Glorifying His Name, Part I

By Dr. Kelli Criss

We join the rest of the faith community in continuing to pray for peace and safety during the current public health crisis and social unrest. We pray for a clarity of vision to see what God is doing to answer our prayers for righteousness in America and for leaders to uphold Judeo-Christian values.  We want children and families to be guided by God’s principles.  We seek the defeat of socialism in our Republic.  God is answering these prayers through His favor and blessing during the current global pandemic and unrest.    

In our series about the nation of Judah’s and King Jehoshaphat’s miraculous victory and testimony during their national crisis, we have recalled God’s faithfulness to the world during COVID-19.  Last week, we considered the securing of international borders during the pandemic.  This week’s blog, Glorifying His Name, Part I, considers the insight we experience from God’s peace.  We’ll name further examples of how we see God working on behalf of humanity.  God is defeating COVID-19 just as He delivered the people of Judah during an impossible battle.   

Removing Fear  

The power in God’s victory for the people of Judah was not only in its impact upon surrounding kingdoms, but also in the way the nation’s gratitude brought them peace. According to 2 Chronicles 20:30, peace was not only around the nation, but within it: “And the kingdom of Jehoshaphat was at peace, for his God had given him rest on every side” (NIV).  After the paralyzing fear of the unknown and their powerlessness, King Jehoshaphat and his people had peace and rest.  Gratitude removes fear.  Praise and worship of God for who He is – removes fear.  Obedience in the power of the Holy Spirit removes fear.  Remembering to thank our God for His grace, favor, faithfulness, and power removes fear.   

God-centered Clarity 

As the nation of Judah and King Jehoshaphat turned their attention and meditation to God in prayer and fasting, the people stopped focusing solely upon their circumstances of being drawn into an unprovoked attack from a multinational force.  The people of Judah focused upon the Lord through God-centered praying and fasting.  The nation heard from the Lord and obeyed Him as the Holy Spirit empowered them to do.  God won the battle for the people of Judah.  Through their gratitude, God granted the people of Judah peace and removed their fear.  When fear is gone, God’s children see clearly what God is actually doing – glorifying His name.   

Educating Children within the Family  

Through the peace and subsequent clarity God has given us, the faith community is seeing God’s movement to glorify His name.  At Florida Faith and Freedom Coalition, we believe God is glorifying His name during the current crisis through moving U.S. education out of the government’s hands and fully into the family’s realm.  Since March, American children have been embedded more deeply into their families where they are home-schooling and spending quality time together. Although the juggling of work and home-schooling is overwhelming for parents, we are seeing how much time together with our children offers all of us.   

Now, the textbooks of government-run schools are under even more scrutiny from parents who can identify the revisionist history and the anti-God message woven into these texts.  More time together means more opportunities for parents to model a relationship with God just through working together on life’s ordinary tasks.  After all, more is caught than taught.  Our children absorb who we are in our everyday relationship with them rather than particular “lessons” we attempt to teach them explicitly.   

Exposing Socialism’s Lies 

Millennials have supported socialist candidates like Bernie Sanders because they believe that government needs to control society to make life better for everyone.  God has blessed millennials during the pandemic by allowing them to have real experience of government control, rather than merely ideals.  Although the actions taken by governments to require citizens around the world to stay at home have been necessary, being isolated from one another by government order involves millennials’ being told to do something whether they agree or not.   

Now, millennials may better understand that more government control can border on tyranny.  Socialism is tyranny’s twin.  As Benjamin Franklin said, “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” 

Join us next week as we delve further into how God is moving during the global crisis and national unrest to glorify His name.  Visit the Florida Faith and Freedom website to sign-up for our newsletter or read previous blogs.   

Responding to God’s Command

By Dr. Kelli Criss

Unfortunately, the current public health crisis has become politicized.  The radical left is using the coronavirus to attempt to stop the re-election of President Trump.  Democrats and the media elite are blaming the administration for this naturally occurring pandemic.  While we need leadership from the president and government officials, whatever impact COVID-19 has, it is no match against God’s plan for His children.   

In recent blogs, we considered how King Jehoshaphat led the people of Judah in fasting and prayer centered upon God’s faithfulness and justice.  God’s answer to the prayers of Judah came through Jahaziel, who proclaimed that the battle was God’s to fight and that the people did not have to fear.  Today’s blog, Responding to God’s Command, emphasizes King Jehoshaphat’s and Judah’s reaction to God’s words.   

Obedience to God’s Words 

King Jehoshaphat responded to God’s revelation of Himself and His plan with humility, worship, and obedience.  2 Chronicles 20:18 describes how “Jehoshaphat bowed his head with his face to the ground, and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem fell down before the Lord, worshiping the Lord” (New American Standard Bible).  What an impactful act of humility for the king of Judah to “bow his head with his face to the ground” as he worshipped God in the presence of the nation he led.  King Jehoshaphat’s leadership had guided the nation of Judah into prayer and now he ushered his people into worship.  (In Jehoshaphat’s response, we see a powerful reminder of the value of righteous leadership for a country.  As goes the king, so goes the nation.) 

