Put Away the Pompous!

“The pride of your heart has deceived you,
    you who live in the clefts of the rock,
    in your lofty dwelling,
who say in your heart,
    ‘Who will bring me down to the ground?’
Though you soar aloft like the eagle,
    though your nest is set among the stars,
    from there I will bring you down,
declares the Lord…

“But do not gloat over the day of your brother
    in the day of his misfortune;
do not rejoice over the people of Judah
    in the day of their ruin;
do not boast
    in the day of distress.
Do not enter the gate of my people
    in the day of their calamity;
do not gloat over his disaster
    in the day of his calamity;
do not loot his wealth
    in the day of his calamity…

For the day of the Lord is near upon all the nations.
As you have done, it shall be done to you;
    your deeds shall return on your own head.” Obadiah 3-4,12-13,15

“My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in,  and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, ‘You sit here in a good place,’ while you say to the poor man, ‘You stand over there,’ or, ‘Sit down at my feet,’  have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?.. You have dishonored the poor man…

“If you really fulfill the royal law.., ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself,’ you are doing well. But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors.” James 2:1-4,6a,8-9

Putting self on a pride-braced pedestal to lord it over others is a nasty habit and dishonoring to the Maker of us all. Famous or unknown, successful or failure, strong or weak, intelligent or simple, all are in His image made. Showing favoritism and puffing up ourselves at the expense of others belittles them and ignores or dismisses their value. (James 2:15-16)

What causes us to think more highly of ourselves and less of others than we ought? Likely we carry some insecurity that compels us to compare, and when we come up short, we have to find someplace or someway to exert superiority. We don lenses of pomposity, and pick at the grit and specks in others while failing to recognize our own. Actually, we’re all dust, every one of us destined to fade like the grass of the field. While God appoints different gifts and callings, He loves and treasures us all. (Psalm 103:14; Luke 6:41-42; John 3:16; Romans 12:3; 1 Peter 1:24)

Do we teeter on self-constructed high horses, looking down, struggling to maintain a semblance of a squeaky clean, all-polish-and-success image? Do we relationally demand others accept our quirks and strong opinions without making effort to value theirs? Would we instead promote the grace of Christ by dismounting before God and seeking ways to relate to our equals with His love? (Psalm 14:1-3)

Great Father, daily remind me who I am before You. Replace any hint of guile and malice with pure love.

Favored to Bear the Christ

“In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to… Nazareth,  to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. He came to her and said, ‘Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!’ But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. The angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.  Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign… forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.’

“And Mary said, ‘How will this be, since I am a virgin?’

“And the angel answered, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God… Nothing will be impossible with God.’ And Mary said, ‘Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.'” Luke 1:26-38

Imagine the shock, the magnificent disruption, when Gabriel appeared. A heavenly being announced to a teenage girl that she, of all people, was the favored one blessed to bear the promised Messiah. Her response is spontaneous, and telling of her deep dedication to her Lord: a simple question, no argument, a serene, faith- and praise-filled acceptance of this benediction from her Savior.

“And Mary said,

‘My soul magnifies the Lord,
     and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.
    For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for he who is mighty has done great things for me,
    and holy is his name.
..
He has shown strength with his arm…
    and exalted those of humble estate.'” Luke 1:46-49,51-5
2

Those of us who know Christ are also favored to bear Him in our private and public lives. When we enjoy an intimate love relationship with Him and are intent on consistent communion, we rejoice in this privilege of making a difference for eternal generations, and similarly as Mary receive it with joy. But when we prefer to claim safety in salvation but my life as my own, we may see this bestowment as an imposition, an annoyance, a burden, or something we’d rather save for another day or season. Which is our response?

Do we chafe at the ‘restrictions’ of being known by His name, the conviction of the Spirit when we let loose with our flesh? Let Mary’s example challenge and guide us: bring Him doubts, then accept His grace as a gift to be exercised. Ask Him to arouse desire to wear His countenance, speak His words, and exhibit His grace and love. Responding to Him in thanksgiving and praise evokes willingness to serve Him with our all and take Him to the needy, lonely, and lost. (Romans 10:14-15)

Lord, may my soul magnify You for the favor of Your grace and love in Christ to me. May I serve You without fear, in holiness and righteousness to Your glory always. (Luke 1:74-79)

Sleeper in More Ways than One

“The word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying,’Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it, for their evil has come up before me.’ But Jonah rose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. He went down to Joppa and found a ship going to Tarshish. So he paid the fare and went down into it, to go with them to Tarshish, away from the presence of the Lord.

