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Proverbs 3:5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Never rely on what you think you know. 6 Recognize Him in all your ways, and he will make your paths straight.

Saturday, June 15, 2024

 2 Chronicles 16:9. It says:

"For the eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His."

This verse emphasizes God's willingness to support and strengthen those who are fully devoted to Him. This seems like a promise with a condition added to it. The promise is that God will show Himself strong or provide strong support, but the condition is that it is for those whose hearts are completely or fully devoted to Him. This aligns with the broader biblical principle that God rewards those who earnestly seek Him and remain loyal to Him.

This promise can be encouraging as it highlights the intimate relationship between God and His people, showing that His strength and support are available to those who are committed to Him. It underscores the importance of wholehearted devotion and trust in God's faithfulness and power.

For those whose hearts are not completely devoted to God, the context of 2 Chronicles 16:9 suggests that they miss out on the special support and strength that God promises to those who are fully loyal to Him. In the broader biblical narrative, a divided heart can lead to consequences such as lack of divine protection, guidance, and blessings. However, the Bible also emphasizes God's mercy, grace, and willingness to forgive and restore those who turn back to Him. Verses like… 

1 John 1:9 "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." 

This shows that even if someone’s heart is not fully committed, there is always the opportunity for repentance and restoration.

With further thought, "the eyes of the Lord run to and fro" makes me think God is eager to find such a person but unable to. The context of 2 Chronicles 16:9 is crucial to understanding its deeper meaning. This verse is part of the story of King Asa of Judah, found in 2 Chronicles 14-16. Let's look at the broader narrative:

King Asa's Early Reign (2 Chronicles 14-15)

  • Faithfulness to God: Asa began his reign well. He did what was good and right in the eyes of the Lord. He removed foreign altars and high places, broke down sacred pillars, and cut down Asherah poles.

  • Victory Through Trust: When Zerah the Ethiopian came against Judah with a massive army, Asa sought the Lord. God granted him a great victory because Asa relied on Him.

  • Covenant Renewal: After the victory, Asa and the people entered into a covenant to seek the Lord with all their heart and soul. God gave them peace and prosperity as long as they were faithful.

King Asa's Later Reign (2 Chronicles 16)

  • Reliance on Human Help: In his later years, Asa faced another threat, this time from Baasha, king of Israel. Instead of seeking the Lord as he had previously, Asa sought help from Ben-Hadad, king of Syria, and made a treaty with him.

  • Rebuke and Consequence: The prophet Hanani rebuked Asa for relying on the king of Syria instead of God. Hanani reminded Asa of God's past faithfulness and stated that because of his lack of reliance on God, he would face wars.

  • Asa's Response: Asa responded poorly to the rebuke, becoming angry and imprisoning the prophet. He also oppressed some of the people.

2 Chronicles 16:9 in Context

  • Divine Perspective: "For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him." This statement underscores God’s eagerness to support those who are fully devoted to Him.

  • Failure of Asa: The verse highlights Asa's failure to fully rely on God in his later years. Despite God’s willingness and eagerness to support him, Asa turned to human alliances, demonstrating a lack of complete devotion and trust.

  • Lesson for Believers: The broader message is a call for unwavering trust in God. It serves as a reminder that God is actively seeking those who are fully committed to Him to demonstrate His power and faithfulness.

The narrative about King Asa emphasizes the importance of consistent and wholehearted devotion to God. It illustrates that God is eager to show His strength on behalf of those who trust Him fully, but also warns of the consequences of turning away and relying on human solutions instead of divine help. This story encourages maintaining faith and reliance on God in all circumstances.

This reminds me of something I've been thinking about concerning God's grace. It seems to me that anything accomplished outside of God's grace is “wood hay and stubble.” This idea aligns closely with biblical teaching, particularly the idea that true, lasting accomplishments are those rooted in God's grace and done for His glory. This concept is vividly illustrated in 1 Corinthians 3:12-15, where Paul talks about the quality of each person's work being tested by fire:

"If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames."

Key Points in Relation to God's Grace:

  1. Foundation in Christ: The foundation of all lasting work is Jesus Christ. Anything built on another foundation is inherently unstable and impermanent.

  2. Quality of Work: The materials used (gold, silver, costly stones versus wood, hay, straw) symbolize the quality and eternal value of one's works. Works done in the flesh, outside of God's grace, are akin to wood, hay, and stubble and will not endure.

  3. Testing by Fire: This metaphor suggests that God will evaluate our works, and only those done in alignment with His will and by His grace will survive. This aligns with the idea that actions outside of God's grace are ultimately futile and transient.

  4. Reward and Loss: There is a reward for works done through God's grace and strength. Conversely, even though a person may be saved, there is a loss associated with works that do not endure.

