Walking It Out

There’s a story in the Old Testament that I think shows such an awesome example of how God desires us to walk out our faith in Him. I’m just going to highlight some parts on here but if you’d like to read the whole story it’s 2Chronicles 20:1-30.

So King Jehoshaphat receives word that armies are coming to attack him. He is of course terrified, as we all most likely would be. That’d be like if you found out a mob of people were planning to come attack your home and kick you and your family out of it. You’d be pretty scared. They’re not just going to politely remove you, it’s going to get violent and end in death.  All of your deaths.

So King Jehoshaphat does the first right move, he immediately begged for the Lord’s guidance. It doesn’t say he asked a friend or family member. He immediately went to God. How often do we do that? When we find out scary or troubling news do we immediately go to God? Or do we turn to a friend or our own wisdom to figure it out first and THEN bring God into it? I typically go to myself or a person immediately first. Jehoshaphat shows who he trusted the most by who he went to first….God. Who you go to first really says a lot. It’s only been in my most extreme low points that I’m pushed finally to immediately seeking what God says and no one else. Maybe that’s the point Jehoshaphat was at. That’s how it should be ALL the time. We shouldn’t need to be brought so low before putting Him first, but sadly that’s usually how it is.

King Jehoshaphat then gets all of Judah to start praying and fasting. He doesn’t just do it himself, he gets the whole family involved. Jehoshaphat starts declaring who God is. About His Lordship and all He’s done for them. He humbles himself and says to God, “We are powerless against this mighty army that is about to attack us. We don’t know what to do, but we are looking to you for help.” And then God answers, His Spirit falls on one of the men and gives him a word for everyone. That’s all it takes. A lot of us just keep running around frantic in worry thinking we’re just waiting for God’s word and direction. Then we get more worried and aggravated because we aren’t hearing from Him quickly enough. When God actually is speaking. He’s saying to stop, humble ourselves, seek Him FIRST, and quietly wait for that answer WHILE declaring who He is. We keep focusing on the problem and demanding an answer from God, but God wants it the other way. He wants us focused on Him and then HE will focus no the problem.

So God says to them, “Do not be afraid! Don’t be discouraged by this mighty army, for the battle is not yours, but God’s. Tomorrow, march out against them. You will find them coming up through the ascent of Ziz at the end of the valley that opens into the wilderness of Jeruel. But you will not even need to fight. Take your positions; then stand still and watch the Lord’s victory. He is with you, o people of Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid or discouraged. Go out against them tomorrow, for the Lord is with you!” And then all the people praised and worshipped God. They again immediately went back to focusing on God. They didn’t question His word or the fact that He told them to still march out. They trusted Him. I know I would’ve probably questioned the marching out part. But God will always require a stretching action on our part. He doesn’t do anything without our involvement in some sort of way. It’s all throughout the Bible. God requires a faith action in us before He will move. Sometimes that action will be something like simply praising Him in the middle of the storm and sometimes it will be walking out into the fight in faith. But He is always faithful to state His promises with it. He didn’t just say to walk out. He said He will be with them and that they won’t even need to fight. We get so worried about the action He’s asking of us sometimes that we completely forget the promise of HIS action.

So the next day they do what God told them to and they march out to the fight. Jehoshaphat reminds his army, “Believe in the Lord your God, and you will be able to stand firm. Believe in His prophets, and you will succeed.” Singers get put ahead of the army and they start singing,“Give thanks to the Lord; His faithful love endures forever!” So they’re singing and praising the whole way to the fight. Keeping their focus on God and not their own abilities. Right at that very moment, the Lord causes the opposing armies to start fighting among themselves. By the time Jehoshaphat and his army arrive, all they see are dead bodies.

God comes through right in the middle of their faith and praise. Not right in the middle of their fear and worry. Worry is the opposite of trust. Worry takes up all the room to where God doesn’t even have a place to come in. If we just trusted and had faith like this we could experience so much more peace and ease. It doesn’t mean we wouldn’t ever encounter a problem, but our whole attitude could be different and we could still maintain a sense of joy throughout it instead of anxiety.

We overcomplicate things when it’s so simple:

  1. Situation comes
  2. Immediately humble ourselves and seek God
  3. Receive God’s word
  4. Trust and believe what He says
  5. Praise Him in faith
  6. Receive victory

All of these steps are taking our eyes off the problem and on to the ONE solution…..God. I pray today that each of us can turn to God like this. That we can live in that firm faith and trust. And that we can learn to step aside and let God come in.  So the world can see HIM and just how awesome and able He truly is.

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The Struggle

So for about the past month God has been dealing a lot with me about my pride. I don’t remember but I’m sure I’ve mentioned it on here at some point. It’s been a real struggle. I really don’t always feel like this big prideful person. I don’t think I come off that way to people who come across me. But I am. I’m prideful in the way of thinking I can handle all my own stuff. I have a hard time reaching out and asking for help. With even admitting to myself that I need someone else and can’t do life alone is really hard. I’ve gotten a lot better at acknowledging that I need people but I still have a ways to go.

Like I said in a previous post, God gets included in the people that I keep out. Something that He revealed to me this weekend is that it has to do with my attitude when circumstances happen. In my mind I immediately go into a worry state and start figuring out how to solve the problem. My first actual reaction isn’t always to go straight to God with it. And when I do, a lot of times it’s just to tell Him about it and then keep worrying and trying to figure it out. This is me “praying” to Him about it. Part of praying IS pouring out my heart and concerns to God but…..it’s not supposed to be followed by worry. It’s supposed to be followed by proclaiming who God is in the situation. To proclaim God’s promises. Not to rely on my own self to fix it. That’s not fully surrendering anything to Him.

