Thursday, June 27, 2013

Strength For Every Trial

Have you ever noticed that after experiencing great spiritual victories, the valley of doubt is lurking near? As mere human beings we can often struggle with trusting the Lord as we should. One minute trusting in the Lord's strength and the next minute struggling with doubt and fear. Well, if you find yourself doing this at times, understand that you are not alone. There are many in the Bible that have done the same thing.

Today we want to consider the experience of Asa King of Judah (the southern Kingdom). Turn in your Bible to 1Kings 15:9ff.  Here we learn that Asa was a good King. (1 Kings 15:11) "And Asa did that which was right in the eyes of the LORD, as did David his father."  In the next several verses we find Asa reforming Judah so that they will conform to God's will. Unfortunately, he was not able to completely reform Judah for in v.14 we learn that he was not able to remove all the "high places" which were places of pagan worship. Yet we are also told in v.14 that "Asa's heart was perfect with the Lord all his days."  The word "perfect" means undivided, whole. In other words Asa was devoted to the Lord- desired to serve and please the Lord. Yet we will see that Asa did struggle with trust and disobedience. Even though he did struggle some, he still is quite a contrast to many Kings of the Old Testament.

Now turn to and read 2 Chronicles 14:9-15. Here Zerah brings an army of Ethiopians and Lubims (or Libyans in Africa near Egypt- 2Chron.16:8) numbering around a million men and three hundred chariots (v.9) against Asa. Some have doubted the number of men yet there are historical records of even bigger armies of that time period.  This is by the way the biggest army mentioned in the Bible. Can you imagine being Asa and facing this GREAT threat? What will he do? His army is FAR less than the opponent's. Look what he does in vv.11-12(2 Chronicles 14:11-12) "And Asa cried unto the LORD his God, and said, LORD, it is nothing with thee to help, whether with many, or with them that have no power: help us, O LORD our God; for we rest on thee, and in thy name we go against this multitude. O LORD, thou art our God; let not man prevail against thee. {man: or, mortal man} So the LORD smote the Ethiopians before Asa, and before Judah; and the Ethiopians fled."  WOW, what faith and trust seen in Asa!  God gave them the victory in a way that only He could. What a moral booster! what a faith building experience!

Now turn in your Bible to 2Chronicles 16 and read the chapter. Baasha King of Israel (The Northern Kingdom- remember that after Solomon Israel split into two Kingdoms) came to fight against Asa and the southern Kingdom of Judah.  But what an unfortunate turn of events that we read about here. Asa panics! He does not go to the LORD in prayer! Instead he turns to the King of Syria for help. He offers him great treasure from the "House of the Lord" (v.2). Ben-hadad agrees to help him. In vv.4ff. Ben-hadad fights against Israel the Northern Kingdom and cripples them. 

Asa got what he wanted. The threat from the North has been dealt with.  All is well, right? Well not quite!  Look at vv.7-8. (2 Chronicles 16:7-8) "And at that time Hanani the seer came to Asa king of Judah, and said unto him, Because thou hast relied on the king of Syria, and not relied on the LORD thy God, therefore is the host of the king of Syria escaped out of thine hand. Were not the Ethiopians and the Lubims a huge host, with very many chariots and horsemen? yet, because thou didst rely on the LORD, he delivered them into thine hand."  (this last part of the verse referring to 14:9-15

What happened to Asa's trust in the Lord? He forgot what God did for him in the past. Less we be to hard on Asa, don't we also do the same thing at times?  God gives us great victories in our lives and we are on "cloud nine," then the next great trial comes and we forget what God can and wants to do for us. If you know Jesus Christ as your personal Savior- trusting in Him alone for salvation, then we can have the confidence of a loving God watching over us.  (1 Peter 5:7) "Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you."  Asa forgot this!

Now for the "golden nugget" to help you to press on through any trouble or difficulty. Notice very carefully v.9. (2 Chronicles 16:9) "For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him. Herein thou hast done foolishly: therefore from henceforth thou shalt have wars."  Our great God is looking for people "whose heart is perfect toward Him." Again, as mentioned earlier, the word "perfect" means whole or undivided. God is looking for devoted believers who will trust Him completely so that He can show Himself strong in their lives. God wants to work in our lives! He is the God of all strength and power! There is nothing that He can't do! And He wants to work in our lives! Are we looking to and trusting Him to work on our behalf?  "To shew Himself strong" means to strengthen us, support us, to supply our need (if it is with in His will), to protect us, to defend us!  How can we loose with God fighting for us?  We have no reason to worry or become depressed over difficult situations.  Asa should have remembered God's great victory in Chapter 14, but he forgot and paid a price for it!  Are you trusting God to help you? Are you resting in His strength, love, and care? Memorize this wonderful verse and believe it with all of your heart!!

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