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No Shortcuts To God

Scripture: 2 Chronicles 15:1-7; Text: 2 Chronicles 15:2

Please notice with me some very important facts. First, the passage begins with the Spirit of God speaking to a man named Azariah. It is wonderful to realize that the Holy Spirit, as we know Him today, does speak to us and show us things as He did for them (John 16:13). Second, we notice in the beginning of verse two, that Azariah went out to meet Asa, the king. Why did he go out to meet him? Because Asa was returning from war. No doubt the people had gathered at the news of the soldiers return. Families were anxious to see who made it back. It had been a war in which they were out numbered two to one, they had about 500,000 but the Ethiopians had more than a million. Yet in spite of that fact, God had given them victory against the Ethiopians.

It is also important to notice that there was no shortcut to that victory. Often today, people want to take the shortcut. Some cheat in school to keep from studying, others lie and deceive about their qualifications to get the job. Our society wants things to come easy, many are unwilling to work hard and expend the time and energy necessary for success. However, there was no shortcut to God. There were certain steps they had to take. First, Asa the king, tried to lead the people in the ways of God. He did that which was right in the sight of God (2 Chronicles 14:2). Had he not done so, no doubt the results would have been dreadfully different. Second, Asa had taken a stand against idolatry in the land and had taken away their altars, breaking the images (2 Chronicles 14:3&5). Third, Asa had prayed to God for His blessings during the battle. He acknowledged God's power to help many or few and trusted Him for the victory.

The victory was given and they were returning with great wealth through their spoils. Because Asa had not tried to take a shortcut, but had gone step by step through that which was necessary, God gave him and the people of Judah and Benjamin, the tribes who predominantly supplied the forces, a wonderful victory. As they returned jubilantly Azariah spoke to them by the spirit of God and to ALL the people he made this statement: "The Lord is with you while ye be with Him; and if ye seek Him, He will be found of you; but if ye forsake Him, He will forsake you." What a profound message for them to ponder.

We see this truth in the light of their experience, but what does God want to say to us today? I believe that He is saying the same thing to us too. I believe that He is teaching us some important lessons for our nation and for us individually today. Perhaps the first lesson is the importance of godly and morally good leaders. Without a good king, things would have been as different as day and night. No wonder America is in the shape we are, when we look at the utter lack of spiritual interests among our many leaders. When we go to the polls, we should keep that in mind. Rather than looking at the outside of the man or woman, let us look at their heart. If it is not right towards God, they will not likely do us any good. Listen to what the Bible says in 2 Samuel 23:3. Let us pray for such leaders and vote to elect God- fearing people to office.

As important as that lesson is, there is one of greater importance. Leaders are a small fraction of the total population. Therefore the most important lesson is to the masses of the people, to you and me. God is telling us that if we want to enjoy His blessings, we must seek Him. There is no shortcut, we must do all that is involved in pursuing Him. This lesson seems to have always had a place in the lives of God's chosen people. Long before the time of our lesson, God made the same basic statement to His people through Moses His servant (Deuteronomy 4:29). Then much later than the time of our lesson, God gave this message by His prophet Jeremiah (Jeremiah 29:13). Thank God, the essence of it is still in tact today (James 4:8). If we want Him to be with us, we need to be with Him. If we want to feel His presence, we need to sincerely seek Him. I said SINCERELY seek Him. Sometimes, a person will say, well I try to seek him, I try to pray and I try to do right. Well according to this passage, they must not be really trying or not trying hard enough or they would find Him. He does not go back on His word.

You know there is something we can do that God cannot do. We can lie and go back on our word and often people do so. However, God cannot lie and He does not go back on His word (1 Kings 8:56 and Titus 1:2). So if we are not in the presence of God, something is wrong with us, not the reverse. So what can we do to find the PATH into His presence? If this seems a great mystery to you, let me give you a clue. In our passage, we are told that for a long time, they had been without the true God and without a teaching priest and without the law. Verse 3. God did not tell us that fact just to fill up space. It is very important. We must understand the connection between the presence of God and the word of God. The importance of the TEACHING priest was that he was teaching God's word, and the law of God was in His holy word.

What I am about to say may seem strange to some today. But what we need in America in addition to godly leaders are preachers who will preach the word of God. We have plenty of preachers in our day, we need more who will preach the word of God. They had many priests but they needed priests who would not just go through the rituals and regulations of their office, but who would teach them the truth of God. In every age, it has been unpopular to teach God's word and it is no different today. People will criticize those who do, that is a fact we must accept. It shines light in this sin darkened world (John 3:19). The worms that live under boards and logs don't like the light. The ungodly of this day do not like the light of divine truth, and if we wait until they do, Jesus will come again first. Anyone who is genuinely called of God to preach, is called to preach the word of God; not a social religion nor to pacify people. 2 Timothy 4:2 tells ministers plainly and briefly their mission. They must call sin, sin. They must condemn what the Bible condemns instead of looking for ways around the truth. They must endorse the godly and moral lifestyle that so many are condemning today. If they are more concerned with the esteem of people than they are with the will of God, they can forget about feeling His presence. There is no REVIVAL apart from the word of God. If our nation is to be revived, we must cross this bridge, there is no alternative route.

