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Worship and the Holy War (Part 5)

Undistracted worship is a challenge.  In the corporate setting, we’ve all experienced the sudden mysterious technical difficulties sound equipment can develop, the unexpected and badly timed remarks others sometimes make just as we are entering the sanctuary door, and myriads of other minor disasters.  From that point on, focusing our complete attention on the Lord becomes a colossal struggle, and there may be times we do not succeed in overcoming during the entire worship phase of our service.  None of this is coincidence.  It is Satan’s deliberate assault.

Why does he make such a concerted effort to derail our worship?  We have already seen in the previous posts that worship is a warfare weapon that puts the enemy’s camp in disarray and that worship decrees the kingdom of heaven into the earth.  Hell is not going to let those things happen without a fight.

But there is another reason as well. Ezekiel 28:11-17 gives us a description of “the king of Tyrus” which many Bible scholars believe is really referring to Lucifer and what he was like before his rebellion against God.  Verse 13 says, “… the workmanship of your tabrets and of your pipes was prepared in you in the day that you were created.”  A tabret (sometimes translated “timbrel” or even “tambourine”) was a percussion instrument, probably a drum. “Workmanship” has the extra meaning of ministry or occupation.  This reference possibly indicates that Lucifer was once the lead worship minister in heaven. When we understand that the ultimate purpose of the entire universe is to worship the Lord God Almighty, we see what an important position Lucifer held.  But Isaiah 14:12-14 informs us that this one who was adorned with great beauty and had the prestigious honor of leading worship, became prideful (“I will ascend … I will exalt my throne … I will be like the Most High.”) and decided he would rather be worshipped than be the worshipper.

He desired to usurp worship for himself then, and he still does today.  This is his primary goal — to divert worship from the Most High God to himself.  We see his maneuvers all through history — deceiving mankind into idol worship, distracting man’s attention from adoration of the King of Kings, even tempting Jesus to worship him: “All these things will I give you if you will fall down and worship me” (Matthew 4:9).

The holy war of the ages, in a nutshell, is about who will be worshipped.  We who believe the Scriptures already know what the final outcome will be: “That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:10.11). Until that final day, we are honored with an invitation to participate in the universal conflict by worshipping King Jesus and by interceding on behalf of His worship being accomplished.

Previous: The Marriage of Worship and Intercession (Part 4)
Next: True Worship (Part 6)

NewIntMan100

Excerpted from Lee Ann’s book, The Intercessor Manual

Out of the Fire Ministries

 

The Marriage of Worship and Intercession (Part 4)

Worship and intercession go hand in hand.  The person with a true heart of intercession will quite naturally find himself slipping into worship, because both of these aspects of prayer are fueled by the Holy Spirit and flow out from our spirit-man.  Worship is the propellant which sends our prayer-rockets heavenward and gives them the “boost” to make it all the way to the throne.

Those of us who are intercessors have a very important role in the corporate worship setting, especially within church fellowships where entreating God for His Presence to settle in is understood.

Let me explain about His Presence, first of all, for those who may not have experience with what I am speaking of.  God is omnipresent, meaning that He is capable of being everywhere at the same time.  So, in that sense, He is always present among His people.  When I refer to His Presence being among us, however, I mean a tangible sense that He has drawn very near (termed by some His “Manifest Presence”).  For the spiritually attentive person, God’s Presence will be suddenly felt, whereas it was not felt moments before, and we know He has “entered the room” or “come down” among us.  When we worship with clean hands and a pure heart, experiencing communion with the Lord in this way should be the norm, once we know that we can expect it.

Within my church family, it is a rare gathering where we do NOT have His Presence manifest among us.  In fact, we normally do not shift out of our corporate worship into the sermon portion of the service until we know He is among us tangibly and that He has been pleased with our adoration.  Sometimes our worship goes on long past an hour, and sometimes we never do get to a sermon, because lavishing our love on the Lord and reveling in His response is what He wants for our entire gathering time.

Obviously, a worship team that can flow with the Spirit is key in both bringing the congregation to a place of pure focused adoration and attracting the Lord’s Presence.  But the intercessors are also important in accomplishing this goal.  When I am in the corporate worship setting, I know that I have work to do.  Both worship and warfare for breakthrough into His Presence may be necessary.  (And remember, worship is a form of warfare in itself.)  I stay sensitive to what is happening around me, listening for the Spirit, paying attention to the current atmosphere in the room, intensifying my intercession for breakthrough if I sense that it is not easily happening.

Without intercessors who are paying keen attention to what is going on around them spiritually during the corporate worship setting and taking the intercessory steps needed, the manifest Presence of God may never come down upon the congregation during its gathering.  Intercessors are needed to discern and follow up with prayer (and possibly prophetic responses) concerning what we are discerning.  Our intercessions, warfare, and prophetic responses can be done discreetly, so as not to draw attention to ourselves and thereby distract others.

