Category: Blog

Evaluating Our Worship Services

WORSHIP EVALUATION

In previous posts i outlined how instruments are used to bring the divine presence of God. However in our churches we might have a sound praise and worship team, a skilled and solid band yet at times we might find ourselves doing our services in error and people’s lives not being transformed. We need to follow the biblical example in our services.

Let’s look at 1 Chronicles 13. David consulted with the leaders to bring the ark of God( which represents the presence of God) to Jerusalem. The only problem is they did not enquire from God. They carried the ark of God on a cart ( the ark was supposed to be carried on the shoulders of the Levites ) and played with all their might on various instruments. However  Uzza put forth his hand to hold the ark when the oxen stumbled and the anger of the lord was kindled against Uzza.

This is exactly what happens when we do our services based on our knowledge and skill and not based on biblical principles. David consulted the leaders of Israel but forgot to consult God. Sometimes we sit in meetings to determine how our services should go and forget to consult the King of Kings on how he wants things to be done. Don’t get me wrong. People pray before these types of meetings but it’s just a religious formality. In shona (my native toungue ) we call it “kuzadzisa chirango” i.e just going through the motions

The ark was supposed to be carried on the shoulders of the levites. Its either David was not reading his word or something. There was something terribly wrong here. This was written as an example for us so that we don’t fall in the same trap. Unfortunately many churches are not doing their worship based on what the word says and it’s doing a lot of harm. I have been in services where we play before the Lord with all our might but his manifest presence will not be there and at times we remove people from the presence of God instead of drawing them closer to God. Let’s take a quick look at how this might happen:

  • Lets quickly do praise and worship so we can get in the word!

This is a problem especially with pastors and leaders. Pastor you should know that your sermon does not benefit God, it benefits the congregation and it only benefits the congregation when you are preaching what he wants’ them to hear. Also if the congregation does not engage well enough in the praise and worship, the pastor will have a tough time preaching the word because the hearts of the people will not be prepared.

 

At times God might want to shift the services so that miracles will happen and prophetic words will be released but because the pastor is eager to preach his message, he cuts the flow of the Holy Spirit. We need to be sensitive to the leading of God and not just to have our way.

 

  • The service has to start and end on time regardless of the circumstances.

Please understand me on this point. I am not saying that we should start our services anytime. We need to have a standard and people need to know the exact time that the service will start and the exact time that the service will end. However there is need for a proper sound check before the service and guitars need to be tuned before the service starts. It is very irritating for instrumentalists to be tuning their guitars while people are praying or worse still when the service has started. Also doing a sound check while people are praying and trying to connect with their maker is highly disruptive and disrespectful to a congregation!

This point especially applies for churches that do not have their own building and hence move their equipment from one point to another or churches who do not have their own equipment and hence wait for the company that hires out equipment to them.

 

  • Worship leaders ask the band the songs they would like to play

I have always been and will always be against this. A worship leader does not consult the band on the songs to be sung, he/she should consult God. This is exactly what David did and it caused a lot of trouble. A better scenario would be for both the worship leader and the band to consult God on the songs to be done. The band will then just act to confirm what God has told the worship leader.

 

  • We should sing our Denomination’s songs only!

This is just downright silly. We are all the body of Christ. I believe that if a song is biblical( that is its in line with the word of God ) no matter from what denomination it’s from, if it is the song in season- let it be sung. Would you rather sing your denominations song without the glory of God or sing what’s on the heart of God so the congregation can experience his manifest presence. I prefer the latter.

  • We repeat the same songs every week.

You can’t keep on doing the same songs every week. They say variety is the spice to life and I must say it’s true. If you keep on repeating the same songs every week it ends up being boring for the congregation. In Isaiah 43:18-19 God says,” behold I do a new thing. Consider not the former things, neither consider the things of Old”. Psalms also talks of singing a new song unto the Lord.

  • The pastor or his wife comes to sing when they cannot sing!

I f you can’t sing don’t hold the microphone. When the pastor and/or his wife comes to stage and starts singing and yet he/she is off key or making a discord there is no glory there. If a pastor comes on stage while people are singing and he/she cannot sing but they feel like singing it’s better to put the microphone aside and sing while letting the singers sing that song for them on the microphone. Just because you are a pastor’s wife it does not mean you have to be able to sing ( It seems these days the fashionable thing is for the Pastor to preach the word and then the wife and kids lead the Praise & Worship Team making it more of a family affair).

  • Lead vocalists that are not vocally enabled!

I do not understand how some people choose their worship leaders/lead vocalists. At times in the church you find people chosen who don’t have an idea of what singing is or worse still who don’t have the gift holding the microphone and “supposedly” leading us in worship! The bible is clear about this ministry. Kenaniah was chosen because of his skill. Let not our choosing of lead vocalists be based on fleshly agenda’s like grudges, preferences or any such thing- it should be based solely on the Spirits leading and line up with scripture.

Evaluation

 

The Role Of Musical Instruments Part 2

VERSES ON INSRUMENTS

 

First of all I believe it is important that we understand that it was the commandment of the Lord by his prophets that the Levites be set in the house of the Lord with instruments. In 2 Chronicles 29:25-26 it says:”And he set the Levites in the house of the Lord with cymbals, with psalteries, and with harps, according to the commandment of David ,and Gad the King’s seer, and Nathan the prophet: for so was the commandment of the Lord by his prophets. And the Levites stood with the instruments of David, and the Priests with the trumpets.

