Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Wednesday Words of Encouragement

What is your response when facing an obstacle?  Is it to become fearful and anxious?  To spend hours worrying and replaying it over and over in your mind?  To spiral into depression? To feel like you are going to be crushed by the burden? Or something else?

Unfortunately, I tend to do the anxiety and worrying routine.  I know that I shouldn't, but I have a hard time changing that behavior.  Yet, this morning as I reading in 2 Chronicles, I found a better solution for the problems I face.

2 Chronicles 20:1-4 (HCSB) ~

After this, the Moabites and Ammonites, together with some of the Meunites, came to fight against Jehoshaphat. People came and told Jehoshaphat, “A vast number from beyond the Dead Sea and from Edom has come to fight against you; they are already in Hazazon-tamar” (that is, En-gedi). Jehoshaphat was afraid, and he resolved to seek the Lord. Then he proclaimed a fast for all Judah, who gathered to seek the Lord. They even came from all the cities of Judah to seek Him.

Jehoshapat is facing a huge obstacle.  Three other nations were on their way to attack him, and he really didn't have time to prepare as they were on his doorstep.  He was afraid!  

When facing this trial, the first thing he did was to seek the Lord. He didn't wring his hands, worry and wail and wonder what to do.  He immediately decided to look to God for help.

Secondly, he didn't do this alone.  He didn't isolate himself and stay away from everyone.  He didn't withdraw from other believers.  He gathered the entire nation together to fast and pray.  He gathered like-minded people around himself as he sought the Lord in prayer.

2 Chronicles 20:5-12 (HCSB) ~

Then Jehoshaphat stood in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem in the Lord’s temple before the new courtyard. He said:

Yahweh, the God of our ancestors, are You not the God who is in heaven, and do You not rule over all the kingdoms of the nations? Power and might are in Your hand, and no one can stand against You. Are You not our God who drove out the inhabitants of this land before Your people Israel and who gave it forever to the descendants of Abraham Your friend? They have lived in the land and have built You a sanctuary in it for Your name and have said,  “If disaster comes on us—sword or judgment, pestilence or famine—we will stand before this temple and before You, for Your name is in this temple. We will cry out to You because of our distress, and You will hear and deliver.”

Now here are the Ammonites, Moabites, and the inhabitants of Mount Seir. You did not let Israel invade them when Israel came out of the land of Egypt, but Israel turned away from them and did not destroy them. Look how they repay us by coming to drive us out of Your possession that You gave us as an inheritance. Our God, will You not judge them? For we are powerless before this vast number that comes to fight against us. We do not know what to do, but we look to You.

The third thing Jehoshophat did was to look to God for his help.  He knew he couldn't do a thing without the Lord's intervention.  He recognized the source of his help and didn't hesitate to ask.  He didn't try to find a solution on his own.  He didn't look to others for advice.  He went straight to the Lord.

2 Chronicles 20:13-17 ~

All Judah was standing before the Lord with their infants, their wives, and their children. In the middle of the congregation, the Spirit of the Lord came on Jahaziel (son of Zechariah, son of Benaiah, son of Jeiel, son of Mattaniah, a Levite from Asaph’s descendants), and he said, “Listen carefully, all Judah and you inhabitants of Jerusalem, and King Jehoshaphat. This is what the Lord says: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast number, for the battle is not yours, but God’s. Tomorrow, go down against them. You will see them coming up the Ascent of Ziz, and you will find them at the end of the valley facing the Wilderness of Jeruel. You do not have to fight this battle. Position yourselves, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord. He is with you, Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid or discouraged. Tomorrow, go out to face them, for Yahweh is with you.’”

The fourth thing that Jehoshophat did was to face his obstacle head on.  The Lord told him what to do and he did it.  He didn't hide and cower away. He didn't have to fight and take care of it on his own.  God was on his side, but he did have to bravely stand and face it.

2 Chronicles 20:18-19 ~

Then Jehoshaphat bowed with his face to the ground, and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem fell down before the Lord to worship Him. Then the Levites from the sons of the Kohathites and the Korahites stood up to praise the Lord God of Israel shouting with a loud voice.

His fifth response was to worship. Jehoshophat didn't spend the rest of his time plotting and trying to strategize.  He worshipped the One he knew could save him.  He fell down before the Lord in recognition of who was in control.

2 Chronicles 20:20 ~

In the morning they got up early and went out to the wilderness of Tekoa. As they were about to go out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, “Hear me, Judah and you inhabitants of Jerusalem. Believe in Yahweh your God, and you will be established; believe in His prophets, and you will succeed.” 

The sixth thing Jehoshophat did in facing his obstacle was to obey what the Lord told him to do.  There was no hesitation.  They worshipped and then got up the next day and immediately went out and followed God's instructions.

2 Chronicles 20:21-24 ~

Then he consulted with the people and appointed some to sing for the Lord and some to praise the splendor of His holiness. When they went out in front of the armed forces, they kept singing:

Give thanks to the Lord,
for His faithful love endures forever.

The moment they began their shouts and praises, the Lord set an ambush against the Ammonites, Moabites, and the inhabitants of Mount Seir who came to fight against Judah, and they were defeated. The Ammonites and Moabites turned against the inhabitants of Mount Seir and completely annihilated them. When they had finished with the inhabitants of Seir, they helped destroy each other.

When Judah came to a place overlooking the wilderness, they looked for the large army, but there were only corpses lying on the ground; nobody had escaped.

The seventh and final thing, Jehoshophat did was to praise the Lord.  As they marched to the place the Lord told them to go, they went out praising God for his faithfulness.  They were in complete assurance of God's deliverance.

As I read this passage this morning I found it encouraging as I face my own obstacles.  Instead of sitting and worrying and being anxious, I need to follow the example of Jehoshophat.

1. Seek the Lord
2. Gather with other believers
3. Look to God for my help
4. Face the problem head on
5. Worship
6. Obey what God is telling me
7. Praise him in the midst of the battle

As we are dealing with obstacles in our lives, let's follow the principles found in God's word as we go out and face whatever comes our way today.