by Dwayne Moore
We’ve seen tremendous results from our recent Africa and US events, training nearly 800 leaders from 11 nations and seeing 20 profess Christ as Savior. While we’re grateful for the fruit, overall it’s been a challenging and disheartening time the past couple of months for NLW International. Our hope is to continue to support ministry efforts in multiple countries. Yet, it seems no matter what we do we can’t fix our financial woes or avert the crisis we find ourselves in.
Here’s a recent example of a failed attempt at a “fix”: Despite how hard we tried, we just couldn’t quite make a fund-raising banquet happen for our ministry. We’d hoped to share with some new people about our vision and how they can become financial partners. We’d been planning the dinner for three months and had invited close to 100 people from the north Alabama area to come. Yet, a week before the event we still had not one person who’d committed to come. Talk about discouraging!
The other morning I had an online Skype call with a NLW Lead Team member in India. We were excited to discuss possible future trips and ministry in India. Before we met, however, I found myself thinking, “What’s the use of talking with him about plans for next year when we might not even have a next year?” Then suddenly, this still small voice whispered inside my heart: “Why are you trying to plan based on what you see? Trust me.”
While I was out walking the other day I started praying and venting to God about our little “situation.” I admit I was upset. I haven’t been that blunt and open with the Lord in a long time. Yet, I figure He already knows what I’m thinking, so I might as well share my thoughts and feelings out loud with Him. Thankfully He is very patient and merciful!
What I believe I heard Him say to my heart as I prayed and complained is this: “Why do you think your plans are failing, Dwayne? Why are you trying to help me out? What did I tell you to do?”
I knew immediately what He was talking about. A few weeks ago while I was in Africa I was weighted down wondering how we would be able to make it financially. I remember praying about it while washing dishes one evening at the mission house where our team was staying. Suddenly I sensed the Lord say, “Stand still and see my salvation.” It came on me so strongly and unexpectedly that it brought me to tears. Peace immediately flooded my soul! (The dishwashing suddenly seemed much easier and more fun!)
I had no doubt the Lord was telling me to stand still and watch Him work. But what did that mean exactly, to “stand still”? Did it mean we were to literally do nothing? I realized I needed to reread 2 Chronicles 20 and try to get some clarity on what God might be saying through His Word. What I discovered are some powerful take-aways, not only for NLWI but for any Christian today. Below are three things the Children of Judah did that we need to do as well when faced with a crisis…
When warned about three armies ganged up against them and marching toward them to kill them, Jehoshaphat called the Children of Judah to pray. They gathered around the Temple Mound and listened as King Jehoshaphat lifted up an amazing prayer for deliverance.
His prayer consisted of three distinct and important parts. First, he remembered who God is and what He’d done for them (vv. 6-7). We too need to take time often during our crisis to rehearse what the Lord has done for us in the past. What great encouragement and faith we can draw from that exercise!
Second, Jehoshaphat reminded God of what He had promised them (vv. 8-10). He basically said, “This is the land You gave us. We believe You will hear us and save us.”
In the third part of his prayer, King Jehoshaphat recognized their complete dependence on God (v. 12-13). They relinquished all attempts at control. They literally did not know what to do. When we reach the point where we understand and acknowledge our desperate need for the Lord, we too will pray, “We don’t know what to do, but our eyes on you.”
The choir singing as they marched toward the enemy is probably the most famous and popular aspect of this fascinating Old Testament story. There’s something interesting about that though: As effective as their praise was, God never actually told them to praise. According to what Jahaziel said, all they had to do was take up their positions, stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord. Jahaziel said nothing about putting the choir out front and chanting, “Give thanks to the Lord, for His love endures forever.” Apparently that was Jehoshaphat’s idea.
Ever wonder why Jehoshaphat commissioned them to praise? I suspect it was to encourage the army as well as the choir. That’s what praise does! It reminds of us of how great and loving our God is! No doubt some of them were shaking in their boots at the thought of meeting this vast and blood-thirsty band of brutes on the battle field. God commanded that they march toward the enemy, and their praise flowed from their obedient hearts.
As important as praise is, I don’t believe it was praise that won the battle that day in the Valley of Blessing. If victory for the Judahites hinged on whether they lifted up praises, then surely God would have at least mentioned that as a requirement when He spoke through Jahaziel. Perhaps God was looking for something deeper from them. After all, anyone can sing a song or chant a scripture verse and call it praise. The devil isn’t so intimidated by the praise that comes from our lips as he is by the adoration and trust we have for God in our hearts.
It was their obedience and faith that the Lord ultimately honored. Think about it: The Children of Judah didn’t get to “stand still” until after they’d obediently marched out against their enemy. Only then were they were able to stand and watch the Lord fight their battle.
That brings us to a third directive in our crisis: We need to make forward progress. What if Judah’s army had stayed back at their houses or run the other way? Fear and doubt could have frozen Jehoshaphat and the people of Judah. But to experience his salvation they had to go toward the enemy. That’s what armies do. That’s what they had trained for.
If we’re going to see God fight our battles for us, then we need to keep doing what He’s called us to do. If we do our part, God will always come through and do what only He can do. As we learn from the story of Lazarus, we can roll the stone, but only God can raise the dead!
Making forward progress may mean having to march directly toward our fears and doubts. We can all experience those when we face scary giants in our lives. But keep this in mind: The doubts and fears we feel have not been tried and tested.
Our God, on the other hand, has been tested and proven to be faithful. What He says is always real and valid and trustworthy. We should be careful not to base our actions solely on vain imaginations of what “could be.” Instead, we can be assured that what will be is a faithful God going before us and fighting our battles for us. Embracing such awesome truth helps us face every crisis and come out victorious as we pray, praise and progress in His name!
I still have no idea how we will get through our present financial crisis at NLW International. We may be forced to rethink and restructure our organization some, even downsize things as needed. Yet, whatever happens I know God’s in charge. NLWI is His ministry, and we are His children and servants. I refuse to live in fear or worry any longer. As the old Imperials song says, “He didn’t teach us to swim to let us drown. He didn’t bring us this far to let us down.”
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