Worship Lesson # 1 - Introduction
Developing As A Spiritual Leader Through Worship
Worship is a requirement of leadership. It is essential.
If we are not worshipping, we can’t lead others in worship and practicing the presence of God.
Our focus will be especially on personal worship, although we may touch on corporate worship.
“Then He showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the Angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to oppose him. And the LORD said to Satan, "The LORD rebuke you, Satan! The LORD who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is this not a brand plucked from the fire?" Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and was standing before the Angel. Then He answered and spoke to those who stood before Him, saying, "Take away the filthy garments from him." And to him He said, "See, I have removed your iniquity from you, and I will clothe you with rich robes." And I said, "Let them put a clean turban on his head." So they put a clean turban on his head and they put the clothes on him. And the Angel of the LORD stood by.” (Zech. 3:1-5)
JOSHUA'S VERY BAD DAY
Joshua the priest was neither a nervous individual nor an incompetent one. But today was the day.
He was nervous and had scrubbed his skin until it was nearly raw. His garments, although brand-new, had been washed repeatedly.
Everything had been thought through, everything ordered, everything prepared.
Nonetheless tension wrinkled his nerves, an inner turmoil wrestled with his spirit.
Today he was to lead his people in the worship of God!
The temple was now complete. All was prepared. All was clean. All was beautiful.
Singers and players had rehearsed. The courses of priests had followed their regulations, practiced their rites, perfected their rituals.
When the hordes of Nebuchadnezzar's army had destroyed the temple in Jerusalem decades earlier, many survivors thought that all hope was lost, all promises dissipated, the future but a vapor.
But now there was a new temple in Jerusalem.
True, it was modest compared with the building it replaced, but it was completed and the worship of the high God of heaven could commence.
Many people would be involved on this grand day, but no one person was more significant than he.
For he, Joshua, was the high priest, and he was to lead the people in worshiping the Lord.
Long before the rays of the morning sun broke over the Mount of Olives Joshua was up and alert.
He was in prayer and also in deep thought.
He dressed with care, his attendants assuring him that all was clean, that his new clothing was spotless.
At the appointed time amid the excitement of the people and among his attendant priests, Joshua made his solemn approach to the new temple.
He mounted the stairs, passed through the gates, entered the courts, and suddenly was transformed.
WHAT PLACE IS THIS?
The scene had changed. Was he asleep, or in a trance?
This was not the temple in Jerusalem. He had moved through an earthly gate and had entered the courts of heaven's throne!
Like Isaiah more than two hundred years earlier, he now found himself unexpectedly facing the Lord, Yahweh of hosts, the King of heaven.
And, like Isaiah, he was nearly destroyed.
Joshua gasped, closed his eyes, felt faint.
Without even a glance to the throne he fell, face to the ground, hands over his head.
He knew where he was, but understood nothing about how it had happened.
He was in heaven's city. He was in heaven's courts. He was before heaven's throne and heaven's God.
At first all he could hear was the sound of his own heart racing in his chest, the gasping of his breath. Then above the din of his own body's inner noises he heard the sound of an unearthly voice.
He was told to stand. Later he tried to think how he ever managed to do that once simple act. Stand? In the presence of the Creator?
Somehow, in some manner, he accomplished this action, but he dared not look forward.
He kept his eyes closed and his head down. But there he stood.
And as he stood, he became aware of the most awful of things.
It was a smell, the odor of human excrement!
If the glory of the throne before him could not allow him to open his eyes fully, the horror of his own odor caused him to peer briefly at his own garments.
And the sight caused him nearly to faint again.
His beautiful garments were spattered with waste. And there he stood, before the throne of heaven's glory.
How could this be? He had never worn these clothes before this moment.
They had been washed repeatedly, even though they were pristine, new, never worn.
Now he could no longer help himself. He looked at his sleeves, the skirt of his robe, his sandals.
Everywhere he looked it seemed things were worse than where he had just looked.
When he was first aware that he was standing before the throne of God, he was afraid he might die.
Now his fear was that death might not come quickly enough.
And then he began to make sense of the words of the loud, sonorous voice.
He stole a glance at the one who was speaking.
At first he saw only a dazzling, shimmering phantom being. Then he glanced again, then again, and then he held his gaze, riveted at the strange, bizarre sight.
The sight was simply astounding. He saw a person, a heavenly being. For a moment the being seemed to be the most beautiful and radiant creature one could ever imagine.
But when he spoke, the face changed into features more hideous than a nightmare might allow. The voice was like an ocean's roar.
Then the priest heard the words, and even more awful than the words, he heard the laughter. Hateful laughter. Hideous laughter. Haunting laughter.
Perhaps the laughter was the worst of all. The dazzling, hateful being was mocking him, deriding him.
Gradually Joshua was aware of something even more insidious. The Accuser was laughing.
"You call this your priest?" he mocked. "Look at him! He is covered in filth."
