Tonight the topic is prayer and worship.

You may be thinking… ohhhh that’s nice…. Prayer and worship…. Nice…. Ahhhh, music and song…. Words and melody…. Ahhhh, peace and contemplation….

NOT!

Worship is war. Prayer is war.

Lets not be ignorant and put our head in the sand. We love that Christianity is about knowing God and love joy peace and things like that… but we sometimes would like to forget that Christianity is about war and that the kingdom of God suffers violence and the violent take it by force and that wrestle not with flesh and blood but with powers and principalities and that there is a god in this age who hates us and fights against us and lies about us and accuses us and that his mission is to blind the lost and kill steal and destroy. The devil is not terribly frightened of our human efforts and credentials. But he knows his kingdom will be damaged when we begin to lift up our hearts to God.

Did you know that in a recent survey almost 60% of the people surveyed thought Satan was just a symbol of evil but probably not a real being.

6 out of 10 people who profess to be Christians have an extremely weak opinion of their enemy. In war, you must know your enemy to defeat him.

And Satan trembles when he sees, the weakest saint upon his knees. William Cowper

We’re going to look at 2 kings who knew this well. Who used worship and prayer as weapons of war, who used as not a last resort but as the main offensive.

We’re going to look at Hezekiah and Jehosaphat…. These 2 kings show us something real important… they teach us how to fight and live our lives.

There are three things you need to know:

1. There is a battle
2. We have weapons
3. how to use the weapons

1. there is a battle.

Whether we like it or not we are in a battle. When you become a child of God you become a light in the darkness.

You become an ambassador of Gods. The Holy Spirit of God lives within you. We are rescued from the enemy, we are made holy and righteous and new and become a child of God.

Colossians 1:13-14 For he has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear Son, who purchased our freedom and forgave our sins.

Peter calls Satan the enemy, not because that’s something fun to call him but because that is what we face.

1 Peter 5:8-9 Be on your guard and stay awake. Your enemy, the devil, is like a roaring lion, sneaking around to find someone to attack. But you must resist the devil and stay strong in your faith

2. we have weapons

But remember… We are not weaponless. Arsenals of weapons at our disposal. We are not weak, but rather God is strong!

James 4:7 Surrender to God! Resist the devil, and he will run from you.

1 John 4:4 Greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world.

BREATHER: You know when I think about the weapons that are at a Christians disposal I think of the matrix. Seriously….

3 how to use the weapons.

But lets look at these 2 kings. Hezekiah and Jehosaphat. Their context isn’t that important it is more their response, but to give you some background and really you should go and check it out yourself….

They’re both facing enemies. Huge armies. Overwhelming odds.

In Hezekiah’s case, in 2 Kings 18 and 19, the army are camping outside the city walls and they send messengers basically to send a message to the whole city (Samaria) that they’re going to get wasted and beaten and that their god sucks…

2 Kings 18:19-25 I have a message for Hezekiah from the great king of Assyria. Ask Hezekiah why he feels so sure of himself. Does he think he can plan and win a war with nothing but words? Who is going to help him, now that he has turned against the king of Assyria? Is he depending on Egypt and its king? That’s the same as leaning on a broken stick, and it will go right through his hand. Is Hezekiah now depending on the LORD your God? Didn’t Hezekiah tear down all except one of the LORD’s altars and places of worship? Didn’t he tell the people of Jerusalem and Judah to worship at that one place? The king of Assyria wants to make a bet with you people. He will give you two thousand horses, if you have enough troops to ride them. How could you even defeat our lowest ranking officer, when you have to depend on Egypt for chariots and cavalry? Don’t forget that it was the LORD who sent me here with orders to destroy your nation!

2 Kings 19:10-13 Don’t trust your God or be fooled by his promise to defend Jerusalem against me. 11You have heard how we Assyrian kings have completely wiped out other nations. What makes you feel so safe? The Assyrian kings before me destroyed the towns of Gozan, Haran, Rezeph, and everyone from Eden who lived in Telassar. What good did their gods do them? The kings of Hamath, Arpad, Sepharvaim, Hena, and Ivvah have all disappeared.

The messangers spoke this in front of all the people, basically twitting it to the whole nation, to strike fear and doubt in their hearts.

Hezekiah’s response. HE called the prophet Isaiah to come. And he took the letter that the messengers read out and delivered to him and took it to the temple and spread it out before God and prayed.

BREATHER: Helen – DP – Friday night

This is what he prayed. I love it!

