What is it about praise that is so powerful? Why are we so strongly exhorted in so many scriptures to praise the Lord?
First, praise blesses God. When His people praise His name with dancing and make music to Him with tambourine and harp, the Lord takes delight in them (Psalm 149:4). We bless Him when we dance, clap, rejoice, and are glad in Him. The saints should ever “rejoice in his honor” and “sing for joy as they lie on their beds” (v. 5).
Second, praise engages mighty warfare against the enemy. If it is our honor to praise the Lord, then it is our glory to put our enemies to flight through praise (v. 9). Praise has the power “to bind their kings with shackles and their leaders with iron chains” (v. 8). As we praise God, the sentence upon our enemies as written in the Word of God is executed.
Never underestimate the power of praise. King Hezekiah’s simple worship and prayer brought the angel of the Lord into his situation. In one night, the angel killed 185,000 Assyrian troops, and Judah was delivered from the enemy’s hands (2 Kings 19:35).
Praise ye the Lord!
In the midst of the terrible ordeals of life, we often don’t know to whom we can turn. In 2 Kings 20, Hezekiah was facing death because a terrible sickness had attacked his body. To whom did he turn in his hour of need? The Word of God tells us that “he turned his face to the wall and prayed to the Lord” (v. 2).
The “wall” represents the tower of the Lord. In his moment of desperate need, Hezekiah’s eyes were no longer fixed on human methods and reports. The things of the world no longer distracted his vision. Rather, he raced to safety inside the tower of the Lord.
The Lord heard his cry and instructed Isaiah to have Hezekiah’s servants apply an ointment made from figs. They obeyed his command, and Hezekiah was healed. Because he had run to God, God heard his prayer, saw his tears, and added fifteen years to his life (vv. 5-6).
The tower of the Lord is a supernatural tower. It is so strong that it can turn the sun backward ten degrees, a feat that boggles the mind when the laws of physics are considered. Leave your present fears behind and run into the tower of the Lord. It is the one place you are safe!
The Word of God is the one factor in your life that will determine your level of blessing. David wrote that the person whose delight is in the law of the Lord would find that whatever he does prospers (Psalm 1:2-3).
Josiah’s life turned completely around the moment the high priest said he had located the Book of the Law in the temple of the Lord. Reading the Word sparked a righteous indignation in Josiah’s spirit, and he cleansed both Judah and Israel of their false gods with a determination unsurpassed in biblical history.
Your heart may be predisposed to serving God, but hearing the Word in your heart will light the fire of conviction. If you devote your life to reading and meditating on the Word, you will remain continually opposed to sin. You will also be disposed to God and to fulfilling the destiny He has for you.
In this second half of the year, devote yourself fully to the Word of God. Read and devour it as would a hungry person, and put whatever you read into practice. When you do, the Lord promises that you will be blessed!
Jehoiachin’s life is a tremendous picture of God’s judgment and grace. His sin landed him in a dungeon for thirty-seven years; then suddenly without explanation the king sent for him and released him from prison. More favor was extended to him through kind words, a position of honor, daily food at the king’s table, and a regular allowance for the rest of his life.
In the same way, God reached down into the dark prison house of sin, and by grace He instantly released us from our sentence. He cleaned us up, spoke His love to us, and seated us “with him in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 2:6). He dressed us in the finest robes of righteousness and continues to feed us each day with living bread from the table of the Word of God. Finally, He provides for all our material needs on a daily basis by promising to supply all our needs according to His riches in glory (Philippians 4:19).
“Now then, you kings, act wisely! Be warned, you rulers of the earth!” (Psalm 2:10). Let us not boast of our positions, prestige, or prosperity. We are where we are because of God’s incredible grace!
Paul could identify with the psalmist, for he was surrounded by hundreds of hostile Jews who were bent on his destruction. Their plot to assassinate him seemed foolproof, except for the fact that Paul knew the Lord was the lifter of his head. In fact, God had already arranged for Paul’s nephew to hear of the plan and to be taken to inform the commander of the army of the evil plot. The commander then intervened, and the plot was foiled (Acts 23:16, 23-24).
