Summer Growth & Fun at LMPC

Summer is a great time to pop in to worship or join us in a new faith adventure.

group prayer
YOUTH- New Director- Taylor Rider.  A Great time to join in.

YOUTH XTRAVAGANZA 8/23  5:00- 7:00; 931 Sugar Mill Rd. (on the lake)
Start off to the new youth year.  Come join us.  Meet leaders, register, t-shirts, pray.

RALLY DAY- 9/6- Starts a New Sunday School/Learning/Growth Year 9:30 Fellowship Hall

Join us on the LMPC Labor Day Float 9/7 8:00 at GIS.  A great time to witness and take part in the community.

Flu shots, shingles shots, check blood pressure, sugar, sign up for counseling, exercise, zumba, optometrist glaucoma check, and more!!!

RIB RALLY 9/19 6-8 pm at LMPC kid games/cookout fun.

We had a great Vacation Bible School!  Hundreds came.  Many volunteered.
We are looking for some new teachers for children SS to go along with the new building.
Click on picture for a Video.
group singing big


GOoDWorks Blitz Video of this year’s (2015) blitz- just finished



“Peter- From Denial to Street Preacher” 8-16-15

“Peter- From Denial to Street Preacher”  Acts 2:14-21, 37-39  8-16-15

To See a Video of this sermon, click here

Peter’s message was simple in response to those who said, “What shall we do?”  Or, “How can we be saved?”  It was to repent and to show that repentance and faith by baptism.  For people in our day, this is a really, really hard message to hear.  We are almost blind and deaf to it. But, it is still the most important message for us.  In our day in the West people are saying you don’t need to repent- you just need to feel better about yourself and get more coping skills.  In our day in the West people are saying, you don’t need to commit- you just need to learn and be free to move on whenever you feel like it.   We are called to repent.  To get free of our debt, to get free of our addiction, to get free of our meanness- we have to acknowledge there is a problem and turn from it.  But we don’t get free from debt by thinking that we just don’t believe in ourselves enough.  Psychologists have said for decades now that the root problem of people is low-self-esteem. Their reasoning is that if people just felt better about themselves- if they had money, or work, or an education then they wouldn’t abuse their spouse or steal or be mean spirited.  But this is just not true.  Rich people can be greedy and steal from their employees or their companies.  Educated people cheat they call it plagiarism.  One person from the American government said that if we could just funnel money to ISIS and give them jobs, perhaps their problem would disappear.  This is the reasoning that says we just need more confidence in ourselves.  ISIS problem is not money or jobs or education or self-confidence.   Tim Keller points out that up until the mid twentieth century every culture in the world thought the problem with people is pride, arrogance, and high self-esteem- or hubris.  In fact, as Psychologist Lauren Slater points out in an article in the NY Times, high self-esteem is not the cure but the culprit of drugs, alcohol abuse, poor academic performance and harsh social skills.  People with low-self esteem actually seem to try harder and achieve more.  I look at the Geeks in high school as some of the most successful people around.  I say all this to point out that we don’t want to repent- we want more and more self-esteem.  The idea that we need more self-esteem avoids morals avoids God, and makes us want our own way.  When you want to get your own way- you are feeding your self-esteem and there is no room for repentance.  If someone disagrees with you- they are being cruel trying to squeeze you into their mold.  But Peter said and still says to us- quit going your own way- repent.      Years ago there were two brothers who went opposite directions.  The younger brother was convicted of murder and the other brother had been a help to the needy and was very popular in the state.  The free brother went to the governor and had obtained a pardon for the younger brother.  He put the pardon in his back pocket and went to see his brother in prison.  He asked, “What would you do if you got out of prison?”  He said the first thing he would do is get that judge that put him here and the second is to murder the witness that testified against him.  The older brother left with the pardon still in his pocket.  There is no pardon without repentance.  Forgiveness is what we want, but we have to stop the wound in order for there to be healing.     The other thing he says to us is to “be baptized.”  We don’t like that either.  We are a non-commitment culture.  Half the young people would rather live together without getting married and they have fooled themselves into thinking that living together will not hurt and develops just as much trust. We are not joiners- we are consumers.  If we do not like something today- we, as consumers of all of life, want to be able to pack up our bags and leave.  