2 Kings 4 Part 2–Even the Blessed May Need a Miracle

A couple showed kindness to Elisha when he was in their area. Ultimately, they built him a place to live when he was close.  In deciding how to bless them, Elisha’s servant suggested that Elisha bless them with a son, for thay had no sons and the husband was old.  Elisha agreeed, and sure enough, a year later there was a son.  Great story, right?  Then some years later, as the biy grew, he had a severe headache and died.  The mom was crushed, the dad was shocked.  Was this not God’s gift to them and like that he is gone?  So, the mom sent for Elisha.  God had not revealed to Elisha that the boy was dead.  So when Elisha arrived, the scene was very bad.  Elisha sent his servant ahead to fix it, but to no avail.  So, Elisha went all out himself and layed himself as a sacrifice for the boy–God honored Elisha’s act of submission and healed the boy.
 
Just because we are sometimes blessed by God, it does not mean we will not continue to face extreme trials.  These trials may be a result of our bad choices, or they just may be a part of our journey.  Whatever the case, we still need to head straight to the Lord and seek His provision and His miraculous leadership.  It may not come–but, we need to ask and hope.  It may take time; or, come in an entirely different manner than we expect–but, no matter what, we need to trust and obey.  God will do what He is going to do. Its impact on us will probably be profound.  We simply have to, like Elisha, submit to God and trust He will complete what He started–no matter what it costs us or what we need to do to honor the Lord.  If we will, like the pragmatic prophet,  we will see God do great things.
 
God Bless You

Now it happened one day that Elisha went to Shunem, where there was a [a]notable woman, and she [b]persuaded him to eat some food. So it was, as often as he passed by, he would turn in there to eat some food. And she said to her husband, “Look now, I know that this is a holy man of God, who passes by us regularly. 10 Please, let us make [c]a small upper room on the wall; and let us put a bed for him there, and a table and a chair and a lampstand; so it will be, whenever he comes to us, he can turn in there.”…

So he said, “What then is to be done for her?”

And Gehazi answered, “Actually, she has no son, and her husband is old.”

15 So he said, “Call her.” When he had called her, she stood in the doorway. 16 Then he said, [d]“About this time next year you shall embrace a son.”

And she said, “No, my lord. Man of God, do not lie to your maidservant!”

17 But the woman conceived, and bore a son when the appointed time had come, of which Elisha had told her.

18 And the child grew. Now it happened one day that he went out to his father, to the reapers. 19 And he said to his father, “My head, my head!”

So he said to a servant, “Carry him to his mother.” 20 When he had taken him and brought him to his mother, he sat on her knees till noon, and then died. 21 And she went up and laid him on the bed of the man of God, shut the door upon him, and went out. 22 Then she called to her husband, and said, “Please send me one of the young men and one of the donkeys, that I may run to the man of God and come back.”

23 So he said, “Why are you going to him today? It is neither the New Moon nor the Sabbath.”

And she said, [e]It is well.” 24 Then she saddled a donkey, and said to her servant, “Drive, and go forward; do not slacken the pace for me unless I tell you.” 25 And so she departed, and went to the man of God at Mount Carmel.

So it was, when the man of God saw her afar off, that he said to his servant Gehazi, “Look, the Shunammite woman! 26 Please run now to meet her, and say to her, ‘Is it well with you? Is it well with your husband? Is it well with the child?’ ”

And she answered, “It is well.” 27 Now when she came to the man of God at the hill, she caught him by the feet, but Gehazi came near to push her away. But the man of God said, “Let her alone; for her soul is in deep distress, and the Lord has hidden it from me, and has not told me.”

28 So she said, “Did I ask a son of my lord? Did I not say, ‘Do not deceive me’?”

29 Then he said to Gehazi, “Get[f] yourself ready, and take my staff in your hand, and be on your way. If you meet anyone, do not greet him; and if anyone greets you, do not answer him; but lay my staff on the face of the child.”

30 And the mother of the child said, “As the Lord lives, and as your soul lives, I will not leave you.” So he arose and followed her. 31 Now Gehazi went on ahead of them, and laid the staff on the face of the child; but there was neither voice nor hearing. Therefore he went back to meet him, and told him, saying, “The child has not awakened.”

32 When Elisha came into the house, there was the child, lying dead on his bed. 33 He went in therefore, shut the door behind the two of them, and prayed to the Lord. 34 And he went up and lay on the child, and put his mouth on his mouth, his eyes on his eyes, and his hands on his hands; and he stretched himself out on the child, and the flesh of the child became warm. 35 He returned and walked back and forth in the house, and again went up and stretched himself out on him; then the child sneezed seven times, and the child opened his eyes. 36 And he called Gehazi and said, “Call this Shunammite woman.” So he called her. And when she came in to him, he said, “Pick up your son.” 37 So she went in, fell at his feet, and bowed to the ground; then she picked up her son and went out.