There is a place of rest in the Lord where we do not fear the plots of the enemy. Instead, we lie down and sleep because the Lord sustains us (Psalm 3:5). We are encircled by God’s protection, and Satan cannot enter that circle without God’s permission. We can rest easy today under God’s shield, for He will not allow the plots, devices, and arrows of the devil to remain inside our circle forever.
Let us make David’s prayer our own: “Arise, O Lord! Rescue me, my God! Slap all my enemies in the face! Shatter the teeth of the wicked”
(v. 7). Whatever plot the enemy may have hatched, God has a messenger—perhaps a nephew—to foil it!
In Acts 24 Paul could not be swayed to offer a bribe to Governor Felix (v. 26). He kept his conscience clear before both God and man. Consequently, he was able to reason with Felix concerning “righteousness and self-control and the judgment to come” (v. 25).
Our primary witness to the lost comes from who we are, not just what we say. Felix believed that any man could be bought for a price and that Paul’s words would eventually yield to his lusts. He found in Paul, however, a man genuinely concerned about the governor’s soul—a man who was totally unmoved by materialism. Paul had discovered that “the Lord has set apart the godly for himself” (Psalm 4:3). Because of Paul’s integrity, nothing could penetrate his shield of protection.
Be careful of your witness, as well as your words, in front of those you seek to influence. Satan will try to negate your witness by your works. One false move and all that you say will be meaningless. If you are going to preach about the judgment to come, live as though you are ready for the judgment. Then your witness will be powerful.
The prayer of Jabez is a cry for deliverance from a life of pain. The name Jabez means “distress,” or “pain,” and accordingly, from the day of his birth, Jabez endured much pain.
Satan seeks to afflict those who are honorable with pain and sorrow in order to destroy their effectiveness. Jabez prayed for God to turn the devil’s curse into blessing and his own limitations into enlargement. Our prayers, too, should be for God to enlarge our territory just as He did for Jabez, who had been through such pain and sorrow. We want to be enlarged, not for personal pride and pleasure, but to reach into the regions beyond with the Gospel.
Jabez also prayed that God would keep him from harm so he could be delivered from a life of pain, sorrow, and distraction. And God granted his request!
Why not pray today for God to reverse the curse and break the limitations you have faced, perhaps even from birth? He will spread His protection over you (Psalm 5:11) and surround you with favor as with a shield (v. 12)!
God helped the Reubenites, Gadites, and men of Manasseh when they waged war because they pleaded for His help in the midst of the battle. He answered their prayers “because they trusted in him.”
In spiritual warfare you must remember two things. First, you need to pray constantly while the battle is raging. Assemble a group who will commit to pray continually until the battle turns and the victory is won. Second, remember that the Lord is fighting against the enemy (1 Chronicles 5:22). Recognize that it is really not your battle, but the Lord’s.
God and Satan are irreconcilable enemies, and God is as interested in your victory as you are. When you realize that God is actually fighting your battle, you will say to the enemy as David did to Goliath, “The Lord does not need weapons to rescue his people. It is his battle, not ours. The Lord will give you to us!” (1 Samuel 17:47).
Many times you lose spiritual battles when you start complaining, whining, and muttering about your defeat. “Those who love to talk will experience the consequences, for the tongue can kill or nourish life” (Proverbs 18:21). Guard your tongue, and every day proclaim, “The battle is the Lord’s.” He will not let you be defeated!
How easily we can be blown off course from the will of God by listening to advice from others instead of listening to a word from the Lord! Paul tried to convince the centurion that he had heard from God concerning great danger to the ship if they set sail from Fair Havens. Nevertheless, the centurion followed the advice of the pilot and the owner of the ship (Acts 27:11).
Someone once said, “We don’t need good advice. We need a word from the Lord!” God does not need decision makers—He needs hearers. In every circumstance, He has a planned way of escape (1 Corinthians 10:13), if we will take the time to listen to Him. The pilot and ship’s owner thought they had made the right decision “when a light wind began blowing from the south” (Acts 27:13). How quickly, however, did the dreamy breeze turn into a nightmare storm!
Do not try to discern the right direction with your natural mind, but wait upon the Lord and listen to His counsel. In the end, you will save yourself much heartache, for “the Lord’s purpose will prevail” (Proverbs 19:21). If you follow His counsel, you will discover that God is your shield, “saving those whose hearts are true and right” (Psalm 7:10).
