Monday, May 27, 2019

The Memorial Price Exodus 30:11-16

The Memorial Price

Text: Exodus 30:11-16

Power Point Link
Introduction: Which Service?
One Sunday morning, the pastor noticed little Alex was staring up at the large plaque that hung in the foyer of the church.  The plaque was covered with names, and small American flags were mounted on either side of it.

The seven-year old had been staring at the plaque for some time, so the pastor walked up, stood beside the boy, and said quietly, " Good morning Alex."

"Good morning pastor," replied the young man , still focused on the plaque.

" Pastor McGhee, what is this?" Alex asked. "Well , son, it's a memorial to all the young men and women who died in the service."

Soberly, they stood together, staring at the large plaque. The Pastor sensed that some strong questions were running through the boys mind and he prepared himself to answer them as best he could.

Little Alex's voice was barely audible when he asked, " Pastor?”

“Yes, son.”

“Did they die in the morning or the evening service?”

Counting the Cost Exodus 30:11-12

And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying when thou takest the sum of the children of Israel after their number, then shall they give every man a ransom for his soul unto the LORD, when thou numberest them; that there be no plague among them, when thou numberest them.

The Command

In this section of Exodus the Lord is instructing Moses in the building and preparation of the tabernacle, the place that would serve as the meeting place between God and His people. The tabernacle would stand at the center of their camp and would serve as a rally point for the people of God during times of crisis or celebration.

This particular part of the preparation of the tabernacle is unique in that the silver taken from the men of the tribes of Israel was not voluntary as were the other gifts of gold, linen, and bronze. This was in a sense a tax, each man had to give a small amount of silver as commanded by God.

We know this wasn’t voluntary because the Lord tells Moses that he should count the people and then they shall give every man a ransom for his soul unto the Lord. He also says the this would be done so that there would be no plague among them.

What exactly is God commanding and what did He mean to collect this ransom from every man in order to avoid the plague?

The word ransom in Hebrew is kofer. It translated 8 times in the KJV as ransom. It comes from a word that means “cover” and 3 times in translated as pitch that would be used to cover a vessel or basket and make it repel water, like the ark or the very basket that Mose had been placed in as a baby.

The word used here, as a ransom for souls, does not mean that they were giving money in order to be saved. Instead, as we will see later in the passage, the silver given is a reminder of the unholiness of Israel's nature, that by nature it was alienated from God. This payment in silver and the use of that silver later was a reminder, a memorial, that they were in covenant with the Lord and in a relationship with him on the ground of His grace, which covered their sin. (– paraphrased from The Wycliffe Bible Commentary.)

Centuries later this is the money that Jesus had Peter take from the fishes mouth and pay to the Temple.

This tribute was to be paid as a ransom of the soul, that there might be no plague among them.  Hereby they acknowledged that they received their lives from God,  that they had forfeited their lives to him,  and that they depended upon his power and patience for the continuance of them; and thus they did homage to the God of their lives,  and deprecated those plagues which their sins had deserved. – Matthew Henry

The tribute money was an acknowledgment of the grace God had given them, it was not a purchase of forgiveness. Such an idea is an abhorrence to everything the Bible teaches us about salvation, but the idea of every man giving because of what God has already done through grace is exactly what the Bible does teach. That is what we see happening here.

So let’s see how we as people who no longer have a tabernacle or a temple and in fact not even any real silver can apply this to our Christian life today.

The Commitment

The Lord said there were two reasons why they were to give.

First, the tribute was to be given as an acknowledgment of salvation, but I believe also it was in recognition of all the blessings given to us by God through the relationship we share with him.

Secondly, they also gave in order to prevent a plague, a punishment, because of their refusal to obey the Lord and pay the price commanded by God.

For us the application is that each person is to pay the price, each person is to give because of what God has given and in order to prevent the lose of future blessing and indeed the punishment of God.
It has often been said that freedom is not free, this is true. True when we are talking about our nation and true when we are talking about our freedom in Christ. We enjoy the benefits, but it cost a great deal to bring us that freedom. The tribute, the part that each of us is called upon to give, is a reminder of what has already been given to us and now must be given by us with the understanding that if I refuse, there is a terrible price to pay in the future. In doing our part, in paying our own price, we acknowledge the grace of God and the price paid by those who have gone before us as well as the price that is necessary now to continue in the blessings of God.

