Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Lessons from Asa

My kindle goes with me most everywhere.  I have this strange quirk that when I turn on my kindle if I am in the middle of a chapter in a book that I at least finish that chapter before moving to a different book.  Yesterday as I was sitting in the chiropractor's office, my kindle was in II Chronicles and the story of Asa.   Asa was the great, great grandson of Solomon.  According to the scholars, he was the first good king since Solomon.  In 15:17, it says that "Asa was wholehearted his entire life."   As I read about his life, I was amazed at his boldness in bringing reform not only to his own family but to all of Israel.  Later as I  walked home from my appointment, I thought about Asa and what I could learn from his life.  Here are a few lessons from Asa.

1. Reform starts with getting rid of idols.  Asa took seriously the command to have no other gods before Yahweh in removing the pagan alters and high places.  How seriously do I take this command?  My idols may not be made of stone or gold but I have idols just the same that need to be dealt with.  What things do I think will satisfy me other than God?  I would never say that I think something else would satisfy more than God but what do my actions show?   Kelly Minter in her book, No Other gods: Confronting Our Modern Day Idol,  wrote about how she identifies idols in her life.  She said, "Inordinate fear, anger, bitterness, jealously, envy, sadness, and so on have been telling signs that have often led me straight to the far bigger issues of my life-the idols of my heart." (location 1229-32)  An idol that I struggle with is wanting to be looked at as a good teacher.  When I have a bad day at school and look back on why I became angry, I must admit it had more to do with my pride than the student's behaviour.   Wanting to be a good teacher is a good thing.  My problem is that I think being a good teacher is the ultimate thing.  God needs to be the ultimate thing in my life.  The ultimate thing that brings me identity and satisfaction.  

2. It is important to lead others in seeking God.  Asa led the people in seeking God.  He established a new covenant between God and the people.  Even some people from the tribes of Ephraim, Manasseh and Simeon immigrated to Judah because of these reforms.   Just a reminder to be diligent in leading my children in seeking God through my example and other ways.   Overseas it is often my interactions with and how I raise my children that bring the most comments and questions about my faith.  Something about God working in a family draws others to Him.  

3. Encouragement often leads to more reform and renewal.  When encouraged by the Prophet, Asa takes courage and removes more idols from the land.  I don't know if this was removing again what was removed before or if he was going deeper into getting rid of the idols in the land.  He even removed his grandmother from being Queen Mother because of her idol worship.  How is God encouraging me to get rid of more things that are interfering with my relationship with Him?  Also how am I encouraging others in their walk with God?  The prophet could have pointed out all that Asa still had to do.  Instead God through the prophet chose to focus on the positive and give a word of encouragement.   Am I seeing the progress or what still needs works?  

4.  Cry out to God in the big and little battles of life.  When outnumbered Asa cried out to God.  The Cushite army which was at least three time bigger than Asa's army had decided to invade Judah.   On the battlefield, Asa cried out to God for help.  "The Lord routed the Cushites before Asa and before Judah, and the Cushites fled." (IIChron 14:12) When I am feeling overwhelmed right then and there, do I cry out to God?  

5. How I take confrontation is important.  Asa didn't take confrontation well.  Later in his reign, he trusted in man rather than God by making a treaty with Aram to help with his conflict with Israel.  The prophet Hanani confronted Asa on this issue.  Asa was angry and put Hanani in prison and oppressed some of the people.   In contrast, David when confronted by Nathan over his sin with Bathsheba owned his sin and repented.  I wonder how much different the rest of Asa's reign would have been if he would have repented and submitted to the word of the Lord.  This is an area I am working on.  When confronted, how do I respond?  Do I get defensive?  Do I listen for truth?  My prayer is that when I sin, I will alway seek God's forgiveness and listen to His correction.

6. Just because someone starts out strong doesn't mean they will finish strong.  This truth is the saddest part of Asa's life.  Even in his last days, instead of turning to God in his sickness, Asa sought only the help of physicians.  This is one of those lessons on how not to end.  Seeking God is a daily thing.  It is a choice every minute of every day.  May we seek Him in the good times and the bad.  

God, Thank you that you give us the whole story in your word.  You give us the ups and downs of life. You tell it like it is.  May I serve you with a whole heart to the end.   Show me the idols in my heart.  Show me better how to lead others to seek you.  May you be glorified in all things, Amen

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