Purpose can make a huge difference in a person’s life. The crew of Paul’s ship had given up all hope of being saved (Acts 27:20) after being relentlessly tossed in a mighty storm for two weeks. Still Paul was not moved. He knew he had a purpose to fulfill, for an angel had spoken to him, telling him that he would “surely stand trial before Caesar” (v. 24). Believing that nothing could defeat what God had determined, Paul encouraged everyone around him that all would be well.
When the circumstances of life fail to line up with your expectations, you can feel trapped, and the world becomes a hopeless place. God, however, has a plan for you, and when you find His purpose for your life, adverse circumstances become meaningless. No matter the difficulty, Satan cannot destroy you before you fulfill your purpose.
In Acts 27:28, when all hope seemed gone, suddenly a slight change appeared: the depth of the water lessened. As you cling to your purpose and God’s promise, suddenly the battle will begin to turn. It may seem almost imperceptible at first, but nothing will stop God from fulfilling His purposes.
That’s exactly what David experienced. After all the years of his trials with Saul, the day finally came when God removed Saul from the scene and “turned his kingdom over to David son of Jesse” (1 Chronicles 10:14).
Keep sailing. God is not finished with you yet!
David’s army was awesome. Some of his men were ambidextrous, so skilled and versatile that they could shoot arrows or sling stones with either hand. One was so powerful that he snatched a spear from an Egyptian who was seven and a half feet tall and killed him with his own spear (1 Chronicles 11:23). Others “were expert with both shield and spear, as fierce as lions and as swift as deer on the mountains” (12:8).
The common thread running throughout David’s army was courage. Not one was fearful, hesitant, or puny. All were talented, resolute, and aggressive. They worked with precision, totally destroying the enemies of God with an awesome unity of spirit.
Paul, too, showed courage. He was so brave that he simply “shook off the snake into the fire and was unharmed” (Acts 28:5). The islanders kept waiting for him to collapse, but he just kept right on going.
The day of weak and cowardly soldiers is over! The world is watching your courage in adversity. Quit taking your spiritual temperature all the time, and step into your mighty position in God. You are in His awesome army!
God wants you to “break through” in every difficult situation you face! David faced his first and greatest challenge from the Philistines immediately after he was anointed king. David asked God if he should go out and fight the Philistines, and God instructed him to attack, assuring David that He would give him the victory. Desiring to honor God for answering his prayers, David renamed the area of battle so that everyone who came there in the future would know of God’s goodness to him in that place. It was known as the place of breakthrough.
David referred to the battle in terms of the innate power that water has to break through any resistance. A flood of waters is an awesome force. It can break down dams, dikes, and walls, even moving rocks as it overwhelms everything in its path. Even more mighty is God’s power, a force so great that it sweeps away any barrier the enemy tries to erect against us.
Not only is God powerful in giving the breakthrough, but He is also strategic. In the second battle against the Philistines (1 Chronicles 14:14), God told David to encircle them and launch a surprise attack. David obeyed and broke through to victory again. Here we see that God is infinitely more powerful than the devil—and smarter!
Wait upon God for His strategy, and move at His command. Believe today that His power and His wisdom will give you a breakthrough, for He is Lord of the Breakthrough!
Humanism tells us, “I’m okay . . . you’re okay” and says that salvation is little more than a contribution to one’s own personal happiness. As Christians, however, we know that without the salvation purchased by Jesus’ blood, humanity is hopeless.
Nowhere is the wickedness of humanity described in more graphic detail than in Romans 1 and Psalm 10. Paul begins Romans with a thorough description of the wickedness of humankind, coupled with a justification for the wrath of God. He continues with a description of how people have rejected the truth of God because of pride (Romans 1:21) and how such rejection has caused their minds to concoct unspeakable evils, such as idolatry and sodomy (v. 27). In Psalm 10:7, David describes the wickedness of people’s motives and speech, which leads to abuses of power in their relationships with their fellow man.
Before we can ever get people saved, we must get them lost. Who among us does not see within himself the awful fruits of rebellion these chapters describe? Let us thank God today that He is willing to forgive our past and to accept us as His very own children. We should be so grateful that we would never entertain the thought of turning our backs on Him.
