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

Do Not Lose Heart

Good morning!

If you need some encouragement today, open right up to 2 Corinthians Chapter 4.
Paul opens and closes his letter with the message “Do not lose heart”, and I love the three message points he gives to support this message.
A third grade writing teacher would be proud of his intro, three supporting points, and a conclusion that restates his main message!
Paul gives us examples of how we may lose heart, specifically in ministry. Have you ever felt called to something and then when you are smack dab in the middle of it you start questioning the entire thing? How could this have been from God, it’s going terribly off track?  There are so many examples of this all around us.
  • Families fighting through government red tape to adopt a child.
  • Missionaries overseas who lose their funding unexpectedly.
  • A new college grad, eager and ready to serve but cannot find a job.
  • Parents everywhere who question their decisions and if they’re messing up their children!

Whatever ministry God has called you to, know that you are not alone in doubts, setbacks, feeling crushed from every side. (verse 9).  I love the encouragement Don’t Dig Up in Doubt What You Planted in Faith. 

The next point we are given is where our power comes from to overcome – the Holy Spirit! We are like jars of clay filled with an amazing power from God. The power is from Him, not from ourselves! If He calls you, He will equip you, even if in the moment you find yourself scratching your head and wondering how it will work out. You can’t do it alone – but He will do it through you!
Finally, Paul refocuses us on why we should not lose heart – because our glory is in eternity! All of the worries and afflictions of this life are nothing in comparison to eternity with Jesus! As our earthly bodies waste away, our hearts are being renewed and we are closer to eternity. If you’ve never seen this 4 minute video on eternity, click and watch Francis Chan as he shares this powerful visual.    https://youtu.be/86dsfBbZfWs
It’s so easy to focus on the small part of our lives that’s on earth, instead of the forever that will be with Jesus in heaven.

I am Ready

Then Paul answered, What mean ye to weep and to break mine heart? for I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus. And when he would not be persuaded, we ceased , saying, The will of the Lord be done.  Acts 21:13-14

Are you ready? I reflect on these couple verses found in the middle of Acts 21 and think of how many times I have been fearful, lacked trust, listened to the world, or allowed myself to be influenced by others.  To focus on me and not do the, “Will of the Lord“. My personal excuses in these moments could include; I wasn’t ready yet, no time, over-extended, or, afraid of a perception that others would possibly judge me by. I can be lost or selfishly looking at me at times without letting the will of our Lord take hold of all aspects of my life.

Today, as we continue to grow in the wisdom of what Paul shares with us in Acts, we can be encouraged to show courage.  Paul shows how not to be afraid and to share His word even when fear can be on the horizon.  Be inspired! This courage found in Paul is inside of all of us! Think, what if when Agabus approached Paul and other believers, after taking Paul’s belt for the purposes of modeling to him the bounding that was going to transpire. What if Paul in that moment said, “You know what Agabus, your right let’s stop spreading the good news.” No way!!! Paul’s faith and God’s grace gave him courage. Think,  How many eternal lives would of been lost if Paul didn’t do the Lord’s will.

As a staff our school has been reading a book called Move Your Bus written by Ron Clark.  In this book there is a parable about a bus that doesn’t have a gas tank but  moves based on those that are on the bus.  In the book these people can consist of; runners, joggers, walkers, riders, and the driver. I share this story because I think of Paul.  Paul is a runner.  He is not walking, going for the ride, or choosing his moments to run.  He is a full-time runner.  He’s ready for anything. Whatever needs to be done, and when it needs doing.  Paul is there ready to work  without persuasion. He simply loves God and knows the only way for others to get to have a relationship with Him is through sharing the truth.  Paul doesn’t give in or decide to remain silent. He knew God’s will for him.

Now none of us enjoy physical pain, hardships, or hurt. But through faith, our desire to please God can overshadow the avoidance of suffering. I’m sure Paul didn’t enjoy being bound, beat, and having to go through all the humility and pain.  Yet his main focus was to do God’s will and he accepted it all. In these times like Paul we can say, “The will of the Lord be done.” 

