Tag Archives: journey

Spiritual complacency

dogsleeps2

by Richard Mansel

C.S. Lewis said “that security is mortals’ greatest enemy.” When we stop stretching and dreaming, we wake up and realize that life has passed us by.

Discipleship cannot occur on autopilot. If we turn off our minds, we can’t follow Christ. How do we give up the fleshly for the spiritual, eschew vengeance in the face of wrong or love our enemies without a conscious affirmation?

Christianity is about transformation (Romans 12:1-2Romans 12:1-2
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12 1 Therefore I urge you, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service. 2 Don’t be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what is the good, well-pleasing, and perfect will of God.

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) and we must remain awake and active throughout our days. When we become too secure and comfortable, we become easy prey (1 Peter 5:81 Peter 5:8
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8 Be sober and self-controlled. Be watchful. Your adversary the devil, walks around like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.

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Asa was the king of Judah and he went against the evil ways of his father and walked in righteousness (1 Kings 15:1-111 Kings 15:1-11
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15 1 Now in the eighteenth year of king Jeroboam the son of Nebat began Abijam to reign over Judah. 2 Three years reigned he in Jerusalem: and his mother’s name was Maacah the daughter of Abishalom. 3 He walked in all the sins of his father, which he had done before him; and his heart was not perfect with Yahweh his God, as the heart of David his father. 4 Nevertheless for David’s sake did Yahweh his God give him a lamp in Jerusalem, to set up his son after him, and to establish Jerusalem; 5 because David did that which was right in the eyes of Yahweh, and didn’t turn aside from anything that he commanded him all the days of his life, except only in the matter of Uriah the Hittite. 6 Now there was war between Rehoboam and Jeroboam all the days of his life. 7 The rest of the acts of Abijam, and all that he did, aren’t they written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah? There was war between Abijam and Jeroboam. 8 Abijam slept with his fathers; and they buried him in the city of David: and Asa his son reigned in his place. 9 In the twentieth year of Jeroboam king of Israel began Asa to reign over Judah. 10 Forty-one years reigned he in Jerusalem: and his mother’s name was Maacah the daughter of Abishalom. 11 Asa did that which was right in the eyes of Yahweh, as did David his father.

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). He restored the worship of Jehovah (2 Chronicles 14:2-62 Chronicles 14:2-6
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2 Asa did that which was good and right in the eyes of Yahweh his God: 3 for he took away the foreign altars, and the high places, and broke down the pillars, and hewed down the Asherim, 4 and commanded Judah to seek Yahweh, the God of their fathers, and to do the law and the commandment. 5 Also he took away out of all the cities of Judah the high places and the sun-images: and the kingdom was quiet before him. 6 He built fortified cities in Judah; for the land was quiet, and he had no war in those years, because Yahweh had given him rest.

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), and allowed God to lead his forces into battle (2 Chronicles 14:7-152 Chronicles 14:7-15
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7 For he said to Judah, Let us build these cities, and make about them walls, and towers, gates, and bars; the land is yet before us, because we have sought Yahweh our God; we have sought him, and he has given us rest on every side. So they built and prospered. 8 Asa had an army that bore bucklers and spears, out of Judah three hundred thousand; and out of Benjamin, that bore shields and drew bows, two hundred eighty thousand: all these were mighty men of valor. 9 There came out against them Zerah the Ethiopian with an army of a million troops, and three hundred chariots; and he came to Mareshah. 10 Then Asa went out to meet him, and they set the battle in array in the valley of Zephathah at Mareshah. 11 Asa cried to Yahweh his God, and said, Yahweh, there is none besides you to help, between the mighty and him who has no strength: help us, Yahweh our God; for we rely on you, and in your name are we come against this multitude. Yahweh, you are our God; don’t let man prevail against you. 12 So Yahweh struck the Ethiopians before Asa, and before Judah; and the Ethiopians fled. 13 Asa and the people who were with him pursued them to Gerar: and there fell of the Ethiopians so many that they could not recover themselves; for they were destroyed before Yahweh, and before his army; and they carried away very much booty. 14 They struck all the cities round about Gerar; for the fear of Yahweh came on them: and they despoiled all the cities; for there was much spoil in them. 15 They struck also the tents of cattle, and carried away sheep in abundance, and camels, and returned to Jerusalem.

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Asa’s wealth and power made Baasha, king of Israel, jealous. Baasha came against Asa and instead of turning to God, Asa took a portion of his wealth to seek help from Syria (2 Chronicles 16:1-32 Chronicles 16:1-3
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16 1 In the six and thirtieth year of the reign of Asa, Baasha king of Israel went up against Judah, and built Ramah, that he might not allow anyone to go out or come in to Asa king of Judah. 2 Then Asa brought out silver and gold out of the treasures of the house of Yahweh and of the king’s house, and sent to Ben Hadad king of Syria, who lived at Damascus, saying, 3 There is a league between me and you, as there was between my father and your father: behold, I have sent you silver and gold; go, break your league with Baasha king of Israel, that he may depart from me.

