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Phase 1: Hear Directly from GodIn 2 Chronicles 20:1, several types of “- ites” came against King Jehoshaphat and the people of Judah—the Moabites, the Ammonites, and the Meunites. In other places in the Old Testament, the Jebusites, the Hittites, and the Canaanites were the troublemakers for God’s people. Today, as Christians, we face the other kinds of “- ites”—the fear-ites, disease-ites, stress-ites, poverty-ites, bad marriage-ites, grouchy neighbor-ites, insecurity-ites, rejection-ites,and others.
So let me ask you: Are the “- ites” after you? How many things are coming against you right now? To help you know how to deal with them, let’s look at what King Jehoshaphat did when faced with his enemies. He turned his attention to God instead of focusing on all the “- ites” that were trying to defeat him, destroy him, and take over his kingdom.
It was told Jehoshaphat, A great multitude has come against you from beyond the [Dead] Sea, from Edom; and behold, they are in Hazazon-tamar, which is En-gedi. Then Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself [determinedly, as his vital need] to seek the Lord; he proclaimed a fast in all Judah. 2 Chronicles 20:2–3
When Jehoshaphat heard the “- ites” were coming against him, the first thing he did was fear. But then he did something else: He set himself to seek the Lord. Determined to hear from God, he even proclaimed a fast throughout the land for that very purpose. He knew he needed to hear from God. He needed a battle plan, and only God could give him one guaranteed to succeed. Phase 1 of God’s battle plan is to combat fear by hearing from God. Romans 10:17 teaches us that “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (NKJV). This verse is not referring to the written Word of God, but to the spoken word of God, called rhema in Greek (the original language of the New Testament). In other words, when we hear God’s word, faith fills our hearts and drives fear away. Jehoshaphat knew he had to hear from God, and you and I have the same need.
God may speak to us by giving us peace deep inside, giving us a creative idea, calming our troubled emotions, or filling our hearts with the calm assurance that Phase 1: Hear Directly from God 5 everything is going to be okay in a certain situation. In 1989, I needed to hear God in these ways. I went to the doctor for a regular checkup. He discovered a small lump in my breast and wanted me to have a biopsy immediately. I did not think it would be anything serious, but the test showed a fast-growing type of cancer, and the doctors highly recommended immediate surgery. I remember walking down the hallway in my house, with fear hitting me so strongly I felt I was going to fall to the floor. My knees actually felt they were about to buckle under me. Every night when I went to bed, I had a hard time going to sleep. When I did sleep, it was not a good, restful sleep; it was fitful. Every so often, I woke up, and when I did, fears were pounding at my mind.
Cancer is a word that usually brings great fear. No matter how many friends or family members told me God would take care of it, I still battled fear until early one morning, about 3:00 a.m., God spoke deep in my heart and gave me assurance that He would take care of me. After that, I did not experience that sickening, crippling feeling of fear again.
After my surgery, I was apprehensive as I waited for the results of tests on my lymph nodes to see if I would need further treatment, but I still knew I was in God’s hands, and whatever happened, He would take care of me. As it turned out, I did not need any further treatment.
We actually realized that, through early detection, God had saved my life. I ended up thankful instead of fearful. Look to God, Not to a Method
When Jehoshaphat heard a huge army was amassing against Judah, he knew what to do and what not to do. He did not seek advice from other people—friends, family members, or even brilliant military advisors; he was determined to hear from God.
Jehoshaphat had probably been involved in other battles previously, so why didn’t he just use some of the same methods he had used before? No matter how many times something has worked in the past, it may not solve a current crisis unless God empowers it in a fresh, new way. He may allow an old method to be effective, but He may also give us direction we have never had before. We must always look to God, not to methods. God does use methods, but they have no power unless He works through them. Focusing on a method is just as unwise and ineffective as focusing on our fears. Our focus, our source of supply, must be God—and God alone. Our answers are not in methods; they are in relationship with God.
Jehoshaphat knew that unless he heard from God, he would be defeated. That need to hear from the Lord is what the Amplified Bible calls his “vital need” (2 Chronicles 20:3). Some things we can do without; others are vital and necessary. Jehoshaphat knew God’s direction was vital.
You may be in a situation similar to Jehoshaphat’s. You, too, may need a word or clear leading from God. You may feel that, like a drowning person, you are going under for the last time. You may desperately need a word from the Lord if you are going to survive.