It’s hard for me to say no.  I want to do as much as I can for God, family, friends, and others. But, when God is not involved I can struggle with knowing what is for me and what is for Him. Help our desires to be on Him.

God, I pray now for wisdom and discernment to keep you at the center of all our decisions.  That when you open doors for us we enter. Give us courage like Paul. Let your will be done!  – Amen

In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples. Luke 14:33

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

I love verse 15 that follows. (15)And after those days we took up our carriages, and went up to Jerusalem.  Paul’s courage has an impact on others. After pleading with Paul to not go to Jerusalem, and Paul saying basically too bad, I’m doing the Lord’s will. The rest of the group who all wanted to turn around joined Paul in his mission.  That’s leadership. His courage affected them. God’s will!

6 For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race,I have kept the faith. 2 Timothy 4:6-7

33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. Matthew 6:33-34

Are you ready? 

Dear God,

Thank you for your word. We know you desire a total commitment to you from us. We give up ourselves to follow you and your will. Use us to accomplish all goals planned for our lives.  Amen

Courage

Luke 23

What emotions arise in you when you read of Jesus’ crucifixion, death, and burial in Luke 23? Although I know it was part of God’s plan and Jesus willingly gave His life for you and me, anger at the Council, Pontius Pilate, and the people yelling “Crucify Him!” is one feeling that is stirred up in me often times.

Today though, let’s focus on the courage shown in Luke 23, instead of the cowardly actions of the Council, Pontius Pilate, and the people. The first act of courage we see is shown by Jesus. I had a Sunday school teacher growing up who would cry nearly every time he spoke of Jesus’ death. In my young age and immaturity, I did not understand why this moved him so much. Now older, and maybe a tad bit wiser, I think about the sacrifice, pain felt, and courage shown by Jesus to justify not what He had done, but because of what I have done, and it can move me to tears often, too. Watching The Passion of Christ movie really helps to grasp this. If you have not seen this movie, I strongly suggest you do.

The second act of courage in Luke 23 is that of one of the two criminals being crucified next to Jesus. While the people below and the other criminal being crucified mocked Jesus telling Him to save Himself if He truly was the Christ, this criminal stepped up with great courage. He was willing to be different and asked Jesus in Luke 23:42 to “remember me when you come into your Kingdom.” Although we don’t know his name, we are assured that Jesus does. He says in Luke 23:43, “Truly I say to you, today you will be with Me in paradise.” This is also a good reminder for each one of us and to others we love that need to know Jesus that regardless of what sins we have done and no matter how many times we’ve committed them, anyone can be saved if they believe in Jesus and ask for forgiveness, even in the last seconds of their life. It is never too late.

The last act of courage we see is that of Joseph of Arimathea who went to Pilate in Luke 23:52 and asked for Jesus’ body to give him a proper burial. Had he not just seen what they did to Jesus and the contempt they had for Him? But greater than that, we are told in Luke 23:50 that He was a member of the Council…the same group that had Jesus arrested and just asked Pilate to kill Jesus. However, Luke 23:51 tells us that he was “looking for the Kingdom of God” and that he “had not consented to their decision and action.” Wow…talk about showing courage and a willingness to stand up for what you believe is right!

As I reflect on this, I ask myself the following questions. Am I looking for the Kingdom of God like Joseph of Arimathea? Am I willing to take a stand, despite criticism for doing so, like the criminal on the cross who asked Jesus to remember him in paradise despite mocking from the other criminal and likely the people below? Am I willing to be different and live the type of life we are called to live as the Bible instructs us? Or am I conforming to what the world tells me is right? Although I can never be perfect like Jesus, am I striving to be more like Him daily and following His example? Am I like the criminal who gave His life to Jesus? Am I like Joseph of Arimathea who was willing to be different, not only risking his reputation, but potentially his life? Or unintentionally and unbeknownst to me, am I more like one in the crowd yelling “Crucify Him?” I do know one thing is for sure, I am forever and immeasurably grateful for Jesus’ love, mercy, forgiveness, and saving grace!