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So let’s pray. Dear heavenly Father, we thank You for Your Word, we thank You for your love, for your instruction, for Your rebuke, for Your grace, for Your truth. Give us now ears to listen, that we may be edified and that our sins may be mortified. In the name of Christ we pray. Amen.
Our text this morning comes from 2 Chronicles chapter 14, 15, and 16. We won’t be reading all three chapters, but open their in your Bibles as we move through these three chapters and the life and times of King Asa.
I had to give the sermon title a couple of weeks ago, and honestly, I did not remember that it was Father’s Day [laughter]. So you remember what happened on Mother’s Day, the title was something like “Like Father, Like Son,” so now on Father’s Day you have a very appropriate title, “Grumpy Old Men.” [laughter] And you’ll see why that title as we get to the end of this section.
You remember Chariots of Fire? If you haven’t seen the movie, you should see it. It tells the true story of Eric Liddell, who would become a missionary to China but before that was a famous rugby player and he was very fast and he played, ran in the Paris 1924 Olympics and he won the gold medal there. He was supposed to run in a shorter distance in the 100 meters but refused to run the heats on Sunday, and so they put him in the 400, or maybe it was the 440 at the time, but we’ll say the 400. The story is told that after he won the gold medal at the Paris Olympics in the 400, someone asked how do you run the 400 meter so fast? And he said, “well, I run the first 200 meters as fast as I can,” just like that, perfect Scottish accent. He said “I run the first 200 meters as fast as I can, and then by God’s grace, I run the second 200 even faster.” That is one way to win the gold medal.
And it’s the way we want to run the Christian life. This sermon is about running the race well all the way to the finish line. Now it’s not just a sermon for senior saints among us, but it may have particular import for those who are rounding the corner to the last straightaway of the race. Or given the, you know, what the metrics say in what does an American male live to be, somewhere in his 80s? I’m almost coming to the second half of my race. So this is for most of us in the room. And even if that’s not you, if you’re just starting in the first 200 meters, you, too, want to listen so you know how you might finish well.
Here’s the question I want to ask you. Are your best spiritual days in front of you or behind you? I didn’t say are your best physical days, they get behind you very quickly, when you get to be about 30. Your mental days, you best mental days may be behind you. But may it not be that our best spiritual days are behind us. May it not be that when you think about, when those great spiritual victories, the time when the Lord was doing so much in your life, that you always look back… Remember that, remember that, honey, remember when we were in college and we were on fire for the Lord?
And your best prayer days, your best growth, your best spiritual days, your best, most radical service to the Lord. It’s always, it was way back there. Remember when? Before we had a mortgage, before we had two cars, before we had this debt, before we had kids, before we had…. Remember that? We were on fire for Jesus.
Are your best spiritual days behind you? I hope that for every single one of us they’re in front of us.
We look this morning at King Asa, who was largely a good king. For most of his years he was one of Judah’s best kings. Look at the beginning of chapter 14, you get a quick summary of his life. Verse 2: “And Asa did what was good and right in the eyes of the Lord his God.”
You can go to the end. Look at chapter 16, to the very end of his life. Verse 13: “And Asa slept with his fathers, dying the in the forty-first year of his reign. They buried him in the tomb that he had cut for himself in the city of David. They laid him on a bier that had been filled with various kinds of spices prepared by the perfumer’s art, and they made a very great fire in his honor.”
This is not how most of the kings end their days. So many of them end in complete disgrace. So here the book ends. We see that King Asa largely was a good king, and when he died, the people mourned, and when he died, they had a great time of celebration and heaped honors upon him.
Look at chapter 16, verse 9. Here is the theme of Asa’s life. “For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward Him.” That’d be a good verse to commit to memory if you’re thinking I want a verse to memorize this week or this month. Verse 9: “The eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward Him.”
This word proved to be true for Asa. Positively and negatively. When he was committed to the Lord and when he called out to the Lord, the Lord answered and helped him. And when he was half-hearted or too stubborn to rely on the Lord, he suffered. We are only three kings into this series on the Kings of Judah and already we see the importance of this theme of seeking. We’ll see it again in Asa’s life, how important it was. In fact, he commanded the people to seek the Lord, and when they would seek after the Lord, they would be helped.
