Monday, November 29, 2021

The Power of Words

Now the next day, when they had come out from Bethany, Jesus was hungry. And seeing from afar a fig tree having leaves, He went to see if perhaps He would find something on it. When He came to it, He found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. In response Jesus said to it, "Let no one eat fruit from you ever again. And His disciples heard it." (Mark 11:12-14) 

 Further into this situation as recorded in Mark 11:21, Peter says,  "...Rabbi, look! The fig tree which You cursed has withered away."  The word "cursed," here does not imply that Jesus was angry or disappointment or that He spoke with malice. It means, devoting to destruction; causing to wither away. It has been commonly thought that Jesus spoke these words in reference to the destruction or the sudden withering away of the Jewish people. To the eye the fig tree full of leaves looked good. In a similar way, the Jews, especially the religious leaders, looked good on the outside but, as Jesus said, "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men's bones and all uncleanness. Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.." (Matthew 23:27-28) Both the fig tree and the Jews were equally barren and as the fig tree was destroyed or withered, so would the Jewish people be. Although this is a good illustration of the destruction of the Jewish people, and Jerusalem did fall in 70 AD, there is no evidence that Jesus intended it to be so. Without scriptural evidence of meaning such, it becomes just a good illustration.

As we continue looking at this incident we see the heart of the matter, "Now in the morning, as they passed by, they saw the fig tree dried up from the roots. And Peter, remembering, said to Him, "Rabbi, look! The fig tree which You cursed has withered away. So Jesus answered and said to them, "Have faith in God. For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, be removed and be cast into the sea,' and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them." (Mark 11:20-24) The lesson that we should take away from this is not only a lesson on faith, but also the power of our words.

The words that we speak have greater affect than what we believe. Many times we have neutralized our faith due to our words. "You are snared by the words of your mouth; You are taken by the words of your mouth." (Proverbs 6:2) When we look closely at the ministry of Jesus we will discover why He had such great faith. It's because He only spoke that which He heard the Father say. "For I have not spoken on My own authority; but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak. And I know that His command is everlasting life. Therefore, whatever I speak, just as the Father has told Me, so I speak." (John 12:49-50)

Jesus only spoke the Father's Words. When He did, it caused faith to well up and be released. "So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." ( Romans 10:17) Notice that this says, "faith comes by hearing" not reading the Word of God quietly. God told Joshua, "This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success." (Joshua 1:8-9) Notice the specifics of God's Word to Joshua, "This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night." In other words, "Keep saying my Word and as you hear, meditate on it. This also was to be a continuous event, "day and night."

Although Jesus tells us, "...the words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life" (John 6:63)  does not means that people believe or understand what He is saying. What we need to be certain of is, it is impossible to get faith from God's Word if we do not have faith in God's Word. As Paul tells us, faith comes by hearing God's Word. As we audibly speak God's Word, it is absorbed by our recreated spirit and in turn renews our mind. Notice what Jesus tells us in Mark 11:23. For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, be removed and be cast into the sea,' and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. The words "say" or "says" appears three time and the word believe only once. This again points out the importance of our words.

Some people worry continually which causes them to think wrong things which in turn cause them to speak wrong things. They constantly think and talk doubt and unbelief. You will never build up your faith doing this. The more you talk about the problems, the bigger the problem seems to be. The Apostle Paul tells us, "Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy, meditate on these things." (Philippians 4:8-9) So if things are not true, noble, just, pure, lovely, of good report, virtuous or praiseworthy, then you shouldn't be thinking about it, because sooner or later the wrong things will come forth from your mouth. Instead, let us take seriously the words that Solomon spoke, "My son, give attention to my words; Incline your ear to my sayings. Do not let them depart from your eyes; keep them in the midst of your heart; For they are life to those who find them, and health to all their flesh." (Proverbs 4:20-22)  

Monday, November 22, 2021

Truly Thankful to You Lord

Thanksgiving Day, in the United States, is a holiday celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November. Thanksgiving was celebrated nationally in 1789, after a proclamation by George Washington. It has been celebrated as a federal holiday every year since 1863, when, during the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national day of "Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens." As a federal and public holiday in the United States, Thanksgiving is one of the major holidays of the year. The event that Americans commonly call the "First Thanksgiving" was celebrated by the Pilgrims after their first harvest in the New World at the Plymouth Plantation in 1621. According to historic accounts, this feast lasted three days, and it was attended by 90 Native Americans. It was first and foremost celebrated as a religious observance of the blessings of God upon the early settlers. 

