Any chance I get to hear Bill Johnson speak, I know I better have my computer ready.
I'm sure I look rude the whole time because I rarely, if ever, have time to look up from my screen. I'm too busy typing every word that comes out of his mouth. And not because I'm just trying to take dictation—but because every part of the sermon is usually life-chanigng.
On Monday, he kicked off Bethel's School of Worship with a bang, and once again, I found that my incredible typing skills weren't incredible enough to write down everything. But because it was so revelatory to our current situation of praising in the midst of deep pain and loss, I just had to share some of the highlights.
So here are some thoughts, jewels, and pieces of gold from my forever pastor, Bill Johnson, to help your heart and soul ponder on the subject of worship.
Out of the mouth of babies and infants, you have established strength because of your foes, to still the enemy and the avenger. (ESV)
Jesus quoted this scripture in Matthew 21:16, but he changed a few words.
and said to him, “Do you hear what these are saying?” Jesus said to them, “Yes. Did you never read, ‘Out of the mouth of babes and nursing babies you have perfected praise?'”
Jesus changed the words from ‘established strength' to ‘perfected praise.' He either misquoted the Bible, which is hard to do when you're the living word, or he gave us an insight into what the Psalmist was talking about.
Praise is perfected, another translation says establish, and this word ‘praise' in Matthew 21 means ‘story' in the Greek. So when you see strength in someone's life, Jesus is interpreting that praise is the way to personal strength.
How do we magnify God in praise? We can't make Him any bigger than He already is, but as we magnify Him, He becomes bigger than our circumstances. Praise is the decree that invites God to come do what might not have otherwise been done.
God is in charge of everything. God is not in control of everything. If you have children you know this to be true. God's will in scripture is that none would perish. Do people perish? Yes. Was it God's will? No.
God in his sovereign plan wrote your role in his places of influence on the earth. If we don't preach the gospel, Jesus isn't coming back to do it. Jesus said “I'm the light of the world” (John 8:12), then he says ‘You're the light of the world” (Matt 5:14). He passed the baton to you. There is no plan B. You are the plan.
Sometimes when you're willing to do what you're not qualified to do, that's what qualifies you.
No freshly spoken word of God will come to you without it's own ability to perform itself. The power is in the seed–the word itself.
GATES OF PRAISE:
Violence shall no more be heard in your land,
devastation or destruction within your borders;
you shall call your walls Salvation,
and your gates Praise.
The gates to the city of God are made of one substance: Pearls. And pearls are made from irritation.
You can never be in pain and give a gift of worship in heaven. Worship in the midst of pain is only something you can do on this earth. And the pain in that moment makes the incense of worship more valuable. That is how gates of praise are formed–I respond to God based upon His goodness, not on my outcome.
You form gates by taking the moments of your greatest victory, pain, irritation, hurt, putting it inside of your heart, and offering it to God in praise.
Lift up your heads, O gates!
And be lifted up, O ancient doors,
that the King of glory may come in.
Bill said, “The 40 years of my life have been forming this gate of praise. And every time I go through, I clear the way for people.”
Worship is a weapon of war, but here is the fine line. When the reason for worship is warfare, it's no longer worship. It's flattery. When you do something in flattery, it's so you can get something back. When you worship because you want a result, it's not worship.
Honest worship is when I worship when I don't feel like it. It's based upon who HE is and not how I feel.”
Ok, friends, Christa here with a few closing thoughts. I'd never given much thought to why the gates to the kingdom of God were made of pearls, and how pearls are made and formed from irritation. The more I run through those gates to praise God in the midst of every circumstance—magnifying Him because of who HE is, and not because of the outcome—the bigger that gate becomes in my life. I want my life to be a gate of praise. I want my heart to get so used to offering praise in all circumstances, that God is all I see in the midst of my problems.
And as I lift up my head, oh ye gates, this God, this King, this LOVE is welcomed into my life, my home, my relationships, and my circumstances.
Lift up your head and praise today, no matter what you're facing. Lift up your head and praise no matter how you feel. Praise Him because of who HE is, and not because you need an outcome. Praise Him so much, those gates are established in your life, and you run through them into the kingdom of heaven that is your inheritance.