Category: Realization


Scripture

2 Chronicles 16:7-10 (NIV)

7 At that time Hanani the seer came to Asa king of Judah and said to him: “Because you relied on the king of Aram and not on the Lord your God, the army of the king of Aram has escaped from your hand.
8 Were not the Cushites and Libyans a mighty army with great numbers of chariots and horsemen? Yet when you relied on the Lord, he delivered them into your hand. 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.”
10 Asa was angry with the seer because of this; he was so enraged that he put him in prison. At the same time Asa brutally oppressed some of the people.

Observation

Times are tough and we have nowhere to turn, we seek the Lord and He blesses us. He delivers us from bondage and brings us into peaceful shores with plenty. When times become tough again, instead of seeking the Lord, we look to our strength to do His work. Is His arm too short to save? Perhaps, we believe what we are doing is according to His will and is wise. We are told to ask for wisdom and believe that we have received it (James 1:5). What do we do, however, when we find out what we did was wrong in the eyes of the Lord? We don’t want to do what King Asa did.

King Asa was the first king of Judah to seek the Lord since King Solomon. Judah had turned away from God to follow the work of their own hands. When Asa needed encouragement it was given to him through the prophet Azariah (2 Chronicles 15:8). After hearing from the Lord through Azariah, Asa “removed the detestable idols from the whole land of Judah and Benjamin and from the towns he had captured in the hills of Ephraim” and “repaired the altar of the Lord” (2 Chronicles 15:8 NIV). Furthermore, Asa “also deposed his grandmother Maakah from her position as queen mother” and destroyed the Asherah pole she had made (2 Chronicles 15:16 NIV). After committing these acts of repentance, Asa brought all of the people of the lands together (2 Chronicles 15:9). There were so many immigrants to Judah from Israel because the people saw everything that God was doing in the land and knew that He was with Judah (2 Chronicles 15:9). All of Judah swore an oath to follow God with all their heart and soul and so the Lord gave them peace for 20 years (2 Chronicles 15:19).

When King Baasha of Israel attacks Judah, after so many years of peace, King Asa turns to King Ben-Hadad of Syria and seeks his help in defeating King Baasha (2 Chronicles 16:2). Now, I don’t know what King Asa was thinking. Perhaps, after so many years of ruling the kingdom and having peace, he thought that he was acting wisely. Surely, it makes sense to seek an ally in times of war? I’m reminded of the proverb, “there is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death” (Proverbs 14:22 NIV). Our motivation for why we do things is important. However, I think what is more important is how we respond in the face of a rebuke from the Lord. We know that a wise person will accept a rebuke with the love that is intended (Proverbs 15:31). Proverbs 9:8 tells us “Do not rebuke an evil one, lest he hate you, but rebuke a wise one, for he will love you” (Aramaic Bible). Asa’s response to Hanani the seer could only be described as that of an evil man. Asa threw Hanani into prison, tortured him, and then went after those who supported the Lord (2 Chronicles 16:10). Asa held onto his anger until he died, no longer seeking the Lord.

There’s one thing about King Asa that stands out to me. He once had faith in God and then he lost it. When we come to Christ, as new Believers, we may do as King Asa did and get rid of all the things from our former life. What this looks like to each person is going to be specifically different with the same general premise. Everything that contributed to our sins we turn away from. Whatever our lifestyle once was it should largely cease to be. The inward change that God does when we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior will be reflected in our external lives. What happened to Asa to turn him from a devote follower of God who executed anyone who didn’t follow the Lord (2 Chronicles 15:13) into a man who, despite the horrible affliction of his feet, refused to turn to the Lord for healing? (2 Chronicles 16:12)

I suppose the answer to what happened to King Asa is no different than what can happen to you and me when we put our trust in anything other than God. One of the hardest lessons I have learned as a Christian is that nothing on this side of Heaven that is healed by God has to stayed healed by God. Very early in my journey as a new Christian, I faced some very hard struggles. My wife, who was a Christian, had prayed with the church for my salvation for over five years. Even though I wasn’t a Christian I went to church. I can only imagine how hard it was for her and for my church family to see me in church Sunday after Sunday, unsaved for so many years. Had it been me, waiting on the Lord, I think that I would have given up on me.

My marriage, at the time, had been on rocky ground. Once I was saved, God started to heal it as He healed my heart. My wife and I were the “stars” of the church. We shared testimonies and became a beacon for the healing of God. We counseled couples and saw other people through tough times. Our life together had taken off and was going someplace until it wasn’t. In a time of testing our marriage broke, again. I had believed that what God healed would stay healed. I had believed that the words of promise spoken over our marriage would continue and never fail. I was wrong.