I was reading about Moses yesterday. About when God comes to tell him that he needs to go back to Egypt to lead His people out of slavery. The back and forth between Moses and God is SO like how I am with Him, and I’m sure like many of you can be too. God comes to Moses and says He’s seen the oppression of His people and heard their cries. He says, “I have come down to rescue them from the power of the Egyptians and lead them out of Egypt into their own fertile and spacious land”(Exodus3:8). Notice that He says HE has come to lead them out, doesn’t even mention Moses in it. He then says He’s sending Moses to lead them out along WITH God. So God is saying basically, “I’m going to go rescue my people and I’d like you to go with me.” God has all the power to do it alone but wants to use Moses as a leader to bring it to pass.  Moses’ first and only question back to that was, “who am I to appear before Pharaoh? Who am I to lead the people of Israel out of Egypt?” To which God replies, “I will be with you.”

I just love that. God doesn’t even respond about who Moses is, He just answers all that needs to be said. That God will be with him. Moses is obviously immediately putting the whole weight of what needs to be done on himself and his own identity. And God is saying that all the identity Moses needs is in knowing that God has ALL the strength, ability, and power and that He will be with Him. Moses brings up his own weaknesses and doubts four more times after that. Each time God responds with saying who HE is. Does not even entertain the idea that it has anything to do with Moses or his abilities. God tells him, “I AM WHO I AM.” That “this is my eternal name, my name to remember for all generations.” Meaning that God is unchanging. He doesn’t flake out. He has power to handle a situation that we can’t even understand or comprehend. He is who He says He is.

I get so worried about how I will personally handle something that I don’t even stop to really believe these promises for myself in my own life. I cut off what He is able to do in me and for me by worrying and trying to handle everything myself. I keep saying “but what will I do to fix this? Who am I to handle this?” When He is saying that HE sees it and HE is able to handle it. It’s not about who I am, it’s about who HE is. My identity needs to be in HIS character not my own.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek His will in all you do, and He will show you which path to take.” Proverbs 3:5-6

The Problem With The Wall

I, like a lot of people, struggle with really letting people in. i’m usually not intentionally blocking people out, it happens more like a natural reflex from being hurt in the past & even some recent times. I think a lot of our natural reactions to things is to protect ourselves. I believe that God gave us that reflex for a good & healthy reason because sometimes there are actual times that we shouldn’t trust people. But there are also times that we take that reaction to an unhealthy point. I personally do that a lot. With almost every relationship that I have really. With people who haven’t even given me any reason not to trust them. I just subconsciously assume that they aren’t safe.

For a while, staying in control and not letting people in can feel good & safe. Makes me feel like I’m in control of my own life and that I can handle anything. That I can choose and be in control of who can or cannot affect me. Because if I let people actually emotionally affect me, then they have the ability to hurt me. Which is just complete backwards thinking because the whole reason that I protect myself IS because I am hurt. I continually just try to protect myself from something that has already happened….. Why do we do that? We really are just so deceived in our thinking when we do that.

The problem with that is that, while it feels good in the moment, it leaves me empty and alone in the long run. Having a wall of pride and control up around me blocks out all the real, deep relationships I can be having with God and the people around me who actually do love me. It also keeps IN the hurt. I’m not only just blocking people out, I’m also keeping all the hurt in. There’s no free flow happening. It keeps me from living in TRUE freedom. I become a slave to safety. I keep myself locked inside those walls while the freedom of life is going on outside.

I was reading this morning and came across Matthew 6:33, a scripture that I’ve read probably a thousand times.

“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” 

It jumped out at me in a different way than I had ever seen it before. Normally I think about it like if I continue to live for God and for His purposes then life will go well. Like things will work out. Like that I don’t need to worry about others because God will handle it. That He will handle all life around me. But for some reason I typically don’t really think too much about it for my own inner issues. Most likely because when I live behind a wall I also am keeping God out of there. Because I think I can handle my own issues and just ask for God’s help with everything outside of the wall. I just had to literally pause and just shake my head at myself at that revelation. It’s just so ridiculous to think that I have all this under control and to keep out the ONE that CAN actually do something about my inner struggles. The ONLY ONE that can bring true healing and freedom. Today I saw that He’s saying that if I seek Him first, not me, then HE will provide me with protection, HE will provide me with love. The key is actually believing Him and what He’s promised. To actually believe and trust in His character. With just me inside the wall alone I actually AM letting myself be continually hurt and unprotected. Just the simple fact of being alone in there. I can’t be on high alert at all times when I’m by myself. But if I just at least let HIM in the wall with me, He could then have the opportunity to protect me.

“He will not let you stumble; the one who watches over you will not slumber. Indeed, he who watches over Israel never slumbers or sleeps. The lord himself watches over you! The Lord stands beside you as your protective shade.” Psalm 121:3-5

I may not be able to always stay awake every second and protect my own self, as much as I try, but God NEVER sleeps. I don’t have to protect myself, God is my 24/7 protection. He NEVER sleeps or slumbers. His hand of protection and blessing is ALWAYS on me.