All posts by laura

The rest of the story <3

It’s Friday so there is that to look forward to, right?

We have a busy weekend ahead and this one right here managed to lock herself out of her website around 10 PM last night. In case you heard an extremely frustrated cry of exasperation in the vicinity of our home.

I certainly have had multiple opportunities to apply the lessons of 2 Chronicles 20 as we made our way through the past week or so.

And today I want to just finish it off with the balance of that passage.

Because ALL of Scripture is, as we know…breathed by God into human pens and thus useful to us for correcting and guiding and teaching and warning. And that would be my very rough translation of 2 Timothy 3:16.

So I would be remiss to not point out two things…one lovely and one so typical of the human story line.

Because the remaining verses tell how after they collected the spoils of war and praised God and returned to their homes, the land experienced peace.

I love how it is worded in my NKJV bible…how the fear of God came over all those who might have attempted to do likewise around this tiny kingdom and the best part…

Then the realm of Jehoshaphat was quiet, for his God gave him rest all around.”

Even as I type those words, I breathe deeply and longingly to be able to say the same.

Then Laura’s life was quiet…and her God gave her rest all around.

The thought of it tugs at a tender place in my heart that has wistfully wanted all endings to come like Disney writes them…and they all lived happily ever-after.

And we will someday, you know.

But for now we are a flawed and prone-to-wander bunch of travelers, are we not?

My bible type is set up in such a way to completely finish the story of King Jehoshaphat, you have to turn the page after reading the passage I just shared.

And that brings us to the “rest of the story” that would kind of be a downer if this were a Paul Harvey radio show. (If you have no idea who Paul Harvey is, you missed a rich part of American story-telling, so google it my friend)

Because while we learn that King Jehoshaphat did a lot of good things in the right way – those dang high places, that God’s people always seem to have a hard time parting with, remained.

And the people once again began that forgetting-what-God-did pattern as they continued to leave room in their hearts for other little-g gods.

And Jehoshaphat himself?

Well, at some point he had a big decision to make about joining forces with a less than godly king and rather than seek his God again, he moved forward in his own counsel…and shipwrecked, literally, his kingdom.

Oh friends.

Even as we have seen the wonderful pattern of successful kingdom warfare modeled by King Jehoshaphat, let us be wise in how we move forward after God-ordained victories.

Let us choose carefully who we align ourselves with, and not foolishly abandon our God who would only ask us to be willing to show up and praise Him as He fights our battles for us.

Why would we ever take matters into our own frail and faulty human hands again?

God bless you this weekend in whatever you set out to do. May you see and know the love and power of your God in every battle and may our praises rise to Him and to Him alone.

He is worthy <3

 

Out of the fog <3

We have had some typical-for-harvest-season weather here in the Midwest. Which means we run the gamut from low 50’s to high 90’s to rain to wind to humid to dry….sometimes all within 48 hours.

Just about every Tuesday and Thursday morning, I drive to an early morning (as in well before the crack of dawn) exercise class.

Ok. I took the whole summer off…but this is still a valid story.

The 10 minute drive includes our own typical subdivision houses and street lights, an over pass, and then mostly through a fairly rural setting. I pass parking lots for churches and a retirement community along the way. Larger yards dotted with homes. Reflector strips on mail boxes line the curvy road. Light poles are stationed along most of the route. In my half awake state, I can pretty much go into auto-pilot on this little jaunt to class.

Except on Tuesday morning this week, there was a dense fog blanketing our entire area.

I could see well enough the stop signs as I approached intersections but the rest of the drive was shrouded in an odd dream-like vapor that seemed to eat up all the lights along the way.

Oh, I could see a few little bulbs off to the side of the road, here and there. But they looked liked glowing orbs suspended across the expanse of this murky veil.

They provided illumination for neither their surroundings nor the path I was taking.

I could guess where I was sporadically as I came to intersections and such, but for the most part I could have been traveling down that road for the very first time.

I had no way to judge how far it was to landmarks like the major highway I pass over or the next stop sign; no way to determine the expanse of the curve that I knew was somewhere up ahead.

I could only see maybe car lengths of road at a time that my own headlights were cutting a window of visibility through.

The fog consumed the beams beyond that and to all sides. I was racking my brain to think what my next stop or turn was going to be without the familiar landmarks to cue me nor the ability to see up ahead.

