Cheri's Blog

Meanwhile

Day 8: Meanwhile

Scripture

Meanwhile all Judah stood before the LORD, with their little ones, their wives, and their children. And the Spirit of the LORD came upon Jahaziel the son of Zechariah, son of Benaiah, son of Jeiel, son of Mattaniah, a Levite of the sons of Asaph, in the midst of the assembly. And he said, “Listen, all Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem and King Jehoshaphat: Thus says the LORD to you, ‘Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed at this great horde, for the battle is not yours but God’s. Tomorrow go down against them. Behold, they will come up by the ascent of Ziz. You will find them at the end of the valley, east of the wilderness of Jeruel. You will not need to fight in this battle. Stand firm, hold your position, and see the salvation of the LORD on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem.’ Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed. Tomorrow go out against them, and the LORD will be with you.”

Devotional Material: Meanwhile

Have you ever followed a set of directions that called you to multitask? Recipes use the strategy all the time, but I’ve noticed it when Chad and I have been trying to accomplish a home improvement project, as well. You are moving right along on the task when suddenly, the instructions begin a whole other strain with a transition word or phrase such as, “while,” “as that processes,” “begin to,” or “in the meantime,” to let you know things are happening simultaneously.

As a mother to eight, my whole life is sustained by multitasking. We would never get anywhere, enjoy clean clothes, or eat dinner if I wasn’t capable of mastering “in the meanwhile.”

Meanwhile, all Judah stood before the LORD, with their little ones, their wives, and their children. 

All of Judah with King Jehoshaphat have been gathered together fasting and praying, crying out to God in their dire situation. It may not seem like it, but “meanwhile” here, is a rich descriptor. It assures us that while we are standing, God is still moving. He is laboring in the middle of our waiting, the delays, the irritations, and the feelings of abandonment that arise from deep within because nothing appears to be happening. Don’t forget. Meanwhile—God is at work.

While God’s people stood, He was moving Jahaziel to speak on His behalf. Once again, this is a man who is simply listening to God, ready to hear Him, and willing to act on His behalf. It was his message that gave direction and wisdom for what the whole community had been praying and fasting over.

Meanwhile, God was placing His instrument in exactly the right place to help in the situation.

What about you and me?

How many times have you and I wanted to go about solving the issue differently? We don’t want to stand still. Or we wait around too long mulling over a thousand ideas and neglect to allow God to give us His. We can get this all mixed up. King Jehoshaphat gets it right and leads his people to do the same. You and I can follow this example today.

Because, even in your situation, God can multitask. While you fast and pray and stand still…He is working.

Pray for God to extend and strengthen your hope to trust Him through your meanwhile’s.

 

 

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cheri strange speaker author she yearns

 

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The Living Room Meeting

Day 7: The Living Room Meeting

Scripture

And Jehoshaphat stood in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem, in the house of the LORD, before the new court, and said, “O LORD, God of our fathers, are you not God in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. In your hand are power and might, so that none is able to withstand you. Did you not, our God, drive out the inhabitants of this land before your people Israel, and give it forever to the descendants of Abraham your friend? And they have lived in it and have built for you in it a sanctuary for your name, saying, ‘If disaster comes upon us, the sword, judgment, or pestilence, or famine, we will stand before this house and before you—for your name is in this house—and cry out to you in our affliction, and you will hear and save.’ And now behold, the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir, whom you would not let Israel invade when they came from the land of Egypt, and whom they avoided and did not destroy— behold, they reward us by coming to drive us out of your possession, which you have given us to inherit. O our God, will you not execute judgment on them? For we are powerless against this great horde that is coming against us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.” 2 Chronicles 20:5

Devotional Material:  The Living Room Meeting

One day a problem developed that was much larger than climbing a tall skinny tower without supports. As a child, I wasn’t privy to the details, but it brought my parents to the floor in the living room, tears swelling, crying out to the Lord in a way I had never witnessed. My sister and I were not left out of this Family Meeting. We circled up alongside the adult. There was really nothing to do but expose our inability to make a way before God and let Him do whatever He chose.

We find Jehoshaphat, the King of Judah, in a similar posture when the Moabites, Ammonites, and Meunites show up to fight against him. He didn’t flex his kingly muscles or call on a neighboring ally. Honestly, he was afraid, much like we are in the face of havoc-wreaking situations. Instead, Jehoshaphat does something you and I should imitate. After bringing everyone together, not simply the elders and the men, but even the children, he proclaimed a fast. And then, with the king leading, they all prayed together, as if they were gathered together in the family living room.

