05.10.2009 What to do when we feel powerless in the face of a crisis
12th May 2009
Happy Mothers Day!
Father, thank You that sin no longer has its grips on us. Thank You for what the cross has done. Thank You for the power of the resurrection – may that be the focus of our lives, that Christ died for us. We are Yours today – You have bought us with Your blood. I don’t think we understand what that means – help us to be grateful and thankful. How could we not allow it to control our actions and thoughts – that we would serve You because You have served us.
We have been going through a series – never waste a good crisis – we are looking at crises in the Bible and how people have responded to that. We are going to look at Jehosophat – I don’t know you would name your kid that – but his story is unique.
2 Chronicles 20:1 Now it came about after this that the sons of Moab and the sons of Ammon, together with some of the Meunites, came to make war against Jehoshaphat. 2 Then some came and reported to Jehoshaphat, saying, "A great multitude is coming against you from beyond the sea, out of Aram and behold, they are in Hazazon-tamar (that is Engedi)." 3 And Jehoshaphat was afraid and turned his attention to seek the Lord; and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. 4 So Judah gathered together to seek help from the Lord; they even came from all the cities of Judah to seek the Lord. 5 Then Jehoshaphat stood in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem, in the house of the Lord before the new court, 6 and he said, "O Lord, the God of our fathers, art Thou not God in the heavens? And art Thou not ruler over all the kingdoms of the nations? Power and might are in Thy hand so that no one can stand against Thee. 7 "Didst Thou not, O our God, drive out the inhabitants of this land before Thy people Israel, and give it to the descendants of Abraham Thy friend forever? 8 "And they lived in it, and have built Thee a sanctuary there for Thy name, saying, 9 'Should evil come upon us, the sword, [or] judgment, or pestilence, or famine, we will stand before this house and before Thee (for Thy name is in this house) and cry to Thee in our distress, and Thou wilt hear and deliver [us].' 10 "And now behold, the sons of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir, whom Thou didst not let Israel invade when they came out of the land of Egypt (they turned aside from them and did not destroy them), 11 behold [how] they are rewarding us, by coming to drive us out from Thy possession which Thou hast given us as an inheritance. 12 "O our God, wilt Thou not judge them? For we are powerless before this great multitude who are coming against us; nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are on Thee." 13 And all Judah was standing before the Lord, with their infants, their wives, and their children.
Thirteen years ago – in our church – many of you have heard this story. In 1996, during the period of 9 months, our church met in 5 different locations. One guy said – I was a bit afraid to go to church – because I was not sure if you would be there.
We got to a building – morale was down, attendance, and giving were down – and we were getting kicked out of that building. We were out of options. Through a series of events, God worked a miracle and we have been here ever since and God has blessed us significantly.
In life, each of us will face a crisis, or crises – when we look at them we are powerless to do anything about it.
That is what Jehosophat was facing – they were against 3 armies with no possible good solution.
There will be times where we will not be able to get ourselves out of things – you will be powerless.
A few weeks ago we looked at Abraham – he was in his 90s and so was his wife – they were powerless to do anything – and yet, God gave them a child.
Moses went to the most powerful man in the world. Pharaoh is holding God’s people – and Moses goes to Pharaoh and says that God spoke to him – you need to let my people go! Was it like Pharaoh said, oh, okay? No. Moses was powerless to do anything
David faced Goliath – going against the greatest warrior of his time – there was no way he could win.
Have you been watching the Cavs? Lebron has been dominating – it would be like you going against Lebron – there is no hope.
This is the story of the Bible – and it will be the story of your life. We find ourselves dealing with bad habits – like we looked at last week – we are powerless to change – and it feels like there is nothing you can do. Maybe you have amassed a mountain of debt and feel powerless to change the situation.
What to do when we feel powerless in the face of a crisis
2 Chron 20:3 And Jehoshaphat was afraid and turned his attention to seek the Lord; and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. 4 So Judah gathered together to seek help from the Lord; they even came from all the cities of Judah to seek the Lord.
His first response is to be afraid. Jehosophat looks – and it is a vast multitude. You can see him picturing the valley filled with soldiers. They were the best armies of the day and Judah faces them with their small little army. It is the same with us – something comes into our life – and that crisis, that obstacle, catches our attention and the tendency is to become afraid – to be filled with fear and anxiety. Jehosophat was afraid – and he sought the Lord.
When the crisis comes – you tend to focus on the problem – and Jehosophat makes a choice – he turns his attention from being consumed by the circumstance and he turns it to the Lord. He turns His attention to the Lord.
That is the first and most important lesson.
When we were in that building and getting kicked out – we turned our attention to the Lord and called a 3 day fast. God had a solution for us and He had a solution for Jehosophat.
What else does he do? He uses the crisis to rally the people together.
When you watch the news, it seems like they are trying to make you afraid. The crisis is the opportunity to build momentum – to make changes and get everyone together.
Ken – the drummer – that is his last name – Ken TheDrummer – he was telling me that the managers took a 6% paycut and none of the workers got raises – so everyone can keep working.
Then Jehosophat goes into prayer. The lesson is in what he prays:
2 Chron. 6 & 9
6 and he said, "O Lord, the God of our fathers, art Thou not God in the heavens? And art Thou not ruler over all the kingdoms of the nations? Power and might are in Thy hand so that no one can stand against Thee.
