FIRST Focus

Worship is often considered our personal response to God for what He has done for us in the past. Have you ever responded with worship to God for what He would do in the future; before He had actually done anything? This would be our response of faith that flows from confident prayer to God for His will to be done in our life personally, both present and future. A question worth considering; are we more prone to worship after God has delivered us from our enemies or are we as engaged in worship before He delivers us from our enemies? The Church is praying more today for the present circumstances in this nation, its communities, and its social structure than it has in many years simply because the structure of our nation is being threatened more than it has been in recent history. In our prayers for these critical issues, are we, the Church, responding with worship toward God? Are we engaging in worship as though God had already answered our prayers and delivered us from our enemies? Enemies that would seek to destroy everything that God considers foundationally necessary for a nation and its people to thrive? There is a scripture in the Old Testament book of Second Chronicles that speaks directly to this subject. The Bible says, "And Jehoshaphat bowed his head with his face to the ground, and all of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem bowed before the LORD. Worshiping the LORD. Then the Levites of the children of the Kohathites and of the children of the Korahites stood up to praise the LORD God of Israel with voices loud and high." 2 Chronicles 20:18-19 That makes little sense unless we better understand the circumstances that King Jehoshaphat and Jerusalem were facing. Israel's enemies, particularly the Ammonites and Moabites had joined forces to come against Jerusalem and the people of God. According to chapter 20:2, the number of them was exceedingly large. Beginning with King Jehoshaphat, the people of Judah gathered to ask help from the Lord. (They came together, and prayed--a problem caused them to pray--a great thing!) During this prayer meeting, the prophet Jahaziel, the son of Zechariah spoke to the King and the people of Judah, "thus says the LORD to you: do not be afraid nor dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours, but God's...you will not need to fight in this battle. Position yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of the LORD, who is with you, O Judah, and Jerusalem! Do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them, for the LORD is with you. And Jehoshaphat bowed his head with his face to the ground and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem bowed before the LORD, worshiping the LORD. Then the Levites of the children of the Kohathites and of the children of the Korahites stood up to praise the LORD God of Israel with voices loud and high." 2 Chronicles 20:14-19 God's people were facing an overwhelming number who were coming against them, but were not overcome because they came together for prayer and worshiped God from a position of confident faith that God alone would deliver them. They worshiped God BEFORE He delivered them from their enemies! 2 Chronicles 20:21-23 say, "And when he (King Jehoshaphat) had consulted with the people, he appointed those who should sing to the LORD, and who should praise the beauty of holiness as they went out before the army and were saying, 'Praise the LORD, for His mercy endures forever.' Now when they began to sing and to praise, the LORD set an ambush against the people of Ammon, Moab and Mount Seir to (get this) utterly kill and destroy them." Notice, the worshipers of God preceded the army of God and the victory that God gave them over their enemies! Prayer and praise preceded swords and spears! Are we not facing similar circumstances today? Circumstances that warrant coming together for prayer and worship? Believers should respond to God in worship, knowing we are saved and that God fights for them in our present battles. It's been said, 'anyone can worship after the battle is over and victory secured but how many worship God before?' How often do we as God's people today come together in worship knowing that God will see us through the difficult battle that is being waged in the present? Is victory in Jesus something that happened in our past? Or is victory in Jesus something we experience when facing the enemies of the present? The enemies of God appear to be on the offensive today and the Church seems to be on the defensive. This is not a time to panic and be fearful. This is our time to follow the patterns of the faithful who have gone before us and come together for prayer. We should come boldly before the throne of God through Christ (Hebrews 4:16) if we hope to find mercy and help in time of need. We must come with thanksgiving and praise concerning the victory that God has and is about to provide all who trust Him! Each of us have an opportunity to follow what has repeatedly been proven when facing the enemies multiple times each week, both privately and corporately. If we refuse to come together, we will surely drift apart and miss the opportunity for worship. If you're serious about seeing the enemies of the LORD defeated and utterly destroyed in the present struggle between right and wrong, the way of victory is not realized by armies of men but rather through God's people coming together in worship that releases the army of God. Battles abound today on many fronts. Some are seen. Most aren't, at least directly (Ephesians 6:12). Only the effect of those battles are seen and felt. And that is certain to continue until Jesus comes back to the earth and the hosts of heaven with Him. When you compare what God did then to what God can do now, nothing has changed on His end. Same God, same greatness, same goal, same grace. Has something changed on our end or in our heart? It's worth examining because the enemy is not getting any smaller or less timid. Praise and worship will go a long way in reminding us that God is and has always been larger! In Christ, Pstr K Jeremiah 29:11