If we quit paying the price, we lose that which the generations before us have paid with their lives blood. Whether it be political freedom or the work of the gospel, both have been bought and paid for with shed blood, broken backs and battered spirits. The next generation and those who follow will not have the blessings we now enjoy unless each of us is willing to make the commit to pay the price.

Illustration: Hold the Rope

There is a famous missionary story that involves William Carey, the father of modern missions, and a group of men who met with him in at a farewell service in 1793 to pledge that “they should never cease till death to stand by him.”

Andrew Fuller was one of those men, and he described the occasion with an analogy. He said that the mission to India seemed like a few men who considered going into a deep, unexplored mine. To Fuller, it was as if Carey said, “I will go down, if you will hold the rope.” The meeting, in Fuller’s mind, was as if he and the other brethren gave their word that “whilst we lived, we should never let go the rope.”

Let me expand the analogy to us today, it applies to missions and missionaries still but I want you go think of that rope, as our part, our giving, our commitment. We grasp that rope by what we do today and it not only joins us with the freedom we have today but it also links us with the past and it secure the future. As long as we are committed to hold fast that rope, then we grasp the blessings of the past and help to insure those blessing into the future.

That is our commitment, that is our part, that is our price.

Reckoning the Ransom Exodus 30:13-15

This they shall give, every one that passeth among them that are numbered, half a shekel after the shekel of the sanctuary: (a shekel is twenty gerahs:) an half shekel shall be the offering of the LORD. 

 Every one that passeth among them that are numbered, from twenty years old and above, shall give an offering unto the LORD.  The rich shall not give more, and the poor shall not give less than half a shekel, when they give an offering unto the LORD, to make an atonement for your souls.

Every Man Blessed, Every Man To Give

Moses was told that each man was to give, Half a shekel as the ransom price. Each was to pay the same whether rich or poor the offering was still half a shekel. Most commentators think this amount was about 50 cents in comparison to our currency today. It would be an amount that every man would have in his power to pay.

By this qualification of the command the Lord was simply saying each person was to pay their fair share. The rich did not pay more, the poor did not pay less. God viewed them all as equal in His sight. This gift was within the ability of everyman to do his part, as they had all been blessed by God equally than all should give equally.

Equally Blessed, Equally Commanded

Proverbs 22:2 The rich and poor meet together: the LORD is the maker of them all. (Now there’s a description of a Baptist church. Except the part about the rich, of course.)

As Proverbs says and as this passage shows, in God’s eyes, in this payment there was no difference between rich and poor. Other offerings were by ability and were proportionally like the tithe but this was not an offering and it was not to be reckoned as percentage, instead it was a set price.

The reason for this equal and set price is stated in vs. 15 “to make atonement for your souls.”

The money was to be paid by every man over 20 and it represented God’s redemption, his atonement of the nation of Israel. In that nation every soul was precious to God, every soul was of equal worth to God and every soul that had been blessed by God was to be pay this tribute at the same price.

This graphically tells us that God is no respecter of persons but views all as equally needy and equally loved in His sight. Rich or poor, great or small, famous or obscure all are bought with the same priceless gift of the shed blood of Jesus Christ.

This is what we read in Romans 3:22-26  …for there is no difference:  For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;  Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:  Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.

In the wilderness, each man of the Hebrews was to and equal price, for all had benefitted from the redemption of Israel from Egypt. In the same way each of us should be willing to give back to God, because each one of us have been saved and blessed by God’s gift to us in his Son Jesus Christ. Our gift is given because we remember the great gift of salvation.

Illustration: This Do In Remembrance Of Me

There is another very graphically reminder of giving and memorials that we seen in the Lord’s supper. For the church it the most important memorial given to reminds us of what Christ has sacrifice for us. It serves the same purpose of all memorials, tying the past, the present and the future together. Jesus said, “this do in remembrance of me.” Paul added the purpose of the memorial, “For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come.”

This is the reason for every memorial and it our calling, our duty to do our part, give our share, pay the price to continue that memorial. Without the memorial we will lose both the past and the future.

Transition: Finally lets see how that God would take this tribute money and use it to build a memorial for Israel.

Making a Memorial Exodus 30:16

And thou shalt take the atonement money of the children of Israel, and shalt appoint it for the service of the tabernacle of the congregation; that it may be a memorial unto the children of Israel before the LORD, to make an atonement for your souls.

