going to allow this false sense of “comfort” to happen in His true churches as more distance is coming between the cold and the hot. The power and anointing will become so strong in God’s last day church that people who are playing games will not be able to stand in the glory of God. People will either run to the alters or run out the back door. The separation will continue to grow wider as God continues to pour out His Spirit. What does all this have to do with worship? Anyone who is called and involved with worship is presently being held accountable for leading God’s people to His throne – not a rock concert or performance. All leaders including the “Psalm singers” will choose which church they will help build – God’s or mans.
We notice in Acts chapter one, after Jesus was crucified that evidently some of his followers drifted away because they believed the revival was over. The upper room was one of the places where Jesus appeared after His resurrection because that was the core of the church. With feeding and teaching thousands in His short ministry but having only one hundred and twenty remaining faithful, we can see that there has always been a difference between the talkers and the walkers. This “church” within a church revelation is a spiritual truth today and as the government continues to harass I believe we will be forced to return to the underground simplicity of God’s foundational bond of love and trust with each other. The government will continue to bend toward the one world system of anti-christ and will become stronger against the truth of the church. This hostility will cause the true believers to assemble with an “upper room” identity and lifestyle that depends completely on God and each other. Our faith must become stronger because it will be the source of our survival. The fruit of the Spirit will become more than a Bible study or a part of our religious jargon – it will be the way we live and effectively minister. When all the lights and amplifiers are turned off and the beautiful buildings have padlocks on them, will we still gather together? Will we love each other enough to go to each others houses and sing worship songs, pray, study the word and break bread together? Now is the time to bond in our relationships. Now is the time to prepare for the changes that are coming. He desires for us to let go of our idols and treasures, our fears and worries, so that we might become totally dedicated to walking with Him. He will never leave or forsake us and as we gather in His name – He will be there.
We are reminded In John chapter 20 after the third day of Christ’s death how Mary Magdalene went to the sepulcher and found the stone had been rolled away. She brought Peter and John to see and when they left she remained to weep at the tomb. She looked in and saw two angels standing at the foot and head where the body of Jesus had lain. She asked them where Jesus was and when she turned around Jesus himself in His resurrected form appears to her and talks with her. Verses18-21, “Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that He had spoken these things unto her.” Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the DISCIPLES were assembled for fear of the Jews, came JESUS and stood in the midst, and said unto them, peace be unto you. And when He had said, He showed unto them His hands and His side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord. Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father has sent me, even so send I you.” Teaching God’s word will educate us, The Holy Spirit will empower us, and worship can lead us into His presence but building relationships is how God will build, purify and unify HIS glorious church.
DELIBERATELY PURSUING GOD PART 49 THE UPPER ROOM CHURCH We recently had an evangelist come to our church that laid hands and prophesied to most everyone, not trying to promote his ministry but to take his time with the people and simply relay God’s thoughts. His ministry style was maybe a little different but his … Continue readingThe Upper Room Church
DELIBERATELY PURSUING GOD
DECREEING GOD’S WORD IS “NORMAL”
I am slowly learning that what we do in private exposes our wisdom, sensitivity and spirituality. It does not take a college degree to understand that “investments” will yield a return and the principal of sowing and reaping is a proven spiritual law. It does not matter if it is positive or negative, the fruit will identify the origin of the seed. The “normal” person that is controlled by their flesh, does not pay any attention to what comes out of their mouth because they have been convinced that it is a “right” of freedom to say whatever we want, when we want and whomever we choose. Actually this is technically correct because God has included “freewill” into the rules of living and if we make the choice to not include His holy wisdom into our heart, we automatically operate within the common carnality of the “default system”. However, for those rare gems that seek the heart of God, they will reject being normal and will hate to offend their Lord with their ignorance. Those who walk in God’s presence have learned the power of words and have become trained to be sensitive to the blessings and curses of confessions. Our only confession in this life is not just saying, “Jesus is Lord” but rather the constant awareness of Him trying to intervene in everything we do. Being normal is being blind to the Spirit realm and is the heart of the old nature. To overcome this deception and be renewed into a brand new way of thinking is the crucial part of our salvation experience. As Christians we are to be “different” and in the world’s ideas even, “peculiar” because we do not function exclusively through the flesh or lean on our own understanding. Confession is more than empty words – it is a way of living, a lifestyle that acknowledges His presence and that has a listening ear to the still small voice of the divine Shepherd. “The word is near unto you, even in your mouth, and in your heart: that is, the word of FAITH, which we preach; that if you will CONFESS with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and will believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart man believes unto righteousness; and WITH THE MOUTH CONFESSION IS MADE UNTO SALVATION. For the scripture say’s, whosoever believes on Him will not be ashamed.” (Romans 10:8-11) Being saved is much more than someone just saying they are. We must have “personal” faith which believes that God has made a covenant with our heart to listen and react to our thoughts, words and deeds. Being born again means we have been purchased and redeemed and every move we make is based on the personal relationship we have in Christ Jesus. This includes choosing our thoughts and our words because we realize that God’s creative power is being unleashed through our faith. God has drawn a blueprint for our life but it is not His intention to make us accomplish His plans. Wars are not won neither are structures built by those who sit on the couch and pout. Since confession is made unto salvation, we must be aware that our words are literally paving the road of our journey and are waiting to be used as building materials for helping us accomplish our spiritual destiny.
When we rise in the morning hating our job and our mouth spews resentment and criticism – we are not thanking God for His blessings. Our joy has been kidnapped by our own negligence and ignorance of God’s word. We constantly make conscious decisions to view life either through the natural realm or to decree God’s word. When we arrive at work if we openly confess how hard it will be and how much we dread the misery we will usually receive all of the curses we have declared. If we strive against others and allow them to draw us into their briefcase of negative attributes, our day will continue to spiral into darkness. After this daily routine called “making a living”, we have dinner, still upset with those we would love to kick and (with possible indigestion lurking to physically make us more miserable) we try to “unwind” in front of the “great fortune telling swami” called hellevision. This is not an abundant life, but rather a cycle of misery and death.
