Troubles Into Treasures
Sermon by David Chittenden
II Chronicles 20
II Chronicles chapter number 20, we'll begin reading in verse one,
"And it came to pass after this also, that the children of Moab, and the children of Ammon, and with them other beside the Ammonites, came against Jehoshaphat to battle. Then there came some that told Jehoshaphat, saying, There cometh a great multitude against thee from beyond the sea on this side Syria; and behold, they be in Hazazontamar, which is Engedi. And Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. And Judah gathered themselves together, to ask help of the Lord: even out of all the cities of Judah they came to seek the Lord. And Jehoshaphat stood in the congregation of Judah and Jerusalem, in the house of the Lord, before the new court. And said, O Lord God of our fathers, art not thou God in heaven? and rulest not thou over all the kingdoms of the heathen? And in thine hand is there not power and might, so that none is able to withstand thee? Art not thou our God, who didst drive out the inhabitants of this land before thy people Israel, and gavest to the seed of Abraham thy friend for ever?"
Now I'm going to leave off reading here, because I want us to see exactly what God has for us in this passage this morning. Bob Jones said one time, to "turn our problems into stepping stones, and walk to success". And I believe that this passage here today, in the twentieth chapter, is a passage that has the theme: "Turning our troubles into treasures."
Turning our troubles into treasures. Now I know that sometimes we look at the problems we have and you say, "Preacher, how in the world can I turn this problem that I'm having into something that I can treasure?" You see, we're going to have to face some big problems. It may be problems of health, problems of marriage, problems of finances, problems of family, or problems of job. But whatever problems that we have to face, whether they are big or small, we are going to have to learn how that God can turn those troubles into treasures.
And I believe the way do that is we have to learn what it is to seek God. Jesus said, "Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness." And God tells us throughout His Word, that we are to put Him first in our life. And we are to seek Him above all others, that He is the first one we are to go to. He is the one that we have to put our trust in today. And the only way we're going to have success, and the only way we're going to have the blessing of God, is that we express our confidence in Him and say, "God, I know that you can see me through." I don't know why it is that God's people so many times go all other directions, instead of going to God Himself.
1. THE TROUBLE
Now quickly, I want to look this morning at, first of all, the trouble. Because, as I mentioned a minute ago, we're going to face trouble. We're going to face some heartaches, we're going to face some difficulties. And as we read this here, we find that:
A. The enemy was coming, they were on their way to destroy them. And he had some folks run to him, and say, "Now listen, the enemy's on their way. As a matter of fact, it's not just one army that's coming after you, it's not just two armies that's coming after you, there are three armies that have banded themselves together. They are out to destroy you. And folks today we'd better realize that:
B. We have an enemy out there, that we have an enemy of the soul that is gathering the armies against us. They do not want to see God's work go forward. They do not want to see souls saved, they do not want to see Christians stirred up and get excited about winning souls, and caring about lost people, and being concerned that their churches are growing, and that people are listening to the Word of God. Folks, we've got enemies out there! We'd better realize they're coming after us!
We find this trouble comes along, and they come to tell him that trouble is on its way. Now, I think it's important for us to realize, that we are not going to attempt anything that we don't think God can do. I want to make sure you get that. We are not going to attempt anything that we do not think that God can do. And the reason a lot of people sell them short, and the reason a lot of churches sell themselves short, is because they don't think that God can handle the problem. You see, folks, we are not going to attempt anything that we don't feel like that God can do. Do you really feel like God can take care of your problem today? Do you really think that God knows what trouble you're facing? The problem is, we've forgot how big God is. We forgot that God is the God of the heathen. He is over them, whether they like it or not. He is still in control, and we have a God who can take care of our problems if we go to Him.
2. TOO BIG
The think I like about Jehoshaphat, is when he realized that the enemy was about to overwhelm him, when he realized that they were coming against him with three bands, the first thing that he did was he set himself to seek his God. And so when the trouble comes in our life, the very first thing we have to do is fall on our face before God and say, "Oh God, I need your help!" See folks, he realized, the second thing I want to look at, he realized that it was too big. He realized that it was too big for him. And I don't believe that God can bless us in our life when we face our problems and we think that we can handle them our self. When we think that we can overcome them our self. Folks we've got to have God's help. If we're going to have the kind of victories that we need in our life, we have got to have God working. Because, folks, it's too big. It's too big! It's too big for me and you! We're going to have to have the God of Heaven to be able to work on our behalf to be able to lead us and give us the wisdom we need.
