Praising God in the Storm...

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Good morning everyone, I hope and pray you are doing well.
Here we are at the beginning of another week, and what a blessing it is that we can start that week off with the Lord, spending time in His Word, rejoicing in praise no matter what the circumstances might be in the world we live in...
I was talking to a person the other day, and they observation was made that it seems like things are starting to catch up here in our rural area, the number of Covid- 19 cases are growing and we seen a death because of it.
These things make us fearful. It worries us, it worries us a great deal. I see more people taking it seriously. I see more people wearing masks when they have to be outside in the stores.
Everyone is adapting and changing their practices, and suddenly we are finding a new norm in the midst of this storm.
But here is a question for you today - Are you still Praising God, even in the midst of the storm.
I want to remind you my friends, that Covid - 19 is not out of God’s control, He is aware of the things around and threatening His people. And in the midst of all this, I would remind you that His ways are prefect and I can praise Him all the more!
How can we do it. By keeping our eyes on Him.
So this morning lets open our Bibles to 2 Chronicles chapter 20, and lets consider the plight of the Judah and their King during an impossible storm. Lets being by looking at the first 4 verses....
2 Chronicles 20:1–4 ESV
1 After this the Moabites and Ammonites, and with them some of the Meunites, came against Jehoshaphat for battle. 2 Some men came and told Jehoshaphat, “A great multitude is coming against you from Edom, from beyond the sea; and, behold, they are in Hazazon-tamar” (that is, Engedi). 3 Then Jehoshaphat was afraid and set his face to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. 4 And Judah assembled to seek help from the Lord; from all the cities of Judah they came to seek the Lord.
So we see that Jehoshaphat is King of Judah, and the surrounding nations have risen up and are coming against Judah. It is a terrible sight.
Why is this happening? Well, Jehoshaphat hasn’t always walked in the ways of the Lord. He has strayed at times in his life and actions in front of the Lord. And if you look at chapter 19, verse 1-3 we see the charges the Lord has brought against Him.
It says Jehoshaphat “....helped the wicked and loved those who hated the Lord..”
What are we reminded… There is always consequences for our actions…
Now I am reminded, we can identify with what we see in the Scriptures. Mankind is not always faithful, somethings we do right and at others, well not so much.
Now we know that life brings a variety of events… Not everyday can be sunshine, rainbows and sparkles… we wish that every day was that good. There has to be some bad days as well…this is part of our life in a fallen world.
We also know our actions bring consequences… good and bad. for Jehoshaphat, his actions had consequences… and here we get to see how He responded to those consequences. Will he return to the Lord and follow Him… or not?
And a great question for us to consider is something similar, what is our response in difficult circumstances.. whether they are the result of our actions personally or not?
So let me share a few thoughts with you today about being able to praise the Lord, even in the storms of life.

1. Jehoshaphat’s First Response Was Fear..

As you begin to open and look at the text we see that the king was afraid when He first heard the news that the enemies of Judah, of God’s people were coming to attack and hopefully defeat the city.
Look back at verses 3-4
2 Chronicles 20:3–4 ESV
3 Then Jehoshaphat was afraid and set his face to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. 4 And Judah assembled to seek help from the Lord; from all the cities of Judah they came to seek the Lord.
Please understand I am not condemning Him or anyone when circumstances cause us to be afraid.
Fear is an appropriate response in troublesome and difficult times, it is part of our emotions and who we are as a living person.
But...... Here is were the truth comes into to play.
We are never meant to live in fear, to be so possessed by it that it harms us instead of helping us.
Think of it like this, God gives us, in our ability to be afraid at the appropriate times… for instance, a bear is approaching.. we are fearful. Why? he can cause us great harm. So in fear, the instinct is to flee, to get away from the situation that is dangerous, it happens to preserve self.
But from that, going forward each day we do not live and do about our days peaking around every corner because we think a bear is there waiting to pounce. That is a unhealthy fear. So we cannot live like that.
What have we learned, fear is appropriate at the right times and situations.
Jehoshaphat is afraid because three kingdoms are approaching to capture and take hold of them. Judah is only two tribes, Judah and Benjamin. What can they do among so many coming against them. In Verse 12, Jehoshaphat says we are powerless against them...
He was afraid.
Yet, He didn’t have to fear, and neither do you my friend. In fact the Bible tells us to not be afraid 365 times, and twice in this passage.
Think of that, 365 times God tells us to “do not be be afraid, enough for each days quota of distress that comes our way.. No matter how big the problem is, He says Do not fear.
That is not a suggestion, it is rather a command!
Why? You can depend upon the Lord and the promises He extends to His children.
The bigger picture for us today, do you trust Him? In every detail of your life, do you trust Him? You either trust the Lord all the way or not at all. You cannot be divided in this thought...
Do you trust Him?
Jehoshaphat did, He trusted the Lord. Lets look at the text and see what else He did in response to the treat of the nations coming upon Him in war.