Esther 6 Part 2–Hamaan’s World Implodes

Hamaan was sunk.  His hated was being given a personal parade that Hamaan designed, grand marshalled and led. When it was over Hamaan had announced to the entire kingdom that Mordechi was an awesome man.  Now as he contemplated Mordechi’s demise, it looked pretty silly. What is more, he spent all that money on a gallows, he changed the law to kill the Israelite people…The King will be  less than pleased.  Hamaan, captain of his own ship, just learned that the name of that ship was Titanic…
 
When we try to play God in our lives, more times than not, we play out scenarios like Hamaan’s.  We think things are right on track–until they are not.  Our world implodes around us and we shake our heads in disbelief.  Funny thing is that we should not be surprised.  We do not do God well.  We neither have the omnicience, omnipotence or the omnipresence to pull it off. God is God, and  as such, can see and plan the ultimate outcomes.  We can only see what limited things that are before us.   That is why we must walk by faith and allow God to do what he is equipped to do–lead us.  If we will, we will be surprised by the amazing journey we have traversed; and will see God’s hand directing us to a full and meaningful life.  
 
We must trust Him and follow him closely. Then like Mordechi–He will make sure we are honored before our most dreaded emenies.
 
God Bless You

 “Go at once,” the king commanded Haman. “Get the robe and the horse and do just as you have suggested for Mordecai the Jew, who sits at the king’s gate. Do not neglect anything you have recommended.”

11 So Haman got the robe and the horse. He robed Mordecai, and led him on horseback through the city streets, proclaiming before him, “This is what is done for the man the king delights to honor!”

12 Afterward Mordecai returned to the king’s gate. But Haman rushed home, with his head covered in grief, 13 and told Zeresh his wife and all his friends everything that had happened to him.

His advisers and his wife Zeresh said to him, “Since Mordecai, before whom your downfall has started, is of Jewish origin, you cannot stand against him—you will surely come to ruin!” 14 While they were still talking with him, the king’s eunuchs arrived and hurried Haman away to the banquet Esther had prepared.

Esther 6 Part 1–God’s Plan Unfolds

Hamaan was ready. He built the grand gallows, he had the speech practiced up, and now he was going to approach the king and ask to hang Mordechi and end this annoyance once and for all…But wait, God had a different plan.  When Hamaan entered the court, God set the stage to force Hamaan to not kill Mordechi, but instead, to lead the padade that would honor Mordechi before the entire kingdom.  Hamaan was crushed. Mordechi was given a just reward by the man that hated him the most.  
 
While Hamaan was surprised and even the king was acting spontaniously, God had the entire plan scripted and ready. There was no way that one person that the King had just honored before the kingdom would be hanged.  Hamaan, who saw Mordechi as a nobody just announced that Mordechi was highly favored by the king. Hamaan’s troubles were just beginning.  
 
We can never forget that it is God’s plan that ultimately wins the day.  If we will trust the Lord, He will complete His plan in our lives. As God does so, He will give us an abundant and purposeful life.  In that life, we can have a meaningful impact on those we touch and leave a legacy that honors God and our family. We have to trust the Lord, however, to assure that will happen. 
Isaah 40:31 is one of the sweetest promises…”Those who wait upon the Lord will renew their strength,  They will mount up on wings–like eagles! They will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not faint.”  
 
We simply must trust God to work His plan in our lives. If we will, He will truly do amazing things!
 
God Bless You
On that night the king could not sleep. And he gave orders to bring the book of memorable deeds, the chronicles, and they were read before the king. And it was found written how Mordecai had told about Bigthana[a] and Teresh, two of the king’s eunuchs, who guarded the threshold, and who had sought to lay hands on King Ahasuerus. And the king said, “What honor or distinction has been bestowed on Mordecai for this?” The king’s young men who attended him said, “Nothing has been done for him.” And the king said, “Who is in the court?” Now Haman had just entered the outer court of the king’s palace to speak to the king about having Mordecai hanged on the gallows[b] that he had prepared for him. And the king’s young men told him, “Haman is there, standing in the court.” And the king said, “Let him come in.” So Haman came in, and the king said to him, “What should be done to the man whom the king delights to honor?” And Haman said to himself, “Whom would the king delight to honor more than me?” And Haman said to the king, “For the man whom the king delights to honor, let royal robes be brought, which the king has worn, and the horse that the king has ridden, and on whose head a royal crown[c] is set. And let the robes and the horse be handed over to one of the king’s most noble officials. Let them dress the man whom the king delights to honor, and let them lead him on the horse through the square of the city, proclaiming before him: ‘Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delights to honor.’” 10 Then the king said to Haman, “Hurry; take the robes and the horse, as you have said, and do so to Mordecai the Jew, who sits at the king’s gate. Leave out nothing that you have mentioned.” 11 So Haman took the robes and the horse, and he dressed Mordecai and led him through the square of the city, proclaiming before him, “Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delights to honor.”

