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Victorious. It is a word that we mutter under our breath as we face every sort of adversity and trial that comes our way. I will be victorious. It is almost as if we try to convince ourselves that we will overcome … that our children will serve the Lord … that our prodigal children will return home. Victorious.

The very definition of victorious causes us to pause:

  • having achieved a victory; conquering; triumphant:
  • having defeated an adversary:
  • of, relating to, indicative of, or characterized by victory:

Victory. In order for me to be victorious, there must be a victory. So let’s break it down. Victory is:

  • a success or triumph over an enemy in battle or war.
  • an engagement ending in such triumph:
  • the ultimate and decisive superiority in any battle or contest:
  • a success or superior position achieved against any opponent, opposition, difficulty, etc.

Friends, whether we believe it or not, we are at war. In order to be victorious, we must engage in that war for the lives of our children. We must hold on to the promises of God.

“Thine, O LORD, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine” (I Chronicles 29:11).

Sometimes we don’t understand why we face different circumstances in our lives. With our natural eye, there is no explanation.

“But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (I Corinthians 15:57)

Two weeks ago one of my older saints came up to me weeping. She said, “Pastora, I’ve been evicted from my home. I don’t know where I will lay my head tonight.” This lady is a worshiper. She is faithful in everything. My heart broke as I saw her weep. I told her, “Don’t worry. You can come and stay with me until God provides.” She called me later that night to tell me her son had opened his home for her to live there – the same son she had been asking prayer for at every service for four years.

As I walked into service this past Sunday, the same sister came running up to me with a megawatt grin. This time she said, “Pastora, now that I live with my son, I have had the opportunity to share with my daughter-in-law the plan of salvation. She has asked to be baptized in the name of Jesus!

Evicted. Desperate. Heartbroken. Homeless. These are not words that are synonymous with victory. Oh, but when we have faith, it gives us victory over every situation.

“For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.” (I John 5:4)

Note: This article originally appeared in the Ladies Prayer International e-newsletter. To subscribe, visit ladiesministries.com. Jessica M. Marquez is a Teacher and Speaker. She pastors, alongside her husband, Nueva Vida Miami, in Miami, Florida. She also served, alongside her husband, as a missionary of the UPCI, for 14 years, to the countries of Mexico, Costa Rica, and the Dominican Republic, serving the women in each of these countries.

 

I was worshiping at the altar that Sunday morning when I heard a deep, heartfelt weeping coming from a few rows back. “I have cried exactly like that before,” I thought to myself. “I know that cry comes from a pain deep within the heart.”

It made me think of a time in my life when I had fallen in a crumpled heap at the bottom of a pit full of unbearable pain and sorrow. I remembered how I had cried out to God that even though I could not feel Him near, I knew He was near. I remembered the words from Hebrews 13:5, “I will never leave you or forsake you.” I was reminded that “The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in the spirit” (Psalm 34:18). I began to worship God from that place of deep sorrow. “Lord, I know You are here, even though I can’t feel You near. I believe You are with me. I know You will not abandon me even though my husband of twenty years has.”

Instantly, before I could even get the words out, I felt the unmistakable presence of the Holy Spirit. I felt a joy rise within my heart, a joy that can’t be found anywhere in this world. And though my situation did not change in that instant, and I was still overcome with grief and sorrow, God was near. He was by my side. He would see me through this most difficult trial of my life so far.

I left the altar and headed back to my seat. The woman was still weeping loudly. She was being embraced and comforted by other women around her. I stopped and began to pray. I felt her pain. I also felt a holy excitement as I knew God undoubtedly was bringing healing to her broken heart. She was a woman who was recently widowed after being married only three months. She had been so brave the last several weeks as she faithfully continued to attend services. When asked by others how she was faring, she stoically answered that she was doing fine.

I have often compared my divorce to being widowed. I abruptly lost my husband one day. Even though there had been marital problems for years, I had prayed, fasted, sought godly counsel, and did everything humanly possible to save the marriage. So I should not have been shocked when it happened, but it knocked the wind out of me when my biggest fear came to pass. After it happened, I put on a brave face. After all, I had to be strong for my children and keep myself together with all the added responsibilities of being a newly single mother.