2. Jehoshaphat Sought the Lord

In His fear, Jehoshaphat turned to the Lord. The Scriptures literally say “he set his face to seek the Lord” verse 3.
Look again with me to verses 3-4
2 Chronicles 20:3–4 ESV
3 Then Jehoshaphat was afraid and set his face to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. 4 And Judah assembled to seek help from the Lord; from all the cities of Judah they came to seek the Lord.
I love that phrase, “...set his face to seek the Lord...”for it means to turned to the Lord fully, He was not divided by any other opinions. He wanted to hear from God.
He was desperate for him.
Now pay attention to this my friends… Jehoshaphat knew how to deal with fear and the problems of life. He prayed, he inquired and sought after the Lord. He was desperately seeking the Lord and his wisdom during this storm of life.
There is a great question here my friends that begs to be asked… When the storm comes, what or who do you turn too?
The King is so desperate ( that is a good word, it reveals a great desire); the King calls upon the nation to fast and pray.
You see as a nation, they were obligated to pray and seek the Lord as well. Why? They were believing members of a greater spiritual community. It was their role to join together as a nation and pray as one, calling up in the name of the Lord in their of need.
We have a hard time understanding this idea living in our nation in our form of government. But the people served a King, they were subject of that throne, essentially they belonged to Judah.
So as a community of people, it was their duty, their devotion to gather as one and seek the Lord’s help and guidance in a difficult time. So they laid aside themselves, their needs for the day and fasted and prayed.
Fasting, is the laying aside of something, like a meal and using that time for prayer, for devotion to the Lord our God.
When we give up for Him, When we sacrifice the flesh, He is honored and gloried my friends.
Now lets go back to the text for a minute...
look at verses 5-12
2 Chronicles 20:5–12 ESV
5 And Jehoshaphat stood in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem, in the house of the Lord, before the new court, 6 and said, “O Lord, God of our fathers, are you not God in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. In your hand are power and might, so that none is able to withstand you. 7 Did you not, our God, drive out the inhabitants of this land before your people Israel, and give it forever to the descendants of Abraham your friend? 8 And they have lived in it and have built for you in it a sanctuary for your name, saying, 9 ‘If disaster comes upon us, the sword, judgment, or pestilence, or famine, we will stand before this house and before you—for your name is in this house—and cry out to you in our affliction, and you will hear and save.’ 10 And now behold, the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir, whom you would not let Israel invade when they came from the land of Egypt, and whom they avoided and did not destroy— 11 behold, they reward us by coming to drive us out of your possession, which you have given us to inherit. 12 O our God, will you not execute judgment on them? For we are powerless against this great horde that is coming against us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.”
Jehoshaphat asks, he makes His plea to the Lord to help.
He prays.. and calls upon the Lord to come and save them from their enemies. King Jehoshaphat testifies that they are powerless before such an enemy. He says “We do not know what do to, but our eyes are on you.” verse 12b
Nothing He says is more beautiful and meaningful than that my friends. No matter what our eyes are upon you.
He is the time for a question… In the midst of your trouble, What or whom do we look too?
So often I believe we are guilty of looking to self… He check the bank account, we look to our own abilities or we look to self in some other way. But usually people turn to the Lord last.
The Lord must be first my friends, in every area of life. Everyday as we arise, we need to say.. Lord lead the way!
Now look at this… as Jehoshaphat stood and prayed, verse 13 says ...
2 Chronicles 20:13 ESV
13 Meanwhile all Judah stood before the Lord, with their little ones, their wives, and their children.
The nation came and they stood before the Lord, everyone, men and women, boys and girls came and stood before the Lord. They were most likely they standing in Jerusalem in the temple mount, before the Temple, and they waited, fasting and praying .
And see what happened...
2 Chronicles 20:14–17 ESV
14 And the Spirit of the Lord came upon Jahaziel the son of Zechariah, son of Benaiah, son of Jeiel, son of Mattaniah, a Levite of the sons of Asaph, in the midst of the assembly. 15 And he said, “Listen, all Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem and King Jehoshaphat: Thus says the Lord to you, ‘Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed at this great horde, for the battle is not yours but God’s. 16 Tomorrow go down against them. Behold, they will come up by the ascent of Ziz. You will find them at the end of the valley, east of the wilderness of Jeruel. 17 You will not need to fight in this battle. Stand firm, hold your position, and see the salvation of the Lord on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem.’ Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed. Tomorrow go out against them, and the Lord will be with you.”
I want you to see three things the Lord reminded them of....
A. Do not be afraid or dismayed....
B. The Battle belonged to the Lord not them...
C. You will not need to fight, only stand firm and see the salvation of the Lord.I am with you.
Wow, I want you to be reminded in the battle that is raging in or around your life. You do not have to be afraid… The battles belongs to Him, he just calls you to stand firm and trust Him.
Can yo do that today. In the midst of pandemic, in the midst of sickness, in the midst of financial concerns… In the midst of emotional concerns… no matter what you are facing, call upon Him, stand firm for the battle is His. He will deliver you.
Do you believe that today?
Now this leads me to one last thought.