“But the Lord hurled a great wind upon the sea, and there was a mighty tempest on the sea, so that the ship threatened to break up. Then the mariners were afraid, and each cried out to his god. And they hurled the cargo that was in the ship into the sea to lighten it for them. But Jonah had gone down into the inner part of the ship and had lain down and was fast asleep. So the captain came and said to him, ‘What do you mean, you sleeper? Arise, call out to your god! Perhaps the god will give a thought to us, that we may not perish…’

“Then the men were exceedingly afraid and said to him, ‘What is this that you have done!’ For the men knew that he was fleeing from the presence of the Lord, because he had told them.” Jonah 1:1-6,10

The heathen mariners labeled Jonah in ways beyond their understanding. In the hurl of a great tempest, as each was crying out to his god, Jonah the disobedient was fast asleep in both body and soul. His disdain at the wicked people of Nineveh had put to sleep compassion and any appetite for God’s mercy. His hard heart had hypnotized obedience into slumber. And he was called on it in spectacular fashion. God would jolt this sleeping servant awake to achieve His ends, regardless of his spiritual drowsiness.

We do not know if Jonah stayed awake. We do know he came to his senses and fulfilled his vow of obedience, and witnessed the repentance and salvation of the people of Nineveh. But he also continued to nurse resentment, so we can imagine that the Lord may have continually, lovingly, faithfully, nudged him awake throughout his prophet years unto His gracious character. God doesn’t give up on His own. (Jonah 2:3-6,9-10; 3:1-5,10; 4:1-4,8-11)

Are there commands that make us cringe, areas of obedience we shirk or flee? If so, check the root. Is there a bitterness against wrong done to us, or a resentment at another’s seeming successes regardless of unjust or greedy dealings? Do we think ourselves above someone else’s behavior choices? Have we failed to extend mercy as Jesus has to us? Do we insist on some right we think we deserve, or simply prefer our plans over God’s? Would we see that His commands are for the good of everyone, including us whom He is sanctifying? (Deuteronomy 10:12-17; Psalm 37:1-13; Hebrews 12:15)

What adjustments might we make to schedule and attitude to increase our attentiveness to the Lord? Taking time to focus on Him and His goodness instills eagerness to understand His ways and follow His lead. Active obedience brings rest to our souls.

Lord, awaken me to Your mercies every day, and keep me attentive and responsive to Your voice. Shine on me unto wise walking and obedient living, to the praise of Your grace and glory. (Lamentations 3:22-23; Ephesians 5:14-16)

Seek, Ascribe, Tremble, Sing

“Oh give thanks to the Lord; call upon his name;
    make known his deeds among the peoples!
Sing to him, sing praises to him;
    tell of all his wondrous works!
Glory in his holy name;
    let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice!
Seek the Lord and his strength;
    seek his presence continually!
Remember the wondrous works that he has done,
    his miracles and the judgments he uttered!..

Sing to the Lord, all the earth!
    Tell of his salvation from day to day.
Declare his glory among the nations,
    his marvelous works among all the peoples!
For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised,
    and he is to be feared above all gods…
Splendor and majesty are before him;
    strength and joy are in his place.

Ascribe to the Lord, O families of the peoples,
    ascribe to the Lord glory and strength!
Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name;
    bring an offering and come before him!
Worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness;
   tremble before him, all the earth…
Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice,
    and let them say among the nations, ‘The Lord reigns!’
Let the sea roar, and all that fills it;
    let the field exult, and everything in it!
Then shall the trees of the forest sing for joy
    before the Lord, for he comes to judge the earth.
Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
    for his steadfast love endures forever!..
Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel,
    from everlasting to everlasting!

Then all the people said, ‘Amen!’ and praised the Lord.” 1 Chronicles 16:8-12,23-25,27-34,36

David’s paean of praise ignites the contented, joy-filled soul. Thanksgiving can and should be all consuming, the uplifting fire that fuels our every thought and action. It begins with Godward thinking, intentional looking for Him and His hand in every detail. To seek Him is to call on Him, search for Him, discover His wondrous works, and ascribe to Him due glory. As we come to know Him, we spontaneously tremble before His splendor, majesty, glory, strength, joy, and praiseworthy deeds. In recognizing Him everywhere in heavens and earth and hearts, we cannot help but sing for joy along with all He has made.