Esther 4 Part 1–Esther Wants to Help

When Esther heard that her uncle was trapesing around Susa in Sackcloth and ashes, well, she was beside herself. Afterall, He was the uncle of the queen–that was not proper.  From Esther’s perspective, things could not be better.  She was in love, with a King who loved her and had made her his queen. Once an orphan now the 1st lady of the Persians.  What she did not know was that her entire nation had an expiration date, thanks to Hamaan.  An irreversable law was in place that allowed for the genocde and looting of an entire people. Her hubby signed that law into place, without even knowing it affected his new queen.  She sent her best protector to help her poor crazy uncle, but what she would soon learn would turn the world upside down.
 
Our lives touch so many others. We cross paths daily with those who we affect without even trying.  We must stay sharp, seek God and be prepared to intervene with prayer, encouragement, our skills and our wallets to assist those that are in a struggle. If, however, we are blind to what is going on, we may miss the opportunity to turn the world upside down.  That is why we must remain ready to give an account and be ready to serve. God is always there and will prepare, protect and provide for what we need to fill that role.  Help me Lord to be sensitive to my opportunities to serve.
 
God Bless You

When Mordecai learned of all that had been done, he tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and ashes, and went out into the city, wailing loudly and bitterly. But he went only as far as the king’s gate, because no one clothed in sackcloth was allowed to enter it. In every province to which the edict and order of the king came, there was great mourning among the Jews, with fasting, weeping and wailing. Many lay in sackcloth and ashes.

When Esther’s eunuchs and female attendants came and told her about Mordecai, she was in great distress. She sent clothes for him to put on instead of his sackcloth, but he would not accept them. Then Esther summoned Hathak, one of the king’s eunuchs assigned to attend her, and ordered him to find out what was troubling Mordecai and why.

So Hathak went out to Mordecai in the open square of the city in front of the king’s gate. Mordecai told him everything that had happened to him, including the exact amount of money Haman had promised to pay into the royal treasury for the destruction of the Jews. He also gave him a copy of the text of the edict for their annihilation, which had been published in Susa, to show to Esther and explain it to her, and he told him to instruct her to go into the king’s presence to beg for mercy and plead with him for her people.

Esther 2 Part 3–God’s Bigger Plan

It is no secret that God is large and in charge. As we continue to look at the life of Esther, it is critical that one remembers that it is also a look at the life of Israel, the Exile and Mordechi–Esther’s uncle and guardian. Just after Esther is crowned queen of the empire, her uncle overhears the plotting of the King’s assignation.  He reports the plot to Esther, she reports the plot to the King and the King executes the would be assassins.  Not a big deal…or was it? Had Esther not been made queen, Would her guardian be able to sit at a place of honor at the gate? If he was not Esther’s uncle would his report gotten to the King? Had the assassins been successful, what might have become of the people of Israel?
 
The point being, the things God does each day to execute His plans for our lives entertwine, interact and work together for the good. We can never try to figure God out, it is simply too far above our ability to comprehend. But suffice it to say, that God knows what is going on and cares deeply and personally for each of us–even a heathen King. We can never give up or think that God has abandoned us.  He may simply be orchestrating a plan for our salvation  or the salvation of many others.  Our contribution may seem small, but one never knows what impact our faith and obedience may have.  It is like the story of the retiring tent evangelist that was preaching his heart out, but noone was coming forward.  He felt so useless.  The only documented conversion in his last revival tour was a young man from North Carolina, the boy’s name–Billy Graham. We must trust that God has a plan and He chooses us to be a part if we are simply willing to trust and obey!
 
God Bless You

 When the virgins were assembled a second time, Mordecai was sitting at the king’s gate. 20 But Esther had kept secret her family background and nationality just as Mordecai had told her to do, for she continued to follow Mordecai’s instructions as she had done when he was bringing her up.

21 During the time Mordecai was sitting at the king’s gate, Bigthana[b] and Teresh, two of the king’s officers who guarded the doorway, became angry and conspired to assassinate King Xerxes. 22 But Mordecai found out about the plot and told Queen Esther, who in turn reported it to the king, giving credit to Mordecai. 23 And when the report was investigated and found to be true, the two officials were impaled on poles. All this was recorded in the book of the annals in the presence of the king.

