The Real Story of Joe. 2 Chronicles 20.1-30; Acts 12
What are you up against?
~Is it the claws of grief that seem to be constantly scratching at you? ~Is it the fear of what is next, in terms of medical treatment? ~Is it the crushing blow of a job loss and all that goes with it? ~Is it a huge income tax bill that you do not even know how to decipher? ~Is old age knocking at your door, and its got you bugged?
~What are you up against that you are powerless to control?
If you didn't read the last Morning Briefing, this would be beneficial:
In that story, I referred to the protagonist as Joe, but really, his name was Jehoshaphat. Truth be told, a lot of us cannot relate to most of the Old Testament-between the strange names, battles of various 'ites' to weird laws, customs and places, right? However, in this story in 2 Chronicles 20, there are several key things that we can take and regularly apply to our lives.
For the Christian, for the one who walks with God, there is no one or no thing that comes our way that we should not take before God. And sometimes, there is absolutely nothing we can humanly do to effect change; however, God can act. The fact is, God does act, in response to the prayers of those who place their trust in him, and turn to him in prayer. It is ours to pray in faith, and his to come and do what only he can do. He specializes in that.
If you have not already, please find 2 Chronicles 20 in your Bible; go to Psalms, and turn left, and read verses 1-30--an incredible story. Here's the scene--Jehoshaphat is about to be attacked by a 'vast' army; his people are totally surrounded. He cries out to God for help, and declares a fast, and as a respected leader, the people heed his words. From the temple courtyard, he stands and addresses his Commander in Chief, God. In his prayer, he recalls how God has taken care of the Jewish people up until this point, and in so doing, reminds the people of God's faithfulness to them. He concludes his prayer with,
"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." This is first a statement, and then an act of faith.
Check out what God says next to Jehoshaphat: For the battle is not yours, but God's.
Jehoshaphat takes his strength from this word from God and then further encourages the faith of his people in God's deliverance.
God says to you, he says to me: 'Don't be afraid, entrust your situation to me, and I will fight for you.'
What are you up against, my friend, trying to fight, control or solve on your own? God is saying,
'do not be afraid or discouraged. . . the battle is not yours, but mine.'
Could we stop right here, and actually pray? From Southern California to New York, down to Florida to Portugal, to Tiberius, Israel, to Kenya and South Africa, the Philippines and Japan---let us join together in prayer:
Dear God, we know there are many of us who are in a battle right now . . .
nothing escapes your notice, and nothing has caught you by surprise.
So, Father--won't you take our situations--the cancer diagnosis,
the test results that will soon be given, our grief, our children who are far from you, the......? We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you, Lord.
We will not be afraid, we will not let ourselves be discouraged.
We take you at your word--the battle is not ours, but yours.
Our trust is in you, sweet Lord. Come, move. . . In your powerful name we pray, Amen."
As Jehoshaphat's men are marching down to face the battle, Jehoshaphat appoints men to sing praises to God-- (can you just imagine what the opposition was thinking as they heard them coming? Crazy Jews)-- so sure of the victory God had promised them (verse 17). The opposing armies then turn on each other, destroy one another, and Jehoshaphat's men never have to fight! Isn't that crazy? Oh, how I love this story of God's faithfulness!
Once again, we see how different things are when we are operating in God's economy--God didn't just help J's armies, he caused the other armies to destroy each other so that J's men never had to fight the battle! Not much has changed in 3000 years. God is still willing . . . no, not just willing, but wanting to fight our (just) battles. Surrender to God whatever concerns you today; go ahead, he's big enough.
Man, I love a good story, especially when it shows the power of our God, wielded through the prayers of the faithful.