God’s kindness leads to repentance. We once were lost, irretrievable sinners, but when we realize that God still loves us enough to forgive us in Christ, it will break our wills and cause us to cry out to Him for mercy.
David was so overwhelmed by God’s kindness in promising to bless his future household that he exclaimed, “Who am I, O Lord God, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far? And now, O God, in addition to everything else, you speak of giving me a lasting dynasty! You speak as though I were someone very great, O Lord God” (1 Chronicles 17:16-17). Such honor and kindness from God made David a humble, not proud, man.
Paul demolished the idea that God’s goodness grants a person self-righteousness. The Jews he so often preached to felt this way when comparing themselves to the Gentiles (Romans 2). We must never fail to remember that we are no better than anyone else, and if not for the kindness of God, we would be just like everyone else!
Be humbled today over the fact that, in His kindness, God has forgiven you. Never let that forgiveness be perverted into an attitude of superiority. Stay repentant and ever grateful that He has transformed your life. This continual gratitude and repentance will keep you from pride and religious arrogance from now until you see Him face-to-face!
David insisted on paying the full price for Araunah’s threshing floor. The idea of making an offering to God with no personal sacrifice involved repulsed David. His God was entirely too holy and worthy to be offered a cheap sacrifice.
Many Christians are looking for the “bargain table,” where they can serve the Lord with little or no personal change in their lifestyles or comfort levels. The Bible tells of many such people, who desired the environment of religion without the demonstration of true love for God or man.
All love is shown by personal sacrifice. Jesus vividly portrayed His love for us by paying the full price for our sin. He took no shortcuts or easy roads to purchase our redemption. Willingly, He drank the full cup of God’s wrath. He’s asking us today, “Have you resigned everything to Me and counted it as loss that you might gain Me? Are you willing to pay the full price?”
God takes seemingly insignificant sacrifices and uses them to build His mighty kingdom. David had no idea that his little seed of sacrifice at the threshing floor of Araunah would ultimately lead to the establishment of Solomon’s temple at that very site (2 Chronicles 3:1).
What have you offered to the Lord in loving sacrifice?
How proud and cocky are those who seek to oppress believers! Paul aptly describes their actions: “Their talk is foul, like the stench from an open grave. Their speech is filled with lies. The poison of a deadly snake drips from their lips. Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness. They are quick to commit murder” (Romans 3:13-15).
Christians need not worry, however, for the boasting of such evildoers against the righteous incites the Lord to action: “Now I will rise up. . . .”(Psalm 12:5). God’s remedy for persecuted, defeated believers is simply to supply them with the words of the Lord. God’s Word is flawless, like “silver refined in a furnace, purified seven times over” (Psalm 12:6).
In your battle, stop running to God to complain about your problem. Find His pure Word that He gave you to defeat your enemies, and rise up in victory over them. Others’ advice may be helpful, but only the Word of God will put the devil to flight, as it is “the sword of the Spirit” (Ephesians 6:17). Employ the sword of God’s Spirit, and watch your proud enemies flee in terror!
Heman’s fourteen sons were given to him through the promises of God to honor him (1 Chronicles 25:5 NIV). The Bible records that Heman’s children were the product of his faith in the promises of God. Heman received these gifts by believing that God would give him children and that they would be a blessing. These fourteen sons were all gifted in music, and their excellence served to honor their father (1 Chronicles 25:5-7).
In the New Testament, we also see this same pattern of godly children that are a blessing to their parents. Philip had four virgin daughters who prophesied and whose ministry was a great reflection on Philip’s family and life. His children, like Heman’s, brought honor to their father’s name.
The children of the godly are a blessing (Psalm 37:26). They are a gift—not a curse! Our children have been given to us by the promises of God, and Satan cannot use their lives to bring us shame and dishonor. Secure in the promises of God, we should expect our children to honor us, not to embarrass us.
Let us expect all our children to know and serve the Lord and to bring us great delight as they walk before Him with all their hearts!
The King James Version of this verse says Abraham was “fully persuaded” (v. 21). When you are dealing with something as impossible as having a child at the age of one hundred, your faith must be rock-solid! Abraham faced the fact that his body was dead (Romans 4:19), but he did not allow that consideration to weaken his faith. He came to a point in which his beliefs did not waver and he was “fully persuaded.”
