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IMG_2280My youngest son (on earth 🙂 ), Josiah, is the family comedian and it doesn’t take much convincing from his siblings to do something hilarious. A few nights ago, his older brother persuaded him to bite off the end of a foam sword, spit out the chewed up piece, and then do it again and again until he had “eaten” the whole sword.
Of course, he had his audience rolling on the floor with laughter.

Because we have 3 gymnasts in our family, acrobatic tricks are a mainstay in our home. Being the youngest, Josiah doesn’t have all the skills of his older siblings, but with some loud cheering and clapping, he will eagerly oblige his ever-present spectators to attempt any feaIMG_1217t that his siblings set before him.
He regularly jumps from objects twice his height, walks across narrow beams, and climbs the outsides of hand railings at the encouragement of his influencers.
While not everything he is encouraged to do is the best of ideas, he is definitely willing to try because he loves and adores his older siblings.
He trusts them (sometimes when he probably shouldn’t).

This week, I was reading an incredible account of an ancient king who lived thousands of years ago. He was encouraged to do bold things beyond what he probably felt capable of doing because of some timely encouragement from a trustworthy source.

King Asa grew up watching his father, King Abijah, do mighty things as a leader, a warrior, and a man who followed the One True God.
When it came time for Asa to take up the mantle of leadership from his father, he did well filling his shoes and being a good and godly king. He tore down idol temples and even had great victories in battle because he trusted God for the outcome just as he had learned from the example of his dad, Abijah.
But then, there came a moment, when, despite all the great accolades and all he had accomplished for Judah, Asa was posed with the decision to either go “all in” and take the next step with God or settle for what he had already done and ride out his career as king.

After another victorious battle, God spoke to Asa through a man named Oded. Oded reminded Asa of how God blessed Israel when they sought Him as the One True God, but when they turned from Him, there was no peace. Oded went on to describe the scene when Israel turned away from God like this:


“They were broken in pieces.
Nation was crushed by nation and city by city,
for God troubled them with every sort of distress.”

II Chronicles 15:6

It was a grim picture that Asa knew to be true from watching his father and from listening to the story of how the mighty nation of Israel split when his grandfather was king because Israel would not honor God together as one nation. In this moment of decision, Oded continued in his word from the Lord to Asa by saying,


“But you, take courage!
Do not let your hands be weak,
for your work shall be rewarded.”

II Chronicles 15:7

God didn’t want Asa to settle for “just enough”. God wanted to prod Asa to go all out and refuse to be content with the idea that he had done enough for God.
The timing was pivotal.
Asa had just come from an outstanding battle where, because he had honored God, Judah had beaten their Ethiopian enemies 300,000 to a million! It would have been easy for Asa to come back with a response like,


“Lord God! I have honored you! We are winning!
We stand undefeated! I have arrived as King;
surely I have done all that you wanted me to accomplish.”

But God wanted more and He knew it would take a deeper commitment from Asa. God would ask Asa to step outside the shadow of his father’s footsteps in order to go farther and be bolder than before.

Like King Asa, we all have a next step to take in our faith journey. Pastor, teacher, custodian, executive, mom, dad, husband, wife, student, child… God’s call to us is the same as it was for the mighty King Asa.

“But you, take courage!
Do not let your hands be weak,
for your work shall be rewarded.”

I don’t know your story or where you are at with Jesus, but I know that in every single area of my life, I need this kind of encouragement.
I want to know that what I’m doing will be worth it in the end.
The only way to ensure that it will be is to take that ever on-going “Next Step” with Christ.

Maybe you’ve been a good person, but never actually crossed that line of faith to give Jesus your whole heart. But you, take courage!
Maybe you’re a pretty regular attendee at church, but haven’t tried volunteering to serve the Body or haven’t tried joining a small group.
Do not let your hands be weak!
Perhaps you feel like you’ve invested everything you can into your marriage or with your children or with a friend and it seems like nothing is coming from your perseverance. Your work shall be rewarded!

My little boy needs just the right encouragement to do some pretty crazy things.
King Asa needed a firm reminder that he was serving a God that would not let him down if he would commit to giving God his whole heart.
I know I need that reminder; and I bet you do too. 🙂

King Asa chose wisely and as soon as he finished hearing the word of the Lord from Oded, he went straight away to “do more” because he had actually “taken courage” as it says in 2 Chronicles 15:8. With his newfound boldness, Asa tore down idols, just as before, but now he went on throughout all of the cities in his land to tear them down as well.
He refused to settle.
From there, he repaired the altar to the Lord God, and the nation was drawn back to God because they saw that God was mighty at work in Asa. King Asa led his country in making right sacrifices to the One True God and on that very day the nation of Judah entered into covenant with the Lord, declaring that they would seek only Him, with their whole hearts, both young and old.

Because of Asa’s act of whole-hearted courage, the Lord gave them rest and peace in their land and Asa’s legacy goes like this,

“The heart of Asa was wholly true to God all of his days.”
2 Chronicles 15:17

Take courage! God has more for you!