Why would warfare be necessary during worship?  There are several reasons.  People can hinder heightened worship by bringing spiritual baggage with them into the corporate setting – sin issues, demonic problems, bitterness, unforgiveness, worries, lack of peacefulness, lack of being prepared for worship through prayerlessness, and just general distractions.  These things affect the atmosphere and hinder worship for the entire body, and require overcoming intercession / warfare.  Even when our hearts are right, and we have prepared ourselves for corporate worship, distractions can be presented deliberately by Satan to hinder us from connecting with the Lord.

Next time we will talk about why Satan makes such an effort to hinder worship.

Previous: Worship Establishes God’s Kingdom in the Earth (Part 3) 
Next: Worship and the Holy War (Part 5)

NewIntMan100

Excerpted from Lee Ann’s book, The Intercessor Manual

Out of the Fire Ministries

 

Worship Establishes God’s Kingdom in the Earth (Part 3)

And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven saying, “The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign forever and ever.  — Revelation 11:15

You shall also decree a thing, and it shall be established unto you: and the light shall shine upon your ways. Job 22:28

It is fun to be in a corporate praise setting.  We enjoy glorifying the Lord with beautiful melodies, vibrant instrumentation, and wonderful lyrics expressing our love for Jesus.  And when His Presence gathers thickly all around us, it seems like heaven on earth.

But what the Church is only beginning to understand is that our worship goes beyond our congregational (or home) setting and breaks down the enemy’s walls in cities and regions.  It puts demonic forces to flight, so that they are no longer able to oppress whole people groups.  Worship opens the floodgates of heaven over a wider geographical swath than just the little band of believers who are actively participating.  It brings blessing and freedom to those around them as well.

How does this work?  We have already quoted James 4:8: “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.”  When we worship, we are drawing close to the Lord.  He is attracted to us through worship, and fastens His attention upon us.  Worship goes on constantly in heaven, so when we participate in it, there is a holy union that takes place between our earthly domain and the heavenly domain.

Heaven is a place of light and goodness.  When we worship, we draw down that same atmosphere around us.  And when light comes, darkness and the dark spiritual beings cannot remain and function as they would like to. Light cannot be easily contained; its nature is to emanate outward.  Thus, when we worship, we draw down the light of the Lord around ourselves – but it spreads outward to our neighborhood, our city, our region.

When we worship, we are doing the will of God in the earth.  The Lord’s Prayer says, “Your kingdom come; Your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven”(Matthew 6:10). God’s kingdom is established in the heavenlies.  He has given us the honor of partnering with Him in reestablishing it on earth.  (I say “reestablish” because the kingdom was established prior to mankind’s fall, and there has been a process of restoration to that original state going on in the earth ever since Jesus secured entire victory through the cross and resurrection.)

Every time we speak or sing of the majesty, greatness, power, and glory of God, we are decreeing it and affirming it in the earth and over the powers of darkness.  We establish God’s authority and His glory in the earth by verbalizing it.  Extolling God’s love and mercy in our worship is a holy declaration that opens the way for the establishment of His love and mercy around us.  Adoring Him for His faithfulness releases His faithfulness in the atmosphere around us to a greater degree.  When we sing of His greatness, His goodness, His power, those things are loosed among us.  This is not to say that God’s mercy, faithfulness, greatness, and all the wonderful qualities that make up His character are limited in some way, and that we make them bigger by our worship. But there is a cooperating between us and heaven that takes place through worship that causes the goodness of God to be manifested more fully in the earth by honoring Him aloud for those things.

Am I saying that worship is only accomplished correctly by verbalizing it?  Absolutely not.  Worship is not only an outward act; it is a continual attitude of the heart.  There are times of deep intimacy with the Lord where words could never express our love for Him.  Heartfelt adoration of the Lord is of great value, while mere lip service is of no value whatsoever. But the speaking forth of audible worship has been neglected by some, due to a lack of revelation of its importance.  It’s time we come into a better understanding of the impact of the sound of worship.

As in previous posts, I again want to stress that we don’t use worship to get revival and awakening in a region.  We worship purely to honor the Lord for Himself alone.  But the by-product of that worship is annihilation of hell’s grip on our region and full-blown establishment of the kingdom of heaven on earth.