But there comes a time when God says to us, “My child, you cannot go on without bringing that hurt and grief to the surface where you can be healed.” It’s a scary feeling to let it go. It might hurt too much to allow that pain out. It seems like it would be safer to keep it buried and hidden away. But it will find its way out, one way or another.

With God, we are safe to open up to Him and present our every fear and pain to Him. We can put it into His sure hands, knowing that He is right there with us. When we allow Him access to our broken hearts, that is when true healing to our wounds begins to take place.

“He heals the broken hearted and binds up their wounds” (Psalm 147:3, NKJV).

 

by Mary Jo McConnell

When you’re in the wilderness, you can’t just roll over and play dead.  (Even though that’s exactly what you want to do- stay in bed with the covers up and the curtains shut tight!)

You just can’t.  Because if you do…you’ll be stuck in the wilderness for a very long time.

Trust me.  I know…because in my wilderness season, escape and self-pity were my faithful friends for a good long while.  And they didn’t serve me well.

So if this is you…if this is where you are… I get it.  I’m there with you!  (You’re not alone!)

But if you’re stuck in your wilderness like I was, wallowing in self-pity, I have a very important message for you.

You have to fight, or you will die.

I thank God every day that He didn’t allow me to die in my wilderness.  He didn’t allow the enemy of my soul to destroy me in my weakened, vulnerable state.  And He didn’t give up on me while I wallowed in my misery, refusing to pick up my sword and fight.

Last July, I think I was at the lowest point of this wilderness journey.  I couldn’t write.  I could barely pray.  I had no words.  I felt that my soul had completely dried up and that it might crack into pieces at any moment.

That moment happened.  I was in Yellowstone National Park with my husband.  We were on our pastoral “getaway” for the refreshing of  our mind, body and spirit.

But (just in case you haven’t put two and two together yet), it was Yellowstone National Park, in July.

The height of tourist season.

It was about as restful as rush hour in downtown Hong Kong.  A steady stream of tourists with National Geographic-sized camera lenses in hand, and hourly traffic jams due to buffalo sightings. (How many pictures do you need of buffalo??)

And it rained.  Constantly.

That fateful evening, we were driving through a particularly torrential downpour after a failed attempt to cook steaks on our Coleman stove under the meager shelter of a tree (did I mention that we were tenting?).  We had given up and were headed into town to find something to eat and wait out the storm.

It was in this moment that I broke down.  I started talking, and that was it.  The dam burst, and the pieces of my broken heart spilled out into the car and onto the lap of my dear husband.  All of the pain that I had been stuffing inside for over a year finally found its way out of my heart and filled every inch of our Toyota Camry.  Flying down the highway, windshield wipers going a mile a minute, my soul cracked wide open.

It was the moment that God had been waiting for.  For me to fall apart, so He could put me back together.

It was also the moment that I realized this one truth, and it changed everything:

I can’t fight this battle alone.

I was dying because I had thought all along that it was up to me- that I had to figure this thing out, or die trying.

But it’s so much bigger than me.

So in that moment, I laid my weapons down at the feet of Jesus.  I asked Him to help me fight this battle.   I told Him, “I give up.  I can’t face this thing alone.  I’m dying, and I need Your help.”

Huh…that almost sounds like a Bible story.

In 2 Chronicles 20,  three massive armies were joining together to take out the nation of Judah, and Judah had NO HOPE of a win.   King Jehoshaphat’s army was simply no match for these guys.  So what did Jehoshaphat do?

Shaken, Jehoshaphat prayed. He went to God for help and ordered a nationwide fast. The country of Judah united in seeking God’s help—they came from all the cities of Judah to pray to God.

2 Chronicles 20:3-4, MSG

And King J prayed.  He threw himself on the ground, along with the whole nation of Judah (verse 13).  He reminded God of how BIG He was, how small they were, and that their only hope was in Him.  In verse 12, Jehoshaphat tells God,

“We’re helpless before this vandal horde ready to attack us.  We don’t know what to do; we’re looking to You.”

And guess what.

God shows up.