2 kings 19:15-19 LORD God of Israel, your throne is above the winged creatures. You created the heavens and the earth, and you alone rule the kingdoms of this world. But just look how Sennacherib has insulted you, the living God. It is true, our LORD, that Assyrian kings have turned nations into deserts. They destroyed the idols of wood and stone that the people of those nations had made and worshiped. But you are our LORD and our God! We ask you to keep us safe from the Assyrian king. Then everyone in every kingdom on earth will know that you are the only God.

He prayed. He worshiped. He fought back in the best way. He recognised the battle was not just between men and swords but that there was a bigger picture.

2 Kings 19:35 That same night the LORD sent an angel to the camp of the Assyrians, and he killed one hundred eighty-five thousand of them. And so the next morning, the camp was full of dead bodies.

Jehosaphat is in a similar situation. 2 Chronicles 20

The armies of Moab and Ammon, together with the Meunites, went to war against Jehosaphat.

Jehoshaphat was terrified by this news and begged the Lord for guidance. He also ordered everyone in Judah to begin fasting. So people from all the towns of Judah came to Jerusalem to seek the Lord’s help. Lord. Jehosophat prayed, “O Lord, God of our ancestors, you alone are the God who is in heaven. You are ruler of all the kingdoms of the earth. You are powerful and mighty; no one can stand against you!

As all the men of Judah stood before the Lord with their little ones, wives, and children, the Spirit of the Lord came upon one of the men standing there. He said, “Listen, all you people of Judah and Jerusalem! Listen, King Jehoshaphat! This is what the Lord. But you will not even need to fight. Take your positions; then stand still and watch the Lord’s victory. He is with you, O people of Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid or discouraged. Go out against them tomorrow, for the Lord is with you!” Do not be afraid! Don’t be discouraged by this mighty army, for the battle is not yours, but God’s. Tomorrow, march out against them.

Then King Jehoshaphat bowed low with his face to the ground. And all the people of Judah and Jerusalem did the same, worshiping the Lord. Then the Levites from the clans of Kohath and Korah stood to praise the Lord, the God of Israel, with a very loud shout. Jehoshaphat said, “Listen to me, all you people of Judah and Jerusalem! Believe in the Lord your God, and you will be able to stand firm. Believe in his prophets, and you will succeed.”

Jehosaphat appointed singers to walk ahead of the army, singing to the Lord and praising him for his holy splendor. This is what they sang:
“Give thanks to the Lord;
his faithful love endures forever!”

At the very moment they began to sing and give praise, the Lord caused the armies of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir to start fighting among themselves. The armies of Moab and Ammon turned against their allies from Mount Seir and killed every one of them. After they had destroyed the army of Seir, they began attacking each other. So when the army of Judah arrived at the lookout point in the wilderness, all they saw were dead bodies lying on the ground as far as they could see. Not a single one of the enemy had escaped.

Jehosaphat gets the people together to pray and sets his first line of offense as worship. Want to join the worship team…. Lol?

How does this work in our real lives?

Remember
1. we are in a battle
2. we have weapons

We might not be fighting against the Moabites or the Assyrians.

Ephesians 6:12 We are not fighting against humans. We are fighting against forces and authorities and against rulers of darkness and powers in the spiritual world.

Revelation 12:17 This made the dragon terribly angry with the woman. So it started a war against the rest of her children. They are the people who obey God and are faithful to what Jesus did and taught.

John 10:10 The thief comes only to rob, kill, and destroy.

I brought this book the other day: precious remedies against satans devices by thomas brooks. It has 6 pages of contents which describe the ways that we are under threat and attack from the enemy.

Paul says we are not ignorant of his devices and schemes.

His mission is to stop the light. To stop the truth. To stop the love and grace of God reaching to people and setting them free. To stop people being saved. To stop Christians being effective witnesses. To restrict Christians. To rob us of our faith and hope and joy. He draws us into disobedience and temptation which draws us away from closeness with God. And then he accuses us that we’re never good enough, that we’ve failed, that we’re not Christians anymore…. Lies lies lies…

This is my disclaimer. There are some people that blame the devil for everything. My power bill was high it must be the devil stealing my power… I stubbed my toe, it must be the devil hurting me. I watched some movie on tv and got all lusty and it was the devil that directed the movie etc etc etc…
On the other hand there are some people that ignore the battle. Life happens. Its all just life.

Theres kind of a balance. Sometimes its life. Sometimes it’s the devil. Got to be aware though that we are in a battle. Got to be aware that there is stuff going on.

And got to live accordingly.

