Worship is many things to many people, but to the Lord, worship is only one thing: Ministry to Him. It is not a popular perspective to assert that praise and worship are exclusively God-centered. Why? Because with that understanding comes the responsibility to change the way that things are. The supernatural powers that worship presents in the life of the believer aren’t limited to the spirit or soul, but are also seen within the mind.
Praise and worship refocus your mind off of yourself and onto Him as you minister to Him from your gratitude, from your submission, from your weakness, your emptiness, from within your storm. Faith-filled, sacrificial, raw- praise and worship are not your gift to the Lord, but His gift to you.
In the book of Judges, Gideon was commissioned by the Lord to lead the nation of Israel into freedom and victory from the Midianites who were tormenting and taunting God’s people, raiding, marauding, killing and terrorizing them into poverty and perpetual fear. Gideon’s weakness (Judges 6:15) was the perfect condition for the Lord to prove Himself strong and the victory God gave His people through Gideon became the stuff of legend, but before Gideon could fight a public battle, he had to fight a personal battle…
Tearing Down the Asherah Poles Within
It was a common practice in Israel at that time to have household shrines and idols, even among the people of God who had blended their worship of the One True God with the worship of the idols of the pagan nations that surrounded them. (That mixture of truth and lies was a perpetual source of demonic activity through the nation’s history and left doors wide open for the enemy to constantly attack!) Throughout Israel’s history, many leaders came along and tore down the “high places” where Ba’al and other gods were worshipped, but the Asherah poles were a different story. Most of the time, they were left in place because they were objects of private worship, within one’s own household. Families often carved their own, unique Asherah poles. They represented generational worship, family traditions and were even heirlooms within a family.
We all, as God’s people, desire a closer, deeper and more powerful, dynamic relationship with the Lord and that is what He wants too, and that connection will be at its strongest in praise and worship. While the “high places” in our lives represent the most visible issues we need to go after and tear down in our lives, it’s the “Asherah poles” that are an ongoing problem. Why? Because they’re idols and strongholds that have been in place for so long we overlook them, or we’ve simply learned to live alongside them. But before Gideon could be ready to take the lead before God’s people, he had to take the spiritual lead at home and confront the idols and strongholds within his home and family.
Thought for today: Avoid Unintentional Idolatry
One of the most foundational principles of praise is this: If you are not intentionally worshipping the Lord as part of your daily, personal lifestyle of praise, you run the very real risk of unintentionally worshipping someone or something else. Anything in the world can become an object of idolatry because the force behind idolatry is the worship, desire for, praise, exaltation, admiration, emphasis of, or intimacy with anyone or anything more than you have it with Christ, first. Incorporating prayer, worship and the Word of God into your daily life will help keep your mind focused on Him and will help you better recognize areas in which idolatry might be an issue. Gideon had to confront the idolatry in himself, and in his own home before the Lord used him to win over the enemy.
The Lord said this to Gideon:
“Tear down your father’s Baal altar and cut down the Asherah pole beside it. Then build an altar to the Lord your God on top of this stronghold in an orderly way. Take the second bull and offer it as a burnt offering with the wood of the Asherah pole that you will cut down.”
Confronting those family strongholds and idols was not an easy task for Gideon, in fact, he did it under cover of night! (Judges 6: 27) But he did it. And it was the key to breakthrough! In fact, the Lord used those very things – the wood from the poles – to ignite Gideon into true worship. How fascinating and ironic- the very things that were used to pull God’s people away, He set them ablaze and used for His glory!! Every family has strongholds, things we idolize and even things we “worship” that are not God-centered. Maybe it’s social media, time in front of the television, the shows we like, things we listen to, books, ideas, fears, hopes and dreams and goals and plans… Are they your “Asherah poles”? Ask the Lord to show you what you’re worshipping within your home, where your mind is being pulled away from Him, your time, your energy, your focus and the lead the way in cutting those things out. It won’t be popular, but this is what leaders do- they go first- into victory!! You’ve asked for more of Him- and He’s asking for more of you!
Keep Close to the Lord and Confront the Enemy’s Control!
- “If You Return to Egypt, You’ll Worship it’s Idols”
- “Before the gods I Will Sing Praise to the Lord”
- “Worship the Living Because the Dead Can’t Help You”
Don’t forget to pick up a copy of The Way of the Worshipper on Amazon – and AVAILABLE NOW you can also purchase The Way of the Worshipper: A Devotional Workbook for deeper study, personal examination and spiritual growth!