The craving for entertainment is a type of idol worship, a “religious” personal ritual with an inanimate object that projects fast images of lights and can speak into the conscience with a branding iron of aggressive influences. Those who bow down to the image of the beast agree to drink in the amusement in exchange for their anxieties and stress. Like a convenient and dependable drug, they put their faith, hope and trust in something that has little value while in true reality they are bowing down to sacrifice their devotion to a type of anti-christ. In this trade of pain for pleasure they willingly allow their mind to be controlled by an entity that holds them in spiritual bondage like an addicted zombie. A common mind-set is (they have convinced and deceived themselves with a comfortable justification) since they have stressed their mind with the pressures and demands of the day, they deserve to kick back and become seduced into a coma. (If this is the normal life for any of God’s people then we need to have more deliverance services. God’s idea of “normal” is for His people to guard their eyes and ears so they can hear His voice and see His visions.) This love of pleasure would be more understandable when referring to a non-Christian but could this actually be a scenario of many church members? Christians are to “unwind” in God’s word and His presence! Christians are to bring their sorrows to Jesus and allow Him to heal and encourage them! Sitting in front of a lying, sleazy, imposter of peace is not God’s idea of, “RUNNING THE RACE FOR THE PRIZE OF THE HIGH CALLING IN CHRIST JESUS! Why would we lay in the mud of a pig pen when we could live in a beautiful palace with Jesus?
Why do I paint this picture that compares some people’s idea of a “normal” lifestyle with God’s vision of normal, and what does all this have to do with worship? Because if this is how some of today’s normal church members are living their personal lives then it explains why the sanctuaries are spiritually heavy, cold and dry. People cannot fake being filled with joy – the deadness will always seep through. If any church is built upon a two hour per week experience of going through the motions of a religious “happy pill” program – that assembly is headed toward the spiritual morgue. The last day overcoming Church of Jesus Christ will abide in Him and a “normal day” will be filled with miracles, signs and wonders, salvation, healing and joy. Lifestyle changes and instructions that can help us all walk closer to God is what anointed teaching is all about. Of course the first decision we all make is looking in the reflection of our conscience to ask ourselves; do we really want to change? The difficulty and opposition from our flesh compares to those who realize they are overweight while trying to lay down the chocolate cake when they are drooling. If we throw away the cake, pound our fist on the table and shout; “I’m ready to be transformed” then we are off to a positive start. But if we do not “see” the revelation it will inspire us about the same as wanting to learn how to speak Russian.
The Kingdom word is not religion or politics. It is receiving the truth of God’s “full gospel” – speaking it out and walking it out. Those who mature and desire to go deeper with God will continue to advance into His presence. They will cross the line and not care what it cost because this is the destiny of the true church. There is not enough time (or pages right now) to bring a series on the power of our spoken words but let us agree with God’s truth that; “His word will not return void” (Isaiah 55:11) “God will create the fruit of our lips.” (Isa.57:19) and “Life and death are in the power of the tongue.” (Proverbs 18:21) These three scriptures alone should inspire us to search the bible and discover the revelations of Kingdom living. If we truly desire to change our destiny – we must change our thoughts and change what we are saying. I am not talking about just a “name it and claim it” philosophical formula to satisfy our selfish desires, but coming into a faith agreement with God’s eternal word that can enable us to have an impact in the world for His glory. Using scripture is the spiritual method to decree because we can be assured that we are in alignment with His heart. Mathew chapter 18 explains the power of binding, agreeing, touching, asking and receiving. The American College Dictionary say’s; “a decree is a legal decision or order made by authority; an eternal purpose of God by which events are foreordained.” Can what we say create who we can be? Absolutely! Since God promises that a tiny amount of faith can remove huge obstacles, then I certainly believe that faith in God’s desire to act on my (speaking out loud) declaration of His word over my life can produce miracles. Job 22:28 say’s, “Thou shalt decree a thing, and it shall be established unto thee: and the light shall shine upon thy ways.”
Positive confessions are a wonderful way to clear the mind and bring clarity to our heart and soul but when we declare God’s word as a decree we have tapped into His spiritual realm filled with His super-natural power. The same faith that God uses when He speaks the universe into existence can also be incorporated into our conscience and spirit. Why did God have to speak out loud in Genesis 1:3? “And God said, let there be light: and there was light.” Because He was making a decree and also teaching us (who are made in His image) the importance of believing and confessing the manifestation of His glory on earth – the same as it is in heaven. When we speak and agree with God’s word He begins to transform and renew our will, thoughts, emotions and motives which is the only way our actions will ever be changed. “For as a person thinks in their heart, so are they” (Proverbs 23:7) This tearing down and rebuilding happens from the inside out until our entire being lines up with the purpose we have been called to be – which is the definition of Walking in His Spirit.
Make a list of positive confessions that you want to see come to pass in your life. You can add to the list as you progress and as your faith grows you will see how God will respond to your confessions. Keep a list of decrees and speak them out loud as prayers, meditate on them before you go to bed so your spirit and mind can rest in the perfect peace of God’s will. Before you go to work just read them out loud and believe that God will confirm HIS word. These words of faith and hope will go before you and with the help of the Holy Spirit and God’s angels; you will have a heavenly army working on your behalf to help you become more victorious for the glory of God. If you want to see people saved then decree that you will be used in divine appointments. If you want to be used mightily in these last days then speak it into existence. As you see improvement in these areas it will increase your faith and anticipation to start praying and confessing more and more. You will learn love, compassion and trust as you become more confident in God’s word and his super-natural power. For example, I will use Psalm 51 because it is one of my favorites. Take each verse individually and re-construct the way it is spoken with a more personal application. Verse one say’s, “Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy loving kindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions.” Re-wording it into a decree would be something like this; The Lord pours His mercy and loving kindness on me. I receive His storehouse of love everyday! God loves me so much that He listens when I ask forgiveness and He washes away my sins with His unlimited tenderness. I walk in the pureness and sanctification of His holiness so that I can do more for His Kingdom. We have listened carefully and have taken a general statement from the Lord and made it more like He was talking to us individually. Then we decree it back to Him with boldness and confidence which draws us nearer to Him by making our relationship more intimate. He knows that we are doing more than just reading but we are “absorbing Him.”
Some have seen me open corporate worship services with reading scriptures and making positive statements. Some may have thought it was just a religious way to begin but hopefully others recognize that I am using decrees. I am speaking to all spirits in the room and declaring before the people that God’s word IS changing the atmosphere, changing minds and hearts, and establishing His presence and glory in the sanctuary. By faith I believe that as we invite God into our midst that He will feel welcome to walk among us and conduct His service. I am serving the devil an official notice from the gates of heaven that he cannot disrupt, distract or quench the Holy Spirit and that He might as well hit the road because the mighty rushing wind of God’s power is getting ready explode with the joy, fire, beauty and holiness of God’s presence.