When confronted with an impossibility, you must face the facts with the truth, which is embodied in the promises of God. As you spend time meditating on the promises of God, you will become “fully persuaded.” His promises will so saturate your mind and thinking that you will no longer waver in doubt when looking at outward circumstances. Rather, your heart will be convinced and remain fixed, regardless of what your mind thinks. Your heart will overflow with a faith that knows God has the power to do what He has promised. At that point, nothing the devil can do or say will move you from your position of faith.
Keep reading, studying, and digging into God’s promises. Persist in tearing down any area of unbelief, until you are “fully persuaded.”
Giving is based on motives, and in 1 Chronicles 29 David listed the right reasons for giving to God. First, he spoke about his own giving (vv. 2-3). Leaders have no business instructing others to give if they themselves have not given!
Second, David challenged the leaders under him to give, and they responded willingly. Joyfully they provided an abundance of gold, silver, bronze, iron, and precious stones for the construction of the temple (vv. 7-8). Because they had given freely and generously from their hearts, King David was filled with joy (v. 9).
Third, David motivated the congregation to give. David reminded them in his prayer before them that everything comes from God (v. 14) and that they were only giving back to Him what He had given them in the first place. He then recalled the fact that they were only aliens passing through this world, using their earthly resources for a limited time called life (v. 15).
Finally, David revealed that he had given with pure motives in the integrity of his heart, with no desire to impress or manipulate others (v. 17). That made his giving acceptable to God.
Why should we greedily grasp for the passing things of this life when they will only slip through our fingers on the day we enter eternity? If our giving follows the guidelines David laid out, the Kingdom of God will be financed properly, sacrificially, and abundantly!
At night, when our hearts are still, God speaks to us. To Solomon, God appeared with a fantastic question, one that we could only dream about someone asking us: “What do you want? Ask, and I will give it to you!” (2 Chronicles 1:7).
Solomon’s request should forever instruct us in what is truly important. Instead of asking for riches, long life, or the destruction of his enemies, his simple request was for more wisdom to care for the people of God. Anyone who puts the purposes of God and His people ahead of his own personal fortunes and fame will instantly win the favor of the Lord.
“And he will give you all you need from day to day if you live for him and make the Kingdom of God your primary concern” (Matthew 6:33). Let us ask God for wisdom—not to make money or to control others, but to be able to administrate His kingdom with precision. When our hearts are separated from the world, God will give us the finances, physical health, and other things we need to help us accomplish our heart’s desire for Him.
In music, sounds that blend together are called harmony, or symphony. If individual tones and instruments do not blend, they clash, producing cacophony. Imagine the awful noise if all the instruments in an orchestra played their own notes in completely different keys! But when all the instruments work together, the result is a beautiful piece of music that uplifts the human soul.
God has called each of us, with our individual tones and ministries, to blend into one body. The result will be as it was at the dedication of Solomon’s temple: a beautiful display of unity—not one individual note or instrument that clashes with others, but a conscious blending of our gifts and callings with that of others.
Psalm 133:3 expresses it perfectly: “Harmony is as refreshing as the dew from Mount Hermon that falls on the mountains of Zion. And the Lord has pronounced his blessing, even life forevermore” (Psalm 133:3). Whatever calling, church, or ministry we are involved in, we must walk in unity with everyone else. Then we can watch the effectiveness of our ministry multiply and see the glory of God displayed for a listening world.
Solomon prayed that God’s promises to his father David would come to pass. The King James Version says Solomon wanted God’s promises verified. The word verify means “to establish as a fact,” or “to prove true.” Scientists verify their hypotheses by hundreds of tests. Detectives verify evidence by examining it from every conceivable angle.
Faith means to believe God to establish His promise as a fact. You build your faith by searching out the promises of God until you have established, or verified, them as facts in your mind, not just as promises. When you establish God’s Word as fact, He will then establish your life by fulfilling His promises: “Believe in the Lord your God, so shall ye be established” (2 Chronicles 20:20 KJV).
Whatever crisis you are facing, make the effort to verify the promises of God that pertain to that situation. Find every shred of biblical evidence that fits your case. Meditate on that evidence until it turns from a promise into an established fact in your heart. As you establish God’s promises, He will establish you!
