Posts Tagged “2 Chronicles”

In yesterday’s blog, we looked at the great choices that King Asa made during his life. One of his first actions as King was to rebuild the spiritual foundations of the city. What a great first choice for each of us to make – to tear down idols and build up our spiritual foundations. He also chose to live in humility, acknowledging that God was the provider of his victories and blessings. He gave his battles to the Lord, allowing Him to bring the victories. He didn’t take credit for himself.

Asa’s great choices resulted in his people earnestly seeking God. What a great legacy!

I was surprised at what came next.

1In the thirty-sixth year of Asa’s reign, King Baasha of Israel invaded Judah and fortified Ramah in order to prevent anyone from entering or leaving King Asa’s territory in Judah. 2Asa responded by removing the silver and gold from the treasuries of the Temple of the LORD and the royal palace. He sent it to King Ben-hadad of Aram, who was ruling in Damascus, along with this message: 3“Let there be a treaty between you and me like the one between your father and my father. See, I am sending you silver and gold. Break your treaty with King Baasha of Israel so that he will leave me alone.”
2 Chronicles 16:1-3 (NLT)

King Asa had been king for 36 years at this point, and he made many good choices during his reign. Then something happened. Asa made a tragic choice in this battle What was different about this battle than the others? The difference was King Asa’s tragic choice of going into battle without seeking the Lord. He looked at the situation, decided how to deal with it, and went about doing it. He never sought the Lord.

When he went to battle the first time, Scripture records that

Then Asa cried out to the LORD his God, “O LORD, no one but you can help the powerless against the mighty! Help us, O LORD our God, for we trust in you alone. It is in your name that we have come against this vast horde. O LORD, you are our God; do not let mere men prevail against you!”
2 Chronicles 14:11 (NLT)

There was none of that in the 36th year of Asa’s reign. Maybe he thought he had it all figured out after being king for 36 years. Maybe he was just tired and forgot to ask God. I don’t know. I do know that we all mess up sometimes. When we’ve done something before it’s easy to simply make a decision about how to handle a situation and take action. We tragically forget to call upon the Lord.

That’s not the most tragic decision of King Asa’s life, however. The Lord was gracious and merciful and He gave King Asa victory. Then then he sent another prophet to Asa. Remember the first prophet he sent? The prophet encouraged Asa and told him that whenever he sought the Lord, he would find the Lord. This time, the prophet had a different message.

7At that time Hanani the seer came to King Asa and told him, “Because you have put your trust in the king of Aram instead of in the LORD your God, you missed your chance to destroy the army of the king of Aram. 8Don’t you remember what happened to the Ethiopians and Libyans and their vast army, with all of their chariots and charioteers? At that time you relied on the LORD, and he handed them over to you. 9The eyes of the LORD search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him. What a fool you have been! From now on you will be at war.”
2 Chronicles 16:7-9 (NLT)

God knows our hearts. He desires that we seek him – in fact Scripture says that he searches the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him. There was a time when that was true of King Asa. But somehow, it was no longer true. King Asa’s tragic choice was to rely on himself and on others instead of relying on God. And because of that choice, Asa’s heart was not strengthened and his country would be at war continually.

Which brings us to the greatest opportunity Asa had to make a great or tragic choice. Unfortunately, we see that the choice he made was also a tragic one:

10Asa became so angry with Hanani for saying this that he threw him into prison and put him in stocks. At that time Asa also began to oppress some of his people. …12In the thirty-ninth year of his reign, Asa developed a serious foot disease. Yet even with the severity of his disease, he did not seek the LORD’s help but turned only to his physicians. 13So he died in the forty-first year of his reign.
2 Chronicles 16:10-13 (NLT)

What a sad, tragic ending for a king who started his reign by pulling down demonic strongholds and exhorting the people to faith. In the end, King Asa, who had served in such humility, allowed rebellion and pride to grow when he heard the words of correction from the prophet.

I am reminded of Paul’s exhortation to finish the race well.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.
Hebrews 12:1 (NLT)

That cloud of witnesses is all those saints who have gone before us – because of their example of living faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down. What was slowing King Asa down? It was his pride and it cost him dearly at the end of his life – it tripped him up as this passage says. We’re to strip off that weight and run with endurance the race God has set before us.

