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"Praise the Lord!"
"After 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 20:21).
When you are in trouble and face a desperate situation what do you do? Do you worry and fret? I readily confess that this is my built-in emotional default in response to troubles! But when I go to the Faithful One who promises that "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" I suddenly remember that there is no obstacle too great or complex for me to overcome through His power.
A fresh example of this came via email two days ago from a faithful reader and personal friend. It blessed us and I believe David's message will touch your heart as well. We share the following story with his permission:
My heart and prayers go out to you both as Brooksyne recovers. I thought that I might share a story. Seventeen months ago my wife Kelly was in a catastrophic car accident that crushed her hip and broke her pelvis in seven places. Kelly was in the hospital for three weeks. From the very first moments after I got word of the accident I felt devastated. Kelly and I have always been close and the thought of losing her seemed to be overwhelming. And yet as I look back I was remarkably calm - I had to be because at no point in our relationship had Kelly needed me more.
As the days ground on into weeks and months I was called to serve Kelly as never before - giving her constant and intimate care. God used this time to deepen my love for her (I can't write this without my eyes welling with tears). As a result of this accident our relationship to each other and to God has deepened and we have experienced blessing as never before.
Kelly recovered amazingly quickly defying the odds and the doctor's projections. She still has some lingering after-effects and occasionally walks with a slight limp - yet she states that she would gladly go through the pain and difficulty of the recovery all over again to experience the blessings that God has given us. Indeed God can and does use all things for the good of those who love him and are called according to his purposes.
The obstacles and major challenges we face in life give us opportunity to trust God and not ourselves when we must go forward and conquer the problem at hand.
The context of our Scripture text reveals a desperate situation faced by the people of God under King Jehoshaphat. They stood opposite a vast army and, militarily, the situation seemed utterly hopeless. Jehoshaphat's response, prayer, and preparations are a great Biblical lesson for all of us when we face difficult situations.
Perhaps his strangest move militarily was to appoint singers to go before the army! I would imagine to secular war planners this would be considered an insane military move (along with the conquest plans for conquering Jericho and the use of a sling for the mighty giant Goliath). Earlier in the account, in a word from the prophet Jahaziel, God had declared, "You 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" (20:17).
The singers were to proclaim, "Give thanks to the LORD, for His love endures forever." This strategy worked in a most unexpected way. The very next verse states, "As they began to sing and praise, the LORD set ambushes…" (22). God in a marvelous, unexpected way affected deliverance. And that's how He works on our behalf as well.
Consider the battles you are facing in life. There's a great principle in today's text. When we praise the Lord as an act of faith and obedience, we get our eyes off the situation and onto God. We have an oft repeated promise in the Scriptures to claim, "The LORD will be with you." And indeed He will. The song, "Praise the Lord" sung by The Imperials was popular in the early 80's. Its theme compliments our message today and we have a link to a video version below. May it bless and encourage you today.
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, when we face struggles with a confident heart instead of a cringing fear we give testimony to Your active power in our lives. There is nothing that we cannot overcome by Your grace as You work out the details and the timing. A whining spirit only leads to self-pity while a thankful spirit visualizes a hopeful outlook. Our confidence grows as we look beyond the current crisis to You, our Great Deliverer, who has done so many wondrous works that the whole world is not big enough to contain the books that would describe Your miraculous, delivering power. Amen.
Brooksyne's note: While reading this message for the podcast, suddenly I visualized a modern rendering of the Scripture verse. It would be similar to an army general preparing his men for battle. After months and years of strategic training to defeat the enemy they now stand opposite the fierce enemy. Just before they plunge forward with all their latest powerful weaponry and skilled technique they're ordered to sing out, "This Little Light of Mine, I'm Gonna Let It Shine." Can you imagine the disbelief and shock the soldiers would experience at such an order. They'd certainly think their commanding officer had lost his mind since he was confusing the battle field with a Sunday School classroom. Surely the soldiers in Jehoshapat's unit felt similarly, but nonetheless, they obediently followed the singers as they praised the Lord in a song of thanksgiving to God. And, of course, the will of God prevailed and the Israelites conquered their enemy.
Yesterday I heard this riddle: Methuselah was the oldest living man recorded in the Bible yet he died before his father. How could this be? Can anyone tell us? The answer will be in Monday's message!
The mountain laurel is Pennsylvania's state flower and covers the mountainsides acre after acre. Generally you see them from a distance while driving along which gives you a stunning view. But up close they have a very beautiful flower, both in the prebloom and blooming stages. I took this photo today from the plant in our back yard.
Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
"Praise The Lord" Video This is the song we referred to in the last paragraph of today's message and here is the classic Imperial version from that time set to photos.
"Blessed Be Your Name" Audio This song also goes very well with today's message!
"When The Tears Fall" Video This song has a wonderful message of faith and assurance.
"Psalm 34" Audio Written and sung by Andrew Hostetler, a young musician from a church we spoke at several months ago.
Several wonderful hymns of praise:
"Praise To The Lord, The Almighty" Audio Audio version2
"Praise My Soul The King Of Heaven" Audio
"Praise The Mighty Name Of Jesus" Audio
Today's photo: Galen and Nancy Martin have been our friends since we moved to Lancaster County over seven years ago. In fact they invited us for a meal in their 18th century farmhouse the very first Sunday we attended church here. Next week their third son, Darrel, is getting married.
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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission; and the King James Version.
Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."
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