We Wash Feet

I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.

Archive for the category “Encouragement”

Jehoshaphat’s Reaction; My Reaction

This past week I found myself reading in 2 Chronicles 20 and Ephesians 6.

In 2 Chronicles, King Jehoshaphat got word that several armies were on their way to attack them. The Bible says the king called a fast for everyone to come together and seek Gods help. They did the only thing they could, they sought God. In a panic, feeling beyond helpless, discouraged, terrified. They sought God. In verse 12 Jehoshaphat cries out, we are powerless against them. We do not know what to do, but we are looking to you for help.

5 Jehoshaphat stood before the community of Judah and Jerusalem in front of the new courtyard at the Temple of the Lord. 6 He prayed, “O Lord, God of our ancestors, you alone are the God who is in heaven. You are ruler of all the kingdoms of the earth. You are powerful and mighty; no one can stand against you! 7 O our God, did you not drive out those who lived in this land when your people Israel arrived? And did you not give this land forever to the descendants of your friend Abraham? 8 Your people settled here and built this Temple to honor your name. 9 They said, ‘Whenever we are faced with any calamity such as war,[d] plague, or famine, we can come to stand in your presence before this Temple where your name is honored. We can cry out to you to save us, and you will hear us and rescue us.’ 10 “And now see what the armies of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir are doing. You would not let our ancestors invade those nations when Israel left Egypt, so they went around them and did not destroy them. 11 Now see how they reward us! For they have come to throw us out of your land, which you gave us as an inheritance. 12 O our God, won’t you stop them? We are powerless against this mighty army that is about to attack us. We do not know what to do, but we are looking to you for help.

Our own situations can leave us in that same state of mind.  Our Ammonites and moabites look different from King Jehoshaphat’s but you know that feeling.  Sitting in the intensive care waiting room, a courthouse hallway, or even your own living room.  Feeling desperate, panicked, helpless, and powerless. Ephesians 6 talks about the battle we fight:

Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we[d] are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground.

King Jehoshaphat was facing multiple armies set on annihilating his entire kingdom. We are facing an enemy set on annihilating our homes, our children, our marriages, our hope and faith. Our enemy looks different but the solution is still the same. God is our only help and rescue.  When God is speaking through His word in Ephesians chapter 6. He tells us we are fighting spiritual warfare and He instructs us just like He instructs King Jehoshaphat.  He says put on the whole armor of God so you can withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. I use to read Ephesians 6 and pray, “Lord, I’m dressed for battle, my sword and shield are in my hands. I don’t know what else to do. You got to rescue me. I’ve tied a knot and I’m hanging on. A kind of “woe is me” discouraged stance as if I had done everything I could and nothing was working. Then I read about King Jehoshaphat’s reaction. Here’s a king in a hopeless situation, facing certain destruction and what does he do? King Jehoshaphat worshiped the Lord. The people worshiped the Lord. The Levites stood to praise the Lord with a very loud shout. This verse in Ephesians is not saying stand because there’s nothing else I can do.  It’s saying STAND strong and watch God move! King Jehoshaphat’s reaction should be our reaction.

18 Then King Jehoshaphat bowed low with his face to the ground. And all the people of Judah and Jerusalem did the same, worshiping the Lord. 19 Then the Levites from the clans of Kohath and Korah stood to praise the Lord, the God of Israel, with a very loud shout. 20 Early the next morning the army of Judah went out into the wilderness of Tekoa. On the way Jehoshaphat stopped and said, “Listen to me, all you people of Judah and Jerusalem! Believe in the Lord your God, and you will be able to stand firm. Believe in his prophets, and you will succeed.” 21 After consulting the people, the king appointed singers to walk ahead of the army, singing to the Lord and praising him for his holy splendor. This is what they sang: “Give thanks to the Lord; his faithful love endures forever!”22 At the very moment they began to sing and give praise, the Lord caused the armies of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir to start fighting among themselves. 23 The armies of Moab and Ammon turned against their allies from Mount Seir and killed every one of them. After they had destroyed the army of Seir, they began attacking each other. 24 So when the army of Judah arrived at the lookout point in the wilderness, all they saw were dead bodies lying on the ground as far as they could see. Not a single one of the enemy had escaped.

Stand strong and worship God! When we proclaim who God is and what He’s done we send the enemy a clear message, reminding him who has already won.worship2

God has already won. The enemy is already defeated. Every time we worship God, we are standing strong against the forces of evil. You want to see your enemy defeated? Worship is the only way. Worship exalts God above all else. It confuses the enemy and destroys his hold on you. It places our focus on Jesus and not on our circumstances. It gives him the opportunity to work all things for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. His love for us is more than we can fathom. We have so much to worship and praise Him for in our lives. Let’s start now!