When the marriage broke I turned away from the church. From my family. I cast blame and couldn’t take the pain. I didn’t blame God. I still loved Him, but I slowly started to do more and more things that weren’t in my best interest until I found myself sick. Like King Asa, I had developed a sickness in my body. It was during that time of great pain and affliction that nothing mattered to me more than being with God. Whether it was in the body or Heaven. I needed Him, His grace, and His healing. “Please heal me or let me die,” I said to Him. Then He showed me something so clearly. An arm that was broken and then healed can break again.

I had supplemented my faith in God with trust in my marriage. An arm, like that marriage, could break again. However, God can never fail. I don’t know if King Asa placed his trust in himself and his understanding of God. If twenty years of peace and prosperity lulled him into believing in his strength. I do know that when Asa was faced with a choice to repent from his pride or turn back and follow God, that Asa held onto the comfort of being right.

Would you like to be saved from the fear of death? Knowing that when you die you will be in an eternity filled with love, joy, and peace where there is no longer pain and suffering? Would you like to walk free of guilt today? To have your sins forgiven by the grace of God and to know true peace, here and now?

Pray this prayer with me to accept the gift of salvation today:

Dear Lord Jesus, I know that I am a sinner, and I ask for Your forgiveness. I believe You died for my sins and rose from the dead. I turn from my sins and invite You to come into my heart and life. I want to trust and follow You as my Lord and Savior. Amen.

If you prayed that prayer then congratulations! You are on the first step of a brand new life. Allow me to be the first to welcome you to my family, the family of God. There are abundant resources available online for new Christians. You can visit here for more information on what to do next. You can also leave me a comment and I’ll do my best to help you on the next step of this incredible journey.

Scripture

Ephesians 6:12 (NIV)

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

Observation

Did you know that there are at least 21 different words to describe the wind in various places of the world? The wind can erode mountains and topple buildings. We hear its sound and we can feel it on our bodies. The wind is important to our ecosystem. It can carry seeds from one place to another (anemochory). We respect the wind. Its power and its force, but we can’t see it. We know that it’s real because we can see, we can feel and we can hear its effects.

Do we rail against it? Wage war against it? Are there wanted posters for it? Of course not. I’d say that most of us just live with it and let it do whatever it wants to do. We work around it in our lives. We build shelters to protect us from it. For the most part, we treat evil the same way as we do the wind. We build prisons, hire police, create laws, and wage war against the physical forces of evil.

We treat the symptoms of evil with carnal weapons when evil can only be fought and defeated by spiritual means. We wage war against flesh and blood. We see the effects of fighting evil with carnal weapons and we think we are winning by the body count it brings. How’s that working for us? 150 million to 1 billion estimated lives lost throughout the wars in human history with at least 108 million people killed in wars in the twentieth century.

Since evil is a spiritual force, like the wind is a nature force, we can only fight evil through spiritual means. How do we fight spiritual forces? Do we pray against them? No, we pray for people. We pray that God’s will be done. We lift prayers to God and let Him fight the battles for us knowing that only He can win the day.

Scripture

Proverbs 16:27-28 (NIV)

27 A scoundrel plots evil,
and on their lips it is like a scorching fire.
28 A perverse person stirs up conflict,
and a gossip separates close friends.

Observation

One of the things that I love about God is that He confirms His word. If we’re not listening or paying attention we can miss what God is saying to us. However, when we are listening and hear Him speak to us He is so gracious that He’ll continue to talk to us to let us know a few things.

  1. It is God speaking.
  2. He’s serious about what He’s talking to you about.
  3. He wants you to understand what He’s saying.

For the last couple of months, my wait problem has been on my mind. During my devotional time yesterday, the Lord brought some verses to my attention so I wrote about them. I didn’t doubt that it was God who brought these verses to my mind, nor did I doubt what He said to me while I was writing. However, it was awesome when this morning, in church, my Pastor’s message was about waiting on the Lord. This message delivered by the Pastor was a confirmation to me that it’s been God talking to me and that He wasn’t done.

Is it just me or does it seem like they like to talk about food in church on Sunday mornings, a lot? It might just be me since I rarely eat breakfast. Before the lockdown, I would often stop off at a nearby Panda Express after church. Since I’ve only been back to church for about a month it’s been a while since I’ve eaten at Panda Express.

I’d like to tell you that, while I was waiting in the long line, I was thinking about how cool it was to have lines to wait in again. I will tell you that the thought did cross my mind. The thoughts that stuck in my mind though, I might not have even remembered if I didn’t have to wait. Not just in line. By the time I got to the front they were out of two of the three things that I wanted.

