Yes, I am aware that it is Mother’s Day, and I have the greatest Mom in the world and love the idea of celebrating our mothers. However, for the second year in a row, I am going to have to apologize because once more, the content of this message is not simply focused on mothering. However, let me say two things: 1) I will preach on mothers and wives at some point soon, and 2) I believe that the principle which we will learn this morning from the text is exactly what any Mom needs to learn in order to parent in the way that she should.
However, this morning, I want to continue an idea we started a couple of weeks back and proceed in understanding a vision for how God wants to use us. To refresh your memory, two weeks ago we looked at John 6 (Jesus feeding the 5000) and from that text we discerned that God wants us to be a people who walk by faith. He wants us not to operate from what we have (i.e. the two-hundred denarri Phillip mentioned, but added that it was not sufficient), but rather simply to see good works and needs, and then trust Him to provide that we may join in them. Then last week, we pointed out why it will work—because God has established a principle and a promise in 2 Corinthians 9 that if we seek a good work, He will make grace abound that we may have all that we need, and He will allow us to reap bountifully if we sow bountifully. Finally, in Brownsville, we saw that this vision for God using us as this channel fits into His overall purpose because He has decreed from Matthew 24:14 that the gospel will be preached in every nation (to every people group), and then the end will come.
This morning, I want us to see from 2 Chronicles 16 why I believe that God is actually more eager than we are at seeing this vision come to fruition by looking at the life of King Asa. Then, I want to end the message giving us some specific application for what we as Cornerstone Community Church should do.
First, let me set in our minds what has happened leading up to this chapter and in the chapter itself.
When David was king of Israel (around 1000 B.C.) the nation was prosperous. He was a good king and God blessed him greatly. After David’s reign, his son, Solomon, became king of Israel. After Solomon’s death around 922 B.C. the kingdom of Israel divided into the northern kingdom called Israel and the southern kingdom called Judah. The first king of Judah was named Rehoboam. When he died, his son, Abijah became king and ruled for only three years. Finally, Abijah’s son, Asa, became king—the same Asa we read of in chapter 16.
Asa reigned as king of Judah for 41 years. The first thirty-five years of that reign came before our text this morning, and they were pretty good years for Asa. But in the 36th year, the king of Israel (the northern kingdom), Baasha, came against Asa and Judah (verse 1). As kind of a siege against Judah, he built a fortified city called Ramah. It enabled him to control the access to Judah.
So, Asa’s in trouble. But what he did is very interesting. What he should have done was prayed and asked God to help him. We will see in a bit that he had done this in the past and had seen God move. But on this occasion he “brought out silver and gold from the treasuries of the house of the LORD and the king’s house, and sent them to Ben-hadad king of Aram” (verse 2).
So he pays Ben-hadad to attack Israel from the North, which he does (verse 4), and then Baasha, the king of Israel, backs off and Asa is free from this threat. And everything seems great, but there is a problem. And the problem paves the way for Asa to live these last five years of his life in misery and die, I’m sure, a very bitter man.
What Asa did wrong is that he relied on man, what man can do, and what money he had instead of relying on God. And in verse 7 we read what happened. “At that time Hanani the seer came to Asa king of Judah and said to him ‘Because you have relied on the king of Aram and have not relied on the LORD your God, therefore the army of the king of Aram has escaped out of your hand.” This is the trap that I tried to preach against two weeks ago and it is what I am warning us not to fall into this morning. I call it a trap because it is something that had to have built up slowly over thirty-five years and was greatly manifested in these last years.
The end of verse 9 says, “You have acted foolishly in this. Indeed, from now on you will surely have wars." Yet Asa continued this lack of trust to his death. Verse 12 says, “And in the thirty-ninth year of his reign Asa became diseased in his feet. His disease was severe, yet even in his disease he did not seek the LORD, but the physicians." He slipped into a situation of not relying on God to so much of an extent that even in his illness and death, he did not seek the Lord.
Let me give you several reasons why it is not only good to live a life of reliance on God and not on yourselves, but why it is a danger not to do so. And then I believe we will understand even more how Biblical it is for a church, and the individuals of which it is made, to walk by faith.
1) We miss the blessings of God by not relying on Him. In this story I am sure that king Asa wanted great things to happen, and, upon Baasha’s retreat, I am sure he thought he was witnessing great gain. But as the seer told him, the king of Aram escaped from his hand because he did not rely on the Lord. What this means is that God not only wanted to protect Asa from king Baasha, but He wanted to give him Aram as well. He missed out on that by trusting in money (the temple money at that) and man.
