Tag Archive | David

So You Want To Be A Warrior?

Warriors 7

Today, most armed services have a 6 to 13 week period of what they term basic training. During that time, they have a leader called a drill instructor. After this basic training, the young soldier or sailor begins to look and act differently.

As you journey deeper in your walk with Christ, I pray that you will get in shape for more intense spiritual warfare. A timid, untrained army is no match for Hell’s terrorists! No, we must get into spiritual shape, pick up our armor and go to the battlefront. The destiny of humanity hangs in the balance.

David trained his 400 soldiers with the truth we find in Psalm 18, which contains six basic charges every warrior needs to hear.

“Get Under Authority” – Submission

“For You will save the humble people,
but will bring down haughty looks.” (Psalm 18:27 NKJV).

        The soldier must begin a day knowing how to obey orders. From the moment of arrival in boot camp, nothing belongs to the recruit anymore. Their hair is cut, their clothing is selected for them, and their schedule is determined by their leaders. For a season, freedom is lost and submission is taught.

It is essential to understand that putting the devil to flight requires submission to God. James 4:7 tells us…

“Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” (NKJV)

One of my high school buddies was always a rebel at heart. His dress was unconventional, as well as his attitude. Finally, he quit school to live free. His choice? He joined the Marines. I laughed when I saw him after boot camp! His long hair was now a crew cut and he wore a crisp Marine uniform instead of jeans. He had learned to live under orders. Hebrews 12:1-2 gives the Christian his or her marching orders:

Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (NKJV)

 “Get on Fire for the Cause”—Passion

“For You will light my lamp” (Psalm 18:28a NKJV).

        The second goal of boot camp is to inspire the recruit to have a passion for the cause of the nation. All things being equal, the one with the most passion for the fight will win. In our struggle against the Enemy, we must be on fire to win the souls of men for God’s kingdom.

One admirable thing about Islamic fundamentalists is their unbridled passion for their cause. They are willing to die in order to further their purposes. While their teaching is in error and their methods are horrific, they are on fire for what they believe. All the weapons of a militia cannot stop such passion; it must be met by Christians who have a passion for Jesus Christ.

“Be Prepared for Warfare”—Discipline

“The Lord my God will enlighten my darkness” (Psalm 18:28b NKJV).

        God will “enlighten” His soldiers. We have been given the right armor and the right instruction. Every church must become a spiritual armory, preparing its people for the struggle against the darkness.

“Believe You Can Win”–Vision

“For by You I can run against a troop,
by my God I can leap over a wall” (Psalm 18:29, NKJV)

        Here the recruit confesses his faith. By the power of God, he can overcome a troop. With the strength of God, he can leap over a wall. The Enemy’s army and obstacles fall before the spiritual soldier who has faith.

“Know Your Weapons”—Power

Warrior 2“As for God, His way is perfect; the word of the Lord is proven; He is a shield to all who trust in Him. For who is God, except the Lord? And who is a rock, except our God? It is God who arms me with strength, and makes my way perfect…. He teaches my hands to make war, so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze.” (Psalm 18:30-32, 34, NKJV)

Notice first that God has a perfect battle plan. The word perfect means “absolutely complete.” We must fight according to His plan.

Second, Yahweh has given us a sharp, two-edged sword—His Word. We must wield this sword effectively if we are to live the victor’s life.

Furthermore, God grants us a shield of protection: Faith.

Also, Yahweh exercises our gifts so our hands will be strengthened to make war. We can use our “bronze bow” to judge the Enemy. Spiritual archers can shoot down the principalities in the heavens.

“Go to the Next Level”—Excellence

“He makes my feet like the feet of deer,
and sets me on my high places” (Psalm 18:33 NKJV).

Boot camp moves us to the next level of battle. We can conquer the mountains before us. Our feet must be strong, so we can walk with a sure foot. The feet of deer “track,” which means the rear foot will always land where the front foot leaves. Our God allows us to walk in His footsteps, tracking hard after Him.

WorshipDavid’s manual (Psalm 18) molded the 400 outcasts into a military machine that would take the kingdom. We, too, can go to the next level if we become informed and disciplined. It’s time to recognize your enemy, understand the battle, equip yourself for the fight, and walk in victory.