A natural rhythm of thanksgiving will influence others. How are we leading the charge in places of community and industry, neighborhood or informal gatherings, to give thanks? Expressing gratitude can disarm the pessimist and whiner. Changing the subject from catty gossip, complaining, constant griping over leaders, neighbors, and circumstances to that of the good, lofty, and praiseworthy can transform the atmosphere. Where will we invite others to join a melody of gratitude? (1 Chronicles 16:1-7)

Such a spirit of gratitude will leave behind a fragrance that lingers long after we are gone. How might we infect others to keep on in continual praise at home, work, and places of ministry? Where might we sprinkle a song that reminds someone of God’s kindness and care so they carry on its happy contagion? (1 Chronicles 16:37-43)

Would we begin and continue our days praising God? Joyful obsession with the glory of His name invigorates a life of spontaneous thanksgiving and song.

Most gracious Lord, I give You thanks and praise and the honor You deserve. Keep me seeking and marveling at Your wondrous works, and spreading the gladness of Your glory in the atmosphere of my life.

The Wide Stretch of Mercy

“I saw the Lord standing beside the altar, and he said:

‘Strike the capitals until the thresholds shake,
    and shatter them on the heads of all the people;
and those who are left of them I will kill with the sword;
    not one of them shall flee away;
    not one of them shall escape.

‘If they dig into Sheol,
    from there shall my hand take them;
if they climb up to heaven,
    from there I will bring them down.
If they hide themselves on the top of Carmel,
    from there I will search them out and take them;
and if they hide from my sight at the bottom of the sea,
    there I will command the serpent, and it shall bite them.
And if they go into captivity before their enemies,
    there I will command the sword, and it shall kill them;
and I will fix my eyes upon them
    for evil and not for good.'” Amos 9:1-4

“Where shall I go from your Spirit?
    Or where shall I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
    If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
If I take the wings of the morning
    and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
even there your hand shall lead me,
    and your right hand shall hold me.
If I say, ‘Surely the darkness shall cover me,
    and the light about me be night,’
even the darkness is not dark to you;
    the night is bright as the day,
    for darkness is as light with you.” Psalm 139:7-12

Infinite, omniscient God spreads His holiness and love over all He has made. There is nothing that escapes Him, nowhere to flee His hand. He looks on both evil and good, sees all, and upholds His word. The magnificent indescribable bridge between sure destruction and assured security is that of His mighty mercy on the cross, spanning the chasm and sustaining all who come to Him. (Psalm 103:6-13; Proverbs 15:3; Amos 9:13-15)

We may feel the chasm is too broad to traverse. We carry too much shame, we’ve procrastinated too long, we can never measure up or change. We carry the weight of judgment on ourselves without recognizing and accepting that Christ came to bear that weight and heal what cripples us. He is the span! (Isaiah 53:4-6; John 14:6; 2 Corinthians 5:21)

His outstretched arms provide, with deepest compassion and love, the way for us to cross. Will we take it? Will we come to our senses about what divides us from our Lord- the crud that piles up between us, the attitudes and proclivities that sully our communion- and get serious about confession? Then will we put it all away? Coming to Him, crossing that bridge, is turning our back on and leaving behind the old city of regret, the dabbling in worldliness, mess of crude and destructive thinking, and ungodly behavior.

“Return, faithless Israel,
declares the Lord.
I will not look on you in anger,
    for I am merciful…
I will not be angry forever.” Jeremiah 3:12

“It shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved. For… there shall be those who escape,.. and among the survivors those whom the Lord calls.” Joel 2:32

Lord, may I daily trust, travel on, and rejoice in Your wide mercy.

His Word Runs Swiftly

“He sends out his command to the earth;
    his word runs swiftly.
He gives snow like wool;
    he scatters frost like ashes.
He hurls down his crystals of ice like crumbs;
    who can stand before his cold?
He sends out his word, and melts them;
    he makes his wind blow and the waters flow.
He declares his word to Jacob,
    his statutes and rules to Israel.
He has not dealt thus with any other nation;
    they do not know his rules.
Praise the Lord!”

“Praise him, sun and moon,
    praise him, all you shining stars!
Praise him, you highest heavens,
    and you waters above the heavens!

