Send Judah First

My husband came in and said he was reading what 2 Chronicles 20.  He said he wonders what Jehoshaphat was thinking….So I started reading I just took some mental notes here they are in blue:

It happened after this that the people of Moab with the people of Ammon, and others with them besides the Ammonites, came to battle against Jehoshaphat. Then some came and told Jehoshaphat, saying, “A great multitude is coming against you from beyond the Sea, from Syria; and they are in Hazazon Tamar” (which is En Gedi). And Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. So Judah gathered together to ask help from the Lord; and from all the cities of Judah they came to seek the Lord.

I’ve never been in war, but the thought of it is definitely scary, Jehoshaphat was scared, Jehoshaphat was normal.  It says he “set” himself to seek the Lord. Another translation I read said he “resolved” to inquire of the Lord.  This tells me that it was not something he automatically did, but something that he made up in his mind to do. Despite his feelings of fear he sought the Lord and led his people to do the same.  

Then Jehoshaphat stood in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem, in the house of the Lord, before the new court,and said: “O Lord God of our fathers, are You not God in heaven, and do You not rule over all the kingdoms of the nations, and in Your hand is there not power and might, so that no one is able to withstand You? Are You not our God, who drove out the inhabitants of this land before Your people Israel, and gave it to the descendants of Abraham Your friend forever?

Jehoshaphat starts his prayer out reminding God of who he is.  There’s a lot to be said about being God’s hype man.  Asking God rhetorical questions that He and we clearly know the answers to does two things, maybe more, but here are two:  It let’s God know that we were paying attention to who His Word says He is and it reminds us that He really is who He says He is.  It’s not like you say, “Are you not the One who created the heavens and the Earth”  and He’s like Nah, that wasn’t me…it was my cousin.

And they dwell in it, and have built You a sanctuary in it for Your name, saying, ‘If disaster comes upon us—sword, judgment, pestilence, or famine—we will stand before this temple and in Your presence (for Your name is in this temple), and cry out to You in our affliction, and You will hear and save.

Tells God how his people have honored Him and how much they trust Him, are willing to stand and rely on Him.

10 And now, here are the people of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir—whom You would not let Israel invade when they came out of the land of Egypt, but they turned from them and did not destroy them— 11 here they are, rewarding us by coming to throw us out of Your possession which You have given us to inherit. 12 O our God, will You not judge them?

Tells God the problem:  the people that you told Israel (your people) not to kill, they obeyed you. Yet those same people who were spared, are here to smash us. Does that make any sense God?  Is it fair?  

For we have no power against this great multitude that is coming against us; nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are upon You.”

This is the truth.  Jehosphat said this is all I have, I’ve made up in my mind to seek you when I was scared, I’ve glorified you, I’ve been obedient, I’ve presented the facts.  There is nothing else I can to.  The only thing I can do it keep my eyes on you and look to you for the answer.

13 Now all Judah, with their little ones, their wives, and their children, stood before the Lord.

This seems like one of those moments of awkward silence.

14 Then the Spirit of the Lord came upon Jahaziel the son of Zechariah, the son of Benaiah, the son of Jeiel, the son of Mattaniah, a Levite of the sons of Asaph, in the midst of the assembly. 15 And he said, “Listen, all you of Judah and you inhabitants of Jerusalem, and you, King Jehoshaphat! Thus says the Lord to you: ‘Do not be afraid nor dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours, but God’s. 16 Tomorrow go down against them. They will surely come up by the Ascent of Ziz, and you will find them at the end of the brook before the Wilderness of Jeruel.17 You will not need to fight in this battle. Position yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of the Lord, who is with you, O Judah and Jerusalem!’ Do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them, for the Lord is with you.”

I’m so sorry, sometimes I hesitate to share my thoughts….but my first thought in this situation is who is this guy?  I mean I know who’s son he is and I’m glad he’s a Levite but, how do I know for sure that God is speaking through him right at this moment?  Especially, if I’m King, I have this entire nation (including women and little children) depending on my every move.  This can not be just some random encouragement, people are coming to kill us…hold on LOTS of people are coming to kill us or at the very least make us their slaves.  Not only do I have to cast aside my fear and trust God, but now I have to trust God through the mouth of someone else.  This is getting complicated.

