A Strengthening God
Wednesday, October 14, 2009

“For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him.” (2 Chronicles 16:9)

                I write a lot, mostly because I love it, but also because I love sharing my love of God with others.  And because I write so much, I often get prideful about my own abilities (and God seems to always take ample care of my pride).  This was true when I began the thesis stage of my doctoral ministry.  Because I was an active writer, I entered this stage with arrogance and little fear – that is until I got back my first title paper.  It looked like the professor’s throat had been cut it was so covered in red ink.  I experienced anger at first, but as draft after draft had been rejected, I began the humbling task of assuming I could not do this work, and even thought at one point to drop the thesis stage and thus make my ministry goals incomplete.  One day, while visiting with my mentor, sharing my frustration, he stopped me and said, “Just what are you trying to say?”  And I replied, “We serve a God who is a searching and seeking God, who loves us so much He is constantly seeking those who seek Him to strengthen them for the battles of life.”  Of course that was only the first of a long process, but John (my mentor) said, “Write it down.”  I did and my thesis of Transforming Prayer became history.

                Let me go back to the introductory passage to explain the important context of that quote.  Asa was a king of Judah.  Like many of these kings he began his reign “fully committed to the Lord.”  But fear caused him to take his eyes off the Lord and thus weaken his strength and resolve.  Because of this, after 36 years of victorious living, he lost a crucial war.  He begun not to trust in the Lord for protection, but placed his confidence in a treaty with a foreign king.  And he brought great dread to Judah.  Hanani, the prophet, came to Asa and told him, “. . . when you relied upon the Lord, He delivered [the armies of Cushites and Libyans] into your hands.  For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him.  You have done a foolish thing and from now on you will be at war.” 

                There are many lessons in this story.  It cries out the need to put the trust in God in all circumstances.  That meaning is clearly the topic of many sermons.  But there is another message which I find equally compelling – one that changed my life, my ministry, and my thesis.  Let me state this lesson clearly, lest we get bogged down in the story – Our God is a God who loves the world (John 3:16) and searches it constantly to strengthen those whose hearts are committed to Him.  Isn’t that a wonderful truth?  And in that truth there are three compelling points.

                First, God loves the whole world and does not wish for a single person to perish.  He does not want the atheist, the agnostic, those of other religions, and those of no religion to perish.  Some will, but not from God’s wish. (2 Pt. 3:9)  God is a sacrificial God and willingly gave His human life up on the cross that everyone has the opportunity to find Him and with it eternal life.

                Secondly, our God is a searching God.  What Hanani told Asa is that “the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth. . .”  That is not a random search.  It is a search based on His omnipresent character.  He is non-stop in seeking those whose hearts are committed to Him.  One of my favorite stories came from one of The Sentinel Group’s film Transformation 2.  It tells of an Inuit (Eskimo) shaman who went on a search for God.   It was an earnest search, not asking for God of his religion but for the true God of the universe to reveal Himself.  And God did.  Within a few weeks, a British missionary landed on the shores where this shaman’s village was located.  And because the shaman’s heart had been committed to God, the whole tribe surrendered to the Good News of Jesus Christ.  The seeking God saw the heart of the one whose heart was fully committed to Him.

                The third point in this lesson is  that God seeks so that He may strengthen.  What battles are you facing?  What prayers are you praying?  What needs do you have?  You see, the battles are won not by human ingenuity or the power of weapons, but in being fully committed to the Lord.  And from this commitment comes prayers with power and thus addressing the needs of life with power.  God does not promise we will have no battles, but He does promise that if we truly have hearts that are committed to Him, He will give us strength in the battle.  Jesus prayed that the cup of crucifixion be lifted from Him, but the Father answered Him by giving Him strength for the battle.   Paul faced every danger imaginable but God sufficiently supplied him with the grace to be victorious.  And the promise of Scripture is that hearts fully committed to God will be strengthened by Him for every battle we encounter.

                So ended my journey for the thesis.  My answer for writing the thesis is the same answer for all of life’s problems.  When we face a problem, put our eyes upon God and He will give us strength.  What a generous gift from such a loving God.


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