Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Tuesday Night Bible Study At CDG - Your Worship Is A Weapon In Spiritual Warfare

In our Sunday morning Bible Study we are doing a study from a book written by Stormie Omartian, Prayer Warrior:  Praying Your Way To Victory.  In that study one of our sessions was Put On Your Protective Armor Every Morning.  That protective armor is the armor of God.  We’ve talked about the armor many times.  It’s described in Ephesians

Ephesians 6:11‭-‬17 (NIV) Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
The armor of God protects us against the enemy in spiritual warfare but sometimes in order to protect ourselves we need to fight back to get the enemy off of us and to take territory from him.  For example if the energy  has created a situation that has caused us to worry or become anxious we need to take that territory back so that we have peace.   So in order to not become casualties of war or lose territory we have to become skilled at using our weapons.  Now since this is a spiritual war our weapons must be spiritual.  

2 Corinthians 10:3‭-‬6 NIV For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. And we will be ready to punish every act of disobedience, once your obedience is complete.
We know that the Word of God, or the Bible, is a weapon because as a part on God’s armor, it’s described as the sword of the spirit, but there are weapons, they include  worship, grace, fasting with prayer, faith, and prayer alone.  What is common about these weapons is that their ammunition it ion or use if you will is through the sword of the Spirit.  The weapon that I want to talk about tonight's worship.  If you want to know how to use the others, the word, grace, fasting with prayer, faith, and prayer alone, you’ll have to get the book we’re using or read the notes in my blog.  

I’ll give you just a glimpse of the main weapon, the sword of the Spirit, and the I’ll get to our weapon of the night, which is worship.

The best example of effective use of the sword of the spirit are Jesus’ responses to Satan when he was tempted after 40 days of fasting in the desert after His baptism.  In Matthew chapter 4 Jesus drops quotes from the scripture, at that time, which would have been what we know today as the Old Testament,  and after dropping the third quote time Satan left Him!  

Matthew 4:1-11 (NLT)1  Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted there by the devil.2  For forty days and forty nights he fasted and became very hungry.3  During that time the devil came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become loaves of bread.”4  But Jesus told him, “No! The Scriptures say, ‘People do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”5  Then the devil took him to the holy city, Jerusalem, to the highest point of the Temple,6  and said, “If you are the Son of God, jump off! For the Scriptures say, ‘He will order his angels to protect you. And they will hold you up with their hands so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.’”7  Jesus responded, “The Scriptures also say, ‘You must not test the LORD your God.’”8  Next the devil took him to the peak of a very high mountain and showed him the kingdoms of the world and all their glory.9  “I will give it all to you,” he said, “if you will kneel down and worship me.”10  “Get out of here, Satan,” Jesus told him. “For the Scriptures say, ‘You must worship the LORD your God and serve only him.’”11  Then the devil went away, and angels came and took care of Jesus.

Satan left, but he came back later to harass Him through others.  If Satan kept coming after Jesus he will certainly come after us so we have to stay on our toes to make sure that we know how to use our spiritual weapons.  
To be proficient in the use of the sword of the spirit we have to know it and use it.  6When you read God’s Word and use it by repeating it often enough, it will become second nature.  You won’t have to think about it.  It will become second nature.  Having a weapon and not knowing how to use it can be like not having a weapon at all or even worse injuring yourself with your own weapon. We’ll have to talk about that someday.   

Now back to our spiritual weapon worship.  

The enemy despises our worship and praise to God so much that he cannot even be in the presence of anyone who is actively doing that. So whenever you want the enemy to flee, worship God. It is one of our greatest weapons in the war against him. And it is our correct response to God for all He has done and is doing in our lives.

The enemy hates your worship of God because his own greatest objective is to get you to worship him instead.

To be most effective this weapons has to be used the way that it was designed.  Just like a physical weapon is designed to be used in a specific way so are spiritual weapons.  Jesus who is the commander of God’s spiritual army, the Church, said that worship must be used in spirit and in truth.

Turn in your Bible to John 4:23-24
We all remember the story of the conversation that Jesus had with the woman at the well in Samaria.  If you don’t know the whole story you can read it in John chapter 4.  In the conversation, Jesus revealed that He knew this woman she had been married 5 times, and the guy she was living with now with was not her husband. This made her uncomfortable, so she changed the subject from her personal life to religion, asking why the Samaritans worshiped at Mount Gerizim and the Jews at Jerusalem.  Jesus’ response was that a day was coming when that it didn’t matter WHERE a person worshiped God.  What mattered was HOW they worshiped Him. He said they must worship Him in spirit and in truth.

John 4:23-‬24 NLT But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way.  For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.”

So the question is just how do we worship God in spirit and in truth?  
Let’s first look at a definition for worship; it’s “the feeling or expression of reverence and adoration for a deity”.  To Worship then, is to show reverence and adoration for (a deity); to honor them with religious rites.
Of course the deity we are talking about is God.

Eugene Patterson the creator of “The Message” Bible translation says that worship is “A tribute to God when He comes.”  