18 And Jehoshaphat bowed his head with his face to the ground, and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem bowed before the Lord, worshiping the Lord. 19 Then the Levites of the children of the Kohathites and of the children of the Korahites stood up to praise the Lord God of Israel with voices loud and high.

Jehoshaphat believed.

20 So they rose early in the morning and went out into the Wilderness of Tekoa; and as they went out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, “Hear me, O Judah and you inhabitants of Jerusalem: Believe in the Lord your God, and you shall be established; believe His prophets, and you shall prosper.” 21 And when he had consulted with the people, he appointed those who should sing to the Lord, and who should praise the beauty of holiness, as they went out before the army and were saying: “Praise the Lord,For His mercy endures forever.”

Almost the best part: Jehoshaphat proclaimed his faith in God, he also displayed great leadership and spoke to the people in the crowd who were probably a little skeptical like me.  He said Believe in the Lord AND believe His prophets.  He spent sometime encouraging his people then went into action.  Jehoshaphat never had a plan B, he didn’t tell the singers or the praisers to offer up praises and if it started to get too rough, run and hide behind the army.  As far as I know they were to stay  in front  and praise God even if it meant death.

22 Now when they began to sing and to praise, the Lord set ambushes against the people of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah; and they were defeated. 23 For the people of Ammon and Moab stood up against the inhabitants of Mount Seir to utterly kill and destroy them. And when they had made an end of the inhabitants of Seir, they helped to destroy one another.

24 So when Judah came to a place overlooking the wilderness, they looked toward the multitude; and there were their dead bodies, fallen on the earth. No one had escaped.

25 When Jehoshaphat and his people came to take away their spoil, they found among them an abundance of valuables on the dead bodies, and precious jewelry, which they stripped off for themselves, more than they could carry away; and they were three days gathering the spoil because there was so much. 26 And on the fourth day they assembled in the Valley of Berachah, for there they blessed the Lord; therefore the name of that place was called The Valley of Berachah until this day. 27 Then they returned, every man of Judah and Jerusalem, with Jehoshaphat in front of them, to go back to Jerusalem with joy, for the Lord had made them rejoice over their enemies. 28 So they came to Jerusalem, with stringed instruments and harps and trumpets, to the house of the Lord. 29 And the fear of God was on all the kingdoms of those countries when they heard that the Lord had fought against the enemies of Israel. 30 Then the realm of Jehoshaphat was quiet, for his God gave him rest all around.

Obviously the best part of the story:  God came through on behalf of His people.  Notice God never revealed His plan to his people, He pretty much just said, don’t be afraid, position yourselves, but you won’t fight, I’m with you.  Jehoshaphat had to interpret what God wanted him to do by faith.  The people were ready for battle, no one was at home sitting on the couch waiting for God to deliver them.  Even though they didn’t know what to do, they recognized that they were in war and took their active positions.  Even if “active” meant just standing still.

Praise was offered up first because they understood that  even though they were facing the unknown, God was worthy of their praise and able to deliver them from whatever lied ahead.

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Put the Mop Down

Last night my daughter took a shower and accidentally left the water running in the shower.  It was at least an hour before she returned to her room and noticed that the drain to the tub was plugged and the water from the running shower had created flood like conditions on her bathroom floor.

She came upstairs all hysterical, she was sobbing, apologizing and fearing my wrath.  I immediately let her know that I was not upset and went to assess the damage.

The truth is I was not upset, I was tired it was nearly 10:00 p.m., I had been up since 4:30 a.m. and I was just finishing up what I thought was my last chore for the evening.