The laughter that followed was as powerful and as evil as might be imagined if there were countless cracks of thunder accompanying a most violent storm in hell itself.
And the worst of it was that the accusations were correct.
In this case the father of lies did not have to use deception.
But then Joshua heard another voice.
The new voice was not loud, but it seemed to have the potential to shatter mountains.
Better, this was the voice that could call mountains into being.
The new voice was authority. Heaven's authority.
And when he heard the words, he could hardly believe them.
The words of the second voice were not directed toward him.
The second speaker was addressing his tormentor.
And the new voice said to the first speaker, "The Lord rebuke you, accusing one."
The priest trembled again. Someone was speaking in his defense.
It might cost him his life, but he dared a glance in the direction of the new voice.
And he was dazzled anew! Whereas the first creature was hard to fix, changing between radiant beauty and hideous repugnance, the second person was as glorious as light.
Both figures, he realized, were angels.
The one was the epitome of evil; the other was a holy being.
The one was the angel of darkness; the other the angel of light.
The one had no real place in heaven; the other belonged next to the throne.
The second was the Angel of the Lord (Jesus - Yahweh).
The Angel of the Lord stood there before heaven's throne in a position of quiet dignity.
Clearly this was where He belonged!
A glance to the first creature confirmed a growing suspicion in the priest's mind; the first creature did not belong here.
He had made an appearance, but it seemed that he had come just because the priest was to be there.
Joshua's thoughts were in a whirl.
He heard the words of the Angel of the Lord repeating his condemnation of the Accuser, an announcement of eternal damnation.
The Angel of the Lord spoke lovingly of Jerusalem and compassionately of Jerusalem's priest – of him!
And as the angel spoke, the accuser slunk back, shrunk down, and was gone.
Joshua still dared not glance at heaven's throne.
Had he done so (and lived), he might have seen a gentle nod of Majesty.
Suddenly he was aware of myriads of angelic beings surrounding him.
They were above, below, and all around him.
Until now he had been completely unaware of their presence – a not unusual phenomenon for God's angels!
Again the Angel spoke, giving a gentle command.
Holy angels approached the still foul-smelling priest, extended their arms, obeyed the command, and removed his clothing.
Then, gentle as dew on the petals of flowers, they cleansed his skin of any remaining sight or smell of the offending garments.
The Angel spoke yet again, his voice like melodious songbirds, the effect of the waves of sound like the drinking of cool water on a blisteringly hot day.
And the words were, "Clothe him, dress him with clean garments."
This the angels did. And while dressing the priest so that he would be truly prepared to lead in the worship of heaven's King, another voice was heard.
The last voice was that of the one who dreamed this scene.
He was a prophet of God named Zechariah.
Now in the midst of his own revelatory dream he shouted out, "Don't forget the clean turban!"
The priest was now fully prepared to lead his people in worshiping God. [End]
SPEAKING OF JOSHUA
The above story stresses that the stripping off of the excrement on the spattered garments of the high priest is a poignant picture (a type) of the removal of sin when one is forgiven by the loving, sovereign Lord.
It also stresses that God in His saving work does not merely strip away one's sin, but then completes His work by "dressing" that person in the righteousness of Christ.
This is the imputation of righteousness, the bringing of the righteousness of Another, where it is lacking in oneself.
All these points are true and good, but I wish here to make a different point, the preparation of God's spiritual leader for God's worship.
Left to our own devices with all the activities that we might personally engage in, we might appear in heaven's light to be as foul as was Joshua in Zechariah's dream.
Providing spiritual leadership, including the leading of believers in worship is a challenging task.
It has extensions and connections to the unseen world about us and the glories of the world to come.
Angels attend our worship of God.
More precisely, our true worship joins our acts and attitudes with the worship of spirit beings (angels) around heaven's throne.
Nothing in life could be more impressive than this!
But preparation and presentation, if they are done in our own strength, are insufficient for our holy task.
Preparation and presentation in worship must be done by God's power, in His Spirit, and to His glory.
There needs to be a stripping away of self-created concerns and a receiving of heaven's mantle.
Also attention needs to be given even to what one wears when leading in worship.
Zechariah’s vision at night was a vision that God used in the life of the prophet in which God was teaching Israel (and us) about His righteousness, mercy, and great grace.
Surely the prophet Zechariah would have told the story to Joshua the Priest.
Imagine the impact this dream would have had on the young priest of God as he prepared in real time for his initial ministry and the sacred places in the new temple.
I suspect that when Joshua actually did prepare himself for that first morning, he gave inordinate attention to the cleanliness of his garments.
The visionary dream of the prophet was a nightmare for the priest.
Surely he also gave considerable attention to his heart.
The deeper spiritual issues could not have escaped the understanding of this godly young man of God.
So I project that the first day of his ministry for the living God in the holy temple was actually a very good day.
But Joshua was a true worshiper of the living God.
Are you a true worshipper of God?
Christian leaders must be true worshipers of the living God.