In Numbers 10 God commands Moses to make a trumpet showing us that instruments have always been on the heart of God. Actually he is the one who instituted their use as seen in these scriptures.

The first account of use of instruments is found in Genesis 15:20-21 when Miriam and other women take timbrels to dance and sing to celebrate the drowning of the Egyptians. However we know that instruments were used long before this because in Genesis 4:21 we are told of Jubal who is referred to as the Father of all such as handle the harp and organ.

They are a lot of other verses on instruments that we will never know using our English translation because as you know the Bible was originally written in Hebrew and Greek. There is a word that is translated praise or sing in our English rendering that is actually the Hebrew word Zamar and this word in simple terms talks of playing an instrument.

 

MORE ABOUT ZAMAR

Zamar (zaw-mar’) is a Hebrew word which means,” to touch the strings l parts of a musical instrument i.e. play upon it, to make music accompanied by the voice, hence to celebrate in song and music:– give praise, sing forth praises, psalms

Many times in Psalms especially the word is translated praise or sing or sing psalms or sing praise or I will sing. Therefore many times we just rush through some of these scriptures and we don’t even get what the writer wanted to convey to us because the English translation is shallow. Zamar is not found in Psalms only but most of the occurrences are in Psalms. Below are verses where the word Zamar is used. These are not all the verses but will just help to enlighten you on the concept.

Judges 5:3 says,”Hear, O ye Kings; give ear, O ye princes; I even I will sing unto the Lord; I will sing (zamar) praise to the Lord God of Israel.”

2 Samuel 22:50 “Therefore I will give thanks unto thee, O Lord, among the heathen, and I will sing (zamar) praises unto thy name.”

1 Chronicles 16:9 “sing unto him, sing psalms (zamar) unto him, talk ye of all his wonderous works”

Psalm 7:17 “I will praise the Lord according to his righteousness and will sing praise (zamar) to the name of the Lord most high”

Psalm 30:4 “Sing (zamar) unto the Lord O ye saints of his, and give thanks at the rememberance of his holiness”

Psalm 47:6-7 “Sing praises (zamar) to God, sing praises (zamar): sing praises (zamar) unto our king, sing praises (zamar). For God is the king of all the earth: sing ye praises (zamar) with understanding”

Psalm 57:7 “My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed: I will sing and give praise (zamar)”(Also in psalm108:1)

Psalm 66:2 “Sing forth(zamar) the honour of his name: make his praise glorious.”

Psalm 66:4 “All the earth shall worship thee, and shall sing(zamar) unto thee; they shall sing(zamar) to thy name”

Psalm 104:33 “I will sing unto the Lord as long as I live: I will sing(zamar)praise to my God while I have my being”

Psalm 105:2 “Sing unto him, sing psalms(zamar)unto him: talk ye of all his wonderous works”

Psalm 135:3 “Praise the Lord, for the Lord is good: sing praises(zamar) unto his name, for it is pleasant”

Psalm 147:1 “Praise ye the Lord for it is good to sing praises(zamar) unto our God for it is pleasant and praise is comely”

THEN THERE IS ZIMRAH

There is also another Hebrew word that is connected with instruments called Zimrah (zim-raw) and it implies a musical piece or song to be accompanied by an instrument;.. Melody, psalm

In Psalm 98:5 he says, “Sing(zamar) unto the Lord with the harp, with the harp, and the voice(sound) of a psalm(Zimrah)”

ALSO THERE IS ZIMRATH(Zim-rawth’)!

This I believe is related to Zimrah. It is the Hebrew word which means instrumental music and is translated song in the English versions. We find it first in Exodus 15 after the Israelites had walked on dry land while the Egyptians where drowned when they try to do the same. In verse 2 Moses says, “The Lord is my strength and song (zimrath), and is become my salvation; he is my God and I will prepare him an habitation; my father’s God, and I will exalt him.”

This word is also found in Psalm 118:14 and Isaiah 12:2 and it is translated song in the King James Version. Yes it’s a song but more precisely it is an instrumental meaning there are no voices.

 

In the New Testament there is ‘psallo’

This word psallo ( psa’-lo) is translated psalms in the new testament and it means:                                      To twitch or twang, i.e. to a play on a stringed instrument(celebrate the divine worship with music and accompanying odes): make melody, sing psalms.

When James in James 5:13b says ,” Is any merry? Let him sing psalms.” The word psalms is the greek word psallo. So James is saying if you are happy sing a song accompanied by an instrument.

 

Some interesting things

We are still looking at the verses that talk about instruments. However here they are certain principles that I want us to draw from these verses as they have specific aspects they reveal concerning this ministry.

  • YOU NEED UNDERSTANDING

When it comes to instruments you need understanding. Psalm 47:7 says sing praises with understanding. The word translated praise is zamar. The word translated understanding is ‘sakal’. This word means to be (causatively, make or act) circumspect and hence, intelligent; — consider, expect, instruct, prosper,(deal) prudently, (give) skill(-ful), have good success, teach, (have, make to) understand(-ing) wisdom, (be, behave self, consider, make) wise(-ly), guide wittingly

So when we sing with instruments, or play instruments there has to be an understanding of keys and how you can manipulate the instruments or progression so as to produce a quality product. This is so important because I have noticed that some worship leaders just put songs in an order but not considering the different keys in which these songs will be played in and how the instrumentalists will move from one song to another. Also they are some instrumentalists who just move in different keys without even using a connecting progression and this is irritating to the ears.

The end of the matter is that you need understanding. You cannot just play or sing without an understanding of what you are doing. As such worship leaders and instrumentalists should research(study) about their instruments so that they can produce the best.