Memorial in the Wilderness Then

The Money was used to build and service the tabernacle, which would be a memorial for them in the years to come. The silver used in the tabernacle, taken from their gift,  be a reminder of the Children of Israel before God, the Bible says,  that would make atonement for their souls. The money was used to purchase the offerings and the implements of those offerings for the benefit of all the nation of Israel. This money paid to the Tabernacle and later the Temple, did not buy their redemption but instead it was given as a memorial that would that would continue through the service in the tabernacle of that atonement gift.  

It was no ordinary tribute, therefore, which Israel was to pay to Jehovah as its King, but an act demanded by the holiness of the theocratic covenant. -Keil and Delitzsch - Commentary on the Old Testament – Volume 1: The Pentateuch.

This first tribute money paid in silver was given and used in the building of the tabernacle. When the tabernacle was being crafted together and God’s plan called for a silver capital or hook, the silver that was used to fashion that came from the money that was given by the Children of Israel. When they would enter into the outer court of the tabernacle and see the top of the posts that made up the wall, shining in silver, they would know, that was part of my giving, part of what I paid. Years later when their descendants would enter that same courtyard, they would see those same posts and remember, those who gave their all in the wilderness escaping the slavery of Egypt, gave that I might be able to enter into this place and know the blessing of God today.

And in the full assurance of what God had done, what else could they do but also give what God asked of them. It was a fair price, it was a price they could all pay and is was a price that would build a memorial that protected the heritage of the past and insured the hope of the future.

Memorial in the World Today

As I read this passage this past week, I could not help but ask the Lord, “Am I paying the price?” When I realize all that God has done, the price that was paid for my redemption, the blessing that have been poured into my life and the promise of eternity, when I understand all that God has meant to me, I must ask, am I doing all that I can to pay the price and continue to build a memorial in the world today. A memorial that will honor the past and will also ensure that God’s blessing carry to the next generation.

God told Moses each person must pay their own price or else punishment would come.
Aren’t we seeing that today? Churches that hold up sin and call it love? Who offer forgiveness without repentance? Christians who have forgotten the heritage of the past, some who have forgotten the name Baptist, or what a church is or even what a Christian is supposed to be and believe.

Some who have even forgotten, if they ever knew, the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Forgotten that they were sinners and God shed the blood of His only begotten Son, to atone for them, to cover their sins, to pay the price and ransom their souls.

I think of some who have given up, some who have turned bitter and angry and walked away, not willing to pay the price and build a memorial. Or some who perhaps have not actively turned against God but have quit supporting their church, giving to missions or caring about the past or praying for the future? Aren’t they aware of the cost they will pay one day for their refusal to give as God as commanded?

Just as God commanded the Israelites under Moses to pay the price, He commands us today, to make the commitment. Just as William Carey went into the darkness of India while those back home held the ropes, we hold the ropes of the past and present in our hands and in our giving to God, his church and his work.

I see a parallel between our memorial for God’s work and the memorials built in our nation that also tie together the past, present and future. One reason many wish to destroy  memorials and statues of the past, is to try and erase that past, especially the blessing of God in our past as a nation. An in destroying the memorials, the statues, and the landmarks, as God warned they will bring a plague of punishment upon this country.

It is was not that way just a few short year ago nor was it this way when Abraham Lincoln gave his most famous speech at the dedication of the Gettysburg cemetery, after a battle in which the armies of the north and south suffered nearly 8,000 dead and 27, 000 wounded. Listen to some of these unforgettable words.

Illustration: Gettysburg Address by Abraham Lincoln

We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate -- we cannot consecrate -- we cannot hallow -- this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain …

Isn’t that the same commitment we should share as both Christians and Americans? Now please understand, I don’t in anyway equate these two. My commitment to God is and must always be the greater and must always demand the greater price paid, but the reasoning is the same and I would be a fool not to realize that this nation and its freedom is part of that heritage and blessing that God has given. And I believe that it is fitting to apply Lincoln’s words to the commitment we should make today.

“It is for us the living to be dedicated to the unfinished worked when they so nobly advanced.”


I hope that you have been challenged this morning to pay the price that is called by God from all of His own. A price that will build the memorial of our lives, our families, our churches and our nation. A memorial that will hold together the blessings of the past and the hopes of the future through God’s blessings. This memorial price cannot be paid by others, it is a cost that I must personally bear because of all that God has done to bless me. It is not a price I dare to ignore or refuse, for if the  blessings of God will continue into the future then I must I must pay the memorial price today.