King Asa made the tragic decision near the end of his life to trust his own instincts instead of relying on God. We don’t know what led him to that place. Perhaps he was hurt by others. Perhaps he just became complacent from living an easy life during times of peace. Honestly, that scares me more than anything – to fall into the trap of trusting my own judgment because things have been going so well – to fall into the trap of forgetting to ask God for wisdom and help – to forget to rely on him. We don’t know what caused King Asa to fall into that trap, but he did. And after making that poor choice, he made the most tragic choice of resisting God’s discipline, of not humbling himself before God and the people of his land. And the result is that he and his country were at war until King Asa’s death a few years later.

We saw in yesterday’s blog that King Asa’s great choices impacted his people in a positive way. Today we see that his tragic choices impacted his people in a tragic way. The same is true in our lives. Our good choices, especially the choice to pursue God wholeheartedly, impact those around for their good. And our poor choices impact them negatively.

The older I get, the more I want to finish well. And the more I am aware how easy it would be to become dependent on my own abilities, or how easy it would be to become complacent with where I am, not seeking to know God more and serve God more.

Let’s not make the same tragic choice that King Asa made in his latter years. Let’s stay close to God – always pursuing Him, always running our race with endurance, always trusting Him for the victory.

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How many choices do you make in a day? Since this is a blog about making choices, I began to wonder that. I did what every connected person does – I googled it. How many choices do people make a day? I found answers that varied from 612 to 35,000. Of course, none of the sites I went to had any documentation to back up their definitively provided answers. One interesting study had scientists following CEOs around for a week. They learned that about 50% of the decisions they made in a week were made in 9 minutes or less.

Great choices…tragic choices…made throughout the seasons of our lives… and most of them made in 9 minutes or less.

2 Chronicles, Chapters 14 and 15 tell the story of the life of King Asa. I was struck by the choices King Asa made and how they changed throughout his life.

The year is 911 BC – 911 years before Christ was born. The nation of Israel was divided into two kingdoms – the northern kingdom called Judah and the southern kingdom still called Israel. In Judah, King Abijah died and his son Asa became king. As we look at Asa’s life we’ll see that while he was King of Judah and he lived a long time ago, the pattern of his life could be the pattern of any of our lives. The choices he faced were different from the choices we face, and yet they were very much the same. There are lessons to learn from Asa, both in what he did well – that is, the great choices he made, and in his failures – that is, the tragic choices he made. So let’s begin:

1When Abijah died, he was buried in the City of David. Then his son Asa became the next king. There was peace in the land for ten years. 2Asa did what was pleasing and good in the sight of the LORD his God. 3He removed the foreign altars and the pagan shrines. He smashed the sacred pillars and cut down the Asherah poles. 4He challenged the people of Judah to seek the LORD, the God of their ancestors, and to obey his law and his commands. 5Asa also removed the pagan shrines, as well as the incense altars from every one of Judah’s towns. So Asa’s kingdom enjoyed a period of peace.
2 Chronicles 14:1-5 (NLT)

What was the first statement made about Asa after he became king in that passage? “Asa did what was pleasing and good in the sight of the Lord.” Asa made choices that were pleasing to God. What were those choices?

Scripture says that God gave Asa ten years of peace and during that time, he tore down foreign altars and pagan shrines and he exhorted, he challenged the people to seek the Lord. Asa rebuilt the spiritual foundations of the city. The best choice we can always make is to tear down idols in our lives and build up our spiritual foundations – to seek God regularly, to obey his law and his commandments.

So Asa started his Kingship by making great choices, let’s see what happened next.

6During those peaceful years, [Asa] was able to build up the fortified towns throughout Judah. No one tried to make war against him at this time, for the LORD was giving him rest from his enemies. 7Asa told the people of Judah, “Let us build towns and fortify them with walls, towers, gates, and bars. The land is still ours because we sought the LORD our God, and he has given us peace on every side.” So they went ahead with these projects and brought them to completion.
2 Chronicles 14:6-7 (NLT)

King Asa made more great choices. He first rebuilt the spiritual foundations of Judah, then went on to rebuild the physical foundations of the cities, fortifying the walls, towers and gates of the city.

While doing so, he didn’t do it with an attitude of “look how great we are – look at what we’re building!” No, he acknowledged that “the land is still ours because we sought the Lord our God and he has given us peace on every side.”

