“NOTHING LEFT BUT GOD” By Pastor YAU
Text: 2 Chronicles 20:5-15.
1) A wise Bible teacher: A wise Bible teacher once said, “Sooner or later, God will allow self-sufficient people to come to a place where they have nothing but God---no resource, no plans and no answers but God. Without God, they are done.” Then he told of a despairing man who confessed to his pastor, “My life is really in a bad shape.” “How bad?” the pastor asked. Burying his head in his hands, he moaned, “I’ll tell you how bad---all I’ve got left is God.” The pastor’s face lit up. “I’m happy to assure you that a person with nothing left but God has more than enough for great victory.”
A wise ancient king: A wise king of Judah, King Jehoshaphat, was alarmed by the bad news of attacks of his
kingdom by a vast army of the Moabites, the Ammonites and the Meunites. Facing an insurmountable enemy, he resolved to
inquire of the Lord, proclaimed a fast for all
1) Definition of self-sufficiency: According to the Encyclopedic Dictionary, by Reader’s Digest, “Sufficient” means enough supply or resources, adequate number or quality, competent ability or power. Adding a prefix “self” to it, “self-sufficient” means enough ability or power with adequate resources in number of quality from the “self.” It is a term mostly used by people who believe in themselves so much that they feel that they are all that they need to achieve whatever they want.
2) The logic of self-sufficiency: The basic logic of self-sufficiency is on the belief that man is endowed with sufficient resources such as intelligence, imagination emotion and power to succeed given sufficient determination and hard work. Through out history, we do have evidence to support this logic: there are stories of making it or success achieved by those who believed in themselves, determined and worked hard and succeeded. But we also have stories of people who are as determined and work as hard but didn’t make it. There is more than “self” to succeed.
3) The weakness of the belief: The most evident weakness of the belief of self-sufficiency is the neglect, intentional or otherwise, of conditions beyond the control of human power such as the law of the nature, the environment, nature of human heart, just to point out a few. The most obvious blunder in recent history was the policy promoted by the Chinese government in the late 1960s and early 70s. The slogan was: “The Power of Man is Superior than the Power of Heaven (God).” ( Traditionally heaven in China means God in the West) The policy of land consolidation, reform agriculture system and steel industry ended up disastrous for the country and the people that set China’s economy backward for decades.
4) God versus self-sufficiency: The reason that God didn’t created man to be all self-sufficient is a secret no one may know till eternity. In fact man was created weaker in many ways than other creatures. It was a peaceful world before the fall of Adam and Eve who accepted the temptation to become self-sufficient without the need of God--they wanted to be God. Some may blame God of being selfish not to create man self-sufficient. Others may argue that it is because man is not self-sufficient, he then may find his way back to God for his soul. In our everyday experience, we encounter both the frustration of being deficient as well as enjoying the security with a truly all- sufficient God.
BLESSINGS OF INSUFFICIENCY:
1) It is the wisdom of God: On the last day of the creation process, God created man, among other things. At the conclusion of all His creation that day, God used a special adjective to describe His work: Very good. No one may ever know why didn’t God create man to be all self-sufficient. But we can trust God that it was a “very good” thing that man was created that way otherwise God won’t say it was “very good.” Things we don’t know or don’t understand may not be bad as we want to think. Much less when we evaluate things God had done and said.
2) It blends harmony in the world: Besides our soul, we are, in many ways, created like many other things God had created. We were born, we grow, function and contribute to the rest of His creation. We grow old and we die. Man lives in this world dependent on many other things to survive, grow and to feel happy. We are not self-sufficient. We need the rest of God’s creation to support our life. This is harmony of the world. God never intended man to be the ruler of His creation. We are entrusted by God to take care of His world. We are responsible to everything God has created.
3) It promotes human relationship: Imagine what life would be like if you were all-powerful and self-sufficient. If you are able to do all things perfectly right, make things the way you want them to every time and achieve all goals your heart may dream of. At the same time, all other people around you have the same ability and power as you have and make things done as perfect as you can. Is there any need of human relationship? Is there any need of working together for a common good? God didn’t create us self-sufficient so we may enjoy the wonders of relationship with others. When men and women, boys and girls work together to create something, life is much more meaningful and enriched.