Adapted from my book
Everyone’s Guide to Demons & Spiritual Warfare
©2010 Ron Phillips
Published by Charisma House

Standing Alone, Yet Never Alone

Caught in the Storm

Our culture does not favor people who are not part of the system. Those who are willing to stand alone, if necessary, for their convictions are rare indeed! When one feels alone, Satan would have you play the victim. He is a liar. Being willing to stand alone for the truth is a major character builder. It also makes us like Christ Himself.

Our Lord was left alone in the Garden of Gethsemane when the battle for our souls was at stake. The unbidden blood of lonely stress was the first shed for our souls. The prophet Isaiah saw this 700 years before it happened. Speaking of the cross, Isaiah shared this

“I have trodden the wine press alone and of the people there was none with me…”      ~ Isaiah 63:3

Often Jesus would get alone…

“He departed again to the mountain by Himself alone…” ~ John 6:15

When He came away from that “aloneness,” He could walk on water and still storms.

Our culture loves conformity and fears non-conformity. One must go along with the “party line”. One must “go along to get along,” yet there are times when conformity — and even unity — must give way to convictions.

The Reformation exploded in Wittenberg, Germany when Martin Luther nailed 95 theses to the door and said, while standing alone, “Here I stand… God help me, I can do no other.”

King DavidAbraham was alone when God gave him the revelation of Isaac.

Moses was alone when a burning bush changed the destiny of a nation.

Jacob was alone when God wrestled him to submission and changed him to Israel.

Isaiah was alone when he saw a vision of God’s throne and received a world changing assignment.

David was alone when he sang the 23rd Psalm.

Jeremiah saw judgment while he said, “I sat alone because of your hand.” (Jeremiah 15:17)

Ezekiel “fell on his face alone” as God spoke to him.

Daniel spoke, “I, Daniel, alone saw the vision…” (Daniel 10:7-8)

John was alone on the Isle of Patmos when the Revelation was unfolded before him.

Standing alone for God means you’re never alone. He stands with those who are willing to stand alone.

Listen to St. Paul in 2 Timothy 4:16-17…

“At my first defense no one stood with me, but all forsook me…
but the Lord stood with me.”

Sometimes standing alone moves you into the company of the Lord and the angels!

In the Academy Award winning movie on the life of Thomas Becket called “Becket,” there is a scene I will never forget. Becket had been King Henry II’s chancellor. With the death of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the King gave Becket that office as leader of the Church of England. For a season, Becket served in both offices. Eventually, he gave up the office as chancellor as his loyalty was now with the Lord and the church. Through tears, King Henry said to Becket, who had been his best friend for 15 years, “I shall learn to be alone.”

As a Baptist preacher, I thought I had many friends. Yet after the Spirit baptized me and I began to operate in all the gifts, those friends vanished. I learned to be alone. I would throw my heart around someone, help someone, and think, “Here is a friend I can call on.” However, as soon as standing with me became difficult, they would leave. I learned to be alone – but alone is not alone. For me, the by-products of standing alone include:

  • Intimacy with God
  • Power
  • 37 books written
  • Answered prayer
  • Angelic manifestation

I can say for all the lonely days and nights, “The Lord stood with me!”

Pastor Ron

Where Does Your Worship Come From?

Today, I want to start by asking a question: Where does your worship come from?

iTunes. Wal-Mart. CD Baby. LifeWay.”

No… Not where do you buy worship music…

“Oh… Hillsong United, Chris Tomlin, Kari Jobe.”

No… Not who is your favorite artist, or composer of your favorite song. I am asking where does your worship come from?

YOUR. Worship.

WorshipWe have long been a culture of labels and titles – worship is no exception. We have the part in the church service we call worship. We have a style of music we call worship. We have made worship more than a conversation or attitude… it has become an industry.

Now, understand that I am not casting aspersions; I am simply asking a question. When you strip away all of the trappings of how we view worship — the music, the sound, the lights, the crowds — and get back to the “heart of worship” (as Matt Redman once said in song), where does your worship come from?

Oh come, let us worship and bow down;
Let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.
For He is our God,
And we are the people of His pasture,
And the sheep of His hand. ~ Psalm 95:6-7

Webster’s defines worship as extravagant respect or admiration for or devotion to an object of esteem.

The Greek word for worship is proskuneó ( προσκυνέω ), meaning, to kiss toward.

In his book, Real Worship,  Warren Wiersbe defines worship as “the believer’s response of all that they are – mind, emotions, will, body – to what God is and says and does“.

So, again with the question… where does YOUR worship come from?