King Asa made the choice to live in humility – to acknowledge that every good and perfect gift comes from God. He also occupied the time well. He prepared himself and his people during times of peace for times of war that would undoubtedly come. The next verse talks about the great army and weapons he had.

King Asa had an army of 300,000 warriors from the tribe of Judah, armed with large shields and spears. He also had an army of 280,000 warriors from the tribe of Benjamin, armed with small shields and bows. Both armies were composed of well-trained fighting men.
2 Chronicles 14:8 (NLT)

We can learn from Asa’s great choices. During times of peace, we’re to keep busy. We’re not to become complacent or comfortable, but we’re to shore up our defenses, first spiritually – clean house by removing worship of worldly things. It’s easy for the worldly to creep in when things are going well. So when things are going well, we need to make wise choices and clean house spiritually first, then prepare for the battles God has before us. King Asa didn’t spend his afternoons relaxing in his King’s gardens. He spent them preparing himself and his people.

Well, peace didn’t last forever. Let’s continue to read:

9Once an Ethiopian named Zerah attacked Judah with an army of 1,000,000 men and 300 chariots. They advanced to the town of Mareshah, 10so Asa deployed his armies for battle in the valley north of Mareshah.
2 Chronicles 14:9-10 (NLT)

Just as a reminder – Asa had about 680,000 troops armed with shields and swords and he was facing an army of a million men and 300 chariots. Asa’s time of peace was gone. What did he do? Verse 10 said he deployed his troops for battle. Verse 11 continues Asa’s actions:

Then Asa cried out to the LORD his God, “O LORD, no one but you can help the powerless against the mighty! Help us, O LORD our God, for we trust in you alone. It is in your name that we have come against this vast horde. O LORD, you are our God; do not let mere men prevail against you!”
2 Chronicles 14:11 (NLT)

This is perhaps King Asa’s greatest choice – he gave the impossible battle to the Lord. “Help us, O Lord, for we trust in you alone. You are our God.”

We will also face battles in life. Perhaps not literal battles as King Asa did, but battles none the less. We would do well to follow King Asa’s great example and make the same choice – know that the battles belong to the Lord, step up to the battle, but then we turn the battles over to Him. We show up, but we trust Him for the victory.

Maybe our battle is physical – an illness or injury – we pray “Lord, I’m going to the doctor today, but I trust You to heal me.” Maybe the battle is for our provision or for our children’s provision. So we pray “Lord, I’m going to work today, but I trust You to provide for my needs.”

What was the result of Asa’s battle? Verse 12 tells us:

So the LORD defeated the Ethiopians in the presence of Asa and the army of Judah, and the enemy fled.
2 Chronicles 14:12 (NLT)

We serve a faithful God! When we face battles in life, we can trust Him. He is faithful!

Now I love what happens next. The next few verses give more description of the battle and how the Ethiopians were defeated, then the scene shifts to a prophet named Aazriah. Let’s read…

1Then the Spirit of God came upon Azariah son of Oded, 2and he went out to meet King Asa as he was returning from the battle. “Listen to me, Asa!” he shouted. “Listen, all you people of Judah and Benjamin! The LORD will stay with you as long as you stay with him! Whenever you seek him, you will find him. But if you abandon him, he will abandon you….7But as for you, be strong and courageous, for your work will be rewarded.”
2 Chronicles 15:1-2, 7 (NLT)

King Asa had just come off a hard battle. Yes, the Lord gave him the victory, but even when we win the battles, we can sometimes get pretty beat up. The Lord knew that Asa needed some encouragement, so He sent someone with a special message for him. A reminder… “Whenever you seek the Lord, you will find Him. But if you abandon him, he will abandon you. Be strong and courageous, for your work will be rewarded.” God will be found by those who seek Him.

Notice that God sent someone to give Asa the message. Do you make yourself available to be the messenger? I believe God has called all of His children to be encouragers. If we’re following God’s heart, we see through His eyes, and we know that this world is a hurting place full of hurting people. He’s given us the special assignment of being those prophets – being those people who build up the body!

