Artists on the Front Lines

Posted: September 24, 2012 in Artists' Corner, Spiritual Growth
Tags: , ,

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Here is the basic message Jake and I taught at Resonate 2012. Enjoy!

As people, we know that we are created in the image of God. One of the essential characteristics of the nature of God is that he is infinitely creative.

That means that within each person he has placed the capacity to be creative.

As kids we all create things confidently, we innately know we were made to create. Then as time goes by, we lose our confidence in creating. We begin labeling ourselves as “not very creative.”

We tend to limit our view of creativity to the realm of the arts, not realizing that creativity can be expressed in a unlimited number of ways: through business, in medicine and government, through child rearing, even in sports.

To tap into creativity is to tap into the heart of God for your life. Even our life of worship is guided by our nature to create.

God is calling for a new breed of artists. We want to be on the lookout for artists God has set apart and gifted for his purposes. You may or may not be on stage in front of thousands. Your art may bring hundreds to their knees or it could be for God’s eyes alone.

1. You are appointed as a worshipper of God and a herald of hope to the world.

I want to show you a little story. This story is about a man named Jehoshaphat. This man was king of Judah, and a devout follower of God. He came to power and followed the ways of David. He worshipped God and God alone.

He made some mistakes yes but God was with him and had delivered him out of war between king Ahab and Gilead. Here in chapter 20, he was being attacked by three different armies.

Notice Jehoshaphat’s response to calamity…

I’m going to start in 2 Chronicles 20, verse 2:

Some people came and told Jehoshaphat, “A vast army is coming against you from Edom, from the other side of the Dead Sea. It is already in Hazezon Tamar” (that is, En Gedi). Alarmed, Jehoshaphat resolved to inquire of the Lord, and he proclaimed a fast for all Judah. The people of Judah came together to seek help from the Lord; indeed, they came from every town in Judah to seek him.

Now here is where Jehoshaphat shows his heart leading the people in worship. It says this in verse 6:

“Lord, the God of our ancestors, are you not the God who is in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. Power and might are in your hand, and no one can withstand you. Our God, did you not drive out the inhabitants of this land before your people Israel and give it forever to the descendants of Abraham your friend? They have lived in it and have built in it a sanctuary for your Name, saying, ‘If calamity comes upon us, whether the sword of judgment, or plague or famine, we will stand in your presence before this temple that bears your Name and will cry out to you in our distress, and you will hear us and save us.’

Now I’m going to skip on down to the second part of verse 12:

“For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.”

This is so cool how Jehoshaphat worships The Lord for his great power over all and confesses before all his people that he and none of them had any power or any idea what to do.

This is a man who is accustomed to humbling himself before his people and his God. This is a worshipper of God.

Then a special man arises. Let’s see who they are in verses 13-14.

All the men of Judah, with their wives and children and little ones, stood there before the Lord. Then the Spirit of the Lord came on Jahaziel son of Zechariah, the son of Benaiah, the son of Jeiel, the son of Mattaniah, a Levite and descendant of Asaph, as he stood in the assembly.

Here is where the artist arises. How do I know Jahaziel is an artist? It says he was the grandson or great grandson of Asaph. Asaph was the Chief musician appointed by King David to minister before the Lord to put the psalms to music. He was put in charge of all the of artists that David had appointed to minister before the Lord day and night. In those days, people were assigned jobs based on their families. The sons of Asaph became also became musicians, who were the worshippers, whose job it was to worship the Lord through music.

Here we have all the people waiting to hear the voice of God for something to put hope in. And Jahaziel, an artist, rises up as the voice of a prophet among them. Among all the people God entrusts the message to his worshipping artist.

And what is the message God delivers through Jahaziel? Let’s read on in verse 15:

He said: “Listen, King Jehoshaphat and all who live in Judah and Jerusalem! This is what the Lord says to you: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s. Tomorrow march down against them. They will be climbing up by the Pass of Ziz, and you will find them at the end of the gorge in the Desert of Jeruel. You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you, Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the Lord will be with you.'”

Stand firm take your positions and see the salvation of your God.

Doesn’t it kind of remind you of a verse in the New Testament? Ephesians 6:13 says this:

“Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then….”

You see, when Jehoshaphat admitted that they had no power within them to save themselves, he was right. God was about to show them just how much he wanted them to rely on Him. So this artist speaks by the spirit of The Lord. He encourages them to be strong and stand, to take their battle positions. But instead of fighting, they were merely to stand.

You see, we as artist are called to the battlefield, but we are called to fight an entirely new way. Instead of throwing punches, we are called to stand. We are called to stand in our confidence of the word of The Lord.

He said, “Take up your positions.”

You were called to sound the war cry to the troops in the army of The Lord. You were called to bring them hope. Without your voice, the church is weakened. Without your voice, the message will not reach those who are lost.