Let them praise the name of the Lord!
    For he commanded and they were created.
And he established them forever and ever;
    he gave a decree, and it shall not pass away.

Praise the Lord from the earth,
    you great sea creatures and all deeps,
fire and hail, snow and mist,
    stormy wind fulfilling his word!” Psalm 147:15-20; 148:3-8

“My words… will be fulfilled in their time.” Luke 1:20

God the Creator spoke the world into being, and rules over it by His word today. Weather, boundaries, seasons all turn and hold under His wise command. Everything He breathes and says bears through its divine, intended effect. His word runs swiftly on heaven’s time to accomplish God’s perfect will on earth. Genesis 1:1; 2:7; Psalm 104:5-9; Isaiah 55:10-11; Colossians 1:16-17)

His word also should be making such a difference for us. True, it is far-reaching and over-arching in all the world, but it is personal for the intricacies of our daily living too. It runs through every narrow and turn to offer guidance, hope, honing, and wisdom for our times. (Proverbs 2:6)

First, we need exposure to it, deep soaking and grappling that immerses mind and soul. We need its truth to wash over and run through us to cleanse, refresh, nourish, and satisfy. Are we taking such intentional time, carved from days of busyness and superficial pursuits? Do we stay in its flow until we are quenched? Do we treasure it as our mind and soul’s satisfaction? (Job 23:12)

When we come to God’s word and offer ourselves a living sacrifice, we find it penetrates to divide soul and spirit and do its marvelous work of sanctification. Work of conviction, illumination, training, warning, directing. By these we are prepared for our responsibilities and interruptions, our relationships and discussions. His word suffices to keep running to meet ongoing needs, and never returns void. (Psalm 32:8; 119:11; Isaiah 50:4; Romans 12:1-2; 2 Timothy 3:16-17; Hebrews 4:12)

Once we have God’s word feeding into us, how might we assist its running swiftly to others? Where will we proclaim it, teach it, and share its benediction? What are practical ways we can communicate its truth and beauty and blessedness? How are we living it out in obvious display, so others see it taking effect, shaping character, inspiring righteousness, and want it for themselves?

Lord, may Your word run swiftly into every part of my life to convict, adjust, and sanctify as You see fit. May it have its way in and through me unto Your glory.

Mighty People All

“Now these are the chiefs of David’s mighty men, who gave him strong support in his kingdom, together with all Israel, to make him king, according to the word of the Lord concerning Israel. This is an account of David’s mighty men: Jashobeam, a Hachmonite, was chief of the three. He wielded his spear against 300 whom he killed at one time.

“And next to him among the three mighty men was Eleazar the son of Dodo, the Ahohite. He was with David at Pas-dammim when the Philistines were gathered there for battle. There was a plot of ground full of barley, and the men fled from the Philistines. But he took his stand in the midst of the plot and defended it and killed the Philistines. And the Lord saved them by a great victory.

“Three of the thirty chief men went down to the rock to David at the cave of Adullam, when the army of Philistines was encamped in the Valley of Rephaim. David was then in the stronghold, and the garrison of the Philistines was then at Bethlehem. And David said longingly, ‘Oh that someone would give me water to drink from the well of Bethlehem that is by the gate!’ Then the three mighty men broke through the camp of the Philistines and drew water out of the well of Bethlehem that was by the gate and took it and brought it to David…

“And Benaiah the son of Jehoiada was a valiant man of Kabzeel, a doer of great deeds. He struck down two heroes of Moab. He also went down and struck down a lion in a pit on a day when snow had fallen.”

“These are… among the mighty men who came to David [and] helped him in war… mighty and experienced warriors, expert with shield and spear, mighty men of valor [who] helped David,.. had understanding of the times to know what Israel ought to do,.. seasoned troops ready for battle.” 1 Chronicles 11:10-18,22; 12:1,8,22,32-33

David’s mighty men had come a long way. Time spent with their king had transformed and emboldened them, and created a remarkable loyalty and zeal. Under David, life for them turned from self-focus to kingdom-purpose: now every breath pulsed with passion to make their king great and serve him at any cost. Be it strategizing, fighting, or working good deeds behind the scenes, they were all in. (1 Samuel 22:2)