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.
Ephesians 4:29 (NIV)

And that was the result of the message to Asa. Continuing reading:

8When Asa heard this message from Azariah the prophet, he took courage and removed all the detestable idols from the land of Judah and Benjamin and in the towns he had captured in the hill country of Ephraim. And he repaired the altar of the LORD, which stood in front of the entry room of the LORD’s Temple.
2 Chronicles 15:8 (NLT)

Asa had already torn down shrines to false Gods, but now he went even further. He “took courage” and threw away all detestable idols. When we encourage people, it gives them courage to do the right thing.

King Asa continued to exhort the people to follow the Lord, and a few verses later Scripture tells us the results of Asa’s encouragement.

12Then [the people] entered into a covenant to seek the LORD, the God of their ancestors, with all their heart and soul….14They shouted out their oath of loyalty to the LORD with trumpets blaring and rams’ horns sounding. 15All in Judah were happy about this covenant, for they had entered into it with all their heart. They earnestly sought after God, and they found him. And the LORD gave them rest from their enemies on every side….19So there was no more war until the thirty-fifth year of Asa’s reign.
2 Chronicles 15:12, 14-15, 19 (NLT)

Asa’s great choices resulted in the people of his Kingdom earnestly seeking the Lord and they led to peace for his kingdom for many years.

One thing to note is that when King Asa made great choices, those choices impacted the people around him. The same is true in our lives. When we make good choices, those around us are positively impacted. When I live my life in a way that pleases God, Phil is impacted by it. My life has more peace and as a result, his life has more peace.

Even more important than that, when I lead a life that pleases God, those around me are encouraged to lead a life that pleases God. Friends, it’s important to put yourself in a place where there are people who love God more than you do! Because being around those people will motivate you to follow God more closely. Make it a priority to (1) be a person who encourages others to follow  hard after Christ and (2) be around others who love God more than you do.

King Asa made some great choices in his life. Unfortunately, that didn’t last through his entire life. Tomorrow we’ll look at some of the tragic choices he made.

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Living God's HeartLiving Gods Heart

Confidence: the quality or state of being certain (Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary)

Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.
Hebrews 11:1 (NLT)

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.
Hebrews 11:1 (NIV)

A firm faith gives us confidence – that is, it gives us a certainty, an assurance – that what we hope for will actually happen. That confidence can radically change our lives. In the allegorical story Hinds Feet On High Places by Hannah Hurnard we share in the adventure of the main character Much-Afraid who “escaped from her Fearing relatives and went with the Shepherd to the High Places where ‘perfect love casteth out fear.’” If you’ve not read the book I encourage you to do so.

Much-Afraid learns to trust God more and more as she faces the challenges of the journey to the High Places. She learns from God’s consistent loving-kindness that His love is unlike any love she’s experienced and her faith grows with each submission and each victory. As her faith grows, her nature and character change. Confidence does that to a person. Being certain that we are loved even when we fail, allows and enables me to live differently – uncontrolled by the fear of failing. Being sure that we are loved no matter what others think brings freedom into our lives – freedom to be the person God intends us to be and freedom to love others in a greater way.

A commonly asked question comes to mind: “If you knew you couldn’t fail, what would you attempt for God?” That question reveals many things.

  • Our answer reveals our passion. If you could be doing anything for God, what would it be? But it’s not just our answer that brings revelation.
  • Considering the question reveals our level of faith. How much do we trust God? How much are we willing to trust God?
  • It also reveals our idols. What are we unwilling to let go of?

As our faith in God grows, so does our confidence. A confident heart willingly makes sacrifices for God. A confident heart legs’ go of idols. A confident heart steps into God’s calling.

Stepping into God’s calling doesn’t mean we have no fear, it means we set the fear aside and focus on the source – we put our confidence in Him, not in our own abilities. Such confidence pleases God and He rewards it. Read what Scripture says about those who put their faith in God:

The eyes of the LORD search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.
2 Chronicles 16:9a (NLT)

God strengthens those who already have confidence in Him. He gives more courage, more confidence, more strength to those who take baby steps, adolescent steps and adult steps toward fully committing to Him. No matter where we are in our walk, God wants to increase our faith – and a faith-filled heart is a confident heart.

Confidence is a certainty. A heart that is full of faith is certain, sure, confident, of his or her position in Christ –beloved child of God. With the power that raised Jesus from the dead behind him or her. No reason for doubt! You gotta have faith – and your faith-filled heart will be confident in Him!