 

  • THE TYPE OF INSTRUMENT THAT YOU USE MATTERS

In Psalms 92:3 there is an amazing revelation concerning the quality of instrument that you play and also the sound which is produced by these instrument.  Our aim in the Kingdom is to get instruments with a “solemn” sound and the best quality. Psalm 92:3 says,” upon an instrument of ten strings, and upon the psaltery, upon the harp with a solemn sound.” In modern day language I believe the psalmist is saying don’t just play any instrument, look for the best(10 strings) that produces a good sound( with a solemn sound)

In psalm 81:2 Asaph says,” Take a psalm, and bring hither the timbrel, the pleasant harp with the psaltery.” There is the pleasant harp which means there is also an unpleasant harp. Asaph just didn’t want any harp, he wanted the pleasant harp. Don’t just buy any instrument ,get the best. Even if you don’t have a lot of money you can get the best out of the money that you have because most of the times pastors/deacons just buy any instrument but then the sound of that instrument might not be suitable for a service or might be poor quality. Also in buying things like drum skins and cymbals you might be buying a product that won’t even last for a month. Get the best, don’t just settle for anything.

it is a sad thing when a pastor/leader that has no knowledge of instruments just goes and buys instruments without consulting those who can play the instruments for what would be the best model and the alternatives they can work with considering the circumstances and finances of the church. Listen to me pastors/leaders: be humble enough to ask for advice in areas where you are ignorant or have little knowledge( proverbs 24:6)

 

  • The more the merrier!

1 Chronicles 23:5 lets us know that Israel had a band of 4000 people! Now when I read this I was dumb folded. David says 4000 praised the Lord with the instruments which I made to praise therewith. When you have a lot of instruments and instrumentalists it improves the quality of your music and you produce a better quality product. So don’t be just content with one keyboard, two electric guitars, one acoustic and a drum( others even have less). Seek more things. Get a violin, trumpets, tambourines and all that you can add to MAKE HIS PRAISE GLORIOUS.

 

  • You need to change your instruments after some time.

In  1 Kings 10:12it tells us that,” And the King made of the almug trees pillars for the house of the Lord, and for the king’s house, harps also and psalteries for singers: there came no such almug trees, nor were seen unto this day.” Now you are wondering how this verse relates to what I’m talking about. We know that 1 Chronicles 23:5 lets us know that David made instruments now 20 years later these instruments could no longer be used since they were no longer efficient and that’s why Solomon had to have other instruments made.

After a reasonable time the church needs to buy new equipment because the equipment they will be using will have grown archaic(old). We want to produce the best and for us to produce the best we have to have the best.

Musical instruments 2

The Role Of Musical Instruments

WHAT IS THE ROLE OF INSTRUMENTS? WHY PLAY INSTRUMENTS?

This is a very good question because as amazing as it may seem most people don’t know the biblical role of instruments. However the bible is full of verses that reveal the importance of instruments in our services and in worshipping God. Here are some of the roles that have been revealed to me:

  1. Instruments are used to bring the manifest presence of the Lord to a service, area or individual

In 2 Samuel 6:1-5 when the children of Israel were bringing the ark of God(representing the presence of God) in verse 5 it is said, ”and David and all the house of Israel played before the Lord on all manner of instruments…..” Its amazing here that there is no mention of singing. It was just the instruments. For that manifest presence of God at times you don’t need singing, you need just to have the instruments.

In the same chapter in verse 15 it says, “So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the Lord with shouting, and with the sound of a trumpet” The Ark of the Covenant represents the presence of God and actually in the Old Testament it carried the presence of God. So when the children of Israel wanted to bring the ark they needed all manner of instruments to accomplish their task. We are no exception. For that manifest presence of God in our services we need to play instruments (as many as we can actually) and we will experience a great move of God in our Churches.

  1. Instruments rally the people of God to prayer and warfare

1 Corinthians 14:8 says, “for if the trumpet give an uncertain sound who shall prepare himself to battle” I n the olden times when calling soldiers to war or when warning a city of an impending onslaught the trumpet would be blown. Instruments are like the radar of the Spirit. We call the people of God to prayer or cause them to stop by what we will be playing.

 

In 2 Samuel 18:16 it was after Job blew the trumpet that the children of Israel knew that the war was over. Also when the house of Saul and the house of David was at war with each other it was only after Joab blew the trumpet that the people stopped fighting with each other(2 Samuel 2:28). Actually there is an insight in Nehemiah which I have so loved. The trumpet was so important to the extent of its holder having to be near Nehemiah (Nehemiah 4:18b). It is because the trumpet is a great rallying instrument that would bring the people together to focus on one goal. This is exactly what instruments do. Nehemiah says,”In what place therefore you shall hear the sound of the trumpet, resort ye thither unto us, our God shall fight for us

Also see Numbers 10:1-10 and Isaiah 27:13

  1. Instruments release us into the prophetic

In 2 Kings 3 when Elisha wanted to prophesy to Jehoshaphat and Jehoram he asked for a minstrel and it was only after the minstrel had played that Elisha released the word of the Lord. Actually verse 15 says,” And it came to pass, when the minstrel played that the hand of the Lord came upon him and he said……” There are times when you cannot go to higher realms and release a fresh word from God unless instruments are played. And yet some think they are not important or worse still you consider them a nuisance!

In 1 Chronicles 25:3 we are told of Jeduthun and his sons who prophesied with the harp, to give thanks and praise to the Lord. Certain preachers have caught this revelation and that’s why you see them preaching accompanied by a pianist.

