When we are at our lowest, God promises to be there. In the 23rd Psalm, David says,
“Tho I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me. Thy rod and thy staff they protect me.”
The song that is included in this post was written by a man acquainted with the valley of the shadow of death but not his own – His wife and little unborn child. Tommy Dorsey was leading the music at a revival south of his hometown Chicago when he got the telegram that his wife had died in childbirth.
He got home as soon as he could, only to find that the child had died as well. It broke Tommy in ways that few can get their arms wrapped around. He told everyone that he was walking away from God and leaving gospel music forever.
A few weeks later a friend came to visit him. He was worried about his grieving friend. So he went in and convinced him to take a drive with him. His friend was a Christian but he knew better than to begin preaching at Tommy. So he took him to a school and they walked into the music room. His friend walked over to the piano, Tommy Dorsey’s long time companion in writing literally thousands of gospel tunes. Tommy followed him and sat down on the piano bench.
He began to cry almost instantly. He opened the cover and began to play the tune that this post began with. He later recalled that it was like the Holy Spirit came to him in that moment and poured that song into him.
When we are in the valley of pain and loss, we can be assured that God knows it and is coming to lead us through it. If you are in the pit today know that you are not alone – God is there with you. Call out to Him and I know there are tears and pain now but He promises to wipe away all those tears. Listen and enjoy this next song and let it encourage you as well.
There are many times when we go through things and we have no idea why. In fact, we may voice the following to God –
“Why would You allow me to go through this? What did I do to deserve this?”
In previous posts we have talked about King Jehoshaphat and the trouble and the trials he went through and the time he was almost killed for hanging out with King Ahab. He learned in that trial that his hope and only real strength could be found in God Almighty. In Chapter 19 of 2nd Chronicles we see that he brought the whole nation into a full on revival.
When a football team goes through Spring Training or two-a-days before the season starts they are being prepared for something – the games. So King Jehoshaphat was being prepared for something as well – war – but not just any old skirmish. No, a group of armies from at least three different kingdoms had joined together to come up against Judah.
These forces vastly outnumbered the King’s army and he could see very quickly that he was in trouble. So what was he to do? What would you do? The King did what he had been prepared to do – Call On God!
“And said, ‘O LORD God of our fathers, art not thou God in heaven? And rule not thou over all the kingdoms of the heathen? And in thine hand is there not power and might, so that none is able to stand thee?…. And now behold, the children of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir…. Come to cast us out of thy possession, which thou hast given to us… O Our God, wilt thou not judge them? For we have no might against this great company that cometh against us; neither know we what to do; but our eyes are upon Thee.” 2nd Chron. 20:6-12
This is not the typical response of a king. Most military leaders would be all about rallying the troops – making battle preparations – calling on allies and anything else they can think of. But this king was different – he was a man of God. His previous tests and trials had shown him that his King could be trusted at just such a time as this. King Jehoshaphat was not disappointed.
God sent a message through a prophet that told him…
“…Thus saith the Lord unto you, ‘Be not afraid, nor be dismayed by reason of the great multitude; for the battle is not yours but God’s.” vs. 15
WOW! What a message. Now the word went on to give them instructions. They had to go out to the field of battle but they would not fight; only observe what God was going to do for them. So the next morning, the King got everyone together and went out as instructed. On the way to the battlefield, the king stopped everyone and decided to make one of the boldest statements of faith I have seen in scripture. He put the choir out in front of the army to sing praises to God. Telling the world of God’s greatness and that His mercy endures forever. Again, this is not the typical battlefield strategy but God doesn’t require our ingenuity to be successful. He wants us to believe and testify.
Here’s what happened next –
“And when they began to sing and to praise, the Lord set ambushments against the children of Ammon, Moab and Mount Seir, which were come against Judah; and they were smitten. For the children of Ammon and Moab stood up against …Mount Seir, utterly to destroy them: and when they had made an end of … Seir, [then] everyone helped to destroy another… none escaped.” Vs. 22-24
So what is our take away from this event? I believe that it should give us great confidence in the face of our daily tests and trials; knowing that there is a greater purpose than we can begin to imagine. I believe that we should be willing to step out in faith, even in the midst of impossible odds, knowing that God is with us and that means everything.