And the odd thing is that God had proven himself faithful in the past. Verse 8 tells us of one event. “Were not the Ethiopians and the Lubim an immense army with very many chariots and horsemen? Yet, because you relied on the LORD, He delivered them into your hand.” God had delivered an army of a million men and three hundred chariots (14:9) into his hands in the past and yet now he did not trust Him.
But lest we marvel, let me remind you that faults are more easily seen in individuals other than ourselves. It’s crazy to think that there have been times in my life that God has provided miraculously and yet it’s hard to trust him to come through again. In fact, sometimes (like Asa) the only time we rely on God is when we don’t see how we can do it. Asa saw a way he could accomplish something, but he missed out on God’s blessings. Let this serve us as a reminder that even if you believe you have the ability to do something, ask God to help you and guide you that you may see the work of His hands instead of your own.
Let me note, the time you see this folly most is in business meetings. It is there that our true theology comes out. I remember one time when Dad was advocating that we give more to missions, a man said, “I could go along with that if more people were moving into the community and were flocking into this place, but I don’t and therefore, why do we think we can give more to missions?” Such thinking is what results in many of the children of God missing out on the great blessings He wants to work in their lives.
2) It is impossible to please God without relying on Him. We can easily see from Scripture as a whole why God was not pleased with the actions of Asa. For one, God’s passion is to bring glory to Himself. That is the reason for all the crazy events of the Exodus—“That they may know that I am the LORD.” And the second we rely on ourselves, we put ourselves in a position to receive glory due only to God.
That’s why we pray week in and week out, “God, please let everything done today be done in your strength.” As 1 Peter 4:11 says, “Whoever serves, let him do so as by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever.” And to rely on God to strengthen you for such, it requires faith. That is much the reason I believe Hebrews 11:6 tells us, “Without faith it is impossible to please God.”
The third reason we should aim at walking by faith and relying on God, I believe, is the most exciting.
3) God is eager to show His power of behalf of those who will trust Him. Verse 9 is one of the most astounding verses in all of Scripture, “For the eyes of the LORD move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His.”
This is one of those times that I want to scream, “Did you all just hear that” because it blew me away when I read it a couple of weeks ago. God is actually searching the earth for people who are seeking to fully rely on Him. We’ve asked, “Is this vision is God’s ultimate purpose.” It is so much in His purpose, that He is seeking people to minister in a way that they need God to provide for them. He is looking for such people because He wants to “strongly support” them. In other words, God wants us to be a people through whom He can work miraculously even more than we want Him to work miraculously through us. Though we might get impatient as God has been equipping us to have the character needed for such a work, He was seeking us long before our eyes were open to seeking Him, that He might work in this fashion.
God is looking for a people who will decide not to rely on their number of people, or their talents, or their money. He is simply looking for a people who will completely and wholly rely on Him. That is what the context requires the words “whose heart is completely His” to mean. God is looking constantly so that he will never miss an opportunity to show his might on behalf of a weak people who are totally relying on Him. We have actually come to a point (by God’s grace) that our eyes have been opened to His will and working, and our job now is to join Him in it by taking steps to completely rely on Him.
Now, what does this mean that we are to do as a church. Well, I said a couple of weeks back that we should look at what needs there are that must be attended to and ask God to use us to meet them. And I think in the future, this will become more and more clear. But I think there is something that we need to start doing right now. I think we need to go back to our budget and re-evaluate what we are giving where and how much, and I think we need a budget reflecting that we are relying on God. Now, I don’t think I need to clarify, but I do not want to budget this money for ourselves. Now, I know we need to make improvements on the building, the bathroom, the parking lot, and what not, and that is fine and good. But, I think our main focus needs to be increasing our budget in the area of giving—to such areas as Heart Cry and others. And we need to raise it in these areas to such a point that we cannot see how God can provide. That way, at least in one area we can be focused on a matter in prayer (and in our Sunday night prayer time), and we can start to see God provide miraculously—or as the passage tells us, show His might on our behalf. And then we will expand to more and more areas of giving, sowing bountifully into His kingdom.
What I am saying is that we need to take practical steps in stepping out on faith and relying on God. And I know that there are many other areas besides the one that I mentioned, but we need to start somewhere, and I think there is a good start. So let’s pray for one another. And I assure you that as I get together with Jonathan and Mark, that we will come to decisions on our faces before the Lord.
This is an exciting time in the life of the church. The question we all need to be asking is, “What role can I play in that?” (And on that note, I will be getting a list of ministry opportunities out soon so we can discuss that as a body.) We need to be asking, “God, how do you want to use me within the body?” In what area is He showing you that you need to be relying more on Him? Trust Him and seek His face for He is looking to “strongly support” such a person.