Pondering the Battles before Me

images-battleJanuary 2001

Work was imploding, my dad just had a heart attack, we just suffered a miscarriage.

I would just come home numb, lie down in bed, and pull the covers over me. I was done.

Summer 2012

When I revisited this message for the purpose of these notes you will read below to present to a group of people at a church, life was in the midst of the biggest battle yet.

I would love to say I won all of the battles I faced, but the truth is, I severely lost most of them. But, because of this, I thank God for in this process, I found myself and I found Him.

But before we begin with this passage, lets look at the last line of the last chapter…

“Take courage as you fulfill your duties, and may the LORD be with those who do what is right.” (2 Chronicles 19:11 NLT) 

How does one do what is right when the battles of this life rise up?

Lets begin with 2 Chronicles, chapter 20, verse 1…

After this, the armies of the Moabites, Ammonites, and some of the Meunites declared war on Jehoshaphat. Messengers came and told Jehoshaphat, “A vast army from Edom is marching against you from beyond the Dead Sea. They are already at Hazazon-tamar.” (This was another name for En-gedi.)

Jehoshaphat was terrified by this news and begged the LORD for guidance. He also ordered everyone in Judah to begin fasting. So people from all the towns of Judah came to Jerusalem to seek the LORD’s help. 

How do you respond when things go down? Is this the first thing you do, or the last thing you do? Going to the Lord.

Jehoshaphat stood before the community of Judah and Jerusalem in front of the new courtyard at the Temple of the LORD. He prayed, “O LORD, God of our ancestors, you alone are the God who is in heaven. You are ruler of all the kingdoms of the earth. You are powerful and mighty; no one can stand against you! 

How often in these seasons do you remind yourself in prayer declaring who God is? …and that He is on the throne.

O our God, did you not drive out those who lived in this land when your people Israel arrived? And did you not give this land forever to the descendants of your friend Abraham? Your people settled here and built this Temple to honor your name. They said, ‘Whenever we are faced with any calamity such as war, plague, or famine, we can come to stand in your presence before this Temple where your name is honored. We can cry out to you to save us, and you will hear us and rescue us.’

How often in these seasons do we remind ourselves in prayer that which God has previously done? …and that He is able.

And now see what the armies of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir are doing. You would not let our ancestors invade those nations when Israel left Egypt, so they went around them and did not destroy them. Now see how they reward us! For they have come to throw us out of your land, which you gave us as an inheritance. O our God, won’t you stop them? 

How often do we in prayer dwell on this before dwelling on the previous reminders of who God is and what God has done? How often do we dwell on this before even going to God in prayer? I call it… Paralysis from Analysis. My name means warrior, but I have long been a worrier.

How would this prayer be different if it started with this before getting to who God is and what He has done? Praying the way he did is like looking at your situation through a whole new set of lenses. It brings a hopeful and victorious perspective that has the power to change our posture and embolden our faith.

“Having hope will give you courage. You will be protected and will rest in safety.” – Job 11:8 (NLT)

I think too often, we pray this way. And in this… Sadly… We never get to the part of the prayer where we declare who God is and that He is able and that He has delivered us before and will again. We camp out in the dwelling of the fear and anguish.

The final part of the prayer by the king…

We are powerless against this mighty army that is about to attack us. We do not know what to do, but we are looking to you for help.

Do you feel powerless? Have you ever felt powerless?

I love the resolve in this. Talk about working it out in prayer.

The beloved pastor, the late Ron Mehl once wrote a book about this passage and called it… A prayer that moves heaven.

I agree.

The components of this prayer and in this… I know we often say order doesn’t matter, but in context to this prayer, I believe the order does matter.

  1. Who God is
  2. What God has done
  3. What we are facing
  4. Surrender and trust that only God can help

How does the Lord respond to this prayer?

As all the men of Judah stood before the LORD with their little ones, wives, and children, the Spirit of the LORD came upon one of the men standing there. His name was Jahaziel son of Zechariah, son of Benaiah, son of Jeiel, son of Mattaniah, a Levite who was a descendant of Asaph.

He said, “Listen, all you people of Judah and Jerusalem! Listen, King Jehoshaphat! This is what the LORD says:  

Do not be afraid! Don’t be discouraged by this mighty army, for the battle is not yours, but God’s. Tomorrow, march out against them. You will find them coming up through the ascent of Ziz at the end of the valley that opens into the wilderness of Jeruel. But you will not even need to fight. Take your positions; then stand still and watch the LORD’s victory. He is with you, O people of Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid or discouraged. Go out against them tomorrow, for the LORD is with you!”

Three armies are attacking, we cry out to God, and the first two things God says through his messenger reveal that He is a caring God… Do not be afraid and don’t be discouraged. And then to top it off, He releases us from the responsibility of fighting the battle.