It was common when I was a child to observe Memorial Day with a red poppy worn on the lapel, but it is rarely seen anymore. The poppy was chosen due to the poem “Flanders Field” written during WWI by army surgeon Lt Col John McCrae in 1915

In Flanders Fields

By: Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918)
Canadian Army

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Experiencing God’s Power 2 Chronicles 20

Principles of Experiencing God’s Power

Text: 2 Chronicles 20

Today we are going to talk about experiencing the Power of God. One of the key elements in experiencing God’s power is learning how to praise God. Sometimes it’s not as exactly what we think it is. Take for example the following.

Jokes: Children and Song lyrics
On our way home from church one day my husband asked 3-year-old Charlotte, "What is your favorite song in Sunday school?" She replied, "Joshua fought the battle of Cherry Coke." - Ruth Skar, Upham, N.D., Today's Christian Woman, "Heart to Heart."

The praise chorus "We Exalt Thee" took on a whole new meaning when I heard my three-year-old daughter singing her version: "We exhaust thee. We exhaust thee, O Lord."
- Tammy Lindsey Utica, New York, in Christian Reader, July/August, 1996, p. 33.

The song leader asked the congregation to turn to page 654 in their hymnals. "We'll sing, Till the Whole World Knows," he said. What he didn't hear was our daughter whispering to her dad, "I think we're going to be here a long time."- Melodie Dean, The Christian Reader, (Plano, Illinois, January, 1995), p. 68.

When my daughter was 5 years old, her version of the Doxology wasn't found in any hymnal. Singing the last line as she heard it, the words came out loud and clear: "World with weird men, Amen, Amen!" - Deanna Henderson, Prescott, Mich. Christian Reader, "Kids of the Kingdom."

During one visit to Grandma and Grandpa's, our two young daughters watched from the breakfast table as a man came to the back door. When the visitor left, Grandpa explained he was an appraiser.

 "What's an appraiser?" the younger child asked.
Before Grandpa had a chance to explain, older sister quickly cleared up the matter: "He's a praiser. You know, he goes to church every Sunday." - Jennifer Breeding, Whiteman AFB, Missouri, Christian Reader, "Lite Fare."

On Palm Sunday, my 5-year-old niece, Stephanie, sat on my lap while we listened to the pastor's sermon. He described Jesus' approach to Jerusalem and how the crowds cried, "Hosanna, Hosanna!" At that, Stephanie perked up and began to sing, "Oh, Hosanna, now don't you cry for me!" - Brenda Fossum, Duluth, MN.  Today's Christian Woman, "Heart to Heart."

One morning, my 3-year-old daughter, Katherine, helped remind me that God wants me to come to Him just as I am. She was dancing and singing around the house as usual, but as I listened, I noticed she was singing, "I love you, Lord, and I lift my noise!" - Sandra James, Orange, CA.  Today's Christian Woman, "Heart to Heart."

Our text today contains one of the most incredible stories of God’s power anywhere in the Bible and it climaxes through praise. We are going to learn three ways of experiencing God’s power and use that power in our lives.  The first way is to experience power by placing God first, the second is the power of God’s presence and the last is the power of praising God.

Put God First  2 Chronicles 20:1-5

 It came to pass after this also, that the children of Moab, and the children of Ammon, and with them other beside the Ammonites, came against Jehoshaphat to battle.  Then there came some that told Jehoshaphat, saying, There cometh a great multitude against thee from beyond the sea on this side Syria; and, behold, they be in Hazazontamar, which is Engedi.  And Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself to seek the LORD, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah.  And Judah gathered themselves together, to ask help of the LORD: even out of all the cities of Judah they came to seek the LORD.  And Jehoshaphat stood in the congregation of Judah and Jerusalem, in the house of the LORD, before the new court,

Jehoshaphat Seeks God

Judah was outnumbered and unlikely to win the coming battle. Jehoshaphat knew that he did not have the army, nor the resources to win. But he does not give up, instead he turns in faith and trust to God.
Jehoshaphat was one of the greatest Kings since David. (I remember as a child in church the first time I heard a preacher talk about Jehoshaphat. I looked at the preacher, I looked at my parents and I looked around me to see if anyone was smiling because I thought the preacher was making a joke about sneezing in the pulpit. Je…..ho…..shaphat. I had probably seen it in a cartoon. But Jehoshapaht was actually a great king.)