Practical Implications:

  • Dependence on God: Emphasizing radical dependence on God's grace in all aspects of life and ministry aligns with the teaching that true, enduring accomplishments come through Him.

  • Intent and Motivation: It's crucial to examine the motivations behind our actions. Are we seeking to glorify God and relying on His strength, or are we acting out of self-reliance and for personal gain?

  • Faithfulness: Being faithful in small things and doing them with a heart devoted to God is valuable. It's not merely the scale of the work but the heart and reliance on God’s grace that counts.

Encouragement:

Embracing the mindset that everything accomplished outside of God's grace is temporary encourages believers to live lives of radical dependence, ensuring that their efforts are aligned with God's will and empowered by His Spirit. This perspective fosters humility, trust, and a deeper relationship with God, focusing on eternal, lasting impact rather than fleeting, earthly success.

I'm reminded of the scripture that says "all the promises find their yes in Christ".

2 Corinthians 1:20. "For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory." (ESV)

This verse beautifully encapsulates the completeness and sufficiency of Christ in God's plan and encourages believers to rest in the certainty of God's promises through Him.

Context and Meaning:

  1. Christ as the Fulfillment: This verse highlights that Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of all God's promises. Through Him, every promise God made to His people is affirmed and realized.

  2. Our Response: The verse also underscores our response of "Amen," which means "so be it" or "truly." This signifies our agreement and trust in God's faithfulness and the fulfillment of His promises through Christ.

  3. Glorifying God: The ultimate purpose of these fulfilled promises and our response is to bring glory to God. It reflects the relationship between divine initiative and human response in the context of God's redemptive plan.

Application:

  • Trust in God's Promises: Believers can have confidence that all of God's promises are reliable and fulfilled in Jesus. This provides a solid foundation for faith and trust in God's word.

  • Living in Christ: Understanding that all promises are "Yes" in Christ encourages believers to live in close relationship with Him, aligning their lives with His purposes and experiencing the fullness of God's blessings.

  • Gratitude and Worship: Recognizing Christ as the fulfillment of God's promises leads to a heart of gratitude and worship, acknowledging God's faithfulness and grace.

So what does it mean to be "in Christ". I think the answer is that Christ is not just Savior, He also needs to be Lord. It is "In Christ" that encompasses a comprehensive relationship with Jesus, as both Savior and Lord and is foundational to the Christian faith. This comprehensive relationship is the foundation of “God's Strategic Will” for every believer who has been born again of the Holy Spirit.

Let's explore what it means to be "in Christ":

1.  Union with Christ:

  • Salvation: Being "in Christ" begins with salvation, where through faith, we are united with Christ in His death and resurrection (Romans 6:3-5). This means we share in His victory over sin and death.

  • New Identity: As believers, we receive a new identity in Christ. We are no longer defined by our past sins or failures but by our relationship with Him (2 Corinthians 5:17).

2.  Lordship of Christ:

  • Surrender and Obedience: Recognizing Christ as Lord involves surrendering our will to His and committing to obey His commands (Luke 6:46). It means allowing Him to lead and guide every aspect of our lives.

  • Transformation: As Lord, Christ transforms us through the renewing of our minds, conforming us to His image (Romans 12:1-2). This ongoing process involves growing in holiness and character.

3.  Living in Christ:

  • Abiding in Him: Jesus emphasizes the importance of abiding in Him, like branches connected to the vine, to bear fruit (John 15:4-5). This abiding relationship involves daily fellowship, prayer, and dependence on Him.

  • Empowerment by the Holy Spirit: Being "in Christ" means living by the power of the Holy Spirit, who enables us to overcome sin, live righteously, and fulfill God’s purposes (Galatians 5:16-25).

4.  Participation in God's Mission:

  • Ambassadors for Christ: As those "in Christ," we are called to be His ambassadors, sharing the message of reconciliation and making disciples (2 Corinthians 5:18-20; Matthew 28:18-20).

  • Good Works: We are created in Christ for good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do (Ephesians 2:10). This means using our gifts and talents to serve others and advance God's kingdom.

5.  Strategic Will of God:

  • Knowing and Being: Understanding who we are in Christ shapes our being and doing. Knowing our identity in Him allows us to operate in the fullness of God’s guidance, provision, and care.

  • Radical Dependence: God's strategic will involves radical dependence on Him, trusting His initiative and responding with obedience. This dependence is cultivated through a deep, personal relationship with Jesus.

Conclusion:

To be "in Christ" is to embrace Him as both Savior and Lord, living out our new identity through surrender, obedience, and a deep, abiding relationship. It means participating in God's mission and relying on His grace and strength. This comprehensive understanding is indeed the foundation of God’s strategic will for every believer, guiding us to walk in the fullness of His purposes.


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