Growing up, we never had PlayStation, Wii or Xbox. We lived on a small ranch in Colorado and had a lot of work to do. Cleaning stalls, painting fences, irrigating the pasture and picking up rocks (Colorado soil grows rocks) were necessities of the life we lived.
My brother and I are only 17 months apart in age, and we were really each other’s entertainment. We spent a lot of our spare time riding our bikes and creating adventures. Our imaginations worked overtime to invent new games. Cowboys and Indians was a favorite, as well as building forts and hideouts. We even had a secret place in the hayloft of the barn.
Kids today simply have no idea what fun can be had without a remote control in your hand. When we did get a gift, it was usually educational. It was not unusual for us to get boxes of books to read. Every young boy should read the Sugar Creek Gang series.
One Christmas, I received one of my favorite presents ever—a microscope. It was probably my fascination with a magnifying glass that led to the microscope. A magnifying glass is so very cool. If you angle it just right with the sun, you can start a leaf on fire (which is of course not what it was designed for). Better yet, you can inspect something tiny like an ant, and see all of the details: Eyes, antennae, legs, even miniscule hairs.
The microscope takes that exploration to a whole new level. A blade of grass or a drop of pond water has a dimension that you could never see without magnification. Discoveries are unearthed, which give you a totally different perspective from what you have experienced with the naked eye.
Psalm 34:3 says, “Oh, magnify the Lord with me” (emphasis added).Many times in the Psalms, David expresses a desire to magnify the Lord. His relationship with God was so meaningful that he wanted to magnify it. David was not satisfied with the God that he could “see” with the naked eye. He wanted to know the intimate details of God—the entity and substance of the Holy One that could only be known through magnification.
His soul thirsted for God. He longed for intimacy. It was not enough to dwell in the shelter of the Most High; David wanted to abide in the very shadow of the Almighty. Hear this: If a person does not have that kind of longing to know God, there is a very good chance he has never met Him. He has never become a child of Jehovah. The longing has been set within us. So, how do we magnifythe Lord?
Of course, God’s Word, fasting and prayer are critical to an understanding of the minutia of God. However, David adds another facet in Psalm 69:30. He says, “I will praise the name of God with a song, and shallmagnify Him withthanksgiving” (emphasis added). He added worship—worship that is a lifestyle.
My dear friend Charles Billingsley is an anointed vessel, gifted to move believers into a Holy realm—a realm of worship where you are ushered into the presence of God and the worship is so powerful and fervent that God almighty becomes very vivid. God’s character and virtues are literally magnified in your mind, soul and spirit.
This week in your Christ walk, magnify the Lord. Go to the deep places with Him. Don’t be satisfied with a Sunday morning snack. Dig into His Word. Spend time in His presence. Look at Him through the magnification of scripture and prayer. You might even try fasting. Put the flesh aside.
Allow your mind and spirit to discover things about God that are intimate, personal. Don’t be satisfied with the outer courts. Worship Him in the Holy of Holies. It is there that you will see God magnified.It is there that you will sense a nearness that will leave your soul longing for more. And remember, God wants to know you as well. He is the Great Pursuer. Seek Him, as He is seeking you. Magnify Him. You will discover things that you never knew—new things, profound things and life-changing things. I promise.
PRAYER POWER FOR 12/02/2013
This week spend time in His presence by starting your prayers with praise and adoration. Use scripture to help you express what’s in your heart. Allow the Holy Spirit to help you verbalize your worship in deep ways. Continue to pray that God will give you opportunities to share His love and provision with those in great need around you. Thank Him for His constant protection and companionship. Remember our military and their families as well as Israel and our allies.
Pray that President Obama and those working with him would rely on God for wisdom and guidance in making decisions affecting the nation and the world. Continue to pray for revival. Psalm 34:3; Psalm 69:30.
In Babylon, David prayed three times daily (Psalm 55:17) “toward Jerusalem” (Daniel 6:10). Solomon made reference to praying toward Jerusalem in his prayer of dedication for the temple. If God‘s people were taken captive to another land and they prayed toward Jerusalem in repentance, he asked God to hear their prayers (2 Chronicles 6:38-39). Solomon may have learned about praying toward Jerusalem from his father, David. In Psalm 138:2, David wrote, “I will worship toward Your holy temple.” Though the temple had not been built when David wrote this psalm, he was probably referring to the tent he constructed to house the ark of the covenant (2 Samuel 6:17).