Well, here we see in verse 9, not only are we to seek after the Lord, but in one sense the Lord is seeking after us. No, it’s not because the Lord has lost something or He doesn’t know where to find it, but picture it. His eyes run to and fro throughout the whole earth, the eyes of the Lord scanning this congregation this morning, “Whose hearts are blameless toward Me? Who’s crying out in My name? I’m here to help.” The Lord is eager to help. He’s, He’s ready to hand you a water bottle at the end of the race, He’s there to help you run strong all the way to the table. Look for Him.
For most of Asa’s life, his reign was marked by three things: By rest, by reliance, and by reform. At the end, however, his life was marked by regression, and he did not end the race well. He died a grumpy old man.
So let’s look at each of these. First, Asa’s rest. Go back to chapter 14, verse 3. We see many evidences of his faithfulness. Verse 3: “He took away the foreign altars and the high places and broke down the pillars and cut down the Asherim and commanded Judah to seek the Lord, the God of their fathers, and to keep the law and the commandment. He also took out of all the cities of Judah the high places and the incense altars. And the kingdom had rest under him. He fortified cities in Judah, for the land had rest. He had no war in those years, for the Lord had given him peace.”
He was a man of rest, at least at times, and he was a man of action. As we’ll see, true reform and true revival always mean change, always mean saying “no.” In this case, it meant saying no to the foreign altars and to the high places. You remember what the high places were? They were literal shrines up on hills.
Now this seems very obvious to us, okay, you’re Israel, there’s one God, you’ve got the 10 commandments, don’t have statues, don’t have idols. And yet it was so much a part of the culture, it was the way they did things. It was the air they breathed. Everybody had statues. How could you not have a god that you don’t see? And you need a god, and you need to sacrifice to the god because their understanding the one thing the gods couldn’t do is the gods couldn’t feed themselves. They could do all sorts of things, but they couldn’t eat, and so you had to bring food, you had to bring sacrifices, and when you gave them food, and they could eat, then they would do things for you. And so you need this goddess who will give fertility to your animals and this god who will bring rain to the harvest, and this god who will keep the blight and the mildew away.
It was as obvious to them as having auto insurance or home owner’s insurance is to us. Now I’m not telling you that you need to get rid of those, we have some people who sell that here, I’m not saying that’s a high place, but I’m just saying that’s how obvious it was. Of course you do these things.
We’ll see later that not all of the high places were removed, but in Judah they were. The Lord was looking for those to help, and here you notice Asa commanded Judah, verse 4, to seek the Lord. The word “seek” is used in Scripture a few different ways. It can be referred to as a kind of spiritual restlessness. Acts 17:27—”God did this so that men would seek Him, though He is not far from each one of us.” That’s what people meant when they talk about seeker services or seeker sensitive.
Or there’s another kind of “seek,” and that’s seek as turning to the living God. Romans 3: “There is no one righteous, not even one. There is no one who understands, no one who seeks God.” So, so much for seeker services there. No one does seek after Him apart from regeneration.
But this is a different kind of seek. This is an expression of complete obedience. So when it says “command them to seek after God,” he didn’t say “hey, I want you all to go on spiritual journeys, and I want you to just try to find yourself, and I want you to be spiritual but not religious.” No, he means “I want you to follow hard after our God in obedience.”
And look what happens. Verse 7: “He said to Judah, ‘Let us build these cities and surround them with walls and towers, gates and bars. The land is still ours, because we have sought the Lord our God. We have sought him, and he has given us peace on every side.’ So they built and they prospered.” The Lord gave them favor, according to the stipulations of the Mosaic covenant, when you obey, there are covenant blessings, and when you disobey, there are covenant curses.
Verse 8: The Lord gave him an impressive army: 300,000 men from Judah, shields and spears, and 280,000 men from the other of the tribes in the south, the tribe of Benjamin. These were all mighty men of valor.