You worship could be prompted by a victory God has brought about in your life. Take Moses for example…

“… I will sing to the Lord,
For He has triumphed gloriously!
The horse and its rider
He has thrown into the sea!
The Lord is my strength and song,
And He has become my salvation;
He is my God, and I will praise Him;
My father’s God, and I will exalt Him. ~ Exodus 15:1-2

This is the song of worship that Moses and the children of Israel lifted up to the Lord when, against impossible odds, they were delivered from Pharaoh and the army of Egypt, when God showed His supernatural might against the enemies of His people.

What about David?

O Lord, open my lips,
And my mouth shall show forth Your praise.
For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it;
You do not delight in burnt offering.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit,
A broken and a contrite heart—
These, O God, You will not despise. ~ Psalm 51:15-17

Samuel anointing DavidDavid’s worship came from a variety of places throughout His life, but from few places as dark as this. David had committed adultery with Bathsheba, arranged for her husband Uriah to be killed in battle, then took the pregnant Bathsheba to be his own wife. However, the sin he sought to cover was laid bare when the prophet Nathan showed up and called David out for his sin. Yet, instead of dodging, denying, or blaming anyone else, David immediately owned his sin, and sought forgiveness and redemption. He understood that his sin was a barrier between he and a holy God, and sought the path back into his presence.

Mary…

  Annunciation     …was a teenage girl when she was visited by the angel Gabriel with the good news that she had been chosen to be the mother to the Son of God. Although this news was joyous beyond belief, I cannot help but imagine that Mary also was aware of the societal ramifications of her state: I think the Bible hints at this when it says that her fiancé Joseph wanted to “put her away quietly”. Yet, in spite of any potential negative reactions from those around her, Mary’s worship was unhindered and with abandon to the One who chose her to carry and care for the Savior of the world…


…“My soul magnifies the Lord,

And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.
For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant;
For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed.
For He who is mighty has done great things for me,
And holy is His name.
And His mercy is on those who fear Him
From generation to generation…” ~ Luke 1:46-50

God had called Gideon…

   …to a seemingly impossible task. He and three hundred men, armed with pitchers, torches, and trumpets were going to take on the well-armed army of the Midianites. Gideon had tested God, and God had shown Himself faithful. As a final sign, God told Gideon to sneak into the camp of the enemy. When he did, he overheard a man telling his dream to another man, prophesying the defeat of their army at the hands of Gideon. Judges 7:15 says…

And so it was, when Gideon heard the telling of the dream and its interpretation, that he worshiped.

Gideon believed in the promise God had given him. Though he had not seen the victory with his own eyes, Gideon believed in the word of the Lord, and chose to worship in advance of that victory. It was worship inspired by faith.

Horatio Spafford was a successful lawyer and businessman…

   …when the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 destroyed his businesses and ruined him financially. When the economy crashed two years later, he endured additional hardships. Planning on traveling to Europe with his family, business issues caused him to send his family on ahead, and he would later join them. Tragically, the ship carrying his family collided with another ship during the voyage, and all four of his daughters were claimed by the sea. On his own journey across the Atlantic, upon crossing the very spot his children had died, Mr. Spafford penned these words from the deepest places of sorrow…

When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to know,a
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Refrain:
It is well, (it is well),
With my soul, (with my soul)
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
If Jordan above me shall roll,
No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life,
Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.

But Lord, ’tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,
The sky, not the grave, is our goal;
Oh, trump of the angel! Oh, voice of the Lord!
Blessed hope, blessed rest of my soul.

And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
A song in the night, oh my soul!

At the beginning of this blog, I asked the question:
Where does your worship come from?

I guess a better way to phrase it would be “What inspires you to worship?” What is it that makes you drop to your knees in reverence, desperation, and humility before a Holy God? What events in your life have pointed you to His goodness and grace? Honestly, for all of us as humans, we all have those things that strike a nerve, and for everyone, that thing is different. Some are inspired to worship through victory. Others are driven to worship through desperation. Joy, sorrow, grief, confusion, ecstacy — these are all powerful emotions, and equally powerful motivators. Yet regardless of what motivates us, our worship should share a common thread…

That God alone is worthy to be praised.

That He is the Great I AM – Who was, and is, and is to come.

That only He is holy.

That no one compares to His matchless worth and worthiness.

That, as Matt Redman penned, “It’s all about You, Jesus.”