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Resting at the River's Edge Logo 2013Resting at the River's Edge Logo 2013

Get to know God better by reading through the Bible a little bit every day. Pray, ask God to reveal Himself to you, then read. Our Resting at the River’s Edge schedules help you stay on track…but if you fall behind, don’t worry. Just keep reading. God will meet you and you will be blessed.

Resting at the River’s Edge schedules provide two reading plans. The main readings schedule readings that allow you to read through the entire Bible over a two-year period. During those two years we read through the New Testament twice and the Old Testament once. The “Additional Readings” in the schedule put you on a one-year reading plan. If you read through both the scheduled and additional readings, you will read through the entire Bible in 2013.

I hope you’ll join us! Reading through the Bible each year is one of my favorite things to do. I know that God will speak to you and your needs as you read. He always does. Since God usually speaks to me as I am reading His Word, you’ll find that many of the blogs I write relate directly to the Resting at the River’s Edge readings for that week (or sometimes from the previous week because I fall behind in the readings sometimes, too).

Click on one of the following buttons to open a PDF file of the May/June bookmark or all bookmarks. After the file has opened, you can print it or save it to your hard drive from your browser’s file menu.

Click here for the May/June 2013 recommended reading bookmark. Click here to download all bookmarks for 2013.

Join us as we read, then email me, leave a message on our Apprehending Grace Facebook page, or post a comment at the end of any blog. What has God spoken into your heart today?

Blessings, Friends!
Sandy

The recommended reading schedule for May is below.

Resting at the River's Edge May 2013 Reading Schedule

 

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Resting at the River's Edge Logo 2013Resting at the River's Edge Logo 2013Reading God’s Word is the best way to get to know God. We learn who He is and how He works. It is His love letter to us, His instruction manual written for us, and it breathes His Spirit upon us as we read.

You’ll find our April reading schedule in the March/April bookmark and in the table below.

Click on one of the following buttons to open a PDF file of the March-April bookmark or all bookmarks. After the file has opened, you can print it or save it to your hard drive from your browser’s file menu.

Click here for the March/April 2013 recommended reading bookmark. Click here to download all bookmarks for 2013.

What treasures have you found while reading this week? Share them with the rest of us. You can email me, leave a message on the Apprehending Grace Facebook page, or post a comment at the end of any blog.

Blessings, Friends!
Enjoy God! Enjoy life!

Sandy

The recommended reading schedule for April is below.

Resting at the River's Edge April 2014 Reading Schedule

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Resting at the River’s Edge provides an opportunity to participate in reading through the Bible in a systematic way. Here’s more details about the plan and our schedules.

Track your reading along with us using the table below, the downloadable half-page PDF or the July/August bookmark.

Share with others what God is teaching you. E-mail me, leave a message on the Apprehending Grace Facebook page, or post a comment at the end of any blog.

Enjoy God as you begin to enjoy summer!
Sandy

Download All 2012 Bookmarks Here

Download only the July/August 2012 Bookmark Here

Download a Half-Page PDF of the July Reading Plan Here

Here’s July’s reading plan:

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Yesterday’s blog looked at the situation Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, found himself – a “vast army” had come from across the sea and were almost upon his country to wage war. He stood little chance of defeating the army on his own, and when he heard the news he was “alarmed” and “resolved to inquire of the Lord.” Yesterday’s lesson was that Jehoshaphat quickly moved from being alarmed to seeking the Lord. We’re going to pick up the story there and look at three things today:

  • How Jehoshaphat went about seeking the Lord
  • What he did when he transitioned from seeking the Lord to taking action
  • What the outcome was

Let’s start by reading the passage that describes Jehoshaphat seeking the Lord.

Jehoshaphat Seeks the Lord

3Alarmed, Jehoshaphat resolved to inquire of the LORD, and he proclaimed a fast for all Judah. 4The people of Judah came together to seek help from the LORD; indeed, they came from every town in Judah to seek him.

5Then Jehoshaphat stood up in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem at the temple of the LORD in the front of the new courtyard 6and said:

“O LORD, God of our fathers, are you not the God who is in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. Power and might are in your hand, and no one can withstand you. 7O our God, did you not drive out the inhabitants of this land before your people Israel and give it forever to the descendants of Abraham your friend? 8They have lived in it and have built in it a sanctuary for your Name, saying, 9‘If calamity comes upon us, whether the sword of judgment, or plague or famine, we will stand in your presence before this temple that bears your Name and will cry out to you in our distress, and you will hear us and save us.’