Although the colonist did not call the celebration Thanksgiving, it was the first corn harvest proved successful by the new colonists. After being plagued with sickness and death, there was definitely something to be thankful to God for. So, Governor William Bradford organized a celebratory feast and invited a group of the fledgling colony’s Native American allies, including the Wampanoag chief Massasoit. While no record exists of the historic banquet’s exact menu, the Pilgrim chronicler Edward Winslow wrote in his journal that Governor Bradford sent four men on a “fowling” mission in preparation for the event, and that the Wampanoag guests arrived bearing five deer. Historians have suggested that many of the dishes were likely prepared using traditional Native American spices and cooking methods. The meal, most likely, did not feature pies, cakes or other desserts, which have become a hallmark of contemporary celebrations. Today, in the United States, Thanksgiving is the most traveled holiday of the year.

In many American households, the Thanksgiving celebration has lost much of its original religious significance. Instead, it now centers on cooking and sharing a bountiful meal with family and friends. Although turkey has become all but synonymous with the holiday, it may or may not have been on the menu of this inaugural feast in 1621. According to the National Turkey Federation, today, nearly 90 percent of Americans eat some type of foul, whether roasted, baked or deep-fried, on Thanksgiving Day. Other traditional foods include stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, a variety of vegetables and pumpkin pie. Volunteering is also a common Thanksgiving Day activity. Communities, especially churches, often hold food drives and host free dinners for the less fortunate. Parades have also become an integral part of the holiday in cities and towns across the United States. Although these things may have some redeeming qualities, there is one thing that has certainly corrupted Thanksgiving Day which began Thanksgiving Day 2014. Unfortunately, most department stores and retailers have permitted greed to erode this day of giving thanks to become a day of making a profit.

Although there has been a departure in the United States of the true meaning and reason for celebrating Thanksgiving, and although there may be some who disagree that Thanksgiving was a religious event, believers should never let any sector of society deprive us of celebrating Thanksgiving from its original roots, celebrating the wonderful works of God. The Apostle Paul tells us, "In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." (1 Thessalonians 5:18) Believers are to maintain an attitude of gratitude. We should always remember what the Lord Jesus Christ did for humanity. The fact that He left the glory of heaven to take on the form of a man (Philippians 2:5-8), becoming sin with our sin and sick with our sicknesses (Isaiah 53:4-6, 10), should cause every believe to be extremely thankful and to greatly rejoice. To rejoice is a spontaneous, unsustainable feeling of jubilance; a feeling so strong that it finds expression in some external act, clapping, dancing, shouting. It means to be exceedingly joyful.

Even in our prayer time believers are to be thankful, "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God." (Philippians 4:6) "Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men." (1 Timothy 2:1) So, during this festive holiday, let us truly offer the Lord the fruit of our lips from hearts of thanksgiving, how great and wonderful He is. Let us give Him thanks for the wonderful blessings that He has given and continues to give. May the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ fill you with thanksgiving everyday...

Monday, November 15, 2021

Set Your Mind on Things Above

God has created man as a triune being.  The Apostle Paul reveals this to us, "Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." (1 Thessalonians 5:23) The spirit is the faculty that relates to the spiritual realm. It is who we really are. The body is the vehicle that allows us to relate with the world around us. The soul is the part of man where we find the mind, will and emotions. To put this together in perspective, man is a spirit, he has a soul and they both dwell in a physical body. The soul is composed of the reasoning faculties. The physical body possesses the five senses which are the educators and teacher of the brain. The brain cannot function without the senses which means the mind cannot function without the senses. If a child is born without any of the five senses functioning the mind will not function.

It makes no difference whether one is "Born Again' or not, oft times people have many thoughts cruising back and forth through their mind. The mind can become so powerful in a sense that it will control a persons world whether in a good way or bad. Basically, what a person thinks is what they will believe. What they believer will manifest in their words, which in turn will be seen in their actions. So, whatever is on your mind, will basically govern your life. The Apostle Paul tells us, "And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God." (Romans 12:2)

One of the things that we see here is how much the world system influences the mind. It tries to conform people especially believers, into its standard. However, we must always keep in mind that the world has been completely corrupted by Satan. The Bible tells us that he is the god of this world, "...whose minds the god of this age has blinded..." (2 Corinthians 4:4) and that he is the prince of the power of the air "in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience." (Ephesians 2:2). The Apostle Paul also tells us, "and be renewed in the spirit of your mind." (Ephesians 4:23) In other words, the entire old way of living was to be abandoned; a new one to takes its place. The mind is to be renovated, renewed not only in a general sense, but the very spirit of it. All of its faculties and powers must be thoroughly and completely renewed.