1 Kings 22:43 tells us that he set himself to cleanse the land of idolatry

2 Chr. 17:7-9 records that in the third year of his reign he sent out priests and Levites over the land to instruct the people in the law.

2 Chr. 22:9 says that he had this testimony, that “he sought the Lord with all his heart”

The southern kingdom of Judah was never more prosperous than under his reign. -Easton’s Bible Dictionary

Now we see his an example of greatness by his response to the threat of the enemies of Judah.
In vs. 5 the Bible records that Jehoshaphat set himself to seek the LORD, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. After Judah had gathered to ask help of the LORD, then Jehoshaphat stood in the congregation of Judah and Jerusalem, in the house of the LORD.

Let’s breakdown Jehoshaphat’s plan of action. He called out to God, he called on God’s people and He congregates in God’s House. That is a formula for all of God’s people in times of trouble.
Before he tried anything else, before he conferred with a single general, or counted the money he had to hire mercenaries, before anything else He sought God. He placed God first.

Power of Priority

Many, many times in life we are in as desperate a situation as the King of Judah, when it comes to being overwhelmed and powerless. We need God’s power when we are facing defeat, We need to know what do we do to experience it?

Too often we struggle in our own strength first. We expend all our own resources and then we are crushed in defeat.

We are defeated because we began our own strength and unlike the pattern we see in Jehoshaphat, we don’t first seek God first.

We’re not seeing Him in our financial crises.  If we did we would give Him the firstfruits of our labors. (tithes and offerings)

We’re not seeking Him in our family crises.  If we did we would raise our children the way He instructs.  Husbands, We would love our wives as Christ loved the church and wives we would submit to our husbands as unto Christ, who submitted Himself to the Father.  

We’re not seeking Him first in our jobs crises, our school crises.  We’re not seeking Him first in our personal struggles with sin.

In these and so many other areas of our life and the problems that come with life, we are doing it our way, in our strength, first and when and only when we fail in our own power, then we go decide to we better start looking for God’s power. 

Let me give you and axiom of faith. If we made God our first priority we wouldn’t have to come to Him as our last resort – DKM

Isn’t that what He tells us to do over and over again in the book we should make first priority in our life? Most clearly it is stated in Matthew 6:33 Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

We must learn from the life of heroes like Jehoshaphat, begin with God.

Illustration:  We are like the woman who got electricity in her rural farm.
The story is told of a Welsh woman who lived in a remote valley in Wales. She went to a great deal of trouble to have electrical power installed in her home. They noticed she didn't use very much electricity at all. In fact, her usage was minuscule. They sent a meter reader out to check on the matter. The man came to the door and said, "We've looked at the amount. Don't you use electricity?"

"Oh yes" she said. "We turn it on every night to see how to light our lamps and any time we run out of kerosene and then we switch it off again."  
This sounds like the way many Christians apply the power of God in their lives. Instead of having the great power of God by placing Him first in our lives we start out with our own power and then wonder why our defeat in the battles of life is so devastating.

Let’s go back to the story of Jehoshaphat and see how he and the people of God experienced God’s power. I don’t think you’re going to see this come the way you would expect it. No fair reading ahead, just wait for the ending.

Presence of God  2 Chronicles 20:14-17

Then upon Jahaziel the son of Zechariah, the son of Benaiah, the son of Jeiel, the son of Mattaniah, a Levite of the sons of Asaph, came the Spirit of the LORD in the midst of the congregation;  And he said, Hearken ye, all Judah, and ye inhabitants of Jerusalem, and thou king Jehoshaphat, Thus saith the LORD unto you, Be not afraid nor dismayed by reason of this great multitude; for the battle is not yours, but God's.  To morrow go ye down against them: behold, they come up by the cliff of Ziz; and ye shall find them at the end of the brook, before the wilderness of Jeruel.  Ye shall not need to fight in this battle: set yourselves, stand ye still, and see the salvation of the LORD with you, O Judah and Jerusalem: fear not, nor be dismayed; to morrow go out against them: for the LORD will be with you.

Jahaziel’s Speaks For God

Jahaziel. (Now there is a name I like.  I tried to get my kids to name our first grandson, Jahaziel. We could have called him, Zeal for short. Wouldn’t that have been great? I don’t know why they didn’t go for it.)

This Jahaziel truly did have zeal.  He genealogy and service to God in the Temple as a Levite goes all the way back to the time of David.

