How to Show Faith and Gratitude in Your Battle

“Then [the king] chose men to be singers to the LORD, to praise him because he is holy and wonderful. As they marched in front of the army, they said, ‘Thank the LORD, because his love continues forever.’”

2 Chronicles 20:21 (NCV)

When Israel and their king, Jehoshaphat, were outnumbered by three enemy nations, the king chose not to worry. Instead, King Jehoshaphat led his people to worship God in various ways. Today you’ll see how they worshipped by thanking God for the victory in advance.It was almost time for the battle to begin, and Israel was on one side of the valley, their enemies on the other. You’d expect Israel’s troops to begin arming themselves and lining up to march into the fight. But here’s what happened instead: “Then [the king] chose men to be singers to the LORD, to praise him because he is holy and wonderful. As they marched in front of the army, they said, ‘Thank the LORD, because his love continues forever’” (2 Chronicles 20:21 NCV).

Yes, you’re reading that correctly. Instead of choosing warriors to lead the troops into battle, the king assembled a choir.

Can you imagine what those men thought as they walked, singing and unarmed, onto the battlefield? Can you imagine what their enemies thought?

Despite the oddness of the strategy, the men obeyed. The choir marched in front of the army, declaring God’s unending love and thanking him in advance for delivering them.

This is how God wants you to approach your battles, too. God wants you to thank him in advance for solving your problems. When you thank him afterward, you’re showing gratitude, which is important. But if you thank him in advance, you’re also showing faith.

In the next verse, we see the effect of this unorthodox battle plan: “And at the moment they began to sing and to praise, the Lord caused the armies of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir to begin fighting among themselves, and they destroyed each other!” (2 Chronicles 20:22 TLB)

That’s my kind of battle! God’s people didn’t even have to pick up a weapon.

That’s what God wants for you, too. He wants you to lay down your weapons—all the ways you’ve been trying to solve your problems on your own—and trust him as you face your enemy. Then thank him for deliverance and watch in gratitude as God fights on your behalf.

Talk It Over

  • What battles are on the horizon of your life today? Spend a few minutes praying in faith by thanking God in advance for delivering you from your enemies.
  • What weapons have you been using to fight your battles that you need to lay down today?
  • When have you seen God fight for you in the past? Take some time to pray and express your gratitude to him.

How Can We Meditate on Jesus’ Crucifixion?

Dr. Roger BarrierPreach It, Teach It

How Can We Meditate on Jesus' Crucifixion?

Dear Roger,

I grew up at Casas Church. I remember how you occasionally closed each service by asking the congregation to bow their heads and close their eyes. Then, you guided us through a meditation on a particular biblical passage or story.

I use meditation as part of my quiet times. These meditations often take me into a Bible passage where I see and learn things that I have never noticed before. I often hear God speaking to me very clearly during those times.

I remember one particular meditation that you led us through from Hebrews 12:2, about the crucifixion of Jesus. If you remember it, will you please share it with me? I’d like to begin using it again. It meant so much to me.

Sincerely, Jamie

Dear Jamie,

I remember. That passage is foundational to me. In fact, meditating on the crucifixion has been key to my personal spiritual growth. I will walk you through it.

But first, let me share how I begin my meditation times.

First, I find a secluded place, close my eyes and breathe slowly and deeply.

Second, I quiet my mind.

Third, when the time seems right, I think of a biblical passage, verse, or Bible story that I want to dig into and discover more.

Fourth, I try to imagine what people are saying and feeling as if I were a participant. I meditate not just on what people say, but upon the feelings and emotions behind their words.

For example, I like to meditate on the man or woman who was last in line to make it through the Red Sea. Do you see him running as fast as he can? She sees the Egyptian chariots getting closer and closer. Do you see the fear in his eyes as Moses lifts his staff in preparation for closing the sea? Look at the relief as she reaches Moses and safety. Imagine what she learns from her experience … “God rescues. If He rescued the Israelites, then He certainly will rescue me.”