Previous: Worship — Weapon of Warfare (Part 2) 
Next: The Marriage of Worship and Intercession (Part 4)

NewIntMan100

Excerpted from Lee Ann’s book, The Intercessor Manual

Out of the Fire Ministries

 

Worship — Weapon of Warfare (Part 2)

For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds. — 2 Corinthians 10:4

God has given us many weapons with which to overcome the enemy of our souls – the Word of God, the blood and the name of Jesus, our faith, and the word of our testimony, for starters. (For a fuller discussion of the spiritual warfare weapons, please see my post, Spiritual Warfare: Our Weapons.) Worship is primarily to honor the King of Kings, but it has a by-product effect of being a weapon of warfare.

2 Chronicles 20:1-30 tells the story of Judah being attacked by an army too great for them to overcome.  The people gathered themselves together at Jerusalem to seek the Lord in prayer and fasting.

Look at how King Jehoshaphat opened their prayer gathering:  

And Jehoshaphat stood in the congregation of Judah and Jerusalem, in the house of the LORD, … and said, “O LORD God of our fathers, are you not God in heaven? And do you not rule over all the kingdoms of the heathen? And in your hand is there not power and might, so that no one is able to withstand you? Are you not our God, who drove out the inhabitants of this land before your people Israel, and gave it to the seed of Abraham your friend forever?” (vs. 5-7) 

What was Jehoshaphat doing?  He was worshipping. Jehoshaphat and his people were in dire distress and fear, yet they worshipped.

By verse 14, we see one of the Levites of the house of Asaph prophesying the Lord’s protection and direction to the congregation.  Worship paved the way for revelation — which is another of the spiritual warfare weapons.  I also find it very interesting that the prophecy came forth from the worship team.  Asaph’s family line were directly responsible for leading the worship in the temple.  There is a correlation between worship and revelation.

What did the people do, upon hearing this prophetic word?  “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 … stood up to praise the LORD God of Israel with a loud voice on high” (vs. 18, 19).  Their immediate response was worship.

But King Jehoshaphat’s next move is entirely surprising.  He sent out an army to meet the foe (v. 21), with worshippers going before, whose only job was to praise the Lord! As they worshipped, God caused such confusion among the enemy that they killed each other (vs. 22, 23).

There is a dynamic of worship that we do not fully understand in the natural.  Worship is the continuous sound in heaven’s throne room, and when we unite with that worship, we create a holy connection between heaven and earth.  God delights in our demonstration of love for Him, and draws near to us (James 4:8).

How does this worship become a warfare tactic, then?  Worship of God Almighty afflicts the demonic world with confusion.  This is what happened in Jehoshaphat’s story.  Demons abhor the sound of worship.  It puts them in disarray.  This is why verbal worship, rather than just inward adoration, is needed.  As we worship, the heavens are opened over us and authority flows down from the throne to overthrow the strongholds of the devil.

Next up: How worship establishes God’s Kingdom in the earth

Previous: Worship and the Intercessor (Part 1)
Next: Worship Establishes God’s Kingdom in the Earth (Part 3)

NewIntMan100

Excerpted from Lee Ann’s book, The Intercessor Manual

Out of the Fire Ministries

 

Spiritual Warfare: Using Wisdom

We must be vigilant and wise in spiritual warfare.  Getting sloppy or casual in our understanding of the conflict wherein we are engaged can be crippling or even fatal.

Give no occasion to the enemy — even small compromises.  If we aren’t clean of known sin, we will get walloped.  If it is nagging at your thoughts that something you are doing isn’t pleasing to the Holy Spirit, even if it seems innocent or silly, listen.  If you have to keep assuring yourself that something you are doing is OK, it probably isn’t.  Little occasions of compromise are big entrances to enemy attack.

Watch your attitudes toward people — James 3:14-17 warns, “But if you have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, do not glory, and don’t deny the truth.  This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish.  For where there is envying and strife, there is also confusion and every evil work.  But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, easily entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.” 

Unchecked bad attitudes about other people leave our minds wide open for deception and demonic mental and emotional attack.  In fact, keeping our minds pure of ungodly thoughts about others is where we will encounter most personal spiritual warfare.  The mind is the battlefield we will most frequently revisit.

Keep your spiritual life sharp — through prayer; Bible reading and study; gathering with other believers regularly for worship, teaching, and fellowship; accountability to leadership and alignment with them.  Spiritual laxity leaves us unprepared when an unexpected ambush comes against us.           

Pick your fights — James Goll, in his book The Prophetic Intercessor, says we must keep our focus on Jesus, rather than having our eyes on the devil or what the devil is trying to accomplish.

He comments that often the enemy brings problems to the forefront of our lives for the sole purpose of distracting us from Jesus and to derail our pure devotion for the Lord. We do not need to war about everything; we can pick and choose which fights are important to engage in.  We must let Jesus guide our use of authority (through listening to the leading of the Holy Spirit), rather than wearing ourselves out fighting every battle that comes along.

Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. So take to yourselves the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. — Ephesians 6:10-13 

“Having done all, to stand.”  That is our job, like Eleazar defending the barley field, in 1 Chronicles 11:12-14.  He stood through all his weariness until the job was done and they pried his sword from his fingers – but he recognized it was the Living God Who saved them by a great deliverance.  Like it was in Eleazar’s day, so it is in ours – we partner with the Lord in spiritual warfare, but the battle is still the Lord’s.

Previous — Spiritual Warfare (Part 6): Our Weapons (cont.) 

NewIntMan100

Excerpted from Lee Ann’s book, The Intercessor Manual

Out of the Fire Ministries

 

Spiritual Warfare: Our Weapons (cont.)

We are continuing with our list of the spiritual weapons which God has put in our arsenal to ensure our victory:

9.   Love and forgiveness of the brethren — because bitterness, unforgiveness, malice, and selfishness are of the kingdom of darkness, we turn on light and dispel darkness by forgiveness and love (which are attributes of the Spirit of Jesus).

… I plead with you to confirm your love toward him. It was for this reason that I wrote, that I might prove you, whether you would be obedient in all things. To whom you forgive anything, I forgive also: for if I forgave anything, to whom I forgave it, for your sakes I forgave it in the person of Christ, so that Satan would not get an advantage over us: for we are not ignorant of his devices. — 2 Corinthians 2:8-11

He who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no reason for him to stumble. — 1   John 2:10

10.  Repentance — because we need to be clean and in the light to successfully war.  If we are not, the enemy will have us for lunch.  We are to “… give no opportunity to the adversary to speak reproachfully” (1 Timothy 5:14). Also, repentance takes humility, which, again, is an attribute of the Lord, and thus light-filled.  God will war on behalf of those who will humble themselves before Him and before men.

… Be clothed with humility: for God resists the proud, and gives grace to the humble.  Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time …. Be sober, be vigilant, because your adversary the devil walks about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. —  1 Peter 5:5, 6, 8

11.  Worship2 Chronicles 20:1-30. In the near future I will be doing a Worship and the Intercessor series.  Worship as a warfare weapon will be discussed in greater length there.  The enemy’s goal is to divert worship from the True and Living God to himself.  So when we engage in pure adoration of the Lord, our adversary flees from the sound of it because he hates it.  There is much more to it than that, as we shall see in the upcoming worship series.

12.  Revelation –insights that God gives us about various circumstances, so that we know how to pray and what to do.  God shares both His own secrets and the secret plots of the enemy with those who are willing to listen and be used strategically in establishing His plans and purposes.

God revealing His own secrets: Amos 3:7“Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing without revealing his secret to his servants the prophets.”

God revealing the enemy’s secrets: 2 Kings 6:8-12“Then the king of Syria warred against Israel and took counsel with his servants: ‘In such and such a place shall be my camp.’  And the man of God [Elisha] sent to the king of Israel, saying, ‘Beware that you do not pass such a place; for the Syrians are there.’ The king of Israel sent to the place which the man of God … warned him of and saved himself more than once or twice. Therefore the king of Syria’s heart was very troubled …, and he called his servants and said to them, ‘Tell me who is on the king of Israel’s side.’ One of his servants said, ‘None of us, my lord, O king: but Elisha, the prophet that is in Israel, tells the king of Israel the words that you speak in your bedchamber.”  

There is a general concept underlying some of the weapons of our warfare: whenever we notice God doing something, we should do likewise, and whenever we notice how the enemy operates, it should be our cue to do the opposite.

Doing the opposite of the enemy is a most effective warfare tactic.  The enemy is prideful, so we must not in any way indulge pride.  The enemy encourages excess, lack of control, and self-indulgence, so we fast and discipline ourselves to not yield to the flesh. The enemy curses, rails, and reviles; we bless and show kindness to people, and act respectfully to both mortal and spiritual beings.  Whenever we slip into acting like the devil acts, we have joined his side, whether we realize it or not.

Thus, when we rail on, revile, and are accusatory toward others, we have aligned with the devil, “the accuser of the brethren.”  But when we do what we see Jesus doing, we release the kingdom of heaven into the world around us, just as Jesus released heaven around Himself by doing only what the Father did (John 5:19).   Aligning with God’s way of doing things is powerful warfare indeed.

Next time we will wrap up our spiritual warfare series with a few additional tips.

Previous — Spiritual Warfare (Part 5) : Our Weapons
Next — Spiritual Warfare (Part 7): Using Wisdom 

NewIntMan100

Excerpted from Lee Ann’s book, The Intercessor Manual

Out of the Fire Ministries