2 Kings 8–God Continues to Care for His Own

Well after Elisha had first met her, Elisha approached the woman whose son he had saved. God gave Elisha a heads up about an upcoming famine.  Elisha encouraged the woman and the family to leave for the time, and she did what Elisha instructed.  Seven years later, the family returned.  They appealed to get their lands back; since they had abandoned them for the seven years.  Normally, it would probably be an appeal that fell on deaf ears.  God loved Elisha, however, and the ones he helped. So, on the day of the appeal, Elisha’s servant was in the king’s presence.  In the course of their conversation, Gehazi shared the story of the woman and her son.  Then, as God would have it–the woman and her son came up to make the appeal. The king was so amazed to meet the woman, that he not ony granted her back her land, but all the income the land produced.
 
There was no coincidence, God knew the need and the timing.  This family was cared for by the same God they honored by caring for His prophet.  God continues to care for the ones He loves.  That should be a great encouragement for those facing these strange and difficult days.  As we know, God knows the plans He has for us.  Plans to prosper us and not to harm us. Plans to give us a hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11. 
We can never underestimate God’s planning or timing.  In the characters we have seen, Ruth met Boaz while gleaning for survival, Esther saved Israel as a new queen of a foriegn nation, Elijah ended Baal worship in Israel on the top of a mountain by the call to God.  God is always on top of his plan and executing it.  What is more, God promised Solomon at the dedication of the temple, “if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” I Chronicles 7:14.  We need to seek God and pray.  The Lord has established His trustworthy nature.  We know He cares for His own. We simply need to trust that God continues to care for us as He always had.
 
God Bless You

Now Elisha had said to the woman whose son he had restored to life, “Arise, and depart with your household, and sojourn wherever you can, for the Lord has called for a famine, and it will come upon the land for seven years.” So the woman arose and did according to the word of the man of God. She went with her household and sojourned in the land of the Philistines seven years. And at the end of the seven years, when the woman returned from the land of the Philistines, she went to appeal to the king for her house and her land. Now the king was talking with Gehazi the servant of the man of God, saying, “Tell me all the great things that Elisha has done.” And while he was telling the king how Elisha had restored the dead to life, behold, the woman whose son he had restored to life appealed to the king for her house and her land. And Gehazi said, “My lord, O king, here is the woman, and here is her son whom Elisha restored to life.” And when the king asked the woman, she told him. So the king appointed an official for her, saying, “Restore all that was hers, together with all the produce of the fields from the day that she left the land until now.”

2 Kings 6 Part 1–Let God Make the Call

Elisha had a very practical relationship with God.  Elisha simply trusted God and did not question His plan or his authority. So, as he traveled on his spiritual journey, Elisha did not try to classify what was a spiritual need and what was not.  In the story today, Elisha’s friends and their kids decided Elisha needed more space to support those he trained and mentored.  So they all got together to clear land and make a larger space.  One of the helpers was chopping down a tree when the axe he was using slipped out of his hand and fell into the deep water.  The helper was heart broken.  He had borrowed the axe and had no way of replacing it.  In many circles, that would not be a spiritual issue and no one would expect a miracle. In Elisha’s world, that was exactly the kind of need that God wanted to help with.  So the pragmatic prophet cut a stick and threw it in the water by where the axe went in; and instantly the iron started floating.  The helper was relieved and  Elisha went on with his life.  Elisha did not make a big deal of the miracle–because he knew God could do it, and that it would be true ministry.
 
It simply is not our job to determine what is an event that requires God’s intervention. We need to remember that as God’s chosen, He cares about all aspects of our lives.  We must seek God and never be afraid to bring a matter before Him.  The Lord can handle our needs any way He deems appropriate.  Elisha understood that aspect of God’s nature.  If God determined this was not a matter for His intervention, then God simply would not intervene.  We should still seek the Lord and allow Him the opportunity to make the decision.  Failing to ask God for his help is a different way of “Helping God Out “.  He is too busy to consider this need–would be the logic. Simply put, STOP IT!!!  You seek and ask God, as Elisha did, and allow God to make the decision whether or not to intervene. 
 
God Bless You

Now the sons of the prophets said to Elisha, “See, the place where we dwell under your charge is too small for us. Let us go to the Jordan and each of us get there a log, and let us make a place for us to dwell there.” And he answered, “Go.” Then one of them said, “Be pleased to go with your servants.” And he answered, “I will go.” So he went with them. And when they came to the Jordan, they cut down trees. But as one was felling a log, his axe head fell into the water, and he cried out, “Alas, my master! It was borrowed.” Then the man of God said, “Where did it fall?” When he showed him the place, he cut off a stick and threw it in there and made the iron float. And he said, “Take it up.” So he reached out his hand and took it.

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.”