Turn away from anything that is trying to distract you from being a God fanatic! A fan is an enthusiastic devotee or follower and a fanatic is a person with an “extreme” and unreasoning enthusiasm or zeal. Praise God! The enemy wants to keep us away from learning God’s word because he knows it produces strength and growth. He wants to keep us off our knees at any cost because he knows prayer can change anything and everything. Satan’s intention is to send us to bed with unholy thoughts and feelings of fear, confusion, lust, strife, hatred and violence. It is no wonder many people have a difficult time going to sleep and live a defeated, lifeless shell of existence. We do not have time to waste every night soaking in the poison that is slowly killing our destiny. If we spent our evenings wisely allowing God to equip us for war, we would walk in victory. We carefully plan a vacation because we know we are going somewhere but do not prepare in the evenings to be used in our daily divine appointments. Is it because we are not as interested? Decreeing God’s word is like loading your guns with Holy Ghost bullets so you can fire them all day long at the lies of the enemy. Prayers and confessions are not just so we can concentrate on ourselves but also our family and friends are depending on us. As we spend more time with God it will give us more opportunities to care about others and their problems, concerns and discouragements. Having a peace that passes all understanding is more than just a nice sounding phrase but it is a place where God wants us to live. When we pray for others His presence will comfort us and give us the security to know He is there and is interested in our thoughts. You will wake up the next day refreshed physically and spiritually, ready to come out with your bazookas blazing with the piercing truth that can bring spiritual freedom to anyone who has ears to hear. No, this is not the lifestyle of the “normal” pew sitter but it is the WORD of the Lord for the everyday life of the Last day remnant!
This encouragement to decree God’s word is a spiritual key that can destroy the apathy of the normal church mentality. Use this key to unlock the triumphant Christ that longs to be released in you. His WORD is the miracle power that will actually do all the work – He’s just searching for somebody who will have the courage to believe it and act on it! Will you?
DELIBERATELY PURSUING GOD PART 48 DECREEING GOD’S WORD IS “NORMAL” I am slowly learning that what we do in private exposes our wisdom, sensitivity and spirituality. It does not take a college degree to understand that “investments” will yield a return and the principal of sowing and reaping is a proven spiritual law. It does … Continue readingDecreeing God’s Word is “Normal”
DELIBERATELY PURSUING GOD
DISCERNING THE SEASONS
“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1)
Every minister in time will learn painfully through experience when to speak, what to say and when being quiet is golden. Whether behind the pulpit, at someone’s house, in a counseling session or in a funeral home there are times we must discern what the Lord wants to say and when to keep our fleshly thoughts from babbling. We can rest assured that when it is time to speak, God’s wisdom will always know how to communicate because He is perfect in word, thought and deed. In His infinite ability to know everything all at once, He perceives when hearts are open to accepting His words and the power of silence. He is not always just trying to comfort and bring peace but seeks the divine appointment to bring conviction by provoking and challenging that can bring real change. The Lord is always aware of the opportunity and trying to get someone’s attention whether with the one doing the sowing or the field that is being prepared to be sown. When God’s timing is right the simplest words can penetrate through the darkest conscience and the Holy Spirit can transform a life forever. But when we are out of God’s timing our words of human emotion fall like an irritating screeching noise that actually repel the listener and can do more negative damage than good. What does this have to do with worship? Any pastor or leader involved with ministry must recognize the “green light” to proceed and the “season” of their own anointing to connect and effectively relay God’s message with that perfect word in that perfect moment. What do I mean by season?
Well, in Psalm chapter one, verse three we notice the writer using the analogy of a person being like a tree. “And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water (always spiritually nourished), that brings forth his fruit in his season; (has wisdom and discernment to operate in God’s timing) his leaf also will not wither; (he will stay enthused, joyful, strong and encouraged) and whatsoever they do will prosper” (success, integrity, respect and blessings). Picking ripe fruit has everything to do with timing so this insight has to do with making the right decisions at the right place at the right time. And all of this of course is directly connected to being led by the Holy Spirit. Sermons and songs are like medicine but if problems are like illnesses then how important is it to match up the right prescription with the right sickness? Learning to know God’s still small voice is like understanding Him diagnosing the people before and during the service. God is the great physician that knows what is wrong and prescribes the treatment while His servants administer the medication through the direction of the Holy Spirit. When the anointing flows God can touch the heart but without it – there are struggles. When there is an absence of sensitivity in the connection between the message and the messenger it is like two ships passing in the night. It is like a traveler without a GPS system who accidentally takes a detour and the congregation find themselves traveling down a road that might be scenic but does not take them where they need to go. “A man has joy by the answer of his mouth: and a word spoken in due season, how good is it!” (Proverbs 15:23)
It is a fact; we are not always on top of our game. Have you ever had times when you just felt out of sync and could not sense the anointing? These are times we need to realize that we are not to proceed with our agenda but be sensitive to what God may be trying to show us. Maybe in these cycles God is reminding us that He can use whoever He wants. And as a divine appointment we can allow someone else to minister that is in the season of their anointing. Knowing when to step aside is just as important as knowing when to step forward. For example worship leaders need to train others to lead and be sensitive to whom the hand of God is upon for that hour. The same is true with pastors that may feel they need to force and plow through a service but can just as easily call on another that God has given the Rhema word for that day. I would rather listen to a short message from God than a long lecture from a man that is operating from obligation. I Corinthians 14:26 say’s, “How is it then, brethren? When you come together, every one of you has a psalm, has a doctrine, has a tongue, has a revelation, and has an interpretation, let all things be done unto edifying” Verse 31, “For you may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted.”
Seasons are not to be confused with our intelligence or talent to communicate. Our feelings are very misleading because they sometimes seem like a “hunch” or a guess about what God is doing or wants us to do. Spiritual timing is “knowing” God’s voice and not being afraid to act on it. The religious church service has a tendency to organize God completely out of the picture which in turn actually leaves very little need for spiritual discernment. In fact many leaders do not even think about leaving anything to a spontaneous “risk of the unknown” because it is more secure to plan ahead what they are going to do. The Lord has no desire to move in a service where someone else has already mapped everything out to coordinate with their program. We do not need a Bible Scholar to figure out this type of presentation makes it “their” service instead of His. For example even though we are to be filled with joy and excitement it does not necessarily mean that we should dance, run, shout and do cartwheels every time we come together. Many churches have gone to the extreme in both directions without finding the perfect balance of listening to God’s seasons. Incorporating a traditional format of doing anything exactly the same every time for the sake of emotional comfort can become a religious ritual whether it be a quiet Baptist or a shouting Pentecostal. God commands us to; “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long-suffering and doctrine.” II Timothy 4:2 In other words never bypass an opportunity to speak truth whether it “feels” right or not. Just because people seem happy and are dancing, do not allow that to persuade you from bringing an urgent word of seriousness. Speak from God’s season not the way things appear.
