Where Do We Go From Here?
Topic: Sermon Passage: 2 Chronicles 20:1–20:12
WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?
2 CHRONICLES 20:1-12
As you are aware by now, our pastor has taken a sabbatical, or a leave of absence, until June 1st. I would ask that we would all be in prayer for him and Judy during this time. I know that many of you are already praying. Please continue to do so.
Over the past 2 weeks since Dean requested his leave of absence and I have assumed the role of pastor for Belle Aire, I have heard several people voice the same question over and over and over again. “Where do we go from here?” The weight of this question didn’t really hit me until this past week. When Dean left on his sabbatical, I filled in that Sunday knowing that Randy Davis, the TBC Director, was filling in the following Sunday, and then Easter was last week. Now with Easter behind us, the weight of the question of “Where do we go from here,” gets heavier and heavier.
If I can be honest with you this morning, I have asked myself the same question, “Where do we go from here?” Maybe more specifically, “Where do I go from here?” I have people suggesting we do this or do that. I have others saying, we better not do this or that. Others say we need to move this direction or that direction. I feel like a rubber band being pulled and stretched in all sorts of directions. Needless to say, assuming the role of pastor has been quite a challenge. It hasn’t been necessarily easy. That is why I covet your prayers during this time.
This morning, I want to spend some time answering the question, “Where do we go from here.” I believe it is vital for our church body to know where we are and where we are going. I want to provide a way forward for our church. So, with this in mind, please open your Bibles to 2 Chronicles 20. If you do not have a Bible with you, you can use one of our pew Bibles and find the passage on page ___. We are going to look at the first 12 verses of Chronicles 20. Let’s stand for the reading of God’s Word.
Read 2 Chronicles 20:1-12
Prayer…You may be seated.
The text mentions a man by the name Jehoshaphat. Who is this king? At the end of chapter 16 and beginning of chapter 17, the scripture tells us that Jehoshaphat’s father has passed away and Jehoshaphat finds himself becoming king of Judah. So, Jehoshaphat is the King of Judah. During this time period (around 872 B.C.), God’s people are divided into two kingdoms: The Northern Kingdom (also known as Israel) and the Southern Kingdom (also known as Judah). Over the course of history, Israel and Judah had good kings and not so good kings. Actually, the not so good kings were kings who did evil in the sight of God. In 2 Chronicles 17:3, the scripture tells us about Jehoshaphat…
The Lord was with Jehoshaphat, because he walked in the earlier ways of his father David. He did not seek the Baals, but sought the God of his father and walked in his commandments, and not according to the practices of Israel. Therefore the Lord established the kingdom in his hand. And all Judah brought tribute to Jehoshaphat, and he had great riches and honor. His heart was courageous in the ways of the Lord.
Jehoshaphat was a good king. He was a faithful and godly king. Despite being a good king, Jehoshaphat and Judah did not find themselves immune to trouble. Our passage this morning is a good example of this.
It is important for us to understand the dire situation that Jehoshaphat found himself in at this point. (Read verse 1). Verse one tells us that three groups of people, the Moabites, the Ammonites, and the Meunites, had joined forces to overthrow Jehoshaphat as king of Judah and take the land from the people. Jehoshaphat’s life was on the line not to mention the destruction of Judah.
Notice that Jehoshaphat’s first response is fear. (Read vs. 3a). This wasn’t necessarily a wrong emotion to have considering the situation. The problem isn’t fear; it is what we do with it. Do we let fear take control of our lives? Do we let fear paralyze us? Or do we deal with fear. We can all identify with times in our lives that have caused us fear.
On September 11th, 2001, I remember coming out of my 8:00 seminary class and making my way down the stairs in the School of Education. I noticed a larger than normal group hovering around the TV’s. I was not aware what was going on at first, but it became quite apparent that it was not good. I went over to another building to watch the news. By that time, the 2nd plane had hit the other building. It wasn’t long before video was showing that the Pentagon had been hit. When this was announced, I remember a fear coming over me. What’s next? When will it stop? Are we safe?
I want you to notice something, Jehoshaphat had no control over those people banding together to wipe Judah off the map. It was totally out of his control. Things like that happen in a broken and fallen world. Terrible things have, are, and will happen in this world that we did not expect or plan for. However, it is what happens now that is so critical. It is at this point that Jehoshaphat does two things in response to the desolate situation he found himself in. With that, I believe Jehoshaphat’s response provides for Belle Aire a way forward.
In difficult times, the Church must seek the Lord through Prayer and Fasting (vs. 3-4)
Notice that the text says that Jehoshaphat, “set his face to seek the Lord and proclaimed a fast.” Jehoshaphat went to the only place he could go. He went to God. But, it wasn’t just Jehoshaphat. Look at verse 4. “From all the cities of Judah they came to seek the Lord.” It was a nationwide movement. The problem before Jehoshaphat was not just his problem, but all of Judah. They were all in trouble. They were all susceptible to being wiped off the face of the earth.
