Category Archives: Encouragement

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

 

An exercise of “Thus Far” to end the week…

I loaded you down with a lot of thoughts this week, didn’t I?

Does it help to know my own head is swimming with our journey through 2 Chronicles 20?

I had planned to wrap this up in a five day series, but God’s Word is always layered and there is so much more than first meets the eye.

So we are going to pause today…

take a little rest stop along the way…

and take some time to ponder and apply what we have covered so far.

I did this yesterday on the drive to watch the band of brothers and Sweet Caroline.

I had forty-five minutes and I want to apologize to anyone I passed because I wasn’t talking on my phone or telling you off….honest biscuits…

I was filling in my own “there’s a great multitude coming against us…” session with the God who made me, loves me, saved me.

So here are the basics for you, my friend, for you to do the same for personal area of influence.

Step 1: Mentally or on paper go ahead and list everything that is opposing you and God’s good plan for your life.

Include all the people who come to your mind who are also facing overwhelming situations that are causing pain, stress, death, loss, betrayal….all the calling cards the enemy of our soul would like to leave on their doorsteps.

You all know what the difference is between that which brings “life, health, truth, peace, joy, self-control, prosperity of the soul, stability, kindness, etc” and what “steals, kills and destroys”.

So name it – all the enemies attempting to ruin God’s people and God’s plan.

Step 2: Now name everything you know to be true about God, your Father…Jesus Christ your Lord and Savior…Holy Spirit who lives in you and who gives you power and strength.

Go ahead and use King Jehoshaphat’s pattern. He won’t mind…there are no copywriter issues in Glory…He doesn’t care if you plagiarize his words.

Start out your declarations with “Are You not God who….?” and just fill in the blanks.

For example…here’s how I started.

“Are You not the God who saved my sorry soul out of the pit of self-service and called me into your Kingdom? Are You not the God who transferred me from darkness to light? Are You not the God who loved me before I even knew who You were?”

Please note…this may take awhile and you most assuredly can use your Bible if you run out of things to say about who He is.

Step 3: Really analyze what the enemy is trying to take in these attacks and call those out as well.

Declare how those things go against what God has promised you in His Word and in your times before Him in the past when He laid hopes and dreams on your heart.

You might be tempted at this point to lean into self-pity and start explaining your own virtues to God and begin whining about how unfair the enemy is. May I urge you to NOT do that….remember…the focus here is on how awesome God is and how awful the enemy is…and let God decide where you land between those two extremes.

This will be helpful for the final step…

Step 4: After you have poured out all of it, stop.

Stop and assume the position of a helpless child with your hands and  your heart spread wide.

You really have nothing to bring to the battle except your great need and the measure of faith you have been given.

You stand before the One who has everything you need to win.

So gather your family, your friends, all the people near and far for whom you carry any burden and stand there before God and lift your eyes to Him alone.

And wait.

I hope and pray you will find some kind of quiet place this weekend and do this.

I look forward to regrouping with you on Monday as we continue on this journey.

May the Lord meet you in your outpouring and may He pour out on you wisdom and comfort, peace and joy.

May He hear your cries and may you experience His mercy and grace over all that is coming against you and those you love <3

 

Fast forward…as the focus turns from self to God <3

To catch you up to speed: I started a little series for the week based on 2 Chronicles 20. (we started Monday this week if you want to go back and read those first, we will wait for you…)

This is a well-marked and often visited set of pages in my Bible over the years as it describes those times when we don’t just have one thing coming against, but we have many things coming from all directions.

Attacks on all borders and we are greatly outnumbered.

Jehoshaphat was King of Judah and received news of a huge multitude of armies coming against his land.

We are told he realized the serious situation and feared greatly, but he set himself to seek the Lord and called for all the people from every city to come together in fasting and prayer to seek God’s help.

The next thing he did is interesting.

As everyone was gathered in the Temple and with desperate cries to God; Jehoshaphat led them in prayer.

His words are recorded in verses 5-13 but here is the summary of the declarations he made:

<3 Who God is…the God of their history and past generations, ruler over heaven and all the kingdoms of earth, the One who holds all power and all might in His own hands

<3 What God had done already…drove out the inhabitants of the land and given that particular place of real estate to His people, Israel – the descendants of Abraham, made them a nation with a place of worship specifically dedicated to Him alone

<3 What God had promised…that if at any time trouble of war or famine or pestilence should come on them, if they gathered in that place and called out to Him, He would hear them and He would save them

<3 What the enemy was doing…tattled on them, he did. Jehoshaphat straight up called out the enemy’s activities in detail to God and pointed out why what they were doing was NOT God’s plan for Israel.