We live in a fallen world, and we are all on different paths, some more triumphant, and some more tragic. Yet, God never changes. He is the constant and consistent One. And from His throne, He doesn’t demand… He invites. He invites you into His presence to worship Him — in spirit and truth. He invites you to release the song He has put into your inmost being. It’s not the song others sing… it’s the one He gave you. It’s the song that reflects YOUR adoration and YOUR devotion to Him. It is the song specific to who He made you to be. It’s no better and no worse than the song He gave to anyone else — it is simply, uniquely YOURS.

And guess what? He wants to hear it.

But all of our songs of worship have one thing in common… Jesus.

When we will learn to make worship our first response to all of the circumstances of life, and make it a chorus instead of a competition, I believe we will find the grace, peace, joy, and unity that God intended for us to walk in on this journey.

Now… go find your song.  🙂

Setting the Angel Free

Creación_de_Adám hands

St. Peter's BasilicaArtist, architect, an sculptor Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni is one of the most renowned artisans of all time. Two of his most famous statues, Pietà and David, were created before he turned thirty. His paintings on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, as well as his architectural design of the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica, are among the most recognized works in the world.

Michelangelo had this to say about his craft…

I saw the angel in the marble, and carved until I set him free.

What a beautiful description of God’s relationship with his children. Using the circumstances of life as His chisel, God knocks the rough edges away, and sculpts us into the works of art He wants the world to see in us.

So for today, here’s a reminder:

The God who began a good work in you has promised to complete it.
When He sets you free, your reflection will be the beauty of His Son, Jesus.

"Michelangelo's Pieta 5450" by Stanislav Traykov - Own work. Licensed under CC BY 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Michelangelo%27s_Pieta_5450.jpg#/media/File:Michelangelo%27s_Pieta_5450.jpg

“Michelangelo’s Pieta 5450” by Stanislav Traykov – Own work. Licensed under CC BY 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Michelangelo%27s_Pieta_5450.jpg#/media/File:Michelangelo%27s_Pieta_5450.jpg

Do You Possess the Heart of a Warrior?

Whether it is in the movies or real life, with all of the violence in the world today, there is a word we hear quite often…

Warrior.

Wallace SwordWhen we think of a warrior, it brings to mind images of a knight in shining armor, wielding a massive sword, and ready to take care of business. For some of us who remember the movies of the ’80’s and ’90’s, it may conjure images of Rambo or William Wallace in Braveheart. We want to think of a hero; someone of great strength and integrity, willing to face insurmountable odds for the betterment of humanity.

However, we often don’t take into account what it takes to become a warrior. We don’t often understand the pain and sacrifice that an individual goes through — the commitment that it takes to carry the mantle of a warrior. Today in America, most armed services have a six- to thirteen-week period of what they term basic training. During that time, the recruits have a leader called a drill instructor. Throughout this basic training, the young soldier or sailor begins to look and act differently. They are preparing for the possibility of warfare, and train accordingly. They prepare to take down the enemy with extreme prejudice (deadly force) — an enemy that will not hesitate to kill both soldier and innocent civilian if given the opportunity.

In spiritual warfare, a timid, untrained army is no match for hell’s terrorists! No, we must get into spiritual shape, pick up our armor, and go to the battlefront. The destiny of humanity hangs in the balance. David trained his four hundred soldiers with the truth we find in Psalm 18, which contains six basic charges every warrior needs to hear.

I. Get under authority — submission.

For You will save the humble people, but will bring down haughty looks. ~ Psalm 18:27

The soldier must begin the day knowing how to obey orders. From the moment of arrival in boot camp, nothing belongs to the recruit any longer. His hair is cut, his clothing is selected for him, and his schedule is determined by his leaders. For a season, freedom is lost and submission is taught. One of my high school buddies was always a rebel at heart. His dress was unconventional, as well as his attitude. Finally, he quit school to live free. His choice? He joined the Marines. I laughed when I saw him after boot camp… his long hair was now a crew cut, and he wore a crisp U.S Marine uniform instead of jeans. He had learned to live under orders.

It is essential to understand that putting the devil to flight requires submission to God. James 4:7 tells us, “Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.”  Hebrews 12:1-2 gives the Christian his or her marching orders…

Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

II. Get on fire for the cause — passion.

For You will light my lamp. ~ Psalm 18:28

The second goal of boot camp is to inspire the recruit to have a passion for the cause of the nation. All things being equal, the one with the most passion for the fight will win. In our struggle against the enemy, we must be on fire to win the souls of men for God’s kingdom. One admirable thing about Islamic fundamentalists is their unbridled passion for their cause. They are willing to die in order to further their purposes. While their teaching is in error and their methods are horrific, they’re on fire for what they believe. All the weapons of a militia cannot stop such passion; it must be met by Christians who have a passion for Jesus Christ.