He uses it to remember, recognize, and put his focus on Whom God is. God is the God of the heavens – ruler of all kingdoms and nations. He looks at his circumstances in light of Who God is. These nations become smaller in Jehosophat’s sight – when he sees God.
Your debt becomes smaller when you realize that God has all the wealth in the world – it all belongs to Him.
9 'Should evil come upon us, the sword, [or] judgment, or pestilence, or famine, we will stand before this house and before Thee (for Thy name is in this house) and cry to Thee in our distress, and Thou wilt hear and deliver [us].'
He recognizes and remembers that God is faithful to His promises. God is great, powerful, and faithful to His promise. J turns and sees that God is able to do anything and will be faithful to what He promises.
This is the key in the passage – and a hidden gem in the Bible – I urge you to remember it and use it. Jehosophat means Jehovah is the judge.
2 Chron 20: 12 "O our God, wilt Thou not judge them? For we are powerless before this great multitude who are coming against us; nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are on Thee." 13 And all Judah was standing before the Lord, with their infants, their wives, and their children.
We are powerless – we don’t know what to do – but we have one thing going for us – our eyes are on You. J recognizes his inability to change the circumstances. That is step one. God wants to get you to this point.
Step 2 – we don’t know what to do! It is not an issue of having a better strategy or programs – what really matters is that our eyes are on God. We look to Him – we can’t do it – we finally turn our eyes to Him – there is no place else to go. There are few of us who turn our eyes to the Lord when we can change the situation ourselves.
2Chron 20: 15 and he said, "Listen, all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem and King Jehoshaphat: thus says the Lord to you, 'Do not fear or be dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours but God's.
There are a lot of cool passages here – the battle is not ours, but God’s.
Fear and discouragement are the normal reaction but God says, Don’t give in to it! As long as there are fear and discouragement, we won’t turn our eyes on God. But the battle is not ours, but the Lord’s.
16 'Tomorrow go down against them. Behold, they will come up by the ascent of Ziz, and you will find them at the end of the valley in front of the wilderness of Jeruel. 17 'You [need] not fight in this [battle;] station yourselves, stand and see the salvation of the Lord on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem.' Do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow go out to face them, for the Lord is with you. "
He is telling them that they are not responsible for this one. This says that God is concerned about them – He is concerned for YOU and YOURS. God loves us and is good and has our good in mind. The things that concern us – you know, He is concerned about us and all that weigh on our hearts and minds that bother us – and that we are really concerned about – in fact, He is more concerned about them more than you are. He is more concerned about the ones we care about than we are.
Larry Crabb – but the suspicion that God isn’t good is the deepest reality in our natural makeup, and therefore the most difficult to change.
This was Adam and Eve’s problem – they did not believe that God was good and has the best in mind. That is why the devil used that to tempt them – does He REALLY have your best in mind? That is how it is when we face a crisis.
God is concerned about you and yours – but we must understand that his grace will not ELIMINATE the crisis – but will get us through the crisis.
Donald Miller was at a friend’s house, having dinner. Cassie – was 2 - they were having macaroni and cheese – and Cassie said, I want chicken nuggets – and the dad said no, we are not having that today – and Cassie was insistent. And she threw a tantrum – (none of our kids would do that – but this pastor’s kid did) – DAD! HOW COULD YOU DO THIS TO ME?!
But we do the same thing to God.
He sets life up sometimes – not the way we want – and we throw a tantrum. The reality – a concerned parent does not give in to every desire we have – a concerned parent knows what is really best. We think we know what is best but God knows better. You need to believe that if you are going to do anything in a relationship with Him. If you can do that – believe that God is good and knows what is best – you will succeed.
2 Chron 20:
18 And 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.
Nothing has changed – the armies are still camped against them – but the only change is that they believed. It was the promise of God – not the circumstances – that changed their attitudes.
God will change the circumstances later – but God first needed to change
19 And the Levites, from the sons of the Kohathites and of the sons of the Korahites, stood up to praise the Lord God of Israel, with a very loud voice. 20 And they rose early in the morning and went out to the wilderness of Tekoa; and when they went out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, "Listen to me, O Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem, put your trust in the Lord your God, and you will be established. Put your trust in His prophets and succeed."
Put your trust in the Lord – and you will make it – you will understand it – you will accomplish it. What happens next is really unique – J comes up with a brilliant strategy – never used before or after.
He put the singers first – praising God. That is the strategy. Before they ever get there, the armies turn on each other.
2 Chron. 20: 29 And the dread of God was on all the kingdoms of the lands when they heard that the Lord had fought against the enemies of Israel. 30 So the kingdom of Jehoshaphat was at peace, for his God gave him rest on all sides.
You see – God’s ultimate goal is that our lives would honor Him and glorify Him – and that people – through us – when a crisis overwhelms us and God brings us through – what He is doing is revealing Himself to the world that people might believe in Christ through us and what God does in our lives.
I did this in the first service – and it was much more dramatic than it will be now. Go back to 1996. How many of you were not with us in 1996? (Most raised their hands). In the previous service, there were only 3 people who WERE with us!
God brought us through that crisis so that more and more people could honor and glorify Him. God has used us – and brought us to this situation – and it is no different in your life. God wants your life to be a light to bring people to faith in Christ – and the reality is that He has to bring us through crises to do that.
Jesus, we thank You – You are a great God – thank You that You know that – very simple – you are good and desire our good – You have the best in mind for us. We may pound our fist and say why did You do this to me – but You know best – Help us to trust You – help us to turn our attention to You.