What adjectives describe our allegiance to God? Lazy, half-hearted, reluctant, or eager, bold, mighty? Do we shrink back from the spiritual fight and the risk of standing up or out for our King, citing fear of getting hurt, criticized, worn out, or left out? Knowing the Lord fights on our behalf, what keeps us from taking up arms for Him? If we acknowledge Him as King, how robust is our stewardship, how faithful our fealty? How far are we willing to defend His name? He certainly is worthy of full devotion. (Exodus 14:13-14; Luke 9:26; Romans 1:16-17)

Sovereign God, make me a mighty warrior for You. Arm me with singleness of purpose, spiritual weapons, and a ready willingness to take a strong stand for Your kingdom. Grant me daily a single mind to exalt and make You known as King. (1 Chronicles 12:33,38; Ephesians 6:10-18)

He It Was, He It Is

“Praise the Lord!
Praise the name of the Lord,
    give praise, O servants of the Lord!..
Praise the Lord, for the Lord is good;
    sing to his name, for it is pleasant!
For the Lord has chosen Jacob for himself,
    Israel as his own possession.

For I know that the Lord is great,
    and that our Lord is above all gods.
Whatever the Lord pleases, he does,
    in heaven and on earth,
    in the seas and all deeps.
He it is who makes the clouds rise at the end of the earth,
    who makes lightnings for the rain
    and brings forth the wind from his storehouses.

He it was who struck down the firstborn of Egypt,
    both of man and of beast;
who in your midst, O Egypt,
    sent signs and wonders
    against Pharaoh and all his servants;
 who struck down many nations
    and killed mighty kings,
Sihon, king of the Amorites,
    and Og, king of Bashan,
    and all the kingdoms of Canaan,
and gave their land as a heritage
    to his people Israel.

Your name, O Lord, endures forever,
    your renown, O Lord, throughout all ages.
For the Lord will vindicate his people
    and have compassion on his servants.”

“It is he who remembered us in our low estate,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
and rescued us from our foes,
    for his steadfast love endures forever.” Psalm 135:1-14; 136:23-24

The psalmist knew how to center his focal point. His soul spilled over with praise because his mind was filled with God. From the beginning of imagination and time, He it was who had created, ordered, sustained, worked every aspect of creation according to His purpose. He it was who had orchestrated Israel’s deliverance from Egypt and the salvation of everyone covered in the sacrificial blood. He it was who had conquered armies and lands and settled His people in the place He’d promised. And so He would always be faithful, mighty, and true to His character and word. (John 14:6; Hebrews 1:2-3; 13:8)

It should be impossible to enumerate God’s faithfulness and doubt His present help, yet we flounder. We dismiss past deeds as done and fail to see they continue. We acknowledge He works for others, yet in self-pity and -absorption claim He would not for us. The more we focus on me instead of the works He has done, the weaker our faith. His word is given that we might believe and take heart! (Acts 1:1)

He it was, He it is, and He it will always be! Our Savior, shepherd, redeemer, bread, way, finisher of faith, our very life, will be so forever and ever! What hope does this give? What boost of zeal and spiritual energy? What power to go forth and hope to persevere? What conviction of sloth, redirection of priorities, relinquishing of shame, motivation to robust ministry, inspiration to grow and serve does this promise engender? The grasp of God’s ever- presence and eternal activity on our behalf should make a significant difference in outlook, attitude, and action. (John 6:35; 10:14; Hebrews 12:2)

“Great is thy faithfulness, O God my Father,
there is no shadow of turning with thee.
Thou changest not, thy compassions, they fail not;
as thou hast been, thou forever wilt be.” ~Thomas O. Chisholm (1923)

Lord, keep me faithful to receive and continue Your ongoing work, to the praise of Your glory.

The LORD is His Name

“For behold, he who forms the mountains and creates the wind,
    and declares to man what is his thought,
who makes the morning darkness,
    and treads on the heights of the earth—
    the LORD, the God of hosts, is his name!”

“He who made the Pleiades and Orion,
    and turns deep darkness into the morning
    and darkens the day into night,
who calls for the waters of the sea
    and pours them out on the surface of the earth,
the LORD is his name;
who makes destruction flash forth against the strong,
    so that destruction comes upon the fortress…

Seek good, and not evil,
    that you may live;
and so the LORD, the God of hosts, will be with you,
    as you have said.
Hate evil, and love good,
    and establish justice in the gate;
it may be that the LORD, the God of hosts,
    will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph.”

