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.
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