How many choices do you make in a day? Since this is a blog about making choices, I began to wonder that. I did what every connected person does – I googled it. How many choices do people make a day? I found answers that varied from 612 to 35,000. Of course, none of the sites I went to had any documentation to back up their definitively provided answers. One interesting study had scientists following CEOs around for a week. They learned that about 50% of the decisions they made in a week were made in 9 minutes or less.

Great choices…tragic choices…made throughout the seasons of our lives… and most of them made in 9 minutes or less.

2 Chronicles, Chapters 14 and 15 tell the story of the life of King Asa. I was struck by the choices King Asa made and how they changed throughout his life.

The year is 911 BC – 911 years before Christ was born. The nation of Israel was divided into two kingdoms – the northern kingdom called Judah and the southern kingdom still called Israel. In Judah, King Abijah died and his son Asa became king. As we look at Asa’s life we’ll see that while he was King of Judah and he lived a long time ago, the pattern of his life could be the pattern of any of our lives. The choices he faced were different from the choices we face, and yet they were very much the same. There are lessons to learn from Asa, both in what he did well – that is, the great choices he made, and in his failures – that is, the tragic choices he made. So let’s begin:

1When Abijah died, he was buried in the City of David. Then his son Asa became the next king. There was peace in the land for ten years. 2Asa did what was pleasing and good in the sight of the LORD his God. 3He removed the foreign altars and the pagan shrines. He smashed the sacred pillars and cut down the Asherah poles. 4He challenged the people of Judah to seek the LORD, the God of their ancestors, and to obey his law and his commands. 5Asa also removed the pagan shrines, as well as the incense altars from every one of Judah’s towns. So Asa’s kingdom enjoyed a period of peace.
2 Chronicles 14:1-5 (NLT)

What was the first statement made about Asa after he became king in that passage? “Asa did what was pleasing and good in the sight of the Lord.” Asa made choices that were pleasing to God. What were those choices?

Scripture says that God gave Asa ten years of peace and during that time, he tore down foreign altars and pagan shrines and he exhorted, he challenged the people to seek the Lord. Asa rebuilt the spiritual foundations of the city. The best choice we can always make is to tear down idols in our lives and build up our spiritual foundations – to seek God regularly, to obey his law and his commandments.

So Asa started his Kingship by making great choices, let’s see what happened next.

6During those peaceful years, [Asa] was able to build up the fortified towns throughout Judah. No one tried to make war against him at this time, for the LORD was giving him rest from his enemies. 7Asa told the people of Judah, “Let us build towns and fortify them with walls, towers, gates, and bars. The land is still ours because we sought the LORD our God, and he has given us peace on every side.” So they went ahead with these projects and brought them to completion.
2 Chronicles 14:6-7 (NLT)

King Asa made more great choices. He first rebuilt the spiritual foundations of Judah, then went on to rebuild the physical foundations of the cities, fortifying the walls, towers and gates of the city.

While doing so, he didn’t do it with an attitude of “look how great we are – look at what we’re building!” No, he acknowledged that “the land is still ours because we sought the Lord our God and he has given us peace on every side.”

King Asa made the choice to live in humility – to acknowledge that every good and perfect gift comes from God. He also occupied the time well. He prepared himself and his people during times of peace for times of war that would undoubtedly come. The next verse talks about the great army and weapons he had.

King Asa had an army of 300,000 warriors from the tribe of Judah, armed with large shields and spears. He also had an army of 280,000 warriors from the tribe of Benjamin, armed with small shields and bows. Both armies were composed of well-trained fighting men.
2 Chronicles 14:8 (NLT)

We can learn from Asa’s great choices. During times of peace, we’re to keep busy. We’re not to become complacent or comfortable, but we’re to shore up our defenses, first spiritually – clean house by removing worship of worldly things. It’s easy for the worldly to creep in when things are going well. So when things are going well, we need to make wise choices and clean house spiritually first, then prepare for the battles God has before us. King Asa didn’t spend his afternoons relaxing in his King’s gardens. He spent them preparing himself and his people.

Well, peace didn’t last forever. Let’s continue to read:

9Once an Ethiopian named Zerah attacked Judah with an army of 1,000,000 men and 300 chariots. They advanced to the town of Mareshah, 10so Asa deployed his armies for battle in the valley north of Mareshah.
2 Chronicles 14:9-10 (NLT)

Just as a reminder – Asa had about 680,000 troops armed with shields and swords and he was facing an army of a million men and 300 chariots. Asa’s time of peace was gone. What did he do? Verse 10 said he deployed his troops for battle. Verse 11 continues Asa’s actions:

Then Asa cried out to the LORD his God, “O LORD, no one but you can help the powerless against the mighty! Help us, O LORD our God, for we trust in you alone. It is in your name that we have come against this vast horde. O LORD, you are our God; do not let mere men prevail against you!”
2 Chronicles 14:11 (NLT)

This is perhaps King Asa’s greatest choice – he gave the impossible battle to the Lord. “Help us, O Lord, for we trust in you alone. You are our God.”

