Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Ask For Great Things!

2 Kings 13:18–19 (HCSB)

Then Elisha said, "Take the arrows!" So he took them, and he said to the king of Israel, "Strike the ground!" So he struck the ground three times and stopped. The man of God was angry with him and said, "You should have struck the ground five or six times. Then you would have struck down Aram until you had put an end to them, but now you will only strike down Aram three times."

Elisha the prophet was on his deathbed. Jehoash was king of Israel. Like most of the kings before him he was not a good man. The nation had been in deterioration for years. They were down to 50 horsemen and 10 chariots. A strong defense was a sign of a strong nation. Israel could no longer defend itself against it’s enemies—and this was not a good thing.

I don’t care what anyone says; the nature of mankind has not changed. It will always be the craving of governments and leaders for more. There will always be aggressors in the world who do not understand this concept of peace. The only peace they understand is the peace of domination—and they will not stop until they have it. Without a strong defense Israel was helpless against their neighbors—and their enemies took advantage.

Jehoash came to Elisha and said, “My father, my father, the chariots and horseman of Israel!” He was lamenting the fact they were so few. In response the prophet told him to take arrows from his quiver and strike them on the ground. He did so three times. He was timid and afraid. “He did not know what he was asking for.” He knew the prophet and he knew how prophets spoke—in such riddles. He should have worn the floor out!

Are we guilty of the same timidity when we pray? Are we afraid to ask God for big things? Do we think we are humble when we ask for a little? Are we not aware that God is great and it honors Him when we ask for big thing? Wear the floor out with your asking!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Prep for Death

2 Kings 8:10 (HCSB)

Elisha told him, "Go say to him, ‘You are sure to recover.’ But the LORD has shown me that he is sure to die."

Do not be so shortsighted when you are sick. Yes, you may recover from your sickness, but with certainty you are still going to die. Sooner or later, be it by sickness, accident, foul play, or natural causes, you are going to die.

What then? Have you made preparation for death? Not in terms of the funeral, but in terms of eternity?

Most everyone who reads this blog I’m sure has made that decision to trust Christ as their Savior from sin and eternal separation from God. But what if you haven’t? Then hear these words: “You are sure to die.” You have time to make preparation. That time is now. Make that decision while there is time.

I tell people “there are two things you must know and one thing you must do.” The first thing you must know is that you are a sinner and your sin separates you from God. You know the Scripture: the Bible says “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23) and “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23).

The second thing you must know is that God did something for you that you could never do for yourself: He gave His Son to pay the price for your sins. The Bible says, “but God demonstrated His own love for us in this, that even though we were sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). The Bible says “He was delivered over for our sins and raised for our justification” (Romans 4: 25).

But there is one thing we just do: we must turn from our sin and place our trust in Christ to save us. The Bible says, “repent of your sins and turn to God that your sins might be wiped away” (Acts 3:19) and “Call on the name of the Lord and you will be saved” (Romans 10:13).

You are going to die. You don’t know when. The only way to be ready then is to get ready now!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

2 Kings 3:14–15 (HCSB)

Elisha responded, "As the LORD of Hosts lives, I stand before Him. If I did not have respect for King Jehoshaphat of Judah, I would not look at you; I wouldn’t take notice of you.

Elisha said this to King Joram of Israel. Joram was a wicked man. He said these words about King Jehoshaphat of Judah. Jehoshaphat was a good man and a good king. The word “respect” here is actually a phrase in Hebrew. It could mean a couple of things. It could mean, “I hold in high esteem” (or “high regard”); or it could mean, “I stand up when I see his face.” Both would mean the same thing: “I honor this man.”

When I read this I thought of some people I respect—I would stand up if they entered the room—because I regard them highly. They have set the pattern in my estimation. I would like to be like them. They have lived a godly, pure, holy life.

Then I thought, “Why don’t I tell them how I feel?” After all, they probably could use the encouragement. So I wrote down some names and I intend to make some phone calls and send some emails today.

If I don’t get around to you today, don’t get offended. I’m going to have a long list!

Who do you respect? Why not tell them—soon.

Friday, April 16, 2010

The Power of A Wife

1 Kings 11:1–3 (HCSB)

King Solomon loved many foreign women in addition to Pharaoh’s daughter: Moabite, Ammonite, Edomite, Sidonian, and Hittite women from the nations that the LORD had told the Israelites about, "Do not intermarry with them, and they must not intermarry with you, because they will turn you away ‹from Me› to their gods." Solomon was deeply attached to these women and loved ‹them›. He had 700 wives who were princesses and 300 concubines, and they turned his heart away ‹from the LORD›.

A lot of good men, strong and capable men, have become useless because they had a weakness for the opposite sex. Many a man, even a strong man, has had his heart turned away from God because of a woman. I don’t mean this to be a slam on women… and I hope my lady readers won’t take it that way. Women have great power over men. A woman can use this power to get what she wants. This is no secret. I’m not saying anything that every woman does not already know. Blessed is that man who has a woman who encourages him in his walk with God. She will be a blessing to him all the days of his life. She will make him stronger and better.

I just returned from a mission trip to Peru. While I was there my wife wrote a card for me every day. I carried those cards with me each day. Each card was a gem of wisdom for me. She gave me Scripture and she gave me encouragement. She made me a better leader. I do not know how much of a man of God I am, but what I am I owe in large degree to the support, encouragement, and admonishment of my wife. She uses her power to help me, and I recognize that I am a blessed man.