We are committed to being non-committal.  In that sense we are committed to being alone- not trusting anyone but ourselves- living in fear of someone.  We are building walls and making our island to live on by ourselves. In contrast Baptism- is joining ourselves to Jesus.  It is like a permanent- non-erasable tattoo.  You cannot be unbaptized.  Some feel the same way about joining the church.  There is freedom and blessing in commitment. It is like being a part of the family versus only being a guest.   The church makes mistakes and messes up and does and says wrong things.  I am not sure I want their name attached to me.  Perhaps you feel like you never make a mistake, mess up, or do wrong things.  Peter, the head of the church, was not afraid of sin anymore- because he knew the power of Christ to wash it away.  Peter said, “Be baptized into the name of Jesus.”  This means you are all in- no backing out.  It means you are committed to making it work.  It means that despite all the failures- and the early church had just as many as the church today- immorality, pride, divisiveness- despite it all- we are part of the family.   The call to repent and be baptized is an acknowledgement that life does not revolve around us.      Changed people who are really changed and know that God changed them can hold out with strength the power of change.  Peter is perhaps the best example of this.  Paul is another.  Peter and Paul were both moral failures.  They knew they didn’t need more self-confidence- they needed Jesus and to be set free.  The two greatest preachers of the church are the greatest examples of something Jesus said long before- “He who has been forgiven much loves much.”  , and he remembered Christ had washed his feet.  To be baptized in Christ’s name means his washing is good once for your entire life.  There were three transformative things in Peter’s sermon that can not only help us cope- but can help us turn our lives around in the right direction- and then keep them headed that way- the Spirit, the promise, and repentance.  This sermon brought in 3,000 people to the church in one day.  It is the birthday sermon of the church.      Peter said to people who believed in God what they needed to do.  In those days everyone recognized they believed in something or someone.  Yet, it was these who believed in a concept of God who rejected God in the flesh.  By Jesus’ standards, by Peter’s standards, by Paul’s standards, by Moses’ standards, by James standards- by Biblical standards- it is not enough just to believe in God.  Peter said to people who believed in God and were asking, “What shall we do?”  that they needed to do two things- repent and be baptized.  Repent means to change the way you are living- start living in God’s way.  Say in your heart I don’t want to go my own way- I want to go your way.  It is a turn away from selfishness toward godliness.  But the other thing was to be baptized.   To be baptized meant you were all in- you had the water on you.  You were signed, sealed, delivered to Christ. You weren’t playing about your faith you made the jump. Peter knew the power of God to change people because he had been changed- for good this time.  Peter had many little conversions.  I once knew a man in Asheville who said he had  been baptized at least 15 times and he sure hoped one of them would stick.  The baptism that counts is not how many times we have a religious experience- but the one in which God is truly at work in our lives. Peter gave them two reasons to repent and be baptized: the Holy Spirit and the promise.  That is, God is working in your life today and in the future.  He is not the God of just the past. I. THE WITNESS OF THE SPIRIT (14-17)- Peter began his greatest sermon- perhaps one of the greatest sermons in history- by talking about the unseen Spirit being revealed right now.   He was saying God is at work.  God did not just die on the cross- or disappear with the past.  God is at work through His Holy Spirit.  God is not just God of a previous generation- and today I hope we know better.  Our decadence, our debasing ourselves in newer and newer ways; our lack of shame and the cruelty of life all point to a lack of moral progress.  The continual epidemic of depression, anxiety, and lack of peace in our society and our families- all point the need for God’s Spirit to act right now.  It is not that maybe the previous generations were weak and we are great.  We are all standing in need of grace     When we think all is lost and God has disappeared- that is when the Spirit is poured out in generous measure.  I do not doubt He is poured out upon us today.  The Spirit is at work today.  I have seen it with my own eyes in looking at some of you.  It is amazing to see God’s grace working in you. Lives changing.  Hearts growing warm to Christ that I never thought would.  Do not discount the Spirit.  He works today.

