Telling someone that worship will gain the victory while they are in the middle of a serious concern can sound like “Christianease”. It maybe a little dismissive or even harsh if they can not sense a heart of love (1 COR 13:1), if there is little relationship or if there is no evidence in your own life of victory. This is not to criticize the enthusiastic person who it is more than likely trying to encourage the other with these words. I can definitely be accused of trying to compel others to worship God in the midst of trials – my prayers is that I operate out of love and understanding.
I have found that when speaking the truth in love, it is not always received well (at least not immediately); in fact, the messenger is frequently distanced because the message feels uncomfortable. And yes, discernment and wisdom are best employed when walking through challenges with others; wisdom though should at some point bring us back to worship of our LORD. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. – Colossians 3:16-17 ESV
Well, if you are a believer shouldn’t worship of God gain the victory? We read or hear of Old Testament battles won by praising God – Jehovah Sabaoth (Joshua 5:13-6:27). Do some people have more storms than others? Why aren’t my prayers answered? Why do some people seem to weather storms more easily than others? Since the bible provides examples of how victories are achieved through worship, let’s take a look at what the scriptures say specifically from the words of our redeemer Jesus and application from David who God deemed a man after His heart.
Let’s start with worship.
Jesus said in Jhn 4:22 NKJV – “You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews.” Jesus was addressing a Samaritan woman who was worshiping but know the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob – the covenant keeping God. He continues saying, “But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” – Jhn 4:23-24 NKJV.
Since we have been created for worship, when we worship we reap spiritual and sometimes emotional gratification instantaneously. Of course we feel this way: It’s amazing to be able to communicate on a spirit and soul level freely with the only One who can completely knows our thoughts yet loves us despite any failure we have made or ever will make. It’s unconditional love for us, unmerited grace, and truthfully it’s loving discipline – sometimes with consequences for our bad behaviour.
Unfortunately, many today find themselves worshiping for the experience or to gain a particular result rather than to offer up/to give God glory for who He is. Worship of God is always a sacrifice from us to Him. Hopefully, we enjoy giving the sacrifice just as He for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame (Hebrews 12:2). This means we humble our self-centred thoughts to give to Him:
- time in devotion – meaning praying and reading/meditating on His Word PLUS the study Scripture to gain knowledge of our LORD which results in spoken/sung words from our hearts in adoration
- obedience to His word – meaning 100% compliance (and when erring as all living humans do we repent – back to 100% compliance) which results in love and reverence of God and service to others
- stewardship – meaning management of what He has provided to us while living in this life: wealth, understanding and wisdom, family, our bodies/strength which results in an understanding and remembrance that everything actually belongs to God.
The more I think of it, worship seems to be designed to keep us from falling into idolatry and pride. The first 33 chapters of Ezekiel outline the height of Israel’s disobedience and immorality during their captivity by the Neo-Babylonian Empire specifically between 593 and 586 BC. During this time, Israel had so disrespected the God and His covenant through their behaviour and their worship that God used Nebuchadnezzar to surround Jerusalem and destroy the temple and city. The root problem was that the people of God had replaced the worship of God as first priority with other worldly desires which cause them to live sinfully.
When we look at worship in Scripture, we typically go to David’s Psalms because he so passionately loved the LORD . He also so passionately made errors and was embraced by our loving Saviour when he repented. Similar to the thoughts of the psalmist (descendants of Korah) in the 42nd chapter, I too have had intense moments of thirst for my living God. Moments where I needed an audience with my King either from a place of extreme gratitude or sometimes of sorrowful helplessness. And in moments of discouragement I would recollect times of exuberant worship (singing for joy and giving thanks amid the sound of a great celebration) and wonder why my heart felt so very distant. Yet as the psalmist says in Psalm 42:8 NLT – But each day the LORD pours his unfailing love upon me, and through each night I sing His songs, praying to God who gives me life. Human emotions are like waves that go and come with the tide and unfortunately in moments of weakness, people can do or say things they later live to regret. David knew God as compassionate, patient, merciful. David wrote in Psalm 103:6-14 NIV – The LORD works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed. He made known his ways to Moses, his deeds to the people of Israel: The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust. Ever think about the fact that Moses was able to understand ways/methods/means/patterns of God while the rebellious children of Israel only saw the actions (blessing or cursing)?
So how does one reconcile this loving patient God with the righteous judgments of God especially when it comes to worship? David frequently mentions the fear of the LORD throughout his writings. Worship of God cannot be accepted as worship by Him unless the heart reverences Him as Holy and gives Him glory from a place of obedience. When a heart realizes the terrifying awesomeness of God, reverence is birthed and it results in obedience; when a heart realizes the wondrous love and abundant grace of our Saviour it results in love. When a heart continually chooses to disrespect God’s perfect law and His gift of Salvation, God faithfully fulfills His promise to punish sin. God’s perfect law is love. Jesus summed up the law into 2 laws: Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ “This is the first and great commandment. “And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ “On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” – Matthew 22:37-40 NKJV. Loving God with all of your heart results in obedience, reverence and worship.
Let’s take another look at David’s Psalm 103. The beginning of that says, “Praise the LORD, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the LORD, my soul, and forget not all his benefits– who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. … For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” Psalm 103:1-5, 11-12 NIV. So we love Him because He first loved us and as we start to understand who He truly is (through the Scripture) we stop flirting with Him, move past dating and into a deep committed relationship where we are able to be obedient (well – most of the time and He is faithful to forgive when we humbly repent).
