Sunday, August 05, 2007

Standing in the Valley of Praise

Let me tell you a really old story; it can even begin with "Once upon a time, in a land far away, there was a king."

Now this king was kind, generous, honest and wise. He insisted his judges be impartial and honest in all their dealings. He feared God and tried to follow him. Oh, to be sure, he was not perfect in all his ways; but mostly his heart was right before God. And God was with him.

As it is with all of us, one day the enemy showed up at his gates. This enemy was strong, formidable. Someone came to the king and said, "Sir, you're in a tight spot. The enemy is coming against you." Now the king had a choice to make. He could call on some of his neighbors to come help; but they did not follow the Lord. His neighbors decided long ago that following the Lord was stilted, rigid, and--well, not tolerant or cool. The king could call on them. Or he could do what he did: call on the Lord.

So the king called for a prayer meeting. He was pretty forthright in his prayers, too. He said, "Lord, we have only shown these people kindness. Now look at what they are doing. Are you going to let them get away with this?" This is where the story gets good.

Every man, woman, and child showed up for this prayer meeting. The rich were there. The poor were there. Young and old alike, they were all there. Even all the choir showed up. And God spoke. There they stood, or perhaps many knelt, when God whispered into the heart of one of the men there. He was a worship leader, maybe; or maybe he was just a member of the choir. But don't discount him! God spoke to him.

You would think that God would speak to one of his prophets, right? Or maybe a preacher. But no. God does what God pleases; and what God pleases always brings honor to God. So God chose to speak in an unlikely manner. I wonder how unexpected it was for God to speak like this?

The choir master lifted his voice and said, "Jumpin' Jehoshaphat! I think I have a message for you, majesty. Don't sweat this army. Don't give up. You just stand back and watch; God's gonna take care of them." The man told the king what route the army was taking and where they should go. And remember, he told them to just stand there and let God do the fighting.

But there was more. God told them to put the choir in front of the army. Imagine a choir marching in front of the army, singing with all their might about the holiness of God. Onward they marched, singing and praising the Lord.

The air was pregnant with praise. The angels of the Lord were shouting in agreement, no doubt. The demons of hell were cringing in disgust, I am sure. Two groups of the enemy rose up against another. Then those two turned on themselves. Before long the battle was over; the enemy was defeated. And the king's army had not lifted a single weapon.

There they stood, victorious. There was so much stuff there that it took three full days to haul off what they could. And what did they call the place? The Valley of Praise. Some call it the Valley of Blessing. Here "blessing" stands for "praise."

The king prospered for many years after that.

May I remind you of something? When you choose to follow the Lord Jesus with all your heart, you are going to make an amazing discovery. You will discover that the Lord's chief enemy, Satan, is going to send his forces against you. Paul told Timothy, "Everyone who chooses to live a godly, Christ-like life will suffer persecution." That means they will find themselves in a tight spot. Satan wants to discourage you. He wants you to get so low in the valley you can't see the mountaintops. Turn that valley into The Valley of Praise. Let God rout your enemies. You just praise him, draw near to him, and let him do the dirty work.

Oh, you can read that story in 2 Chronicles 20, in your Old Testament.

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