The Holy Spirit has come to dwell within us as the “first installment of everything he will give us” (2 Corinthians 1:22), or as the guarantee of our eternal inheritance (2 Corinthians 5:5). He is the “down payment” of our heavenly inheritance, where we will receive the full manifestation of our sonship and adoption (Romans 8:19).
All that happens to us in this life is “training for reigning,” mere preparation for the time when we will rule and reign with Christ Jesus. The Holy Spirit within us is our Helper, the One preparing us to reign with Christ. When we encounter spiritual attacks, the Holy Spirit helps us to pray and overcome. Therefore, everything we are going through now is simply maturing us and preparing us for dominion in eternity.
If we have identified with Christ’s sufferings and fought life through, the eternal day will come when we will share His glory. We will be seated on thrones with Him. “I will invite everyone who is victorious to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat with my Father on his throne” (Revelation 3:21).
David recounts how God gave him overwhelming victory over any and every enemy that attacked him. He did not enter into agreements with his attackers—he defeated them!
You must begin to see your spiritual enemies as they truly are— already defeated in Christ and subject to your spiritual authority. Make no compromises and take no prisoners! Be ruthless against every high thought that exalts itself above the knowledge of God (2 Corinthians 10:5), never wavering in your spiritual warfare against God’s enemies.
Paul states that in all these things you are more than a conqueror through Him who loved you (Romans 8:37). Declare with him, “And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from his love. Death can’t, and life can’t. The angels can’t, and the demons can’t. Our fears for today, our worries about tomorrow, and even the powers of hell can’t keep God’s love away. Whether we are high above the sky or in the deepest ocean, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord” (vv. 38-39).
Go forward against your enemies, and don’t stop until they have been crushed under your feet!
How sad it is to see a person move from having a tender heart and complete trust in God to having a cold, hard heart and an analytical mind that calculates every move.
Unfortunately, that is just what happened to Asa. He began his reign with a mighty victory, totally relying upon the Lord to defeat the Ethiopians. At the end of his reign, however, when he had grown old and was no longer childlike in his faith, he hired mercenary soldiers to fight his battles. The prophet rebuked him for his unbelief, reminding him that “the eyes of the Lord search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him” (2 Chronicles 16:9).
Asa’s unbelieving attitude was also evident in his latter years when he “developed a serious foot disease. Even when the disease became life threatening, he did not seek the Lord’s help but sought help only from his physicians. So he died in the forty-first year of his reign” (2 Chronicles 16:12-13). How far Asa had strayed from the time when the whole nation sought the Lord and God gave him “rest from his enemies” (2 Chronicles 14:6)! He now focused his hope on the efforts of man rather than the power of God. Asa was not wrong to seek the help of physicians, but he did err in placing his trust in them rather than in the Lord.
Let us purpose to stay simple, trusting, and childlike in total dependence upon God for all our days.
In this scripture, Paul reveals the connection between your mouth and your heart in the expression of your faith. Jesus said, “For whatever is in your heart determines what you say” (Matthew 12:34). Clearly, Jesus is the Word (John 1:1); therefore, when you speak the Word, you are speaking Jesus into your situation.
Faith begins in the heart, a heart that is fully persuaded that the promises of God are true. Once such faith is deep within your heart, your mouth will begin to reflect that faith by the words you say.
Whatever you believe in your heart about Jesus, you confess with your mouth. You believe that God raised Jesus from the dead, and you confess, “Jesus is Lord.” You believe that Jesus paid for your healing, and you confess, “Jesus is my Healer.” You believe that Jesus is your Provider, and you confess, “Jesus is my Shepherd.”
If you call upon the name of the Lord in faith, you will receive that promise for salvation, blessing, healing, or deliverance. After you receive the promise, speak the Word and watch Jesus show up on the scene!
Jehoshaphat received a bad report! A negative report can knock you down, as illustrated through the bad report given by the ten spies in Moses’ day. Your response to a bad report is critical, as it often determines the outcome of the situation.
Jehoshaphat’s response teaches several lessons. First, don’t respond in fear, but in faith (2 Chronicles 20:3). Second, find a promise that fits your case and stand upon that promise, using it as the basis of your prayer (v. 9). Third, based upon that same promise, claim your inheritance and stand your ground, resisting all “claim jumpers” (v. 11). Fourth, turn the battle over to God (v. 15). Finally, praise God for the victory in advance (vv. 21-22).