10“But now here are men from Ammon, Moab and Mount Seir, whose territory you would not allow Israel to invade when they came from Egypt; so they turned away from them and did not destroy them. 11See how they are repaying us by coming to drive us out of the possession you gave us as an inheritance. 12O our God, will you not judge them? For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon you.”

13All the men of Judah, with their wives and children and little ones, stood there before the LORD.

14Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon Jahaziel son of Zechariah, the son of Benaiah, the son of Jeiel, the son of Mattaniah, a Levite and descendant of Asaph, as he stood in the assembly.

15He said: “Listen, King Jehoshaphat and all who live in Judah and Jerusalem! This is what the LORD says to you: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s. 16Tomorrow march down against them. They will be climbing up by the Pass of Ziz, and you will find them at the end of the gorge in the Desert of Jeruel. 17You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the LORD will give you, O Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the LORD will be with you.’”

18Jehoshaphat bowed with his face to the ground, and all the people of Judah and Jerusalem fell down in worship before the LORD. 19Then some Levites from the Kohathites and Korahites stood up and praised the LORD, the God of Israel, with very loud voice.
2 Chronicles 20:3-19

In seeking the Lord, Jehoshaphat did seven things. We can learn from this process an approach to seeking the Lord when we are alarmed. Let’s look at what Jehoshaphat did:

  1. He brought others into the process – he didn’t seek the Lord alone (verses 3-5)
  2. He humbled himself with fasting (verse 3)
  3. He acknowledged God as sovereign over all (verses 6-7)
  4. He admitted his weakness to God (verse 12)
  5. He demonstrated faith (verses 9, 12 and 18)
  6. He waited (verse 13)
  7. He worshipped (verses 18-19)

While there’s no “magic formula” to seeking God, Jehoshaphat’s approach is a good one because it brings us into a right relationship with God through humbling ourselves and admitting our weaknesses, demonstrating faith, properly exalting God and waiting upon Him. We would do well to emulate Jehoshaphat when we face seemingly insurmountable battles in our lives.

In response to Jehoshaphat, “the Spirit of the LORD came upon Jahaziel” and he prophecied a wonderful promise from God – that the people would not have to fight the battle. I find the prophecy fascinating in that God tells the people “you won’t have to fight, but take up your battle positions and stand firm.” At first it caused me to wonder why they had to take up their battle positions and stand firm if God was going to fight their battle for them. Why did they have to go out to face the enemy if they didn’t have to fight that enemy? I’m sure the Israelites were wondering this, and God doesn’t answer the question, He simply reassures them that He will be with them. Let’s tuck this question in the back of our mind and read on to learn what happens.

Jehoshaphat Leads the Israelites into the Battle

20Early in the morning they left for the Desert of Tekoa. As they set out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, “Listen to me, Judah and people of Jerusalem! Have faith in the LORD your God and you will be upheld; have faith in his prophets and you will be successful.” 21After consulting the people, Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the LORD and to praise him for the splendor of his holiness as they went out at the head of the army, saying:

“Give thanks to the LORD,
for his love endures forever.”

2 Chronicles 20:20-21

After seeking the Lord, Jehoshaphat did three key things as he prepared to step into the battle.

  1. He encouraged the soldiers. He builds up their faith. We can do that to ourselves. Psalm 42 provides just one example of King David encouraging himself. “Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God…” (verse 5a).
  2. He got advice of others – “after consulting the people” he made decisions. Proverbs 15:22 tells us that “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.” King Jehoshaphat wasn’t afraid or too superior to ask for advice.
  3. He led with worship. There are many reasons to lead with worship. Here are just a few:
  • It continually builds our faith.
  • It glorifies God.
  • It demonstrates the source of our victory.
  • It stirs God to action.

Well, Jehoshaphat and the Israelites are headed into the battle the Lord has promised them they will not have to fight. How will God keep His promise? Let’s finish the story and find out.