Try meditating on each phrase in the Lord’s Prayer. I suppose we could spend 20 or 30 minutes just on, “Our Father.”

We could spend a week on “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.“

Finally, I always end my meditation with time spent thanking Jesus for meeting with me and then tell Him how much I’m looking forward to next time.

Join me in a meditation on Hebrews 12:2: “looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Take a few minutes to pray, quiet your mind, and prepare your heart. Now, let’s meditate together:

1. “Looking Unto Jesus”

How do you picture Jesus? I picture Him like this:

He is wearing sandals with dusty feet. His homespun robe is girded with a short piece of rope. I think about all the things that rope saw during three years of His earthly ministry. Jesus has a light olive complexion. His hair is the color of ripe chestnuts, falling down past His shoulders, parted in the middle.

His eyes are light brown and filled with delight as He gazes at me. Our eyes meet. He has an incredible look of love and compassion. I am drawn into His presence.

2. “The Author and Finisher of Our Faith”

I see Jesus sitting at a table with pen and pencil in hand, sketching out His plan for the salvation of mankind. He’s enjoying the moment…thinking about the ultimate outcome of overcoming sin and death, restoring relationships with all of humankind.

The cross will be hard; nevertheless, “for the joy saving us,” He believed that the pain is worth it.

3. “Despising the Shame”

No one likes to be shamed. I hate being shamed.

I had a terrible case of acne when I was in the seventh grade. School was almost out for the day and some of the students were talking with the history teacher, Mrs. Horne. One of the students brought up the subject of complexions and the next thing I heard was Mrs. Horne shaming me: “What’s the matter with Roger, doesn’t he wash his face enough?

I froze with embarrassment and shame. I’ve never gotten over that moment. It took me a long time before I could forgive her—the old hag.

Look at Jesus Christ. He despised the shame, being hated even by those He served and loved. I try to imagine how that must have felt…the sorrow and pain. And yet He endured the cross, for the joy of saving us.

A Shameful Rejection

When Jesus came to His hometown, He faced incredible rejection. Imagine how he must have felt as some of his childhood friends tried to throw him over an embankment (Luke 4:28-30). Imagine how he felt as he walked out, never to return home? He’s thinking, “How could they do this to me.”

Look at His face as His heart was breaking.

A Shameful Accusation

See him standing before the Priests, Annas and Caiaphas. They charged him with blasphemy (Mark 14:56-64) … with turning His back on His own Father.

Can you imagine his feelings? He who loved as He loved … He who obeyed as He obeyed … to charge Him with blasphemy must have caused him intense sorrow and suffering.

Mocking His Kingship

They took him to Pilate: “Are you a King?”

Here stands the King of all creation. He was there at the beginning of time, the ultimate King of Kings. And He deliberately humbled Himself: : “And as a sheep before its shearers is silent, So He opened not His mouth.” (Isaiah 53:7)

So, what did they do to the King? Did they bring Him robes and bow down to worship the King of Kings? No, they placed a crown of thorns on his forehead, spit on Him and mocked Him. Try to place yourself in His sandals; do you sense His sorrow.

Mocking His Deity

They dragged Jesus before Herod. The Roman soldiers stripped and blindfolded Him, and they began to poke the Son of God with sticks, saying “If you really are God tell us who struck you.”

How did it feel for Jesus to hear, “Do some tricks to prove that you are God,” and we’ll let you go free”? Did He feel angry? Hurt? Frustrated? How would you have reacted?

Mocking His Prayers

Never before do we read in the annals of execution that anyone mocked the prayers of a dying man … except for Jesus’s crucifixion. Villains about to die ask, “Give me a minute or two to pray.” “Well, of course.”

Look at Jesus. Every prayer is an object of jest. “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabacthani… My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken me?” The religious leaders made a pun. “He calls for Elijah! Let’s see if Elijah will come and rescue Him!” (Mark 15:33-37).

The sorrow. The pain. The hurt.