When I got downstairs, it was clear that I was not going to bed any time soon.  `Her bathroom floor would have made a nice poolside resort for a family of hamsters.  Water was everywhere, deep puddles had gathered in the spaces where the floor was uneven.  In situations like this, I’ve learned that it’s always best to focus on the positives.  So I thanked God that my daughter’s bathroom was in the basement.  Next, I thought,  at least the floor will already be mopped, one less chore I have to do tomorrow.

We got to work.  We used all the rags, and towels in the house.  When those ran out, we started grabbing sheets.  As we were sopping up the water I kept thinking,  there’s got to be a better way to do this.  A wet/dry vac would have been my best friend at the moment but we didn’t have one.  It was too late to call my neighbors and ask around so I went to the garage and grabbed the mop* and we continued soaking and wringing, soaking and wringing.  We finally finished around 11:30 p.m., my girls and I spend an hour and a half on our hands and knees.  I felt like Cinderella, the only difference was that I was actually looking forward to midnight.

Everyone went to sleep and all was well.

My husband is still out of town, this morning he called and I told him what happened the night before.  He asked, ” Why didn’t use just use the Carpet Shampooer we have to extract all the water?”  Oh. My. Gosh.  Why didn’t I think of that?  That would have saved so much time and backache!!!

You see that little * above next to “grabbed the mop” ? Well the Carpet Shampooer was right next to the mop.  Literally.  I unknowingly reached for the harder solution when I went to the garage.

God speaks to everyone differently, for some He uses burning bushes, lol.  But for me more often than not, He uses my everyday occurrences.

I was a little bothered by the fact that I spent so much time getting the water up, when there was a simpler solution   Then something stood out in the conversation that I had with my husband.  He said you never use the shampooer, so that’s probably why you didn’t think about it.  It’s true I never use the shampooer my husband does and the truth be told if he was here, I probably wouldn’t have been getting all the water up either.  🙂

God ministered to me.  He said the same is true in life. He has given us access to all the tools that we need to deal with the “mini-crises”, and various trials that occur in our lives.  However, if we are not familiar with the tools that he gives us…things will be a lot harder than they need to be.  So many times the answers to our problems are right within our grasp.

Be encouraged today, spend time familiarizing yourself with all the wonderful “tools” God has blessed us with to live this life.  His Word contains so many solutions from healing, to finding joy and peace, to restoring relationships…you name it it’s in there.  The world may offer solutions and they may get the job done, but God’s way is far superior.

Reach for the right tool. Why settle for a mop and towels, when you can suck it all up with a Shampooer?

Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.      2 Peter 1:2-4

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Not Forsaking the Assembly

I feel like it’s been forever since my last post.  It also feels like forever since I’ve had a moment to myself.

November came and went, the following is an abbreviated version of last months happenings: First came my daughter’s annual costume (birthday) party, then prepping my hubbie for his 2 1/2 week trip out of the country,  next it was Thanksgiving, then remotely planning my brothers 30th birthday party and today I said goodbye to my last house guest.

Towards the end of this week, I began clamoring for my “closet” time.  I felt like I should have spent more time alone with God,  somehow I wanted to feel guilty for all the time I spent  with others, hosting, laughing, cleaning, dancing, playing games, planning, cooking, staying up late and sleeping in.  Although I didn’t feel wrong in my heart, my mind wanted to hold me captive.

This past week was the most fun, my girlfriend that I grew up with came to stay with me.  She usually comes for a week when my husband is out of town and it’s such a blessing because we have such a great time and it takes my mind off the fact that my best friend is 5,048.2 miles away.

As soon as she left, I spend a few moments alone in the quiet wondering if I had done enough.  I thought, Gosh we had so much fun but was God able to use me?  Usually when she comes we have these 4 hour deep, tear jerking,  life changing conversations and we didn’t have that this time.  Had I failed my friend?  Especially at a time where she’s going through a difficult transition?  Should I have skipped the nightly dance routines in my living room or the $57 sushi “snack” for two that we mistakenly ordered from a menu with no prices?

Oh my goodness, I’ve got to call her now and say something profound!