This story should also force us to look inward and check our faith in the mirror and ask the question – Do I really believe? Do I truly trust? For a long time I said all the right words but down deep, my belief was in me – If it’s to be, it’s up to me. That strategy didn’t work out so well. Today, I have been through the valley and the enemy is overwhelming in my tiny personal perspective. But when I turn my eye to He who created the world and place my trust in Him saying – I don’t know what to do but my eyes are on YOU LORD – He makes a way through it or delivers me from it, using methods and people that I would have never known were available. My King is bigger than all the kings of this world and no weapon formed against me will prosper.
If you are going through a tough time right now, I want you to do something that seems to be against everything the world teaches – put the choir out front. Begin to praise God for the challenge, the test and the trial. The only reason your going through it is to prepare you for something even greater and a victory so large that it can’t be contained. That’s what He did King Jehoshaphat – the spoils of that victory took his men 3 days to gather up and carry back to Jerusalem – that was a lot of stuff. But not only that, the chapter goes on to say that –
“And the fear of God was on all the kingdoms of those countries, when they had heard that the LORD fought against the enemies of Israel.” vs. 29
What you may be going through right now may just be a prelude to not only a great victory but a huge testimony for the Glory of God and an incredible blessing for you.
As I was studying this morning I thought I would start writing about what I am studying. Since it is God’s Word I believe that it is significant.
I began this morning in the Old Testament book of 2 Chronicles chapter 14. In it we find the story of King Asa of Judah. We will stick to the chapter at hand and not get ahead of the story. A little background though might be helpful. Asa had a good father who followed God. His name was Abijah. He stood up against the evil King Jeroboam in the name of the Lord and spoke words of great faith and courage in the midst of overwhelming odds. Jeroboam tried to be sneaky and do a flanking maneuver while Asa was telling Jeroboam about God and how he needed to get right. Well Abijah saw what was happening and cried out to God.
When a man of God, cries out to God before his men and leads them in a godly way, this gives them courage as well. They know that they can trust God because their leader trusts God. So the men shout – the priests shout and blow the trumpets. This whole scenario had to make God smile. Men who professed Him as their God and Father and Savior, calling out to Him for deliverance and then stepping out in faith into the battle trusting that God would indeed do what Had promised to do.
God did and the enemy ran for their lives. They ran for their lives, even though they were superior in number. They ran for their lives, even though they had the tactical advantage. They ran because they were no longer fighting man, they were fighting God Almighty. One man or woman, fighting in that power, is the overwhelming force of the day and will carry every battle to victory!
Now that I have told you a little about Asa’s dad, let me tell you a little about Asa. The chapter begins with telling us that “…Asa did what was good and right in the eyes of the Lord his God:” vs.2
What did he do to earn such an acclaim – He took away idols, their altars, the places where these idols were worshipped and led the nation to worship God, the God of their fathers and to live in accordance with His word.
Can you imagine for a moment if our leaders took such a stand? What a different world this would be. But let’s not stop there, in fact let’s begin with ourselves. How different would our lives and families be in we led our families in this way? It would require that we lead by example more than word. It would require that we know God, have a personal relationship with Him. It would require that we take time to worship Him, pray to Him and share what we study with those that we love. It would require that we destroy the idols, altars and remove ourselves from the places where God is not honored.
This is tough but if we want the blessings, the abundant life and the peace that passes understanding we need to learn what it means to take up our cross and carry it daily. Our cross is the cause or mission that God has placed on hearts that is worth dying for dying for. So let me ask you a question:
1. Are there idols in your life? (an idol is anything we give an inordinate amount of affection or another of looking at it is – Is there anything in your life that takes you away from what God would want you to be doing? If so this could very well be an idol.)
2. Do you know God’s word?
3. Do you spend time with Him?
4. Do you truly know God – I don’t mean know who He is, I mean have a personal relationship with Him?
I know that there was a time, ok the majority of my life where, if I was absolutely honest, I would have to say that
– yes I had idols.
– No I didn’t know God’s Word
-No I didn’t spend time with Him.
– (And here is the clincher ) I had no personal relationship. I was lost.
But glory be to God I am not there any longer.
Asa was given mighty victory and I have seen victory in my life as well, now that I have not only turned my life over to Christ but seek Him daily. He has transformed me, and brother or sister, if you knew me, you know that I was in dire need of some serious fixing – I was very broke.
If you are struggling today – look to Him. Lean into Him and He will do more for you and with you than you can ever imagine. I still have a long way to go, but thank the Lord I am not where I use to be.