So here in the first section, we have a picture of rest during Asa’s reign. He took down the high places, he removed the foreign altars, the armies were strengthened, the cities were strengthened, the people together sought after the Lord, obeyed the Lord, and God had favor upon them. Asa’s rest.
And now look at Asa’s reliance, because there wasn’t always rest. Soon we have a battle. Verse 9: “Zerah the Ethiopian came out against them with an army of a million men and 300 chariots, and came as far as Mareshah. And Asa went out to meet him, and they drew up their lines of battle in the Valley of Zephathah at Mareshah.”
So again we have another massive battle, and as I said last week, whether it really was a million men lined up for battle or simply recounting all of the men of military serviceable age in the kingdom, we can’t be sure, but the proportions are what matter here. Once again, Judah is vastly outnumbered.
And look what happens, verse 11: “Asa cried to the Lord his God.” Remember we saw that with Abijah; in his time of need, he cried to the Lord his God. “O Lord, there is none like You to help. Between the mighty and the weak, help us, O Lord our God, for we rely on You. And in Your name we have come against this multitude. O Lord, you are our God; let not man prevail against you.”
And as we saw with Abijah, this is the turning point. Help us, Lord, we rely on you. That simple prayer. Do you know, friends, how much the Lord loves to hear that prayer? He never tires of hearing that prayer. I know we, we get this in our mind sometimes, like yes we know the right theological answer is God wants us to pray, but sometimes we feel like “well, our prayers are so small,” or “I’ve prayed the same thing for the hundredth time, God must be up there getting kind of tired of it.” He doesn’t get tired of it. Cast all of your cares on Him. His eyes run to and fro, looking for those to help, looking for people to pray that sort of prayer. So pray it when you have surgery, pray it for safe travel, pray it when you can’t find your car keys, or when you find car keys and you see them inside your locked car. [laughter] Pray. There’s nothing too small to bring before the Lord. Pray when you feel your marriage slipping away, and say “O Lord, we rely on You.” Pray when you’re flat broke or you’re out of a job. Pray when you need wisdom as a pastor. Pray when your kids won’t go to sleep. Pray when your aging parents are hard to be around. Pray when your next door neighbor is a pain or pray that you have courage to invite your neighbor to church. Pray that you would not look at pornography tomorrow. In a thousand different ways, every day, shoot up these prayers.
You know, hopefully, we grow and we have these habits of personal devotional time and most of us try to do that in the morning, but do you know what? Do you know you have permission to keep praying throughout the day? Even after that time? And do you know what? If you miss your devotion time, it doesn’t mean God is out to smite you for the rest of the day. That’s not what it says. It says He’s looking for those whose heart is blameless, not looking… Oh, missed devotions. Boop boo. We’ll just start with a muffler breaking down. [laughter] a week of no devotions, all right, pipes gone. The plumber did devotions so we’ll do that for them… No. That’s not what He… You can, you can pray. You get rushed out of the house, you missed it, you know, kids didn’t cooperate, you didn’t have your time in the Word and in prayer. Don’t think “well, my day’s shot, I’ll just kind of try to hide my face from God today spiritually because I didn’t get the Bible reading done today. Pray to Him, keep, keep throwing up these prayers. And sometimes that’s what they feel like: Throwing up prayers. You don’t even know what to say or how to say, and the Spirit intercedes with groans too deep for words.
Cry out like Asa, “O Lord, we’ve got a million people in front of us, and we rely on you.” And the Lord heard his prayer. You see verse 12: The Lord defeated the Ethiopians and they fled. And verse 13: The people who were with him pursued them, and they carried away much spoil. Verse 14: They attacked the cities for the fear of the Lord was upon them. They plundered them. Verse 15: They struck the tents of those, carried away sheep and abundance and camels and they returned to Jerusalem. In other words, the Lord heard their cry and gave them a mighty victory.
Asa’s rest, Asa’s reliance. Now look at chapter 15, Asa’s reforms. “The Spirit of God came[a] upon Azariah the son of Oded, and he went out to meet Asa and said to him, “Hear me, Asa, and all Judah and Benjamin.” Now note this: “The Lord is with you while you are with Him.” That could be the theme verse for Asa’s life: The Lord is with you while you are with Him. “If you seek Him, He will be found by you, but if you forsake Him, He will forsake you.”