“The LORD God of hosts,
he who touches the earth and it melts,
    and all who dwell in it mourn,
and all of it rises like the Nile,
    and sinks again, like the Nile of Egypt;
who builds his upper chambers in the heavens
    and founds his vault upon the earth;
who calls for the waters of the sea
    and pours them out upon the surface of the earth—
the LORD is his name.” Amos 4:13; 5:8-9,14-15; 9:5-6

A name signifies identity, and makes an entity known. With each mention of his name and each description Amos gives, more is revealed about the LORD, his Lord. Omniscient creator, God of hosts, powerful Sustainer of life and creation, Ruler and Judge of earth, the LORD is His name!

And if these things are true about the Lord, what keeps us from bowing before Him? From worship for His mighty arm, the splendor of His mind? From fear and honor before His power? From trusting the only One who is absolutely trustworthy? From loving Him because He first loved us? The LORD is His name! (1 John 4:19)

Our problem is that we get busy and fettered in our daily lives and forget to relate to Him. We buzz along in the horizontal and neglect the vertical. We forsake spiritual communion because our feelings get wrapped up in offense and frenzy. We fail to recognize His hand in the details of our work, relationships, and play, His leading and supply in our industry and plans. The LORD is His name, and it is written on all we see and experience, if only we would look.

What would happen if we started to see others as those created by this Lord? If we stopped parading superficial or controversial identities and instead identified as image bearers? What stirs up dissension and hatred is the waving of specific banners in pomp, superiority, or you-have-to-celebrate-me arcs. We spout opinions and demand agreement. But if we were secure in who we really are, deep down, in relation to the LORD, high and lifted up, we would see and embrace each other with divine perspective. The LORD is His name over all!

LORD, may I recall and sing and praise Your great, strong, and matchless name all my days!

After This, Opposition

“Jehoshaphat lived at Jerusalem. He went out again among the people, from Beersheba to… Ephraim, and brought them back to the God of their fathers. He appointed judges in the land and all the fortified cities of Judah, and said to the judges, ‘Consider what you do, for you judge not for man but for the Lord. He is with you in giving judgment. Let the fear of the Lord be upon you. Be careful what you do, for there is no injustice with the Lord our God, or partiality or taking bribes… Deal courageously, and may the Lord be with the upright!’”

“After this the Moabites and Ammonites and some of the Meunites came against Jehoshaphat for battle. Some men came and told Jehoshaphat, ‘A great multitude is coming against you from Edom...’ Then Jehoshaphat was afraid and set his face to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a fast throughout Judah.  Judah assembled to seek help from the Lord; from all the cities of Judah they came…

“Jehoshaphat stood in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem, in the house of the Lord,.. 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… 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.’” 2 Chronicles 19:4-7,11b; 20:1-6,12

Consider all he’d done right! Jehoshaphat, following in the footsteps of his father Asa, had sought the Lord from the inception of his reign. God had blessed him with and because of his obedience and courageous heart. He led Judah with order and uprightness, holding prominent God’s word as their underpinning and standard. He was not perfect, but repented of his errors in judgment and reformed his ways and leadership. And after all this, formidable enemies threatened. Was this his reward? (2 Chronicles 14:2; 17:3-9)

The Lord never lets up in sanctifying His children. We may think we’ve arrived, done it all right, but we will not be like Him until we see Him face to face. In this life where we see in a mirror dimly, He relentlessly pursues us to make us holy, and keeps at it in the most effective ways- often through the jolt of battle. (1 Corinthians 13:12; Hebrews 12:1-2; 1 John 3:3)

Where have we grown soft and lazy and prone to spiritual naps on the outskirts of success? Do we mock the grace of God by a self-righteous sense of desert, and complain about undeserved difficulty? Does our boasted list of self-efforts overshadow the power of God’s faithfulness and promises? Have our ears grown dull to the truth that every success is not by my might nor power but His Spirit? Are we wasting the tests of His appointed, proving trials? (Zechariah 4:6; James 1:2-4)

We must repeatedly remind ourselves of God’s grace, His mighty acts on our behalf and merciful help in time of need. We fortify ourselves for battle by recounting His promises and past faithfulness, and trusting His ways. Would we stay vigilant, no matter what comes? (2 Chronicles 20:7-11; Hebrews 4:12)

Holy Lord, keep me bowed before You in worship, gratitude for Your salvation, and complete dependence for Your full deliverances. (2 Chronicles 20:15-22,25-26)