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Don't let pride steal your victory

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Don’t Let Pride

Steal Your Victory

New Hope B.C.

Feb. 24, 2008 9:30 a.m.

Text:

II Chron. 16:2, 7-9

Points:

Misread Challenges - don’t see victories

Misplaced Trust

Mindless of track record

End with Jude

Introduction:

    I know that you’ve heard the old bromide, “pride can kill you,” right?  It’s really not a bromide. It is really significant because it is really true.  Pride can kill you.  Pride is a terrible thing and something that can and will come upon you without pre-planning, insight or foresight into the matter.  Pride is somewhat like high blood pressure.   It’s a silent destroyer.  It has so many far-reaching elements, and before you know it, damage has been done to things, to people, and yourself that you had no intention or idea of affecting.

    Pride is defined as “an unduly high opinion of oneself.”  Seeing ourselves as we are and not comparing ourselves to others is humility.  Pride and vanity are competitive.  If someone else’s pride really bothers us, then we too have a lot of pride.  Excessive pride, arrogance, and haughtiness are the ingredients of the making of a tragedy.  Pride and vanity refuse the truth about who we really are and substitute illusions for reality.  While vanity is mostly concerned with appearance, pride is based in a real desire to be God, at least in one’s own circle.  It’s kind of like the ole remake movie, “The Nutty Professor” starring Eddie Murphy.  As Sherman Klump, he is a sweet, mild mannered, brainy college professor.  He decides to try his experimental DNA weight control serum on himself and the result is his alter-ego, Mr. Hyde acting, Buddy Love who is a vulgar, sleaze of a bully.  When Klump’s alter-ego comes out, he begins to live a fantasy that under normal conditions he would be afraid to even contemplate.  My point to this is that pride places us in a position where our reality does not necessarily coincide with the real world around us.  Pride will lie to you and you will begin to believe that you are the cause and the reason for pleasant event in your life.  That’s kind of the scenario that we find within our text this morning. Allow me to set it up for you:    we find the life and times of King Asa.  His name, oddly enough means physician, and healing did come through him.  He brought peace to Judah for ten years; he was good and right in the eyes of the Lord his God.  He removed the foreign altars used to worship the Babylonian gods and cut down the Ashreah poles.  He commanded Judah to worship the Lord, the God of their fathers and to obey his laws and commands.  No one was at war with him, because the Lord gave him rest.  So Asa rebuild the cities and strengthened them.  During this time, he remembered to give credit to God for giving them the land.  But soon, conflict did arise, and it was serious.  Notice that during the time of peace, he built and strengthened the land and the people.  When things seem to be going well in your lives, it is not a time for you to party hardy and let it all hang out.  It’s a time to give honor to God and to strengthen your faith and your resolve because as sure as you live on this earth, conflict, trouble, unrest will come. 

    Asa’s conflict was serious.  A Cushite king brought a large army towards Judah.  Now, there is really no adequate translation for the size of the army in Hebrew, but it indicates that it was 1000s upon 1000s upon 1000s.  On top of that, this Cushite army was known to have the best war technology of the day; war chariots to provide shielding and mobility.  But Asa does the right thing; he calls out to God and asked for help, and God does just that.  He struck them down.  They actually run home from Asa and his men, leaving behind loot and other rewards.  It sure is comforting to know that numbers don’t scare our God!  No matter how big you think your problem is today, God is bigger.  No matter how high your burdens seem to be stacked, they still don’t reach heaven.  When Asa returns, the prophet Azariah gives him a prophecy that God is with him as long as he walks with God; but if he forsakes God, God would forsake him; and that God would reward his hard work.  As a result, Asa intensified his efforts in the cities and he continued to stand for the Lord and God continued to bless him.  In fact, it had become so obvious that the Lord’s blessings were upon Asa that people from Israel move to Judah just to be in on it.  It’s no different today.  When people see what they perceive to be a good thing going on in your life, they just naturally want to be a part of it.  Look at the Presidential race.  Some in the race were little known a couple of years ago, but  now, as their faces are seen and their intentions heard and their votes rising, more and more people are lining up behind them to be in on the seemingly good thing.  The world puts it this way:  smile and the world smiles with you, cry and you cry alone.  When people see you with joy amidst a bad situation; when they hear your positive faith filled words in spite of overwhelming circumstances, they will want to be a part of our life. The down fall is that no matter how much we trust God today, no matter how joyous, how faith-filled, how high in the spirit you are on today, Sunday, Monday is coming. 