When one is Born Again, their spirit is recreated. For many believers their Christian experience seems to rise and fall as time goes by. Let's be honest, your mind has been fashioned after the things of this world. The world's ideals probably have been yours. It stands to reason then, when believers do not spend daily time in God's Word the recreated spirit in a sense is starved. Unless ones spirit is cared for by feeding on God's Word it becomes difficult at best for the mind to be renewed. We need to understand that all the knowledge the mind had prior to being Born Again, came from :he senses and the senses can never be renewed because they are a part of the physical body. The next thing to be mindful of is the soul also was not recreated, only the spirit. However, both can be brought into subjection and they can be controlled so to speak, by the recreated spirit through the Word of God. The mind slowly but surely as it feeds on the Word, meditates in the Word, practices and lives the Word, comes into the fellowship of the recreated spirit. This is the place where all believers should have as a top priority in their life. When the mind comes under subjection of the recreated spirit, then the body will also follow.

The renewing of the mind with the Word of God has a direct correlation with the believers faith, "So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Romans 10:17) Therefore, a believer with small faith is almost invariably a person whose mind has not yet been renewed. But we also must keep in mind, that the mind can't be renewed by simply believing the Bible. The Word of God must be acted upon. Many of our Bible teachers have never seen this because their senses govern their mind, meaning, their senses govern what they teach. Their recreated spirit has a very small place in their lives.

God spoke to Joshua and gave him the same principle that Paul reveals to the believer, "This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success." (Joshua 1:8) God tells Joshua to meditate on His Word day and night for a purpose, "For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success." In other words as Joshua meditated on Gods Word his ways (acting upon the Word) would prosper and he would have success.

Paul also exhorts us with these words, "If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth." (Colossians 3:1-2) So, what is on your mind? The things of God that bring peace and joy or the things of the world which steal away these very things. As Paul says, "Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy, meditate on these things." (Philippians 4:8) So, let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly...

Monday, November 8, 2021

God Is Faithful

There are three enemies that believers constantly face, the kingdom of darkness, the kingdoms of this world and the kingdom of self. Each one if left unchecked works against the believer to deceive and distract them from the Truth. When Jesus began His earthly ministry as the Son of Man the Bible records that He was water Baptized, filled with the Holy Spirit (Matthew 3:13-16) and then led by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness where He was tempted by the devil for forty day (Luke 4:1-2). Next, the Bible records, "Now when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from Him until an opportune time." (Luke 4:13) We see that the devil, even after he was defeated by Jesus in open combat, sought opportunity to get at Jesus.

For believers it is no different. We get victory from an assault of the devil and yet it seem that he looks for opportunity to come at us again.  We need to understand that the devil hates every human being especially those who are "Born Again." His objective is to have as many people as possible face the same fate that he is facing, unimaginable eternal torment in the lake of fire and brimstone (Revelation 20:10) However, for the believer, Jesus has conquered the devil and all his demon spirits. It is through His meritorious work on Calvary's cross that He has provided a way to be free from Satan's tyrannical reign over them. It is the believers faith in Jesus Christ that has set them free. Although the devil may still try to come against the believer, we must always remember that he is a defeated foe. Paul said it this way, "For sin or Satan shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace." (Romans 6:14) I added Satan because he is the originator and perpetrator of all sin into humanity. Sin and Satan are synonymous.

Next, the believer faces the kingdoms of this world. Unfortunately, most believers do not realize just how dependent they have become on the world. I am not saying this in a condemning way, but it is a reality. For many believers, when things go wrong the first thing that they do, is turn to the world, yet Jesus tells us, "If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you." (John 15:18-19) How does the world hate us? Look at how the world looks at Christianity. Whether a supposedly free country or not, the world has a growing hatred towards true Christians. I say true Christians because many people attend a church service every Sunday an act no different than the fallen world. They have fallen prey to "...all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life..." John finishes by saying these things "...are not of the Father but of the world." (1 John 2:16) It is no wonder why so many people in the church suffer or have broken hearts. For believers who look to the world for answers and still struggle, you need to know that the world will always take that which is good such as peace, joy, faith and love and then gives worry, stress, disappointment and destruction. The reason for this is due to the CEO of the world system. It is none other than Satan himself.