  1. THE WITNESS OF THE PROMISE (39)- Peter was speaking of baptism as a promise- a promise to be bestowed on children. The promise of God affects all people of every age. Often people will talk about the effects of evil upon people- pulling them down, ruining lives.  But we forget the power of the promise of God to pull us up when we could not pull ourselves up.      The idea of covenant is tied to the idea of promise.  God is tied to His Word and blessing.  Peter was saying that if you have faith it is a blessing to you and for your children.  This was literally true for the people he was preaching to.  For in about 35 years the Christians would escape the city of Jerusalem as they had been warned of its doom by Jesus.  But those who did not believe Jesus words were left in the city and all adults were killed or enslaved.  Peter was saying that belief in Jesus is a blessing- he didn’t have to enumerate it.  Having a promising life- with promising hope- is a whole lot better than what people have today- little hope, little promise.  I hope that the recession we just went through begins to show us that our checkbook, savings accounts, investments- even investments in our house will not save us and bring us ultimate happiness.   It is not our silly ideas of finding self-esteem that give us hope.  One of the reasons we built this children’s building was because we believe the promise is not just for us- but for the next generation.  Aaron and Virginia baptized Evie today believing the promise is not just for them- but for their children.  Peter was saying to people then- and his words are saying to you- there is a promise from God for you.  It is a promise of eternal life- a promise of a second chance and abundant life right here.  The promise is there- just take it and hold onto it.

III. THE WITNESS OF REPENTANCE (21,38)      Peter knew the power of repentance.  He had repented himself and had been accepted. Peter did many things in threes.  Be patient with me as we think about these: 1) 3fold confession: We believe and sure that you are the Son of God. You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man. 2) 3 fold boast Though all men shall be offended because of you, yet will I never be offended. Though I should die with you, yet I will not deny you. Lord I am ready to go with you both to prison and to death 3) 3fold warning: Satan has asked to have you that he may sift you as wheat, but I have prayed for you. Get thee behind me, Satan, for you want not the things of God but desire the things of men. Before the cock crows you shall deny me three times. 4) 3 denials I know not what you say. No not me. I am not his disciple. With curses he said, I do not know the man. 5) 3 fold restoration- Do you love me more than these? Do you love me? Do you love me. Lord you know all things- you know that I love you. Peter had the best of intentions- great boasting- but he messed up big time.  But God restored him from a denier to a street preacher- through the two things he told them to do- repentance and the washing of baptism. Christianity is not a backward looking religion. It is rather both present and future looking.  The Spirit is alive today- today is the time of salvation.  The promise is for the future- for your children and even those beyond them- those far off generations.  If you will come to Christ in repentance and baptism, it allows you to move forward in your life- shrugging off the shackles of self-esteem freeing you to forget yourself and join.  You don’t have to be the Lone Ranger out there battling the world by yourself as the one who really knows what is right.  Be part of the body.  Be part of the family.  Be part of the church- repent and be baptized.  I want to ask you to join us.  If you haven’t been baptized, I invite you to come.  If you haven’t joined the church but have been coming for awhile, now is a great time before the school year starts.  Jesus needs not spectators- He needs committed people- we at LMPC need you too to go Christ’s way and to be committed.

“Seeing With Your Eyes Shut” Mt. 9; Jn. 9 8-2-15

“Seeing With Your Eyes Shut” Matthew 9:27-31; Jn. 9:1-3,6, 13, 24-25,30-36, (see 12/18/05) By Dr. J. Ben Sloan at Lake Murray Presbyterian Church
For a Video of this sermon, click here.