Their Problem

This was their problem—not one solely for generals and kings. Jehoshaphat led in such a way that he communicated all were significant, from the least to the greatest. Therefore each one had a responsibility. They all fasted. Every single person cried out to the Lord.

The king communicates that they understand He is a God high above the earth, unequal to any human comparison. With Him does the power to stand lie, not with Jerusalem or with the enemy. He then begins to articulate the original intent of giving them the very land that is now threatened; and why it might be beneficial for God to defend it. Ultimately, King Jehoshaphat understands and acknowledges, in this living room setting before God, they are powerless. They don’t know what to do.

 “But our eyes are on you.”

Our Problem

Would you consider sitting in the cyber living room with me? Let’s bring everyone together. Right now, I’m asking you, to consider taking it up a notch for the remainder of our time together. Let’s remember who God is in His Glory. But let’s not hesitate to bring the issues. Making a way for families and caring for the plight of the orphan are certainly issues in chorus with the heart of God. He might say, “No. It’s not time. Not this way.” But He might just as well say, “Yes! I’ve been waiting for you to ask Me, like this.”

In this cyber living room, would you pray along with me in the most earnest way? The forces against us are super-colossal. The magnitude of the orphan crisis exceeds our resources and the awareness of the majority of the population. We most definitely don’t know what to do. Together, in chorus, can pray,

“But our eyes are on you.”

 

 

Leave a prayer or response below so that we can participate together as we walk this journey alongside each other.

To return to the beginning of the plan, click here.

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cheri strange speaker author she yearns

 

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Hope When You’re Feeling Defeated

day 6 when you're feeling defeated

Day 6: Hope When You’re Feeling Defeated

Scripture

Zerah the Ethiopian came out against them with an army of a million men and 300 chariots, and came as far as Mareshah. And Asa went out to meet him, and they drew up their lines of battle in the Valley of Zephathah at Mareshah. And Asa cried to the LORD his God, “O LORD, there is none like you to help, between the mighty and the weak. Help us, O LORD our God, for we rely on you, and in your name we have come against this multitude. O LORD, you are our God; let not man prevail against you.” So the LORD defeated the Ethiopians before Asa and before Judah, and the Ethiopians fled. 2 Chron. 14:9-12

 

Devotional Material: Hope When You’re Feeling Defeated

Although he was a king, Asa was someone who very much resembles you and me. He believed God was faithful and trustworthy, except when he didn’t. There were times, instead, that left him feeling defeated. That sizes most of us up right there.

Today we zero in on a point in history when the king is in a menacing predicament. It’s not unexpected, just the worst-case scenario as a king. The kingdom is about to be crushed by a bad guy and his one million troops.

Not only does this situation demonstrate God’s faithfulness to hear and respond, but it shows us what hope that is awakening in a person’s life can look like.

Instead of feeling defeated, He went out.

The king could have remained in the fortress to defend himself at home. But scholars believe he went out in order to strategically place himself on more equal footing. The Valley of Zephathah at Mareshah was not large enough for one million troops plus chariots to advance together. This was military genius, given the odds.

Notice what was happening here. Asa was using every means within his power possible. He did not rely on his feelings. No matter what God was going to choose to do in his situation, the king had utilized every resource and ounce of wisdom he possessed to participate in the event. Asa did not shrink back in fear or discouragement. This man did not stay out of the battle because it was hopeless from the get-go. He went out.

Instead of feeling defeated, He cried out.

Once Asa had been faithful and bold in his going forward, he did not hesitate to make it know where the victory would lie if it came. God and God alone would bring it, regardless of his feelings or how large his army was or how strong they proved to be in battle. It was the Lord’s name that was at stake, not his own glory as the king.

Instead of feeling defeated, He took courage.

After the victory, God was not finished dealing with the king. This was a hope-extending experience that stretched beyond the results of one single event.

Immediately following the victory, God sent an obscure encourager who was moved by the Holy Spirit to speak into the life of this man. His message was hope-filled, spurring him on to seek the Lord. It came with a warning for not seeking Him, which we cannot skip over. To demonstrate his point, this Nobody gave King Asa a rundown of all the ways the kings before him have blown it by not seeking and relying on God, and how not to be like them.

But you, take courage! Do not let your hands be weak, for your work shall be rewarded.” 2 Chron. 15:7

This encounter set such a fire under the king that he did exactly that.

Sometimes we have done all we can. We’ve stepped out in faith, using all our resources and there is nothing left to offer. We’ve prayed. Yes, God has shown Himself to be faithful. You, too, have experienced the Gospel to be true and trustworthy.

