Do you ever feel yourself wondering “what’s the right thing to do?” If so, you’re not alone. As a minister, I would say this is one of the top questions that usually emerge in conversation. It comes from the Christian and non-christian alike, especially in times like these concerning the economy, and politics.
I will even go so far as to say that many of you reading right now have thought about at least one of these in recent past. Who do I vote for? What church should I attend? Should I change jobs if I’m not happy? How much money should I save? How much worse will things get before the Lord comes back? …and the like.
Considering this, it was impressed upon me to look in the book of Judges, and see how the children of Israel handled such a crisis. We learn in the ﬁrst chapter of Judges that Joshua had died, (he was the successor to Moses and had led the Israelites to victory by faithfully obeying the Lord). But they were now faced with a challenge of what to do, and who would lead.
All too often when faced with a challenge we tend to focus on the negative, instead of who, or what is controlling the situation. The children of Israel were guilty of this because they were not focused on God. They had turned from Him and began to worship idols, and when their leader had died it was not a question of military skill, but of spiritual guidance. Their conquest was not over, so who was going to lead?
“Now after the death of Joshua it came to pass, that the children of Israel asked the Lord, saying, Who shall go up for us against the Canaanites ﬁrst, to ﬁght against them? And the Lord said, Judah shall go up: behold, I have delivered the land into his hand.” (Judges 1:1-2)
Why is this you may ask… Well, in Hebrew Judah means “the praise of the Lord.” You see, it was through God’s strength the Israelites conquered their enemies. Israel had to learn the real leader was God. Our hope and conﬁdence should never be in people, but in God. God uses people to fulﬁll purposes, and accomplish His will on earth, but our faith should always be in Him… not individuals!
Having Judah go ﬁrst, was saying “the praise must go up,” the glory must go to God. And just as with them, if we ask God what we should do, He will answer. When Jesus (the Lion of the tribe of Judah) came into this world, and went to the cross, He made the way (and the only way) for you and I to go to the Father. It is a privilege to pray and take our concerns to the Lord. We should always be in a state of praise, even outside of church.
When we take time to “send Judah ﬁrst,” it sets our whole day in motion for success. We are uplifted as we praise the Father, which allows us to more easily see the good in others, and less of their faults. As we become victorious in daily living against the obstacles of life, it becomes an encouragement to others. We are then able to spread cheer and hope, as a witness for Jesus Christ.
Don’t go into battle with complaining, having fear and doubt, and a lack of praise, because you will never win. Take your concerns and questions directly to the Lord and He will show you what to do. In Matthew 12:34 Jesus said “…for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.” So we need to ask ourselves, “What are we speaking?” Is it praise? If not, let’s learn from the Israelites and ask God what to do. He is always listening.
Rev. Cathleen N. Catchcart is the pastor of New Life Worship Center in Spartanburg. This is the sermon she delivered this past Sunday.