There are also seasons of sorrow and that is ok. Jesus was a man of sorrows not just because He was born to be brutally murdered but because He could feel the weight of sin in the hearts of all mankind. We too can go from the joys of freedom and hope to the sadness from the burdens for the lost. This world is covered in thick darkness and there is much to be concerned about because people are dying and eternally perishing so there are times to weep and pray. Jesus is still feeling sorrow for this world and His thoughts and burdens are relayed through our spirit. There are seasons in the sensitive churches for fasting and interceding. It is time that churches come out of the “automatic pilot mode” and get into the real time awareness and sensitivity of God’s will. Church is not a planned performance like a Broadway show but an invitation from the Holy Ghost to reveal God’s mind for the hour. Until the people cry out for the revelation to know what God’s Spirit has to say to His churches they will continue in the deadness of a mundane ritual. Church should be the place to witness a spontaneous celebration of miracles and manifestations not a boring lecture. Those who only want to stick their toes in the water will carry on with mans definition of “normal” church but the ones who want more will abandon the “rock a bye baby” atmosphere and find refreshing rivers of living water.
Do you think missing the seasons has anything to do with our services being flat? Maybe people were standing at the gate and were having a difficult time proceeding into the court because they had not dealt with some walls that needed tearing down. Sometimes it is necessary to examine our heart and repent before we proceed into God’s presence because the spirit of heaviness is weighing us down and stealing our joy. There have been times I have come in with a prepared heart and ready to explode with full blown praise but felt the Holy Spirit holding me back. I eventually came to realize that I was trying to put the cart before the horse so to speak. A bound person cannot run and a shackled heart cannot lift their hands in praise. They must be set free “first” before they crawl into Fathers lap. Instead of waiting until the end of the service for an alter time to deal with the issues I believe many times we should make a way for the people to be cleansed first. Then the people can worship around God’s throne, receive His engrafted word and every blessing that He has for them throughout the entire service. “The Lord God hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary: He wakens me morning by morning, he opens my ear to hear as the learned.” Isaiah 50:4
The ministry is not one huge service or deed but a lifetime of serving with a super-natural commitment to feed His sheep regularly. Many times it is a thankless job because people seem to think there needs to be more of the spectacular. Humility allows the servant to ride the storms and stay steady because they remember an elderly person saying how much they appreciate the sermon or a little girl from the youth group that admires and respects their leadership. They are reminded how important it is to stay faithful and strong in order to “walk” out a divine calling. Abiding with God is loving people not just through an hour, a day or a night or even a week but through the journey of life. “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.” Galatians 6:9-10
DELIBERATELY PURSUING GOD PART 47 DISCERNING THE SEASONS “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1) Every minister in time will learn painfully through experience when to speak, what to say and when being quiet is golden. Whether behind the pulpit, at someone’s house, in … Continue readingDiscerning the Seasons
DELIBERATELY PURSUING GOD
LEARNING TO ENCOURAGE OURSELVES
It is true there are times when we are down and we all will have problems and situations that we must deal with in this life. Thank God that His church is a safe haven to receive genuine love and support that can help us through our times of troubles and sorrows. But there is a different type of sadness that is finding its way into the hearts and minds of the weary warriors and it is coming from a decrease of joy. Yes, the battle is very difficult and many of the soldiers may crawl and drag themselves into the sanctuary but a worship service is no place for unbelief or an attitude of defeat. A negative attitude can be like a contagious virus that can infect and drain a room full of expectation. In I John chapter one, verse 4 we see that joy is like a liquid in a “tank” that can run low or be filled, “And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full.” It is our duty to keep a full tank of joy if we are to have victory in our daily walk. If the general of an army told the soldiers they did not have a chance to win the battle it would drain their strength and crush their faith. So how do we stay filled with joy? It is one of the simplest yet most complex revelations of our faith: Joy comes from abiding under the shadow of The Father’s wings in a personal, constant, intimate relationship with Him.
Hope is one of the three main themes that are to be ministered along with faith and love as edification to the body of Christ to build us up and align our minds with the unfailing promises of God’s word. But if we are going through trials, discouragement or despair we should be aware of our words and be careful of negative “advertisement.” Love is the foundation that all the other spiritual attributes rest on but joy cannot be far behind. Those who do not realize the seriousness of spiritual warfare have not received the revelation of how fierce we must guard our joy. If we play “patty cake” with our joy we will be vulnerable to live defeated which in turn causes our light to grow dim and our salt to lose its savor. Can our level of joy determine how much in love we are with God?
Thoughts of defeat, frustration, worry, depression and fear have become the uninvited guest in the church and all ministry leaders are too familiar with these haunting shadows. What does all this have to do with worship? The strength of the church is based on the fullness of joy in the hearts of the people. Without a strong personal relationship with God there is limited joy and with low joy there is a mediocre interest in worship; so we can say the closer we are to The Lord the more full our joy will be and the more vibrant the church will be.
I believe as Pentecostals we must be careful not to fall back into human reasoning and become deceived about what is “normal” church to God and what is normal church to us. It is sad to imagine how many Christian assemblies have become spiritually hindered by fear and anxiety to the point where it is difficult to tell the difference between God’s Kingdom army and a gathering of unbelievers. I do not mean to be critical or have a negative outlook because I speak positive confessions and decrees of revival everyday but the Bible has already revealed how the last days are going to unfold and how religious spirits will continue to be a problem. True, the last days will have trials, tribulations and persecution but in every life, in every testimony there will be victory in Jesus! The future has been divinely designed and it is already written – the gates of hell will not prevail! We are still living in the last moments of grace and a time of blessing but it is also a time to become strong in faith and personal intimacy with the Lord because our lifestyles can change very quickly and many might be stunned to find themselves in places and situations that are not comfortable to say the least. Where will people go and what will they do when life becomes really difficult? Now is the time to seek God’s face and find our spiritual identity. We must be filled with His Spirit, knowledge and the wisdom of His word or we will not have the courage to boldly stand (or lead others) in the days ahead.