The Shameful Cross

Men have devised many horrible ways to kill: guillotine, gas chamber, electric chair, mustard gas, nuclear weapons, hanging, and firing squad … among others.

Nevertheless, I suppose nothing is more shameful than the cross.

Modern forensics sheds much light on the manner of crucifixion. Take some time to imagine this…

Death begins with scourging, which progressed slowly for maximum suffering. The whip quickly pierced the epidermis. Little bleeding occurred as the veins contracted. As the whip cut deeper into the tissue, larger vessels began to bleed freely. The whip cut through the intercostal muscles into the spine and lungs. Imagine …  think about the level of pain … Jesus’s whipping has been compared to a shotgun blast at short range.

Our traditional view of Jesus’s feet crossed and nailed in front of the cross is challenged by the 1968 archaeological discovery of a complete skeleton of a crucified man in his early thirties that dated to the first century. A five-inch nail was hammered through the side of his heel.

In other words, instead of crossing his feet in the front of the cross, his feet were positioned, one to each side of the cross and the nails driven through the side of the heel and into the wood. The knees are bent back for maximum pain.

To take a breath, Jesus had to push up on those excruciatingly painful legs with all of His strength. One agonizing push … one agonizing breath …

The question about ropes to hold his arms and body up is easy to answer. He needed ropes. Whether nailed in the hand or wrist, a crucified body will pull away from the cross with only 40 to 60 pounds of pressure.

What Caused Jesus’ Death?

A combination of things contributed to Jesus’s death: dehydration, exhaustion; hypovolemic shock; blood loss; and/or hypoxia when he was no longer able to push up to open his lungs to breathe. Imagine the agony of each breath … do you feel His pain? His suffering?

Frankly, I think that Jesus died from a broken heart.

Under stress, his heart literally rips open. It feels like an intense heart attack. Jesus cries out just before death: “It is finished; into your hands I commit my spirit.” All is quiet. He’s gone.

Perhaps 30 minutes after his death, a soldier thrust his spear into Jesus’ side and out gushed blood and water. Today we know that a tear in His heart likely began to fill the pericardial sac with blood. The sword pierced the pericardial sac and out gushed blood and clear pericardial fluid which looked like water.

Now, meditate on the musings of the crowd. Don’t you know that His tender heart bled as He was put to death by the very ones He had come to save!

This was His world, His men; His nails, His cross … and they did not recognize Him.

His head fell on his breast. They said, “He’ll never lift that head among the multitudes again!”

They said, “Look at his hands. Those were the hands which healed the sick, raised the dead, touched lips, made mud and opened blind eyes, commanded the winds to calm the storm. He will never use those hands again.”

By the way, to the crowd he was just another crazy rebellious Jew to add to long list of others crucified by Rome … how far from the reality could they be?

Jesus Suffered a Significant Death

Consider what made Jesus’s death different from all other deaths.

His death on the cross was a divine transaction to take upon Himself the sins of the whole world. He took the punishment we deserved for our sin so that we could be forgiven, fit for heaven and experience eternal life.

What does that mean to you? He took on your sin … He died for you. Take that in for a moment. Then reflect on John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

One more time, read and reflect on Hebrews 12:2; “looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Why endure it? Why? Why? Because He could see the joy on the other side of the cross—the joy of saving us … saving you.

Resurrection Glory

Catch the end of Hebrews 12:2: Jesus “has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Jesus’s story doesn’t end with bleak suffering on the cross. He was brought back to life. And He is now at right hand of God.

Today is the day to bow before Christ and confess Him as your Savior and Lord. Who is He to you? What does His life, death, and love mean to you personally? How does knowing Jesus change you?

Now, imagine the scene as you close your meditation. You’re standing in an unending crowd of people stretching out in all directions. Suddenly Jesus appears and everyone kneels in unison and cries out: “Jesus Christ is Lord.”

And you know that He is.