The world views a bad report as the definitive statement of fact regarding a matter. As a Christian, however, you know that you can reverse an evil report. Jehoshaphat’s ordeal was transformed from the dreadful fear and alarm of the first report to the joyful, triumphal return to Jerusalem.
The same battle plan that Jehoshaphat used will work for you. Fear not, find a promise, claim your inheritance, turn the battle over to God, and praise Him in advance. You will surely win!
All of us get “out of joint” occasionally—with our spouses, with the Church, with other people, and sometimes even with the Lord. We don’t mean to be that way. We don’t anticipate our actions or feelings, but we find ourselves in dissension with others to whom we really are connected.
In speaking of the human body, Paul said, “The whole body is fitted together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love” (Ephesians 4:16). When we get out of joint with the rest of the Body of Christ, we no longer supply what others need, nor do we submit to the Head, who is Christ. We cause ourselves, as well as those to whom we are connected, much pain.
The remedy? One who “is overcome by some sin” (Galatians 6:1) should be restored gently by those who are spiritual. Such a person is still part of the Body of Christ, and we need him. We must always remember to deal in the spirit of meekness with one who is out of joint, because our Lord Himself paid the price when His bones were all out of joint!
Get back “in joint” with your spouse and Christian friends. Jesus is the “Joint” that joins you!
Amaziah learned the lesson of unquestioning obedience. He had already invested one hundred talents of silver to hire ungodly mercenary troops from Israel for help in the battle against Edom. Then the prophet instructed him to refuse any allies that were not on the Lord’s side, even if they had already been paid. Amaziah faced a tough choice: to lose his investment and follow God, or keep his investment and be on his own.
Losing a job, money, or investments is never as great a loss as that of losing the presence of God. Paul admonishes, “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will know what God wants you to do, and you will know how good and pleasing and perfect his will really is” (Romans 12:2).
Life is full of tough decisions in which you must choose between God’s will and apparent wealth, fame, or strength. In actuality, the Lord can give you much more than anything you sacrifice for Him (2 Chronicles 25:10). Never value any worldly thing more than you value being in the peace and rest of God. Choose God’s way, for as Romans
8:31 promises, if God is for you, who can be against you?
We can almost always trace our successes and failures to our seeking of God. When we are humble and childlike, we sense our total dependence upon and hunger for God. Prayer becomes easy and natural because we are so dependent. When we become proud and self-sufficient, however, we stop praying and start acting.
The Lord helped Uzziah “wonderfully until he became very powerful. But when he had become powerful, he also became proud, which led to his downfall. . . .” (2 Chronicles 26:15-16). Satan trapped Uzziah in the same snare that he himself had fallen into in eternity past. Pride had caused Satan to be cast out of heaven, and pride caused Uzziah to be cast out of the temple. As a result of his arrogant attitude and defiant spirit toward the priests of God, Uzziah developed terminal leprosy. If only he had remained childlike, humble, and dependent!
Our prayer lives reveal our heart attitudes. Therefore, we need to keep seeking the Lord, even if our minds tell us we have “made it.” God may be checking out our dependence attitudes!
What should we do when two Christians’ convictions differ and each person’s heart is pure? Paul teaches us to defer to our convicted brother in order to avoid offending him. We are not to look down on a brother whose conscience bothers him in a certain area, even though our conscience does not bother us in that same area. Instead, we are to accept him whose faith is weak.
Why should Christians or a church break fellowship with someone over things that are only earthly or temporal? We should major on what the Holy Spirit majors on: righteousness, peace, and joy (Romans 14:17). We must let our brother or sister follow his or her conscience, and we must follow ours without brazenly displaying our actions for the purpose of argument. The important thing is the person, not the issue in question. “And if another Christian is distressed by what you eat, you are not acting in love if you eat it. Don’t let your eating ruin someone for whom Christ died” (v. 15).
“Those whose hands and hearts are pure” (Psalm 24:5) are allowed to “climb the mountain of the Lord” (v. 4). One day in heaven, the temporal disagreements of earth will be forever settled, and Jesus will be the only thing that matters.