We will also face battles in life. Perhaps not literal battles as King Asa did, but battles none the less. We would do well to follow King Asa’s great example and make the same choice – know that the battles belong to the Lord, step up to the battle, but then we turn the battles over to Him. We show up, but we trust Him for the victory.

Maybe our battle is physical – an illness or injury – we pray “Lord, I’m going to the doctor today, but I trust You to heal me.” Maybe the battle is for our provision or for our children’s provision. So we pray “Lord, I’m going to work today, but I trust You to provide for my needs.”

What was the result of Asa’s battle? Verse 12 tells us:

So the LORD defeated the Ethiopians in the presence of Asa and the army of Judah, and the enemy fled.
2 Chronicles 14:12 (NLT)

We serve a faithful God! When we face battles in life, we can trust Him. He is faithful!

Now I love what happens next. The next few verses give more description of the battle and how the Ethiopians were defeated, then the scene shifts to a prophet named Aazriah. Let’s read…

1Then the Spirit of God came upon Azariah son of Oded, 2and he went out to meet King Asa as he was returning from the battle. “Listen to me, Asa!” he shouted. “Listen, all you people of Judah and Benjamin! The LORD will stay with you as long as you stay with him! Whenever you seek him, you will find him. But if you abandon him, he will abandon you….7But as for you, be strong and courageous, for your work will be rewarded.”
2 Chronicles 15:1-2, 7 (NLT)

King Asa had just come off a hard battle. Yes, the Lord gave him the victory, but even when we win the battles, we can sometimes get pretty beat up. The Lord knew that Asa needed some encouragement, so He sent someone with a special message for him. A reminder… “Whenever you seek the Lord, you will find Him. But if you abandon him, he will abandon you. Be strong and courageous, for your work will be rewarded.” God will be found by those who seek Him.

Notice that God sent someone to give Asa the message. Do you make yourself available to be the messenger? I believe God has called all of His children to be encouragers. If we’re following God’s heart, we see through His eyes, and we know that this world is a hurting place full of hurting people. He’s given us the special assignment of being those prophets – being those people who build up the body!

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.
Ephesians 4:29 (NIV)

And that was the result of the message to Asa. Continuing reading:

8When Asa heard this message from Azariah the prophet, he took courage and removed all the detestable idols from the land of Judah and Benjamin and in the towns he had captured in the hill country of Ephraim. And he repaired the altar of the LORD, which stood in front of the entry room of the LORD’s Temple.
2 Chronicles 15:8 (NLT)

Asa had already torn down shrines to false Gods, but now he went even further. He “took courage” and threw away all detestable idols. When we encourage people, it gives them courage to do the right thing.

King Asa continued to exhort the people to follow the Lord, and a few verses later Scripture tells us the results of Asa’s encouragement.

12Then [the people] entered into a covenant to seek the LORD, the God of their ancestors, with all their heart and soul….14They shouted out their oath of loyalty to the LORD with trumpets blaring and rams’ horns sounding. 15All in Judah were happy about this covenant, for they had entered into it with all their heart. They earnestly sought after God, and they found him. And the LORD gave them rest from their enemies on every side….19So there was no more war until the thirty-fifth year of Asa’s reign.
2 Chronicles 15:12, 14-15, 19 (NLT)

Asa’s great choices resulted in the people of his Kingdom earnestly seeking the Lord and they led to peace for his kingdom for many years.

One thing to note is that when King Asa made great choices, those choices impacted the people around him. The same is true in our lives. When we make good choices, those around us are positively impacted. When I live my life in a way that pleases God, Phil is impacted by it. My life has more peace and as a result, his life has more peace.

Even more important than that, when I lead a life that pleases God, those around me are encouraged to lead a life that pleases God. Friends, it’s important to put yourself in a place where there are people who love God more than you do! Because being around those people will motivate you to follow God more closely. Make it a priority to (1) be a person who encourages others to follow  hard after Christ and (2) be around others who love God more than you do.

King Asa made some great choices in his life. Unfortunately, that didn’t last through his entire life. Tomorrow we’ll look at some of the tragic choices he made.

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