    More people from Israel wanted to move to Judah to be a part of the great blessings being poured out their but, the king of Israel, Baasha, tried to keep people from crossing the border.  Well, rather than consult the Lord, Asa made a deal with the Pagan king of Aram and bribed him to attack Iarael.  The worse part of the bribe is where Asa got the money to pay him with.  Part of it came from the silver and gold in the temple.  God will never approve of you aligning yourself with His enemies to accomplish His will.  Let me say that again.  God will never approve of you aligning with His enemies to accomplish His will.   There is no need to go to the world to accomplish God’s work for the church.  Praise God New Hope is not selling chicken dinners and pies to complete His work.  You don’t have to sell yourself either.  You don’t have to comprise your faith, your knowledge of God commands in order to accomplish what you need to do.  God is able, all by Himself, to more than supply all of your needs according to His riches in glory, in Christ Jesus!   It is from this unfortunate time in Asa’s life that I want to lift our three aspects that seems to have led to his error; three aspects that can help us to avoid the same mistake.  Asa missed his chance for victory over the armies of the king of Aram because he: Misread his challenges; Misplaced his trust; and he was Mindless of God’s track record.  He misread, misplaced and was mindless.

Misread Challenges: 

    When we forget that God is behind all that we do; when we fail to realize that He is the One that causes our enemies to fall before us, we run the risk of misreading our challenge.

    Have you ever said or heard the old saying “he bit off more than he could chew?” or “My eyes were bigger than my belly?” 

    When we get too big for our own good, we don’t see our challenges for what they really are.  When Asa fully trusted the Lord, he saw that the army was too big to count and he knew that he needed a Big God to intervene on his behalf.

    It’s something about walking in the Spirit that gives us the ability to see things clearly.  It’s not only that we see our opposition clearly, but we can see ourselves clearly too.  We can see our need and our dependency upon God’s protection better.  When we are being led by the Spirit of God, we will not forfeit our faith and our utter dependence on the only One who is able to help us.  A lady once asked a famed preacher if God would handle her really big problems like He had her little ones.  The preacher replied: “madam, when you consider God, what problem could you possibly have that’s big?”

It’s not the size of the problem or the circumference of the situation that matters.  It’s the size and the Person of our God!  Whatever happens, don’t misread the challenge.  The real challenge is not what the situation presents; it is not the size, it is not your lack; it is not your inability; it is not a bad marriage; it is not a wayward child, it is not a lost job; it is not a lemon car; it is not a leaking roof; it is not lack of money; it is not cancer; it is not disease; it is not high taxes; it is not loneliness; it is not your past; it is not your uncertain future; it is not any of these things. The real challenge is to see them as opportunities, as a chance to seek the Lord and to put your whole trust in Him alone, not in your abilities.  Asa misread the challenge, but he also misplaced his trust.

Misplaced Trust:    

    Sometimes things can actually go too good for us.  This is not for any pats on my own back, but I never ask God to make me a millionaire.  I have often wondered what life would be like if I have millions, and I believe those thought led to actually to ask God NOT to give me millions; but just what I need to live a good life.  I am using money for this illustration because money seems to be behind so many of life’s situations.  Sometimes when we get way out there, when we eat too high on the hog, we have a tendency to pray less, need less, worship less and to seek God less.  Oh, we may not intend to do it, but ‘things’ seem to get in the way.  We have more opportunities to go other places on Sunday, more opportunities that will lead us away from our God.  So, when things pop up, we just think that we have enough ‘resources’ to handle them.  I know that we want to deny doing this, and we clam now that would never happen because of our great love for God and our knowledge of His goodness, but jut like Asa did, we can ascribe our good fortune to our own abilities and we will look among our own resources to conquer problems rather than seeking God as did in the past.

    I would hope that we take after others who ultimately remembered God in their times of distress.   We may have a few moments of amnesia, but some where along the line, we must look at our challenges as another opportunity, a test of our faith like Abraham who said “the Lord will provide”, or the 3 Hebrew boys declared, “no matter what you do, we will not bow down; David had his times of failure but like him, when trouble comes, I want to be able to say, “some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.”  I’m glad this morning because my help does not come from money, it does not come from the world, it does not come through man, and it does not come from the hills.  My help comes from the Lord.  Asa misread the challenge, he misplaced his trust, and he was also mindless of God’s track record.

Mindless of Track Record:

    The Seer, Hana-ni went to Asa and told him how he had erred.  He clearly told him that he had misread the challenge and failed to trust God, but he also told him that he had failed to remember God’s track record.

    It’s not our track record that’s important.  Good or bad, our track records should never be or focus.  It’s what God has done in our lives; it’s what God has done on our behalf; it’s all about Him.  It’s God’s track record that is totally without fails.  It’s God’s track record that can stand the test of time.  It’s God’s track record that holds hope. 