III. Be prepared for warfare — discipline.

The Lord my God will enlighten my darkness. ~ Psalm 18:28

God will “enlighten” His soldiers. We have been given the right armor and the right instructions. Every church must become a spiritual armory, preparing its people for the struggle against the darkness.

IV. Believe you can win — vision.

For by You I can run against a troop,
By my God, I can leap over a wall. ~ Psalm 18:29

Here the recruit confesses his faith. By the power of God, He can overcome a troop. With the strength of God, he can leap over a wall. The enemy’s army and obstacles fall before the spiritual soldier who has faith.

V. Know your weapons — power.

As for God, His way is perfect: the word of the LORD is proven; He is a shield to all who trust in Him. For who is God except the LORD? And who is a rock, except our God? It is God who arms me with strength, and makes my way perfect… He teaches my hands make war, so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze. ~ Psalm 18:30-32, 34

Notice first that God has a perfect battle plan. The word perfect means “absolutely complete”. We must fight according to His plan.

Secondly, Yahweh has given us a sharp, two-edged sword — His Word. We must wield this sword effectively if we are to live the Victor’s life.

Furthermore, God grants us a shield of protection: faith.

Also, Yahweh exercises our gifts so our hands will be strengthened to make war. We can use our “bronze bow” to judge the enemy. Spiritual archers can shoot down the principalities in the heavens.

VI. Go to the next level — excellence.

He makes my feet like the feet of deer, and sets me on my high places. ~ Psalm 18:33

Boot camp moves us to the next level of battle. We can conquer the mountains before us. Our feet must be strong so we can walk with a sure foot. The feet of deer ‘track,” which means the rear foot will always land where the front foot leaves. Our God allows us to walk in His footsteps, tracking hard after Him.

David’s manual, here in Psalm 18, molded the four hundred outcasts into a military machine that would take the kingdom. We too can go to the next level if we become informed and disciplined.

So what about it? Are you ready to become the warrior for the Kingdom that God has called you to be? Are you ready to know your enemy, understand the battle, equip yourself for the fight, and walk in victory? The battle lines are drawn. The Commander awaits.

Will you answer the call?

— Adapted from my book
Everyone’s Guide to Demons and Spiritual Warfare
Copyright © 2010 by Ron Phillips
Published by Charisma Media / Charisma House Book Group

Stone-Phillips

The Scars Of The Covenant

A dramatization…

Bet She'an2He could not believe his good fortune. He had gone from a young man in hiding to the front of the line, in a manner of speaking. This was relatively unheard of, especially for someone like him, with the physical limitations of being crippled. Yet, here he was… sitting at the table of the king. As he sat eating, he pinched himself for the five thousandth time to make sure this wasn’t a cruel dream – a dream from which he would wake and once again find himself in destitute obscurity.

Ouch!

“Nope… still here”, he mused, taking another bite of the delicacies set before him.

On this particular morning, the king was unusually quiet. The normal laughter and conversation that the king engaged in was replaced by a pensive quiet. The king seemed introspective today – almost sad. As he ate, his perpetual gazing out the window betrayed a mind that was lost in thought, a lifetime away. As the king reached for a piece of fruit, his sleeved slipped down from his wrist. It was then that the young lad noticed it…

A scar.

As the king continued eating, the sight of the scar became a focal point. He knew the king was a fierce warrior, but there was something different about this scar – something that beckoned him to inquire about its origin. In what heated battle did this great man receive this mark? What assailant could have gotten close enough to such a skilled swordsman to make such a mark? It only took a few minutes of his mind racing for his lips to form the words, and his heart to muster the courage to break the silence:

“Sire?” he said, his voice cracking with the single syllable.

“Hmmm? What is it?” came the almost startled reply. Coming back from wherever his mind had wandered, the king shifted his attention to the lad across from him, waiting for his question.

“That scar on your wrist… In what campaign did you receive that wound?” he inquired.

The king paused for a moment, almost as if suddenly being transported back in time to an event of life-changing significance. As he began to rub the wound, a smile crossed his face.

“I received this mark in a campaign that lasted for many, many years,” he said, now turning his full attention to his young inquirer.