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God sent a prophet to indict Asa of his sin and the king jailed the man of God (2 Chronicles 16:7-102 Chronicles 16:7-10
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7 At that time Hanani the seer came to Asa king of Judah, and said to him, Because you have relied on the king of Syria, and have not relied on Yahweh your God, therefore is the army of the king of Syria escaped out of your hand. 8 Weren’t the Ethiopians and the Lubim a huge army, with chariots and horsemen exceeding many? yet, because you did rely on Yahweh, he delivered them into your hand. 9 For the eyes of Yahweh run back and forth throughout the whole earth, to show himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him. Herein you have done foolishly; for from henceforth you shall have wars. 10 Then Asa was angry with the seer, and put him in the prison-house; for he was in a rage with him because of this thing. Asa oppressed some of the people at the same time.

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). Even later, when Asa became ill, he relied on doctors instead of God (2 Chronicles 16:11-122 Chronicles 16:11-12
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11 Behold, the acts of Asa, first and last, behold, they are written in the book of the kings of Judah and Israel. 12 In the thirty-ninth year of his reign Asa was diseased in his feet; his disease was exceeding great: yet in his disease he didn’t seek Yahweh, but to the physicians.

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What lessons can we learn from the story of Asa?

First, familiarity can be a villain. Asa became too comfortable. God’s and Asa’s things became blurred in his mind. He began to take God for granted and decided that God would follow him wherever he went.

As Christians, we serve for decades and we begin to think we’re above the masses and we have things figured out. Then the trap is set.

Second, Asa forgot God’s enormous power (2 Chronicles 14:11; 16:82 Chronicles 14:11; 16:8
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11 Asa cried to Yahweh his God, and said, Yahweh, there is none besides you to help, between the mighty and him who has no strength: help us, Yahweh our God; for we rely on you, and in your name are we come against this multitude. Yahweh, you are our God; don’t let man prevail against you. 8 Weren’t the Ethiopians and the Lubim a huge army, with chariots and horsemen exceeding many? yet, because you did rely on Yahweh, he delivered them into your hand.

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Third, Asa became too big to repent. He had arrived and decided that God favored him, so he could do as he pleased. We foolishly think that we’ve built up enough points so God will overlook our sins (Ephesians 2:8-10Ephesians 2:8-10
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8 for by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, that no one would boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared before that we would walk in them.

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Fourth, Asa forgot that we can’t reach our destination without finishing the journey. It doesn’t matter how righteous we’ve been, we’re called to be faithful until death (Revelation 2:10Revelation 2:10
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10 Don’t be afraid of the things which you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested; and you will have oppression for ten days. Be faithful to death, and I will give you the crown of life.

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When we get too comfortable physically, we get sleepy. Why should it be any different spiritually?

From Strength to Strength

by J. Randal Matheny, editor
Traveling is tiring. As helpful as modern contraptions like the automobile and airplane are, taking a trip still tuckers me out!
Psalm 84 presents the traveler going up to the temple in Jerusalem to participate in one of the feasts.
“They go from strength to strength, till each appears before God in Zion” (Psalm 84:7Psalm 84:7
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7 They go from strength to strength. Everyone of them appears before God in Zion.

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NIV).
By extension, the verse above has something to say to the Christian who walks toward eternity and the presence of God.
First, the objective of our seeking is God himself. We want to present ourselves before him, putting our lives at his service, living in his shade, enjoying fellowship with him. Zion is where God “lives,” where his presence may be known, the place of revelation. In obedience, in the body of Christ, in our devotion to him, we will find God waiting for us.
Second, instead of getting tired during the trip, the traveler acquires greater and greater strength. The phrase “from strength to strength” may mean one of two things.
One, that each day a new strength comes to allow him to continue his journey toward God — his strength is renewed daily.
Or it may mean that his strength grows with each step he takes. It might even mean both, do you suppose? (Compare 2 Corinthians 3:182 Corinthians 3:18
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18 But we all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are transformed into the same image from glory to glory, even as from the Lord, the Spirit.

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, “from glory to glory,” and John 1:16John 1:16
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16 From his fullness we all received grace upon grace.

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, “grace upon grace.”)
Third, this journey is a real possibility for everyone. “Each” will appear before God. No traveler need fall by the wayside. No one will be forced to drop out while the others step their way to the final destiny.
This doesn’t mean it’s impossible to fall from God’s grace and lose one’s salvation. It does mean that every person who begins the journey and perseveres will find strength to complete it.
It’s good to know that, as tired as I may feel when I travel, it’s always possible to reach my goal of arriving in God’s presence.
What a celebration that will be when I get there!