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Devotional July 1 2020

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Devotional July 1, 2020

            I have taken a break from writing these devotionals, but as a new month comes and we continue to see some of the same issues and struggles around us, I thought I would get back into writing these devotionals.  This morning I want us to consider Asa in 2 Chronicles 14 when he and the army of Judah faced down a fighting force of more than a million men plus 300 chariots.

            Asa was one of the good kings of Judah. As you read through the books of 1 and 2 Kings and 1 and 2 Chronicles, you notice a pattern. The kings of Judah and Israel are basically placed into two categories. They either continued to do evil in the sight of the Lord as was the custom of their father or grandfather, or they did what was good and right in the eyes of the Lord as was the manner of their father/grandfather/etc. Asa was one of the good ones. He tore down the altars of Baal and cut down the Asherim in the high places. What this means is that the Israelites and those in Judah instead of worshipping God alone in Jerusalem, decided to build altars to the foreign gods of the land in high places where they would not necessarily need to travel as far to offer sacrifices, or they could have golden idols placed in those places to worship a visible god of their own making. Asa tore those down when he became king. He wanted his people to follow the Lord as they had been commanded by God Himself.

            At one point during his reign, an army came out against Judah. This army arrived with an overwhelming force of a million fighting men. We see earlier in the chapter that the army of Judah was made up of around 580,00 men armed with large shields and bows. In addition to the million soldiers, the invading army was also equipped with 300 chariots. Needless to say Judah faced overwhelming odds!

            Are you facing overwhelming odds in areas of your life? Are you fighting what you feel is a losing battle? A battle with depression or anxiety, a battle for your health, a battle for your family? Do you get that feeling when you look out over the battlefield and see the enemy approaching that there is no way you can emerge from this fight victorious? Well Asa felt the same way.

            So what did King Asa do? We find out in verse 11 “And Asa cried to the Lord his God, ‘O LORD, there is none like you to help between the mighty and weak. Help us, O LORD our God, for we rely on you, and in your name we have come against this multitude. O LORD, you are our God; let not man prevail against you.’” What did King Asa do? He prayed

            And what was the Lord’s response to Asa’s prayer? Look at verses 12-13. “So the LORD defeated the Ethiopians before Asa and before Judah, and the Ethiopians fled. Asa and the people who were with him pursued them as far as Gerar, and the Ethiopians fell until none remained alive, for they were broken before the LORD and his army.” We see the Lord’s answer to Asa’s prayer. He routed the invading army. He provided Judah with the victory, not just a by the skin of your teeth victory either, a total rout.

            I would like to be able to tell you at this point that all it takes is earnest and fervent prayer and God will make any enemy flee from before you, however that is not always the case. God does and will always deliver us. It just isn’t always in the manner we see here in this particular passage. There are plenty of instances in the Psalms where David was on the run and crying out with just as much fervency to God and yet he had to wait years for his deliverance. I will say this, God provides the ultimate victory in our lives. It is only through depending on Him that we can hope to receive lasting deliverance from the enemies surrounding us. But at times, we may feel more like the apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians than we do King Asa in 2 Chronicles. Paul speaks of struggling with a thorn in the flesh. He prayed multiple times for deliverance and listen to the Lord’s reply to him. “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9. Then check out Paul’s response to this, “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.2 Corinthians 12:9-10

            Paul didn’t receive deliverance in the specific manner for which he was asking for. He did however, receive an answer from God and within that answer, Paul saw the hand of God at work in his struggles. Asa’s prayer, interestingly, mirrors Paul’s response to God not delivering Paul from his opponent. First, Asa exults God. “O LORD, there is none like you to help” Then, Asa recognizes that whatever the outcome, it was up to God and God alone when he says, “between the mighty and the weak.” Asa was recognizing that win or lose the battle, the outcome would be what God wanted it to be. Next, Asa places all his hopes into God’s hands alone. “Help us, O LORD our God for we rely on you.” Asa recognized that the only hope they had for victory lay in the hands of the Lord.

            Now consider Paul’s prayer. He also exults God as the only one who can help him deal with the thorn in his flesh. Then, Paul recognized through the Lord’s answer that the outcome was up to God and God alone. Finally, Paul places his complete hope in the Lord as he proclaims that for the sake of Christ, he is content in his weaknesses, knowing that it is these weaknesses that Christ will reveal His strength.

            So whatever enemy you are currently staring down across the battlefield of life, you need to be on your knees in prayer. Exult God as the only one who can help, recognize that whatever the outcome, it is up to God and God alone to work his will in your life, and place all your hope in God alone. I can’t promise the outcome will be what you want or what you expect, but it will be what God wants for you. Finally remember that God is good all the time, whatever the outcome of your battle, this attribute of the Lord never changes! Pray fervently to the Lord in the midst of your struggles.