“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes… Stand firm then…with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace… [Take] the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” (Ephesians 6.10, 15, 17)
“Spiritual warfare is not only defensive; it also takes the offensive. Paul called the soldiers of Christ to advance on enemy territory… [T]he body of Christ plunders Satan’s kingdom by proclaiming the promise of divine rescue to captives in the kingdom of darkness.
“There is one part of the soldier’s gear that is not a weapon, but it is a furnishing that enables the soldier to take an offensive posture—good footwear. A typical soldier would journey for miles as his army advanced… The footgear of the Christian needs to be ‘the readiness to announce the Good News…’
“[T]he only offensive weapon…is the sword (Eph 6.17)… [T]he primary aggressive action the Christian is called to take in the world is to spread the gospel—the good news of salvation… The gospel represents ‘God’s power to rescue people from [the devil’s] tyranny.’ The whole course of Paul’s ministry is a model of this aggressive proclamation. The church should follow Paul’s lead.” (C. Arnold, Powers of Darkness)
How can you get geared up for this “battle”? Don’t just take a defensive posture in the spiritual battle, but ask the Lord to help you take the offensive as well! Let’s sing “Won’t Stop Now” by Elevation Worship (click here)
WE DON’T FIGHT FOR VICTORY, WE FIGHT FROM VICTORY.
“You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” (1 John 4.4)
“For everyone born of God overcomes the world… Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.” (1 John 5.4)
“They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.” (Revelation 12.11)
“Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (James 4.7)
Jesus has already won the victory… victory over death, victory over sin, victory over condemnation, victory over powers of darkness, victory over sickness, victory over pain… JESUS HAS ALREADY WON THE VICTORY!
As long as we fight, we will win. We fight from Christ’s victory. Write the above verses in your journals multiple times. Memorize them and let the reality of what Christ has accomplished for us sink into your mind, heart and soul. According to these verses, proclaim who you are and what you have in Christ.
Let’s pray: “Lord, I believe that Jesus is the Son of God! Jesus, you have overcome the world. I stand on your victory! Nothing can overcome me when I stand on your victory! In Jesus’ name, Amen.” Let’s sing “Victory is Yours” by Bethel (click here)
“We Must Respect Our Foe but Not Fear Him… we must become acutely aware of his methods but not be preoccupied with them… we give him too much credit—or give God too little credit—if we fear him… Our preoccupation should be entirely on God and not on our adversary or ourselves. We do, however, need to be aware of the enemy’s strategies. Like the defense preparing for the Super Bowl, we can prepare for demonic attacks…
“When we read these passages about Satan’s activity, however, it’s clear that the issues are usually things like unwillingness to forgive, bitterness, anger, deceived minds, and any other attitude that can break a marriage, split a church, cause depression, turn people inward, and destroy our bodies with ulcers and anxieties… things we encounter every day. That makes our knowledge of the invisible war a necessary and practical understanding for getting through normal life situations.” (C. Ingram, The Invisible War)
Paul talks about forgiveness with the Corinthian church “in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes” (2 Corinthians 2.11).
Examine your life like a football coach looking at game film. In what areas of your life can you perceive the enemy’s influence? Unusually disturbing circumstances at work? Constant strife and quarrelling in important relationships? Inexplicable feelings of inadequacy leaving you paralyzed? Disturbing stray thoughts while reading God’s Word?
Don’t be outwitted. Proclaim God’s truth and worship the Lord with the help of His Spirit – let’s sing “Surrounded” by Upper Room (click here).