Since the word of God is essential, there is no shortcut to God. We MUST live according to the teachings of His holy word. If we are to find the felt presence of God, we must do as did Asa. (1). We must PERSONALLY strive to live a godly life. We must be concerned with what is right in the sight of God. When we discover His will, we must do it (2 Timothy 2:15) (approved unto God). No one else can do this for us. The Christian life is to imitate Jesus Christ. It is not just ideas, visions and dreams. It is action, in the will of God. No book was ever named after the ideas, visions or dreams of the apostle. There is, however, a book called the ACTS of the apostles. God is concerned with our personal lives, lived in obedience the to word of God (James 1:22). (2). We must also be concerned with SOCIETY. Asa wanted to clean up the world around him. He loved God, so he wanted to get rid of the ungodly influence of pagan worship. He used his influence and power, to make his nation a place in keeping with the will of God. God said that idolatry was a sin, so he condemned it Exodus 20:3-5). In our society today, there are many things that are wrong in God's sight. Many lifestyles are sinful and need to be RENOUNCED by those who pursue them and DENOUNCED by those who do not. Sexual sin is rampant, as adultery, fornication and homosexuality. Crime and lawlessness are all about us. Deceit and dishonesty are acceptable practices of private and public life. We need to use our influence to make society better (Matthew 5:13-14 & Acts 1:8). (3). We must pray for God's blessing and trust His love and grace. We need to believe that He has power to answer prayer and seek His will, for it is always best (Matthew 6:10). There is no one, absolutely no one, who can grant the answer of your prayers but God. Sometimes we may not ask for His blessings and sometimes we ask and He does not hear us because of our sins. That was certainly true with ancient Isreal (Isaiah 59:2) and it is true of us too. But as we live in His will and trust His power as we seek His will, we will be blessed beyond our dreams. They were richly blessed with victory and great wealth through the spoils of war. It took all three of these steps, there was no shortcut.

Some may say, "Well it is not worth all that. The alternative can't be that bad can it?" The answer is an emphatic yes. If you study the history of the Jews in the Bible times, you will clearly see that things got pretty bad when God did not bless them. There are simply too many incidents to call to your attention. The Divine WARNING given in this passage should be adequate to convince us of the results if we fail to seek and fellowship God. Listen to the warning. God said, "but if ye forsake Him, He will forsake you." (Last of text).

The results were three-fold also. First, they had no peace. (Verse 5). Something they needed and wanted very much, was absent from their lives. They did not have peace with nations or within (Isaiah 48:22). Second, they had great vexations. (Verse 5). Something they did not want, they had plenty of, vexation. Vexation is trouble or as I see it, the miseries of sin. Thus they had no peace within and were actually miserable (Hebrews 11:25). Third, they were destroyed. (Verse 6). No peace, great misery and destruction from their sins and the nations who warred against them. Today, many people are destroyed by their sins. Their lives are destroyed, their marriages are destroyed, and they are permanently scarred by sin (Matthew 7:13).

Many around us today never have any sense of real peace in their hearts and souls. Something is missing and they are looking in the bottle, at drugs, forbidden sex; everything but the right things that are pleasing in God's sight. Probably all of us knows someone who is so deeply troubled. They are miserable. The more they sin, the more miserable their existence becomes. They never find true and lasting satisfaction. We would assume, they would eventually figure it out on their own, but most people never do. They refuse to hear the word of God and they never learn from lessons of the past. How truly sad! But that is the way it often is when we forsake God. Our nation in many ways has forsaken God and many do not even realize it. We have veered off the path of righteousness so gradually, that we did not even notice. Since it has taken so long, we have come to accept some of the diversions and perversions. Now they seen normal and acceptable to a vast host in our nation. It was that way with ancient Judah. Thank God the day came, that they realized how much better it could be with the blessing of God's presence. I truly hope that day will come in America again. Some will no doubt say, well all that does not matter to me. It should because it certainly matters to God.

Have you forsaken God? Don't be too quick to answer, it is too important a question for that. Take a moment and think about it. Ponder it in your heart. Ask God in a quiet moment, if you too are guilty. You may have begun the process and do not even realize it. (1). It involves turning your back and walking away from God. Oh, you may not have gone completely yet, but you are headed that way. Worldly things have caught your attention. Secular interests have become more important to you than they used to be. Pleasing God has taken a back seat to pleasing people you know and love. Yes, you are gradually moving away from Him. Some have already left completely. May God have mercy. (2). It involves His word. Where is the word of God in your heart? Are His laws your guide, or do you listen more to what other people think? Have you lost interest in reading the word of God and does the preaching of the gospel tax your patience. Does your mind wander from one thing to another and suddenly you realize you do not even know what the sermon was about? Our attitude towards the Bible, as the inspired, inerrant, word of God is affected as we forsake Him. For when we forsake God, we usually forsake His word too. (3). It involves the house of God too. After all, it is this place where He has chosen to put His name and meet with His people in a very special way. Those who are redeemed gather and give Him worship and praise. When we depart from God, we usually forsake the assembly of worship in time. We are His people assembled, it is His word that is preached and this is His house of worship. Stop loving God as you should and you will stop loving all that belongs to Him and represents Him. Measure your love for the worship of God and the reading of His word, and you will get a pretty accurate measure of your love for or departure from Him. Let us heed His invitation and warning!

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This page last updated on June 7, 2014