Finally, the believer faces, the kingdom of self. This is equally destructive to the other two because all three neutralize faith and lead believers away from the abundant life that Jesus brought to earth (John 10:10). The kingdom of self is summed up in this, the love of mammon or riches. In short, it says, "What is mine, is mine" but it does not stop there. It is motivated by the kingdom of darkness and the kingdoms of this world that drives people to get as much as they can. I have seen this in the lives of wealthy people who could retire and live in luxury for the rest of their lives, but are always striving for more. Mammon causes people to waste their lives on things not realizing that they are missing out on the true riches of this life. The kingdom of self unfortunately is a problem among many believers. The best way to see if you are under control of mammon is to examine yourself and see how much you worry about finances especially if you are going to have enough to retire.

So, now that we have taken a brief look at the three areas that believers face, how can we separate ourselves from them to experience the abundant life the Jesus brought? Paul tells us, "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God." (Romans 12:1-2) Believers should consecrate themselves to the Lord daily and use the Word of God daily to transform their mind. This will help believers to find the true riches such as peace, joy, faith and love. Now, I want us to look at another very important key that will help us to act upon the Romans 12:1-2 principle.

David the king was under attack not only by the Philistines but the very king that he served, King Saul. Both wanted him dead which forced him to be on the run and hide in caves. Yet in all of this he remembered who the God he served truly was, "I will love You, O LORD, my strength. The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; My God, my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I will call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised; So shall I be saved from my enemies." ( Psalms 18:1-3)

Look at David's confession, The Lord is my strength, my rock, my fortress, my deliverer, my shield, my salvation, my stronghold. This is who our God is. When believers truly come to know this about God, the three forces that oppose them will have less and less hold. All believers must come to realize that our heavenly Father is faithful. What He says, He does or He would not have said it. When we find ourselves in a conflict with, the kingdom of darkness, the kingdoms of this world and or the kingdom of self it is not that we should not take a stand against them but we must foremost remember who our God and Father truly is. Confess these things, believe it in our heart and act upon it. Doing this will help us build our faith and when we find ourselves facing a seemingly indomitable task, don't be surprised to hear His small still voice say to you, "I Got This."    

Monday, November 1, 2021

Hallowed Be Thy Name

Looking back at how praise and worship has evolved (maybe not a good choice of a word), many have noticed a difference in the lyrics. In many songs today the lyrics have switched from acknowledging who God is and what He has done, to being focused on self. Revelation paints a glorious picture of the worship that take place before the throne of God, “The four living creatures, each having six wings, were full of eyes around and within. And they do not rest day or night, saying: "Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, Who was and is and is to come!" Whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before Him who sits on the throne and worship Him who lives forever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying: "You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power; For You created all things, and by Your will they exist and were created." (Revelation 4:8-11)

We see further, “Now when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song, saying: "You are worthy to take the scroll, and to open its seals; For You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, And have made us kings and priests to our God; And we shall reign on the earth." Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne, the living creatures, and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice: “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom, and strength and honor and glory and blessing!" And every creature which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, I heard saying: "Blessing and honor and glory and power be to Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, forever and ever!" Then the four living creatures said, "Amen!" And the twenty-four elders fell down and worshiped Him who lives forever and ever.” (Revelation 5:9-14)

Although this praise and worship is taking place in heaven, it no way infers that praise and worship should be different on earth. The point in this is, true praise and worship comes from a heart that is filled with great reverence, awe, fear, joy, adoration and exaltation that is directed to the Lord. We are to praise and worship Him. If you listen closely to many contemporary songs that have filled many congregation today, it has become somewhat difficult to know whom the song is addressing. The name of Jesus is hardly ever spoken and there is rarely the acknowledging Him as Lord. There are also many songs that do not contain scripture in the lyrics, but many of the songs that use scripture in the lyrics tend to take the scripture out of context, which twists their true meaning. Another unfortunate aspect that we see in many contemporary songs today is the words, He, Him, His have been replaced with me, my, I.

It seems that once again in order to reach the lost soul, the church has cut the Lord out of the equation. Music is a very powerful medium and if the church is not willing to worship God in Spirit and Truth with their focus on exalting Him, then we cannot blame our children for listening to secular music that focuses on the works of the flesh. This is not to say that contemporary music should be eliminated from the church, but that those responsible for music in every congregation should scrutinize the lyrics of every song before they refer to them as praise or worship songs. This also does not insinuate that hymns are the only songs that are pure worship; on the contrary, some of the sweetest sounding hymns also have lyrics that are not focus on the Lord but on the believer. In addition, many hymns place the focus on the afterlife for the believer. Examples of this are, “When we get to heaven we will have the victory;” “When we get to heaven we will be new;” “When we get to heaven we will have rest;” yet God’s Word assures the believer of their victory, new life and rest in Christ right here on planet earth. Regardless of which style of music individual congregation’s desire, the church today must put its focus on the Lord if it is going to truly worship Him.

