Monday, February 24, 2014

What Does It Take To Beat The Odds?

Life is pretty good when everything is in your favour. It is a time of growth, expansion, prosperity. It is easy to worship Jesus, to sing and pray. Being surrounded by people who love and encourage you allows you to be who you were meant to become. It is easy to maintain a great attitude and to walk in faith. But what about when things go wrong? What happens when people come against you and there are circumstances as big as mountains in front of you? What if you are in a hostile environment where no one believes in you or lends you any encouragement and support? Can you still pray, worship, sing, trust and walk in faith? I hope so, because it is one of the keys to success in Jesus.

You have to have a solid relationship with Jesus if you expect to be able to stand in the storms of life. You can't have a simple relationship of acknowledging his existence, praying over your food, attending church and trying to be good. That isn't a relationship at all; it is a system. A relationship is where you get to know Jesus; everything you can know about him. You trust his promises and act on them. You spend a good amount of time with him and realize he is always with you so you chat all day long. We become dependent on our friends and so we learn how to trust and lean on Jesus. But we also realize that he is more than a friend.

Jesus paid for us. I realize that sounds funny but we belonged to Satan. Jesus went into the enemy's camp and ransomed us with his own life. He paid for us and we now belong to him because in the nature of things "man" never belongs to himself. We may think we can be our own god and be the captains of our own destiny but it is all a lie. We belong to someone and Jesus made it possible for us to belong to him. In belonging to him then we should want the most intimate relationship possible and when we have such a relationship we realize that Jesus will see us through anything. The great kings of Judah knew this.

Asa was one of the good guys. He purged the kingdom of anything that was not related to Yahweh. Like some of the kings before him, he did some house cleaning and he encouraged the people to obey Yahweh. He knew what was good for his people and he set the example. As a result, Yahweh allowed him to enjoy a time of peace. He spent that time building and fortifying cities. Asa knew he lived in hostile times and that peace comes and goes, so he prepared for the worse. And then it happened.

Judah was invaded by an Ethiopian army, over one million three hundred thousand strong. King Asa had an army of over five hundred thousand. Talk about a bad day. They were outnumbered almost 3 to 1. In the flesh things looked hopeless. All of us can relate to having faced hopeless looking situations. But Asa had a fantastic relationship with Yahweh. His faith was not just a "fair weather" faith. Asa trusted Yahweh.

And Asa cried out to the Lord his God, and said, “Lordit is nothing for You to help, whether with many or with those who have no power; help us, O Lord our God, for we rest on You, and in Your name we go against this multitude. O Lord, You are our God; do not let man prevail against You!” (2 Chronicles 14:11)

I really appreciate that prayer, "It is nothing for you to help". What appears to be impossible for use to face, deal with or overcome,is nothing for our God. It is Asa's knowledge of Yahweh and the incredible relationship that he had that allowed Asa to trust. Asa knew his history and was able to say with great confidence, "whether with many or with those who have no power". In fact, if you understand the history of Israel you will quickly take note that Yahweh prefers to use the least in order that he will receive the greater glory.

Needless to say Yahweh responded and sent the Ethiopians fleeing. Asa defeated them so soundly that they could not recover. This experience, instead of destroying Asa, prospered him as he came away with a lot more than he went in with. This is how it is with the challenges we face. We think these things are to defeat us but Yahweh always uses the victory in these things to increase us. Don't ever forget this scripture:

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)

I am not going to pretend everything is all butterflies and daffodils in life. Some people are dealt a really hard hand and must make the best of it. Some days are filled with despair as hope seems to be sucked dry from us. Sometimes it seems there is no direction to head in and we see no purpose in going on. But these are the lies of the enemy designed to keep our eyes down, on ourselves, instead lifted up to see Jesus. However we cannot know this, see it, understand it or walk in it if we have a "system" relationship with Jesus.

If you want a relationship that will allow a growing faith, a faith that permits you to know that Jesus will overcome everything for you, then you have to focus on Jesus. In fact, do some house cleaning. Get rid of anything and everything that distracts you from Jesus. If it is not used in the relationship development or in the out reach to others then trash it. When you dedicate yourself fully to the Lord you are able to experience him fully. If you want to be strong and unbeatable in the good and bad days then develop a relationship of trust. As long as you want both the world and Jesus you will never experience the kind of faith you need to prosper spiritually. Seek him with all your heart and get rid of all your other gods. Faith gets you going and trust will sustain you in the relationship.

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