3. Give Thanks and Praise to the Lord for Your Deliverance....

Have you ever given thanks to the Lord before He answered your prayer, before you every saw what He was doing in your life?
Here while back I was talking to a friend who had served on several mission trips overseas and we were discussing the issue of fund raising. You know when God sets a task before, all you can do is trust Him in the process. His ways and leading is right...
But one of the most profound things they shared was this… begin to thank him now for what is He doing and will do in the future to bring you to the place he has called you.
Thank Him now for what He is doing and will do as He walks with you to complete the journey.... I think that frees our state of mind, I believe it brings us peace and releases us from worry, from dread, anxiety and fear.
Lets look back at our text to help us better understand....
Verses 18-22
2 Chronicles 20:18–22 ESV
18 Then Jehoshaphat bowed his head with his face to the ground, and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem fell down before the Lord, worshiping the Lord. 19 And the Levites, of the Kohathites and the Korahites, stood up to praise the Lord, the God of Israel, with a very loud voice. 20 And they rose early in the morning and went out into the wilderness of Tekoa. And when they went out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, “Hear me, Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem! Believe in the Lord your God, and you will be established; believe his prophets, and you will succeed.” 21 And when he had taken counsel with the people, he appointed those who were to sing to the Lord and praise him in holy attire, as they went before the army, and say, “Give thanks to the Lord, for his steadfast love endures forever.” 22 And when they began to sing and praise, the Lord set an ambush against the men of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah, so that they were routed.
They began to praise and worship the Lord even before the battle took place, we see that in verses 18-19
How wonderful ti was to see God’s people turning to him in praise and worship, they believed and Lord was with them .
And Jehoshaphat called upon the inhabitants of Judah and also of the nothern 10 tribes…to do two things,
Believe the Lord… put your hope and trust in Him, not wavering in in way. Do not doubt and do not depend upon anything else.
When I think of belief and the error of doubt, I think of Peter as he walked upon the water, with His eyes upon Jesus and his hope set in Him. He was doing the impossible to us… but not to God. God knew how to make it work, so that Peter could come to him.. but when doubt set in, it failed.
2. Believe His Prophets… These were the people whom God had raised up to stand in the gap with them, to share with them God’s blessing, His concerns at times and yes, When God was pointing out sin...
At times they were condemned, punished and abused because they spoke the truth instead of what was pleasing to a sinful king.
If you can believe you will succeed.
The same is true for us, Trust God, trust His Word, and I think there is a call today even for the church to trust and follow the Under shepherds, their pastors whom God has placed in our various churches,
When we trust Him, his word and His men.. we are established and we will find success
And through it all, when the storms arise, we will be at peace. for we know the Lord will carry us through…
What storms are you facing today...
There is a lot of fear on the horizon, but my children we do not have to be afraid. The Lord our God is in control and knows our steps, our design and how to give each of us peace, in our dark days.
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