The idea is this: Wherever God is, that is where we turn our face in worship. So David worshipped toward the ark of the covenant, where God dwelt. Besides worshipping obediently, David worshipped gratefully: He worshipped God because of His “lovingkindness” and “truth” (Psalm 138:2).
We should worship the same way today — directing our worship and praise toward the God whose loyal and unconditional love draws us to Himself.
The heart of prayer is gratitude. The voice of prayer is obedience.
William A. Ward
Are you worried about a specific relationship or circumstance? This index, derived from Rx for Worryby James P. Gills, M.D., lists some key Bible verses you can use to battle worry and fear. These verses are God‘s promises that He is with us and will be our support and strength. Read them. Believe them. Let His Word become the foundation in your struggles!
Are you worried, anxious, afraid, or troubled? God will give you peace.
In my distress I called to the Lord; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears. … He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me. —Psalm 18:6, 19
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea.—Psalm 46:1-2
When I am afraid, I will trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can mortal man do to me? —Psalm 56:3-4
You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you. —Isaiah 26:3
Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me . . . Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.—John 14:1, 27
I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.—John 16:33
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.—Philippians 4:6-7
Are you worried about the future? God will guide you.
He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way.—Psalm 25:9
I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you. —Psalm 32:8
If the Lord delights in a man’s way, he makes his steps firm; though he stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand.—Psalm 37:23-24
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.—Proverbs 3:5-6
Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed. —Proverbs 16:3
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. —Isaiah 41:10
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”—Jeremiah 29:11
If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.—James 1:5
Are you afraid of feeling alone? God will never leave you.
Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.—Deuteronomy 31:6
Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I. —saiah 58:9
The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.—Zephaniah 3:17
I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.—John 14:18
Are you worried no one loves you? God loves you. For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.—John 3:16
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. —Romans 8:38-39
This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. —1 John 3:16
This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. —1 John 4:10
Are you worried that God could never forgive your sins? God’s salvation overcomes all sins and guilt.
As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. —Psalm 103:12
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. —1 John 1:9
Do you feel depressed? God will comfort you.
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. —Psalm 34:18
Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God. —Psalm 42:11
Are you worried because you face opposition? God is with you.
If God is for us, who can be against us? —Romans 8:31
Are you worried about physical needs? God will provide.
Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, “What shall we eat?” or “What shall we drink?” or “What shall we wear?” For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.—Matthew 6:25-34
If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!—Matthew 7:11
Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. —Luke 12:6-7
He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all-how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? —Romans 8:32
And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.—2 Corinthians 9:8
And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.
Do you worry about your safety? God will protect you.
I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety. —Psalm 4:8
The Lord will keep you from all harm-he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.—Psalm 121:7-8
Do you worry so much that you can’t sleep? God will ease your fears.
I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the Lord sustains me. —Psalm 3:5
I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety. -Psalm 4:8
When you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet. —Proverbs 3:24
Are you worried about your appearance? God looks at your heart.
But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” —1 Samuel 16:7
He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end. —Ecclesiastes 3:11
Are you worried about your health? God will give you strength.
A righteous man may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all. —Psalm 34:19
The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame.—Isaiah 58:11
“But I will restore you to health and heal your wounds,” declares the Lord, “because you are called an outcast, Zion for whom no one cares.”—Jeremiah 30:17
Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. —James 5:14-15
Are you worried about getting old? God will stay with you.
The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of the Lord, they will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green.—Psalm 92:12-14
Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. —Isaiah 46:4
Are you worried about dying? God offers eternal life.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.—Psalm 23:4
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.—John 3:16
I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. —John 10:28
“Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” . . . Thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. —1 Corinthians 15:55, 57
Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death-that is, the devil-and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. —Hebrews 2:14-15
“It doesn’t really matter what you say I have done. God has called me here, and you can’t stand in His way.”
According to a friend of mine, these were the words a leader of a congregation used as he responded to a congregant, who sought to challenge him on issues of deep concern—issues of sin.
It reminded me of something that happened while I was in Bible school. I had been attending a church on Long Island led by a dynamic preacher. Everyone loved his fiery teachings. He was truly anointed. However, I became concerned when, during a service, he physically attacked an usher. The usher had laid his hand on someone, and the wife of the pastorremoved his hand, as he was there to usher, not to pray. The usher reacted angrily to the pastor’s wife, and both he and the pastor had to be physically restrained.