We have been given His promises and instructions that explain how we are to react to the world’s system and how to believe that He will create and provide the miracles we need. But we have become a spoiled generation that has not really needed all that much except when we have a crisis which has put much of the church into a self induced coma of pleasure and prosperity. We must not lean on our own understanding or trust in our own strength, politics, logic or education when it comes to survival but rather listen to God’s counsel and He will guide us. If we are going to be provided for like Elijah at the brook and the woman with the measure of meal we must learn how to walk in faith – depending on the supernatural manifestations from God and His angels. If we are to minister the (uncompromised) gospel with His anointing it will not be with our ideas about how to entertain the people or keep them entertained it will be with the power of God’s piercing truth that will bring true salvation, deliverance and healing. The seeker sensitive atmosphere, church growth programs and all of the fancy technology cannot take the place of the Holy Spirit stirring and convicting the heart. Those who are desperate for the person of Jesus, who cry out for mercy and thirst for the living waters of God’s salvation can only be changed by God Himself.
Let us not hang our heads in discouragement because we have been promised that our direction and encouragement will come from God’s word. He will lead us with the revelations of His word, prophecies, visions, dreams, wonders, miracles and signs like He guided and provided for the children of Israel. The Lord said in Acts chapter 2 verse 16-21, “But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; And it will come to pass in the last days, says God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters will prophesy, and your young men will see visions, and your old men will dream dreams: and on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they will prophecy: and I will show wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke: the sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon to blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come: and it shall come to pass that whosoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
We notice several pity parties in God’s word and as we open the eyes of our heart let us see some examples of how we are to handle our times of discouragement. Remember the story found in I Samuel chapter thirty about David and his army when they retuned home to Ziklag and found the city had been burned and all of their families had been taken captive by the Amalekites. In verse four it says, “Then David and all the people that were with him lifted up their voice and wept until they had no more power to weep.” But notice in the last part of verse six, “but David encouraged (strengthened) himself in the Lord his God.” Those of us that are involved with ministering God’s word will not always feel like standing strong or be electrified with an overflowing current of joy but we must reach down deep in our faith and speak to our body and mind. We must listen to only King Jesus as He inspires us to confess out loud HIS TRUTH over ourselves and our situations. This is why it is crucial to find that secret place with God where we pray and praise so we can be the overcomer that God wants us to be. We must command, demand and speak to ourselves just like a general would give orders to a private. Either the flesh or the spirit is constantly giving orders and the body will respond to whichever one has been chosen by the will. We can take the safe path of least resistance where we just hold our shield, play defense and do enough to get by or we can face our fears of being uncomfortable, take a bold stand, pick up our sword and go on the offence. How will you choose to live in this last hour?
Yes, there was another scenario of sadness; in the upper room after Jesus died they were afraid and their faith was shaken but Jesus appeared that gave them a faith experience they would never forget. When Lazarus died his family was very heavy with sorrow and even Jesus cried because he loved all of them but when He stepped into the situation – realities changed and the darkness had no where to hide. Paul and Silas were locked in prison yet began to worship because joy is not confined to a geographic location, a mood or an emotion – it is activated with determination to believe that God is true! They made a choice to praise God because THEY LOVED HIM and He appeared and brought deliverance through a manifestation of His miracle power. God is not moved by human need but through our faith!
Hopelessness belongs to the lost and dying world that has nothing to put their trust in except their own strength. Human intellect, impressive education, riches and political power cannot help save their souls or the kingdoms of the earth. Only God can change a mind and transform a life. I realize that church leaders must be real with their feelings because if the “human factor” did not come through our personalities we would all seem very robotic. At the same time many are forced to wear the mask of being positive all the time because they want to keep everyone pumped up and they fear if they do not “demonstrate” a positive image they will discourage others. Learning to balance this daily decision of knowing what to do is like walking a spiritual tight wire. The role of a pastor is not easy and deserves more prayer and less criticism. I recently attended a meeting of pastors that were discussing the trials and challenges of ministry and instead of being understanding – I was disappointed because they were not wearing their super-hero capes. I listened as each one shared their burdens and worries and questions about church growth and how to get people to catch their vision? As each one talked about their problems about everything from excessive debt to people being unfaithful, I sensed a heaviness of negativity and defeat. I was left with a feeling of weakness and a lack of hope for the modern church world. I was not encouraged, inspired or built up in any way, yet was surrounded by leaders that were filled with God’s power and faith. I felt there had been a mistake because I thought I was going to a celebration of spiritual victory but instead had been invited to a religious pity party. I was saying to myself, that everyone knows there are problems in the church but pastors are supposed to have the answers! Why? Because that is the most important part of their calling. We have teachers, counselors, associate pastors, singers, musicians, superintendents, elders and deacons but none of these are actually responsible for knowing the direction of the church because they do not “literally” lead it. Of course Christ is the head of the church but He appoints the “under Shepard” to relay His messages and care for the sheep – right? Well, yes, but remember, the pastor also wears the brightest bulls-eye.
It is true, the super-natural gift and office for pastors is to know God’s vision for the assembly and lead the warriors into the battle! But, what I personally failed to experience in that room was compassion for those who stand on the front lines. These men were letting down their guard in front of me. They felt secure with each other and used this time as a place of refuge away from the war, to share their wounds, experiences and open their heart. I did not adjust to what was happening and was judging to harshly. They are the ones that get up in the middle of the night and kneel on cold hospital floors praying for the sick. They hold peoples hands as they pass on to the next life. They are the ones that counsel the messes that others have made and go inside the prisons to preach the Kingdom message. They carry the worries and stress that no one else knows because many people have shared their secret life with them and trust them to remain confidential. While none of us including pastors are to live in a world of depression let us also remember that it’s ok to be honest with ones we trust and who care for our souls. True, there is no time for a pity party, but let us not forget that as servants of the Most High, ministers feel the same pain and heart ache that we do and there’s no condemnation for being real. It is not an option but crucial that we all learn how to encourage ourselves in such a time as this. “We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed.” II Corinthians 4:8-9
DELIBERATELY PURSUING GOD PART 46 LEARNING TO ENCOURAGE OURSELVES It is true there are times when we are down and we all will have problems and situations that we must deal with in this life. Thank God that His church is a safe haven to receive genuine love and support that can help us through … Continue readingLearning to Encourage Ourselves
DELIBERATELY PURSUING GOD
IT IS TIME TO DEMONSTRATE
What is an effective ministry? Is it a nice clean church facility with people who are dressed nice and go out of their way to be friendly? Is it a minister that is a very good speaker, charismatic, confident, precise, and intellectual? Is it a worship band that is so talented that if you close your eyes you think you are listening to Christian radio? Well, all of these things could certainly be a part of a successful church but it can also slip into a routine of being technically perfect and artificially “plastic.” Now there are companies that target and congregations with books on, “how to grow a mega church” with seeker programs and videos about how to bring in more resources. I’m sure we all have room to improve but we also must not forget that Jesus is in charge of construction and more concerned with quality than quantity. Man wants to polish the outside so that he can look good but God builds His Kingdom from the inside out. Why are many of today’s leaders not interested in seeking God? It is very simple – because they do want to obey His voice. Selah. Sadly many of today’s modern churches have become no more than elegant and impressive “funeral homes” because they have ignored the vital ingredient that brings it to life – God Himself. When a church transforms from compassionate to corporate we might as well lock the doors and gather under a shade tree because God wants sincerity and a genuine sensitivity found only in those who desire to serve and “know” Him personally.