All perception was gone and my instincts were useless in the haziness engulfing my path.

I was disoriented as I slowly made my way realizing that turning back was not an option since I had no idea where a retreat could be safely transacted.

Our class takes place at a large church that sits on a wide expanse of open acreage.

Eventually the lights of the parking lot where class is held appeared across the final stretch of opaque air. But they offered little comfort in all of this because still the last part of the journey had to be traversed through this phantom world the fog had created. The large lighted crosses were not at all visible, just the diffused bulbs of these distorted lights bobbing over what I knew would be my class.

I finally arrived and we gathered under this strange covering and began our workout.

By the time I was headed home, the sun began to rise and burn off the fog.

As I drove home under the first light of dawn, the fog almost gone, I noticed how the lights on homes and churches and along the way helped me see things clearly.

And it hit me. Lights do shine brightly in darkness but they are rendered ineffective in fog.

How like deception.

As Christians, we are told from early on…this little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.

We encourage each other that as we encounter darkness, light shines even more brightly.

We know in the physical realm that darkness cannot extinguish light and the light penetrates darkness.

But we are increasingly encountering something more than just darkness.

The fog of deception is thick in this world as wrong becomes right and right becomes wrong.

In the confusion of deceiving voices within and without the Church, our little lights cannot be put out…but they can struggle to produce illumination for those who are trying to find their way. They can even get swallowed up and fail to provide light for OUR path.

We can shine all day but in the fog of deception, no one can see the the familiar landmarks of His fingerprints on us and we wear ourselves out trying to figure out what we are doing wrong. We can become disoriented and forget the paths of discipline that were once so familiar to us.

We need a light much greater than our own, my friends, to help us restore vision in the fog around us. Now more than ever, we who are believers must draw our life and light from only One Source and that is the teachings of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. We can not abandon studying God’s Word and then applying it through prayer – calling forth His Spirit of Truth to bring revelation into the midst of so much cloudy thinking.

Yes – be the light, but more importantly pray for Christ to shine His light on the path, for each of us as well as our fellow travelers. For those who have lost their way and for those who do not even know there is only One Way, let’s join together and ask God to bring His Truth to enlighten all of us as we….journey onward <3

How to act when God tells you to not be afraid or dismayed…

Ok first,  if you went to visit the site and got some scary looking message that seemed like an alarming spam thing…it wasn’t.

They did some maintenance on the hosting side with the oddest names for the upgrade and all manner of lingo that scared me and I even knew it was coming.

So if you braved it and came back, so good to see you again, my friend.

And if you didn’t get to read yesterday’s, hop back and catch up on that. We will wait for you, as always…

In my Bible margin I have numbered the events of this story so here is what mine looks like…

  1. State the key problem  vv. 1-5
  2. Declare who God is   v 6
  3. Declare what He has done in the past  vv. 7 & 8
  4. Declare what He has promised in the future vv. 9-12
  5. Declare your own dependance on Him  vv. 12 & 13
  6. L.I.S.T.E.N.   vv. 14-17

and now today…we come to #7

Act.

Jehoshaphat, like us when we face our multitudes, now had the choice to react to what God said or to act. 

And we see he chose to take action on what God had told the people.

First order of business?

Jehoshaphat bowed low to the ground.

This King bent his knee down before Him who is Sovereign over all kings and kingdoms.

He bowed his kingly head to the greater authority of His God.

It says he put his face to the ground.

Have you ever done that?

Have you ever bowed down so low that your face rested on the ground?

And in keeping with the whole unity of the community thing…

everyone else did the same, we are told.

And then they worshipped the LORD.

The praise team got up and lead a mighty worship service.

Then the next morning they all got up early and they suited up for war; just like God had told them to do.

And King Jehoshaphat gave them a speech that I am quite certain surpassed the one we started this series talking about…that inspiring Lord of the Rings final battle pep talk…

Oh I do love watching that movie.

Love watching an actor portraying Aragorn ride up and down in front of the small army who will stand against the forces of Hell and passionately inspire a quaking army to take a stand in the face of overwhelming odds.

But listen to what a real King named Jehoshaphat, told a real army of real men, in a real place called Judah and Jerusalem, when a real multitude of evil was descending on them to destroy them….