I stopped going to this congregation. A few weeks later, some of my college buddies came back to the campus with glowing reports of Pastor Phil’s (not his real name) latest message. “You’ve got to hear it, Ron!” they crowed.
I popped the cassette into my Walkman (it was 1986!) and listened as Pastor Phil screamed at the people and blamed them for this and that. I did not sense anointing but human anger.
A few weeks later, I was told that Pastor Phil prophesied over a young lady in the church, just after he returned from a four-day prayer retreat, in which it was discovered he brought the very same young lady with him. Someone saw them return together, and Pastor Phil was confronted regarding his adulterous affair.
When the elders sat down with Phil and his wife for this confrontation, the very first words out of his wife’s mouth were, “He is still anointed.”
Most women would have hit him, yelled at him and called him a cheating #$%^—yes, even believing women. But this wife’s greater concern was for her husband’s authority in the congregation—that it would not be forfeited. While this was an elder-led team, she had much freedom as the senior pastor’s wife and loved being in that position.
In her mind, Phil was God’s anointed, even if that anointing did not help him with his zipper! It was like she was saying, “David committed adultery, and he was still king. Who are these elders to remove us from power? We are God’s anointed!”
The theory that leaders can only be removed by God comes from 1 Samuel 26:9-11, where David warns his trusted friend Abishai not to kill King Saul:
“‘Don’t destroy him! Who can lay a hand on the Lord‘s anointed and be guiltless? As surely as the Lord lives,’ he said, ‘the Lord himself will strike him, or his time will come and he will die, or he will go into battle and perish. But the Lord forbid that I should lay a hand on the Lord’s anointed’” (NIV).
A Dangerous Doctrine
From this text, some leaders have derived a very dangerous doctrine regarding a senior leader andaccountability. According to this doctrine, the senior leader is understood as having a position like the ancient kings of Israel. He is “God’s anointed”; therefore, he is not to be removed by any process of men—no matter what he does. He is beyond congregational discipline. While he may have elders or a board, they are advisers only, and all decisions are his to make. Within his sphere, he is the final authority (or, as I call it, dictator).
If he abuses people or they do not like his decisions, they have two choices. They can either submit to his leadership and entrust the situation to God, or they can quietly leave the community. In any case, they are to make no waves or protest in their leaving. Those who do are labeled rebellious troublemakers and often become the target of malicious rumors and gossip.
In these circles, the authority of the senior leader is taught in very absolute terms. We are told, “Touch not God’s anointed.” I believe it is a destructive and devilish doctrine, and people should separate from those who teach it.
To be clear, we should honor and respect those who have embraced the yoke of leadership, but leaders should be held to an even higher standard than those in their congregations:
“Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly” (James 3:1).
The Leader Is Not a King
In the New Testament, congregations are not led by kings. Yes, I know in many circles the pastor and his wife are treated like royalty. Some even refer to the pastor’s wife as first lady.
Just this morning, a pastor friend was telling me of a young elder who said, “Now that I am an elder, people will respect me.”
My friend told him that it was quite the opposite: “Now that you are an elder, you give up your rights in order to serve.”
In Hebrew, the word for minister (mesharet) is the same word for servant. A leader is called to serve, not to be crowned. Yeshua said, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all” (Mark 9:35).
New Testament congregations should be governed by teams of elders under the direction of a senior leader who is accountable to the team. Both Titus and Timothy, who were senior leaders, were encouraged to appoint elders (Titus 1:5; 1 Tim. 3:1-13). And elders govern the congregation:
“The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching” (1 Tim. 5:17, emphasis added).
David Had a Conflict of Interest
One of the reasons why David did not take Saul’s life is because he knew with Saul out of the way, he would be the new king. Therefore, in killing Saul, he would have been taking his destiny into his own hands. He wanted God to make him king—not to take the kingdom by the strength of his sword.
Saul did not declare himself God’s anointed.
It most cases today, it is the senior leader who declares himself to be God’s anointed and therefore untouchable by man. In the case of David and Saul, it is Saul’s enemy, David, who calls Saul God’s anointed. It is a dangerous thing for a man to declare himself God’s anointed.