Your vision is a gift from God and should not be taken for granted. I learned when I was blind in 1993 for a few weeks, and then for several months when I only had the use of one eye- how dependent we are on our vision. Most people are made with two eyes- and this adds depth perception. When they were trying to develop 3D TVs and cameras they looked at how we see depth as well as height and width and found that it is because we have two eyes. I quickly found that I am not a good judge of how far things are with just one eye. It affects my golf game- if you think you have a 15 foot put when it is just a 10 foot put you will get in trouble fast. It effects frisbee throwing and catching, it effects driving- imagine if you think you have a yard of room and it is only a few inches. It is a bit like driving with a mirror that tells you in small print all the time- “objects may be nearer than they seem.” The God who made the eyes cares about our seeing, and so, when He came to earth, Jesus cared about the blind. As someone about to have hopefully simple cataract surgery, I am very grateful for all these verses in the Bible about God’s caring that we be able to see physically. But as we all know, blindness is not just a matter of the physical eye. Did you know your eye can work well, but if your optic nerve is messed up, or if your brain is not able to process what you are seeing, you are in trouble. But the real sight that lasts is not the vision with the eyes but the vision with the soul. Jesus cared that we see God.

I.There is a saying that says, “FAITH SEEKS UNDERSTANDING”- The man who was born blind did not fully understand who Jesus was. But he wanted to believe. You do not have to know everything to be a Christian- no one does. Yet faith seeks understanding. We believe in order to understand. This is true of almost anything. .   I could look out on a starry night and think “that looks nice.” An astronomer could name the stars and speak of changes going on in the heavens. One person might ride right past a great fishing hole, because they don’t know how to “look” for fish. One person could see a piece of art and be bored, another could appreciate the piece for what it is. The astronomer, the fisherman, the artist connoisseur all appreciated seeing because they had been trained. We could believe it when they try to tell us- these are the stars, this is where the fish bit, this is where the artistic genius is. We believe them so that we can understand more. In our world that emphasizes knowledge so much- the illusion is to believe like the gnostics who thought you are saved by your knowledge. Belief has to have some content- yes. But a child can believe. A person with a low IQ can believe. But it is also true that a person like Francis Crick who mapped DNA can believe. Some of the smartest, most intelligent people in the world believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. It is hard for smart people and for wealthy people to believe because you have to humble yourself to call Jesus Lord. The man born blind basically says, “Say what you like about this man- I don’t know anything about him, but I know he made me see.” Then Jesus found him. I believe that when we seek Jesus, we will find Him- for He will come to us.

  1. THERE IS MORE THAN WE CAN SEE- You do not have to see physically to see God. In fact, I would say the realm of the unseen is greater than the realm of the seen. We know there is more than we can see with our eyes. We are excited about our blue moon this past Friday. But the New Horizons Spacecraft discovers last month four new moons around Pluto we didn’t even know about. Physical sight is always limited. You don’t have, despite what some kids say, “eyes in the back of your head.” Magicians make their living on our inability to process sight quickly enough- so sleight of hand works. We blind ourselves sometimes to reality by how we think reality should work- bringing our own presuppositions into the equation.   The Pharisees brought their presuppositions in. They did not want to believe in Jesus. Jesus could not be who he claimed to be- God in the flesh. Therefore, they thought, Jesus should not be able to help people. But Jesus did help. His miracles were meant in part to soften their presuppositions. But their lack of belief shows us that not only can you not argue someone into the kingdom, but you cannot bring enough evidence for some people. Here was a man blind from birth who no one could help and Jesus healed him in an instant.   We know that most dogs only see black and white- they are limited in what they can see. An eagle, on the other hand, can see four to eight times stronger than the average human. The person who says “I won’t believe it until I see it” is a bit like the Pharisees. The truth is, if God has to be proved to your satisfaction, then you are- in a sense setting yourself up to be the judge of God, as these Pharisees did. The reality of God is there- the question is will we discover Him or not. He is tapping us on the shoulder. He is sending us messages. He came down as a human being- yet we too often turn a cold shoulder. The question is not whether there is enough evidence. Enough evidence for someone who doesn’t have a hardened heart is not much as someone who has purposefully and willfully decided they are going to shut their eyes to the evidence of God. Jesus said it like this: “Blessed are the pure in heart- for they will see God.” We see God with the eyes of faith. III. WAS BLIND BUT NOW I SEE- I remember my pastor and later good friend, Dr. William B. Ward. Dr. Ward was a brilliant but gentle soul, and pastor of Eastminster in my early teens. While he was with us he went blind. He could not see the sermon notes in front of him- so he didn’t ever look down. He memorized the passages of scripture that he supposedly read but really recited from the pulpit. He inspired me to memorize scripture and the catechism- for he put the content to heart. He once told me that not being able to see was a great gift to him. I did not understand that for many years. Life is more difficult when you cannot physically see. But when you feel like you have to see and depend so much on your physical eyes- you miss so much. It is a bit like the person who is so dependent on their i-phones and i-pads or google phones and devices that they cannot listen to the person in front of them because they are too busy texting. There is a whole new world that opens up to you when you put away the TV, the radio, the phone, and start listening instead to life. The other side of it though is this- God gives us eyes to see. God gives us the ability to have great technology- and we should use our eyes in good ways. Jesus said if your eyes are going to send you to hell- better to pluck them out. But his point really is- use your eyes your gift from God in good ways. Do not walk simply and merely by sight. Walk by faith. See the Lord. Then your eyes are opened to a whole new world.

