Beginning to end


Asa did what was pleasing and good in the sight of the Lord his God… So, Asa’s kingdom enjoyed a period of peace… In the 36th year of Asa’s reign… Hanani the seer came to King Asa and told him, “Because you have put your trust in the king of Aram instead of the Lord your God, you missed your chance to destroy the army of the king of Aram… The eyes of the Lord search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him. What a fool you have been! From now on you will be at war.” — 2 Chronicles 14-16

As our eighth-grade shot-putter rounded the final turn during the 400-meter race, he was all alone.

The rest of the field had already finished.

Someone shouted that there was still one more runner coming.

As our guy hit the beginning of the last 100 meters, kids, coaches and spectators had gathered to urge him on.

Running for all he was worth, he crossed that line to deafening cheers worthy of one who had just set a world record. People, it seems, are inspired by finishers.

Out of the gate, King Asa was a superstar.

He sought God.

He led his entire nation into repentance and revival.

Peace reigned as God’s hand of blessing was upon him.

A million-man army came up against him. Outnumbered 2 to 1, he cried out in faith to God who gave him a great victory.

Decades later, another king began to threaten Asa.

His decision? He turned to an earthly king for help instead of God.

War and physical suffering followed.

Strong start. Horrible finish.

Hebrews 12:1 tells us we are running a race, too.

It started the day we put our faith in Jesus.

There are people cheering for us to run well now and to finish well later.

There are extra weights, like sin, that slow us down and need to be cast aside.

God has made each of our races unique to who he made us to be.

He has placed us in his story right now and on purpose.

There’s only one way to persevere to the end — keep our eyes on Jesus.

The Lord listened

And the Lord listened to Hezekiah’s prayer and healed the people. — 2 Chronicles 30

During a recent family movie night, the main character in the movie had a decision to make.

They were on patrol in an area based upon the word of someone they had worked with before when a new guy spoke up and told them they were headed into a trap.

We were all wondering which one we would listen to when the main character chose the new guy which resulted in saving his unit from certain annihilation.

The Bible is full of stories of people who either listened or didn’t listen to something God had said.

Far fewer are the examples like we see in this story where we are told “the Lord listened” by suspending the rules and extending grace.

King Hezekiah was living in rare air!

The people followed right in behind him as they sought to obey and worship God together with the king. “Hezekiah sought his God wholeheartedly. As a result, he was very successful.”

How do we know when the Lord is listening to us?

Is he listening only when his answer to our request is “yes”?

The statements, “some of the people humbled themselves” and “God’s hand was on the people giving them all one heart to obey” carry a heavy significance to this wonderful moment in their lives.

Do they do so in our lives?

We’re choosing this day whose voice we’ll listen to and, startlingly, so is God.

Choose wisely because you can be sure he will.

What’s important

I planted the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but it was God who made it grow. It’s not important who does the planting, or who does the watering. What’s important is that God makes the seed grow. — I Corinthians 3:1-23

Living in the Midwest’s corn and soybean belt, it’s incredible to see the vast acres of crops reaching their maturity in late summer and early fall.

Extra caution is warranted driving the country roads among all the soaring stalks in the cornfields. It truly does feel like they just spring up overnight.

Walking past a field in the evening or driving slowly with the window down, you can literally hear the crackle and pop of growing plants. Amazing.

Paul uses this farming imagery to help the church he’s writing to understand the proper perspective on the roles of people and the role of God in their lives.

After having allowed their church to devolve into a divisive popularity contest, Paul had to confront their worldly immaturity.

God enables some people to introduce people to Jesus and others to help them grow in their relationship with him. God, however, is the one who establishes the relationship and who makes it grow.

God’s the big deal.

He does all the heavy lifting.

Jesus said it this way in John 15, “I am the vine, you are the branches…Apart from me, you can do nothing.”

Our over-inflated egos have a really hard time embracing this truth.

We want so badly to be the big deal or at least to be in the inner circle of someone who we think is the big deal like the church Paul was writing to.

Oh, to be mature enough to simply be lost in the wonder of knowing and being known by God.

Tom Wiles is senior minister of Fall Creek Christian Church in Pendleton. He can be reached at 765-778-3166.