In Bible school, I had the opportunity to meet the great English Bible teacher David Pawson. After one of his messages (he was teaching all week), I was deeply moved. I felt like I had heard from a prophet. I walked up to Mr. Pawson and asked, “Are you a prophet?”
He wisely said with his beautiful British accent, “That is not for me to say, but you.” And he walked away.
I was blown away. He was right. You don’t become a prophet or God’s anointed because you post it on your Facebook page or business card. You can’t declare yourself an apostle, as did the drunk and abusive character that Robert Duvall played in The Apostle. No, others affirm the gift of God in your life.
So let us be done with this wicked doctrine. It is inspired from below. May God raise up strong leaders who are secure enough to be accountable to their elders. If you find yourself in a situation where a senior leader refuses to be accountable because he is “God’s anointed,” my advice is to run! Find a congregation that has clear standards of morality for its leaders.
Ron Cantoris the director of Messiah’s Mandate International in Israel, a Messianic ministry dedicated to taking the message of Jesus from Israel to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8). Cantor also travels internationally teaching on the Jewish roots of the New Testament. He serves on the pastoral team of Tiferet Yeshua, a Hebrew-speaking congregation in Tel Aviv. His newest book, Identity Theft, was released April 16. Follow him at @RonSCantor on Twitter.
Pro-Islamist President Mohammed Morsi supporters took to the streets over the weekend. Thousands took part in the protests in Alexandria, Suez and other cities calling for Morsi to be reinstated and urging military leader General Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi to step aside.
According to an I.N. Network worker we’ll call David, these protests put his family at risk. David says protesters surrounded his home for 50 days a few months ago.
“They consider the area as a holy place, and they try to come back to the area again and again,” he says. “So the police and the army surround the area. Every Friday there is a big group of the Muslim Brotherhood. They try to come back, and they fight with the army and police.”
While David and his family have had to leave their home for a time, they are safe.
Since the Muslim Brotherhood took power, Christians have been the targets of violence. Once the government was sacked, Christians had hoped that would change. But, David says, it hasn’t.
“They are still creating troubles and problems,” he says. “The last two months, they’ve gotten very crazy. They want to destroy the country. They attack many churches. More than 80 churches have been burned. Many Christians have been killed.”
David says that’s why the I.N. Network has established an emergency fund to help survivors of the violence.
“Winter is approaching in Egypt,” he says. “And many families—especially in the south—don’t have enough clothes. They need blankets, so we’re doing a project to distribute blankets.”
While the violence has been difficult, David says there is good news.
“Churches are united together. And the spirit of prayer is happening in all the churches. People are praying all the time,” he says.
The response to the violence against burned churches has also been remarkable. Christians posted signs on their burned-out churches that read, “You burned our church, but we love you.”
David says ,”It’s a great message of forgiveness. This makes many Muslims discover the reality of Christianity, and many of them come to know Jesus.”
While Muslims are turning, that’s creating another problem.
“Until now, they find difficulty for security reasons to join local churches, so they meet underground in a secret way,” David says. “They worship the Lord together, and they’re growing.”
As Muslims come to Christ, they’re uniquely qualified to share the gospel. “The easiest way to reach Muslims is through converted Muslims,” David says.
While David isn’t praying for more persecution, he’s excited about the Holy Spirit working.
“It’s always like this,” he says. “When there is pressure over the churches, the Holy Spirit is working, and many people are coming to know Jesus as Savior.”
God is going to fill the church with enjoyable prayer that is refreshing and invigorating.
I probably know more about boring, unanointed prayer than any other person on Earth–or I ought to. I’ve engaged in enough of it during my lifetime! Though I have felt called for more than 20 years to be a person of prayer, it was not until recently that I learned the true secret to a successful prayer life.
I started searching for the secret in my college days, but it eluded me. I read books on prayer and the deeper life in God, but when it got down to actually praying, I was an absolute failure.
I religiously scheduled time to spend alone with God. Yet my efforts at praying were frustrating and unfulfilling.
I dreaded prayer time. I’d made a vow to God that I’d pray an hour every night, and I made up my mind to stick to it, regardless. But after months of drudgery, I told Him, “Lord, I really love You, but I don’t enjoy praying.”
I still remember the awful condemnation I felt. A sense of defeat nearly overwhelmed me as I shook my head and sighed, “Lord, will I ever like talking to You?”
