Asa

Today we get the opportunity to hear and learn from the life of another king in Asa. While you read through 2 Chronicles 14-16, it has made sense to put these three chapters into two parts. In Asa’s 41 years of reign, after taking over for his father Abijah, Asa for many of his years did what was right and good in the eyes of the Lord, and then towards the ending reign of his life, allowed his walk to drift away from the Lord, making a difference in his ending days.

Part 1

2 Chronicles 14:2 Asa did what was good and right in the eyes of the Lord his God.

Here were some of his actions while Asa first reigned.

  • He removed the alters
  • He smashed the sacred stones
  • He cut down Asherah poles
  • He commanded others to seek and obey Lord

After Asa had done these things, the Lord gave him rest. During this rest, an army formed against Asa and his army. Asa and his army weres outnumbered and under-resourced in the chariot department. Then Asa gives a prayer that would provide victory for any Christian.

2 Chronicles 14:11 Then Asa called to the Lord his God and said, “Lord, there is no one like you to help the powerless against the mighty. Help us, Lord our God, for we rely on you, and in your name we have come against this vast army. Lord, you are our God; do not let mere mortals prevail against you.”

This prayer provides absolute confidence in God. The numbers didn’t matter when you have God on your side. There was a total commitment to God, and they gave themselves into God’s hands to accomplish His purpose. Asa and his army had courage in the Lord’s name and reminded the Lord how mere mortals wouldn’t prevail against Him.

What odds are you facing today? Have confidence, commitment, and courage that the Lord can have victory in whatever you are facing.

Part 2

2 Chronicles 15:1-2 The Spirit of God came on Azariah son of Oded. 2 He went out to meet Asa and said to him, “Listen to me, Asa and all Judah and Benjamin. The Lord is with you when you are with him. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will forsake you.

The 35th year of Asa’s reign. He took silver and gold out of the Lord’s temple and gave it to Aram. Avoiding a battle, he pays of Aram. Seer comes and says Asa had messed up.

Verse 16:9 For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him. You have done a foolish thing, and from now on you will be at war.”

Asa becomes mad and brutally oppresses others. Thirty-nine years afflicted with a disease in his feet, verse 12, didn’t seek help from the Lord, only physicians. In Asa’s 41st year as king, he died.

How could this be? A king who stood so tall in times of victory gave a prayer to the Lord of full commitment. Still, Asa forgot who had trusted throughout his life. Sadly, Asa was eventually afflicted with a disease in his feet.  At this time, he only looked to physicians and not God as he had before.

As we live on this earth, experiences can either draw us closer or farther to our Lord. Unfortunately, we can stray if we start to rely on our strength and pride. We can’t let days slip away; we are not walking with God. We need to make the daily choice to trust God with everything.

Dear God our Father,  We pray for courage, commitment, and confidence in everything you have for our lives. I pray that through our days we don’t lose sight of you and rely on ourselves.  Help us to share this trust and confidence with others through our commitment to you in all aspects of our life. Amen

I (still) Do

Today is a special day in the Harris family as we are celebrating our 16th wedding anniversary!

Back in the 1900s, I typically only prayed last minute or for shallow stuff that would benefit only me. For the airplane in turbulence to not crash, for a passing grade on a test that I didn’t study for, for money, to win at sports (or to not come in last), etc.

However, there was one prayer that I feel that over time was more spiritual than the rest. I prayed for a wife; that God would send her to me and that I would know that she was the right one. Even though my spiritual life was weak in those days, there were times that I actually got on my knees and prayed. Sometimes it was out of feeling lost with the thought that another person would fill the void. Sometimes it was loneliness or with a broken heart after a breakup. Deep down though even with a lacking relationship with my creator, I truly believed he was listening to me, and he would answer this prayer. And did he ever.

If you know Amy at all, you know she is fun, super cute, beautiful, energetic, a good listener, and a thoughtful, sweet, kind friend. These attributes are what drew me to her and reasons why I vowed to spend the rest of my life with her, to have and to hold, forsaking all others… until death. Wedding vows seem to be the only common place where people say “until death”, so this should remind us how significant the commitment should be. The thing about vows (solemn promises or guarantees) is that they are only as good as what backs them up. A vow made today could easily be broken tomorrow, so how do we address this? We’re humans and unfortunately destined to fail on our own. We can all cite various marriage statistics and share stories about sad endings to marriages, but today I want to share some of the ways that our vows have remained intact and some reasons why there is joy in our marriage.

      1. 916ceremonyThe vow. We made promises that we both intended to keep. We had careful
        consideration and discussed marriage well before getting engaged. I knew Amy’s stance long before we were married; cheat and it is over. We don’t wonder what we’ll do if this doesn’t work out, we focus our commitment in doing what it takes to ensure that it does work out.
      2. Continuously recall why you chose the person in the first place. I love to make Amy laugh and sometimes I forget how powerful it is to make her laugh, it is like all the cares in the world melt away. I love to travel with her, I love dates with her, I love to pause and look into her lovely green eyes. This doesn’t all just happen; neither of us are close to perfect, so we need a lot of intentional practice. I believe many people grow apart because they forget this crucial aspect. It breaks my heart to hear a husband or wife refer to their partner negatively. YOU CHOSE the person, figure it out. Get help. Ask a friend. Pray fervently. You dated the person before you were married. Why did you stop dating? Excuses aren’t accepted; it is your life, your marriage that you chose. Have a dinner date at home when the kids go to bed (and don’t let the inmates run the prison, you are the parent, you control their bedtime). Have a one hour date on the porch, it is free. We’ve found that intentionally and frequently seeking distraction-free time together helps us communicate and refocus on each other.
      3. Putting Christ at the center of the marriage. This is where imperfection meets its match. Meaning, the more we recognize that we’re not perfect and that a perfect, loving God has given us so much grace, the more we realize how important it is to give grace to each other. I’m not the best listener, but Amy gives me grace. I think she does things too fast and she thinks I do things too slow, but we give each other grace. In Christ, our priorities are realigned from “me, myself, and I, then others get the leftovers” to “Jesus, others, myself”. As we grow spiritually, the more visibly we become the “new creation” that 2 Corinthians 5:17 refers to: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”
      4. Treating the marriage as an entity or an investment. Is it healthy? Does it need exercise? Is it being built up? Does it need input from others? Do the core principles need to be shared so that other marriages can be strengthened, and perhaps ours strengthened as well? Are books to help my career more important than books that strengthen my marriage and spiritual life?