You know what the real question is? It's whether or not we really trust God. Whether or not we really believe that God can take care of us today. Do we really trust Him? Do you really trust that God can work in your life? Do you really trust that God can move, and God can take care of the problems that seem to overwhelm you? It really bothers me, that people come to church sometimes and they think a church ought to be a 'user friendly' church. Now, I'm not saying we don't try to make our church better. I read books, I just bought some books this week that I'm reading. And one of them happens to be titled, "The User Friendly Church." And as I read that title I thought, you know, that can really give people the wrong idea. Because the church is not a place that you come so that it will serve you. It is a place that you will come so that you can serve the God of Heaven. Some folks come along sometime and they say, "You know, I just want to go to church and I can blend in the crowd." And there is nothing wrong with having crowds. I'm thankful that God has given us a big crowd. But I'll tell you this today, I am concerned that people get involved in the crowd and they try to hide themselves and they only want to serve God when it's convenient for them to serve God, and they only want to serve God if it's comfortable for them to serve God, and they only want to serve God if they can be calm and everything will be easy for them. Folks, serving God is not easy! You say, "What are you so excited about Preacher?" I am concerned that we hear the Word of God week after week after week and we are not doing what God wants us to do, and that is to get in and serve him. It really concerns me, 'cause folks, it's too big for me. And it's too big for you. And the only way that we're going to have any success is for us to say, "God, it's too big. It's too big! It's too big! I can't handle it by myself. God I need YOU. I can't do this on my own."
Folks, if we're going to win souls here in Altus, if we're going to win souls around the world, we've got to realize that it's too big for us! God's going to have to be the one. And that's what Jehoshaphat realized. It was too big for him. He fell on his face before God, and you can read the passage even farther, and you'll find out that he came down a little farther, and he said, "God, we don't even have a plan. God, we have no power," he said, " no might against this enemy. There is nothing that we can do ourselves. We are utterly depending upon you."
Have you thought this morning that maybe the reason that God has brought the trouble in your life, is because He is trying to get you to depend on Him? You know I think about those who went through the Great Depression. And I talk to some, and they feel like they have to keep their cupboards full all the time. They feel like they have to have a big bank account. They feel like they always have to have that security. But, do you know what Jesus said? He said, "Sufficient to the day is the evil thereof." He said we're going to have to learn to trust Him for our daily bread. And I know a lot of folks who have big cupboards and empty hearts, because they have no peace and they have no joy and they have no confidence, because they can't trust God to take care of them one day at a time. Are you willing to risk what you have, so that you can trust in God? Are you willing to trust God to take care of that next utility bill? To take care of that next rent payment? To take care of that next repair bill? Are you really trusting God to take care of it? Folks, that's where we realize that it's too big for us. How long has it been since we have really got on our knees and asked God to take care of our daily needs? Or have we gotten so secure that we don't pray that anymore? Now think about it, folks. Are we trusting in other things? I'm not talking about not planning ahead. I'm not talking about using wisdom and being prepared. But I am talking about Trust. And I know folks that have empty cupboards and live one day at a time, that have Joy and Peace and Confidence in God. Folks, you don't have to have those things to trust in God. And a lot of times those things make us trust in the things instead of in God.
So they got on their knees and they prayed. They said, "We've got to turn to you, God." And let me throw this out here, while I'm at this. If you pick up the phone and call those "psychic hotlines" and the so called "psychic friends" and the "1-800- THE DEVIL" lines, you are messing with the enemy of your soul. Why in the world would anyone want to develop a relationship with someone who is a proven liar, a convicted liar, who is the "father of all lies." Folks, that's where that stuff comes from, it comes from the Prince of Hell, and you'd better leave it alone. Why would you go to someone like that for the Truth? Let's go to the Word of God. Let's get on our knees and ask God to lead us a day at a time. I'll tell you, the world's getting more and more where they want us to follow them. And they want us to call their numbers. And they want us to listen to them, and folks, they'll lead you astray as a Christian. You'd better stay away from it.
You see he realized it was too big. He realized that he couldn't handle it himself. But, you know what I like, in the next few verses, and there's an awful lot here I was going to talk about, but I'm just going to skip down to this. I want you to see what he said down in verse number 17, well actually back in verse 15, the last line, when God gave the answer. He said,
"For the battle is not yours, but God's."
Then in verse number 17:
"Ye need not to fight in this battle: set yourselves, stand ye still, and see the salvation of the Lord with you, O Judah and Jerusalem, fear not, nor be dismayed; "
"To morrow go out against them: for the Lord will be with you."