The Bible notes that he was one of the sons of Asaph, which means that he was a singer in the Temple and probably a writer of some of the Psalms.
He and the other Sons of Asaph may have written Psalm 83 on this very occasion, it certainly sounds like it.

Psalm 83:1-5
 Keep not thou silence, O God: hold not thy peace, and be not still, O God.  For, lo, thine enemies make a tumult: and they that hate thee have lifted up the head.  They have taken crafty counsel against thy people, and consulted against thy hidden ones.  They have said, Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation; that the name of Israel may be no more in remembrance.  For they have consulted together with one consent: they are confederate against thee:  

God speaks through Jahaziel to encourage the people of Judah.

His message is as important to us today as it was for the people of Judah then.
“verse 17 Ye shall not need to fight in this battle: set yourselves, stand ye still, and see the salvation of the LORD with you, O Judah and Jerusalem: fear not, nor be dismayed; to morrow go out against them: for the LORD will be with you.”

The people did not need to fear because, “The Lord will be with you!” Jahaziel promised them. God’s presence meant they would have God’s power.

Power Of His Presence

Do you want to experience the power of God in the battles of your life? Then you must begin to trust and depend upon the reality of God’s presence in your life.

Do we really realize what we have? What more can be given than God’s presence?

Scripture: Hebrews 13:5 …for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.

Romans 8:31 If God be for us who then can be against us?

Psalm 27:1-3 The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? When the wicked, even mine enemies and my foes, came upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and fell. Though an host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear: though war should rise against me, in this will I be confident.

When I can fully trust in God’s promise of His presence in my life, always and in all circumstances and crises, then I will also experience God’s power.

Illustration: LA Dodger and Christian Orel Hershiser sings the Doxology to calm himself between innings of the World Series

Wrapping up Johnny Carson's Tonight Show 27th anniversary program was the Doxology, as sung by L.A. Dodger Orel Hershiser. Following last year's World Series, the pitching ace delighted the late night host with a sample of songs he sang to calm himself between innings. Carson recalled that Hershiser, an outspoken Christian, caught him a bit off guard by actually singing the song on the live program, but added that he was "moved" by it. Apparently, Carson chose the taped segment to conclude his prime-time television special.

That song of praise was a reminder of God’s presence even in the midst of the stress of pitching for the World Series.

And that brings us to the final component in experiencing God’s power. The component of praise.

Power of Praise 2 Chronicles 20:20-25

 And they rose early in the morning, and went forth into the wilderness of Tekoa: and as they went forth, Jehoshaphat stood and said, Hear me, O Judah, and ye inhabitants of Jerusalem; Believe in the LORD your God, so shall ye be established; believe his prophets, so shall ye prosper.  And when he had consulted with the people, he appointed singers unto the LORD, and that should praise the beauty of holiness, as they went out before the army, and to say, Praise the LORD; for his mercy endureth for ever.  And when they began to sing and to praise, the LORD set ambushments against the children of Ammon, Moab, and mount Seir, which were come against Judah; and they were smitten.  For the children of Ammon and Moab stood up against the inhabitants of mount Seir, utterly to slay and destroy them: and when they had made an end of the inhabitants of Seir, every one helped to destroy another.  And when Judah came toward the watch tower in the wilderness, they looked unto the multitude, and, behold, they were dead bodies fallen to the earth, and none escaped. And when Jehoshaphat and his people came to take away the spoil of them, they found among them in abundance both riches with the dead bodies, and precious jewels, which they stripped off for themselves, more than they could carry away: and they were three days in gathering of the spoil, it was so much.

Judah Sings Praise.

Listen to the Kings words to Judah that day,  “Believe in the LORD your God, so shall ye be established; believe his prophets, so shall ye prosper”

Then, notice the action of Jehoshaphat, He took the people, told them their purpose, established the priority and gave them words of praise. So lets break these down and examine them more closely.

The People, were the singers unto the LORD,
Their Purpose was that they should praise the beauty of holiness,
And most important the Priority, they went out before the army.

(How would you like to be in that choir? Talk about making it tough to get people in choir.)
They were to march in front of the army without armor or sword.  Their only weapon and their only armor were to be the praise of God.

This is what the king understood,  “The praise of God must precede the power of God.”
Their Praise was that day was a Psalms and it rang out over the battlefield that day, “Praise the LORD; for his mercy endureth for ever.”