“The cross of Christ is the pivotal point of salvation history. This is true, not only in the sense that Christ made satisfaction for sin through his blood, but also in the fact that Christ won a decisive victory over the evil powers… The death and resurrection of Christ marks the beginning of their demise. Christ won a once-and-for-all victory over the powers with eternal repercussions…
“God Disarmed the Powers. Christ’s death and resurrection deprived the evil forces of any effective power against himself or the members of his body, the church…
“How did Christ’s death and resurrection accomplish this disarming? Precisely because the powers could not deter Christ from making a satisfaction for sin. By offering his life and spilling his blood, Christ could extend forgiveness of sin to his people. The powers thus lost their chief mechanism for holding people in bondage…
“The strongest weapon in Satan’s arsenal [death] was not sufficient for conquering Christ. Neither will it prove sufficient for destroying his people.” (C. Arnold, Powers of Darkness: Principalities & Powers in Paul’s Letters)
“When you were dead in your sins… God made you alive with Christ… And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.” (Colossians 2.13, 15)
Let’s pray: “Lord, help us to grasp how great Your victory on the cross truly was and what it means for us today!” Let us worship and be in amazement of our Savior! Let’s sing “The Cross Has the Final Word” by Cody Carnes. (click here)
Spiritual warfare is a part of the normal Christian life. Christians must appropriately engage in it without being dismissive nor paranoid.
“Whatever you were before you became a Christian… you are now the sworn foe of the legions of hell. Have no delusions about their reality or their hostility. But do not fear them. The God inside you terrifies them. They cannot touch you, let alone hurt you. But they can still seduce and they will try. They will also oppose you as you obey Christ… ‘Resist the devil… and he will flee from you’ (James 4.7). Life with Jesus can be an exhilarating and reassuring experience of constant triumph over evil forces. But the battle never ends…
“[The enemy’s] interest in you has nothing to do with you as an individual so much as with your potential for Christ’s cause… To God you are very important. But to Satan you are nothing more than a potentially useful microbe. But microbe or no he can hurt you. He and his hellions will damage you along one or more of four lines: They will tempt, they will accuse, they will deceive and they will devour.” (J. White, The Fight)
“So let God work his will in you. Yell a loud no to the Devil and watch him scamper.” (James 4.7 MSG)
Let’s pray: “Lord, we belong to You and choose to live in Your victory today!” Yell a loud no to the Devil by singing loudly the praises of our God! Let’s sing “Not Today” by Hillsong. (click here)
Praise the Lord, all you servants of the Lord who minister by night in the house of the Lord. Lift up your hands in the sanctuary and praise the Lord. May the Lord bless you from Zion, he who is the Maker of heaven and earth.– Psalm 134 (NIV)
“As the pilgrims departed… they departed with words of blessing ringing in their ears: the summons to bless the Lord and the prayer for the Lord to bless them… The blessing is said to come from Zion, the location of the special presence of God… We now look not to any special geographical location but to the person of the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the presence of God incarnate. But since Jesus is in heaven, we look to His Spirit, who dwells within us as the source of abundant life… Since God has the power to create and sustain the universe, he has the power to empower us for life. Since he empowers us, we have all that we need for abundant life now and forever… By blessing the Lord, we open ourselves to receive his power, which comes ‘flooding into our own lives’… And as that power floods into our lives, we heed the call to bless the Lord. And the circle of blessing continues to repeat itself again and again and again.” (M. Futato, CBC)
Bless God until you overflow with blessings from blessing Him, and let those blessings cascade down to others!
Sing “Fullness” over and over again (at least 3x), and be blessed as you bless over and over again! (Click Here)
Oh, praise the Lord, all you servants of the Lord, you who serve at night in the house of the Lord. Lift your hands toward the sanctuary, and praise the Lord. May the Lord, who made heaven and earth, bless you from Jerusalem.– Psalm 134 (NLT)
“The last verse could sound like a request, ‘May the Lord bless you’; a promise, ‘The Lord will bless you’; or a declaration, ‘The Lord bless you’… The way the blessing is formulated seems to regroup all three: the blessing is, all at once, a declaration, promise and request. Request because every blessing depends on the sovereign decision of God; promise because the free will of God is not arbitrary, His goodness and faithfulness create the conditions for solid relationship; declaration because in pronouncing the word of blessing, the psalmist does more than express a vow or recall a promise, he fulfills a ministry (see 1 Pet 3.9, ‘Bless others, because to this you were called so that you may inherit the blessing’).” (Translated from French, E. Nicole, Croquis de randonnées bibliques)
Formulate a blessing in the three ways explained above as request, promise and declaration. For example:
– Request: “May the Lord bless my friend who is uncertain of her future…”
– Promise: “The Lord will bless my neighbor according to Psalm 145 that says the Lord is near to all who call on Him…”
– Declaration: “The Lord bless my campus, let Your light shine in the midst of darkness!”