I like rice. I do. When I go to Panda Express I like their chow mein. They were out of chow mein and had to cook some more, so I placed my order, paid, and then sat down to wait some more. The wait was going to be some time, so I broke out my Bible app and dove in.

I love it when the Bible speaks to me in real-time. Sometimes it might be more about the issues in my life at the moment or about someone else’s issues. Usually, it’s giving me guidance and wisdom regarding what I might consider more important matters.

So, here I am waiting for my food at Panda Express. I’m reading Proverbs 16:26, “The appetite of laborers works for them; their hunger drives them on” (NIV). Thank you Lord, you’re funny! Then I read verses 27 and 28:

A scoundrel plots evil,
and on their lips it is like a scorching fire.
A perverse person stirs up conflict,
and a gossip separates close friends (NIV).

Ouch. While I was waiting in line one of the things that came to remembrance was the last time I had been here. They were out of something and I had to wait. I didn’t mind the wait last time, it gave me a chance to pray for people there and just sit down and relax. However, there it was, this time, in my head bouncing around and playing tag with my evil thoughts. I’m not a scoundrel, I told the Lord. I was just wondering if there was a manager around. Surely, if there were so many people here now, at this time of day they should plan for it, right? When I managed a retail store I had to know how the traffic was during the week and plan accordingly.

It’s funny how we will try and defend ourselves. It’s even more amusing when we try and do it before God. Like Adam blaming God for putting Eve there. No sooner did I plea my case when God hits me with Proverbs 16:2, “All a person’s ways seem pure to them, but motives are weighed by the Lord” (NIV). After that, it was like all these verses that I had just read in Proverbs 16 in the last couple of minutes hit me at once.

To humans belong the plans of the heart, but from the Lord comes the proper answer of the tongue (1).
The Lord works out everything to its proper end, even the wicked for a day of disaster (4).
The Lord detests all the proud of heart. Be sure of this: They will not go unpunished (5).
Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall (18).
Better a patient person than a warrior, one with self-control than one who takes a city (31).

And I repented. You are right, Lord. I’m sorry. Forgive me. Thank you for bringing it to my attention. This whole discussion with the Lord took all of 10 seconds or so. It was just that fast. Then He tells me, “Whoever gives heed to instruction prospers, and blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord” (Proverbs 16:20 NIV).

This is another great thing that I love about our God. There was never any condemnation or judgment as He brought all those verses to mind. He is a good Father. He always speaks the Truth to me and He does it in love. Talk about blessed.

Do you know God? He loves you. He’s not mad at you and He wants you to know Him. He already knows you and He would rather die than not have you in His family. Jesus died for your sins and mine so that we could be free of guilt, be freed from death, and live eternally with Him.

Pray this prayer with me to accept the gift of salvation today:

Dear Lord Jesus, I know that I am a sinner, and I ask for Your forgiveness. I believe You died for my sins and rose from the dead. I turn from my sins and invite You to come into my heart and life. I want to trust and follow You as my Lord and Savior. Amen.

If you prayed that prayer then congratulations! You are on the first step of a brand new life. Allow me to be the first to welcome you to my family, the family of God. There are abundant resources available online for new Christians. You can visit here for more information on what to do next. You can also leave me a comment and I’ll do my best to help you on the next step of this incredible journey.

Scripture

Proverbs 13:19 (NIV)
A longing fulfilled is sweet to the soul,
but fools detest turning from evil.

Proverbs 14:12 (NIV)
There is a way that appears to be right,
but in the end it leads to death.

Observation

Have you ever peeked at a present before it was time to open it or had someone ruin a surprise? What about that movie you wanted to see or that book you were reading and somehow the ending was spoiled? You might think I’m crazy, but when I’m at the theater and the previews come on I close my eyes and put my hands over my ears. I want to be able to fully enjoy a film or book. It’s all about the journey. You’d think that with this attitude that it would be easy to wait on God. Right?

I “know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28 NIV), so why do I fret when I see the sign, “Slow Rough Road Ahead” in my life? It says it right there on the sign, “Slow.” When I’m driving my car, I slow down. I don’t want to have an accident. How much more, should I slow down in my life? When God “makes me lie down in green pastures” (Psalm 23:2 NIV) why don’t I slow down and allow Him to “lead me beside quiet waters” (Psalm 23:2 NIV)? I know the scriptures! I know that I plan my way and you God, you order my steps (Proverbs 16:9). Why am I like this? Why do I fuss and whine and want it now?! Don’t you know, Father, it says it right here in your word, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life” (Proverbs 13:12 NIV)! I have hoped and hoped and hoped for so many years…

Then He tells me, “I delight in your journey.”