Like on Wednesday morning…. Most of you will know that me and Evangeline were in a car accident….

Sometimes I don’t believe in coincidences. I was to be preaching on Friday night at a youth outreach aka to people who may not yet know that God loves them and that Jesus died on the cross to rescue them and give them eternal life with God…. And that I was preaching tonight on the topic of how worship is war…. Coincidence or not???? War I say….

Remember Ephesians 6:12 We are not fighting against humans. We are fighting against forces and authorities and against rulers of darkness and powers in the spiritual world.

And just to make it real clear. Though we fight still in our lifetime, the devil is defeated. Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil. He came to seek and save the lost. He destroyed the sting of death. He has overcome all. He is exalted above every name and power and principality. We have the victory. Greater is God in us. God is in control. God sees all and knows all and is all powerful. The devil is none of those things.

When I was a brand new Christian I had this dream about places in our home that had demonic stuff in them…. there was this one spot in our house that used to make me feel yuck, afraid, creeped out… weird…. Esp at night. I didn’t know what it was. I just felt something there. So anyway had this dream and around different places were these like demonic spirits. And so I was like, what to do. New Christian. Not an expert. At all. So I waited till my parents went out and put a worship tape on in my room and in the lounge room and turned it up LOUD and went round the house praying and worshipping. Wa-la. No more yucky feeling.

Lets get back to our 2 kings…. remember what Hezekiah and Jehosophat did. Follow their example. They worshipped. They prayed.

They surrendered themselves to God. They had faith that he would overcome. They had faith in his power and glory. They stirred their own faith by worshipping God and praying. They put their trust in him. They exalted God.

Worship for me does 2 things. It tells God that I love him and honour him and wow he is awesome and it encourages me and teaches me the truth of who God is that corrects any stinking thinking I have and removes the doubts and stirs my faith.

Revelation 12:11 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.

Worship is a form of testifying how awesome God is. Worship declares that God is the greatest one, the ruler of all, the king of kings and lord of lords, almighty God, glorious and powerful. Worship is thankful…. A few weeks ago Steve preached about faith, and that when we fill our minds and our hearts with thankfulness doubt and fear and unbelief and all that stuff cant fit and exist at the same time. Worship lifts our eyes to see God. To see him in his glory and power and might.

Worship is determined. It sets our face towards God and trusts in him. It declares that his kingdom reigns. Worship isn’t something we just do at church twice a Sunday…. It is something we should do throughout the week – both “formally/scheduled” and informal/throughout the day. It should be something that just comes out of us, spontaneously, but also something we practice as part of our relationship with God. Telling him we love him. You can worship with or without music. Make up your own songs. Put a cd on. Turn it up loud.

Debbie could tell you about the times I was her youth leader in Dunedin and used to get them praying and worshipping and would tell them to do it louder and more aggressively – its not that you need the loud music or the shouting words, but its that you need to get more engaged than “dear jesus meek and mild”… it needs to go all the way through sometimes….

Prayer teaches us to have the same heart and passion and purpose as Jesus – the lost and the advancement of his kingdom. Prayer gives us courage to press in. Prayer gives us hope when we feel hopeless and rest when we feel restless. Prayer gives us strategies on how to relate to people and how to reconnect them to God.

David, another king did it all the time. The psalms are filled with Psalms (funny that) that talk about what was going on in david’s life – he was hunted, he was in battle, he was betrayed etc etc etc… and then he declares that even in that he will trust God and declare his power and his victory!

In her barrenness Hannah prayed and worshipped God.
David worshipped after the death of his son.
Daniel prayed and worshipped, and was thrown into the lions den, where angels intervened, and he was promoted to high levels of leadership.
Job worshipped.

Two and a half weeks ago our friend Chris died. And we made worship our war that first Sunday morning as we sung and as we declared that GOD was and is our healer, that he is enough, that he is the one we need, and that nothing is impossible for him. We declared war on discouragement, defeat, death and destruction. We stood and raised our arms surrendering to God and his ways and his will and declared that we trust Him. That was war. We did not lie down. We made war.

War time often isn’t the time you feel like praising God. When you’re in the trenches and under fire you don’t feel like dancing or singing. But worship gives us God’s big picture and perspective – that he is God, that he is almighty. It gets us straight out of responses and conversations (with ourselves on the inside and with others!) that are negative and doubtful and fearful.

The challenge is to make worship and prayer our first response instead of a last resort. To make worship and prayer our warfare.

The challenge is to remember what the battle is… we’re not Christians to live comfortable lives but we’re enlisted to rescue those that are still lost.

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