God is Holy and Deserves the Glory
When we are living a lifestyle that is obedient to His Word and to His Spirit we are Holy. Even when we fall short because He has made provision for us through His grace, we are Holy – “if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. – 1 John 1:9 NKJV.
When we are Holy we then can hear God through Scripture and the indwelling Spirit of God. We can inquire of our LORD and He will instruct us with His Word. Just imagine the Omnipotent, Omnipresent, Omniscient Spirit of God indwells you to strengthen you, guide you and teach you all things through His Word. And when this is the case, giving God the glory despite any circumstance will be the product.
- Blessed is the man You choose, And cause to approach You, That he may dwell in Your courts. We shall be satisfied with the goodness of Your house, Of Your holy temple. – Psa 65:4 NKJV
- “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. – Pro 9:10 NKJV
- 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. – Rom 12:1 NKJV
- but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, – 1Pe 1:15 NKJV
- Oh, fear the LORD, you His saints! There is no want to those who fear Him. The young lions lack and suffer hunger; But those who seek the LORD shall not lack any good thing. Come, you children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the LORD. … Keep your tongue from evil, And your lips from speaking deceit. Depart from evil and do good; Seek peace and pursue it. The eyes of the LORD are on the righteous, And His ears are open to their cry. – Psa 34:9-11, 13-15 NKJV
The context of John 4 is that Christ engaged a woman at a well in Samaria and revealed Himself to her. The Lord drew her by opening her mind to receive the truth that He is the living water that satisfies/quenches all thirsts of the soul and the giver of eternal life.
- Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.” … Jesus answered and said to her, “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, “but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.” Jhn 4:10, 13-14 NKJV
He immediately confronted her with the sin in her life. To be able to receive Christ, one has to understand they by their own means can not obtain everlasting life. The only way to overcome temptation, suffering, anxiety, natural bents – anything really is to humble your heart and exalt the One who saves and delivers.
The way Jesus caused her to deal with sin was to ask her to retrieve her husband which He knew would open the discussion surrounding her lifestyle (which was contrary to God’s design). This enabled the discussion to move into spiritual issues. Christ revealed the sin in her life and she then perceived Christ was a prophet who could reveal hidden things. As such she then confronted Him with issues she wanted to resolve; something that had been important to her and bothering her. She asked Jesus about the correct way to worship God. Christ acknowledged that the Samaritans were trying to worship although they had no relationship or understanding about who they were trying to worship.
How can one truly worship God if they do not understand who He is? How can one understand someone they do not learn about? How can someone deeply love someone they don’t really? The word of God states:
- Pro 15:8 NKJV – The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the LORD, But the prayer of the upright is His delight.
- Hos 6:6 NKJV – For I desire mercy and not sacrifice, And the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.
- Mat 9:13 NKJV – “But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’ For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”
- Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world–the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life–is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever. – 1John 2:15-17 NKJV
This means our worship cannot be worldly; it cannot adopt other religions or worldly elements to satisfy the flesh. While the presence of the Lord that manifest during worship touches us, worship is not about us nor for us.
Jesus said that to worship, you must do so in spirit and truth. Jesus used the word προσκυνέω = proskynéō which using Strong’s Definitions G4352 means to kiss like a dog licking his master’s hand; to prostrate oneself in homage (do reverence to, adore):—worship. You must reverence the LORD in first priority and you must adore obediently plus you must know who it is that you are worshiping. The deepest way to know the LORD is through a combination of : (1) Scripture and then (2) connect to Him the way He prescribes:
- O come, let us sing unto the LORD: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation. Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms. For the LORD is a great God, and a great King above all gods. In his hand are the deep places of the earth: the strength of the hills is his also. The sea is his, and he made it: and his hands formed the dry land. O 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. To day if ye will hear his voice, Harden not your heart, as in the provocation, and as in the day of temptation in the wilderness: – Psalm 95:1-8 KJV
So How Does Worship Lead to Victory?
This is the shortest part of this blog because it is the result. Worship does in fact help to gain the victory because it invites the presence of the LORD and increases your faith – it changes you! The victory is over the enemy and it is a believer abiding forever through Christ in the Kingdom of God. The victorious life here and now is faith that gives us peace during circumstances because we know whom we serve. His presence in our life gives us the ability to be content in every situation. The victory frees a believer from requiring worldly success, material wealth, or the approval of man in order to be happy. It is overcoming the world.
- Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him. – Isaiah 64:4 NIV
- For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world–our faith. – 1 John 5:4 NKJV
- Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world–the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life–is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever. – 1 John 2:15-17 NKJV
- You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. – 1 John 4:4 NKJV
- “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33 NKJV
- Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? … Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. – Romans 8:35, 37 NKJV
- “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death. – Revelation 12:11 NKJV
God does provide for all of our needs and blesses us abundantly; and He will never give anyone a blessing that will cause a believer to fall. Remove falsehood and lies far from me; Give me neither poverty nor riches–Feed me with the food allotted to me; Lest I be full and deny You, And say, “Who is the LORD?” Or lest I be poor and steal, And profane the name of my God. – Proverbs 30:8-9 NKJV
Let this be our Mutual Prayer
Let us pray “that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His great might that He worked in Christ when He raised him from the dead and seated Him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And He put all things under His feet and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.” – Ephesians 1:17-23 ESV