 

In 1 Samuel 10:5-10 we see the story of Saul who receives the Spirit of the Lord and prophesies only after he has met a band of prophets. The logical thing was for him to receive the Spirit as he was with the man of God (Samuel) and then prophesy in his presence. Yet God was not to have it this way. A certain atmosphere had to be created first and this atmosphere could only be created by instruments. Verse 5b-6 says, “ and it shall come to pass, when thou art come thither to the city, that thou shalt meet a company of prophets coming down from the high place with a psaltery, and a tabret, and a pipe, and a harp, before them; and they shall prophesy : And the Spirit of the Lord will come upon thee, and thou shall prophesy with them and thou shalt be turned into another man” Here is a full band that just creates a powerful prophetic atmosphere that just causes the Spirit of God to hit Saul like a tonne of bricks. O that this would take place in our services.

 

  1. Instruments create a heavenly atmosphere

Instruments are so important in heaven that we find in Revelations 5:8-9 the 24 elders having harps and they sing a new song to God on these harps. Do you want to bring heaven here on earth? Play instruments and see if it will not work.

 

  1. Instruments are used to aid singing

This point is evident even without a verse. Compare a person singing without an instrument and a person singing with an instrument. That’s why it’s called an accompaniment. Psalm 98:5 says,” Sing to the Lord with the harp; with the harp and the voice of a psalm. With trumpets and sound of cornet make a joyful noise before the King” and Psalm 68:25 says,” The singers went before, the players on instruments followed after; among them were the damsels playing with timbrels

 

  1. Playing Instruments brings refreshment and deliverance to the hearer

In 1 Samuel 16 is the story of Saul who was tormented and he looked for a cunning player on a harp. Verse 23 says,” and it came to pass when the evil spirit from God was upon Saul that David took an harp, and played with his hand: so Saul was refreshed, and was well, and the evil spirit departed

 

  1. Instruments aid worship by creating an atmosphere for worship

You might be thinking that point 5 and 7 are the same. They are different because singing and worship are two different things altogether. Singing can be part of worship but singing alone is not worshiping. Also you can worship God without singing.

In Daniel 3:5-7 instruments are used to worship Nebuchadnezzar’s idol. The unfortunate thing is that these people were worshiping an idol yet God wants us to learn from this. When we worship God aided by instruments our worship goes to a whole new level and this is especially true in corporate gatherings and in our places of worship. This is why the 24 elders in heaven have harps as they worship him who sits on the throne (Revelations 8:5-9). Also if you look at David, a man after God’s own heart; we find that he instituted worship for the nation of Israel and there were people whose work day and night was to play instruments in the tent of the meeting-the place of worship (1 Chronicles 25:6)

 

  1. Instruments are used to celebrate

In the story of the prodigal son in Luke 15 we are told that as the elder son was coming from the field, drawing near to the house he heard the sound of music and dancing. This was a party to celebrate the homecoming of a lost son. On the alter call it is wise to have your instruments and have a celebration for those people who will have come to Christ because guess what? The angels in heaven will also be having a party!

In Numbers 10:10 God says,” Also in the day of your gladness, and in your solemn days, and in the beginning of your months, ye shall blow with the trumpets over your burnt offerings, and over the sacrifices of your peace offerings; that they may be to you for a memorial before your God: I am the Lord your God”

 

  1. Instruments bring the salvation of God

In Numbers 10:9 God says,” And if you go to war in your land against the enemy that oppresseth you, then ye shall blow an alarm with the trumpets; and ye shall be remembered before the Lord your God, and ye shall be saved from your enemies.’’ Now isn’t this just great. We see a clear demonstration of this concept in 2 Chronicles 20:20-29.

 

  1. Instruments are used to proclaim God as King

Now you might be wondering what exactly this point means. You see in the olden days when you would proclaim somebody as King you would do it with a trumpet while shouting, long live the King. This is seen in 2 Kings 9:13, 1 Kings 1:39, 2 Kings 11:14. We use our modern day instruments to proclaim Jesus as King to those who don’t know it yet and also to the devil and his demons. You want to announce the presence of the King with style and what better way than using instruments.

instruments

Dare To Enjoy Life

Dare to believe you can enjoy life

Life was never meant to be dreaded but to be enjoyed. Jesus says that I came that they might have and enjoy life ( John 10:10 ). So many people are living miserably but can you dare to believe that you will enjoy your life.

Sometimes you just need to believe you can go to that fancy restaurant that you always pass through and are always wishing you can go to if things get better. Guess what, you have to make things better.

Part of my experience of daring to enjoy life includes taking myself out to various places to eat, have fun and just relax. I also find that when you enjoy your money it motivates you to make more money. I find I work harder to get more money the moment I enjoy the money I am working for.

Generally most Christians do not enjoy their lives. Truth be told most Christians live a dull and boring life, and they do so not because they want to but because there is this false notion that enjoying life is sinful. When I look at the life of Jesus I see a man who would enjoy his life- walking on water (how cool is that seriously), sleeping in storms with no worries- only if more Christians would enjoy a good night’s sleep. Most people are living a boring, stressful life. This is not what Jesus died on the cross for.

He says I came that you might have and enjoy life.

Dare To Believe 1

When It Does Not Make Sense

Dare to believe when it does not make sense

The bible has a story of an apocalypse that occurred in ancient times where the whole of humanity was destroyed with the exception of a man and his family only.