4) It brings man back to God: In God’s heart at creation, He never intended man to be independent from Him. God longs for man to have a good relationship with Him. He wants to fellowship with man and to share His love with man. This dream of God was broken when man wanted to be like God and lives his life without God. The fact that man is not all self-sufficient helps to bring him back to God as God always wants to. As the prodigal son fell into the ditch of life, he repented and returned to his father, man will come to his senses that God is there to rescue him from his trouble. The need of God is more than things on earth. Man needs God to meet the needs of his soul.
FINALLY YOU HAVE GOD: (2 Chronicles 20:5-15)
1) Troubles happen to good people: When Jehoshaphet succeeded his father Asha became king of Judah, he followed King David by observing the law of God. (17:1-6) He also sent officials to teach His people the book of laws, (17:7-9) and God made him successful and prosperous. (20:1-17) Then he installed good and God-fearing people as judges and all things were going well with him and his kingdom. (19:4-11) Just when things were going well, here came a mighty army of 3 neighboring kings to attach Judah. (20:1-2)Many of us believe that if you do things right, you will be spared of troubles. They forgot that this is a world of evil people and evil things do happen to good people.
2) Troubles drive people to God: “Alarmed, Jehoshaphat resolved to inquire the Lord and he proclaimed a fast for all Judah.” (20:3)Some people will stay with God all the time. Others may be driven to God only at bad times. Jehoshaphat had a habit of staying with God. When he faced with dire trouble, the survival of his kingdom, the first thing he did was to seek God. He also asked his people to seek God with a fast. There are people who will try everything possible first in their own power to solve their problems. They will only come to God when they have reached the end of their ropes. Many of these people have to go through lots of trouble and failures before they become humble to seek their last resort: God.
3) Troubles drive people to pray: “The people of Judah came together to seek help from the Lord. Indeed, they came from every town in Judah to seek Him.” (20:4)Some people will hide their need of help from God and others. These people won’t ask family and friends in the church to pray for their needs. They fear that they may lose face or respect by revealing their insufficiency. But King Jehoshaphat invited all his people to pray with him. He admitted his fear and sought help from God and his people.
4) Trouble strengthens faith: “If calamity comes to us, whether the sword of judgment, or plague of famine, we will stand in your presence before this temple that bears your Name and will cry out to you in our distress, and you will hear us and save us.” (20:9)Jehoshaphat reclaimed the prayer of King Solomon at the dedication of the temple. (7:28-30)In his prayer, he followed the example of Solomon, humble himself before God, showing faith in God’s mercy and protection. When there is nothing else you can do to protect yourself, God is there to defend you.
5) Trouble forges humility: In front of all his people Jehoshaphat admitted his insufficiency: “For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do and our eyes are upon you.” (20:12)It is nothing shameful to admit that you need help from God and others. Saving face is an act of pride and it can only sink you deeper into the ditch. Admitting your insufficiency before God is far more important than saving face because God is the source of all powers and deliverance. Do not allow pride or face-saving stop you from seeking God.
6) Trouble is God’s opportunity: The words of assurance from God to the king and his people: “Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours but God’s.” (20:15)When evil attacks God’s people, it is attacking God and God will defend Himself. “Battle” here implies “victory.” It is never our power that may bring victory but the power of God. Remember what Jesus told Saul or Paul when he was on the way to Damascus? When Saul was attacking Christians, Jesus took it as attacking Him. God is always ready to defend himself and his people. He won’t allow evil to achieve any victory.
1) Facing the insurmountable? All of us will face insurmountable problems, troubles or hopeless situations somewhere in our life- time. We don’t have all the knowledge to know why or how. Neither do we have all the power to overcome troubles. Do not pretend that you are invincible or all sufficient. It is OK to admit that we are powerless and we need God’s help.
2) Drawing from lasting power: Someone once said that “God is only a prayer away,” and this is always true. Bring all your needs, problems, troubles and everything else in between to God with faith and resolve to seek his help. Then sit back, relax and see what and how God is going to get you out of all the mess. We need to remember: In God, nothing is impossible. “Jesus looked at them and said: With man this is impossible, but not with God. All things are possible with God.” (Mark 10:27)
3) You will not be turned away: If you think that God will turn you away because you are not a Christian and cannot ask for help from him, you are wrong. Jesus promised that “Whoever comes to me, I will never turn him away.” (John 6: 37) God is always ready to receive sinners who are willing to come to Him. Today is the best day to ask God to forgive your sins, and bring all your needs and troubles to Him. He is always capable and willing to help you if you allow Him to.