Worship is our response to God’s greatness.  It’s us, the created, responding to Him, the Creator.    It’s our spirits being energized in His presence.   
We worship when we come into God’s presence. God’s presence makes us who we are. His presence sets us apart from others. And every time we draw near to Him, He draws near to us.
We don’t have to be in a church or any specific place to feel God’s presence and worship Him.  Psalm 139 says that God's presence can be wherever are.
Psalm 139:7‭-‬12 NIV Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?  If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.  If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea,  even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.  If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,”  even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.

We know that God isn’t confined to a church building or only available at certain times of day. So we don’t have to wait until we come to church or a certain time of day to worship Him.  We don’t even have to wait until we feel spiritual, because He’s alway present.
Deuteronomy 31:6 NIV Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

The very last thing that Jesus said to His disciples, before He returned to heaven was that He would always be with them.
Matthew 28:18-‬20 NIV Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

There is nowhere we can go, no situation, no challenge, no relationship, no conversation where God isn’t present. Because of His great love for us, and His spirit at work in and through us, worship of Him will invade every nook and cranny of our lives.
When we worship God, we must understand and acknowledge how mighty He is and how insignificant we are. God is the King of the universe and all creation inevitably bows down before Him.

Isaiah 45:22-23 (NLT)22  Let all the world look to me for salvation! For I am God; there is no other.23  I have sworn by my own name; I have spoken the truth, and I will never go back on my word: Every knee will bend to me, and every tongue will confess allegiance to me.”
In the New Testament in Philippians 2:9-11 Paul writes;
Philippians 2:9-11 (NLT)9  Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names,10  that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,11  and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Worship is all about responding to who God is and what He’s done for us. It’s about being so into God that we can’t help responding out loud or with our actions. Worshiping God is about focusing on Him.

God doesn’t require some kind of perfect, complicated worship act. He just wants it to be authentic and genuine.

Let me give you an example of phony worship.

Isaiah 1:10-15 NIV Hear the word of the Lord , you rulers of Sodom; listen to the instruction of our God, you people of Gomorrah!  “The multitude of your sacrifices— what are they to me?” says the Lord . “I have more than enough of burnt offerings, of rams and the fat of fattened animals; I have no pleasure in the blood of bulls and lambs and goats.  When you come to appear before me, who has asked this of you, this trampling of my courts?  Stop bringing meaningless offerings! Your incense is detestable to me. New Moons, Sabbaths and convocations— I cannot bear your worthless assemblies.  Your New Moon feasts and your appointed festivals I hate with all my being. They have become a burden to me; I am weary of bearing them.  When you spread out your hands in prayer, I hide my eyes from you; even when you offer many prayers, I am not listening. Your hands are full of blood!
He didn’t say they weren’t bringing their sacrifices and offerings, in fact they were bringing them.  They were observing the festivals and feasts that God directed them to keep but because of their lifestyle He didn’t want to have anything to do with their worship.    

Jesus gave us another example of phony worship

Mark 7:1‭-‬13 NIV The Pharisees and some of the teachers of the law who had come from Jerusalem gathered around Jesus and saw some of his disciples eating food with hands that were defiled, that is, unwashed. (The Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they give their hands a ceremonial washing, holding to the tradition of the elders. When they come from the marketplace they do not eat unless they wash. And they observe many other traditions, such as the washing of cups, pitchers and kettles. )  So the Pharisees and teachers of the law asked Jesus, “Why don’t your disciples live according to the tradition of the elders instead of eating their food with defiled hands?”  He replied, “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written:  “ ‘These people honor me with their lips,  but their hearts are far from me.   They worship me in vain;  their teachings are merely human rules.’    You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions.”  And he continued, “You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe  your own traditions!  For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and mother,’  and, ‘Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death.’  But you say that if anyone declares that what might have been used to help their father or mother is Corban (that is, devoted to God)—  then you no longer let them do anything for their father or mother.  Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many things like that.”
Here’s what He wants in worship.

Isaiah 1:16-‬20 NIV Wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight; stop doing wrong.  Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.  “Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the Lord . “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.  If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the good things of the land;  but if you resist and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword.” For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.

We should be so tuned into God that we’re feeling His presence in our lives in big and small ways.  It’s about who He is, what He does, and our response to those things. Worship isn’t about us. It’s about Him.

Still The Question Is How Do We Worship Him In Spirit And In Truth

As I said before worship is not to be confined to a place or a prescribed formula or actions.  Because of Christ’s sacrifice, death, burial and resurrection, worship became a matter of the heart rather than ceremony.

Here’s what Jesus said when somebody asked Him what was the greatest commandment.

Mark 12:28-‬30 NIV One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”   “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.  Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’

To worship God in spirit and truth means loving Him with heart, soul, mind and strength.
True worship must be “in spirit,” engaging the whole heart which is the source of our emotions.   Unless there’s a real passion for God, there is no worship in spirit. At the same time, worship must be “in truth,”.    Jesus said that the truth makes us free

John 8:31-‬32 NIV To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.  Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

That freedom is what allows us to worship in spirit and truth.

We have to know who we are worshiping.  Unless we have knowledge of the God we worship, there is no worship in truth.  We get that knowledge from the Bible, God’s Word.  Remember, the sword of the spirit?  