You are appointed and anointed to take up your position on the battlefield, whatever position that may be. The presence of The Lord is enough for us. We will not be afraid. We will stand.

Let’s keep reading. Take a look at verse 18.

Jehoshaphat bowed down with his face to the ground, and all the people of Judah and Jerusalem fell down in worship before the Lord. Then some Levites from the Kohathites and Korahites stood up and praised the Lord, the God of Israel, with a very loud voice.

Now we can see that the one voice of Jahaziel calls out to many more voices of artists. All the people fall down in worship but the Spirit falls on some of the singers, and more of them begin to arise.

Can you imagine the sound of those who had been appointed by the Lord to sing and praise him for the nation of Israel? They stood up and began to belt out their praises empowered to do so by the spirit of the Lord. Have you ever thought about how understated scripture can be? It says they praised the Lord with a very loud voice. If the Bible said it was loud, it was loud. If it says very loud, it must have been almost deafening. All you sound engineers, if our congregations would have heard it, it would have probably sent half of the people back to the sound board with complaints. Of course, there was no amplification needed here.

It says that those from the tribes who were appointed (the tribes of the Levites) rose up. It was as though the Spirit of the Lord came upon them and united them as one voice. Each of them simultaneously had a revelation of the fact that they were indeed appointed and that this was their time to rise up. Will you get a revelation of who you are appointed to be as an artist?

2. You must release your expression boldly.

As artists, I want to tell you that now is the time to raise your voices, let out your expressions in a bold way. Some of you have been sitting on your hands, afraid of what people may think of you and your expression. All of us deal with these fears. No matter what your skill level or perception of yourself, you may have a prophetic utterance, something you need to proclaim through your unique expression. You are uniquely designed to proclaim it in your own way.

We went to a conference by Dan McCollam which was put on by Northgate Alaska church. It was fascinating to learn that each person has a unique part of their DNA which can actually be translated into notes and made into a song. Musicians can decode this information and actually play you a copy of your DNA song. Everyone has a song, even animals. It is amazing to see…look it up on YouTube. You can actually hear the song of a swan or a dolphin. And it sounds exactly like what you think it would sound like. I heard one human song and it sounded like a dramatic movie score.

The point is that God has created this song within us. The song can be expressed even in visual ways. When God spoke his audible voice, light came into being, and all the spectrum of color with it. You realize that music is wavelengths, the spectrum of light and color are also wavelengths of a different size. So whether you do something that is related to sound or something visual, it is all within the realm of creativity.

In the temple of God, the Spirit moved upon the craftsmen to create the beautiful images the Lord commanded them to create. He moved upon the musicians to create music that elevated the name of the Lord.

You see, the arts are not an afterthought to God. They are essential just as worship is essential. For the earth to resound with the glory of God, the artists need to release their expressions without shame or fear. Now is the time. You don’t need a platform. You just need the spirit of God to give you the boldness to express what he has appointed you to do.

The next part of this scripture gave me a realization that totally rocked my world. It’s easy to miss, but let me show you starting in verse 20.

Early in the morning they left for the Desert of Tekoa. As they set out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, “Listen to me, Judah and people of Jerusalem! Have faith in the Lord your God and you will be upheld; have faith in his prophets and you will be successful.” After consulting the people, Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the Lord and to praise him for the splendor of his holiness as they went out at the head of the army, saying: “Give thanks to the Lord,for his love endures forever.”

I want you to notice something here that seems subtle. But before when I read this, I assumed that the Lord told Jehoshaphat to send his singers out first, but right here it says nothing of the sort. You see, all the Lord said was this back in verse 17 was this:

You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you, Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the Lord will be with you.'”

So the next morning, after mulling over the promises of God, they set off to obey the word of the Lord. But something occurs to Jehoshaphat. He is not satisfied with simply doing the bare minimum of what the Lord asked. He didn’t say, “Oh, man, this’ll be a cinch. All we have to do is stand there guys. God will do the rest.” Instead, he has a burning desire to do more. After consulting with his people, he decides that it would be a great idea to send his singers out first.

Here we are, singers, right there on the front lines. I don’t know about you, but I don’t think that any commander in his right mind would have thought it was a good idea to put the singers on the front lines, do you? People on the front lines are supposed to look intimidating. You’d at least think that he’d give them an intimidating song to sing. Something like, “Run away, run away. We’re gonna blast the pants off you!” or if it’s gonna be a worship song let it be, “I went to the enemy’s camp and I took back what he stole from me.” Instead, they sing, “Give thanks to the Lord for he is good. His love endures forever.”

They decided it would be a great idea to go out on the front lines of a battle and sing a love song to The Lord. It was a crazy idea. But it was was an idea that arose from the heart of worshipping people and God thought it was great!

You see, Jehoshaphat displayed something I like to call creative obedience.