<3 What they needed…King Jehoshaphat…the King of Judah…the man with all the resources of the kingdom at his disposal….stood humbly before the LORD his God…and this precious so don’t ever miss this…not only did the King stand there before Him but “all Judah, with their little ones, their wives and their children, stood before the LORD” v. 13. 

<3 What they declared about themselves….And they all…the whole huge crowd of royals and commoners and peasants and business owners…holding their little babies and huddled with their youth beside them… they admitted…we have no power against this great multitude that is coming against us. We have no idea what we should do. But our eyes are upon You.

Not….here’s our battle plan. Lord, bless it.

Not…we are pulling all the smartest people out and reviewing battle strategies and taking inventory of our weaponry.

Not…call out for any able bodies and lets get them suited up in army and gather horses and sharpen our swords.

No.

They gathered together as families and stood before the Lord and lifted empty trusting hands and faith-filled eyes to the One who had made promises.

Jesus made us some promises.

He promised in this world we would have trouble…but to take heart…because He has overcome it.

He promised He would never leave us nor forsake us.

He promised His Spirit to dwell in us and guide us and teach us and correct us.

He promised He was going away but that He would come back.

He is faithful.

In the midst of overwhelming circumstances today, would you humble your heart?

Would you gather those you love dearly, even if it is only in your prayer closet, and stand before the Lord with honesty about situations and then would you acknowledge your need for Him to show up and would you keep your eyes firmly fixed on Him today?

God bless you dear ones. The trials and struggles of this life are real and they are a multitude.

But…..

HE. HAS. OVERCOME. <3

Battle plans and God’s timing

So this whole series has been brewing in my head since last week when I read this quote from A. W. Tozer

“The whole Bible and all past history unite to teach that battles are always won before the armies take the field. The critical moment for any army is not the day it engages the foe in actual combat; it is the day before or the month before or the year before….”  excerpt from The Next Chapter after the Last

and I could just stop right there and let you mull that truth over.

Let it sink deep into your core.

In fact…go ahead and read through it again because it resonates with what we know.

Even as I sit here with my notes of what I want to say to you resting at my elbow, I am picturing one of my favorite movie scenes of all time….the pre-battle “there will be a day…but it is not this day” speech of Aragorn at the Black Gate.

Even if you are not a Lord of the Rings fan, google it because if you are ever facing a rough day …this one is sure to inspire you to carry on.

But I digress.

Because before Tolkien ever imagined such a face off between a small army of good going up against an untold mass of evil, Scripture gives us a beautiful picture of being surrounded with no hope of escape.

My go-to passage when I have my own “Dark Gate” moments is 2 Chronicles 20 which opens with these words…

“It happened after this…

{after what?? after King Jehoshaphat brought about all manner of wonderful reforms to restore order} …

that the people of Ammon, and others with them besides the Ammonites, came to battle against Jehoshaphat.”

We are told in the next passage that some came to tell him that “a great multitude is coming against you.”

And Jehoshaphat did what?

He …. feared.

Which, yeah…that would be an appropriate response.

So I look at my own times when too much is coming against me and  threatens “all I hold dear”, as our Lord of the Rings King would say.

All that is precious to me is suddenly under attack and I fear that some power greater than us will take and destroy all of it.

I have not even engaged in the actual battle yet.

I have seemingly lost and the fight hasn’t even started.

So I look at the rest of the passage to see what Jehoshaphat does next and I read that he “set himself to seek the Lord.”

As overwhelming odds stacked against this King, he turned his fear into faith by intentionally taking steps that would lead him into God’s presence, protection, provision.

Tomorrow we will look at those steps a little closer but for today, if you have a few minutes, would you open your Bible and read Chapter 20 for yourself?

Because we have some forces coming against us in large numbers.

To name a few:

  • Broken and bankrupt political systems on state and local levels, not to mention national…
  • Military forces in countries that do not like the U. S. testing out weapons of mass destruction
  • Increasingly violent clashes between citizens in this country and citizens of many other countries
  • Countless refugees around the world and now in our own country as large portions of the south have been wracked with storms and the north west with fires
  • A growing hostility between the Church and the culture and even hostilties  within the Church

There are more. Many more.

Maybe an army rose up around your breakfast table this morning or at the ball game last night.

And then there is our own working out of our salvation with fear and trembling that can sometimes seem like the biggest conflict going as our old nature rears it’s ugly and strong head up against the “new creation” we thought we had become.

In the overwhelming tide of whatever might be rising around you today, would you set yourself to seek the LORD first of all?

I pray we will choose to do that …you and I.

When fear rises, I pray we will not succumb to it nor try to distract ourselves away from it.

I pray…when we see that vast army gathering and rattling their very real and very destructive swords at us and all we hold dear…we will stand firm and set our feet as we set our hearts to seek the Lord our God <3

I look forward to our time together tomorrow as we continue exploring 2 Chronicles 20 <3