Saturday, May 12, 2018

Changing the Atmosphere

We hear a lot these days about how the earth's atmosphere is changing. We also hear about geoengineering, in which man is intentionally changing the atmosphere. While that can and does occur in the natural realm, it can also occur in the spiritual realm.

Here is another illustration on a smaller scale that we can all relate to. Have you ever walked into a room and discovered that it had an odor you didn't like, and you decided to open some windows to refresh the air? That's just a simple example of one way to change the atmosphere in the natural realm. Likewise, there are times when the spiritual atmosphere needs to be changed, and there is a biblical way to do so, which we will examine together in detail here in this article.

Link Between the Spiritual and Natural Realms
As I explained in my previous article, The Link Between Two Realms, there is a direct connection between the natural and spiritual realms. Things that we do in the natural realm transfer over into the spiritual realm, and things that are happening in the spiritual realm transfer over into the natural realm. For example, if there is an oppressive spirit in a particular place, then it will be reflected in the way people feel. Consequently, their words, actions, and attitudes in that place will be in accordance with that oppressive atmosphere, unless they resist it. Likewise, if the music in a place glorifies satan, like the way rock music does, then there will be a tangible darkness in that place and the actions of the people there will be in accordance with it.

Conversely, if there is a spirit of faith in a given place, then it will lend itself to a tangible openness and a heightened expectation for miracles and healing to happen. I recall that it was this way on the Bible school campus that I attended at Zion Bible Institute in Barrington, Rhode Island. And indeed miracles were rather commonplace there. On the other hand, I have been to other places where there was a spirit of darkness, doubt, and unbelief. In Jesus' own hometown, even He was unable to do many miracles there, except lay His hands on a few sick people and heal them, because they didn't believe in Him. (Mar 6:4-6). In fact, He wondered at their unbelief.

Now let's give some examples from Scripture of changing the atmosphere.

Jesus Changed the Atmosphere
At the synagogue ruler's house, Jesus changed the atmosphere. Let's observe how:

"While he was saying this, a synagogue leader came and knelt before him and said, 'My daughter has just died. But come and put your hand on her, and she will live.' Jesus got up and went with him, and so did his disciples." (Mat 9:18-19, NIV)

"When Jesus entered the synagogue leader’s house and saw the noisy crowd and people playing pipes, he said, 'Go away. The girl is not dead but asleep.' But they laughed at him. After the crowd had been put outside, he went in and took the girl by the hand, and she got up. News of this spread through all that region." (Mat 9:23-26, NIV)

Why did Jesus put the crowd out of the house? It was because they were noisily mourning the girl's death, playing sad and mournful music on the flutes, and the atmosphere was not one in which to raise her from the dead. It was not conducive--in terms of faith--to her being raised up, but a disorderly one that gave way to grief over the girl's death. It was an atmosphere of fear, doubt, and unbelief.

By putting them all out of the house, Jesus changed the atmosphere. That is also why he did not let anyone go in with Him except Peter, James, John, and the child's father and mother (Lk 8:51). Then He went in and took the girl by the hand, her spirit returned to her body, and she got up.

Perhaps you think that Jesus raised her from the dead, because He was God. Certainly He was God from His very birth and even before He was conceived in the womb (see Is Jesus God?). The apostle John says that in the beginning He was with God and He was God (Jn 1:1). But the apostle Paul also tells us that Jesus emptied Himself of the glory and power He had with the Father before He came to earth. He said, "Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness." (Phil 2:6-7, NIV).

This is known in Christian theology as His kenosis or self-emptying. In simple terms we can all understand, it was essentially His humiliation. He reduced Himself to the same level that all other men are at without ceasing to be God. It was like He tied both His hands behind His back in a sense, and had to do things the same way He expected His followers to do them, which is through prayer and the power of the Holy Spirit. That means that all of the miracles and healing He performed were done by the power of the Holy Spirit, as I wrote in my article, By the Spirit of God Alone. He Himself was baptized in water and with the Holy Spirit, and then declared that the Spirit of the Lord was upon Him, because He had anointed Him to preach the gospel, bring recovery of sight to the blind, and to set the oppressed captives free. (Lk 4:18). Therefore, He was our example in all things, and the way He went about doing things is the way we must go about them, too.

Peter Changed the Atmosphere
Following Christ's example, Peter also changed the atmosphere before raising Dorcas from the dead. All healing and miracles are done by faith, and he first removed all distractions that would interfere with faith, which meant the weeping mourners had to leave the room. Scripture states:

"Now in Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha (which translated in Greek is called Dorcas); this woman was abounding with deeds of kindness and charity which she continually did. And it happened at that time that she fell sick and died; and when they had washed her body, they laid it in an upper room. Since Lydda was near Joppa, the disciples, having heard that Peter was there, sent two men to him, imploring him, 'Do not delay in coming to us.' So Peter arose and went with them."

