Summary: Jehoshaphat’s victory shows us how praising God gives us victory in the battles of life.
It was Easter morning, 1799, and the people of Feldkirch, Austria, were terrified. Indeed, they believed this Easter would probably be the very worst day of their lives. Outside the gates stood the army of Napoleon, and he wanted in. The citizens were ready to raise the white flag of surrender.
But the bishop of the church had another agenda. In a voice trembling with emotion, he said to the townspeople, "This is Easter Day. This is the day of our King’s resurrection. We must have one moment of triumph. Let us at least ring all the bells of Easter." Fearfully, the people agreed. Soon the sound of church bells pealing out a celebration of victory filled the air.
Napoleon’s army was astounded. What could it mean? It didn’t take long for the generals to conclude that only one possible explanation could account for such celebration: the Austrian army had arrived during the night to help defend the town. The bells had not yet stopped ringing when the French army broke ranks and fled.
Like the story we just read of Jehoshaphat’s army, the story of Feldkirch is a powerful reminder of the power of Praise. Praise as a weapon of warfare--weilding not our own power but the power of the risen Lord to defeat the enemy.
But to tell you the truth, both of these stories seem a little distant from where I live my life today. I mean first of all they’re both ancient history and they deal with kings and emporers--not ordinary guys like me. And honestly the battles I fight are less likely to be with an enemy general and more likely to be with 3 year old or a bank teller.
Interrogative: So the critical question for me is, Does the power of Praise work in the kind of battles I face every day?
Transition: I believe that the answer is yes, and that it works in the big and small battles of our lives in the same way that it did for the king of Israel in the story we read today. So what I’d like to do is look at that story to see if we can identify the things that we need to understand about this weapon of praise to make it effective in our lives, and I’d like to look at some ordinary folks who have experienced the power of praise in their lives, and see how those same elements that were important in Jehoshaphat’s battle were crucial in their battles as well. We begin with the...
Decision to Praise
1-4After this, the Moabites and Ammonites with some of the Meunites came to make war on Jehoshaphat. 2Some 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). 3Alarmed, Jehoshaphat resolved to inquire of the LORD, and he proclaimed a fast for all Judah. 4The people of Judah came together to seek help from the LORD; indeed, they came from every town in Judah to seek him.
The people gathered in Jerusalem and the king cried out to the Lord. Then the Lord answers through the word of a prophet:
17-19You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the LORD will give you, O Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the LORD will be with you.’" 18Jehoshaphat bowed with his face to the ground, and all the people of Judah and Jerusalem fell down in worship before the LORD. 19Then some Levites from the Kohathites and Korahites stood up and praised the LORD, the God of Israel, with very loud voice.
Faced with an impossible situation, Jehoshaphat and the people of Judah, didn’t complain or argue or feel sorry for themselves, they went to the Lord, and the Lord answered them with a promise, they took the promise as a fact and began to praise the Lord.
We too have the promise of the Lord, that whatever we face He’ll never leave us nor forsake us, that all things work together for our good. That God has a good plan for our lives, yet so often faced with a difficult circumstance we choose not to praise but to doubt and worry and complain, and when we do so we forfeit the power of praise.
Sherri and Kenny Hughes had been married 19 years. They had 3 older children, but they were praying and trying for one more. They had recently grieved through the loss of two children by miscarriage, so in July of 1993, Sherri was excited to finally check into the little country hospital for the birth of their fourth child. But when Tyler was born Sherri and Kenny both knew something wasn’t quite right.