“Hear me, O Judah and you inhabitants of Jerusalem…Believe in the LORD your God, and you shall be established; believe His prophets, and you shall prosper.”

Oh to have a replay of that battle speech someday on Heaven’s big screen.

But for now…we can perch on our study chairs and use our imaginations to fill in the details as he consulted with the people and then appointed those who would sing praises to God and march before the army into the place where somehow against all odds, God was promising a victory.

Imagine if you will please.

Selecting a few members of your church’s praise band and the choir and setting them up on the front line as  your took your position and marched forward…willing your shaking human flesh to just BELIEVE.

And so they raised their voices in praise behind the musicians and singers and marched.

Can I tell you?

I wish we were all sitting together right now for this part

Although, I’m kind of a mess as tears roll down my mascara stained cheeks and I am in desperate need of a tissue.

Because as only God could arrange it, the enemy they were about to meet got all hacked off at each other and ended up having a big old war between themselves.

By the time the army of Judah arrived in the valley, there was nothing but dead bodies. None of them had escaped.

Evil had turned in on itself and ended up destroying itself while God’s people were fasting and praying and seeking Him and then having a grand worship service.

It says it took them three days to collect all the spoils and on the fourth day, they gathered again and blessed the LORD and then all returned to their homes.

So in my Bible margin I have a #8 that says…collect the spoils.

Hallelujah!

Hallelujah!

and again…

Hallelujah!

Because after God wins the battle that loomed on our horizon, we get to haul in all the treasures the enemy left behind.

What a blessing it has been to share one of my favorite passages with you all this past few days.

May we each one meditate on the God-breathed words of 2 Chronicles 20 again and again and ask God to speak to us…

and oh, how I hope and pray we will remember to humble ourselves and seek Him,

fast and pray until He speaks…

and then listen and act in faith and worship of Him who saves us time and again.

 

The word I circled for this part

Good morning to you <3

Or at least morning is when I am writing this and how I wish I could work ahead on these, but somehow life continues to spin on with me running slightly behind it trying to catch up.

So here is our thought for today as we move along through looking at 2 Chronicles 20.

Yesterday we read about how, after King Jehoshaphat called for the people to gather from all the cities of Judah (see map in September 13 post) and fast and seek the LORD, God did speak through Jahaziel.

And what did God say to the people?

The first part is what we are going to camp out on today.

“Listen all you of Judah and you inhabitants of Jerusalem, and you, King Jehoshaphat! Thus says the LORD to you: ‘Do not be afraid nor dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours, but God’s.’”       2 Chronicles 20: 15

And since this is my little pondering spot on this thing we call the worldwide web…here are my thoughts as I look over that rich collection of simple words filled with much-longed for reassurance in all the battles I face.

First my circled word….

L. I. S.T.E.N.

Listen to Me…He says…

and then He makes sure all the key people are getting the point.

 LISTEN to ME….(oh how I wish I could handwrite that for you because if I was writing that in my journal notebook it would most likely take up about three quarters of the page.

I would write tall letters and I might take a marker to it just to make it bolder…

and then I would draw a ton of stick figures of people to represent Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem.

Some would be big and tall and some a little shorter and then there would be child size figures clustered around them. Some would be holding little stick figure babies.

And  I would draw one stick figure with a crown.

Because the LORD made sure King Jehoshaphat had his listening ears on first and foremost.

I can picture the King gesturing to his scribe to take notes…don’t miss a thing here.

We want to get every detail of the battle plan down correctly!

And so the whole hungry gathering leaned hard into hearing range of the voice of Jahaziel as he spoke forth the words of the LORD God of Israel in their most dire moment….

perhaps he himself leaned forward with his hands over his spirit ears so he could get every single word correct and then…

he may have cleared his throat a bit and declared the Word of the LORD as he heard it…

DO NOT BE AFRAID…DO NOT BE DISMAYED…

What?

That’s it?

yes…

the LORD your God has heard your cry for help and here is the first and most important thing for you to know and to do….

DO NOT BE AFRAID OR DISMAYED.

I SEE THE MULTITUDE COMING AGAINST YOU. 

I don’t know how quick of a thinker King Jehoshaphat and the others were but at this point I would have already sped ahead to…well..great…that’s really helpful there, God. Thank you so much.