If you claim to be a witness and a living testimony for Christ it means you are a representative that defends His words and His cause. In the Christian faith, the walk must prove the talk or thoughts and opinions of hypocrisy will be concluded toward the one stating his case. In this light the character and actions of the one who declares a persuasion has the responsibility to live according to their convictions or face the consequence of being a detriment to the cause. Many would object the comparing of evangelism to “selling” a product or services but in all things we must examine the basic fundamentals and skills needed to be as effective as possible. Of course the Holy Spirit brings the power and dynamics to the connection but it is up to the individual to present themselves as a focused and sensitive instrument that is in the practical and spiritual position to be divinely used. Whether we like it or not when we willingly step into the arena to stand for the cause of Christ we are immediately scrutinized and challenged just like if we were going door to door with a vacuum cleaner or a set of encyclopedias – and we need to know our product.
We realize that all Christians serve as ministers of the gospel and are being carefully observed, but especially if we instruct others how to live. It becomes very noticeable (to those straining their eyes and ears) if we are not living the Christian life exactly how we are teaching and encouraging others. (We do not want to appear as a nutritionist that eats Twinkies all day.) If we are pleading with people to pray with more intensity and worship more intimately and are not following our own words of wisdom then we have become nothing more than a worn-out advertisement. A religious “salesperson” goes through the motions of explaining the message – but the spiritual salesperson not only endorses the product but actually incorporates it into their personal life. Which are you?
Allow me to reveal some proven selling points and rules that are meant to promote success in the business world. They may be referring to the natural, material environment but actually have solid principals to be considered with prayer and wisdom for the spiritual realm. Evangelism would have to be the heart of the great commission as Jesus instructed His followers in Mathew 28:19, to “go and make disciples of all nations”. This has never been an option as part of our spiritual responsibility but rather a direct command to all who proclaim to be born again. In second Timothy 4:1-2, we see Paul teaching that evangelism would be one of the great challenges to the church but necessary to communicate God’s truth clearly in order to build hope and faith in God’s word. Second Corinthians 5:18-20, “And all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself by Jesus Christ, and has given to us the ministry of reconciliation. That is to say, God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Him, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and has committed unto us the word of reconciliation.” The great commission not only calls us to go into the entire world and preach the gospel but also to walk in sensitivity as The Lord leads us in divine appointments to touch the lives of the lost and hurting as we follow His Spirit every moment.
Every spiritual “salesperson”, for better or worse, has a distinct selling or ministry style. The most successful sales people (witnesses) are the ones who are aware of their gifts and the anointing of their calling. They know exactly what they’re doing because they listen to God’s voice and obey Him. They prepare their presentation and use the strong points of their personality as a tool for the Lord to use. “Study to show yourselves approved unto God, a workman that does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing (accurately handling and skillfully teaching) the word of truth.” (II Timothy 2:15)
A strong, seasoned witness learns that trials are a part of the Christian life. Like an effective salesperson they have determination and are not a quitter. They can take any shot, any negative comment, any form of rejection and somehow use it to their advantage. The true follower of Christ does not shrink with intimidation, run in fear or surrender in defeat when they are scorned and have learned how to encourage themselves with God’s word. They know who they are and who God is and as they recognize the spiritual realities they immediately take the conflict to prayer. They realize that being a witness is a daily lifestyle and as the world observes their reaction to persecution (it may take a while for the scoffers to be convinced) their hearts are vulnerable to the convicting power of the Holy Spirit.
Witnesses understand they are a sacrifice for the cause and have learned that as knowledge is the most valuable asset in the business world for success – it is also crucial in the spiritual world. The business world believes that if you know your subject inside and out that you have an advantage on everyone else in the room. Likewise if we know God and His word along with the help of the Spirit’s anointing we will be equipped to discern and respond in the flow of God’s perfect will – “in season and out” of every situation and circumstance..
One more principal in the world of selling is there are two ways to convince people that your idea is valuable. You can tell them about it, or you can show them. Telling them is associated with a “sales pitch” which puts people on guard. Showing them is what everyone is looking for because it is the proof that backs a claim. When the salesperson does a lot of talking about a product or service but fails to prove the claim, it is such a heart-breaking disappointment to the ones who believe. Glory! The time has come when the church is growing weary of the traveling carnivals and side shows from those who blow in and blow out. God is knitting people together as “ministry teams” to do the work of His Kingdom. God’s church people are hurting and wounded and want to see a genuine faith and a pure life from someone that really cares. The people want to be touched and for someone to apply the right medicine for their sickness. They want pastors that can remember their names and their problems and that will take the time to pray for them. Disciples want leaders that really know them and know how they feel and can sense what God is doing in their lives. They want a pastor who will lie on the floor and seek God’s face until He hears what God has said for the church. True followers of Christ need leaders who will fast and pray instead of watch television all night because they are being led to do the same thing. They long for pastors that are not so involved with their own life that they do not have time to think or care about the flock. The last day church will not look anything like the churches we think of, as the most powerful ministries of the day will not be on television or have world headquarters. The true churches will be smaller gatherings of serious believers that have come away from the empty religious organizations and have found the true meaning of community. They will house the homeless and with food pantries they will feed the hungry in the Name of Jesus. They will teach the Kingdom gospel and share ALL their resources because they have laid down their own life for the life of Christ. They do not care about houses, careers, money or materialism because they are seeing, walking and living in the spiritual realm where God lives. They will trust each other, work together and worship together with a spirit of sacrifice – just like the original church.
Sadly we realize most of the world has heard some of the gospel but is waiting to “SEE” the truth demonstrated in those who claim their devotion to Christ. The dividing line is being drawn and the sides are being taken to either continue with a religious routine or commit our life to stop and follow Him. Jesus was not only a 24/7 sower of the seed but also proved his convictions and claims – and then displayed the ultimate demonstration of love when he laid down His life for His cause. His last will and testament became a blood covenant that was sealed and can never be changed. For all who will trust and embrace His Kingdom message, they can rest assured that His promises are a commitment to sovereign, absolute truth and His resurrection proves that His words will not return void!
