Tuesday, 14 October 2014

When You're Losing Your Faith

I haven't read my Bible in so long (ashamed) and I haven't listened to a sermon lately either. So today I decided to listen to one. It's been a busy month. I listened to a sermon by David Wilkerson (you can see how much I love that man) on Asa, King of Judah and how he lost his faith.

I always think there is a reason for the stories in the Bible. There was a story to tell and a moral to learn from it. So, there must be a reason why there is a story about King Asa.

King Asa of Judah  - A Man of Faith

2 Chronicles 14 describes King Asa - "Asa did what was good and right in the eyes of the Lord, his God."

So, what does it mean to be 'good and right' - obviously this means he was a man of faith. He was a righteous man, a truly Godly man. He did not flirt with sin, he knew he had no place to hide because he knew God watched him. He knew even in darkness, he could not hide from sin so his life was basically an open book. He had constant knowledge that God watched him. God saw everything he did.

One thing I've learnt from this sermon is that King Asa was King Solomon's Great Grandchild. I'm sure you all know the story of King Solomon, he was the wisest man (apart from Jesus) in the Bible. So, I'm sure King Asa read about his great grandfather's teachings, about his life, his wisdom and how he fell in his wisdom. He must have studied about Solomon and read his proverbs in those days, about adultery etc. So, it must have taught him a lesson, probably not to repeat what his great grandfather had done. The fact that his great grandfather preached a great message against adultery yet that is the very sin that cost him everything. But King Asa sought after God. He must have wondered, surely, how such a wise man, with such an anointing, blew it all off? He must have said to himself that he did not want to be like that man.

Nonetheless, he had a great father. His father, Abijah, was a praying man. In 2 Chronicles 13:10, even during the war - Abijah encouraged everybody and preached to them, saying, 'As for us, the Lord is our God, and we have not forsaken him. The priests who serve the Lord are the sons of Aaron, the Levites assist them...God is with us, He is our leader. His priests with their trumpets will sound the battle cry against you. People of Israel, do not fight against the Lord, the God of your ancestors, for you will not succeed.'

So, King Asa knew that Men of God, caught up in adultery end up ruined and fail in their faith. He KNEW that men who did not set their hearts to PRAY end up with no peace and no order in their homes. He KNEW that the secret to God's favour is available to those who SEEK Him with all their hearts. 2 Chronicles 14:4 - 'He commanded Judah to seek the Lord, the God of their ancestors, and to obey His laws and commands.'

Because Judah sought after the Lord, they prospered. But this does not mean they were immune to the enemy's attacks. We seem to think that just because we are Christians, we won't have trouble. But think about Job, think about all that happened to him. Think about Paul, who was continuously belittled for his faith. Jesus Christ, Himself, as God on earth faced many troubles I'm sure, but he was a man of faith. (What am I saying, He is God, so surely, He had faith).

Anyway, Asa faced a MILLION man army against his 3,000 man army. But guess what he did? He prayed. It made me think, when I'm faced with calamity, I should surely pray. Not just that, Asa and the people of Judah had PEACE. This means they had no FEAR, they feared nothing. I don't know HOW I would feel but it wouldn't be peace at this point. I am trying to imagine facing a million man army with 3000 people on my team.

But, he PRAYED. He remained faithful. He remained calm when he faced calamities - 2 Chronicles 14:11 - ''Asa called to the Lord his God and said, 'Lord, there is no one like You to help the powerless against the mighty. Help us, Lord, for we rely on You, and in Your name we have come against this vast army. Lord, You are our God; d not let mere mortals prevail against You.'''

King Asa had no other strategy. He went and rested it all before the Lord. Imagine! I mean, he only had an army of 3000 men yet the enemy had millions. He had no plan but instead, he sought the Lord and he prayed. They prospered in the end and they were still at peace. A praying person who prays in faith will not be overcome.

That's one thing I've learned - You should always seek God. Even when you are prospering, not just in hard times. In GOOD times, thank Him. Be grateful for where You are. Pray for your families, your friends, your loved ones, pray!

The Warning

Clearly, he was going down the same route as his grandfather (Solomon) because God saw fit to send a prophet to warn Asa. In Chronicles 15 - God sent Azariah, the Son of Oded who went out to meet Asa and said to him, 'Listen to me, Asa and all Judah and Benjamin. The Lord is with you when you are with Him. If you seek Him, He will be found by you but if you forsake Him, He will forsake You...be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded...'