At the time, I was living in an apartment with three other Christian guys. Every night around 8:45, my roommates would notice that I was starting to get uptight because my prayer time, which I had designated as 9 to 10 p.m., was approaching. I hated going into my room to pray! I knew the next hour was going to be lifeless and boring.
Who would ever have guessed that eventually I would enjoy prayer so much I would resign as pastor of my church to lead a 24-hour-a-day prayer ministry?
My journey to enjoyable prayer began with a study of the tabernacle of David (see Acts 15:16-17). The tabernacle of David refers in part to a 24-hour prayer ministry that King David established. David put musicians and singers before the ark in place of the veil that Moses had used (see 1 Chr. 25:1-7). He valued the prophetic spirit (spirit of inspiration) resting on the singers and musicians that inspired the intercessors to soar in power.
David’s model for what I call “intercessory worship” grew out of his primary life desire–”to behold the beauty of the Lord” (Ps. 27:4, NKJV; see also 145:5). The desire to dwell in the beauty realm of God is a vital foundation for intercessory worship in the spirit of the tabernacle of David.
Isaiah prophesied about a paradigm of prayer marked by joy. The Lord promised, “‘I will…make [you] joyful in My house of prayer’” (Is. 56:7). Imagine the implications! God is going to fill the church with enjoyable prayer that is refreshing and invigorating.
Revelation tells us “the 24 elders around the throne fall down before Jesus, each having a harp and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints” (5:8). The harp speaks of worship; the bowl speaks of intercession. When the harp (worship music) comes together with the bowl (intercession), a spiritual dynamic occurs that enhances our enjoyment of prayer.
God ordained that the worship music around the throne flow interactively with intercession. God’s songs and God’s prayers flow together. This is the secret to the “enjoyable prayer” that Isaiah prophesiedabout.
I believe the Holy Spirit is orchestrating a global prayer strategy in these days that will far eclipse any other prayer movement in church history. He is raising up 24-hour-a-day “prayer furnaces” that are vital to the Great Commission. These full-time prayer ministries will be the key to reaching unchurched peoples all over the world and the foundation for the full restoration of the tabernacle of David in the generation in which the Lord returns.
I am now the director of one such prayer ministry, called the International House of Prayer, in Kansas City, Missouri. Much of our structure and the principles on which the ministry is based are posted on our Web site (www.ihopkc.com). We try to follow the pattern established by David, in which worship and intercession go hand in hand and are inspired by holy fascination with God.
With this model, I don’t expect prayer ever to be boring again.
Whether in the world of work or the work of the ministry, everybody likes to feel appreciated for a job well done. But some strive, scratch and claw for promotion.
There’s nothing fundamentally wrong about hoping God notices your faithfulness, increases your territory, and gives you greater works to steward. But striving for promotion can breed all manner of discord in a church—or in our own hearts.
Nowhere does this manifest more than when someone is overlooked for a promotion they feel they deserve. Maybe it’s a management position in the marketplace or a preaching opportunity in the pulpit—or some other public recognition they’ve been working for. Regardless of the circumstance, our true character is on display when we feel like God has overlooked us for a promotion.
Jealousy Doesn’t Win Promotions
When God told Samuel to anoint a new king, he went to visit Jesse the Bethlehemite and his sons. Israel’s next king was among them. Samuel thought Eliab was the chosen vessel, but God told him, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Sam. 16:7).
Each of Jesse’s seven elder sons passed before Samuel but the Lord didn’t choose any of them. Finally, the prophet asked Jesse if he had another son. When David emerged from tending the sheep the Lord said, “Arise, anoint him; for this is the one!” So Samuel anointed him in the midst of his brothers (see 1 Sam. 16:12-13).
Why was Eliab overlooked for the promotion? You would think the firstborn would be the most deserving, naturally speaking. But God looked at the heart and there was something there he didn’t like. I believe in Eliab’s case it was jealousy, and we actually see its ugly head rearing on the battle line. When David heard about Saul’s magnanimous promise to the Israelite who defeated Goliath, his ears perked up and he asked some of the soldiers to confirm the reward.
“Now Eliab his oldest brother heard when he spoke to the men; and Eliab’s anger was aroused against David, and he said, ‘Why did you come down here? And with whom have you left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know your pride and the insolence of your heart, for you have come down to see the battle’” (1 Sam. 17:28). Could it be possible that Eliab was angry that David was anointed king because he felt like he was more deserving? Was Eliab jealous?