Passion and knowledge are both necessary for God-honoring worship. Spirit without truth leads to a shallow, overly emotional experience that could be compared to a high. As soon as the emotion is over, so is the worship. Truth without spirit can result in a dry, passionless encounter that can easily lead to a form of joyless legalism. The best combination of both aspects of worship, spirit and truth, result in a joyous appreciation of God. The more we know about God, the more we appreciate Him. The more we appreciate Him, the deeper our worship. The deeper our worship, the more God is glorified.

Make Time

In everyday life, there are so many things pulling you in different directions. So many things fighting for your attention.  Things fighting for your worship.We’re either worshiping God or we’re worshiping something else. But we can’t worship both. Worship is how we respond to the thing we value the absolute most! The thing we spend most of our time thinking about, doing, giving the most attention to, putting all our energy into that's what we worship.

True worship is your response to how great you know God to be. We should worship Him with everything we have, everything we are, and everything we do.

There is a gospel song, by Richard Smallwood the title is “Jesus You’re The Center Of My Joy”.  

The lyrics of that song are;

Jesus, you're the center of my joy
All that's good and perfect comes from you
You're the heart of my contentment, hope for all I do
Jesus, you're the center of my joy
When I've lost my direction, you're the compass for my way
You're the fire and light when nights are long and cold
In sadness, you are the laughter that shatters all my fears
When I'm all alone, your hand is there to hold,
You are why I find pleasure in the simple things in life
You're the music in the meadows and the streams
The voices of the children, my family, and my home
You're the source and finish of my highest dreams,
Jesus, you're the center of my joy
All that's good and perfect comes from you
You're the heart of my contentment, hope for all I do
Jesus, you're the center of my joy

Worshiping God isn’t just something you do, it’s the way you live. Worship can be as intense as spending an hour every day in quiet time listening and talking to God. It can be something as simple as when you go to work, or to volunteer, or to  just talking to someone on the street or in the store,  and thanking God for the opportunity that He has given you to do whatever it is that you do. You realize that it’s because of Him that you get to do anything at all

To worship God in spirit and in truth is to declare that God is worthy of our reverence. We do this in spirit through our heart, the seat of our emotions, based on the truth of who He is, the truth of who we are, the truth of what God does and has done for us, and the truth of what is going on in our lives. We do it with a heart inclined toward God and in submission to Him. We worship God when our attitudes, actions, and words declare that He is worthy of our praise.

Here’s a quote from the book we are studying “There is nothing more powerful than worship of God. It can shake things up in the spirit realm and in our lives like nothing else can. It causes chains to fall off of people. If prayer in its simplest form is communicating with God, then praise and worship is the purest form of prayer”.
I want to end with the prayer that is at the end of the chapter,  “Become Skilled With Your Spiritual Weapons”

LORD, help me to understand what my spiritual weapons are and to become proficient inthe use of them. Teach me so I don’t forget for even a moment how powerful they are.Grow my faith to believe You and Your Word without doubt. I know that as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are Your ways higher than my ways, and Your thoughts higher than my thoughts (Isaiah 55:9). Help me to think and act more like You every time I read Your Word and spend time in Your presence. Enable me to know Your Word So well that I have Scriptures in my mind and heart that become automatic weapons against the enemy of my soul.
Thank You for Your grace toward me, rewarding and helping me beyond what I deserve. When I face a mountain of opposition by the enemy, remind me to speak grace to that situation. I know that Your grace overrides any plan of the enemy no matter how much he appears to be succeeding. Help me not to be intimidated by the enemy’s force when the force of Your grace far exceeds any efforts of his.
Show me whenever I need to fast along with praying in order to accomplish all You Want to see done. Enable me to do it. Help me to fully understand all You have said in Your Word about what will be accomplished during a fast. I know that in obedience to You, a fast will undo heavy burdens, let the oppressed go free, and break every yoke (Isaiah 58:6).
worship You, Lord, above all things. Help me to worship You “in spirit and truth”   as Your Word says to do (John 4:24). I seek after You and long for You, just as a “deer pants for the water brooks” (Psalm 42:1). Help me to make praise and worship my first reaction to things that happen and the different situations that present themselves to me.
Lord, You have said, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock,mand it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened” (Luke 11:9-10). Help me to ask according to Your leading, seek to understand Your will, and knock on the doors You want opened. MEnable me to keep asking, keep seeking, and keep knocking and not give up. Remindme how these actions are weapons against the plans of the enemy so that only Your plans for my life and the lives of the people for whom I pray will be done. I thank You in advance for Your answers to my prayers.
Thank You that You are “able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us” (Ephesians 3:20). Thank You that no weapon formed against me or the people for whom I pray will ever prosper.
In Jesus’ name I pray.

Father, sometimes we are too embarrassed to celebrate you the way that we should. Please help us to worship you in spirit and in truth, without worrying about what other people might think.   We will use this weapon in our arsenal of spiritual weapons as we battle our enemy and yours for the souls of all those who have not accepted your Son as their Lord and Savior.  It’s in His name, the name of Jesus we pray Amen.

Bible Study Audio

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