And when they began to praise God, His power was unleashed, and He fought for them.
The Bible says, “the LORD set ambushments. “These liers in wait have been regarded as angels employed by God to confuse the host and cause its destruction, so that the Moabites and Ammonites first united to destroy the Edomites, and then turned upon each other. - Barnes' Notes on the Old Testament.  

Some surmise that the angels might have appeared to the other’s in this invading army as the warriors from Mt. Seir, which made the rest of the soldiers believed they were being betraying.
These ambushing or masquerading angels caused the enemy to turn their weapons on themselves. The army of Judah came only to spoil the possessions of the now destroyed invaders. Not one enemy soldier was left alive.

Power of His Praise

Did you see that coming? Did you think that when this story first began that God would speak through a singing prophet from the Temple choir and tell the King. If you want God’s power to defeat the enemy, you have got to praise God first?

Is that same principle true for us as New Testament, New Covenant believers as well? Should my praise of God precede my experience of God power?

Let’s quickly look at some principles of praise.

First, The Bible is filled in both the Old and New Testament with examples and exhortation for God’s people to praise God.

We are to praise God because He enables us
Psalms 51:15  O Lord, open thou my lips; and my mouth shall shew forth thy praise.

To Praise God with Your Understanding
 1 Corinthians 14:15  What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also.

To Praise God With Your Soul / Spirit or innermost being.
 Psalms 103:1 Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name

Secondly, We are to Praise Him Passionately with all I have.

Praise Him with my Life
Eph 1:11-12 In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.

Praise Him quietly in my heart
Eph 5:19 Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;

Praise Him audibly with my Voice
Heb 13:15  By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.

I am to Praise Him in my trials
Acts 16:25  And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them.

Praise Him especially in His house
Col 3:16  Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.

Ps 95:2  Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms.

“I've experienced God's presence most powerfully in worship, often during the singing, I suppose because when we sing to him, we are looking hard in his direction.” - J. I. Packer
When I, like King Jehoshaphat, understand the necessity of praise, then I will also begin to experience more of God’s power especially in the time of crises in my life.

Illustration: The Church at Jerusalem Faces their First Crisis with the arrest of Peter and John
Acts 4:23-31 And being let go, they went to their own company, and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said unto them.  And when they heard that, they lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and said, Lord, thou art God, which hast made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is:  Who by the mouth of thy servant David hast said, Why did the heathen rage, and the people imagine vain things?  The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ.  For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together, 

 For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done.  And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word,  By stretching forth thine hand to heal; and that signs and wonders may be done by the name of thy holy child Jesus.  And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness.
Did you see the pattern again? When the people of God, gather in the church of God, to praise and pray to God, then the power of God is unleashed.


Praise Him Praise Him by Fanny J Crosby

Praise Him! praise Him! Jesus, our blessed Redeemer!
Sing, O Earth, His wonderful love proclaim!
Hail Him! hail Him! highest archangels in glory;
Strength and honor give to His holy Name!
Like a shepherd, Jesus will guard His children,
In His arms He carries them all day long:


Praise Him! Praise Him! Tell of His excellent greatness.
Praise Him! Praise Him! Ever in joyful song!

Praise Him! Praise Him! Jesus, our blessed Redeemer!
For our sins He suffered, and bled, and died.
He our Rock, our hope of eternal salvation,
Hail Him! hail Him! Jesus the Crucified.
Sound His praises! Jesus who bore our sorrows,
Love unbounded, wonderful, deep and strong.

Praise Him! Praise Him! Jesus, our blessed Redeemer!
Heavenly portals loud with hosannas ring!
Jesus, Savior, reigneth forever and ever.
Crown Him! Crown Him! Prophet, and Priest, and King!
Christ is coming! over the world victorious,
Power and glory unto the Lord belong.

Is it difficult to praise God. Think for a moment of the author of this song of praise, Fanny J Crosby. 
Blinded as a young child growing up in and living in near poverty married to a man who was also blind.   Yet she had leaned the power of praise.  She once said, “If God gave me a choice of having sight or being made blind.  I would choose blindness.  Why?  Because His face will be the first face I see when I get to heaven.”

Now that is a child of God who has learned the power of God through the praise of God. May we as God’s children and God’s church learn the truth of placing God first, seeking God’s presence and singing God’s praise that we may be able to experience God’s power in our lives.- Pastor Kris Minefee