We must know God intimately and live in His presence daily – on a continual basis.
I am convinced that knowing God intimately in a close, personal relationship; that is, experiencing God’s presence through worship on an ongoing basis, and delighting in Him is the key to effective, spiritual leadership.
Ministry flows out of being. Or, the presence of God manifesting in our lives continuously.
This worship and practicing the presence of God will enable us to be tuned into God’s purposes and direction in our lives.
The central task of leadership is influencing God’s people toward God’s purposes.
A Christian leader is someone who is called by God to lead, leading with and through Christ-like character and demonstrating the functional competencies that permit effective leadership to take place.
Leadership is influence, the ability of one person to influence another.
A leaders’ persuasion is never enough unless accompanied by personal example.
Our personal example will best be established and carried out as committed worshipers of our Almighty God.
We will best influence others by not only knowing about God, but knowing God intimately … living in His presence on a daily basis.
Worship is not a fad wind of doctrine. It is the eternal occupation of the hosts of heaven. (More about this in our next session).
We cannot even worship untainted by the smell of flesh unless the Triune God be pleased to glorify Himself in spite of ourselves.
Jesus is calling His bride to higher levels of devotion, purity, and sensitivity to His voice.
God continues to give us new glimpses of ageless truth.
He wants to make His greatness come alive as never before.
Isn’t it awesome that we can never get to the end, or the depth, or the height, or the breadth of Him?
We’ll have all eternity to pursue Him.
And we must influence others to pursue God, as we ourselves continue to develop as spiritual leaders.
Spiritual leaders help to move people on to God’s agenda.
Spiritual leaders help to move others to pursue the presence of God.
Spiritual leaders influence others to live a continual life of worship before the Almighty, Eternal, Creator, God.
What is the Spiritual Leader’s Task?
The Spiritual Leader’s Task (by Henry Blackaby)
1) The spiritual leader’s task is to move people from where they are to where God wants them to be.
- This is influence.
- Once spiritual leaders understand God’s will, they make every effort to move their followers from following their own agendas to pursuing God’s purposes.
2) Spiritual leaders depend on the Holy Spirit to influence others.
- Ultimately, spiritual leaders cannot produce spiritual change in people; only the Holy Spirit can accomplish this. Yet the Spirit often uses people to bring about spiritual growth in others.
3) Spiritual leaders are accountable to God.
- Spiritual leadership necessitates an acute sense of accountability.
- Leaders assume their responsibility is to move people to do God’s will.
4) Spiritual leaders can influence all people, not just God’s people.
- God is on mission at the local factory (work arena) as well as the local church. His agenda applies in the marketplace as well as the meeting place.
5) Spiritual leaders work from God’s agenda.
- The greatest obstacles to effective spiritual leadership is pursuing their own agendas rather than seeking God’s will.
- God is working throughout the world to achieve His purposes and to advance His kingdom.
- God is working to draw us into His presence and into an intimate relationship with Him.
Do you want to seek and know God’s will as a spiritual leader and to accomplish all of a spiritual leader’s tasks?
An intimate relationship with God and worship from the heart is the key.
Do you want to be a spiritual leader with spiritual authority for God’s honor and glory?
Than it is imperative that you live in God’s presence – that you are a whole-hearted worshipper of God.
Of course, our model for spiritual leadership in the realm of a life offered as worship is or Lord and Savior Jesus.
Scripture says in Luke 2:52 that Jesus “grew in wisdom and stature, in favor with God and man.”
Jesus developed His relationship with God the Father as well as with people.
If is safe to say that Jesus as God/Man lived in intimate relationship with His father.
Jesus recognized His Father’s voice and understood His Father’s will.
And because He knew His Father’s will, Jesus did not allow people’s opinions to sidetrack Him from His mission.
The temptations in the wilderness were Satan’s attempts to prevent Jesus from obeying the Father. But Jesus resisted all of Satan’s temptations.
Jesus came to fulfill His Father’s plan of salvation.
He spent each day looking to see what the Father would reveal about His will.
When He observed the Father at work, Jesus adjusted His life to join Him.
Even in the most difficult assignments, including the cross, Jesus accepted His Father’s will unwaveringly.
Jesus has established the model for Christian leaders.
It is not found in His “methodology.” Rather, it is seen in His absolute obedience to the Father’s will.
The key to completing our purpose in the Father’s work is through sincere worship and participating in an intimate relationship with Father God – abiding in His presence, just like Jesus.
And once this is place, we will establish another key: to obey and to preserve everything the Father reveals to them of His will.
But the Father will only share His secrets with those who intimately know Him!
He will not share His secrets with strangers.
Jeremiah 29:13 states: “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”
We will find God when we seek Him with all of our hearts.
There are various ways to develop as a spiritual leader.
But at the center of each one must be worship, prayer (communication with God), and living in His presence.
In our next session, I’ll be discussing about Spiritual Hunger to worship God and a desire to continuously living in God’s presence.