Nehemiah 7–God’s Word is Priceless

Once everything was completed on the rebuilding of the walls around Jerusalem,The attention was turned to the word of God.  All the remnant gaathered  at the temple and Ezra read the word of God.  They considered what they heard and took it to heart.  They had experienced trials, they experienced indignity they lost all national pride. So now as they were beginning to see things change, they refocused  on the Lord and  His word.  As the word sank in, the people’s hearts were restored.  
 
In our lives, we experience life in a big way. as we do that it is easy to lose focus on the Lord and His word. When we lose that focus, it grows desparate, hopeless and lonely.  God is faithful, in the midst of the difficulty, He shows us he is still in charge and loves us.  When we grasp that, ten we can focus back on God and His leading.  When we grasp that, then God can do the work in our lives . Like the people that returned to Israel We need to return to the word and allow it to pour over us.  When it does, it will return us to a place of pride in our walk with God that will affect all that we do and those that we know.  That is why it says in the word that God’s word is a two-edged sword. It is a weapon against our enemy and food for our soul.
 
God Bless You

And all the people gathered themselves together as one man into the street that was before the water gate; and they spake unto Ezra the scribe to bring the book of the law of Moses, which the Lord had commanded to Israel.

And Ezra the priest brought the law before the congregation both of men and women, and all that could hear with understanding, upon the first day of the seventh month.

And he read therein before the street that was before the water gate from the morning until midday, before the men and the women, and those that could understand; and the ears of all the people were attentive unto the book of the law.

And Ezra the scribe stood upon a pulpit of wood, which they had made for the purpose; and beside him stood Mattithiah, and Shema, and Anaiah, and Urijah, and Hilkiah, and Maaseiah, on his right hand; and on his left hand, Pedaiah, and Mishael, and Malchiah, and Hashum, and Hashbadana, Zechariah, and Meshullam.

And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people; (for he was above all the people;) and when he opened it, all the people stood up:

And Ezra blessed the Lord, the great God. And all the people answered, Amen, Amen, with lifting up their hands: and they bowed their heads, and worshipped the Lord with their faces to the ground.

Also Jeshua, and Bani, and Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodijah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, Pelaiah, and the Levites, caused the people to understand the law: and the people stood in their place.

So they read in the book in the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading.

And Nehemiah, which is the Tirshatha, and Ezra the priest the scribe, and the Levites that taught the people, said unto all the people, This day is holy unto the Lord your God; mourn not, nor weep. For all the people wept, when they heard the words of the law.

10 Then he said unto them, Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for this day is holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the Lord is your strength.

Nehemaih 5 Part 2–Hold on Loosely

Nehemiah was incensed when he learned that the people were taking advantage of each other.  He immediately set out to make things right.  He made sure that the nobles no longer cheated and extorted those less fortunate.  Then he took it a few steps farther.  He stopped eating like a noble.  He ate a normal diet and carried on like a normal citizen.  What’s more, he fed a large number of those less fortunate than him at his table for years.  He knew that sharing what he had was a critical part of his life.  God had given him the vision and the passion to lead Israel back to being a nation.  He needed to be a servant leader, and so he was.
 
In our lives, we have to remain aware that God is in charge of our lives.  He leads us to places where we need to give back and share what we have and what we have learned.  We can never hold on so tightly to stuff that really is not ours anyway.  God will never be outgiven, or outserved.  If we will trust the Lord, He will always protect and provide amply to meet our needs.  The trick is to trust Him–even when it seems like we are all alone in the effort! 
 
God Bless You

 Give back to them immediately their fields, vineyards, olive groves and houses, and also the interest you are charging them—one percent of the money, grain, new wine and olive oil.”

12 “We will give it back,” they said. “And we will not demand anything more from them. We will do as you say.”

Then I summoned the priests and made the nobles and officials take an oath to do what they had promised. 13 I also shook out the folds of my robe and said, “In this way may God shake out of their house and possessions anyone who does not keep this promise. So may such a person be shaken out and emptied!”

At this the whole assembly said, “Amen,” and praised the Lord. And the people did as they had promised.

14 Moreover, from the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, when I was appointed to be their governor in the land of Judah, until his thirty-second year—twelve years—neither I nor my brothers ate the food allotted to the governor. 15 But the earlier governors—those preceding me—placed a heavy burden on the people and took forty shekels[a] of silver from them in addition to food and wine. Their assistants also lorded it over the people. But out of reverence for God I did not act like that. 16 Instead, I devoted myself to the work on this wall. All my men were assembled there for the work; we[b] did not acquire any land.

17 Furthermore, a hundred and fifty Jews and officials ate at my table, as well as those who came to us from the surrounding nations. 18 Each day one ox, six choice sheep and some poultry were prepared for me, and every ten days an abundant supply of wine of all kinds. In spite of all this, I never demanded the food allotted to the governor, because the demands were heavy on these people.

19 Remember me with favor, my God, for all I have done for these people.