I never recommend anyone to preach a message that is not from their heart. Like a baker kneading the dough to get all the air out... God has to work a message in our heart for it to be shared without a bunch of hot air.
However, there is something to be said about teamwork and learning from one another. I am posting this message ahead of time to encourage the sharing of creative ideas and perhaps to help provide a spring board to help all of us go further in our message prep. Please give your input, feedback, and ideas in the comments.
2 Chronicles 20:1-3
January 8th, 2017
After this, the Moabites and Ammonites with some of the Meunites came to wage war against Jehoshaphat. 2 Some people came and told Jehoshaphat, “A vast army is coming against you from Edom, from the other side of the Dead Sea. It is already in Hazezon Tamar” (that is, En Gedi). 3 Alarmed, Jehoshaphat resolved to inquire of the Lord, and he proclaimed a fast for all Judah
- Desperate times call for desperate measures. You haven’t tried everything until you have fasted and prayed.
God won’t give you more than you can handle is a myth. He won’t give you a temptation without providing help and a way of escape, but he will allow you to be in situations where you are in over your head.
Sometimes the enemy is coming at you from every side and the battle is beyond you.
—> Three enemies aligned, already coming, close by.
—> Vast army signifies an attack to big to handle on your own.
There are some situations the only appropriate response is to fast and pray… in verse 3… the king proclaims a fast for the southern kingdom of Judah… for all those under his care.
The voluntary abstinence from food and/or drink for a designated period of time for the purpose of seeking God more intently concerning specific matters.
Hebrew Term: Tsom Greek Term: Nesteia
IN both instances the meaning is to abstain from food.
PURPOSE: (elmer towns)
Among motives for fasting are
(1) a desire to mortify personal lusts (see 1 Cor. 9:27);
(2) express personal repentance (Jon. 3:5-10)
(3) strengthen personal prayer (Acts 10:3)
Types of Biblical Fasts:
Absolute Fast: No water or food for a short amount of time.
Normal Fast: No food for a specific amount of time.
Partial Fast: Abstaining from a pre-determined set of foods.
Daniel 10:2 At that time I, Daniel, mourned for three weeks. 3 I ate no choice food; no meat or wine touched my lips; and I used no lotions at all until the three weeks were over.
ILLUS: John Wesley tells us in his journal of a similar kind of deliverance in 1756. The king of Britain called for a day of solemn prayer and fasting because of a threatened invasion of the French. Wesley wrote,
The fast day was a glorious day, such as London has scarce seen since the Restoration. Every church in the city was more than full, and a solemn seriousness sat on every face. Surely God heareth prayer, and there will yet be a lengthening of our tranquillity.
Then in a footnote he added later, "Humility was turned into national rejoicing for the threatened invasion by the French was averted.”
3 Alarmed, Jehoshaphat resolved to inquire of the Lord, and he proclaimed a fast for all Judah. 4 The people of Judah came together to seek help from the Lord; indeed, they came from every town in Judah to seek him.
2) Our initial response and continual attitude should be one of prayer and not the usual panic or planning
- Alarmed: A bigger problem than the problem at hand is when we grow accustomed to the problem and no longer sense the urgency of the emergency. We should be alarmed about what is going on around us.
- Inquire and Seek: To synonyms … the first is seek and often with the connotation of seeking for an answer to a question. The second is seeking with more of connotation of seeking.
- Came Together: We can pray on our own, but certain things require a united effort in prayer. They come from every town. IN ACTS 13 the church was praying together in Antioch.
- Seek help and seek him: We are to seek the face of God and not just his hand. But here it is both at the same time.
We should be alarmed in Chicagoland. (if outside the city, the city is still your neighbor and economically related.)
- 750+ murders should alarm us
- 20,000+ abortions in cook county yearly should alarm us
- breakdown of justice system should alarm us
- The inability of the church to reach the next generation should alarm us.
- The OVERALL state of the church in our country should alarm us .. often stats show there is no much difference than the world around us.
WE OFTEN COME to God with our plan and ideas and ask him to bless them. We need to come to the God who does have plans and ask us to bless our efforts to implement them.
WE OFTEN INQUIRE ON OUR OWN. FOR ISSUES BIGGER THAN US, THAT AFFECT ALL OF US, WE NEED TO INQUIRE TOGETHER.
(Jehoshaphat, a huge sacred assembly, some prophets speak.)
What would it look like for the leaders of Chicago to get away and inquire of the Lord what he would have us to do and say together. Not just inquiring for me and my family and my congregation. But us inquiring God for our city.
Jeremiah 10:21The shepherds are senseless and do not inquire of the LORD; so they do not prosper and all their flock is scattered.
Pray Chicago is a coming together to seek God’s help.
v. 15’Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s. … 17 You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you, Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the Lord will be with you.’”
3) Sometimes God involves you in the fight. Other times you just totally fights the battle for you.
David and Goliath: David ran to the battle and had to throw a rock.
1 Samuel 17: 47All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.”
48As the Philistine moved closer to attack him, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet him.
- They did have to stand and go out and face them.
- Go out to face them tomorrow, and the Lord will be with you.’”
- They did put singers on the front lines.
- 21 After consulting the people, Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the Lord and to praise him for the splendor of his[c] holiness as they went out at the head of the army, saying “Give thanks to the Lord for his love endures forever.”
- They did pick up the spoils.
- 24 When the men of Judah came to the place that overlooks the desert and looked toward the vast army, they saw only dead bodies lying on the ground; no one had escaped.
- They did return and worship at the temple.
- There was so much plunder that it took three days to collect it. 26 On the fourth day they assembled in the Valley of Berakah, where they praised the Lord. This is why it is called the Valley of Berakah[e] to this day.
- 27 Then, led by Jehoshaphat, all the men of Judah and Jerusalem returned joyfully to Jerusalem, for the Lord had given them cause to rejoice over their enemies. 28 They entered Jerusalem and went to the temple of the Lord with harps and lyres and trumpets.
21b“Give thanks to the Lord,
for his love endures forever.”
4) Before, during and after, give God praise for His answer.
Prayer and Worship are like a one-two punch in seeking the Lord. The Word of the Lord is like a knockout blow.
Different battle… similar response…. but notice the call for harps:
2 Kings 3:11But Jehoshaphat asked, “Is there no prophet of the Lord here, through whom we may inquire of the Lord?”
An officer of the king of Israel answered, “Elisha son of Shaphat is here. He used to pour water on the hands of Elijah.b ”
14Elisha said, “As surely as the Lord Almighty lives, whom I serve, if I did not have respect for the presence of Jehoshaphat king of Judah, I would not pay any attention to you. 15But now bring me a harpist.”
While the harpist was playing, the hand of the Lord came on Elisha 16and he said, “This is what the Lord says: I will fill this valley with pools of water.
Personal Seeking the Lord… I love some worship music to start my time out.
Corporate Seeking the Lord… where is the guitar player or pianist… bring me one … Let’s get our praise on before we go to battle.
ILLUS: I love the scene from the Movie Glory where the men are singing before battle. “Oh my Lord… Sweet Sweet Lord… hmmm.
ILLUS: Singing walking to the office that could take me out of college due to unpaid school bills. “We are going for the in the Spirit of Elijah.
ILLUS. Singing when was stuck trying to find a location… I gave it over to the Lord he worked it out.