2 Samuel 12; 2 Corinthians 5; Ezekiel 19; Psalms 64–65

Father God, thank you for the gift of marriage. Today I ask a special blessing on not only our marriage but all marriages. For the readers of this blog. For those who are hurting, lost, or lonely and feel there is no way out. Would you supernaturally pour out your love and show them your way? Would you speak to us and reveal your will? That we may point others to you as the source of all goodness, and to your son Jesus as our redeemer and king. Amen.

Love Songs

Picture Date: 12/23/2015

Today’s Reading: Numbers 10; Psalms 46–47; Song of Solomon 8; Hebrews 8 

May 3, 2016

What is true love?  As we finish up the Songs of Solomon I reflect on my own love, wedding, and marriage. God has an expectation for our love and marriages. I’d like to also share a story of a wonderful marriage between a couple, and a husband who was committed through it all. The other story is of the commitment and promise made by Christ to love us.

For at least a year my Uncle Fred would literally carry my Aunt Betty. Tireless arms that carried my aunt everywhere she wanted or needed to go. This physically took off about 50 lbs of his already small frame, but it did’t matter. Nothing else does. When she wasn’t able to walk from the couch to the bed, or if she needed to go to the bathroom, or when she needed a shower, it was all done together and by him.  My Aunt Betty Baker went to be with the Lord December 25, 2015. We love you and miss you and look forward to seeing you again in paradise.  My Aunt was one of the most fun, loving people you would meet. She has two sons (Shawn & Chris), her husband (Fred), and siblings (Donna & Carl) who would do anything for her if asked. They learned this from my aunt, who modeled this and gave everything to others. She put everyone before herself. My Aunt Betty & Uncle Fred’s stories remind me of Jesus when he told us to put others first. Philippians 2:3. Ultimately Jesus gave his life for ours.

The lifetime of my Aunt’s diabetes was bad and about a year before her passing she was given the option to go through dialysis daily.  She decided not to do this and had faith that God was in control of her life. Psalm 46 allowed my Aunt Betty to let Him be her strength. In our moments where hope could be lost she would “Be still” and know that He is God (Psalm 46:10).  Faith is not the assurance that everything will be OK; it’s the assurance that He is in control.  We can often forget this.

Song of Solomon 8:6-7 says: (6) Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm, for love is strong as death, jealousy is fierce as the grave.
Its flashes are flashes of fire, the very flame of the Lord. (7) Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it. If a man offered for love all the wealth of his house, he would be utterly despised.

Love is stronger than death; it doesn’t fold in time, or collapse by disaster, and it cannot be bought for any price. Love is priceless and will never die.  It is a gift from God.

The book of the Song of Solomon reminds me of this gift of Love to us and his guidelines he has established for us to live by in our marriages.  He is part of our marriages and in the love between my Aunt Betty & Uncle Fred in their marriage. Song of Solomon reminds me of the love God has for his people. My Uncle Fred would model characteristics of Ephesians 5:25-33 .  (Walking in love and putting others before yourself. JOY = Jesus Others Yourself) My Uncle Fred retired early to meet all her needs.  Jesus does the same for us.  All we have to do is call Him. Psalm 55:16

1 Corinthians 13 shares with us The Way of Love message It’s one of my favorites because it defines real love and how it is available to all people.

My Aunt Betty and I had many conversations in that last year about her faith and her comfort of what was ahead. I cried each time, but also had tears of joy knowing her eternal life and faith. Though physically fragile, she would overwhelm anyone with her huge heart and love for others. Song of Solomon tells of love, commitment, problems, and beauty. Through all things God loves us and has a place waiting for everyone who believes.  A husband and wife can honor God when they love and enjoy each other. I saw this in them and in my own marriage. I pray all our marriages exemplify what God’s love means. His love endures all things and will never end. God will take all our choices, mistakes, and failures and turn them into something good.

As you reflect on your marriage or others, think of your relationship with Christ. God’s love is freely there for us to take hold of. He is ready to start a new relationship with you that will be eternal. This year our marriage has been created new because of our relationship with Christ in our marriage. Those who walk daily with Him have heavenly resources available all the time.  As we grow closer to Him, we’ll grow closer to each other. When you walk in the light, you’ll grow in fellowship with each other.

Dear Father,

I pray for the strength, love, and guidance for all that have lost loved ones.  That we keep our faith in God and help us find joy in all we do. If you haven’t had faith in God I pray You’re love touches our heart and you understand He loves us and cares. Jeremiah 31:3 tells us about His everlasting love he has for us.  Thanks for the priceless gift of love and grace you share with us.  Lord we need you to continue to pour out your love to us.  Thank you for giving us ways to show this love.

Amen