Love, Roger

Photo Credit: ©GettyImages

Editor’s Note: Pastor Roger Barrier’s “Ask Roger” column regularly appears at Preach It, Teach It. Every week at Crosswalk, Dr. Barrier puts nearly 40 years of experience in the pastorate to work answering questions of doctrine or practice for laypeople or giving advice on church leadership issues. Email him your questions at

Pastoral Ministry: God is Not a Railway Porter


Who has measured the waters in the hollow of His hand, measured heaven with a span and calculated the dust of the earth in a measure? Weighed the mountains in scales and the hills in a balance?—Isaiah 40:12

We must be concerned with the person and character of God, not the promises. Through promises we learn what God has willed to us, we learn what we may claim as our heritage, we learn how we should pray. But faith itself must rest on the character of God.

Is this difficult to see? Why are we not stressing this in our evangelical circles? Why are we afraid to declare that people in our churches must come to know God Himself? Why do we not tell them that they must get beyond the point of making God a lifeboat for their rescue or a ladder to get them out of a burning building? How can we help our people get over the idea that God exists just to help run their businesses or fly their airplanes?

God is not a railway porter who carries your suitcase and serves you. God is God. He made heaven and earth. He holds the world in His hand. He measures the dust of the earth in the balance. He spreads the sky out like a mantle. He is the great God Almighty. He is not your servant. He is your Father, and you are His child. He sits in heaven, and you are on the earth. Faith Beyond Reason, 44.

“God, I fall on my face before You in worship this morning. Forgive me for those times I have treated You as though You were my servant, somehow expected to meet my demands. I am Your servant, Lord, and I humbly bow before You today. Amen.”



“What is mankind that you are mindful of them, the son of man that you care for him? You made him a little lower than the angels; you crowned him with glory and honor and put everything under his feet.” In putting everything under him, God left nothing that is not subject to him. Yet at present we do not see everything subject to him. Hebrews 2:6-8

Today we hear from co-worker Jan Vermeer:

The inspired writer of the book of Hebrews says that everything was put in subjection under Jesus Christ (2:8). Does His supremacy actually show in this country full of idols, hunger and death camps?

The North Korean Church consists of between 200,000 and 400,000 members. Fiercely persecuted, all of them hide their beliefs from the authorities. The church is truly an underground church, divided into thousands of small networks and cell groups. Most Christians hardly know other Christians outside their families. In case of an arrest, not many other Christians are in danger. The most visible proof of their faith is the possession of a Bible, which is illegal and punishable by death. Probably nowhere else in the world are so many copies of God’s Word literally hidden underground.

But the church is definitely growing. Many Christians keep their faith secret and are surviving. Open Doors is able to support almost 60,000 Christians with Bibles, books, training, food, clothes and medicines. Yet it is the individual tragedies that make it difficult to see with spiritual eyes that Jesus Christ is supreme even in North Korea.

For example, a middle aged man was arrested after the police found a Bible in his home. He is being terribly beaten in prison, as we learn from released prisoners who witnessed it. “His face is deformed. He told us he is certain he will die.”

How can Christ be supreme if one of his disciples is tortured so severely? I’ve known this man for a long time,” says a Christian friend of the prisoner. “When he came to faith, he made the decision that one day he would die for Christ. Every Christian in North Korea has made that choice. Every Christian in my country has the spirit of martyrdom in him. If you lose that spirit for one second, you cannot carry the burden of being a follower of Jesus. My friend knew that one day he could get caught and on that day he had to be steadfast in the faith and loyal to Jesus. I am convinced he can take the suffering because he constantly reminds himself of the joy that is set before him.”

The suffering North Korean Christians reveal Christ’s supremacy because they look at the reward: Jesus Christ Himself. He is our Treasure. He calls us to Himself, to suffer outside the gate and bear the reproach He endured (Hebrews 13:12-14). The kingdom of the Kim’s is limited in size and time. The Kingdom of our Lord is eternal and will come with power!

RESPONSE: I will rejoice in the supremacy of Jesus Christ, my Lord, over everything and everyone.

PRAYER: Lord, I too rejoice in the joy set before me with You. Keep me steadfast, faithful and loyal.