  And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth. Make thee an ark of gopher wood; rooms shalt thou make in the ark, and shalt pitch it within and without with pitch. And this is the fashion which thou shalt make it of: The length of the ark shall be three hundred cubits, the breadth of it fifty cubits, and the height of it thirty cubits. A window shalt thou make to the ark, and in a cubit shalt thou finish it above; and the door of the ark shalt thou set in the side thereof; with lower, second, and third stories shalt thou make it. And, behold, I, even I, do bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh, wherein is the breath of life, from under heaven; and every thing that is in the earth shall die. ( Genesis 6:13-17 )

 

I will give you a number of reasons why all of this did not make sense:

  • It had never rained before. Genesis 2:5-6 lets us know that mist used to come from the whole earth and it would water the ground.
  • The ark took a very long time to build and such a venture had never been undertaken in the course of man’s history.
  • Everyone else was having a blast and enjoying themselves, carrying out their business which probably was flourishing in the moment but Noah and his family were working on an ark that had no value at the time to mankind.
  • It was only Noah who received the word of this apocalypse so this was the word of one against many

 

In Hebrews 11:7   we are informed that

 

By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.

 

There will be moments when obeying God, obeying his word or moving to his instructions will not make any sense. Let us take Abraham, the father of faith as an example:

 

Abraham was told to leave his nation and go to a place that the Lord will show him. How do you undertake a journey when you do not know the destination? Surely that could be considered as madness, to leave your whole family and all that you know and to go to only God knows where!

 

Hebrews 11:8

 

By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.

 

The key here is that he did not know where he was going, the scripture says not knowing where he went. I mean seriously how do you just start packing your belongings and start going to a place that you do not know where it is, a place that the Lord will show you. I can imagine the conversation between Abraham and his family. I believe they told him he had gone loco!

 

You have to understand that these people worshiped idols, they did not know Jehovah ( the unseen God ) so for Abraham to come already introducing a new deity was pushing it, and now this new God wanted him to move away from his family. Today we read these stories and it just looks simple to us but in that day it was not that simple.

 

Abraham was not always called Abraham, he was Abram.

 

 After these things the word of the LORD came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward. And Abram said, Lord GOD, what wilt thou give me, seeing I go childless, and the steward of my house is this Eliezer of Damascus? And Abram said, Behold, to me thou hast given no seed: and, lo, one born in my house is mine heir. And, behold, the word of the LORD came unto him, saying, This shall not be thine heir; but he that shall come forth out of thine own bowels shall be thine heir. And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be.  And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness. ( Genesis 15:1-6 )

 

The Lord changed his name and said he would be a father of many nations. At the moment he had no child and his wife was past the age of child bearing. None of this made sense! This did not make sense to the extent that Sarah even gave Abraham her slave thinking that the promise would be fulfilled through Hagar because she thought she could not give Abraham a child. She actually claimed that it was the Lord who had stopped her from bearing children.

 

Now Sarai Abram’s wife bare him no children: and she had an handmaid, an Egyptian, whose name was Hagar. And Sarai said unto Abram, Behold now, the LORD hath restrained me from bearing: I pray thee, go in unto my maid; it may be that I may obtain children by her. And Abram hearkened to the voice of Sarai. ( Genesis 16:1-2 )

 

For Sarah to have a child did not make any sense at all. Abraham in Genesis 17:17 even laughs after God tells him Sarah will have a child. In Genesis 18:12 Sarah again laughs when God says to Abraham they would have a child. That’s just how in the natural it did not make sense for these two people to have a child. BUT GOD! GOD SPECIALIZES IN IMPOSSIBILITIES! He will at times ask you to do things that do not make sense in the natural and you will have to Dare To Believe when it does not make sense.

When life makes no sense

IDOLATRY

IDOLATRY IN THE HOUSE OF GOD

 

According to Webster’s dictionary, idolatry is “the worship of idols or excessive devotion to, or reverence for some person or thing.” An idol is anything that replaces God.

 

THE WORSHIP OF MEN OF GOD

 

The main drive of idolatry is to distract us from the true worship of God. There is a subtle form of idolatry that I am going to address, it is the worship of Men of God.The placing of leadership upon a pedestal is actually idolatry. In the early church we see some glimpses of this, the good thing is the apostles would always reprimand and correct people when they would do this to them. In Acts 10:25-26 it says:

 

And as Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him, and fell down at his feet, and worshipped him. But Peter took him up, saying, Stand up; I myself also am a man.

 

The points to take note of here are that Cornelius viewed himself as a lesser man than Peter, and saw Peter as some form of god. Peter immediately corrected that misconception: He says stand up for I also am a man. Whenever leaders start claiming that they are better than everyone else, and claim that they are the ones who can hear God that’s a dangerous place to be for it encourages in the followers a sense that they are lesser people.

 

In Acts 14: 11-18

 

 And when the people saw what Paul had done, they lifted up their voices, saying in the speech of Lycaonia, The gods are come down to us in the likeness of men. And they called Barnabas, Jupiter; and Paul, Mercurius, because he was the chief speaker. Then the priest of Jupiter, which was before their city, brought oxen and garlands unto the gates, and would have done sacrifice with the people. Which when the apostles, Barnabas and Paul, heard of, they rent their clothes, and ran in among the people, crying out, And saying, Sirs, why do ye these things? We also are men of like passions with you, and preach unto you that ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God, which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein:Who in times past suffered all nations to walk in their own ways. Nevertheless he left not himself without witness, in that he did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness.  And with these sayings scarce restrained they the people, that they had not done sacrifice unto them.

