Saturday, June 21, 2008

What To Do When The Outlook Is Bleak and Circumstances Are Beyond Your Control

Did you ever experience a drastic turn of events in your life? You’re doing the right thing… everything is going well… no reason to worry about anything… then comes a sudden reversal.
Suddenly you are facing an overwhelming problem… something over which you have no power or control.
Asa, King of Judah experienced such a turn of events as recorded in 2 Chronicles chapter 14

After the death of Solomon the “Golden Age” of Israel came to a close. The kingdom split into two separate kingdoms (10 northern Tribes called “Israel”) under Jeroboam I with a capital in Samaria, and the Southern Kingdom “Judah” (made up of tribes of Judah and Benjamin) under Solomon’s son, Rehoboam, with the capital in Jerusalem. Rehoboam was succeeded by Abijah and Abijah was succeeded by his son, Asa as the third King of Judah.

Verse 2 says “Asa did what was good and right in the eyes of the LORD his God.” Asa stands out in his support of the Worship of God and his opposition to idolatry. Some of his accomplishments are:
Ø Removal of altars of foreign gods
Ø Removed the high places
Ø Broke down the “sacred pillars” and wooden poles used in the pagan worship of Ashtoreth
Ø He commanded Judah to worship God and observe His law
Ø He built fortified cities in Judah
Ø The land enjoyed peace for 10 years…
Ø Then trouble arose

Even though Asa had a large and skilled Army
Ø 300,000 from Judah (who carried spears and shields)
Ø 280,000 from Benjamin (foot soldiers and archers)
Ø 580,000 total “Mighty Men of Valor”

They were attacked by Zerah of Ethiopia:
Ø 1,000,000 soldiers
Ø 300 chariots
Ø Outnumbering Asa’s army nearly 2 to 1 (with advantage of having chariots)

Asa was faced with a terrible prospect… What could he do?
Ø Strategize and seek to outmaneuver the enemy?

Ø Retreat?
Ø Compromise?
Ø Surrender?
Ø No, he chose to PRAY!
Ø A simple prayer of only 51 words as recorded in verse 11

11 And Asa cried out to the LORD his God, and said, "LORD, it 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!"

What do we see about Asa’s prayer in a time of crisis? How can we apply these truths in our lives when the problems are overwhelming and the solution is beyond our control? Pray like Asa!

His Prayer Was Earnest – he “cried out”

Asa “Cried Out” to the Lord – he knew the situation was beyond his control.

1 Peter 3: 12-13 For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, And His ears are open to their prayers; But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”13And who is he who will harm you if you become followers of what is good?

He was not ashamed to call upon the Lord. Sometimes we are too proud to admit that we can’t handle a situation on our own. After all, Asa was a King, well respected, and powerful in his own right. Yet help was needed and he knew it. He cried out to God in earnest prayer.

Hebrews 4: 16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

There is power in prayer!

James 5: 16-18 The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. 17Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months. 18And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit.

When I was a child there was a plaque that hung on our living room wall that bore the legend, “Prayer Changes Things”. As a child, I thought that prayer was a tool to help God see things our way. I have learned that effectual fervent prayer actually helps us to see things from God’s perspective.

His Prayer Was Personal – “unto the LORD His God”

Asa prayed to “Yaweh” – the Personal name of the Lord. When you see LORD (all capital letters) in your English Bible, it is indicative of God’s personal name. The name He revealed to Moses on Mount Horeb at the burning bush.

Exodus 3: 13-15 13Then Moses said to God, “Indeed, when I come to the children of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they say to me, ‘What is His name?’ what shall I say to them?” 14And God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And He said, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’ ” 15Moreover God said to Moses, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel: ‘The Lord God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you. This is My name forever, and this is My memorial to all generations.’

Although he is the self existent one – the great “I AM”, He can be known Personally. Consider the 63rd Psalm.

Psalm 63: 1 O God, You are my God;
Early will I seek You;
My soul thirsts for You;
My flesh longs for You
In a dry and thirsty land
Where there is no water.

If He is to be known personally, WE must make that commitment. We must seek Him, Our souls must thirst for Him. Our flesh must long for Him. We must seek the refreshment of a personal relationship with Him.

Genesis 28: 20-22 Then Jacob made a promise. He said, “I want God to be with me and to protect me on this journey. I want him to give me food to eat and clothes to wear 21 so I will be able to return in peace to my father’s house. If the Lord does these things, he will be my God. 22 This stone which I have set up on its end will be the house of God. And I will give God one-tenth of all he gives me.”

His Prayer Was Discerning - "LORD, it is nothing for You to help, whether with many or with those who have no power”

God has delivered Nations, and God has delivered individuals. He specializes in doing the impossible and showing His might and power to help those who are weak – yet willing to trust Him completely. He is a sovereign God, who can and does allow Himself to be approached by those who seek to experience His help! Consider Paul’s prayer for the Ephesian Christians.

Ephesians 3: 17-20 17that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— 19to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. 20Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us,

His Prayer Was Definitive – “Help us”

Asa did not “beat around the bush” or mince words. He asked for Help! Help is Available, even among the most dire circumstances.

Psalm 46: 1-3 God is our refuge and strength,
A very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear,
Even though the earth be removed, And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; Though its waters roar and be troubled, Though the mountains shake with its swelling.

God will never fail you. This is one of my favorite promises in all of His Word!

Isaiah 41: 10-13 Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’ “Behold, all those who were incensed against you Shall be ashamed and disgraced; They shall be as nothing, And those who strive with you shall perish.
You shall seek them and not find them—Those who contended with you. Those who war against you Shall be as nothing, As a nonexistent thing. For I, the Lord your God, will hold your right hand, Saying to you, ‘Fear not, I will help you.’

His Prayer Was Believing – “We rest on you”

Matthew 7: 7-8 7“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8“For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.

On who else can we call? To whom shall we go? The promises of God stand sure. Look at the results of Asa’s prayer:

His Prayer Was Answered (vs 12-15)
12 So the LORD struck the Ethiopians before Asa and Judah, and the Ethiopians fled. 13 And Asa and the people who were with him pursued them to Gerar. So the Ethiopians were overthrown, and they could not recover, for they were broken before the LORD and His army. And they carried away very much spoil. 14 Then they defeated all the cities around Gerar, for the fear of the LORD came upon them; and they plundered all the cities, for there was exceedingly much spoil in them. 15 They also attacked the livestock enclosures, and carried off sheep and camels in abundance, and returned to Jerusalem.

Asa simply asked God for help. God gave him complete victory over the enemy! Are you facing difficulties beyond your control? Pray like Asa! Let go of depending on your own abilities and devices, and Let God prove His promises to you!

Life is short.

Pray hard!

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