“But you are a most skilled warrior, my lord. What fierce enemy could have ever gotten so close as to wound you in such a way? Have I heard of this great warrior in the stories and ballads of our land?” HIs mind was racing, trying to anticipate the answer.

“Enemy?” replied the king, almost laughing. “This mark is not the result of an enemy’s rage-fueled blade. No… this mark came from one I loved more than life itself. I received this wound because of your father.”

The boy was dumbfounded. “My father???”

“Yes… your father. You see, I was a peasant. Your father was the heir to the throne. We were an unlikely pair… the statuesque son of the king, and this ruddy-faced shepherd boy. But when Jehovah chose me to ascend to the throne instead of your father, one would have thought that to be the end of our friendship.”

The king’s face lit up. “But you know what? It only made it stronger!”

“Ours was a covenant that not even death could nullify. Your father recognized the gift Jehovah had placed in me, and he was determined to see me succeed. He was the most unselfish person I ever knew. By birthright, your father should have been the next king, but he put his own ambition aside to see me succeed. I mean, even when your grandfather, the king, wanted to kill me, your father risked his own life, and the wrath of the king, to protect me. This scar is from a time your father and I made a covenant in blood that sealed our destinies. My friendship with your father taught me that we could accomplish more together than either of us could separately. There was power in our unity.”

Just then, the door across the room opened, and a slightly weary queen appeared at the entrance.

“David, there is a matter with your young son that requires your attention,” she stated, trying to remain poised.

The king laughed. “I’ll be right there, my queen.”

King David stood up, wiped his mouth a final time, and turned to his young interviewer.

“Mephibosheth, I want you to understand: Your presence here is the manifestation of the covenant between your father Jonathan and me – the culmination of a life devoted to a friendship both miraculous and wonderful. And just as a prince would (normally) be heir to a throne, you are heir to the promise I made to your father. As I loved him and had his best interests at heart, so I brought you out of Lodebar – a place of no hope – and have made you like a son. My table is your table. All of the wealth of your father is at your disposal.”

With that, King David turned and left the room, leaving Mephibosheth alone with his new-found appreciation, not only of his father, but of the power of the covenant of friendship. (For more on the story of David and Jonathan, see 1 Samuel starting in chapter 18 and continuing into 2 Samuel).

This dramatic account of a very real story illustrates the covenant power of friendship. As the lives of David and Jonathan illustrate the power of unity in friendship, we participate in such relationships on a daily basis:

Our relationship with God (a covenant Jesus died to enforce);

Holy communion (the covenant meal reminding us of our obligations in our covenant with God);

Marriage (the covenant relationship between one man and one woman);

Friendships (who is your “Jonathan”?);

Church membership (we are members of the body of Christ, and in that unity is the manifest power of God at our disposal).

As Jonathan and David found strength and purpose in their friendship, so we have power in the unity of faith with other believers. Think of the promises of Jesus:

“If any two of you agree…” Matthew 18:19

“Where two or three are gathered in my name…” Matthew 18:20

But the miracle power of unity is not just our unity with other believers. It is also our unity with Jesus – it’s a package deal! John 15 spells out in great detail the importance of abiding in Him, as well as loving each other, and the power available to us if we do. The unity of the Spirit creates an atmosphere of peace – nothing broken and nothing missing.

So what are you waiting for? As the tabernacle of David, we must call the broken, crippled, and wayward to the table. We must go to “Lodebar” – the place of no hope – and announce to them that Someone has made an everlasting covenant… a covenant that includes THEM!!!

Who is the “Mephibosheth” you are going to seek out?

The Rhythm of the Saints

 

Several years ago, 60’s music icon Paul Simon of Simon and Garfunkel fame released an album entitled The Rhythm of the Saints. On this recording, he utilized musicians and musical instruments from all over the world to create a compelling, “world music” experience. As I thought about this title (with it’s obvious spiritual overtones), and thought about the debate over music that has raged in the church for years (decades, centuries, etc.), it begged the question…

What should the real “Rhythm of the Saints” look and sound like? How should we as believers approach music and worship?

The instructions for true worship and praise are clearly defined in the scriptures.

  • We should worship Christ continually.

Our lives, not just our church services, should be a reflection of praise.

“Let all those who seek You rejoice and be glad in You; and let those who love Your salvation say continually, ‘Let God be magnified.’” ~ Psalm 70:4

  • We should worship Christ in the church.