3. You must be free to exercise creative obedience.

Some of you may naturally think that God would chastise the king for adding to the Lord’s command. We think he’s gonna say something like this, “Did I tell you to sing? No! How dare you sing? You didn’t even ask me if it was okay if you sing. And I didn’t even tell you what song to sing, you had the audacity to pick your own song! How dare you be so presumptuous!” In our own churches we say, “Hey man, it better be all God and none of you.”

Jesus was 100 percent God, but he was also 100 percent man. God does not despise human input as some of us may assume.

We have this idea that God is a dictator who literally dictates to us everything we are supposed to say and do and then we get the word from on high and do it. And God does do that once in a while. He has written on a wall with his own finger on one occasion, and gave very detailed instructions for building the ark and the temple.

But there are times when God is itching for some collaboration. There are times when God puts a burning inside us to be creative and he actually wants us to respond to that desire, to give into it, to express it. When we are creative, we resemble the character and nature of God. So often it is God that put that desire there within us.

You who are parents may know what it’s like to create with your children. You know you could do it better by yourself, but you love to watch your children create. Once my son made an instrument out of a stapler. He played it and sang the stapler song he made up. It was goofy, it was feeble, and I loved it. It brought joy to my heart to watch my son create. You know why I loved it? Because it was genuine, it was fun, and because he is my son.

It’s not that God is so dumb that he doesn’t have enough good ideas on his own. But by drawing us out, even in our humanness, he seeks to touch us more deeply. You see, God could write his own worship songs. God could preach his own sermons and paint his own artwork. But 9 times out of 10, he wants us to do it. It gives pleasure to his heart because we are his kids and he enjoys us.

The key for them was that their eyes were focused on God. Remember at the beginning of the story when Jehoshaphat said, “We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.” They didn’t have all their ducks in a row. They were not a perfect people, but at that moment in time, their eyes were upon him. That’s all it takes to be qualified to create before the Lord. If our eyes are on him we qualify. God can use our expressions to do mighty exploits in the spiritual realm.

Bill Johnson reports that when his church began to release people into greater levels of creativity, they began to notice an increase in the number of creative miracles that begin to occur. You know, a creative miracle, like when God forms something out of nothing, flesh and ligaments and body parts growing back from nothing? I don’t know about you, but I’ll take some of that!

Now, Jeoshaphat was a leader, he was not an artist per se. But God stirred creativity within him and he made a way for it to happen. Some of you here are more leaders than you are artists. I’d say I fall into that category. Like Jehoshaphat, you are a worshiper and you are noticing the rumblings of the creativity of God around you. You are hearing the sounds of the artists and you are compelled to express your obedience to God in a more extravagant way. I believe God is calling more and more leaders to consult with more and more artists, to find out what they are thinking and feeling. Look around you and see if there are those you need to release. Command them to arise, not to shrink back, but to put forth their best efforts for the King of Kings. There are leaders that are coming to realize that there is a prophetic release that only the artists can bring.

I am more and more convinced every day that if the hearts of leaders and artists in a city have their eyes upon the Lord, that God will usher in an awakening like never before.

Others of you consider yourself an artist, but there is also a leadership call upon your life. Do not shove this aside, but listen to the Lord and step up to the plate. You can be an artist and a leader. Your leadership skills can help your artistic endeavors and your creativity can influence the way that you lead. Others may need you to help propel them to the destiny God has in mind for them.

4. You must not shrink back from your calling to the front lines.

As an artist you are called to lead the way in this spiritual battle! You cannot sit in dark corners and hide behind other people, or your own fears anymore. You have been given gifts and talents to be used. Why? Because God wants to touch specific people through you.

So these artists went out before the army under the direction of the King. As they sang powerfully, the Lord sent ambushes against their enemies and the enemy crumbled before their eyes. These guys were skilled. They were ready.

He wants to bring you into a place of greater blessing and anointing. After the battle was won, they were able to go in and enjoy all the plunder of three nations. There is a poverty spirit over some of you. You never think you will have enough. You are not willing to invest in what you do. You are always complaining about no one appreciating you. I believe that God wants to unlock unprecedented provision to the church through his artists. But he can’t do it unless we are willing to go to the front lines.

Those who are called to the front lines have a spirit of excellence. Excellence shows something in you. It means you had to discipline yourself to study and become that way. If you have become that way it means that you on some level have proven yourself trustworthy. We cannot sit back and hope that things come to us or that maybe one day we will wake up magically amazing at our craft. No we must work at it we must study it! Artistic expression through a medium is powerful and must be stewarded.

You must learn how to use the gifts talents and abilities that God has gifted you with to their fullest potential. Only then will you be able to fully be able to lead with the power that God has intended.

Will you be gutsy enough to go to the front lines?

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Comments
  1. Gina says:

    Thank you so much for posting!

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