DELIBERATELY PURSUING GOD PART 45 IT IS TIME TO DEMONSTRATE What is an effective ministry? Is it a nice clean church facility with people who are dressed nice and go out of their way to be friendly? Is it a minister that is a very good speaker, charismatic, confident, precise, and intellectual? Is it a … Continue readingIt is Time to Demonstrate
DELIBERATELY PURSUING GOD
THE CALL OF THE CATALYST
How important is it to focus and have our spiritual antennas up when we come into the sanctuary for corporate service? Well, I would think that concentrating on the Lord in church would be similar to all other events that we are serious about. For example if we were going to watch Kentucky play basketball we would be excited and would “drink in” the atmosphere when we walked in. We would be very discerning to the sights and sounds and attentive to the pre-game warm-ups. Our eyes would be glued to our favorite players and may even “pray” or at least hope for their success. We would feel the energy in the arena and would have a faith expectation of victory or we would have not bought tickets and drove all the way there and put action to our interest. I can use this example because I am a fan and have experienced these emotions. I know what it feels like to be frozen with intensity; I’ve seen and been a part of the “high fiving” and the waving, shouting and jumping with the happiness of triumph. I’ve felt the unity of energetic power from being surrounded with those who “agree” and are focused on the same thing. Does it cause us to wonder about the power of believing? Absolutely!
It is sad but true that many Christians all over the world come to church and seem to be in the same state of mind like they were going to the hardware store. At least when a person goes to the store they believe they are going to find what they are looking for but do you think it is the same for God’s house? Are people disappointed in God because they do not feel or see Him that much in their personal life or have they become tired waiting for church leadership to invite God to have His way? I believe the faith level of the congregation is directly connected to the release of God’s power along with the pastor leading the flock with passion and following direction from The Holy Spirit.
A powerful word came forth in the service recently reminding us that “whatever you want to see, maybe that is what God is calling you to be.” Just to be curious; what do you look for when you come to church? Some may judge the music with song selection or how good it sounds. Others may grade the sermon with how many goose bumps they had or how many people went down for ministry. Maybe some have created their own grade scales about duty, obedience, giving, the sense of membership and believe their “gold stars” of attendance are the points they need to prove to God they deserve a front row seat in heaven. When will we stop watching people serve God and start focusing on what we have been called to do for Him?
I think about seeing God’s glory fill the sanctuary and everyone receiving a miracle answer to whatever they need but is just hoping, dreaming and imagining enough? I believe it is a good start because faith is very important but I must remember I am not there just to receive a blessing or to just “watch” a demonstration – but to be “a part of” the demonstration. I believe God has called each of His children to be a CATALYST in His Kingdom; with desire and courage we must step out of the bleachers, put on a uniform and become a player! The word catalyst comes from the idea of adding something that brings change; a person that serves to bring about a conclusion or resolution. The “adding” in ministry is where God’s people come in because now that Christ is sitting on the throne in heaven, His people work as His hands and their tongues speak His words. We are the extension of His ideas and the “servants” of His plans. He is the miracle power just like He was when He physically walked the earth! Now He wants to use US as the “electric wires” that carry the voltage!
So how do we become a catalyst for God? First, we must be inspired and have a desire to be all that God is waiting for. If we do not have a revelation of what we are supposed to be then we will not sign–up. When we know we have heard from God and yield to His desire to go all the way, we will take another step toward discipleship. Praying at home before coming to church is the perfect way to be prepared as pre-service prayer is a very important key that helps the leaders it also helps the catalyst become dialed in to “HG” frequency. Do you think the reason there are only two people in the pre-service prayer room before church is that everyone else is praying at home? (Selah) We as the body of Christ need to lay down our spectator mentality and embrace our spiritual responsibility to allow Jesus to work through us. Listen to the chorus of “Won’t you be my love” by Mercy Me, “Won’t you be my voice calling, won’t you be hands healing, won’t you be my feet walking into a broken world; won’t you be my chain breaker, won’t you be my peacemaker, won’t you be my hope and joy, won’t you be my love”
The Lord is saying there are many who refuse to be developed into a catalyst because the spirit of religion is so deceiving. They go through the motions but do not have a clue how disappointed He is in them. God stands ready to pour out His Spirit but heavenly power is reserved for His ministers of fire. For those who ignore the spiritual realities of what God is calling them to do we can see that GUILT is causing them to be distant and have a weak spiritual anticipation and a low level of enthusiasm. They realize they have made the conscious decision to not be used and are convicted by their own decision that being a catalyst will require more effort and sacrifice than they are willing to give. Their flesh has presented its “selfish” case and will demand too much prayer, too much time to be invested and more love for others than they care to generate.
Yes, there have been times when I have felt disconnected with church and have not really been “into it?” My reasons have been personal worries, weariness and disappointments but the real reason is; I am simply not close to God as I should be. If I am ever burn-out or discouraged with church it is because I have not spent the time I need with God. Dealing with people and spending too much time battling in the natural realm can drain us which is why we must take “time-outs” to refill – not always for recreation but for prayer. Our private time with God is not an option but is the nourishment that keeps us alive.
We know the devil is always lurking to attack us but there is another enemy that comes from within the catalyst – being self-centered. A sure way to become spiritually cold and dry is to think about ourselves all the time. If we spend our days thinking only about how we feel, we will see everything through the rose colored glasses of our emotional drama. The enemy of our souls would like to entangle us with so much meaningless labor that we stay at the center of our thoughts. (Selah) A “what about me” attitude causes us to see life as one big mirror and this constant reflection of our tiny world can hold us in spiritual bondage. Our mind can become obsessed with spending so much energy thinking about “us” and trying to please “us” that we will have no desire or energy to serve others. God’s vision for the church is to love the people and be close to them. The catalyst will lay aside their pity parties of being spoiled and will devote their life to being a “selfless” servant of the “King.”
DELIBERATELY PURSUING GOD PART 44 THE CALL OF THE CATALYST How important is it to focus and have our spiritual antennas up when we come into the sanctuary for corporate service? Well, I would think that concentrating on the Lord in church would be similar to all other events that we are serious about. For … Continue readingThe Call of the Catalyst
DELIBERATELY PURSUING GOD
THE MIGHTY WEAPON OF PRAISE
A well known advice columnist was asked to name the most common problem in the lives of her audience and the answer far above all other problems was fear. We need not waste our time battling what is trying to “spook us” but rather invest our energy into learning about God’s truth! Would it not be better to disconnect the wires to our panic button than to live under its control? If we allow fear to be planted and dominate our mind, we can actually reinforce its power and control over us by “believing” how hopeless we are. In this common deception our free-will thoughts can reinforce a negative agreement by confirming the lie – which can alter the course of our destiny.