Which is probably why He doesn’t put me out there in the really big battles, but keeps me in the reserves for skirmishes.

But then as everyone was probably beginning to scratch their head and wonder if Jehoshaphat had a plan B up his kingly sleeve, God speaks the clincher through the mouth of Jahaziel.

The words we all need to remember when we have not picked the fight, but the fight has found us….

the reason they did not need to fear or be dismayed…

This battle…this battle belongs to Me not you.

Yes you will have to prepare for it and yes you will have to show up and yes you will have to exert energy to overcome fear and dismay at the reality of what is coming against you.

You will have to strap on your armor, and you will have to take your sword.

You will have to will those shaking knees to march into formation and head out in the direction I will lead you.

You will have to trust Me.

But this battle…you will not fight.

This battle belongs to Me.

“Tomorrow go down against them.

They will surely come up by the Ascent of Ziz, and you will find them at the end of the brook before the Wilderness of Jeruel.

You will not need to fight in this battle.

Position yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of the LORD,

who is with you, O Judah and Jerusalem!

Do not fear or be dismayed;

tomorrow go out against them,

for the LORD is with you.

The LORD is with you, mighty warrior.

Go out and face your battles today knowing this.

Do not be afraid.

Do not be dismayed.

No matter how greatly you are outnumbered.

HE

IS

WITH

YOU

<3

 

 

 

 

Hello Monday <3

I hope you had a good weekend <3

I am glad you came back.

We aren’t going to move very far along in our visit to 2 Chronicles 20 today.

On Friday I offered you an exercise based on the first thirteen verses and it is my prayer that you at the very least read through those passages a few times.

Even if you were unable to come up with your own plug-in words for the pattern of seeking God in times of desperation, the prayer of King Jehoshaphat in verses 6-12 is a faith builder portion of Scripture that ranks high on my list of go-to’s when my knees are shaking.

And my favorite part is the conclusion…because if this were given in a movie format, the music would build and grow and swell up to the final line and then all would fall silent as families just stood there clustered with their eyes raised and their hands opened.

Precious.

So today I am only moving one verse further because God does speak to them.

The God who created everything and who called this particular nation into being, speaks in answer to this prayer.

And I note a couple of things:

<3 He grasps the need for a quick answer in this case.

Sometimes God lingers a bit longer in giving answers than we would like, doesn’t He?

In my journey, I can count a few instances of some amazing “suddenly’s” in answer to prayer…

but for the most part…

God’s answers have unfolded over time.

Sometimes a verrrrrryyyyyyyy llllllloooooooonnnnnnnnnggggggggg time….

But can we nod our heads and say in agreement that, immediately or longer than we would have preferred, it was always the right time?

<3 I also notice how He answered.

While the King of Judah, as the God-ordained authority figure governing the people,definitely was the person who needed to lead the people in humbling themselves and seeking God together as an assembly of individuals and families…

God spoke through Jahaziel.

Who?

Because while  the name Jehoshaphat doesn’t just roll off the tongue with ease, this one straight up makes my head spin.

We might want to stop right there in our reading because we are intimidated by trying to imagine how to pronounce this guy’s name.

Let alone go on through the family lineage that follows…

the son of Zechariah…the son of Benaiah…the son of Jeiel…the son of Mattaniah…

ok…wake up…I’m done.

Except…for one more important thing about the man God spoke through in answer to their desperate cries…

because all that family lineage fell under the tribe of Levi and the family line of Asaph.

Levites – the priests.

Asaph – didn’t he write a lot of the Psalms?

Yes, the King did what He was supposed to do…lead the people.

And, in this case, King Jehoshaphat led by example of humility and wisdom and prayer.

But God answered through the Priest.

So much for separation of Church and State.

Much to think about regarding godly leadership and patterns of authority established by God for governments and warfare and all manner of life’s battles today, yes?

I will leave you to ponder this passage as I move on into Monday.

Be blessed as you open His Word and let Him open your hearts to His message for you today.

See you tomorrow, dear ones <3

Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon Jahaziel the son of Zechariah,

the son of Benaiah,

the son of Jeiel,

the son of Mattaniah,

a Levite of the sons of Asaph,

in the midst of the assembly.    

2 Chronicles 20:14