Yes, Asa had a track record, I suggest like many of our track records.  Yes, he had a great beginning.  Yes, he consulted and listened to God in the past.  Yes, he followed God’s directives, in the past.  Yes, he ushered in hope to the people.  Yes, he was a positive king and leader, in the past.  But as time extended, as his triumphs out-weighted his loses he forgot one very important thing.  All of his triumphs were orchestrated by and realized through God who worked in the background to make plain his foreground.  All good and perfect gifts come from the Lord!  If you belong to Jesus, then you have to remember that without Him, you can do nothing.

    It was Jesus alone, who has brought you over; Jesus who put food on the table when there was no money I your pocket; Jesus, who healed you in spite of the doctor’s report; Jesus who wakes you every morning; Jesus causes you to work and gain wealth; Jesus gives you understanding in school to pass your exams; Jesus gives you wisdom in all of your affairs.  Jesus, alone.

Conclusion:

While I’m on the subject, I might as well go ahead and go over some of His track record. 

We need to remember what He has done so we won’t easily misread the challenge; or misplace our trust; or be mindless of His track record.  Every now and then, we need to not only remember His record, but say it out loud so that our senses can take it in and get it into our spirits and deep within our minds so that it is easier to recall in times of trouble.  Not only did He create the heavens and the earth in all of it splendor and radiance, but He made you and me also.

    It was God who said to the Godhead, “Let us make man in our image”; and so, we were formed and made not just in His image, but more to image Him.  We were made to image Jesus; to act like Him, to speak like Him, and to imitate Him in all of our ways.  It was God who rescued His people out of bondage and opened the Red sea for them to cross in dry land.  It was Son of God that shielded the fire as He went into the fiery furnace with the Hebrew boys.  It was God who looked down through the annuls of time and determined that we would need a Savior; One who could pay the penalty for our sins with sinless blood; and it was Him, in the person of Jesus who came to this earth in human form; who lived among men and submitted Himself as a model and example of One living the Spiritual life.  In 1994 Henry Hank Aaron broke Babe Ruth’s record by making 715 hits.  He later would say that no one would ever break his new record of 755 total hits.  It took 13 years, but in 2007 Barry Bonds broke that record.  But I can assure you this morning that no one will ever break Jesus’ record.  There is no one capable of living a sinless life but Jesus.  He was sinless, He gave an unselfish love; He died a voluntary death for strangers and then, He rose from the dead.

It was Jesus, when the time was just right, who went to great pains to the point of sweating great drops of blood, but ultimately deciding that His love for mankind and obedience to His Father out-weighted the high cost of momentary separation from His Father.  Jesus, the One who could have called legions of angels against His enemies; Jesus who healed men and women from life suppressing illnesses; Jesus who opened blinded eyes and caused deaf men to speak; Jesus who brought sanity to demon stricken men, gave answers without hearing questions; Jesus who raised people dead for only hours and those dead and beginning to decay, that Jesus!  That Jesus, is the One who submitted to ridicule, allowed men to spit in His face and mock Him, gave His body over to beatings and floggings until He had no human form, that Jesus.  That’s the Jesus who forsook all of His heavenly prerogatives and came into this world through a lowly virgin girl, born among animals, having neither bed nor roof for His body, that Jesus.  That’s the Jesus, who was betrayed by His friend, paraded before men and sentenced to death for no crime committed.  That’s the Jesus who carried a large wooden cross up Mars hill to a place called Calvary.  That’s the Jesus who kept His tongue while men nailed His hands and His feet and thrust His cross into the ground. That’s the Jesus that caused the S-U-N to go into hiding at high noon and the clouds and darkness to form a curtain around Him while He did business with heaven on our behalf.  That Jesus!  That’s the Jesus who died for you and for me, one Friday afternoon, who stayed in the grave all of Friday, and all day Saturday, and yes, He’s the Jesus who rose early on Sunday morning; with all power in heaven and earth in His hands.  He’s The One with the infallible track record; the One and Only One who can bring you out; keep you times of distress; shield you from the storm; pick you up when you slip; guard you from enemies and make you able to stand before our God.

He’s the One who puts a song I my heart when I think about all He has done for me, when trouble seems to camp at my place, I tray and remember what Jude said:

Now unto Him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before His glorious presence without fault and with great joy; the only wise God our Savior.

I’m talking about Jesus ya’ll.  That Jesus with the infallible track record in my life; who keeps me day by day and puts a song in my heart because:

God has been good to me,

He’s been good to me;

More than this world could ever be.

He dried all my tears away,

Turned my dark nights into day,

SO, I’m going to say, “Thank You, Lord,

I won’t complain.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

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