Now we’ve got to pause right there. We’re not sure we like that. Wait, I thought if we forsake Him, He will not forsake us and we cannot deny Him because He cannot deny Himself. I thought this was, you know, nothing can separate us from the love of God, and this almost sounds like yeah, you, you do mess up and God’s done with you. Well, remember, we must not read all of these passages as “is he saved or is he unsaved?” It’s not about he’s saved or he’s losing his salvation. We heard through the series on the Canons of Dort that God causes His people to persevere. You cannot be unborn again, you cannot be unjustified.
This is talking about the place of Israel and the king as Israel or Judah’s leader under the Mosaic covenant, which very clearly said “if you obey the terms of the covenant, you will have blessings.” Now, the blessings didn’t mean that individually everything would always go right in your life, but it was a national prosperity, that as the people follow in God’s ways, on the whole they will have military victory, they will have prosperity, they will have children, they will have long life. Not that every single person in the nation never has a tragedy, but on the whole they will be favored. And when they disobey, they will meet those curses.
Remember, this is a book written for the exiles returning from Babylon. The exiles who are asking to themselves, “Okay, we’ve seen curses before. Does God have any blessings left for us?” That’s why we’re getting this emphasis in king after king, seek the Lord, seek the Lord. Yes, there’s blessing for you if you will seek Him, when you walk with Him, He will walk with you.
And the warning then is if you forsake Him, you will find yourself on the wrong end of those covenant curses. And it is true—we cannot live blatantly disobedient lives and expect God’s favor. That doesn’t mean if you’re having a hard week or a hard year or a hard life that it’s necessarily because you’ve sinned, but it does mean we cannot live in defiance and ignorance of God’s commands and expect to find His blessing and favor.
It also tells us that it is possible that you can start this race running with the Lord in an external sort of way and not finish it. And we know that from, sadly from our own personal experience. We all know people who seem to get out of the blocks and they were running the 100 meters, sprinting, and they didn’t finish the race. Or at least right now, what we can see is they’re no longer on the course.
In God’s chosen people, these sorts of warnings are used by Him to keep us in the race. You say I thought once we were saved, we were always saved. Well, yes, once you are truly saved. But that doesn’t mean just because you raised your hand and you made a decision and you signed a card and said yeah, I’ll go to church, that you don’t need warnings. Those who truly love the Lord Jesus hear warnings like this and say “O God, keep me, keep me. I want to finish this race. I want to run the race to completion. I want to run it all the way.”
Have you ever prayed, and I’ve heard this prayer, and it may sound sort of provocative, but it’s a good prayer. I’ve heard men pray before “O Lord, would you take me from this life early, if it means that you keep me from making shipwreck of my faith.” For a pastor to say “O Lord, take me out, take me all the way out, if that’s what it takes, that I would not make shipwreck of this, if I would not throw dishonor upon Your name. I want to run the race well, all the way to completion.”
And so the prophet comes to Asa and he says when you’re with Him, He’s with you. If you forsake Him, watch out.
You see in verse 3 the prophet continues: “For a long time Israel was without the true God, and without a teaching priest and without the law, but when in their distress they turned to the Lord, the God of Israel, and sought Him, He was found by them.”
Okay, so there’s the good news. If you’ve dropped out of the race, you can get back in. And when you seek Him, you’ll be found by Him.
“In those times there was no peace to him who went out, or to him who came in, for great disturbances afflicted all the inhabitants of the lands. They were broken in pieces. Nation was crushed by nation and city by city, for God troubled them with every sort of distress.”
That’s what happened when they forsook the Lord. But now the word to the exiles is you can return. You can return. Verse 7: “But you,” there’s the prophet’s word to Asa, “take courage! Do not let your hands be weak, for your work will be rewarded.”