Worship Leads the Charge 

Next, the priests, “the Levites . . . stood up to praise the Lord God of Israel, with a very loud voice” as they joined the king in worship (2 Chron. 20:19).  The following morning, they went to the battlefield to face the enemy.  When they started the journey toward the battlefield, King Jehoshaphat addressed the people saying “Listen to me, Judah and people of Jerusalem!  Have faith in the Lord your God and you will be upheld; have faith in his prophets and you will be successful” (2 Chron. 20:20, NASB).  How amazing that this verse is the 20th chapter and 20th verse of 2 Chronicles.  We can have “20-20” vision to face the battle when we have faith in God’s words.   

Subsequently, Jehoshaphat “consulted with the people” and organized them for battle (2 Chron. 20:21, New International Version).  The way he organized the people carried significance – they were instructed to worship ahead of the soldiers in order to face their enemies: 

Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the Lord and to praise him for the splendor of his holiness as they went out at the head of the army, saying: “Give thanks to the Lord, for his love endures forever.” (2 Chron. 20:21, NIV) 

God’s enduring love was on their lips as they marched into battle.  This is the faith community’s model for facing our current enemy, the coronavirus.  Let us speak about the love of God to everyone around us so that we are prepared for battle.   

God’s Victory and Abundant Favor 

God was at work before Judah could even reach the battlefield: “As they began to sing and praise, the Lord set ambushes against the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir who were invading Judah, and they were defeated” (2 Chron. 20:22, NIV).  It was as they worshipped the Lord that Judah received the fulfillment of God’s promise.  Indeed, God satisfied His commitment to fight the battle for Judah.  Likewise, as we worship God during this crisis, God is acting to fulfill His promises to us.   

As if winning an impossible battle and saving Judah from slaughter weren’t enough, God blesses the nation abundantly after the battle is won: 

When the men of Judah came to the place that overlooks the desert and looked toward the vast army, they saw only dead bodies lying on the ground; no one had escaped. So Jehoshaphat and his men went to carry off their plunder, and they found among them a great amount of equipment and clothing and also articles of value—more than they could take away. There was so much plunder that it took three days to collect it. (2 Chron. 20: 24-25, NIV) 

Judah received the blessing, grace, and favor of God as a result of the people’s actions (fasting, praying, waiting, listening, obeying, and responding to God’s answer through worship).   

By recalling God’s faithfulness to the nation of Judah, the faith community can understand how to respond to God during the pandemic and can be encouraged by Judah’s testimony.  Just as the king admonished Judah’s people to have faith in the message of the prophets, we recall the words of God’s messengers in the Scriptures so that we may have godly success in our current struggles.  We stand together assured that God is at work as we worship Him in the charge onto the battlefield of this crisis.   

Join us next week, as we consider how Judah thanked God for His favor and received peace without fear.   

To sign up for our newsletter or find out more about Florida Faith and Freedom Coalition, visit our website.   

The Battle Belongs to the Lord

By Dr. Kelli Criss

Over the past two weeks, we have discussed how Judah faced an unprovoked attack from myriad enemies.  We have considered how King Jehoshaphat of Judah guided the nation through a turbulent time.  He acknowledged his fears to God, fasted, and prayed with a focus upon God’s attributes.  Today, our blog, The Battle Belongs to the Lord, emphasizes waiting upon God and listening during the current public health and economic crisis. 

During the challenging and uncertain era presently facing the world, we glean wisdom as we remember all that God has done for His people throughout history.  With the time we have been given, the faith community seeks God in prayer and awaits His response just as Judah did when the nation encountered an impossible battle.  

Judah Waits and Listens 

After the people of Judah had fasted and prayed focusing upon God’s attributes and character, Judah and their king waited on God: “All Judah was standing before the Lord, with their infants, their wives, and their children” (2 Chronicles: 20:1, New American Standard Bible).  They were standing and waiting to hear from God.  At this point, Jahaziel, the Levite, was empowered by the Spirit of the Lord to share God’s message for which Judah had waited.  Jahaziel proclaimed: “You need not fight in this battle; station yourselves, stand and see the salvation of the Lord on your behalf, O Judah” (2 Chron 20:17, NASB).  

Our Battle Belongs to the Lord 

We can apply God’s message for Judah to our current battle, not only against COVID-19, but to the job loss and financial hardship many are experiencing.  If Jahaziel were speaking to God’s people today, we might hear: “Do not fear or be dismayed of this great multitude [of financial and public health problems], for the battle is not yours, but God’s” (2 Chron. 20:15, NASB).  When mankind admits to God our fear and powerlessness, submits to the Lord with prayer and fasting, waits upon God, and listens for God’s instructions, we hear His plan and receive the Lord’s comfort and support.   

God’s Ability to Speak 

What if we just cannot hear God? Won’t that keep us from receiving God’s revelation just as Jahaziel heard for Judah? It’s not about our ability to hear, it’s about God’s ability to speak.  And God is perfectly able to speak.  All we must do is wait.  We can wait confidently with the expectation and certainty that God will share His plan.   