The sacraments of the church are baptism and communion. Baptism is more than water and communion is more than just bread and grape juice. I invite you to see the love of God as He claims His own in baptism. I invite you to see the love of God as we remember He gave Himself for us on the cross. I invite you to see the living God as we seek to commune with Him today. There is a beautiful hymn about the sacraments and worship that says, “Here, O my Lord, I see thee face to face; here would I touch and handle things unseen; here grasp with firmer hand eternal grace, and all my weariness upon thee lean” We are here today to see God, to touch things unseen, and grasp His grace. We are here to be encouraged to walk by faith and not by sight.

7-12-15 “Trusting God First- Jehoshaphat” 2 Chronicles 20

“Trusting God First” Jehoshaphat  2 Chronicles 20.     7-12-15 LMPC by Dr. J. Ben Sloan For video of this sermon, click here.
We have inherited many interesting names from the Bible- Mary and John are two of the most common names in the English language.  Elizabeth, Peter, David, Adam, but Jehoshaphat is not one of the names we have adopted.  The name Jehoshaphat in Hebrew means “The Lord is judge” and wherever he went it reminded people that we are accountable to God.  There was a Looney Tune  cartoon with one favorite line- “Well jumpin Jehoshaphat.”  Jimmy Dorsey had a song about “Jumpin Jehosaphat” and the line probably came in English from the “Headless Horesman.” All this is trivia.  I do not know that Jehoshaphat ever jumped.  Jehoshaphat was a godly king of a relatively small and powerless nation.  Jehoshaphat threw out the pagan idols in the land (2 Chr. 17) , and sought to have the people know the Law of Moses (2 Chr. 17:7-9).  But under his leadership the land prospered and he established a fairer court system (2 Chr. 19). There is this amazing story of deliverance in the Bible that we have sometimes glossed over.  Ahab had been the king of Israel and he had a large fortress city in Samaria and a huge army with chariots- but his army was virtually destroyed by Ben Hadad of Syria.  Ahab recovered his army but he died.  After his death some of the smaller kingdoms decided to invade the nation of Judah because it was vulnerable.  Some of your eyes are starting to gloss over.  This is not just a history lesson- this is a faith lesson that applies to you.   The people of God were as good as dead- outnumbered 10:1- by what is described as a “vast army.”  But God delivered them- and we have the same hope.  Hear the Word of the Lord:  After this, the Moabites and Ammonites with some of the Meunites came to wage war against Jehoshaphat. Some people came and told Jehoshaphat, “A vast army is coming against you from Edom, from the other side of the Dead Sea. It is already in Hazezon Tamar” (that is, En Gedi). Alarmed, Jehoshaphat resolved to inquire of the Lord, and he proclaimed a fast for all Judah. The people of Judah came together to seek help from the Lord; indeed, they came from every town in Judah to seek him. Then Jehoshaphat stood up in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem at the temple of the Lord in the front of the new courtyard and said: “Lord, the God of our ancestors, 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. Our God, did you not drive out the inhabitants of this land before your people Israel and give it forever to the descendants of Abraham your friend? They have lived in it and have built in it a sanctuary for your Name, saying, ‘If calamity comes upon us, whether the sword of judgment, or plague or famine, we will stand in your presence before this temple that bears your Name and will cry out to you in our distress, and you will hear us and save us.’10 “But now here are men from Ammon, Moab and Mount Seir, whose territory you would not allow Israel to invade when they came from Egypt; so they turned away from them and did not destroy them. 11 See how they are repaying us by coming to drive us out of the possession you gave us as an inheritance. 12 Our God, will you not judge them? For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.” 13 All the men of Judah, with their wives and children and little ones, stood there before the Lord. 14 Then the Spirit of the Lord came on Jahaziel son of Zechariah, the son of Benaiah, the son of Jeiel, the son of Mattaniah, a Levite and descendant of Asaph, as he stood in the assembly. 15 He said: “Listen, King Jehoshaphat and all who live in Judah and Jerusalem! This is what the Lord says to you: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s. 16 Tomorrow march down against them. They will be climbing up by the Pass of Ziz, and you will find them at the end of the gorge in the Desert of Jeruel. 17 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.’ ” 18 Jehoshaphat bowed down with his face to the ground, and all the people of Judah and Jerusalem fell down in worship before the Lord. 19 Then some Levites from the Kohathites and Korahites stood up and praised the Lord, the God of Israel, with a very loud voice. 