He speaks to His people through one of the worship leaders, Jahaziel, with this word (I love it!):

He said, “Attention everyone—all of you from out of town, all you from Jerusalem, and you King Jehoshaphat—God’s word: Don’t be afraid; don’t pay any mind to this vandal horde. This is God’s war, not yours. Tomorrow you’ll go after them; see, they’re already on their way up the slopes of Ziz; you’ll meet them at the end of the ravine near the wilderness of Jeruel. You won’t have to lift a hand in this battle; just stand firm, Judah and Jerusalem, and watch God’s saving work for you take shape. Don’t be afraid, don’t waver. March out boldly tomorrow—God is with you.”

2 Chronicles 20:15-17, MSG

And then, here’s the key.  They listened to Jahaziel- God’s mouthpiece.  They obeyed God’s voice.  And the result?  Read for yourself:

Then Jehoshaphat knelt down, bowing with his face to the ground. All Judah and Jerusalem did the same, worshiping God. The Levites (both Kohathites and Korahites) stood to their feet to praise God, the God of Israel; they praised at the top of their lungs!

They were up early in the morning, ready to march into the wilderness of Tekoa. As they were leaving, Jehoshaphat stood up and said, “Listen Judah and Jerusalem! Listen to what I have to say! Believe firmly in God, your God, and your lives will be firm! Believe in your prophets and you’ll come out on top!”

After talking it over with the people, Jehoshaphat appointed a choir for God; dressed in holy robes, they were to march ahead of the troops, singing,

Give thanks to God,
His love never quits.

As soon as they started shouting and praising, God set ambushes against the men of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir as they were attacking Judah, and they all ended up dead. The Ammonites and Moabites mistakenly attacked those from Mount Seir and massacred them. Then, further confused, they went at each other, and all ended up killed.

As Judah came up over the rise, looking into the wilderness for the horde of barbarians, they looked on a killing field of dead bodies—not a living soul among them.

When Jehoshaphat and his people came to carry off the plunder they found more loot than they could carry off—equipment, clothing, valuables. It took three days to cart it away! On the fourth day they came together at the Valley of Blessing (Beracah) and blessed God (that’s how it got the name, Valley of Blessing).

Jehoshaphat then led all the men of Judah and Jerusalem back to Jerusalem—an exuberant parade. God had given them joyful relief from their enemies! They entered Jerusalem and came to The Temple of God with all the instruments of the band playing.

When the surrounding kingdoms got word that God had fought Israel’s enemies, the fear of God descended on them. Jehoshaphat heard no more from them; as long as Jehoshaphat reigned, peace reigned.

2 Chronicles 20:18-30, MSG

Their strategy?   Prayer.  Obedience.  Worship.

The result?  Victory.  Blessing.  Peace.

 

Here’s my “How to Fight Well” strategy based on Jehoshaphat’s story:

 

~How to Fight Well~

1. Fall on your face before God.

Humble yourself before Him. Repent.  Search your heart. Focus on God’s face, not your enemies’ threat. (“We don’t know what to do; we’re looking to You.”)

2. Listen for His voice.

Ask God to speak!  Read His Word.  Get quiet and listen for His still, small voice.  Seek the wise counsel of your mentors and spiritual leaders (Who is your Jahaziel?).

3. Act on it!

Obey immediately.  Look back to our story- after God spoke, all of Judah praised Him, then they got up early in the morning to act on God’s orders.

4. Worship

Jehoshaphat sent the choir out ahead of the troops.

Worship is our warfare!  Worship is the key that unlocks God’s power in you and confuses the enemy.

5. Praise God and plunder the enemy!

Praise God for the victory that HE won for us, and loot the enemy.   The armies that came against Judah planned on destroying Judah and stripping the nation of its wealth, but God turned it against them!  Instead, it took Jehoshaphat’s men three days to carry off the plunder!  When we fight GOD’s way, He turns the enemy’s plan against him, and WE get to loot the enemy of his bounty!  Not only does he not rob us, but we get to plunder him of all the stolen goods he’s been carrying around from past victories.

So, friends- I know that fighting in the wilderness is TOUGH STUFF.  I’m so with you there.  But if we take these truths with us into battle, we WILL win!

We win…and it’s not even close.

 

 

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/91994044@N00/22163297493″>Armour and helmet</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>(license)</a>