"When he arrived, they brought him into the upper room; and all the widows stood beside him, weeping and showing all the tunics and garments that Dorcas used to make while she was with them. But Peter sent them all out and knelt down and prayed, and turning to the body, he said, 'Tabitha, arise.' And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter, she sat up. And he gave her his hand and raised her up; and calling the saints and widows, he presented her alive. It became known all over Joppa, and many believed in the Lord." (Act 9:36-42)

Elisha Changed the Atmosphere
Do you remember how Elisha changed the atmosphere? It was through music.

"Then the king of Israel said, 'Alas! For the LORD has called these three kings to give them into the hand of Moab.' But Jehoshaphat said, 'Is there not a prophet of the LORD here, that we may inquire of the LORD by him?' And one of the king of Israel's servants answered and said, 'Elisha the son of Shaphat is here, who used to pour water on the hands of Elijah.' Jehoshaphat said, 'The word of the LORD is with him.' So the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat and the king of Edom went down to him."

"Now Elisha said to the king of Israel, 'What do I have to do with you? Go to the prophets of your father and to the prophets of your mother.' And the king of Israel said to him, 'No, for the LORD has called these three kings together to give them into the hand of Moab.' Elisha said, 'As the LORD of hosts lives, before whom I stand, were it not that I regard the presence of Jehoshaphat the king of Judah, I would not look at you nor see you. But now bring me a minstrel.' And it came about, when the minstrel played, that the hand of the LORD came upon him." (2Ki 3:10-15)

He called for the minstrel to play his instrument, and when the minstrel did so, the hand of the Lord came upon him, so that he was able to prophesy. The music effected a change in the spiritual realm. Something changed in the atmosphere that made it conducive to prophesying. 

David Changed the Atmosphere
Not only did Elisha use music to change the atmosphere, but David did, too.  He did this in the presence of King Saul, who had an evil spirit that made him experience outbursts of anger.

"Now the Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the LORD terrorized him. Saul's servants then said to him, 'Behold now, an evil spirit from God is terrorizing you. Let our lord now command your servants who are before you. Let them seek a man who is a skillful player on the harp; and it shall come about when the evil spirit from God is on you, that he shall play the harp with his hand, and you will be well.' So Saul said to his servants, 'Provide for me now a man who can play well and bring him to me.' Then one of the young men said, 'Behold, I have seen a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite who is a skillful musician, a mighty man of valor, a warrior, one prudent in speech, and a handsome man; and the LORD is with him.'" (1Sa 16:14-18)

"Then David came to Saul and attended him; and Saul loved him greatly, and he became his armor bearer. Saul sent to Jesse, saying, 'Let David now stand before me, for he has found favor in my sight.' So it came about whenever the evil spirit from God came to Saul, David would take the harp and play it with his hand; and Saul would be refreshed and be well, and the evil spirit would depart from him." (1Sa 16:21-23)

The Scripture says that whenever the evil spirit came to Saul, David would play his harp, and Saul would be well, and the evil spirit would depart from him. The music of his harp produced a change in the spiritual realm that changed the atmosphere such that the evil spirit would not want to remain there. Glory to God!

Praise Changes the Atmosphere
In the same way, praise changes the atmosphere. That can happen when someone is praising the Lord without musical accompaniment (i.e., a Capella), or it can happen when someone sings praises to the music of instruments. The reason is simple: God builds His throne upon the praises of His people. David wrote in the twenty second psalm, "Yet You are holy, O You who are enthroned upon the praises of Israel." (Psa 22:3). Therefore, when the praises go up, the glory comes down. He lives within the praises of His people. I encourage you to try it yourself. Praise His name and you will never be the same. The glory of the Lord will fill the place where you are.

When I was in the Army, I came to know Christ, and He set me free from my life of sin. Now I found myself living in a military barracks as a young, single man with other soldiers that were still bound by sin as I had been, yet they had no intention of changing. The rock music, pornographic videos and magazines, cigarettes and alcohol, course joking and foul language, were all around me. The atmosphere during off duty hours was similar to college dorm life in that respect, except with a little more discipline. One thing I did to cope with this dark and ungodly atmosphere was to wear a portable audio-cassette player clipped to my belt that I could carry about as I went about my tasks in the evening. That was before the days of CD players and MP3 players. I wore my light headphones and listened to Christian music that changed the atmosphere for me and made it one that glorified God, so that I was able to bear living in that environment.

My wife Jennifer tells me of what she did on one particular occasion when she was a teenage girl experiencing a sense of darkness about her. At that time she was probably fifteen or sixteen years old. She went into her bedroom and put an album on her record player and the first song that came on was called "Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus." The vocalist on the album began singing the opening lines that go like this:

O soul are you weary and troubled?
No light in the darkness you see?
There's light for a look at the Savior
And life more abundant and free

Turn you eyes upon Jesus
Look full in His wonderful face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace

So she knelt down beside her bed and turned her face upward, turning her eyes upon Jesus. As she did so, the atmosphere in her room changed and she experienced the light of His glory and grace upon her.