Victory, God’s Way

22As they began to sing and praise, the LORD set ambushes against the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir who were invading Judah, and they were defeated. 23The men of Ammon and Moab rose up against the men from Mount Seir to destroy and annihilate them. After they finished slaughtering the men from Seir, they helped to destroy one another.

24When the men of Judah came to the place that overlooks the desert and looked toward the vast army, they saw only dead bodies lying on the ground; no one had escaped. 25So Jehoshaphat and his men went to carry off their plunder, and they found among them a great amount of equipment and clothing and also articles of value—more than they could take away. There was so much plunder that it took three days to collect it. 26On the fourth day they assembled in the Valley of Beracah, where they praised the LORD. This is why it is called the Valley of Beracah to this day.

27Then, led by Jehoshaphat, all the men of Judah and Jerusalem returned joyfully to Jerusalem, for the LORD had given them cause to rejoice over their enemies. 28They entered Jerusalem and went to the temple of the LORD with harps and lutes and trumpets.

29The fear of God came upon all the kingdoms of the countries when they heard how the LORD had fought against the enemies of Israel. 30And the kingdom of Jehoshaphat was at peace, for his God had given him rest on every side.
2 Chronicles 20:22-30

Doesn’t it just make you want to shout? Hallelujah! “As [the Israelites] began to sing and praise, the Lord set ambushes against [their enemies].” That’s my kind of God! Let’s look at the results of those ambushes:

  • The “vast army” was a desert of dead bodies.
  • The plunder – so much of it that it “took three days to collect”– went to God’s people
  • Praise and worship – the people returned joyfully and went into the temple and had a praise party! One of the greatest lessons in all of this is that what starts in worship ends in worship! The people entered the battle in worship. They ended it in worship.
  • The fear of God came upon all Judah’s other potential enemies
  • There was peace

That’s a God-sized result!

Remember that question you tucked away until the story was further developed? The question about why the people had to go out to the battle if God was going to win it for them? Scripture doesn’t answer the question outright, but I believe that it was largely to increase their faith. God’s instruction to the Israelites in verse 17 was “see the deliverance the LORD will give you.” God wanted them to see with their own eyes and be a part of the action to build their faith. Could God have accomplished the same thing while the Israelites slept? Absolutely. Do you think the impact would have been the same? I don’t. I think the Isarelites needed to encourage themselves in the Lord, and they needed to put their faith into action by suiting up and marching out toward the battle. They needed the practice of holding on to the promise of God. And perhaps, just perhaps, God wanted to “wow” them – to see the looks on their faces and the rejoicing in their hearts when they looked upon the battle God had won for them.

I know I need those things. I need God to increase my faith sometimes, and the way that happens is by allowing me to be put in situations that cause me alarm and force me to push past the alarm and run into God’s arms – situations where I am required to demonstrate my faith by taking steps toward an enemy (or a challenge) that only God can defeat (or accomplish).

I love that about God! He wants to help me grow and He wants to delight me in the process. That’s the purpose for the battles in our lives. I encourage you, as I did in yesterday’s blog, to choose the supernatural response when facing your battles – “resolve to inquire of the Lord.” If you follow a pattern similar to Jehoshaphat, I’m confident that you’ll “see the deliverance the Lord will give you.”

Friends, I pray God’s richest blessings for you – and that includes situations that might initially cause you alarm, but allow you to see Him in greater glory!

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In the history of Judah there was a king named Jehoshaphat. Jehoshaphat was generally a good king. He went to his various towns and urged the people to follow the Lord, and he urged the priests to judge righteously.

In 2 Chronicles 20 we read that a “vast army” of warriors from three different nations were marching to toward Judah:

1After this, the Moabites and Ammonites with some of the Meunites came to make war on Jehoshaphat.

2Some men came and told Jehoshaphat, “A vast army is coming against you from Edom, from the other side of the Sea. It is already in Hazazon Tamar” (that is, En Gedi). 3Alarmed, Jehoshaphat resolved to inquire of the LORD, and he proclaimed a fast for all Judah. 4The people of Judah came together to seek help from the LORD; indeed, they came from every town in Judah to seek him.
2 Chronicles 20:1-4

When Jehoshaphat learned that the enemy was coming to “make war,” Scripture records his two reactions.

First, it says he was “alarmed.” This was not some bully down the block who had come to steal his lunch money. He might be able to deal with the bully. No, this was a vast army from three nations coming from the other side of the sea and they were almost upon Judah. You don’t travel that far unless you plan to kick some Jehoshaphat butt!