Ladies, I guess what I want to say is, use your power to build up your man and make him a man after God’s own heart. Men, if you are single, search for such a woman. Married men, bless your wife if she is such a woman. If she is not, have a talk with her. She will respond to your words if they are presented lovingly. You cannot succeed as a godly man without the support and encouragement of a godly wife.

Friday, April 2, 2010

The LORD Is Our Lamp!

LORD, You are my lamp; the LORD illuminates my darkness.

2 Samuel 22:29 (HCSB)

2 Samuel is one of those great chapters. If you cannot find something here to bless you and help you then something is wrong!

A lot in this chapter speaks to me personally, but this verse is the one I want to share. So often in my life I’m looking for direction. It seems a lot of my prayer time is spent asking God to “show me the way” He wants me to go. I feel I’m not alone in this. Our lives are filled with decisions we have to make. Some of these decisions are thrust upon us suddenly. Some are decisions we have postponed because we either don’t know what to do or we don’t like doing it. Choices! Sometimes they come at us like waves at the ocean, engulfing us without mercy. We barely pull ourselves to our feet before another slams into us. Making decisions sometimes can be exhausting!

But we are not without guidance. The LORD is our lamp: lighting the way at our feet and dispelling the darkness. Lean on Him. Trust in Him. Wait on Him. Listen to Him. He will show you the way.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Ending Courageously for God

The Philistines again waged war against Israel. David went down with his soldiers, and they fought the Philistines, but David became exhausted.

Then Ishbi-benob, one of the descendants of the giant, whose bronze spear weighed about eight pounds and who wore new armor, intended to kill David.

But Abishai son of Zeruiah came to his aid, struck the Philistine, and killed him. Then David’s men swore to him: "You must never again go out with us to battle. You must not extinguish the lamp of Israel."

After this, there was another battle with the Philistines at Gob. At that time Sibbecai the Hushathite killed Saph, who was one of the descendants of the giant.

Once again there was a battle with the Philistines at Gob, and Elhanan son of Jaare-oregim the Bethlehemite killed Goliath the Gittite. The shaft of his spear was like a weaver’s beam.

At Gath there was still another battle. A huge man was there with six fingers on each hand and six toes on each foot—24 in all. He, too, was descended from the giant.

When he taunted Israel, Jonathan, son of David’s brother Shimei, killed him.

These four were descended from the giant in Gath and were killed by David and his soldiers.

2 Samuel 21:15–22 (HCSB)

David had learned his lesson. This time he did not send his troops into battle. This time he led his troops into battle.

David had become old. Happens to all of us. His men loved him. They referred to him as “the lamp of Israel.” What a tribute to a man! They recognized that David had been a guiding light to his people. Would to God this could be said of all of us!—and it could be, if we lived our lives for God.

Isn’t it interesting that David’s career ended like it began, killing giants? He burst on the scene killing one giant; he departed killing four. Now it was not David personally who killed these four giants. He had become old. His followers and family killed them. But in a sense David did kill them… by his reputation.

They had heard the stories of David’s courage. Those stories inspired them. They admired David greatly and wanted to be just like him.

Isn’t this how all our lives should end, slaying giants—and slaying more giants—than we did at the beginning?

Should we not leave behind us in this world a reputation of courage for God? May the inheritance we leave to those who follow us be an example that inspires them to live boldly for God and do exploits for His name!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Burning Barley Field

The woman asked, "Why have you devised something similar against the people of God? When the king spoke as he did about this matter, he has pronounced his own guilt. The king has not brought back his own banished one. For we will certainly die and be like water poured out on the ground, which can’t be recovered. But God would not take away a life; He would devise plans so that the one banished from Him does not remain banished.

2 Samuel 14:13–14 (HCSB)

There is an example of this very thing in this same chapter. Amnon, one of David’s sons, raped Tamar, one of David’s daughters. Absalom, David’s son, took revenge and killed Amnon. Absalom fled and remained in one of the cities of refuge for three years. He was allowed to return to Jerusalem, but not allowed into David’s presence. After two years of this “house arrest” Absalom wanted to see his father. He sent for Joab, David’s friend, in order to send him as an emissary to plead Absalom’s case before the king—but Joab wouldn’t come to him. Absalom sent for Joab a second time, but still he would not come. Then he resorted to a desperate act, he set Joab’s barley field on fire. Joab came now, but furious: “Why have you done this?”

Absalom explained his actions: “I called for you once, and you wouldn’t respond. I sent for you a second time, but still you ignored me. I had to do something to get your attention. That is why I did this thing.”

What Absalom did was wrong. He was a wicked, conniving, self-centered young man. But what Absalom did is an example of the way God sometimes deals with us, but with a gracious intent. We wander from God. He calls to us, but we ignore His overtures. He patiently calls to us again, but once more we turn a deaf ear to His wooing. So God says, “I love you to much to let you continue ignoring Me,” and He does something to get our attention—He sets our barely field on fire. This He does, not to take away our lives, but order to get our attention and restore our lives to Him. He devises plans so that the one banished from Him does not remain banished. This thing He does may hurt us, but it does not destroy us. In fact, it actually blesses us because it returns us to fellowship with Him.

Has God set your barley field on fire? If so, may you say: “I’ve wandered far away from God, but now I’m coming home.”