20 Early in the morning they left for the Desert of Tekoa. As they set out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, “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.” 21 After consulting the people, 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.” 22 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. 23 The Ammonites and Moabites rose up against the men from Mount Seir to destroy and annihilate them. After they finished slaughtering the men from Seir, they helped to destroy one another. 27 Then, led by Jehoshaphat, all the men of Judah and Jerusalem returned joyfully to Jerusalem, for the Lord had given them cause to rejoice over their enemies. 28 They entered Jerusalem and went to the temple of the Lord with harps and lyres and trumpets. 29 The fear of God came on all the surrounding kingdoms when they heard how the Lord had fought against the enemies of Israel. 30 And the kingdom of Jehoshaphat was at peace, for his God had given him rest on every side. This story in the Bible reminds me of another.    In 1799 Napoleon and his army had surrounded the little town of Feldkirk Austria and he wanted in.  The people were ready to surrender.  The bishop pointed out to the people that it was Easter and they should at least ring all the bells in every church in town in celebration of Easter.  When Napolean’s army heard the bells ringing they thought the Austrian army had come and they left.  When they had no help and no hope but God- their praise of God rescued them.   There really is power in focusing on God and praising Him.  It is the power to lift up your head and pull you out of the whirlpool of sadness that seems to be pulling you down deeper and deeper. I. TRUSTING GOD AGAINST THE ODDS- The odds here were strong against Jehoshaphat.  He could not call on any other nation to help him- the enemies were too close and too numerous.  There were three or four kingdoms who were common enemies of Judah- they gathered together.  It would be like if North Korea, China, Russia, and ISIS all got together to invade us.      His response was not to complain- not to worry.  He didn’t stay in the walls though he was outnumbered.  He chose instead to put the choir on the front lines- not to fight- but to sing and praise.   He chose to trust God against the odds.      There is always power in forgiveness and in praise.  There is power in ringing out when things seem hopeless and helpless.  To some, they embrace their fears and worries with hopelessness and say that we should all abandon hope.  There is always hope with God.  There is a hope that goes beyond our power and beyond our ability.   I can remember going to see an older man in the Presbyterian Home.  He could not remember his name or the name of his relatives- but he could remember some of the words to Amazing Grace.  Singing that song- you could see his dim eyes light up- even then.   God is greater than your financial problems.  When you are weak- remember He is strong- and His grace is sufficient for you.  This is the Gospel- we cannot save ourselves- but there is One who can- but we have to look to Him.
I. TRUSTING GOD THOUGH WE HAVE NO POWER- Jehosaphat’s prayer is a prayer we all need to make. We might as well admit that in and of ourselves we cannot accomplish much. But with God we can say to a mountain- move and it will move.     His prayer is basically recognizing how helpless we are and how great God is.   This is not a recognition that should come only in desperate times.  We like to think of our abilities- our cell phones, our TVs, our advanced medicine, our advanced weapons.  But without God it is all useless and just a shuffling around of dust.  If you don’t have a meaning and a purpose to your life- what good is a cell phone?     I can remember when Kay was told she had cancer in December 2006 we were given little hope- probably three months.  It has been nine years- we have seen all three kids get out of college and get on their own.  It has taught us every day is a gift.   One day life will end.  Our power here on earth will end.  Our power, youth, strength, and life are temporary.  Don’t waste it.  Plug your life in to the power of God.  Verse 12 says, “We have no power to face this vast army attacking us.  We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.”   This is the situation for every believer.  In ourselves, we have no power- no strength, no might in ourselves.  The prophet’s advice to Jehoshaphat is always advice to us- do not be afraid or discouraged- in other words- don’t despair and give up on your God, your faith, your hope.  For the battle is not yours- but God’s.  Look, when you are standing up for God- when you are believing and doing the right thing- remember the battle is not yours- it is God’s.  We are always in His hands.  David faced Goliath in the strength of the Lord- the same strength that Jehoshaphat marched in- and our same strength today.

