2 Chronicles 16: You were foolish to go for human help when you could have had God’s help.
These words are addressed to the man who prayed the wonderful prayer of 1 Chronicles 14. Now 26 years have passed and Asa’s nation is once again threatened. This time, though, he turns to the king of Aram for help, sending a “king’s ransom” to him in exchange for his support in the war. The combined force of Judah and their hired army is victorious and the enemy is defeated. As Asa celebrates this God’s man Hanani shows up. He tells Asa that God’s not pleased with him. In fact, the Lord’s insulted that Asa would trust in Ben-Hadad instead of himself. The consequence will be a series of wars, one round after another. I wonder if I, like Asa, insult the Almighty. Do I turn anywhere but heavenward in dealing with the issues of life? The very same God who saw me through in the past stands ready to see me through the issues of this day. In fact, that’s his preference! The Lord doesn’t say, “When you’ve tried everything else without success, I’ll help you.” Instead, his message is a wonderful word of commitment. He promises that if I call he’ll answer. God doesn’t want to be my last chance. Rather, he wants to be my Partner in every issue of life.
Take Away: Don’t make God your last resource…he wants to be your first.
What a wonderful promise!
2 Chronicles 15: If you look for him he will let himself be found.
The name “Azariah” appears often in the Old Testament, but I think this is the only incident in which we hear from this particular prophet of God. Asa has just won a miraculous battle and is returning home to celebrate his victory when he’s met by this man of God. Azariah has a message from the Lord for Asa. The Lord has good things in mind for Asa and for his kingdom. If Asa will keep his head screwed on straight and keep his eyes on God he’ll be blessed with the unfailing presence of the Lord throughout his reign. Asa takes this message to heart and goes all out for God. He calls his subjects to “seek God…wholeheartedly, holding nothing back.” The result is just what the Lord promised. God shows up bringing peace and prosperity to the kingdom. This is a wonderfully encouraging passage. God wants to bless us and help us and be with us. He promises to make himself available to those who seek him. A family, church, or nation that covenants to seek God wholeheartedly gets God’s attention and receives his blessings. I’m not thinking so much of health and wealth here as I am about spiritual well-being. Still, I think that living in an intimate relationship with God brings blessings that often spill over into our lives in unexpected, pleasant ways. Either way, the promise of God’s presence and his willingness to be “found” ought to excite us and stir us to action.
Take Away: The Lord isn’t playing hide and seek with us. Rather, he makes himself wonderfully available to all who seek him.
Don’t waste the blessings of life
2 Chronicles 14: While we have the chance and the land is quiet, let’s build a solid defense system.
Asa’s one of the good guys to lead Judah. He enjoys 10 years of peace in the early part of his reign and he takes full advantage of it. Now only does he clean house, getting rid of the idols, etc. that have crept into his kingdom he also persuades his subjects to join him in fortifying the major cities of Judah. Any nation should be thankful for 10 years of peace. After all, peace is an all too rare national condition. Sorry to say but history proves that the “war to end all wars” is yet to be fought. So even when peace is achieved and we’re tempted to dismantle our defenses and focus on other things, reality calls us to take advantage of the current situation by preparing for whatever comes next. Not only is this true on the national scale, it’s true of our individual lives as well. Life has both good and bad days. When things are going well we need to be careful we don’t foolishly act as though hard times are gone forever. Most certainly they aren’t. On one hand, I want to enjoy the good things that come to me. I want to look toward heaven and say a sincere word of thanks and live as though I really appreciate the blessings that come. On the other hand, I want to be aware that life won’t always be easy. As much as I’m able I want to prepare for the day when it’ll be my turn to experience some of the hardship of life. Asa’s a good king because he doesn’t “waste the peace.” From a personal point of view, I don’t want to “waste the blessings” either.
Take Away: Live wisely.
Thumbs up for Jehoshaphat
1Kings 22: No detours, no dead ends — pleasing God with his life.
We first meet Jehoshaphat when he insists that a prophet of God be called in when a decision to go to war is being made. That alone speaks well of this King of Judah. Now we find his short biography in the closing paragraphs of 1 Kings. His father was King Asa who also receives high marks and now we are told that Jehoshaphat is a “chip off the old block.” He seeks to please God in all his life and he refuses to drift off the road the Lord laid out for him. When Jehoshaphat insists to Ahab that the Lord be consulted before he’ll commit to war, he’s simply making decisions in the way he always makes decisions. When I read that Jehoshaphat pleased God because he was single minded in obeying the Lord and when I see the example of this in the meeting with Ahab I’m challenged to listen carefully to, and obey fully, the guidance the Lord gives me in my life.
Take Away: Generally speaking, what a person does when the chips are down is a continuation of what they’re in the habit of doing in the first place.
The heart of the matter
1Kings 15: His heart was in the right place, in tune with God.
Both Israel and Judah are traveling down the same miserable road of spiritual failure. Jeroboam, the first king of Israel, messes up “royally” and God tells him he’s going to toss him out like the garbage. Rehoboam, son of wise Solomon and grandson of faithful David, also fails. He follows Jeroboam in selling out to the worship of the idol Asherah. Meanwhile the precious Temple is raided by Egyptian forces and much of its wealth carried off even as Judah and Israel make war with one another. After Rehoboam’s son, Abijah, rules for just three years, his grandson, Asa, comes to the throne. Finally there’s some good news. Asa picks up where his ancestor David left off some 60 years earlier. He isn’t quite the man David was, but he’s like David where it matters most: “his heart is in the right place.” As we learned way back when we saw David being anointed as king, God looks on the heart. Today, my relationship with the Lord isn’t performance based. I certainly want to be pleasing to the Lord in all I do, but that isn’t the bottom line. More than proper performance, God wants, in me, a heart that’s right. My prayer is for a heart that’s in tune with God.
Take Away: I want to always do the right thing, but even more, I want to always be the right person in the eyes of the Lord.