Father God,

Thank you Lord, Your faithful love endures forever. You are always with us. You never leave us. You never forsake us. I am strong in you and in your mighty power. I put on the whole armor of God. From the helmet of salvation, guarding my mind and thoughts, to the shoes of peace protecting my steps, I am thankful for the armor you provide and I know your Glory is my rear guard. With you behind me, in front of me and surrounding me, the enemy can only tremble in fright. Thank you for your Word, alive and piercing. Your truth brings hope and healing.  You are my shield and strong tower. Increase my faith as I stand still and see your glory. I fix my eyes on You, Jesus. I sing your praise and no other’s. Your faithful love endures forever.  I stand with my hands raised and praise you.  Thank you for my miracle.

In Jesus name, Amen

 

Your Story Isn’t Written

Many, many years ago, a man named Joshua sent two spies into a hostile enemy nation.  They cautiously made their way into the ancient city of Jericho, doing their best to remain inconspicuous.  They chose to lay low in the home of a well known prostitute, Rahab. Quickly, the King’s informants sent word of their whereabouts and Rahab was ordered to surrender these men to the authority of the king.

Courageously, she chose to hide and assist in the men’s escape. She chose treason, a crime punishable by not only your death but the death of your entire family, rather than release these men to the Canaanite King.  A bold move, but one that paid off for her and her family.

Rahab was a woman of the night. A woman paid to have sex with men.  A woman concreted in to a life where men used her and women avoided her. A woman whose poor life choices found herself in an unacceptable occupation, with no way out.

As a teenager staying with friends overseas, I well remember walking through the red light district of one European city. Although my friend did his best to prepare me, I still expected an  American television version of the hooker on the street corner. What I saw instead were rows of curtained store front windows with women waiting to sell their bodies to the highest bidder. After recovering from the initial shock, I looked into the eyes of a couple of these women. The tears began to well up inside me. Posed in the window for men to choose from a list of options, their empty, hollow eyes sent shudders down my spine. I cried for hours afterwards. I still cry when I think about them.

I’ve looked into the eyes of girls closer to home, who are trapped in lives they never wanted, seeing no way out. Some of these girls made poor choices, some were handed a raw deal in life. Either way, their story seems set in stone. Like Rahab, “the prostitute” this is how you are to be known. The failure. The addict.  The victim.  Easy, cheap, worthless, stupid, the list goes on infinitely. Convinced this is your life, convinced there is no other way…..

But then God…. The actual author of our story. 

Rahab the Prostitute listened to their stories of water dividing and people crossing on dry land, of victorious battles won against fierce armies thought to be unconquerable, of land promised by the One True God and his people moving in to possess it. She listened to the miracles and followed the movement of a God, foreign to her, belonging to a different sort of people.

She believed. With that truth taking root in her heart she hid two strangers and changed the course of her history.

When the battle came to Jericho, she knew the scarlet cord hanging in her window meant protection for her and her family. She gathered them into her home and as sure as God’s word is true, her household was spared.

Oftentimes the story of Rahab wraps up with the walls of Jericho.  The prostitute who saved the spies was saved in return but Rahab’s story does not end in the second chapter of the book of Joshua. Your story doesn’t end with the hurt, despair and consequences of your past. God has, can and will stamp rescued and redeemed across your heart when you choose Him and his ways.

So what happened to her? Scriptures proceed to tell us, Rahab goes on to live with the Israelites and marry a man named Salmon. She becomes a mother who teaches her children to see past culture, to protect those weaker and more vulnerable than yourself, to love fiercely, and live with integrity.  All of which is evident as her son’s story unfolds in the pages of one of the greatest love stories in scripture.  Yes Rahab, the mother of Boaz, the kinsman redeemer of a Moabite widow named Ruth.

Her story wasn’t over.  Rahab, who is listed in the genealogy of Jesus Christ is recorded in Hebrews as being found faithful.  A mother who believed, trusted, repented, and rose above her circumstances with faith in a God she wanted to know better.

Never believe your mistakes are too many, your poor choices have been too frequent, your lifestyle is too far removed, or your story is complete. You are His Story. Loved more fiercely, lavishly, extravagantly than conceivably possible. God wants to be the author of our story and the finisher of our faith.

Rahab, the mother. Rahab, the grandmother. Rahab, the faithful. Rahab chose HIS ending to her story and like her, you can choose HIS ending to YOUR story.  Leave a mark on history, a legacy beyond your greatest expectations simply by allowing Christ to write your story.

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