This reminds me of the words spoken to Joshua before they set out to cross the Jordan into the promised land…

“Be strong and courageous, for you are the one who will lead these people to possess all the land I swore to their ancestors I would give them. Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the instructions Moses gave you. Do not deviate from them, turning either to the right or to the left. Then you will be successful in everything you do. Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do. This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:5-9 NLT)

Three times the Lord says to Joshua to be strong and courageous and a reminder to not be afraid or discouraged.

If we could stop worrying and dwelling on the problem long enough and just listen, we would hear that God knows exactly what we need and what we need to hear at just the right time. In this, would there be anything more comforting than that? Would you be afraid? Would you be discouraged?

Let’s be honest? Are you?

And why shouldn’t we be? Because The Lord is with you. Here are 5 words to remind you of His love for you in all seasons and situations you will face.

Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. (Psalm 23:4 NIV)

Why is this the last thing we remember when facing trials and not the first?

Lets return to the story and see how they responded to the word of the Lord.

Then King Jehoshaphat bowed low with his face to the ground. 

When the Lord speaks, do we fall before Him and surrender in worship and  thanksgiving, or do we take off running and say… I’ll take it from here?

And all the people of Judah and Jerusalem did the same, worshiping the LORD. Then the Levites from the clans of Kohath and Korah stood to praise the LORD, the God of Israel, with a very loud shout.

Early the next morning the army of Judah went out into the wilderness of Tekoa. On the way Jehoshaphat stopped and said, “Listen to me, all you people of Judah and Jerusalem! Believe in the LORD your God, and you will be able to stand firm. Believe in his prophets, and you will succeed.”

Even the next morning after a night of celebration from the word and promise the Lord had brought still, the posture is to remind the people to believe. Oh how often we can forget. Each day ushers in the need to dine on the Lords daily bread for that day. Not yesterdays, not tomorrows.. Todays.

After consulting the people, the king appointed singers to walk ahead of the army, singing to the LORD and praising him for his holy splendor. This is what they sang:

“Give thanks to the LORD; his faithful love endures forever!” 

At the very moment they began to sing and give praise, the LORD caused the armies of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir to start fighting among themselves. The armies of Moab and Ammon turned against their allies from Mount Seir and killed every one of them. After they had destroyed the army of Seir, they began attacking each other. So when the army of Judah arrived at the lookout point in the wilderness, all they saw were dead bodies lying on the ground as far as they could see. Not a single one of the enemy had escaped.

This reminds me of…

Your road led through the sea, your pathway through the mighty waters— a pathway no one knew was there! (Psalm 77:19 NLT)

When you finally said you were powerless against these armies, you were essentially saying there was no way out outside of a miracle. In our feeble minds we try to find a way out, right? This is what happens when we worry.

But how many of us can worry ourselves into a pathway that no one knew was there that would lead to victory?

But did you catch this… We went from three armies declaring war to us declaring we are powerless against them to now going into battle in song?

As we begin to rebuild our perspective of that which we are facing, something happens to our posture, something happens to those covers we had pulled over our head. In this, our posture goes from being a worrier to a warrior. Yet a warrior who’s battle is not theirs, but rather the Lord’s.

Perhaps it would be good to sing over the battle with worship that declares who God is and what He has done.

Read on…

King Jehoshaphat and his men went out to gather the plunder. They found vast amounts of equipment, clothing, and other valuables—more than they could carry. There was so much plunder that it took them three days just to collect it all! On the fourth day they gathered in the Valley of Blessing, which got its name that day because the people praised and thanked the LORD there. It is still called the Valley of Blessing today 

Then all the men returned to Jerusalem, with Jehoshaphat leading them, overjoyed that the LORD had given them victory over their enemies. They marched into Jerusalem to the music of harps, lyres, and trumpets, and they proceeded to the Temple of the LORD 

When all the surrounding kingdoms heard that the LORD himself had fought against the enemies of Israel, the fear of God came over them. So Jehoshaphat’s kingdom was at peace, for his God had given him rest on every side. (2 Chronicles 20:1-30 NLT 

What battles are you facing today? Do you feel powerless? 

If so, know this… Do not be afraid. Don’t be discouraged for the Lord is with you. I know this and believe this why? Because we just read where the Lord says this.

Whatever you are facing today, there is nothing too big for our God. And there is no one too far removed from the Lord’s outstretched arms and embrace.

It is time to pull the covers from over your head. It is time to break the cycle of paralysis from analysis.

  • Take time today to be with God in the midst of your trials and declare His name, declare who He is.
  • Remind yourself of what He has already done in your life and that He is able… More than able to deliver you once again.
  • And then, talk to him about that which you are facing and that which are your struggles.
  • Finally, when you get it all out… Fall before Him and surrender acknowledging you got nothing on this battle and He has got everything.

Then… Wait on the Lord knowing He is with you and He has gone before you.

And as the battle continues… Stop fighting and start worshiping.

May you be encouraged today that you are not alone and you do not need to face your battles alone. May you be hopeful today that maybe just maybe… There is a pathway that you don’t even know is there. And finally, may you feel comforted knowing that God cares for you. He will never leave you nor forsake you and that He is with you.

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