Incorporate these in a moment of prayer, worship and intercession!
Come, bless God, all you servants of God! You priests of God, posted to the nightwatch in God’s shrine, Lift your praising hands to the Holy Place, and bless God. In turn, may God of Zion bless you— God who made heaven and earth! – Psalm 134 (MSG)
In addition to bowing down and standing in readiness, worship involves lifting our hands. “This further physical activity involves the body in yet another way. Raising the hands is a gesture of appeal, and there are no unequivocal examples of its signifying simply exultation (like the sports enthusiast punching the air)… So it is likely that raising the hands is a gesture of dependence on the Lord that complements direct worship of Him, and in a way constitutes worship because it connotes that dependence… both [bowing down and raising hands] are postures of submission and obeisance.” (J. Goldingay, Psalms, vol 3)
Do you consider “body language” to be important in your everyday situations? (ie., at your work place, school, home, etc.)
Do you ever consider worship as a physical activity? Do you think body language plays a part in genuine worship?
Sometimes we don’t feel like worshiping. But lifting our hands is about declaring the truth that I am dependent upon the Lord despite my feelings. I not going to allow my body language to lie about God… so, in obedient faith, I’ll lift my hands to say I am surrendered to God… Let’s sing in worship…(Click here)
Bless the Lord, all you servants of the Lord who minister by night in the house of the Lord. Lift up your hands in the sanctuary and praise the Lord. May the Lord bless you from Zion, he who is the Maker of heaven and earth.– Psalm 134
“To minister” in the house of the Lord literally means “to stand” before the Lord. “This metaphorical use of this word is common in the Old Testament for a posture of ready service before a king or God (David ‘stood before’ Saul, 1 Sam 16.21-22; angels stand before the Lord while awaiting orders, 1 Kings 22.19-21).” (ZIBBC, vol 5)
I’m reminded of Jesus’ famous line, “Could you not tarry [keep watch] one hour?” in the garden of Gethsemene when his disciples couldn’t stay awake in prayer. The call to worship at the end of this pilgrimage, is a call to readiness, to be vigilant, to be prepared to go, to follow, to carry out God’s command as soon as He gives it.
What do you think is significant about “ministering/standing by night” as opposed to the daytime?
How can this posture of readiness give us a better understanding of what worship is really about?
Let’s get in our ready stance and bless the Lord… “Something always changes when I bless Your name” (Click here)
Come, bless the Lord, all you servants of the Lord,
who stand by night in the house of the Lord!
Lift up your hands to the holy place
and bless the Lord! May the Lord bless you from Zion,
he who made heaven and earth!– Psalm 134 (ESV)
Blessing usually occurs from the greater to the lesser. God (who is greater) blesses us (who are lesser) with grace, power, gifts, etc. Here, at the end of our ascent, we are called upon to bless the Lord. Simply, for us to bless the Lord means: 1) to worship Him on bended knee and 2) to declare the Lord as the source of all blessing.
How has the Lord blessed you in your life recently? Think of specific things the Lord has done in your life, write down at least three and declare that He is the source of your blessings.
At the end of this long pilgrimage accompanied by these Songs of Ascents, we find ourselves on our knees, praising the Lord. It’s probably not often that we worship the Lord on our knees. If you are able to do so at this time, let’s bow our knee before the Lord, worship Him and sing this song of praise,(Click here)