The church must never exclude an intimate time of ministering to the Lord through praise and worship. We must refrain from placing a limited time of praise and worship in our gatherings. We must reject songs that are not the Word of God as well as songs that do not directly exalt the Lord. To abandon true praise and worship for any reason is to say that God is not worthy of our admiration and we do not need His presences to have a successful church service. Again, church leaders must scrutinize songs so that the music and lyrics is completely God focused. Otherwise, we cannot say that we are worshiping the Lord. Church can no longer fall prey trying to please men instead of God or just sing nice songs if we truly want to experience the glory of the Lord in our congregations. I want to challenge you the reader to take time everyday in praise and worship to the Lord. "Praise the Lord! Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heaven! Praise him for his mighty works; praise his unequaled greatness! Praise him with a blast of the ram’s horn; praise him with the lyre and harp! Praise him with the tambourine and dancing; praise him with strings and flutes! Praise him with a clash of cymbals; praise him with loud clanging cymbals.Let everything that breathes sing praises to the Lord! Praise the Lord!" (Psalm 150)

Monday, October 25, 2021

Worshipping Through Adversity

When God's people look to Him and not their circumstances and begin to praise and worship Him, He moves in our midst defeating the enemy and bringing deliverance to His people. Another story that the Bible record showing us the power of praise and worship is seen in the Book of Acts as seen in the lives of Apostle Paul and Silas. They were taken into custody for casting a demon out of a woman who was used to earn money for her master, “Then the multitude rose up together against them; and the magistrates tore off their clothes and commanded them to be beaten with rods. And when they had laid many stripes on them, they threw them into prison, commanding the jailer to keep them securely. Having received such a charge, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks. But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone's chains were loosed. And the keeper of the prison, awaking from sleep and seeing the prison doors open, supposing the prisoners had fled, drew his sword and was about to kill himself. But Paul called with a loud voice, saying, "Do yourself no harm, for we are all here.  Then he called for a light, ran in, and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. And he brought them out and said, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" (Acts 16.22-29)

We see several things unfold in this account. Paul ans Silas were beaten with rods, placed into the inner prison and their feet fastened in stocks. This would mostly be enough for the average believer to murmur and complain to God for being abused in such a way. But instead of murmuring and complaining, " midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God." What took place due to their actions of placing their focus on the Lord rather than their circumstances, we note that "...the prisoners were listening to them." This is an important lesson for us to learn. How many people, saved or unsaved are listening to our words without us even knowing? Let's be honest, most believers, way to often murmur and complain aloud about their circumstances not giving any thought to the damage their words are causing and the negative affect that their words are having. They must believe that God somehow does not know their struggles or worse yet, that God Himself has brought these circumstances upon them for some reason that only He knows.

If Paul and Silas murmur and complained instead of praying and worshiping God, the situation would not have had the impact that it had. The fact that they chose to pray and worship gave God permission and access to release His power. Remember Psalms 22:3 "But You are holy, Who inhabit the praises of Your people." Let's look at God operating in this situation, "Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone's chains were loosed." The power of God manifested right in the inner prison. Right in the midst of what we would consider a bad situation.

Finally, we see the distance that praise and worship can go in a situation such as this, "And the keeper of the prison, awaking from sleep and seeing the prison doors open, supposing the prisoners had fled, drew his sword and was about to kill himself. But Paul called with a loud voice, saying, "Do yourself no harm, for we are all here.  Then he called for a light, ran in, and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. And he brought them out and said, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved? The results of this situation is, “Now when he (the jailer) had brought them (Paul and Silas) into his house, he set food before them; and he rejoiced, having believed in God with all his household.” (Acts 16.34) Praise the Lord. The jailer and His household were saved opening a door for a church plant in Philippi.

Praising and worshiping God in any situation or circumstance unleashes the power of God. It defeats the enemy and as with Paul and Silas, it opens door for the preaching of the gospel and the salvation of lost souls. PTL...

