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Amazing Blessings

Sometimes I blog about things that are on my mind or maybe something that’s upcoming on our church’s calendar (like a blood drive this coming Monday from 1 to 8 PM), but other times I blog about something significant that recently has happened. I’d especially like to blog this week about the amazing events that took place last Sunday at NDC at our celebration for the faithful life of service for Mrs. “Marge” S, who passed away last January (2020). Marge served our church for over 60 years as a Sunday school teacher for the preschoolers and we wanted to present a plaque to the congregation for her faithful service during all those many years. We have a wall of plaques dedicated to our missionaries who have partnered with us for over 40 years serving the Lord Jesus Christ together. We felt that Mrs. S was qualified because she served as a missionary to the children of NDC for those many years. The elders had invited her son Pastor Dave S to come and bring the message on the characteristic of faithfulness as demonstrated in God’s servants. It was a wonderful message and an amazing time of fellowship followed in the picnic grove after the service. Pastor Dave had been the pastor at NDC during the 80s and 90s and I believe this is the first time that he was back to speak to our church family. His message was right on point and a huge blessing and challenge to my heart and life.

He chose for our consideration King Asa, whose story is found in 2 Chronicles 14-16. King Asa was a godly king for many years, and he is introduced to us in the 14th chapter with the words, “Asa did what was good and right in the eyes of the Lord his God. He commanded Judah to seek the Lord, the God of their fathers, and to obey his laws and commands. He removed the high places and incense altars in every town in Judah, and the kingdom was at peace under him,” (2 Chron. 14:2,4,5 NIV). Pastor Dave also talked about the invasion of the Cashites, who came with a huge army to invade Judah. At that time King Asa called out a powerful, and beautiful prayer praying, “Lord, there is no one like you to help the powerless against the mighty. Help us; O Lord our God, for we rely on you, and in your name we have come against this vast army. Oh Lord, you are God; do not let man prevail against you,” (2Chron.14:11 NIV). In answer to Asa’s prayer, God responded by destroying the Cashite army and giving Asa the victory. Asa accomplish great things as he continued to follow the Lord wholeheartedly in chapters 14 and 15. In chapter 15 he even deposed of his grandmother because she was actively involved in promoting idolatry in the nation of Judah. Asa had a long period of peace in his reign into the 35th year of his service.

But in the 16th chapter things deteriorate rather rapidly as Asa finds himself being invaded by Baasha king of Israel. Instead of calling out to the Lord as he did previously, Asa turns to the king of Damascus and sends silver and gold which he takes out of the temple treasures to ask King Ben-Hadad to attack the king of Israel. King of Damascus does exactly that and there is a victory for King Asa. But the prophet Hanani confronts Asa and reminds him of the previous victory he had when he called out to the Lord. Asa’s response was anything but godly when we read in verse 10, “Asa was angry with the seer because of this; he was so enraged that he put him in prison. At the same time, Asa brutally oppressed some of the people,” (2 Chron. 16:10 NIV). Asa, instead of repenting of his sin of following his flesh continues to strike out the very people that God had used to call him back to himself. Later in the chapter we see Asa being struck with a very painful foot disease from the Lord and yet instead of calling out to God as he had previously done in the last two chapters Asa only called on physicians, who couldn’t help him and he died in the 41st year of his reign, after having been placed in isolation and removed from his previous privileges and blessings.

Why this message is so timely in my own life is that I am in the process of completing my 35th year of full-time Christian ministry for the Lord Jesus Christ. One of Pastor Dave’s closing challenges was the fact that we need to constantly remain faithful to what God has called us to do. I see a warning from this message of the possibility of following after the flesh and that could very much destroy whatever rewards I have stored up for myself in eternity for the last 35 years. Asa was a good and godly king for 35 years and then he took his eyes off the Lord. God gave him opportunities to repent and come back to the Lord, but he rejected God’s Word and the seer that God had sent to rebuke him. He refused to seek God’s help in times of national and personal calamity. Because of these facts, the last six years of his reign were very dark and sad. I don’t know how much longer the Lord is going to allow me to serve Him, but I do know I don’t want to follow my flesh and go down a path that would lead me away from my precious Savior and friend, the Lord Jesus Christ. Think with me of the brokenness in Asa’s relationship with the God who had blessed him in so many special ways and yet he walked away from that amazing relationship. This passage also reminds us of the importance of keeping our accounts short with God, making sure that we are responding to His Holy Spirit when He prompts us to address an area of sin in our lives.

All for God’s glory,

Pastor Rich Sivo

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