So “alarm” was Jehoshaphat’s first, and very natural reaction. There is nothing wrong with this natural reaction. Jehoshaphat did not sin in having this natural reaction. When I get phone calls that have “catastrophe” written all over them, my first reaction is alarm. I’ll bet the same is true with you.

You undoubtedly have seasons and situations in your life when enemies come together to make war with you. It might be those times when you feel like you are fighting the battle on too many fronts. When things are going wrong in too many areas of your life or you are suddenly too busy in too many areas of your life. You are in the same position as Jehoshaphat. And you probably feel like you can’t get it wrong in any of those areas or your life will come crashing down. You and perhaps those around you will be defeated.

Or maybe your “vast army” is a single pressing issue that is advancing like a vast army about to overtake you. Maybe it’s a looming bill that needs to be paid or an upcoming event.

Whatever “vast army” is advancing upon you, it’s important that you have the same second reaction as Jehoshaphat.

Jehoshaphat’s second reaction was to “resolve” to “inquire of the Lord.” This might be described as Jehoshaphat’s supernatural reaction, because turning to the Lord happens only when we look beyond what we can see in the natural.

Notice that Scripture records Jehoshaphat’s two responses in a single sentence – He was alarmed and he resolved to inquire of the Lord. A mark of our maturity in the Lord is how quickly we move from our natural response to a supernatural response. Stepping away from our natural response requires a decision and a resolve on our part. It’s so much easier to wallow in our fear and anxiety. It’s so much easier to dwell on the enemy or enemies coming against us. But we need to respond supernaturally to the situation those enemies pose immediately rather than continue in the natural. If we want to live supernatural lives, we have to make supernatural choices.

Tomorrow we’ll look at the Jehoshaphat’s supernatural response in more detail, but for today, I invite you to join with me in resolving to inquire of the Lord – immediately when we feel alarmed. Let’s invoke a supernatural response quickly so that God can impact our situation quickly.

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Hi Folks,

I’ve heard that some are having trouble downloading the May 2011 Resting at the River’s Edge recommended reading schedule. I have uploaded new files and hope they do the job.

There are always three ways to access the reading schedules:

From the Series page, you can click on the “Resting at the River’s Edge – Reading Through the Bible in 2011” link. That link takes you to this page – the blog entry for each month’s reading.

From the Downloads page, you can click on “Resting at the River’s Edge – Read thru the Bible in 2011” link. It will take you to this page that allows you to download the schedule for each month.

As my mom would say, there’s more than one way to skin a cat. (I used that expression recently and the person I was talking with asked me if I wanted to skin a cat. No, I do not, but you get the idea.) 🙂

Each of the links to the actual schedule take you to the same file, however, so if one approach doesn’t work for you, you’ll have little success trying other approaches. If you have any problems with the link, please let me know. It works at this end, but…

Blessings on your week, friends, and keep reading! God will speak to you!
Sandy

Comments Comments Off on Let’s Try This Again – Resting at the River’s Edge Reading Schedule

Resting at the River's Edge Logo 2010-2011

Watching the Church Grow & Develop and Reading some Poetry

As we Rest at the River’s Edge in May, we’ll spend most of our time doing two things:

  • Watching the church grow and develop as we read through the book of Acts
  • Enjoying poetry as we read some Psalms and the Song of Songs (often called Song of Solomon)

As spring develops, don’t lose focus on what’s important, but feel free to take your Bible and notebook outside and enjoy some spring weather!

Blessings, Sandy

The recommended reading schedule for May is below.

To download a PDF of May’s recommended reading plan, click here.

 

Watching the Church Grow & Develop and Reading some Poetry

As we Rest at the River’s Edge in May, we’ll spend most of our time doing two things:

Watching the church grow and develop as we read through the book of Acts

Enjoying poetry as we read some Psalms and the Song of Songs (often called Song of Solomon)

As spring develops, don’t lose focus on what’s important, but feel free to take your Bible and notebook outside and enjoy some spring weather!

Blessings,
Sandy

 

 

 

Comments Comments Off on Resting at the River’s Edge in May: 2 Chronicles, Psalms, Song of Songs, Acts & Romans

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