Monday, October 18, 2021

Defeating The Enemy Through Worship

During the ministry of Jesus on earth as the Son of Man, He had an encounter with a Samaritan woman who was from the City of Sychar. During His conversation with her He made this statement, “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth." (John 4.24) First let's look at what the word worship carries with it, to adore; to pay divine honors to; to reverence with supreme respect and veneration; to honor with extravagant love and extreme submission; to perform acts of adoration. In other words, worship is not just playing music and singing songs with nice lyrics, but is a deep heartfelt adoration for the Lord. To worship in spirit is to permit the Holy Spirit to move upon the believer’s redeemed spirit causing, honor, reverence, adoration and devotion to ascend to God. In other words, Jesus is saying that true worship only connects with God in the Spirit because He is Spirit.  We also see Jesus telling the woman that true worship to God is also through truth. In John 14:6, Jesus proclaimed Himself the ultimate reality of absolute truth. Therefore, the believer worships the Father by depending on and responding to the Holy Spirit then through Jesus Christ (the Truth) worship becomes genuine and acceptable to God.

When looking at praise and worship in the early church it is easy to imagine how intense and powerful it was. However, we must remember that the church started with the Jews at Jerusalem, a people who once had a king named David who was also a priest, prophet, warrior and most importantly, a man after God’s heart. The Bible records that as David brought the Ark of the Covenant to the City of David that he and all the house of Israel played music before the Lord on all kinds of instruments. (2 Samuel 6:5) This is important for us to see because it is quite sad that the church today differs on what instruments are considered appropriate and which ones are considered inappropriate when in fact we see that Israel played music before the Lord on all kinds of instruments.

Another thing that we should note, is David the king danced before the LORD with all of his might. (2 Samuel 6:15) Unfortunately, David’s wife Michal despised him for leaping and whirling before the Lord. (2 Samuel 6:16) She equated him to one of the base fellows shamelessly uncovering himself. (2 Samuel 6:20) However, when we take a closer look at the word praise, it carries with it some interesting ideas: to make a show; to boast; celebrate; virtue; excellence; manliness. So, let's put some of these words together, and see why David danced with all of his might before the Lord. He was celebrating, acting virtuous’, excellent and manly. I always find it interesting how the people in the Old Testament were bound by the Law, yet free to express themselves in praise and worship while believers today are free from the Law but seem bound to express their heartfelt adoration and jubilation for the Lord through praise and worship. The early church did not have this problem, because the King of Kings was the focus, not themselves nor anything else.

Let us look at an extreme situation and what happened when the people praised God, “It happened after this that the people of Moab with the people of Ammon, and others with them besides the Ammonites, came to battle against Jehoshaphat.” (2 Chronicles 20:1) Judah was facing annihilation, but the Spirit of the Lord came upon Jahaziel and he spoke to the people, “…thus says the Lord to you: 'Do not be afraid nor dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours, but God's.” (2 Chronicles 20:15) “You will not need to fight in this battle. Position yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of the Lord…” (2 Chronicles 20:17) We read further, “And Jehoshaphat bowed his head with his face to the ground, and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem bowed before the Lord, worshiping the Lord. Then the Levites of the children of the Kohathites and of the children of the Korahites stood up to praise the Lord God of Israel with voices loud and high.” (Chronicles 20:18-19) Notice in the midst of this peril, they stood up to praise the Lord God of Israel with voices loud and high.

Next, “And when he had consulted with the people, he appointed those who should sing to the Lord, and who should praise the beauty of holiness, as they went out before the army and were saying: "Praise the Lord, for His mercy endures forever." (2 Chronicles 20:21) Just as the prophet spoke, we see that the battle was the Lords, “So when Judah came to a place overlooking the wilderness, they looked toward the multitude; and there were their dead bodies, fallen on the earth. No one had escaped.” (2 Chronicles 20:24) With their focus on the Lord and lifting up loud and high voices, the Lord defeated the enemy. Do we see just how important praise and worship is? It is not about us, the instruments we use or don't use, it's about placing our focus upon the Lord, magnifying and exalting Him.

In this particular situation, we see God defend His people and defeat the enemy that was set against them. The same thing holds true today. When the church worships God as He has prescribed, in Spirit and Truth, then we are permitting Him to have access to our difficulties. We give Him permission to bring healing, deliverance, that is salvation in our midst. This is defeating the enemy who has brought these things upon God's people. Psalm 22:3 tells us, "But You are Holy, Who inhabit the praises of Your people." To inhabit means, to live or reside in; to be present in; fill. God does not just hear our praise and worship, but He enjoys being in our very midst. As we minister to Him as priests, He reciprocates and ministers to us His children. What a most wonderful thing to experience. So, let us worship God in Spirit and Truth so that He can inhabit our praises?