Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Don't Wait Until the Battle is Over!

I love gospel music, especially when it helps you to recall God’s Word and promises (I know it all should, but that’s a different topic). Today, I’ve been humming this old song with the words, “Don’t wait until the battle is over; shout now. You know in the end, you’re gonna win.” I love this song because it reminds me of a very powerful story about steps we can take to get victory during a battle.

The actions of Jehoshaphat, a ruler of Judah, gives us important steps to take when we are under attack from the enemy. When Jehoshaphat learns that the children of Moab and Ammon were going to attack, he immediately proclaims a fast in all of Judah. He doesn’t want the people to have any distractions from seeking the Lord in prayer. He reminds God of His promises to the people and says, “neither know we what to do: but our eyes are upon thee” (2 Chronicles 20:12). In times of intense pressure, we need to really separate ourselves from anything that hinders us from the Lord and keep our eyes focused on Him.

When all the people of Judah are gathered together in prayer, Jahaziel, a Levite, prophesies saying, “Be not afraid nor dismayed by reason of this great multitude; for the battle is not yours, but God’s” (II Chron. 20:15). He goes on to tell them, “Ye shall not need to fight in this battle; set yourselves, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord with you. O Judah and Jerusalem: fear not, nor be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them; for the Lord will be with you” (II Chron. 20:17). Sometimes all we need to do is recognize that the battle is not ours to fight; it’s the Lord’s.

After hearing the word from the Lord, Jehoshaphat and all the people of Judah fell on their faces and worshipped God. Jehoshaphat implores the people to believe God’s word and appoints singers to the Lord “that they should praise and the beauty of holiness, as they went out before the army, and to say, Praise the Lord; for his mercy endureth forever” (II Chron. 20: 21).

When the singers begin to sing and praise God, the two enemies turn against each other in utter confusion, killing each other until not one of them was alive. What a testimony of faith and trust in God! Worship and praise can be a weapon that we use to cause the enemy to scatter. When you are backed in a corner and don’t know what to do, praise Him. You’re not necessarily thanking God for the situation, but praising Him because He’s already promised in His Word that we are victorious! Hallelujah!

Sometimes, we can be so heavy burdened with pressure, heartache, and fear that we don’t want to praise Him with our lips. Fight against your feelings and emotions! We need to use our instruments of praise, especially in the midst of the battle if we want to win. We need to praise Him, whether it’s clapping our hands, using our voices, or playing instruments. There’s actually a scripture that tells us to shout with a loud voice. We are instructed to praise Him, knowing and trusting that in the end we will win.
After the Lord gave Jehoshaphat and his people the victory, they found so many riches (jewels, clothes, weapons, and food), that it took them three days to gather it, and the riches were in the midst of the dead bodies. When you praise your way through, you will get your reward and the enemy will be your footstool!

I feel so excited by this message that I could shout—seriously! The bottom line is that any attack on Judah was an attack against God. As believers, an attack against us is an attack against God and He has already won the battle. Whatever that thing is that has got you fearful, bound, depressed, or in dismay, don’t focus on how big and bad situation or problem is. Focus of how big and great God is! Praise Him in advance. I know personally there is deliverance and blessings in your praise.

Don’t forget to drop us a line on the Abiding in the Vine message board or on the blog at www.MaRitaTeague.blogspot.com If you know someone that may be blessed by the devotions, be sure to tell them to add the group on their Facebook page or on the blog.

Praising Through With You,

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Fear of Flying

Several years ago I took a flight that horrified me. I was taken off guard because I had been flying almost of my life and had never been fearful of flying. In the midst of a wind storm, the plain plummeted mercilessly. It would level off for a few moments and then shake and drop again. I prayed silently, and grabbed my husband’s hand as he tried to comfort me. It wasn’t much good because I just didn’t want to die that way. (I’m not scared to die, but there are just certain things that seem a little more frightening than others.) I gasped for air, nearly hyperventilating until I wept as the wheels hit the runway safely, resolved to never fly again.

I’ve often wondered how many of us can circumvent the areas where we are fearful to exercise our faith. What happens when we can’t avoid the areas where we are lacking in faith?

I often think about Peter walking on the water. Jesus said, “Come.” Peter responded in faith and walked out onto the sea. The scripture goes on to say, “But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid, and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord save me” (Matt. 14:30). Peter takes his eyes off of Jesus, sees the ferocity of the wind and begins to sink.

During a storm or in the heat of the battle, we don’t want to be like Peter and lose focus. When we lose our spiritual sight and see only the bleakness of our situation, we will begin to sink. When we are fearful and sinking, Satan has a stronghold in our lives that ultimately can destroy us if we let it.

The good news is that we can rise above fearful situation when we chose to exercise our faith in the Lord. He is there for us and will never let us down. Notice that Peter calls Jesus in his distress, “And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?”

It can be so tempting to put our trust in family members, friends, doctors, pilots, etc. However, maintaining our faith in the midst of adversity is absolutely crucial to our growth and maturity as a believer. When we build up our faith in Him, especially through adverse situations, we can rest in Him (See Hebrews 4-13).

Trusting in our own efforts or anyone else’s can cause us to be in danger of turning away from the faith because our efforts are never sufficient. It also leads to anxiety, disappointment and depression. Only Christ can settle us and give us the peace and rest we all need to make it through stressful situations.

Jesus says, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27). Peace that the world gives is fleeting because it’s only when there are no problems or conflict, which is an impossible state to stay in. However, the peace that Jesus gives to His believers is not contingent on whether conflict or problems are absent or present. His peace truly does surpass all understanding.

Isaiah 26:3 says, “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.” We can have God’s perfect peace regardless of the turmoil that might be going on in our lives. He can keep us centered, stable, and steadfast if we keep our focus on him. When he’s not just first in our lives, but the center of our lives, we can rest, knowing that he’s sovereign and got it all in control.

I’ve been on several flights since then. Admittedly, I still have to pray my way through, but I am determined to be totally delivered from the fear. I know that we have the victory over all of Satan’s attacks if we simply exercise our faith and know—we aren’t going to sink or plummet to the ground!

Why not share your testimony about how your faith gave you peace and helped you through an adverse situation? We are overcome by the words of our testimony! Drop us a line on the Abiding in the Vine Group message board or on www.MaRitaTeague.blogspot.com

Blessings and Peace,