The next time we are facing a battle and would prefer to pull the blanket over our head, I would like to remind us all to run through a simple test. Have you ever thought how a good indicator of whether or not you are walking in the Holy Spirit when being attacked – hinges on our reaction to the assault? If trusting God has already been learned and secured within our being, we will be ready to stand in HIS strength and our positive reaction will be automatic. But being depressed with worry and regarding the dark clouds of impossibility is not only a DEFEATED outlook but reveals our level of doubt in God’s word! The Lord never panics about the unknown and if we trust Him – we can know that “He is aware of everything we are going through and knows how to “fix it.” Stand back and see your situation not through the eyes that are connected with your brain but with your spirit man through the reality of the Holy Spirit.
What does this have to with worship? It is the difference between “teaching and leading others” about living for God and “personally” abiding as an overcomer in Jesus Christ. How can we lead others and preach the victorious Kingdom message if we do not allow this revelation to be incorporated into our own life? The word hypocrite means, “actor” as in pretending to be someone you are not. The church stage and pulpit is not the place for hypocrites that put on a religious “show”, but for battle-tested leaders that are learning to put what they are singing, praying, prophesying and preaching into practice.
Romans chapter 8 verses 15-16, say’s “For you have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but you have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself bares witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.” God is saying we must, “once and for all” understand that we are NOT in bondage but free to live boldly and walk in complete victory. The word “Abba” is another less formal word similar to “Daddy” that communicates personal closeness. The Lord is saying we can call God our daddy because Jesus has defeated ALL fear. No longer do we need to be afraid of man or the devil but let us rejoice in the blessings of sensitivity and discernment to respond in HIS power to our obstacles. We can run to Him with any problem and are assured that He is always there to help us live victoriously.
Fear always tries to convince us what we’re not, what we can’t have and what we cannot do. Our normal reaction to fear is panic, stress, confusion, worry, anxiety and dread because this is how our old nature is wired. We have a complete set of fleshly attributes that are connected to our emotions and unless our mind is transformed we will go with them every time. God knows that if our mind is not transformed and renewed in His word we will never experience spiritual victory. “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. The Lord is commanding us to “cast down” the natural thoughts of “I can’t” and transfer our energy into a faith confession of “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” If we really believe that God wants us to live as triumphant Kingdom warriors in this life then we should thank Him and PRAISE Him NOW in the battle we are facing! Praise, prayer and faith are spiritual weapons!
Comprehending how to listen and test the spirits is crucial if we desire to be led by God’s voice. The Lord will always come to us in love because we are His children and He wants to strengthen us with positive thoughts of “I am for you, so who can be against you?” What kind of Father would be cruel, impatient, harsh, critical and negative toward His child? In first John chapter 4 and verse one, we see the instruction to not trust every thought or influence but to try the spirits to prove what is from God and what is not. Knowing God’s direction is not rolling the dice of chance but comes from listening to His voice. God reveals the strategy and depends on us to execute!
Let us look at a very powerful story that gives us a wonderful example of how God expects us to react as a result of knowing who He is and who we are in Him. In II Chronicles chapter 20 we see a huge gathering of the tribe of Judah and as the presence of the Lord is in the midst of the congregation a prophet named Jehazial is anointed to speak and say’s in verse 15-19, “Listen, all you people of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem, and you king Jehoshaphat, thus saith the Lord unto you, be not afraid nor dismayed by reason of this great multitude (that is coming); for the battle is not yours, but God’s. Tomorrow go down against them: behold, they come up by the cliff of Ziz; and you will find them at the end of the brook, before the wilderness of Jeruel. Ye will not need to fight in this battle: set yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of the Lord with you, O Judah and Jerusalem: fear not, neither be surprised; tomorrow go out against them: for the Lord will be with you. And Jehoshaphat bowed his head with his face to the ground: and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem fell before the Lord, WORSHIPPING the Lord. And the Levites, of the children of the Kohathites, and of the children of the Korhites, stood up to PRAISE the Lord God of Israel with a LOUD voice on High.”
In verse 20 we see the king exhorting the people to believe and have faith in God and the prophetic promise. Let us continue the story in Verse 21, “He appointed SINGERS unto the Lord, that should PRAISE the beauty of holiness, as they went out BEFORE THE ARMY, and to say, PRAISE THE LORD: for His mercy endures forever. And when they began to SING and to PRAISE, the Lord set ambushes and confusion against the children of Ammon, Moab, and mount Seir, which were come against Judah; and they were destroyed.” Praise God! The armies began to fight each other and as God’s people watched they were astonished to see that the enemy imploded on itself and there was not left one alive. Glory be to God! And we also notice it took three days to gather the spoils of riches and precious jewels as an added blessing for His children.
God is saying when you watch all of the negativity going on in the world and you “feel” troubled and discouraged, pray for those who need the Lords help and in faith SHOUT the victory!
When you get some bad news and you feel the devil breathing down your neck, fall on your knees and call upon the God of your salvation and KNOW that nothing can separate you from His love!
When darkness tries to flood your soul and whispers his poisonous lies of despair, gloom, sadness and depression, put on your dancing shoes and the garment of praise and prove to the devil you BELIEVE what you know!
The good news of the gospel becomes a hallelujah party when we get a hold of the revelation of our identity in Christ and how the enemy actually begins to fear US when we become a pure vessel that POURS out God’s PRAISES! Worship releases our faith in Jesus and our love for Jesus, and these powerful spiritual weapons will always cause the devil to flee!
Of course you will not always FEEL like praising God when arrows are flying over your head, because the flesh will always side with the mind, but sacrifice your emotions and confess God’s word WITH YOUR SPIRIT! It is our responsibility to stand and fight against the spirit of heaviness by embracing the Lord’s joy of gladness, confidence and strength and releasing it back to Him in praise!
Letting go and letting God means we will NOT allow fear to rule on the throne of our heart. Christ identifies Himself so closely with His people that when they release praise to Him, He is actually incorporated into our worship. Exalting Him in spirit and truth magnifies Christ and floods our being with the PRESENCE and GLORY of the Fathers character, bringing hope, peace, power, courage, miracles, revelation, prophecy and edification to the entire body. “Victory in Jesus” will become more than a song to those who become determined to soak and be saturated in God NOW!