Nehemiah 4 Part 2–Great Leadership and Strategy

It beagn to look pretty grim. The enemies of Israel, both within and without were not going to allow these losers to regain their city or their nation.  So they threatened and schemed and used all forms of intimidation to scare the returned Jews. Truth is, it almost worked.  Nehemiah had quitters and complainers on all sides.  But , as a great leader, Nehemaih took some amazing steps
1st he prayed.  He prayed for strength , wisdom and protection from the only true resource of each–God. 
2nd–He planned, Nehemiah set up teams to work and stand armed–ready for attack. So, each clan had a work crew and a war party at their disposal. Further, they worked with their weapons at their side so that thwy would not be left unarmed in a raid.
3rd they remained committed to the task. The families went back to work, the enemies were cursing because their plan was foiled and the people sought the lord and kept their weapons ready.
 
In our lives, like Nehemiah’s, we remain under attack. Our enemy, like Israel’s hates to see us on mission and ready for battle.  So when we move toward God, we are bombarded with trials, temptation and fear. If we are to be effective and have a purposeful and meaningful life–we need to pray, prepare and participate in the battle and the mission.  We may find ourselves with a hammer in one hand and a sword in the other–but, that is ok because just like Nehemiah, we realiize that God is our protector, provider and preparation to face the enemy.
 
God Bless You

And we prayed to our God and set a guard as a protection against them day and night.

10 In Judah it was said,[d] “The strength of those who bear the burdens is failing. There is too much rubble. By ourselves we will not be able to rebuild the wall.” 11 And our enemies said, “They will not know or see till we come among them and kill them and stop the work.” 12 At that time the Jews who lived near them came from all directions and said to us ten times, “You must return to us.”[e] 13 So in the lowest parts of the space behind the wall, in open places, I stationed the people by their clans, with their swords, their spears, and their bows. 14 And I looked and arose and said to the nobles and to the officials and to the rest of the people, “Do not be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes.”

The Work Resumes

15 When our enemies heard that it was known to us and that God had frustrated their plan, we all returned to the wall, each to his work. 16 From that day on, half of my servants worked on construction, and half held the spears, shields, bows, and coats of mail. And the leaders stood behind the whole house of Judah, 17 who were building on the wall. Those who carried burdens were loaded in such a way that each labored on the work with one hand and held his weapon with the other. 18 And each of the builders had his sword strapped at his side while he built. The man who sounded the trumpet was beside me. 19 And I said to the nobles and to the officials and to the rest of the people, “The work is great and widely spread, and we are separated on the wall, far from one another. 20 In the place where you hear the sound of the trumpet, rally to us there. Our God will fight for us.”

21 So we labored at the work, and half of them held the spears from the break of dawn until the stars came out. 22 I also said to the people at that time, “Let every man and his servant pass the night within Jerusalem, that they may be a guard for us by night and may labor by day.” 23 So neither I nor my brothers nor my servants nor the men of the guard who followed me, none of us took off our clothes; each kept his weapon at his right hand.[f]

Nehemiah 1 Part 1–It is about the Community

he Book of Nehemiah is a tribute to both God’s faithfulness and the power of faith.  Nehemiah was a part of the descendants of the Israelites that were taken captive in Jerusalem. He was cupbearer to the King of Persia and lived approximately 150 years after the exile began.  After roughly 70 years, the exiles were allowed to return to Jerusalem and only 2% did so. Those that returned tried to get reestablished and rebuild the temple of God and the city of Jerusalem. 
 
Some 80 years later, Nehemiah inquires as to the condition of Jerusalem and Israel–God’s promised land.  He is greatly saddened to find that the walls of Jerusalem are still not restored and the city was still in shambles.  He is also saddened to hear that the people were a mess and living in shame.  This broke Nehemiah’s heart and he fasted and prayed to the Lord about how he could help. What happened next would be amazing.  
 
In our lives, we are faced not only with personal struggles, but also struggles within the community of believers and the church. If we are not careful, we become so entrenched in our own lives, that we forget we are part of the community.  The result is shameful. We literally forget about the needs of others and only focus on our own needs. 
The great news is that God never loses sight of the needs of his chosen and when the time is right, the Lord will raise those who are willing to be the leaders of restoration.  We simply need to, as did Nehemiah, pray and seek God’s leadership in how to give back.  It may be financially, it may be with our talents and labor. It may be we are to pray and seek assistance from others.  Whatever it is, like Nehemiah, we must have a tender heart for the church and all those who are a part of it! If we will do that, God will accomplish great things.
 
God Bless You

The words of Nehemiah the son of Hacaliah.

Now it happened in the month of Chislev, in the twentieth year, as I was in Susa the citadel, that Hanani, one of my brothers, came with certain men from Judah. And I asked them concerning the Jews who escaped, who had survived the exile, and concerning Jerusalem. And they said to me, “The remnant there in the province who had survived the exile is in great trouble and shame. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates are destroyed by fire.”