You want to know how to face tomorrow? You get on your knees tonight. Then you can face tomorrow. You get on your knees and ask God to guide you tonight. And He will give you a peace and He will give you a confidence that you can face tomorrow.
I read that and I thought, what a night! What a night they must of had. Here they had fallen on their face before God, they said, "Oh, God, this thing's too big for us." Say, "God, we can't handle this our self. We have no might. We don't know what to do." In verse number 12, they said, "Our eyes are upon you. I mean, we're looking to you for guidance, God. You're the one whose going to have to lead us. I'm not looking to anybody else. I'm not looking to my friends, I'm not looking to my family." And I don't know why it is sometimes we start looking around for answers from other people, when the first place we need to go is to God's Word. You see, if you took a job, you may ask the co-workers how to do that job, but if you really want to know how that job ought to be done, you ask the Boss. If you're a soldier, you can talk to your fellow soldiers, you can talk to former soldiers, and they can tell you a little bit about how to fight the battle, but why don't you just go to the Commander in Chief and find out how he wants you to fight the battle? That's how you have the direction you need. We've got to listen to him, we have to follow his drum beat. We have to listen to his tune. And you read this, and you find out, that when they went to fight the battle, when the tomorrow came, they listened to God's orders. And I thought, boy, what a night that must have been! I mean, it must have been wonderful, because they had the confidence that they needed. He said, "Tomorrow I'm going to take care of you. You don't have to worry about it." And so it says, and as I read this, you notice these little things, but you know, it's the little things that make a difference. It says they rose up early. Man, they couldn't wait! They said, "Man, God's going to be with us!" You know, if God hadn't of given them that confidence, I think I'd have "slept in," how about you? That would have been a good day to let that alarm go a few extra times, wouldn't it? But they didn't do that. They rose up early. And then you notice, I want you to see the key. Look at what it says, when they rose up early, I believe it's in verse 21, or maybe it's in 20, right around there, you can find it. He tells them, if you will believe God, He will establish you. And if you will believe God, you're going to prosper. So what is the key here? Do we believe God or do we not believe God? I mean we trusted Him for our salvation, but He didn't just drop us there. He didn't just say you could trust Him for a little bit. He said, I want you to trust me for the long haul. I want you to trust me when the battle's hot, just like in the peace time.
And I'm afraid that Satan has lulled us to sleep sometimes. Because God has been so good to us, and it is so easy to decide whether or not we're going to get up and go to church. It is so easy to decide in this country, whether we want to serve God or whether we don't want to serve God. And we can just "go with the flow," and we can look around at churches, and find churches where we can be comfortable, where things can be calm, where the preacher never raises his voice (like I don't), where he's real quiet and calm. Now I'm not saying you can't preach that way, but folks, there's too many, too many things that we've got to get shaken up with in our life. And sometimes when messages come like this, God gets a hold of my heart, He says, "You've got to shake the tree. You've got to get things stirred up." You say, boy, it sure makes me nervous sometimes - preacher jumping up on pews, and throwing his coat around - listen folks, we've got to wake up: That there is a lost world out there that needs Jesus Christ - and we're the ones that's got to take it to them! We can't wait for everyone else to do it. Folks there are people all over this town today that need to be in the house of God, that need to know about Jesus, and we've got to be the one to tell them!
And He tells them there, if they believe Him, if they believe Him, that He'll establish them. Well that shows me, He sets the foundation, doesn't he? You worry about your life in the future. Listen, you set your life on Jesus Christ. You don't build on any other foundation. When you date you find a godly person to date. When you choose your career, you pray that God will give you wisdom in what He wants you to do. You set your life on that kind of foundation, and when the winds blow and the storm comes, it might knock a few shingles off. You know, this week, I love being around Juniors (at Junior Camp). A little girl sat across from me, and she looked up at me while we were eating one day, and she goes, "You've got gray hair!" (Ha, ha, ha.) And she punched the girl next to her, "He's got gray hair!" I said, "It's 'cause of you 'all!" (Ha, ha, ha.)
Folks, when you build on the right foundation, when the storm comes, we may be a little weather beaten, but if we're on the right foundation, the building's going to last. He said, "Tomorrow, you go out there." And do you know, what really interests me, is this story followed a little bit farther. What I really like about it, is the next step.