 

There are men of God who are endowed with the power gifts: healing, miracles and power just as the Apostles of the early days. Unfortunately for us men because of our fallen state, the moment we see a man who can perform these miracles we start worshipping them instead of worshipping God. There need to be men of God who arise and inform people that it is God who is working to do these things and they are just vessels.

 

Here are some warning signs that can indicate idolatry in the house of God:

  • The congregants have to stand/ kneel every time that the pastor/men of God enters the room. Those who do not stand/kneel are branded as not following God’s will
  • When the man/woman of God starts taking the place of Jesus in people’s lives
  • When the man/woman of God starts saying that they are the only ones who can hear God accurately and every decision in your life has to be run past them for guidance.
  • The congregants no longer read the bible for themselves but only rely on hearing the word from the man/woman of God

 

 

WHAT CAUSES IDOLATRY IN THE HOUSE OF GOD

 

In 1 Kings 11:1-10

 

But king Solomon loved many strange women, together with the daughter of Pharaoh, women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Zidonians, and Hittites; Of the nations concerning which the LORD said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall not go in to them, neither shall they come in unto you: for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods: Solomon clave unto these in love. And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines: and his wives turned away his heart.For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the LORD his God, as was the heart of David his father.For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites. And Solomon did evil in the sight of the LORD, and went not fully after the LORD, as did David his father. Then did Solomon build an high place for Chemosh, the abomination of Moab, in the hill that is before Jerusalem, and for Molech, the abomination of the children of Ammon. And likewise did he for all his strange wives, which burnt incense and sacrificed unto their gods. And the LORD was angry with Solomon, because his heart was turned from the LORD God of Israel, which had appeared unto him twice, And had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not go after other gods: but he kept not that which the LORD commanded.

 

Idolatry just does not happen, there is a cause. In Solomon’s case it was his love of strange women that led him into idolatry. What are some of the causes that have led our modern day church leadership to build idols or for themselves to become idols?

 

  • WHEN A MAN/WOMAN OF GOD MAKES THEIR WORD INFALLIBLE

It’s sad that so many leaders in the church today now treat their sermons, prophecies and things they say as infallible. If a congregant dares question anything that is said on the pulpit or by a preacher they are told that they are now messing with God and they are in danger of judgement. How different from the biblical pattern where in Acts 17:11 we are told that the Bereans where more noble than the Thessalonians for they searched the scriptures to see if what Paul was saying was true. Acts 17:10-11 says

 

And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who      coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews.These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.

 

The greek word translated searched is anakrino ̄ (an-ak-ree’-no )

properly to scrutinize, that is, (by implication) investigate, interrogate, determine: – ask, question, discern, examine, judge, search.

 

Paul is one of the greatest apostles that ever lived, he was a man mightily used by God who did extraordinary miracles, he was an educated man who wrote most of the New Testament and yet the Bereans just did not blindly take what Paul was preaching to them. They scrutinized, they investigated, they judged, they discerned. And the bible speaks highly of them for such for God was pleased with them.

 

What we have to understand is that God cannot make mistakes, his words are true and he is perfect in all of his ways. On the other hand men of God are vessels of clay who can make mistakes. The moment a man/woman of God wants to be treated as if he is perfect and gives the impression that everything that they say or do is flawless they have made themselves idols for they have equated themselves to God!

 

WHAT CAUSES IDOLATRY IN THE HOUSE OF GOD?

 

 

 

  • BOOTLICKING

This one applies to the lower level leaders. In an attempt to gain promotion in the ministry lower level leaders will bootlick their seniors, doing everything they can to advance in the ministry through hero worshipping the Pastor/ Worship leader and praising every decision that they make. This type of leader idolises position and serves at the altar of ambition making decisions not based on the word of God and the leading of the Holy Spirit but based on what will make them to be promoted by the senior leadership. This type of leader has forgotten or does not understand that promotion comes from the Lord (Psalm 75:6-7) and so he/she unwittingly/knowingly chooses idolatry as a way of rising through the ranks in the church.

 

  • TRYING TO BUY/SELL THE GIFT OF GOD

In Acts 8:9-24

But there was a certain man, called Simon, which beforetime in the same city used sorcery, and bewitched the people of Samaria, giving out that himself was some great one: To whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, This man is the great power of God. And to him they had regard, because that of long time he had bewitched them with sorceries.But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.Then Simon himself believed also: and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done. Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John:Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost: (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.) Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost. And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money, Saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost.But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money.Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God.Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee. For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity.  Then answered Simon, and said, Pray ye to the Lord for me, that none of these things which ye have spoken come upon me.

 

This is a modern day tragedy in the church where people think they can buy the anointing. And preachers now sell anointing oils for healing, they sell seats that are close to the pastor were the anointing is said to be stronger.

 

  • A FEAR OF LOSING CONGREGANTS/FOLLOWERS/INFLUENCE

 

1 Kings 12:25-33

Then Jeroboam built Shechem in mount Ephraim, and dwelt therein; and went out from thence, and built Penuel. And Jeroboam said in his heart, Now shall the kingdom return to the house of David:If this people go up to do sacrifice in the house of the LORD at Jerusalem, then shall the heart of this people turn again unto their lord, even unto Rehoboam king of Judah, and they shall kill me, and go again to Rehoboam king of Judah.  Whereupon the king took counsel, and made two calves of gold, and said unto them, It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem: behold thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.And he set the one in Bethel, and the other put he in Dan. And this thing became a sin: for the people went to worship before the one, even unto Dan. And he made an house of high places, and made priests of the lowest of the people, which were not of the sons of Levi. And Jeroboam ordained a feast in the eighth month, on the fifteenth day of the month, like unto the feast that is in Judah, and he offered upon the altar. So did he in Bethel, sacrificing unto the calves that he had made: and he placed in Bethel the priests of the high places which he had made.So he offered upon the altar which he had made in Bethel the fifteenth day of the eighth month, even in the month which he had devised of his own heart; and ordained a feast unto the children of Israel: and he offered upon the altar, and burnt incense.

