Sometimes this life can wear me out. You? I begin to feel the weight of the burdens assigned to this life: work, keeping a house, meal planning, kids, grocery shopping, bill paying, discipline, church work, the list goes on. The swirling dust of the world begins to choke me. I begin to feel defeated. I need a victory over the darkness I feel creeping in. Do you ever feel that way?
In times like this we need to worship God. There are many ways to worship God, but today I am referring to praise through singing. Now, this may bring about images of church services or jamming out in your car (I often wonder if my kids know what the radio sounds like without me singing along to it). These are good, but let’s break this wide open to understand some of the true power that can be released when we sincerely worship God. Let me tell you a true story that happened long ago. This story is found in 2 Chronicles chapter 20.
Jehoshaphat was king of Judah and was facing a huge problem; a HUGE army in fact. Jehoshaphat had gotten word that an army of multiple countries was coming his way to make war with him and the people of Judah. They were vastly outnumbered and things looked bleak. The king sought help from the Lord. He ordered a fast and gathered the people of the nation together at the temple courtyard in Jerusalem. Jehoshaphat prayed to God, (see verses 6 – 12). The final lines of the prayer: “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.” (That last line is epic.)
While families stood together before the Lord, God spoke through a man named Jahaziel. He told King Jehoshaphat and the people of Judah not to be afraid of this vast army, “Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed at this great horde, for the battle is not yours, but God’s.” (v. 15). After this the people praised and worshiped God.
The time came for the men of Judah to move out toward their enemy:
“And when [Jehoshaphat] had taken counsel with the people, he appointed those who were to sing to the Lord and praise him in holy attire, as they went before the army, and say, ‘Give thanks to the Lord, for his steadfast love endures forever.’ And when they began to sing and praise, the Lord set an ambush against the men of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah, so that they were routed. For the men of Ammon and Moab rose against the inhabitants of Mount Seir, devoting them to destruction, and when they had made an end of the inhabitants of Seir, they all helped to destroy one another. When Judah came to the watchtower of the wilderness, they looked toward the horde, and behold, there were dead bodies lying on the ground; none had escaped.” - 2Chronicles 20:21-24
The worshipers were placed at the head of the army to praise God! When they began to sing, God acted and caused their enemies to fight against each other. By the time the army of Judah arrived, all were dead; that massive army of multiple countries was destroyed. God had fought the battle for them just as he said he would.
Worship from a surrendered heart is undeniably powerful; God’s word provides the proof. When you praise and sing to God in sincerity it causes your heart to move nearer to God’s heart. Psalms 100:2 tells us to “Come into his presence with singing!” We gain access to God through our worship of him!
Worship is how we show our adoration for our God; it is a time of expression of his worthiness and greatness. It reminds us of our desperate need for him - worship places God back in his proper place as Lord of our life.
Ladies, I want you to remember this power the next time you begin to choke on life. Begin worshiping God with a sincere heart - knowing that your words are reaching his ears and that he is working in your life and in your heart as you praise him. He is drawing you nearer to himself as you exalt him - now that is victory!
When I was young my family delivered newspapers for our little one street town of Homestead, Iowa. Each morning bright and early (or dark and early) we would get up, pack the papers into big heavy bags and head out on our bikes to do our route. I have to admit my older brother and sister did this much more than I did, but I did my share and still have many memories of it. It was one of those “character building” experiences that are required when growing up.
One summer morning my Dad was helping me get the last few papers delivered; we were both on our bikes. There had been a hard rain the night before and you could still smell it in the air. Drowned worms were all over the road and I would swerve to miss them.
I remember riding by the town feed store and seeing up ahead a huge toad in the middle of the road. Once I spotted him I couldn’t take my eyes off of that ugly thing; I felt like he was staring at me and I was staring at him. Wasn’t he going to move? My bike felt unstoppable as it traveled my exact line of sight, exactly where I didn’t want it to go…“SPLAT!” I rode right over the middle of that bloated toad. I can still hear the sound of it exploding into a squishy and disgusting mess all over the street and my bike too.
I then did what every young girl would have done after that, jumped off my bike and ran to my Dad screaming and sobbing. Dad did what every caring father would have done after that, held me in his arms and laughed his head off. Telling me between huge chuckles that the toad had been dead already and that I had the entire road to travel on, why didn’t I just go around it?
My Dad still laughs at this story to this day, over 20 years later. You just ask him and you’ll see.
As gross as it may be, it provides a great illustration for how we often handle the problems we face in life.
That bloated toad = anything bad, difficult or ugly in your life. Once we have our sights set on it, we have trouble seeing or thinking about anything else. Often we think we can handle it fine on our own, only calling on God if we need to (that would be considered a drastic measure reserved only for emergencies). Yet, this never seems to work out right. We seem to keep running smack dab back into that toad every time, making a horrible mess of things.
Here is the problem: when we focus on the problem we begin to orbit around it and allow it to have a gravitational pull on us. We use the desire to avoid the sin as the reason to alter our behaviors. We try to do this using our own strength.
Is your struggle with lust? You then try to keep all of those temptations at arm’s length as you circle around it. Eventually you fail and are in a mess again. Marriage issues? Focus on the problems, try harder and it will work out. Ha! Right. Using these strategies makes as much sense as being on a diet and staring at chocolate cake all day.
The fix: we MUST refocus our sights - take our eyes off the problem and place them squarely on the solution; off the toad and onto Jesus Christ.
2 Corinthians 4:18 says it like this, “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (NIV) We need to keep our eyes set on Jesus, the only possible solution to heart problems (which all of these are). He is the only one who can fix our heart issues, we certainly can’t, no matter how hard we work at it or how many therapists we see.
God allows these toads in your life for good reason; he wants your attention for sanctification. Some of us are slow learners and deal with many toads in life. All the while Jesus is saying, “Hello? Look at me! You need me to get you through this. Quit giving attention to your sin and turn around and let me save you from it.”
I ran into that toad because I was looking right at it. If I had looked past it to where I wanted to go, I would have missed it altogether. Where do you want to go? If you are a “follower of Jesus” then you need to keep your eyes on the one you say you are following!
Let me tell you, all issues, anxieties and obstacles look mighty puny next to a huge God.
No wonder Jesus remarks many times in scripture about how little faith we have!
We can’t be aware of the might and power of our God when we have our eyes set on earthly toads. Time to start looking up. Call on God in prayer and get into his Word.
Our heart often travels where our eyes lead it. Your sight matters. “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light,” Matthew 6:22. I enCOURAGE you to get your sight checked today.