But there is still more to be experienced. Hope continues to be awakened in each one of us. I don’t know what you are embarking upon, but the encouragement today is simple: Take courage. Don’t slack off! Do not hold onto that defeated feeling! Your labor is not in vain and is meaningful to the only One that really matters.

 

 

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cheri strange speaker author she yearns

 

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A Day is Coming

Day 5: A Day is coming

Scripture

 Not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. Hebrews 10:25

Devotional Material

What we’ve learned from Hebrews about hope and how it increases is that the Holy Spirit accomplishes in us what nothing else can. He is the Hope Awakener. But for all the promised fullness to be realized, you and I are expected to participate by drawing near, without pretense, pure in heart. Don’t think it’s going to be easy or without ample opportunities to take up something less intrusive like badminton, instead.

Discouragements may come, but you and I are in this together. So that we are not tempted to go it alone, the writer of Hebrews drives home the necessity for Christian community. It’s difficult to be provoked to love and good works if there are no occasions to do so. Doing life together, becoming knowledgeable of genuine needs and then acting upon them, is more than checking off your Good Christian boxes. The writer is not articulating a To-Do List for how to score BIG with God, but something more like how to Waltz. It’s as if he is trying to convey that when all the steps and motions fall into place in this fullness of hope he’s been describing, it’s exhilarating to experience and nothing short of magnificent to behold. He doesn’t want us to miss it!

What if we don’t like to dance?

That doesn’t seem to be on the table for discussion. I don’t mean to sound so dramatic, but the writer believes eternity is at stake in this business of hope. There is urgency here, even an increased intensity. Whether you choose to learn how to Waltz and try it out for yourself, so to speak, or not, a day is approaching. A day is coming when each one of us will account for our engagement with the Savior.

In God’s economy, our salvation is dependent upon faith in Christ alone. But we’re clearly responsible for one another. If one of us becomes discouraged, defeated, even disinterested so that the love and good works are not accomplished, the day will still approach. It’s a severe reality revealed here, but revealed nonetheless. We will be responsible.

This calls for earnest prayer. Prayers of forgiveness for where we are lacking. We need prayers for wisdom in how to move forward. And prayers for the willingness to do the dance, and encouragement for those entrusted to us.

Oh, let the Holy Spirit continue to awaken the Hope in us!

 

 

Leave a prayer or response below so that we can participate together as we walk this journey alongside each other.

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cheri strange speaker author she yearns

 

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Stirring Connection

day 3 stirring connection

Day 4: Stirring Connection

Scripture

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, Hebrews 10:24

 

Devotional Material: Stirring Connection

Could we all just agree to put our phones down and look across the room?

It’s awkward, I realize.

Do you notice the people around you? Are you cognizant of their emotional state based on their body language? How do they spend their free time? Does any relative live nearby? Have you developed connections with real live people within your sphere of influence to the degree you could recognize a need?

Unmistakably, if the Gospel is anything, it’s a collective endeavor. Sometimes we find ourselves on mission independent of others by circumstances or necessity. Other times, we isolate ourselves through other means. Neither option is optimal according to Scripture. We are commissioned through the Word of God to be involved in relationships outside of our individual pursuits for Kingdom purposes.

The challenge presented by the writer of Hebrews is that we authentically connect to such a degree, we impact each other and the world around us. You and I cannot even begin until we are in a physical and mental position to notice people.

Once we center on the individuals, we are to give serious consideration to how we stir them up to love and good deeds. That’s why observation is critical. Listening should be without headphones dangling out of our ears. Phones removed. People learned. Situations studied. Only then can we better define specific needs.

We could have been charged with achieving great things for the Kingdom employing all our talents and resources, independently. But nothing is further from reality. Instead, this writer maintains we are to “provoke” or incite each other toward accomplishing the love and good deeds. This suggests substantial effort to propel one another forward on mission with God. You need me to do this for you. And I most certainly need you.

Here is where we prayerfully lay out what we’ve learned in our people-watching before God. Ask Him to help you know what to do with those entrusted to you, and to make you aware of the needs. Who might need your encouragement so that the work will be accomplished?

May the Lord begin to give you the strength to stop going it alone. I pray He grows a love in you that draws you together with others. May He then so stir your hearts and minds in a single focus, that collectively you can make an impact that is recognizable as being the Gospel.

 

 

Leave a prayer or response below so that we can participate together as we walk this journey alongside each other.

To return to the beginning of the plan, click here.

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