 

Jeroboam feared that he might lose the people he had now becoming king over, but how foolish of him to forget that it was God who made him King in the very first place. Now he worships fear more than he worships God and he devises a wicked plan, he makes idols and instructs his flock to worship the creature instead of the creator.

 

A Jeroboam type leader worships fear and insecurity, fear is their idol, they think that they own the congregation so decisions are made to protect his position and influence rather than based on the word of God and the leading of the Holy Spirit. Such a leader will dominate the flock, demand that they attend no other fellowship/church even if they are just visiting because their hearts might then go to that fellowship. Any leader who is seen as doing a good work apart from this leader is demoted since this person will be deemed as a threat. If it’s a worship leader they don’t want anyone they might feel has a better voice than them in the worship team. Such a person will be doomed to just sing in the choir and will never be given a song to lead or worse still they can be frustrated by the worship leader so that they leave the worship team. In 1 Samuel 18:5-29 we see that Saul had such an attitude. He idolized himself and feared losing his kingdom hence could not stand it for someone else to be doing great feats even if his kingdom was benefiting from David’s work. The leader that idolizes themselves have to be the ones that come up with the ideas for the church, they have to be seen doing everything that’s significant, everything has to be attributed to them lest if someone else do that the flock would then fail to see them as a leader and maybe start going after this other person.

 

The word of God lets us know that God has not given us a spirit of fear but of love, power and a sound mind. Whenever a leader starts making decisions based on fear, fear has become their idol and their heart slowly turns away from God.

 

  • PUTTING TOO MUCH IMPORTANCE ON A CHURCH BUILDING

 

In Acts 17:15-34 while Paul is in Athens his spirit was stirred in him when he saw that the city was given to idolatry. In verse 24-31

 

God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands;Neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation;That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us:For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device. And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.

 

Is a church building bad? Certainly not. We need to have beautiful church buildings and I think amazing edifices where we can worship have been erected all around the world but then the moment the building starts taking the place of God, we have lost it.

 

  • FAME AND PRIDE

Fame is not a bad thing, we see it throughout the bible how God made Joseph, Joshua, Solomon, David e.t.c famous. Even Jesus himself was famous. However when fame gets to the head it breeds pride and a prideful person worships self, is pompous and arrogant no longer taking heed to the advice from fellow brethren, becoming a law unto themselves. When pride comes this person no longer seeks God, God is no longer in all this persons thoughts as Psalm 10:4 says

The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts.

 

Now we have celebrity preachers and celebrity worship leaders and unfortunately most of these celebrities are not basing their actions on the model from the word of God but are rather copying the world which has its root in an idolatrous system.

 

 

  • THE DESIRE TO BE HONOURED AND FEARED

Jesus never said to people you have to honour me and yet our modern day preachers have now created a doctrine of honour that is preached from the pulpit more time than is even necessary. Yes those who labour among us are worthy of double honour but that honour should not be demanded, it should not be a law: it just has to be freely given. In Mathew 20:25-28 Jesus says

But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant:Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.

 

Men and women of God should be serving not lording it over the flock. The moment we treat them like lords we have made them idols.

 

  • THE LOVE OF MONEY ( COVETOUSNESS )

Money in itself is not a bad thing but the love of money is the root of all evil as 1 Timothy 6:10 tells us

For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

 

When a man/woman of God is driven by the love of money they have made money their idol and because they now worship that idol they will also lead their church in this path. In such a church there is a continuous and unreasonable call to be always sowing to the man of God to get their blessing.

The love of money is covetousness which essentially is idolatry as stated in Colossians 3:5

Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry

 

Jesus lets us know in Luke 16:13-15 that you cannot serve God and serve money, you will hate one and love the other.

No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.  And the Pharisees also, who were covetous, heard all these things: and they derided him.  And he said unto them, Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God.

 

In Jesus day the Pharisees where the religious leaders/pastors of that time and the bible lets us know that they were covetous, they worshipped money. There is another warning in  Ephesians 5:5 & 2 Peter 2:1-3

 

For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.

But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.

 

 

  • REBELLION AGAINST THE WORD ( WALKING IN THE FLESH )

For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from being king. ( 1 Samuel 15:23 )

 

What happens when a pastor/ worship leader is no longer obeying God’s word is that they start worshipping self or they worship other people opinions or they worship what they deem will be the outcome of their actions if they choose to obey the word thinking that they can make decisions in their flesh. This is exactly what happened to Saul and God immediately rejected him as King because he had shifted his allegiance from the worship of God. You can read the whole of 1 Samuel 15 and also read 1 Samuel 13:8-13 to get the context of the whole story.

 

Saul was walking in the flesh and Romans 8:5-8

For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.