The prophet is saying to Asa keep it up, keep reforming, keep seeking the Lord with your whole heart. We’ve already seen some of what he did removing the detestable idols, removing the high places. We read in the rest of chapter 15 he repaired the altar of the Lord in front of the temple. He brought gold and silver articles into the temple. He gathered people from Judah and Israel to sacrifice at Jerusalem and enter into a covenant. He was a great reforming king.
Look down at verse 12: “And they entered into a covenant to seek the Lord, the God of their fathers, with all their heart and with all their soul, but that whoever would not seek the Lord, the God of Israel, should be put to death, whether young or old, man or woman. They swore an oath to the Lord with a loud voice and with shouting and with trumpets and with horns. And all Judah rejoiced over the oath, for they had sworn with all their heart and had sought Him with their whole desire, and He was found by them, and the Lord gave them rest all around.”
One of the things we see in the Old Testament is that whenever there is a reformation or a revival, the people renew their covenant vows. They up the ante, they hold each other accountable.
There’s a great verse, actually, on church membership. Now under the New Testament economy, we don’t, thankfully, we don’t practice don’t practice execution, but we do practice ex-communication. And whereas they said “okay, who’s with us? Who really wants to be here? And if you don’t, you’re out.” And they did it by death, we would do it by church membership.
It’s true. You notice in the gospels Jesus is always making it harder for people to follow Him. You really want to be here? You sure? Have you counted the cost? Do you want to be here?
I know I speak for all the pastors and all the elders when I say we have no interest, no interest in just drawing a crowd. No interest in just stuffing membership rolls. No interest in just saying look how many people were here on a Sunday. But we do have a great interest in this: Who wants to serve the Lord? Who is serious? Who is single-minded? Who’s here because you want to be here? Who’s seeking the Lord with your whole heart, mind, soul, and strength?
We want to call each other to greater commitment. We don’t want to find that there are bowling leagues that have higher membership standards than churches. One of the reasons churches fail is because they do not call their people to anything. There’s, there’s no doctrinal rallying point. There’s no ethical standard. There’s no call to commitment. There’s no you’re, you’re here and we’re together and it’s going to cost you something, but it’ll be great.
You may have heard before about the famous Pony Express ad which ran in 1860 in a San Francisco newspaper. The ad said this: “Wanted: Young, skinny, wiry fellows not over 18. Must be expert riders. Willing to risk daily. Orphans preferred.” And the Pony Express never had a shortage of riders. Said “Huh, risk? Cost? I’m needed? Sign me up.”
When I fear that too many churches hang out an advertisement which reads something like this: “Wanted: Vaguely spiritual cultural Christians. Must attend church sporadically. Give miserly. Serve if you are into that sort of thing. Will tailor our music and our preaching to fit your style. Ethical standards are minimal. Beliefs are negotiable. People like us preferred.”
Is that the church of Jesus Christ in the United States of America in 2018? Sadly, in too many places, it is. May it not be so here. We want a covenant commitment. We are Christ Covenant, we have covenant groups, we’ve got covenant all over the place, I know. But it doesn’t matter if we’re not really in a covenant commitment with one another. Are you serving the Lord? Are you serving the Lord? Are you in this? You really want to be here?
And look at what Asa did as a measure of his commitment. And here’s where we’re glad it’s not Mother’s Day. Verse 16: “Even Maacah, his mother, King Asa removed from being queen mother because she had made a detestable image for Asherah. Asa cut down her image, crushed it, and burned it at the brook Kidron.” This took courage. This is why the prophet said “be courageous.”
For most people, blood is thicker than theology. It’s true. Most people, they’ll have all sorts of things they believe; when it comes to their momma and their daddy, or their kids, they’ll throw that out the window. You want to know why so many people compromise clear biblical standards? They don’t wake up and just say “I think I’m going to reinvent the Bible today.” No, they have someone they love, and they say “that’s too painful. That’s too painful for me to continue to hold what I know the Bible says about sexuality. It’s too painful for me to believe what I know the Bible says about the uniqueness of Jesus Christ for salvation. It’s too, it’s too difficult.” And blood ends up being thicker than theology, and we find ways to change our theology to help with our relatives. It’s how compromise happens.