Let’s not forget Joseph. Already his father’s favorite and donning a coat of many colors, this young one had dreams that symbolically revealed his brothers bowing down to him (Gen. 37:1-10). That didn’t go over too well among his brethren, who were already jealous about his special coat and favorite status with dad. Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery and told his father Jacob that he wild beasts devoured him. Joseph suffered much but God promoted him time and time again. His jealous brothers did indeed bow down to him, just as he dreamt it. But Joseph and the entire family suffered plenty before peace was restored.
Staying in One Accord
By contrast, even before the Holy Spirit fell on the Day of Pentecost, believers in the early church refused to allow jealousy to distract them from their mission. Since Judas betrayed the Lord and committed suicide, Peter pointed out Scripture that a new witness to Jesus’ resurrection must be appointed. Two men were proposed: Joseph called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias (Acts 1:1:23).
“And they prayed and said, ‘You, O Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which of these two You have chosento take part in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place.’ And they cast their lots, and the lot fell on Matthias. And he was numbered with the eleven apostles” (Acts 1:24-26).
We don’t see Justus getting jealous, making false accusations against Matthias or throwing him in a deep well to die. Justus didn’t pitch a hissy fit to the other disciples or seek to prove why he was better suited for the promotion. He didn’t breed strife in the early church. In fact, the Bible says when the Day of Pentecost came they were all with one accord in one place (Acts 2:1).
Justus didn’t storm of out the Upper Room and spread rumors about the apostles. No, he went on to receive the Holy Spirit in the Pentecostal outpouring and it appears he may have gone on to work with the apostle Paul and Mark, the cousin of Barnabas (Col. 4:10-11). Whether that’s the same Justus or not, only the Lord knows. But somehow I believe Justus, of whom the disciples thought to select him as one of the two candidates to become an apostle, went on to do great things for the Kingdom of God in his humility. And if you respond in humility when someone else gets the promotion you want, so can you. Amen.
The word “terror” is akin to “terrible” from a Latin term meaning “great fear.” Every day the headlines speak of “terror threats,” “terror plots” and “terror attacks.” From the surveillance of our communication to the checkpoints at our airports, our world has become a different place because of terror.
The heroes of the Bible faced great fear too. Job said, “Terrors overwhelm me” (Job 30:15, NIV). David said, “My heart is severely pained within me, and the terrors of death have fallen upon me” (Psalm 55:4). Jeremiah spoke of “the terrors” that surrounded him (Lamentations 2:22).
Psalm 91 tells us what to do in such times, whether the fear is public panic or personal anxiety: “He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty …. You shall not be afraid of the terror by night.”
We all experience some heart-pounding moments in life, but the Most High is always there to afford us peace and protection. God’s children have a safe and secure refuge under the shadow of the Almighty.
Destructive anxiety subtracts God from the future, faces uncertainties with no faith, and tallies up the challenges of the day without entering God into the equation. Max Lucado, in Fear Not Promise Book
When actor James (“Jimmy”) Stewart left Hollywood to become an Air Force pilot after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, his father gave him a copy of Psalm 91 to carry with him as he flew bombing missions. According to the Jimmy Stewart Museum, the actor said, “What a promise for an airman. I placed in His hands the squadron I would be leading. And, as the psalmist promised, I felt myself borne up.” Stewart was referring, of course, to Psalm 91:12: “In their hands [the angels] shall bear you up.”
Biblical writers were confident of nothing if not God‘s power and protection. That doesn’t mean that harm never came to an Israelite or a Christian. But it does mean that God’s oversight was part of His protection. The author of Psalm 91 was saying the same as David in Psalm 23: We will fear no evil because God is with us. The knowledge of His presence becomes a comfort in times of danger. If God is with us, then nothing can touch us without His knowledge.
Life can be dangerous even on the best days. Make sure you live it confidently and fearlessly, knowing that God is with you.
A sovereign Protector I have, unseen, yet forever at hand.
Augustus M. Toplady
“Shall I go up?” David, a mighty warrior for God, asked Jehovah this critical question before running to the battle line—and we would be wise to do the same.