III. TRUSTING GOD SURPRISES US- Jehosaphat had no idea how this would happen.  It was not like he sent out spies to stir one country’s army against the next.  Sometimes the high walls against us are only sand.  Illusion.   The scripture says we should trust in God with all our heart and lean not on our own understanding.  We don’t have to know how everything is going to work out.  But we are called to trust God no matter how sad life can get or how hard the circumstances.  When we trust God and acknowledge Him in all our ways- asking for His help- He will direct our paths.      There are very few instances of the army of Judah marching out like this- outnumbered but singing.         They were not surprised that there was a vast army.  They were surprised what happened to the vast army just by marching out in worship.  The amazing thing is they were giving thanks to God before they even marched out.  They had real confidence.  They praised God that He was their savior even though he hadn’t saved them yet.       What we focus on we magnify (Joel Osteen).  We can focus on the problem or we can focus on the promise.  We can focus on the little black dot on the large white board, or we can open our eyes to God and what He has done for us.  If you take a penny and hold it right next to your eye, you can block out the sun.  This is one reason why it is so important to know the scriptures- to know the promises available to you.  David said, “O magnify the Lord with me and let us exalt His name forever.  I sought the Lord and He heard me and delivered me from all my fears.”  When you change your focus- it takes away doubt and gives you an expectant heart.  This is what faith does.  So Paul says, “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think on such things” (Phil. 4:8).  Paul could write that from prison. Yet God changed the world through Paul and his writings.  God is not obligated to do things just the way we expect, but He does obligate Himself to love us through the terrors and problems of life.  The good thing is- life is full of surprises- it is mysterious- good and bad.  But God is good and He will encounter us along the way.  The people of Jehoshaphat probably could not imagine what happened.  They could not imagine that their vast enemy would fight among themselves without their lifting a weapon.  Paul says that God can do more than what you ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20).  God can turn hate into hope.  I think we saw that with what happened in South Carolina in the last month.   The relatives of those who were shot could have focused on the evil—everyone else seemed to.  Instead they focused on God and forgiveness.  God can do that in your life- with your children- with your family.  Do not give up- or give into thinking there is no hope and I can’t do anything about it.  Jehoshaphat would have said- “I don’t know how it’s going to happen- but I’m trusting in you, Lord.”