Next week, join us as we explore the nation of Judah’s response to God’s plan and how the people’s fear dissipated. Visit our website for more information about Florida Faith and Freedom Coalition or to read previous blogs.   

Fixing Our Eyes Upon God

By Dr. Kelli Criss

When the world is troubled, God is with us.  As COVID-19 impacts the globe and Holy Week has just occurred, the faith community turns to God and our holy texts.  This week’s blog, Fixing Our Eyes Upon God, brings attention to God’s presence and work during our shared struggle.  We examine the experience of King Jehoshaphat for insight into how we can focus on God in the midst of trouble. 

Jehoshaphat Reigns over Judah 

Jehoshaphat was the king of Judah for 25 years (2 Chronicles 17-20; 1 Kings 22:42-43).  During his reign, he made a disastrous alliance with Ahab, King of Israel (2 Chron. 18:1).  An infamous union, Ahab’s marriage to Jezebel is known for the pagan practices their relationship ushered into the kingdom of Israel.  The alliance between King Jehoshaphat of Judah and King Ahab of Israel involved a marriage between Jehoshaphat’s son, Jehoram, and Ahab’s daughter, Athaliah. 

Athaliah’s influence brought pagan practices to Judah that Jehoshaphat had to purge from his kingdom (2 Chron. 19).  King Jehoshaphat further ensured that the Mosaic Law was known and understood in Judah (2 Chron. 17:7-9).  He reorganized the judiciary, assigning judges in the more important cities of his kingdom (2 Chron. 19).  He strengthened the defenses along his norther frontier near the boundary between Israel and Judah (2 Chron. 17:2).   

An Impossible Battle  

Jehoshaphat not only struggled with pagan influences within his kingdom, but also he faced enemies from without.  2 Chronicles 20:2 (New International Version) explains that “a vast army is coming against” Jehoshaphat.  The Moabites turned their wrath against him and induced the Ammonites, the Syrians, and the Edomites to unite with them.  Jehoshaphat, believing that his help would come from God, proclaimed a fast, and the people assembled in Jerusalem to implore God for divine assistance (2 Chron. 20:3, NIV).  After he finished praying, Jehaziel, a Levite, proclaimed deliverance in the name of the Lord, assuring Judah’s overthrow of the enemy without a blow: 

“Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army.  For the battle is not yours, but God’s. . . . You will not have to fight this battle.  Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you, Judah and Jerusalem.  Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.  Go out to face them tomorrow, and the Lord will be with you” (2 Chron. 20:15, 17, NIV). 

Indeed, Judah’s enemies quarreled among themselves and destroyed each other (2 Chron. 22-23). 

Jehoshaphat Turns to God  

Before the battle was won, Jehoshaphat’s circumstances were overwhelming.  Let’s examine how King Jehoshaphat overcame his enemies.  First, he admitted fear:  ‘Jehoshaphat was afraid” (2 Chron. 20:3).  Second, he admitted the sources of his fear: 

  • The Unknown:  “nor do we know what to do” (2 Chron.20:12, NIV). 
  • Powerlessness:  “We are powerless before a great multitude who are coming against us” (2 Chron. 20:12, NIV). 

Jehoshaphat’s powerlessness shows he knew that the problem was bigger than his ability, resources, wisdom, and experience.  He felt vulnerable as a king, wondering whether the people God had entrusted to him would die and whether he would face failure and defeat.  He was afraid of having no security.  David said, ‘The Lord is like a father to His children, tender and compassionate to those who fear Him.  He knows how weak we are; He remembers we are only dust (Psalm 103: 13-14, New Living Translation). 

Third, he focused on the Lord: “Jehoshaphat turned his attention to seek the Lord” (2 Chron. 20:3, NIV).  The people of Judah “gathered together to seek help from the Lord’ (2 Chron. 20:4, NIV).  He focused on God using several tools:  a) he called himself and the people to fast and pray (2 Chron. 20:4, NIV) and b) his prayer focused on the Lord and his attributes, particularly. 

During the uncertainty the world endures today as we battle an invisible enemy, the circumstances seem as overwhelming as Jehoshaphat’s battle against many enemies.  The faith community looks to the testimony of God’s deliverance of Jehoshaphat from an impossible and terrifying predicament.  It’s noteworthy that Jehoshaphat had not been a perfect king.  Hadn’t he aligned his son with a wife who ushered paganism into Judah?  God heard Jehoshaphat’s cry in spite of his mistakes and because of Jehoshaphat’s willingness to admit his need for God’s help.   

Our Challenge 

Whatever our human errors and squabbles, God is present and at work during our current crisis.  This is certainly true for President Trump, Vice President Pence, and Governor DeSantis as well as our brave first responders, doctors, and nurses.  None of us is perfect.  Our government’s leadership and the faith community have an opportunity to admit our fears and powerlessness and to seek God humbly in prayer.   

We’ll see you next week when we discuss the attributes of God that pervaded Jehoshaphat’s prayers as he submitted to God.  Until then, stay safe, keep praying, and share your faith with those around you.  You can sign-up for our newsletter and get further information about Florida Faith and Freedom Coalition on our homepage