Although we war from a place of victory, rushing into spiritual warfare outside of God’s timing can lead to defeat. Although we are taught to remain on the offensive, presuming to enter a battle God has not called us to fight can be a dangerous mistake. And although we’re in a spiritual war, the battle really is the Lord’s.
“Shall I go up?” Every spiritual warrior needs to ask this question before engaging the enemy. In other words, we need to be led by the Holy Spirit into battle if we want God to lead us into triumph. If we lose a battle, it could very well be that the Holy Spirit didn’t lead us into the spiritual skirmish in the first place.
‘Shall I Go Up?’
Again, David was a mighty warrior for God. He officially started his military career by defeating a giant named Goliath that terrified the entire Israeli army (1 Sam. 17). Talk about coming onto the warfare scene with a flare!
David built quite a reputation for warfare. In fact, after David defeated Goliath, Saul set the brave teenager over his men of war. When David was coming home from his big win, the women came out of all the cities of Israel. They were singing and dancing and said, “Saul has slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands” (1 Sam. 18:7).
David could have gotten puffed up in the midst of the honor. He could have taken pride in his hand-to-hand combat skills. But he didn’t get prideful, and he didn’t get presumptuous. And soon enough, David would have the opportunity to play hero again when the Philistines were fighting against the city of Keilah and robbing the threshing floors (1 Sam. 23:1).
Clearly, there was an injustice underway, but David didn’t take it upon himself to bring justice. Rather, he asked his just God this critical question: “’Shall I go and attack these Philistines?’ And the Lord said to David, ‘Go and attack the Philistines, and save Keilah’” (v. 2).
Seeking God’s Confirmation
When David’s men admitted they were afraid to go to battle, he wasn’t prideful and presumptuous enough to think he could save the whole city with a sling and a stone just because he did it once before. And he didn’t pooh-pooh their fears. Instead, David inquired of the Lord a second time. The Lord gave David the confirmation he was looking for:
“And the Lord answered him and said, ‘Arise, go down to Keilah. For I will deliver the Philistines into your hand.’ And David and his men went to Keilah and fought with the Philistines, struck them with a mighty blow, and took away their livestock. So David saved the inhabitants of Keilah” (vv. 4-5).
There’s a good lesson here. Even though God initially told David to go up, he was cautious—and humble enough—to continue seeking the Lord for confirmation when it appeared the circumstances could be changing. He was concerned for the welfare of his men, who were afraid. Instead of rebuking them for flowing in fear, he went back to the Lord to make sure he heard right.
I believe this careful, caring approach is one of the reasons David’s men trusted his leadership so much. If you want to be an effective general in God’s army, you need to pray about your team’s legitimate concerns before heading into battle. That doesn’t mean you cower in the face of a challenge. It just means you make doubly—even triply—sure that you are in God’s will and that you’ve counted the costs of waging war before leading others into dangerous territory.
Later, when David was anointed king over Israel, he once again faced the prospect of war. The Philistines heard he was officially installed as king and went down to the stronghold, ready to attack.
David asked the Lord, “’Shall I go up against the Philistines? Will You deliver them into my hand?’ And the Lord said to David, ‘Go up, for I will doubtless deliver the Philistines into your hand’” (2 Sam. 5:19). David defeated the Philistines and gave God the glory, saying, “The Lord has broken though my enemies before me, like a breakthrough of water” (v. 20).
Last week, I wrote a column headlined “You’re Resisting the Devil, So Why Won’t He Flee?” I talked about how pride in our spiritual warfare skills can cause us to stumble before our enemies because God resists the proud and gives grace to the humble. David didn’t make that mistake. But King Ahab did. And it’s one we need to avoid.
Ahab, Jezebel’s husband and a mighty warrior who posted many victories, was certainly full of pride. God’s prophet Micaiah clearly told him what no other false prophet on his payroll dared: that he would lose if he went to battle in Ramoth Gilead (1 Kings 22:17-23). Instead of heeding the voice of God’s prophet, proud Ahab arrested the man of God and ran to the battle line anyway. He was killed in battle.
Before you run to the battle line, ask the Holy Spirit, “Shall I go up?” Then obey what He tells you. It could be He’s assigned someone else to “go up” and defeat the enemy. It could be that God is taking the battle into His own hands. Or it could be that you aren’t yet skilled enough in battle to take on the enemy that’s rising up. The reason doesn’t matter. What matters is being in the will of God, even in our spiritual warfare. Amen.