Nehemiah’s Prayer

As soon as I heard these words I sat down and wept and mourned for days, and I continued fasting and praying before the God of heaven. And I said, “O Lord God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, let your ear be attentive and your eyes open, to hear the prayer of your servant that I now pray before you day and night for the people of Israel your servants, confessing the sins of the people of Israel, which we have sinned against you. Even I and my father’s house have sinned. We have acted very corruptly against you and have not kept the commandments, the statutes, and the rules that you commanded your servant Moses. Remember the word that you commanded your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the peoples, but if you return to me and keep my commandments and do them, though your outcasts are in the uttermost parts of heaven, from there I will gather them and bring them to the place that I have chosen, to make my name dwell there.’ 10 They are your servants and your people, whom you have redeemed by your great power and by your strong hand. 11 O Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of your servant, and to the prayer of your servants who delight to fear your name, and give success to your servant today, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man.”

Now I was cupbearer to the king.

Ruth 1 Part 2–How We Define Ourselves

One of the most difficult disciplines in life is the discipline of definition.  Each day, when one awakens, he/she is given the opportunity to define himself/herself.  Some define themselves by their appearance, others by what they have accumulated. Many, however, define their lives by the circumstances that they face.  Naomi was a woman that loved God.  Yet, life had dealt her a very difficult hand.  She lived in a foreign land, she lost her husband and her two sons.  She had two daughters-in-law that she cared for, but needed to send away–simply because she could not care for them.  Ruth, one daughter-in-law refused to part; and so, the two returned to Bethlehem. When they arrived, the women of the town asked is this Naomi (Pleasant)? Naomi replied, DO NOT call me Naomi (pleasant)…call me Mara (bitter).  Naomi had grown bitter under the weight of the circumstances.
 
In truth, it is very difficult to live a life that rises above one’s circumstances.  Day-to-day events and interactions often fill our thoughts and determine the paths that we take.  Once we are in a relationship with God, however, the Holy Spirit allows us to rise above our circumstances and become defined by who we are, and whose we are in Christ Jesus.  The apostle Paul told the Philippians, “I have learned to be content in whatever circumstance that I am in. Well-fed or hungry, living in plenty or in want, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Phil 4:12-13. The Father knows the plans He has for us. Jer 29:11. He is never surprised by trials or tribulations. He provides the grace, strength, and direction to face what lies ahead. If we will trust Him, lean into Him and follow He will navigate us through life’s difficulties. Then, when we arrive on the other side, we can look back and see His fingerprints on each step along the way.
 
God Bless You

 “Look,” said Naomi, “your sister-in-law is going back to her people and her gods. Go back with her.”

16 But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. 17 Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.” 18 When Naomi realized that Ruth was determined to go with her, she stopped urging her.

19 So the two women went on until they came to Bethlehem. When they arrived in Bethlehem, the whole town was stirred because of them, and the women exclaimed, “Can this be Naomi?”

20 “Don’t call me Naomi,[b]” she told them. “Call me Mara,[c] because the Almighty[d] has made my life very bitter. 21 I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi? The Lord has afflicted[e] me; the Almighty has brought misfortune upon me.”

22 So Naomi returned from Moab accompanied by Ruth the Moabite, her daughter-in-law, arriving in Bethlehem as the barley harvest was beginning

I John 5–In Closing…

In the end, there have always been two great commands from God; Love the true God, and love others as you love yourself.  All other commands and direction fall within those parameters.  John closes his letter to the church by laying that out very clearly.  We are God’s chosen adopted children if we believe that Christ is the Savior and Lord. The evidence of our belief is our love for God and his people.  Further evidence is following Him and doing what He has called us to do.
 
We see the truth through the guidance of the Holy Spirit.  We also testify to that truth by our words and our daily lives. We are not expected to be perfect, but, we are called to be different. That difference is a lifetime process of transformation that always centers on the gift of salvation. As we journey, we see God’s hand on our lives and become more like him with the passage of each day. In the end, however, it still comes down to this: “He who has the Son Has Life; and He who rejects that gift does not have eternal life.”
As we end the decade, we need to be reminded that our Journey is swift and our destination is eternity. We, therefore, are called to live for that end and not for the temporary promises of this world.  Happy New Year.
 
God Bless You

 Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the father loves his child as well. This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.

This is the one who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ. He did not come by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit who testifies because the Spirit is the truth. For there are three that testify: the[a] Spirit, the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement. We accept human testimony, but God’s testimony is greater because it is the testimony of God, which he has given about his Son. 10 Whoever believes in the Son of God accepts this testimony. Whoever does not believe God has made him out to be a liar, because they have not believed the testimony God has given about his Son. 11 And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.