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Bible Order: Psalms 92–100
Chronological Order: Obadiah 1, Psalms 82-83
New Testament Only: Acts 6

Stand Firm

2 Chronicles 20–21

Men - GlowJehoshaphat, the king of Judah, tried to do the right thing but as with every single human being in the Bible, save one, he stumbled.  The king of Israel, Ahab, asked him to go to war with him and Jehoshaphat wisely asked for a word from the Lord.  He was shrewd enough to realize that he wasn’t getting the real story from Ahab’s prophets; how could he when the Israelite kings had run all of the priests of God out of the country.  Evidently there was still one prophet of the one true God left in Israel and he plainly said that Israel would lose the battle.  Jehoshaphat went anyway.

I can understand Ahab not listening to the prophet of God.  He and his father had decided long ago not to follow God.  Jehoshaphat, however, did follow God.  Why didn’t he follow in this instance?  Why did he go along with Ahab when the prophet he asked for told him it would end badly?  Why ask for the guy in the first place?  Was it peer pressure; he didn’t want to look weak in front of the king and people of Israel?  Did he want to go along to get along?

This is exactly how some of us get into trouble today.  We don’t want to look bad to others.  We don’t want to look like a stick in the mud.  We want to get along with everyone.  We don’t want to offend.  Brothers, I don’t want to offend.  But if I have to choose between obeying God and offending then I am going to offend.  Jesus offended people.  He told them things they didn’t want to hear.  Was He hateful?  No, but He didn’t shy away from the truth either.  Jesus told them what they needed to hear.  I wonder if Ahab would have gone to war against Syria if Jehoshaphat had said no.  By saying no could Jehoshaphat have saved Ahab and thousands of his people?  Sometimes going along so as to keep from offending leads to the injury of those you wish not to offend.

How?  Have you ever hesitated to share the Gospel for fear of offending?  Have you laughed at a crude joke or gutter conversations because you didn’t want to offend or feel out of place?  I’m ashamed to admit that I have.  At that point, am I letting the light of Christ shine through me or am I letting Satan put a bushel over that light?  Am I affecting the world or is the world affecting me?  If I can’t shine the light of Christ in those situations then I have a lot of spiritual growing up to do and I need to do it quickly.  If I’m too immature to be in those situations then I can’t allow myself to be in those situations.  The problem is I am called to be in those situations so something has to give.  What has to give is my fear of offending.  What needs to happen is they need to be afraid of offending me.

Don’t get me wrong guys, I don’t need to rant and rave to make them hesitate to go to a smutty place when I’m around.  All I have to do when in a group that is doing the wrong thing is to frown, shake my head, turn around and walk away.  Frankly, if I do just that, I will have said more without words than shouting ever would.  Another approach is to say “Hey guys, that kind of talk makes me very uncomfortable.  I’d appreciate it if you wouldn’t talk that way around me.”  I have found myself in a work environment where I couldn’t walk away, and because the individual was my boss speaking to a group I felt that I couldn’t say anything; at least at that moment.  Do you know that simply responding to a dirty joke with an unresponsive face can take the air out of a person telling those jokes?  Believe it or not, if the audience doesn’t laugh the comedian moves on to different jokes.

It’s that simple.  By not acting as the world I can make the world uncomfortable.  That will cause some to change.  It will cause others to get angry.  Jesus told us the world will hate us because it hated Him first.  Frankly, I’m beginning to think that if I am not offending someone every once in awhile I am probably not witnessing for Christ.  Let me ask you something.  Do you think the people you work with know you are a Christian?  I mean if you haven’t told them already, would they know you are a child of the living God?  Remember there are plenty of “nice” lost people so being known as a nice guy doesn’t mean they will view you as a Christian.

We tend to be afraid to say to someone “Hey do you know Jesus Christ?”  Many times we will excuse ourselves from blatant witnessing by convincing ourselves that we will lead more people to Christ by our example than our words.  Okay.  How’s that working?  Do people even know you are a Christian?  I have to think that living in such a way so that people know you are a Christian is the bare minimum.  That’s kind of Christianity 101.  You’ll quickly need to mature to blatant witnessing, but at the very least the lost should know where you stand.

Don’t go around telling people you are a Christian and then laugh at their dirty jokes and cuss a blue streak.  When you do that you are telling them they don’t need a Savior.  Why would anyone need a Savior if having one makes no difference in one’s life?  You are to be different.  You are to stand out.  You are to offend in the way Christ offended.  By doing so you may actually bring someone to a saving knowledge of Christ and that is so much better than giving them a meaningless laugh for a filthy joke.

One bit of scripture from today’s reading really stuck out to me.  It was the last two sentences of verse 12 in chapter 20 of 2 Chronicles.

2 Chronicles 20:12 ESV

“…For we are powerless against this great horde that is coming against us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.”

As I mentioned above, Jesus told us the world would hate us.  There is no question we are outnumbered in a lost and dying world.  In our own strength and wisdom we are powerless against the lost; we can’t possibly know what to do.  If, however, we keep our eyes on Christ, if we keep our minds on His Word, He will guide us and reveal His power through us.  We must remain attached to the vine if we hope to withstand the great horde.

The verse above was part of Jehoshaphat’s prayer to God in face of overwhelming odds.  I love God’s response through one of the people present at the prayer.

2 Chronicles 20:15 ESV

“…Thus says the Lord to you, ‘Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed at this great horde, for the battle is not yours but God’s.”

You see, when we seek Him and put our trust in Him we don’t have to fight the battle; He fights it for us through us.  Our problem is we don’t understand how to let go and let God.  This isn’t sitting back and doing nothing.  The directions God gave the people of Judah included telling them to go down against the enemy.  He told them they wouldn’t have to fight but they would have to show up.  He told them this:

2 Chronicles 20:17 ESV

“You will not need to fight in this battle. Stand firm, hold your position, and see the salvation of the Lord on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem.’ Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed. Tomorrow go out against them, and the Lord will be with you.”

Men, stand firm and hold your position.  You are a child of the King.  You are His ambassador.  You are His light in a dark and dying world.  You are not alone and you are not powerless.  Tomorrow go out against the world, hold your position and know the Lord will be with you!  Stand firm!

Have a blessed day!

Your brother and servant in Christ,

Bill

Dying to self, living to serve!

(Originally posted 5/18/10)

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