Not with Asa. Asa had courage. Even his own momma–“I’m taking down your shrine, I’m pulverizing it. You’re not the queen mother… Yeah, I know, I know, you gave birth to me, I understand. It was in the snow, it was three days, I was 12 pounds, whatever, [laughter] but you’re an idolater.”
It takes courage when the most difficult thing to do involves the ones closest to you. To say something or do something that all your closest peers and friends applaud, while those far away hate, that doesn’t take courage. It doesn’t take courage to say something that you know all of your friends on social media will say “yeah, yeah, yeah.”
But to say something or do something that is most difficult for those closest to you and the ones you love the most, that takes guts. “This is gonna hurt, but queen mother, if I’m getting rid of idolatry, I can’t make exceptions for you.”
So Asa was a good king. He did many good things. He brought gold and gifts into the household. In verse 19, “there was no more war until the thirty-fifth year of the reign of Asa.” He often had rest, he had reliance, he had reform.
But at the end of his days, he had regression. Verse 1: “In the thirty-sixth year of the reign of Asa, Baasha king of Israel went up against Judah and built Ramah, that he might permit no one to go out or come in to Asa king of Judah.” So he’s building a siege works around him. The king of Israel has come up against him. So here’s the trouble: What is going to be Asa’s first response. There’s trouble. We’ve already seen he had a million men against him and he cried out to the Lord and the Lord saved him, but now in his old age, when his fellow countrymen, the Israelites, come up against him, look at his first response.
Verse 2: ” Then Asa took silver and gold from the treasures of the house of the Lord and the king’s house and sent them to Ben-hadad king of Syria, who lived in Damascus, saying, ‘There is a covenant between me and you, as there was between my father and your father. Behold, I am sending to you silver and gold. Go, break your covenant with Baasha king of Israel, that he may withdraw from me.'”
Do you see what he did? His first response now was not to cry out to the Lord, but he said “I am going to fix this politically. I’m going to forge a political alliance. I know that the king of Syria in Damascus is in cahoots there with Israel, but if I give him more money, he’ll break off that covenant with him and he will come and we’ll be able to forge a political alliance.”
Sadly, isn’t this our first instinct as Christians? Now listen, I’m going to say something political but it’s not about either side of the political aisle, it’s just about us as Christians. However we vote, whatever we think of this president or the last president or any president, it is true that we too quickly assume that the kingdom of God is coming through politics. If you think “what is my dream for the church?” If you think “if only we could… ” and you fill in the blank there, “if only we could… ” and the next thing is “win this election,” then I dare say you have your hopes in the wrong place. Not at all, please hear me, to discount the importance of elections or the importance of working legislation or having good justices or adopting good policies.
I studied religion and political science in college; it’s always been an interest to me, and those things matter. But here’s what I am saying: Woe to us if we think that revival and reformation are just a political election away. If we have the response here in our time of need “well, we gotta fix it. Well, let’s go check out Syria, maybe we can get some political help” instead of saying “you know what we need, Lord. We need preaching, we need humility, we need obedience, we need risk-taking discipleship, we need prayer, we need love, we need the Holy Spirit, we need the Lord’s favor.”
Do you remember in Acts when they were persecuted and they came back and they prayed? Their first prayer was not even “O Lord, give us religious liberty.” It was “Lord, make us bold that we would not cease to speak in Your name.” That’s what we need.
Look at verse 7. Asa is rebuked. “At that time Hanani the seer came to Asa king of Judah and said to him, ‘Because you relied on the king of Syria, and did not rely on the Lord your God, the army of the king of Syria has escaped you. Were not the Ethiopians and the Libyans a huge army?” He’s saying remember what happened with very many chariots and horsemen? Yet, because you relied on the Lord He gave them into your hand?
And then here’s the verse that I started with, and now you know its context: “For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward Him. You have done foolishly in this, for from now on you will have wars.” He is rebuked. “You should have known better, Asa. Remember?”
And how quickly we forget. All of you can think of times when God showed up, answered prayers, and yet when we get into the think of the battle, how quickly prayer becomes an afterthought. The prophet says you should have known better, but you were foolish.