Look at verse 5. Notice the location of the prayer. It isn’t taking place in a presidential palace or a military headquarters or the town square. It is taking place at the Temple. 2 Chronicles 6:19-21 says…
Yet have regard to the prayer of your servant and to his plea, O Lord my God, listening to the cry and to the prayer that your servant prays before you, that your eyes may be open day and night toward this house, the place where you have promised to set your name, that you may listen to the prayer that your servant offers toward this place. And listen to the pleas of your servant and of your people Israel, when they pray toward this place. And listen from heaven your dwelling place, and when you hear, forgive.
Jehoshaphat went to the temple because if they would seek his face where he has put his name, that is the temple, he would hear their prayers. Jehoshaphat and the people of Judah were making a declaration of their dependence upon the Lord in this situation.
Today, there is no need to pray at a Temple for the people of God. His name is now written on the hearts of his people. We are his temple. 1 Corinthians 6:19 says…
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God?
God dwells inside his people. Therefore, we can, will, and must come together corporately to seek the face of God through prayer and fasting.
Now listen to the prayer of Jehoshaphat. Jehoshaphat emphasizes two things that we need to hear this morning.
1. Our God is Sovereign over All Things. (vs. 6)
Jehoshaphat is acknowledging the fact that God is ruling and is in control of the situation. “You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. Nothing happens without his approval. Nothing is hidden from his sight. Nothing happens by accident. God is in total control of all things.
Do you believe that this morning? Do you believe that God is in complete control over all things? Do you think all that is happening at Belle Aire caught God sleeping on the job? Absolutely not. Not even a speck of dust floats by your eyes by without the permission and will and control of God. Listen to what 1 Chronicles 29:11-12 says…
Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and you are exalted as head above all. Both riches and honor come from you, and you rule over all. In your hand are power and might, and in your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all.
Our God is sovereign over all things!
2. Our God is Faithful to Keep His Promises. (v. 7-11)
In verse 7, Jehoshaphat is recalling the fact that God promised the land to Abraham. God made a covenant with Abraham in Genesis 15. God’s people did not inherit the land; God gave it to them. Furthermore, in verses 8-9, they are reminding God of the promise made he made in 2 Chronicles 6. They are in the temple seeking the face of God. The promise was that God would hear their prayers if they did so. God is faithful and he has kept his promises. Lamentations 3:22-23 says:
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
Do you believe that God is Faithful to keep his promises? Listen to what God says about the church in Matthew 16:18:
And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
Listen to what he says about the Gospel of Jesus Christ in Matthew 24:14.
And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.
Friends, nothing will thwart the Gospel from spreading to the ends of the earth. Furthermore, nothing can or ever will bring down the church of Jesus Christ! Belle Aire gets to see this truth next week. We will be baptizing 6 people! Church, our God is faithful to keep his promises.
Now, I want us to look at verse 12. Jehoshaphat is acknowledging two things.
1. We are Powerless
2. We are Planless
Imagine a leader of a country admitting to this. We would think a leader who claims they are powerless and planless are not fit to lead. If Jehoshaphat stopped there, that may be true. But, he continues, “but our eyes are on you.” The situation at hand had driven the people of Judah to a place of dependence upon God…probably right where God wanted them to begin with!
My brothers and sisters in Christ, is it possible that God has driven us to a place of dependence on him?
So Where Do We Go From Here?
Beginning today and continuing for the next 35 days, I am asking the body of Belle Aire to seek the face of the Lord through fasting and prayer. I believe that God has driven our church to a place of dependence upon God. The question is will we submit to him? So, for the next 35 days, I am asking us to seek the face of the Lord through fasting and prayer.
Next Sunday night, we are dedicating the entire evening service to prayer. I want us to be like the people of Judah in verse 4, “All Judah assembled to seek help from the Lord; from all the cities of Judah they came to seek the Lord.” I am asking that we all set aside that hour, from 6-7, and come pray together as the Body of Christ! It will be a time of guided prayer. Please make every effort to be here for that evening.
Also, we plan to dedicate a morning service to a time of prayer, introspection, and confession. You will hear more about that very soon.
During these 35 days, I am asking that we pray specifically concerning 3 things for our Church.
1. Pray that We Would be Right Before the Lord.
This necessitates that we search our hearts for sin and that we would confess that before God. Psalm 139:23-24
Search me, O God, and know my heart!
Try me and know my thoughts!
And see if there be any grievous way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting!
As you seek to be right with the Lord, I would encourage you to meditate and pray through Psalm 51. This has been a powerful Psalm for me personally.
2. Pray for Unity in the Church
Unity is a sign of a healthy church. If we are not unified, then we are hurting our witness, specifically here in Murfreesboro. Listen to what Paul says in Romans 15:5-7…
May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.
We need to pray for unity, not conformity!
3. Pray for our Deacons and the Pastor Search Committee Process
The Deacons are starting tonight to find the 9th person to serve on the Pastor Search Committee. Pray for wisdom and discernment as they continue to work through this process. They hope to have a completed committee by May 3rd so the church can vote on the evening of May 17th. All of that can change, but that is the plan as of now.
I want to end this morning by reading a passage of scripture that really boils everything down. Colossians 1:15-23…
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled bin his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.