In the midst of my thoughts I caught a vision of God chuckling at me, but I paid no attention to it and continued to ask Him to give me the right words to say to my friend.  I spent some time reading the Word and then some time in prayer.  Afterwards, I called my friend as she was driving back home.  My time alone with the Lord gave me nothing “profound” to say, so when she answered the phone I began with an apology.  “Hey sis, I’m sorry that I didn’t have much to share with you this week, I asked the Lord to give me the words of encouragement and wisdom to share with you on your journey home, but I got nothing.”

The opposite side of the phone produced a hearty chuckle, one that I’m sure was my friend and God in unison.  She said what are you talking about? I was so encouraged by “this” and “that”…….she began reflecting on the small things I said in passing, the ways that I served her, the joy that she experienced through our silly adventures.  God had given her so much through us just spending time together.  My heart rejoiced.  We talked a little longer and I shared what her presence had done for me as well.

We hung up the phone,  THEN God decides he wants to speak to me (classic God timing)

He said, relationships are very important.  You must never forget that you have an amazing relationship with Me, so you can have an amazing relationship with others.  

He was absolutely right.  Ummm, I guess I didn’t need to say that.  But He showed me, to everything there is a season.  Sometimes we may be have tons of uninterrupted alone time with the Lord and other times, it is time for us to take what we’ve gained from our private time with Him and let it ooze out onto everyone else.

Hebrews 10:24-25 And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works,  not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.

Be Blessed.

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A little nugget

As for God, His way is perfect; The word of the Lord is proven; He is a shield to all who trust in Him.

2 Samuel 22:31.  Do I really need to say anything else??  🙂

 

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What is Peccatophobia?

A few weeks ago I stumbled upon a list of phobias.  The list was quite extensive and for three-quarters of an hour it became my source of entertainment. The “phobia list” contained things I’ve never imagined like:

  • Arachibutyrophobia – Fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of the mouth. 
  • Bromidrosiphobia – Fear of body smells.
  • Omphalophobia – Fear of belly buttons.
  • Pteronophobia – Fear of being tickled by feathers.

Then I came to Peccatophobia – the abnormal fear of sinning.  I though Hmm, if the world was diagnosed with even an acute version of this condition how much better would we be?

Think about it. What if every time we got ready to talk behind someone’s back, tell a little “white” lie, esteem ourselves higher than our neighbor, or entertain sexual immorality, this happened?:

Feelings of extreme anxiety, dread and panic comparable to shortness of breath, rapid breathing, irregular heartbeat, extreme sweating, nausea, dry mouth, incapability to articulate words or sentences, dizziness and shaking.

I’m not advocating for the fear of anything, as the bible clearly states, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power of love and of a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7 NKJV).  All I am saying is that there should be something in us that has NO desire to sin.  Murder, Grand Theft Auto and Bank Robbing I think I can safely say most of us have no desire to do those things.

In my personal life God is always turning my attention to the very small and slightest things in my character that need to be worked out.  Things I honestly wish He’d leave alone sometimes.  You know the things you try to justify with the sentence…”Well at least I’m not….” or “Its not as bad as…” or my favorite “That’s just my personality”.

Peccatophia.  I’m reminded that I don’t want ANYTHING in my life that displeases God.  Not the big obvious things and certainly not the tiny secret things.