 

IF THE WORK OF GOD IS DONE IN THE FLESH IDOLATRY IS BOUND TO BE THE RESULT FOR GOD IS SPIRIT AND THOSE THAT WORSHIP HIM MUST WORSHIP HIM IN SPIRIT AND IN TRUTH

 

  • SERVING THE MAN OF GOD EQUATES SERVING GOD

Is serving the Pastor/man of God bad? Certainly not. On the contrary it is good for you to serve your pastor but make sure you do this out of a love for your pastor and not because you think that you are doing God a service. God can also tell you to serve your pastor, this is for your benefit, and there might be some skills or some lessons that God wants you to learn.

 

Modern day idolatry is so cunning. We can never and should never equate a man of God to God. Actually some people serve their pastor with the intention of rising through the ranks and unfortunately some pastors use this as their thermometer to measure those who should be given leadership posts in church instead of seeing by the Spirit and identifying the gifts of a person.

 

  • THE DESIRE TO HAVE THE FAMILY RUN THE CHURCH

 

With this one the ministers idolizes his family. Now don’t get me wrong they are times that God will use the whole family in ministry but this is the exception and not the rule. Unfortunately today the moment someone is a pastor’s wife/husband/child they automatically qualify for church leadership and church positions regardless of character, knowledge of the scriptures and calling. The prophet Samuel when he was old tried to have his kids take over the ministry with disastrous results ( 1 Samuel 18:1-3 )

 

And it came to pass, when Samuel was old, that he made his sons judges over Israel. Now the name of his firstborn was Joel; and the name of his second, Abiah: they were judges in Beersheba. And his sons walked not in his ways, but turned aside after lucre, and took bribes, and perverted judgment.

 

 

At least Samuel was a good leader. When the elders told him what his sons were doing he did not try to defend his family, he corrected the situation though it caused him much grief which he would have never had if he had not made his sons judges in the first place.

 

Eli the priest however did nothing about his sons. By right the sons of priests would also be priests in the Old Testament. However Eli’s sons were wicked and Eli knew it but did not take decisive action because he was blinded by the family element. If these were not his sons he would have had them killed for this as the law was very harsh in the Old Testament and this was what was required. Eli knew this and yet just gives them a light reprimand. God eventually killed them but the bible lets us know in 1 Samuel 2:12-17 & that

 

Now the sons of Eli were sons of Belial; they knew not the LORD.  And the priests’ custom with the people was, that, when any man offered sacrifice, the priest’s servant came, while the flesh was in seething, with a fleshhook of three teeth in his hand; And he struck it into the pan, or kettle, or caldron, or pot; all that the fleshhook brought up the priest took for himself. So they did in Shiloh unto all the Israelites that came thither. Also before they burnt the fat, the priest’s servant came, and said to the man that sacrificed, Give flesh to roast for the priest; for he will not have sodden flesh of thee, but raw. And if any man said unto him, Let them not fail to burn the fat presently, and then take as much as thy soul desireth; then he would answer him, Nay; but thou shalt give it me now: and if not, I will take it by force. Wherefore the sin of the young men was very great before the LORD: for men abhorred the offering of the LORD.

 

Now Eli was very old, and heard all that his sons did unto all Israel; and how they lay with the women that assembled at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.  And he said unto them, Why do ye such things? for I hear of your evil dealings by all this people. Nay, my sons; for it is no good report that I hear: ye make the LORD’S people to transgress. If one man sin against another, the judge shall judge him: but if a man sin against the LORD, who shall intreat for him? Notwithstanding they hearkened not unto the voice of their father, because the LORD would slay them.

 

 

In 1 Samuel 2:29 God tells us the problem:

Wherefore kick ye at my sacrifice and at mine offering, which I have commanded in my habitation; and honourest thy sons above me, to make yourselves fat with the chiefest of all the offerings of Israel my people?

 

Eli was worshipping his sons, God says he honoured his sons more than he honoured God. His sons were more important than the sanctity and holiness of the sanctuary. Also the people now abhorred the offering of the Lord. In a church were the pastors family is worshipped people end up despising God, speaking ill of the church or just becoming passive in their worship as they will be feeling that their contributions to the body of Christ do not matter as it is not their church but rather the Pastor’s church. The church belongs to Jesus Christ and pastors are just stewards. You can read the whole of 1 Samuel 2 & 3 to get the whole context of the story.

 

Idolatry is no small thing. Solomon the wisest man that ever lived fell prey to it, countless leaders in the bible were held captive by it, and it is a recurring theme in both the old and new testament. We should not take it lightly.  The moment you start worshiping idols your heart is no longer devoted to God and the decisions you make start to be influenced by those idols that you worship. The nation of Israel was now in turmoil, there was a crisis. Because of Solomon’s idols God had to tear away the kingdom from his son and raise another leader Jeroboam. Now this Jeroboam lost his way and he led the nation of Israel into sin. From there on we see the nation of Israel spiralling further and further into idolatry. As I said when a leader worships idols, or worse still creates an idol the result is the congregation will follow where the leader goes and it gets perfected by the generations that follow.

 

Let us take the warning of Jesus seriously that he gives us in Mathew 7:21-23

 

Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

 

This scripture used to trouble me because I did not understand how Jesus could say he did not know people who had done all these works in his name. It is because modern day idolatry is all masked under the guise of worshipping Jesus. People have built church buildings in Jesus name and yet idols not Jesus is worshipped in those houses. Some people are doing miracles in Jesus name yet using magic and not truly it being the spirit of God. I can go on and on. Revelations gives us the final warning

 

 

We need to be like King Josiah who in 2 Kings 23 brought an end to idolatry after the word of God had enlightened them of how Israel had degenerated into idolatry to their shame!

 

Take Pauls warning in Romans 1:18-25

 

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves:  Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.

 Idolatry