On another occasion when she was a young, single adult in graduate school at Regent University, she was in her apartment feeling rather depressed. So she turned on her radio in her bedroom and listened to a two-hour, praise-and-worship radio program. She occasionally prayed, but she mostly just sat and listened to the praise and worship music. At the end of that time, her friend Janice came and knocked at the door to her apartment to get her for work. They both worked for Regent University's Housekeeping Department cleaning apartments there in the village. When Jennifer opened the door, Janice took one look at her face and said something to the effect that, "Wow! What's happened to you? You're glowing!" What happened was that she changed the atmosphere through praise and worship.

Likewise, in our home today, our children change the atmosphere through praise and worship. Sometimes it is when one of them is going about her chores, sweetly singing praises to the Lord. At other times, it happens when they gather around together while one of them plays the guitar, and perhaps another plays the keyboard, while they all join in singing praises to God. It creates a wonderful atmosphere in the house, which I am able to sense even when I am downstairs in my office. Heaven comes down and fills the place.

Paul and Silas Changed the Atmosphere
When Paul and Silas were in prison in Philippi, they changed the atmosphere in that place through their prayer and praises. Prisons in those days were not like the prisons we have today, where there are beds, sinks, toilets, heating, and a cafeteria. They were cold, dark, probably dank, and infested with pests such as spiders, centipedes, perhaps lice, and various bugs, as well as mice, rats or bats. First they were beaten with many blows, and then after being thrown into prison, their feet were fastened in the stocks. Here is what happened in that place.

"But about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the prisoners were listening to them; and suddenly there came a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison house were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone's chains were unfastened." (Act 16:25-26)

At midnight, they could have been complaining or sleeping, but they didn't yield to their flesh. Instead these two men chose as an act of their will to pray and sing praises to the Lord. Prayer and praise changed the atmosphere, such that it actually caused a sudden great earthquake that shook the foundations of the prison. What they did in the natural realm caused something to change in the spirit realm, which in turn affected a change in the natural realm in the form of an earthquake. Not only did the ground shake, but all the doors opened and everyone's chains were unfastened.

Scripture Reading Changes the Atmosphere
There are many other things that can change the atmosphere. One of them is reading Scripture aloud. When you begin to read the Word of God out loud or play back a recording of someone else reading the Bible, such as you can find on various audio Bibles available for free on the internet, you will notice that it changes the atmosphere. Light comes into that place. In fact, even if you read your Bible silently, it changes the atmosphere. When you open up the Bible, it is like a great flood light is shining up at you and as you read, that light will enter your soul. But reading it aloud is the best way to experience the most powerful effect of it.

Proclamations of Faith Change the Atmosphere
Another one is making proclamations out loud like the ones I have written about in my article, Personal Proclamations of Faith. If you begin to activate your faith and declare what you believe out loud, it will change the atmosphere. The demons fear your faith, and they will not want to be around if you keep boldly declaring those things aloud.

Thanksgiving Changes the Atmosphere
Finally, it will change the atmosphere when you begin to just give thanks to God for everything you can think of, such as I have written about in my article, Giving Thanks in Everything. Thanksgiving to God is a type of offering, and while it may be a sacrifice for you to do so, assuming you have your fair share of burdens and cares, it will bring a change in your environment. It will create an atmosphere in which the Holy Spirit feels welcome and God's presence envelopes you. Try it and you will see what I mean.

Putting it All Together
As I have just explained, there are positive ways that we can change the atmosphere we are in, according to the Word of God. They include removing the noisy voices of fear, doubt, and unbelief that are all around you, and entering into prayer, praises, and thanksgiving, as well as faith proclamations and Scripture reading, especially aloud. As you do these things, you will experience the shift in your environment. You'll be blessed because you did so. Something will change in the spirit realm and that will in turn be tangibly felt in that place.

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from NASB, copyright the Lockman Foundation. Other Scriptures from the Holy Bible NIV, copyright Zondervan, where noted. Image by First Assembly Roxas Missions, Inc. in the Philippines is used according to Fair Use Act for commentary and educational purposes only. It may be subject to copyright.

Author's Note:  If you enjoyed this message,  you may also like other articles on the Home page of this blog. I recommend reading The Link Between two Realms, Praise the Lord, Personal Proclamations of Faith, Crying out to God Loudly, Giving Thanks in Everything, Songs of the Holy Fire, and The Sudden Nature of God's Kingdom. I also invite you to visit my collection of blogs at "Writing for the Master."  Now let me ask you a very important question.

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
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Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.

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