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Bacon Cheeseburger Please

As a mother my responsibility to my kids is to love, clothe, feed and house them.  I do this constantly. Most of the the time they don’t even realize it or thank me.  I hear “Thanks for dinner mom”,  on nights  when I make Orange Chicken and Tater tots.  I didn’t get any rave reviews last week when I made Potato Soup.  I’m the “best mom ever” when I bring home ice cream, or let them go to a friends house.  But if I said, hey today were not going anywhere or doing anything fun I’m just gonna sit around and hug and love you guys all day.  I’m sure it would be dubbed the worst day ever.
I make sacrifices to feed my children a certain way, a few weeks ago, I bought sockeye salmon the stuff is not cheap but it’s so good for you.  The kids had testing in school so I was trying to load them up on Omega 3’s and EFA’s like it would immediately go to their brain and make them smarter.  They did not like it, I could have bought some processed chicken wings from Walmart and they would have been in heaven.  Again they were clueless to the purpose of dinner that night.  Honestly, I understand that they like chicken wings better than Salmon.  But it hurts when they turn their nose up to something that I worked hard to provide them for their own benefit.  I don’t expect them to start doing cartwheels at the sight of salmon but I want them to  at least understand that when I put something on the table that they don’t particularly like it’s for a purpose.
I try not to take it personal. I know my kids love me, but they’re kids.  Do we love God?  Sure, but we’re kids too.  Ok fine, grown ups with a jacked up human nature.
God is a good God, he actually wants to please us …he does not want to withhold good things from us and everything He does in our lives He has a purpose for it.  But sometimes it’s hard to see that.  We want a bacon cheeseburger and God gives us a salad with no croutons.
Instead of trying to find the benefit in what He’s doing, we complain.
Why can’t we just say I don’t like Salad but if that’s what you want me to have I’m going to  trust you and eat it until you choose to give me a bacon burger.  I’d like to take it a step further and say……you know what even if I never get that bacon burger, you’re still amazing and if you think this Salad is what I need, then salad is enough for me.
Psalms 84:11 For the LORD God is a sun and shield: the LORD will give grace and glory:no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly. (KJV)

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Stay Connected

Our responsibility as believers is to Abide (to stay or remain) in Christ and allow His word to Abide in us.  I’m so glad Jesus used illustrations and parables when he taught because I tend to be a visual learner.  In John 15: 1-11 Jesus talks about how He is the vine and we are the branches.  “He who abides in Me and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” When speaking of trees, vines and branches, it only makes sense that when the branch is connected to the tree it will produce, thrive and grow.  When a branch is disconnected from a vine it will eventually shrivel up and die.

Makes perfect sense in Nature.

Makes perfect sense in Parable Land.

I’ll even go as far as to say that it makes sense when we think in terms of Eternity.

But how much sense does it make on a subtle level?

What sparked this post was a T-shirt a lady was wearing at the gym.  I was sitting down doing lat pull downs and I felt kinda BLAH, like I was just going through the motions.  I couldn’t quite figure out the feeling.  Soon after, a lady passed by me wearing a pink tattered racer back tee that said, Abide in Me on the front.

One of those moments where you stop and think, God are you trying to tell me something?

This was around 9:15 a.m., my entire day began to flash before my eyes.  It started at 5:00 a.m. with me pressing snooze 3 times and trying to get a last snuggle in with my husband before he and my oldest daughter set off for her 5th grade trip to Tybee Island.  I dropped them off at 6:00 a.m., came back home and got my other 2 children ready to meet the school bus @ 7:00 a.m. Last but not least I had to deal with wardrobe malfunctions from a 3 year old  who said her socks were too slouchy and her shirt was and yes I quote, “not her style”.  8:20 a.m. we are off to the gym and almost an hour later I’m sitting there thinking…..

I’ve been up for 4 hours and I feel….. disconnected.

Now I did pray with my daughter before she left and my prayer was honest and sincere, but I believe I stopped at Amen.

I am in no way suggesting that I should have prayed a longer prayer.   What I am suggesting is that sometimes we can pray, or worship or whatever we do to connect with God and when we’re done we get off our knees and get on to our day.  Subconsciously, we leave God and His Presence right there until we come back to that spot next time.

Abiding in Him is so much more of a heart position than it is a check list type action.

To me Abiding is when my thoughts are linked to His Words.  It’s when the constant noise in my head is shut off and I’m in the moment enjoying life.  It’s when I feel like I’m not alone. Abiding for me is when I go through my day and I’m sure that somehow everything will fall in line. It’s when I laugh at something that should have made me upset and when I feel beautiful without a single compliment.

Abiding in Him produces much fruit, not only in our lives but in the lives of those around us.  Read John 15.  Discover all over again how much we need to stay connected.

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