Folks, we are to honor and glorify God - with our music. You notice what he did next - he appointed singers. Now, boy, that's some battle strategy, isn't it? I mean, he goes out there and says, "We're going to go fight - why don't we just sing a while?" Now wonder people look at us Christians and say, "Boy, they're a bunch of nuts." Instead of getting the swords out, they're getting out the hymn books. They start singing. And it says, "When they started singing," that God began to move. It was in the song service that God began to move. It was with the music that God began to get a hold of hearts. Folks, music's not just "filler." When we sing, we lift up our praise to the God of Heaven. And they began to sing. See, they were following God's orders. They were singing to God's tune. That's why the scriptures tell us that we are to sing to ourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs. Music is the language of the soul. And I can tell you a lot about your spirituality, a lot about your relationship with God, by the type of things you like to sing, because it's the language of the soul. You say, "Oh, I can listen to anything I want to." You sure can. But tell me what you're singing when you go to bed at night? Tell me what you're singing when the rough times come, when the heartache, when the storm is howling? It's not going to be singing about somebody else's wife. It's not going to be singing the world's songs, but it's going to be singing about "The Rock of Ages."
"Tomorrow, tomorrow, I'm going to be with you." And then, when the battle's done, the treasure comes. And you look down in the story, and you find that it took them three days to gather up all the treasures. Who would have thought, that this army coming upon them, when they fell upon their face, that God was going to turn their troubles into treasures? Now folks, that's not just for them, that's for you and me. God can turn your troubles into treasure. You say, "I don't understand all this stuff." Well, you may not understand it until you go to heaven. But, I'll tell you this, God can turn that trouble. And though the Devil meant us harm, and though he got after us with everything he could get after us with, "Greater is He that is within you, than he that is in the world!" And God's going to have the victory. He's going to have the last word. Satan's the enemy of our soul, and He's going to cast him into the lake of fire where he is going to be there forever and forever and FOREVER! HE'S NOT GOING TO BOTHER US ANY MORE! We're going to be in a place that's free of all this trouble. But while we're here, let's let God turn our troubles into treasures.
You know, several years ago, I went to youth camp. And we always like to do different plays and skits and things when we went to camp. And this one particular camp, we got there and we did a little skit that a little girl came up and she sat down in a chair something like this, and when she sat in that chair, in front of her we put a table. And we put all types of different jars and different bottles in front of her. And there were two fellows that came up and we explained in the skit that all the bottles that were sitting in front of this girl was all of the opportunities, all the things that she could do with her life and how that she could use her life and it was laying right there in front of her. And coming up on each side, on one side we had a person who was representing God, and another person came up and he was representing the Devil. And the Devil came up to this girl and said, "If you'll give me all this, I can give you whatever it is that you want. If you'll give me all these things here in front of you, then I'll let you have more fun than you've ever thought about having. I can give you pleasure, I can give you more things than you ever dreamed of." While the person on the other side representing God said, "If you will give me what you've got, I'm going to meet all your needs. I'm going to give you what you need. I'm not going to promise you it's going to be easy, I'm not going to promise you it's always going to be fun. But I will meet your every need." And so, as the girl sits there and decides, she finally thinks about it and she decides to give these things in front of her, her hopes and dreams, over to the Devil. And as soon as she does, all the lights went out and all you could hear was the crashing of the glass and the breaking of the glass. And the lights came back on and the Devil's standing there with a baseball bat, laughing at the girl and the girl's got her hands over her eyes, weeping and crying because she gave her life to the Devil, and he lied to her.
Folks, today we have a choice of what we're going to do with our life, sitting there in front of us, but the choice is ours. Why don't you give it to God today? I want every head bowed and every eye closed. With every head bowed and every eye closed. There may be someone here today that you've never trusted Jesus as your personal Savior. And you're concerned about your eternal home. And as the message has been preached today, the Holy Spirit has spoken to your heart. And with no one looking around, you would lift up your hand today and say, "Bro. Dave, I've never trusted Jesus as my personal Savior, I've never been saved, and I'm concerned about my soul, I'm concerned about my eternal destiny. Even though Satan right now is trying to keep you from hearing, trying to keep you from listening, the Holy Spirit is saying to you, "Jesus loves you and cares about you, and wants you to go to heaven." With no one looking around, you may want to lift up your hand this morning and say, "Preacher, I've never trusted Jesus as my Savior, and I'm concerned about my soul this morning, and I lift up my hand and say, Preacher, pray for me. I'm concerned about my eternity." You know deep down, that you've never trusted Christ. You just lift up your hand there and hold it there just for a moment. Won't you trust Christ today and let God turn your troubles into treasures?