Now what happens? Here’s where the rubber meets the road first. What happens when you get a rebuke? What happens when someone says something to you that’s a hard truth? What happens when mom or dad or a friend comes with you with God’s Word and says here it is, look it, look at the mirror, look what happened. Now this is where all the difference is made. Do you respond with soft-hearted humility or hard-hearted folly?
Well, look at verse 10. “Then Asa was angry with the seer and put him in the stocks in prison, for he was in a rage with him because of this. And Asa inflicted cruelties upon some of the people at the same time.”
And so we read the stubborn final days of what was otherwise a great king. Verse 11: “The acts of Asa, from first to last, are written in the Book of the Kings of Judah and Israel. In the thirty-ninth year of his reign Asa was diseased in his feet,” which itself may be a euphemism for other parts, “he was diseased in his feet and his disease became severe, yet even in his disease he did not seek the Lord, but sought help from physicians.”
It is wrong to be engaged in politics? Is it wrong to seek doctors? Of course not. Is it wrong to seek them before you seek the Lord?
Better to die young than to live a long life and tarnish your legacy with hard-hearted sin and rebellion.
There are two types of old Christians. The ones who fret and fuss about how bad things have gotten, can’t beloive how everything is so terrible and upset with their churches, upset with their pastors, upset with everything, and then end up stubborn old rascals. That’s one type of old Christian.
And then there are those who like fine wine get better with age. They pray more, they don’t get so bent out of shape by the little things. I had an older Christian tell me one time that as he got older, he saw more gray, but the things that were dark he saw even darker, and the things that were light, he saw even lighter.
And these old Christians don’t hesitate to speak against what is bad, but they also love what is good. And they love the Lord and you can find them reading their big print Bibles every morning, and they’ve got probably “Our Daily Bread” devotional stuck in there as a bookmark, and they’ve got a list and they’re praying for all their kids and for their grandkids, and they’re the ones who shake my hand and say “I pray for you every day, Pastor” and I believe them.
Asa died a grumpy old man. He got disease in his feet and he didn’t ask the Lord for help. Not that the physicians were wrong, but how often do we think “okay, I got a problem, I need a book, I need a counselor, a need a therapist, I need a drug, I need an expert” instead of thinking “I need God” when God is saying “ask Me.”
It’s Father’s Day. You have a good heavenly father. Doesn’t it warm your heart, dad, when your kids come up to you and “help me tie my shoe, help me ride my bike, can you help me with my homework?” Do you say “Enough with the shoe already.” Well, eventually we do and we get Velcro, but [laughter] no, you say “help you ride your bike? Yeah. Daddy put on your helmet and let’s go outside,” and you stand behind and you run along that thing. You love it when they come up, “Daddy, would you help me? Daddy, would you help me?”
God’s not tired of our cries for help. The hard-hearted no longer ask for help. So how are you running your race? If you’re young, we need you here. We need your courage, your boldness, your initiative, your spirit, your fight.
Asa did as a young man what young men should be doing. He’s reforming, reviving, he’s leading, he’s praying, he’s marshaling armies.
And if you’re in the last half of your race, we need you, too. Don’t get crotchety. Don’t start looking for help in all the wrong places. We need you. We need your prayers. We need your example. We need your faithfulness. We need to see the sweet sight of God’s saint running the last half of the race even better than the first. You want to know what the Lord has for you in your remaining years or decades or months. If he could give you the testimony that Eric Liddell had, that would be enough. “I ran the first 200 meters fast, and by God’s grace I ran the second 200 even faster.”
Even as you slow down, you can still run with greater spiritual speed. And we have much to learn, and you have much to give. Let’s finish how we started.
Let’s pray. Our Father in heaven, we thank you for the grace that is ours and the grace that you have promised to help us begin this work and then to complete the work which you have begun in us. We thank you for men, women, children of all ages here. We thank you in particular for those who are running the last 200 meters, perhaps down the final straightaway, maybe even seeing the finishing tape. O how we love them, O how we need them. Help them to finish well, run hard all the way home. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.