In 1963, prayer was officially taken out of the school system here in the United States. Since that time, we have seen the decline of moral values, and it has impacted every segment of society in some manner. The removal of prayer was calculated and successful.
As we navigate through the pandemic, one of the issues currently being debated is corporate worship. As you read through this article, I ask that we all remember a couple of things:
—As the body of Christ, we need to remember we have many wonderful people making the best decisions they can make. Scripture states that our battle is not against each other, but it is against principalities and powers (Eph. 6:12). We must extend grace and mercy to those around us.
—We also need wisdom that flows from heavenly realms. Matthew 10:16b reminds us to be as "wise as serpents and yet as harmless as doves."
I hear the courts of heaven sounding an alarm. I am reminded of a smoke alarm going off to warn us that there is smoke, and where there is smoke, there is often fire. I hear God saying, "My people are at a critical moment, and how they handle this moment as the body of Christ, will impact whether the church moves forward or becomes silent."
In the letter to the church in Laodicea (Rev. 3:14-22), the Lord points out that the church is lukewarm, neither cold nor hot. I would suggest that through the events of life, this church has become neutralized, ineffective and harmless to the enemy. By today's standard, you could say that they gather corporately but have no impact from either an earthly nor from a heavenly perspective. Therefore, they do not model the love, power or presence of Almighty God.
The body of Christ has done a fantastic shift to online platforms through a necessary season; however, in the midst of that, we cannot make other sacrifices that will weaken the church's power and allow it to become just another gathering. For years, I have taught that the body of Christ needs to take off their masks so they can truly reflect the image of God. A mask covers your features, and when worn over your mouth, muffles your voice.
At present, there is a battle brewing to silence corporate worship in many areas. Some will argue that worship can take place at home. It can, it should and it must. However, that can never negate the need for corporate worship. Some will argue that the projected vocal power from singing can spread germs. That may be true, but what price are we going to pay from a spiritual perspective? The other side says corporate worship sends demons fleeing, breaks down walls, opens up the heavens, ushers in healing, paves the way for God's presence and more.
Remember, we have health officials all over the world who have been lovingly concerned about the spreading of COVID-19, and we need to honor their efforts. Is it possible that the enemy has used good intentions to host another agenda within some aspect of the guidelines that are coming forth? Recall again that we need to be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. Remember whom our battle is against. It is not against each other.
The Lord says, "Satan [changes] disguises himself as an angel of light [or of goodness with a mission to take worship out of the church]" (2 Cor. 11:14). If Satan can steal worship from the bride of Christ, he steals the fullness of God's kingdom.
Psalm 100:4 is very clear that we enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise. Psalm 22:3 talks about God being enthroned in the holy place where the praises are offered or He inhabits the praises of his people. God desires our praise. There is power in worship.
In 2 Chronicles 20, we have the account of King Jehoshaphat, a king at war. All their enemies' armies had banded together and declared war on him, and he was terrified. His solution, even amid his fear, was to pray. He gathered the people, and they prayed, fasted and listened.
Verse 21a (NLT) tells us that "After consulting the people, the king appointed singers to walk ahead of the army, singing to the Lord and praising him for his holy splendor." I love that the king consulted the people. It doesn't say that God commanded them to have the singers lead the way, but that is what they did. They realized the power of worshipping God Almighty as they headed into battle. They knew the only way they could win was with His help. This decision created an atmosphere shift that would not happen any other way.
The people didn't look at the size of their enemy; they looked at their God's capacity to save them. Verse 22 says, "At the very moment they began to sing and give praise, the Lord caused the armies ... to start fighting among themselves."
There is an alarm sounding in the heavens. The question is being asked, "Is My church going to allow herself to be silenced and stripped of worship? Or is she going to fight this battle with worship and watch the enemy scatter? Have I not given her a voice? Is she willing to declare the battle cry for worship?"
With this said, I want to give a word of warning. Pastors have had a lot to sort out and difficult decisions to make as churches began to reopen in early June. Therefore, we should:
—Pray for them.
—Let them know they are not alone.
There is power in prayer. There is power in worship.
Will we allow our voices to be silenced in worship, or will we erupt with the roar from the throne room of heaven and fill the atmosphere with worship?
Ruth Hendrickson is a conference speaker, ministry trainer, board certified counselor, pastor and above all, a follower of Jesus Christ. She is passionate about training, equipping and releasing individuals to walk in wholeness and freedom.
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