The warning here is important. We can actually apply it to our life. You know when you pray, pray, pray and then get the thing you were praying for, do you ever get spiritually lazy? Do you get prideful? That's what God foresaw happening to Asa. He  foresaw that Asa would have pride and be confident in his own flesh. He would lose his anointing. God knew so he sent Asa a warning. I can't help but remember how God sent the Prophet Nathan to warn King David about his sin too. The good thing is that King David took it on.

Nonetheless, King Asa took on the words of Azariah and he took courage. In fact, he removed all idols and abolish idol worship. He repaired the altar of the Lord and even offered sacrifices to God - obviously a way of giving thanks to God for the favours received. (Nowadays, we pray and praise God, which is a spiritual sacrifice).

They entered into covenant with God and repented for what they had done, hoping for a better future. They diligently sought after God themselves with ALL THEIR HEART and with ALL their SOUL. Asa even took down the image of Asherah, this image that his own grandmother would worship. An idol, in his palace - he did this whilst destroying all the idols in his kingdom. She must have sought after God took and sought after him because, remember, all who did not do this were put to death, men and women.

Because of this, there was NO war in the land!

The Fall

So, how did King Asa come to his fall. How did this happen? Well, something was happening. The King of Israel wanted to wage war against Judah, so King Asa decided to take the silver and gold out of the treasuries of the Lord's temple and his own palace and he sent it to Ben-Hadad, King of Aram, who was ruling Damascus. This seems different. This time, he seems to be forsaking God. Instead of praying and trusting God, like before, he tries to make this other King his friend. If he didn't have to do this, he would have had to pray to God. He trusted in himself. He felt comfortable and God was not pleased.

So, guess what God did? He sent another prophet to Asa. 2 Chronicles 16:7, the prophet sent a message to him, saying, 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...' Basically, God was trying to tell him, to remind him that he was the one who delivered them out of the battle against the million man army. He even told him, 'the eyes of the Lord are only on those whose hearts are fully committed to Him. You have done a foolish thing, and from now on you will be at war.'

He would have nothing but pain and suffering from then on, only because he trusted in himself. His pride got to him. What was his response? He was enraged. He was angry. Why? Because of what this prophet was saying. He knew he used to be like this prophet. He was a man of prayer, he sought after God, he was a righteous man. He walked and spoke just like this Prophet.

God inflicted him with a disease in his feet. It was a severe disease, I have no idea what kind of disease it would be but it was bad. But, even then, Asa did not seek the Lord. He did not get help from the Lord. He went after doctors! He sought after them but not after God.

So, there's a lot I've learnt from King Asa. Well, not a lot but quite a bit.

1. Even when we have strayed away from Him, or really...never even KNEW Him, somehow He is still there, waiting for us to come back. To welcome us back into His loving arms.

2. Prayer is important - we have to SEEK God and He will be found by US. It's really a choice. The Prophet Azariah, teaches me a lot actually. If we seek Him, He will be found by us. He is there. If we forsake Him and ignore Him, He will ignore us. God isn't a God that forces us to worship Him, even if He does desire it, it's a choice on our part. When we are distressed, we should seek after Him. We should be strong and take courage, because at a point, we will be rewarded (2 Chronicles 15:7). This reminds me of that scripture, where God tells us to not grow weary for at the appropriate time we will reap a HARVEST if we do not give up.

3. Judah's desire to please and worship God actually resulted in them getting more blessings from Him. 2 Chronicles 15:15 - the Lord actually gave them rest on every side. They had peace.

4. Instead of acknowledging his own guilt, Asa was upset and angry. He even imprisoned the prophet that the Lord had sent to him. He refused to seek God even when he was in pain, in suffering, in his illness. He did not repent for what he did. He was angry and even oppressed a few other people, apparently. He was bitter!

The Lord warns us a lot about enduring and staying committed to Him and His way of life until the very end. In Matthew 24:12, Jesus said, 'Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.' But, look at King Asa, he was righteous for most of his life but he failed to remain faithful to God and serve Him until his death.

In Hebrews (one of my favourite Books), we are encouraged to have faith. We are told to have confidence in God, that the JUST must live by faith.

But just like King Asa, God gives us a CHOICE. Remember the story of Cain and Abel. How Cain got SO angry at his brother, Abel, because Abel received more favour from God. He was angry and in his anger, he killed his brother. God even warned Cain, telling him that sin is crouching at his door, and tells him to RULE over that sin.

So, endure the race, guys and girls. x

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