“I will give You thanks in the great assembly; I will praise You among many people.” ~ Psalm 35:18

  • We should worship Christ with the lost present.

“He has put a new song in my mouth—Praise to our God; Many will see it and fear, and will trust in the Lord.” ~ Psalm 40:3

  • We should worship God so that praise can be heard.

“O bless our God, you peoples! And make the voice of His praise be heard.” ~ Psalm 66:8

These sounds of worship could include:

Shouting—

“… let Your saints shout for joy.” ~ Psalm 132:9

Singing—

“And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” ~ Ephesians 5:18-20

Laughter—

“…then was our mouth filled with laughter and our tongue with singing…” ~ Psalm 126:1-3

Musical Instruments—

“…play skillfully with a loud noise…” ~ Psalm 47:1

Clapping—

“Oh, clap your hands, all you peoples! Shout to God with the voice of triumph!” ~ Psalm 47:1

  • We should worship God with our bodies.

How should we use our bodies in worship? We are commanded to “present your bodies a living sacrifice…” (Romans 12:1-2). We should not hesitate to follow the example of “the man after God’s own heart” — “… David danced before the LORD with all of his might…” (2 Samuel 6:14)

  • We can lift up our hands.

“Thus I will bless You while I live; I will lift up my hands in Your name.” ~ Psalm 63:4

  • We should worship God with our soul and spirit.

You are body-world conscious, and you are soul-self conscious:

“Bless the Lord O my soul…” ~ Psalm 103:1

In addition, you are spirit/God conscious. When you are saved your spirit comes alive in Jesus Christ. Praise is the exercise of the Spirit. Praise brings strength to your spirit.

“…which worship God in the Spirit…” ~ Philippians 3:3

Mary praised God by saying, “My spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.” (Luke 1:47)

  • We should worship according to the Word of God.

Everything David did in worship was from the Word of God…

“In God I will praise His word.” ~ Psalm 56:10-11

The Pitfalls of Preference

Worship is not about musical styles and personal preferences. It’s not about “warm fuzzies”, “nice feelings”, and staying in our comfort zones. Worship is about getting into God’s presence and seeking His face above all. What may sound to us like a joyful noise (emphasis on noise) may be wonderful praise from a pure heart to the ears of Almighty God. On the contrary, what may sound reverent, impressive, and inspiring to us may be a clanging noise to the One who knows “the thoughts and intents of the heart.”

The ark of God was the very throne and dwelling place of the presence of God on earth. When David and the children of Israel wanted to bring the ark of God up from Kiriath Jearim to the City of David, they had the best intentions at heart. It seemed like the right thing to do. There was much rejoicing and celebrating. They gathered all the people together, lots of music and dance, put the ark on a “new cart”, and headed out. However, God had already specified the manner in which the ark was to be carried, and a cart pulled by oxen was not in the instructions. The ark (His Presence) was always to be carried upon the shoulders of men, not on a cart pulled by a beast. So, when the oxen stumbled, and Uzzah reached out to steady the ark, he paid for his irreverence with his life. God struck him dead on the spot, which angered the king. However, it wasn’t long until anger turned to fear in David’s heart. Instead of continuing with his ill-fated plan, David turned aside to the house of Obed-Edom, where the ark resided for the next three months (2 Samuel 6).

David had a good idea, but he did a good thing in a bad way. Worship is not about our opinion — it’s about His Presence. Following His design for how we approach Him is the key to finding His heart, and experiencing the joy, peace, awe, and wonder of His presence. When David returned three months later to move the ark to the City of David, he had a new perspective, a new attitude of worship, and approached the ark of God with sacrificial worship and praise.

One final thought…

The passage states that, “The ark of the Lord remained in the house of Obed-Edom the Gittite for three months, and the Lord blessed him and his entire household” (2 Samuel 6:11). Obed-Edom didn’t just stop by occasionally and visit the ark. He made his home — his dwelling place — the habitation of the presence of Almighty God. Could it be that we are not experiencing more of His power and blessing because we are apathetic in our treatment of His presence in our lives? Could it be that if, instead of showing up at His house on Sundays and Wednesday nights, we make our own homes and our very lives habitations for His throne to reside 24/7?

Combine that attitude toward worship with the spirit of unity of believers in Jesus, and I believe that you find the unstoppable, unmistakable “Rhythm of the Saints” sounds surprisingly like the very heartbeat of God.