Summary: What do you lift up when times get tough? Turn to God first, talk to Him, trust Him to help you and thank Him in advance.
When was the last time you faced a situation where the odds were stacked against you? The science of probability and statistics is fascinating. Some day, unless Jesus comes back first, every person in this room will die. How do you think you will go? The odds are that you will die in a car wreck are one in a hundred. That you will die in a fire are one in 800. That you will die by electrocution are one in 5000. That you will die in a flood are one in 30,000 or in a tornado - one in 60,000. That you will die by a venomous bite or sting - one in 100,000. That you will be killed by lightning - one in 2.8 million. (By the way, the world record of being struck by lightning is a guy named Roy Sullivan, a forest ranger. He’s been struck seven times by lightning). The odds that you will die by food poisoning are one in three million. Knowing how some of you bachelors cook maybe the odds are a little higher in your case…
The odds of you winning the lottery are against you. I don’t know how any sane person plays the lottery. You are six times more likely to be struck by lightning than to win the lottery. Someone calculated that if you drive ten miles to buy a Lottery ticket you are three times more likely to be killed in an auto accident on the way than to purchase the winning ticket.
Has there ever been a time in your life when you felt like everybody and everything around you was against you? What do you do when you’re facing insurmountable, overwhelming problems? As the Israelites grew in their relationship with God, the names they called Him also changed. In Exodus 17 the Israelites were attacked by the Amalekites. Maybe you remember the story. They fought one another and as long as Moses had his staff raised they were winning the battle. Whenever the staff dropped they lost. Aaron and Hur held up Moses’ hands as Joshua fought and eventually the Israelites win. After winning the battle Moses built an altar and called it Je-hovah Nissi. The Hebrew word Nissi comes from the word NACE which means STADARD and is a derivative of the Hebrew word which means to LIFT UP.
What does THE LORD MY BANNER really mean? It is talking about the fact that when we get into trouble what is it that we lift up? Banners reveal identity and are a rallying point for the people. The name THE LORD MY BANNER really means GOD OUR DEFENDER. In saying that God is our banner we mean that God is the one who we trust to defend us when times get tough. Call on Jehovah Nissi – GOD MY DEFENDER. Let me illustrate this by giving you a story from Israel’s history that shows this principle:
2 Chr 20:1 After this, the Moabites and Ammonites with some of the Meunites came to make war on Jehoshaphat. 2 Some men came and told Jehoshaphat, “A vast army is coming against you from Edom, from the other side of the Sea. It is already in Hazazon Tamar” (that is, En Gedi). 3 Alarmed, Jehoshaphat resolved to inquire of the LORD, and he proclaimed a fast for all Judah. 4 The people of Judah came together to seek help from the LORD; indeed, they came from every town in Judah to seek him. 5 Then Jehoshaphat stood up in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem at the temple of the LORD in the front of the new courtyard 6 and said: “O LORD, God of our fathers, are you not the God who is in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. Power and might are in your hand, and no one can withstand you.”
The odds here were heavily stacked against little Israel. Three nations had brought their vast armies together to destroy them. What enemy are you are facing this morning? Whatever the situation we can learn from Jehoshaphat how to face challenges when they come:
1. TURN TO GOD FIRST – vs. 3
A boy went into a candy store to buy candy. He asked for it to be wrapped in 1 lb., 2 lb., and 3 lb. packages. Curious, the owner of the candy store asked why? The boy explained that he had a date with a pretty girl that night and that after the dinner with her parents he was going to go out on the front porch with the girl. If she held his hand, he would give her the 1 lb. box of candy. If she let him put his arm around her, he’d give her the 2 lb. box. But if she let him kiss her, he was going to give her the 3 lb. box. Later that night when he sat down to dinner, the father asked the boy to pray for the meal. He prayed and prayed and prayed. He prayed for every missionary, every church and pastor in town. When he finally finished, the girl commented that she didn’t realize that he was so religious. To which the boy replied, “And I didn’t realize your dad owned the candy store!”