Be encouraged. God wants to speak to you even more than you want to hear from Him. Seek Him, not a method, by giving Him your time and attention, and you will not be disappointed.
Show God You’re Sincere
Jehoshaphat proclaimed a fast in all Judah, and the people gathered to seek the Lord for help, yearning for Him with all their desire.
And Judah gathered together to ask help from the Lord; even out of all the cities of Judah they came to seek the Lord [yearning for Him with all their desire]. And Jehoshaphat stood in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem in the house of the Lord before the new court and said, O Lord, God of our fathers, are You not God in heaven? 2 Chronicles 20:4–6 Jehoshaphat proclaimed a fast to show his sincerity to God. When we have a problem, it is good to spend extra time with God, perhaps using the time we would spend eating or watching television to pray and seek God’s wisdom.
Instead of spending an evening with friends telling them all about your troubles and asking for their advice, use that time to go to God first. These types of actions show that you know hearing from God is vital. I have learned that to seek means to pursue, crave, and go after something with all your might. In other words, a person who seeks is like a starving man in search of food to keep himself alive. The process of seeking is that intense.
Talk to God About Himself
Instead of immediately presenting his problem to the Lord, Jehoshaphat began to talk to the Lord about how mighty He is. He turned his focus to the Lord instead of keeping it on his problem. O Lord, God of our fathers, are You not God in heaven? And do You not rule over all the kingdoms of the nations? In Your hand are power and might, so that none is able to withstand You. 2 Chronicles 20:6
Instead of talking to God only about our problems, we need to talk to Him about Himself—about Who He is, about the power of His name and the power of the blood of His Son Jesus, about the great things He has done and what He can do. After we have praised and worshipped Him this way, we can begin to mention our troubles. We should enter God’s presence with thanksgiving and come into His courts with praise (see Psalm 100:4).
When I think about this, I think of my children. I wouldn’t want them to run in the front door and tell me what they need without even saying, “Hello, Mom, how are you?” I would not want them to only spend time with me or pay attention to me when they had problems. I want them to fellowship with me often. The same principle applies to us with God. We don’t want to be people who seek Him only when we are in trouble, but we need to fellowship with Him all the time.
God called Abraham His friend. That’s who I want to be too—a person who spends time with Him when things are going well and when they are not. The Lord is not just our problem solver; He is our everything, and we need to relate to Him that way.
“Now, Lord, Behold Our Problem”
If we pay attention to what the Lord is saying through 2 Chronicles 20:7–11, we will learn something that will change our battle plan. It will give us a new way of dealing with our problems for the rest of our lives and make a way for victory after victory.
Did not You, O our God, drive out the inhabitants of this land before Your people Israel and give it forever to the descendants of Abraham Your friend? They dwelt in it and have built You a sanctuary in it for Your Name, saying, If evil comes upon us, the sword of judgment, or pestilence, or famine, we will stand before this house and before You—for Your Name [and the symbol of Your presence] is in this house—and cry to You in our affliction, and You will hear and save. And now behold, the men of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir, whom You would not let Israel invade when they came from the land of Egypt, and whom they turned from and did not destroy—behold, they reward us by coming to drive us out of Your possession which You have given us to inherit. 2 Chronicles 20:7–11
After starting his prayer by acknowledging how great, awesome, powerful, and wonderful the Lord is, Jehoshaphat began relating specific mighty acts God had performed in the past to protect His people and to uphold His promises to them. And in finally presenting his request, he began by expressing his confidence that the Lord would handle the problem. Jehoshaphat said basically, “Oh, by the way, our enemies are coming against us to try to take away the possession for our inheritance. I just thought I would mention this little problem. But You are so great, I know You already have it all under control.” I have often heard that our praises should outnumber our petitions, and I totally agree.
We can and should always ask God for what we need, but I don’t think all of our prayer time should be filled with what we need. We should always include praise, worship, thanksgiving, and intercession for others. God has a plan for our deliverance before our problems ever appear. He is not surprised when trouble comes. He is not in Heaven wringing His hands trying to figure out what to do. He’s in control. Our part is to focus on Him and His mighty power, worshipping Him and praising Him for the manifestation of His solution and listening for a word of direction from Him.
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