2 Kings 13–The Pragtmatic End to the Pragmatic Prophet’s Story

So, the end of Elisha’s story is as simple as his time as God’s liaison.  He trusted God and simply did as he was told.  So at the end, the bible records 3 significant things:
  1. On his deathbed, Joash the king seeks Elisha’s council and receives a very positive prophecy
  2. Elisha died and was buried
  3. After Elisha was dead and buried, a dead man was tossed into Elisha’s tomb and when he touched Elisha’s bones, the dead man came back to life!
Elisha was a man that did not enjoy fanfare. So God honored that in the telling of Elisha’s story. Truly, however, it was clear that Elisha was a powerful prophet that had God’s support and power even after his death.  What an amazing tribute that even after he was dead and buried, Elisha could still raise the dead.
 
It would be amazing if one could be so faithful as to be able to show God’s power even after that person was dead and buried. I believe that would be a great tribute to the awesome power of God and his influence in and through my life.  It is my prayer, Lord, that you would lead me to honor you as faithfully as did your pragmatic servant Elisha!
 
God Bless You

Now Elisha had been suffering from the illness from which he died. Jehoash king of Israel went down to see him and wept over him. “My father! My father!” he cried. “The chariots and horsemen of Israel!”

15 Elisha said, “Get a bow and some arrows,” and he did so. 16 “Take the bow in your hands,” he said to the king of Israel. When he had taken it, Elisha put his hands on the king’s hands.

17 “Open the east window,” he said, and he opened it. “Shoot!” Elisha said, and he shot. “The Lord’s arrow of victory, the arrow of victory over Aram!” Elisha declared. “You will completely destroy the Arameans at Aphek.”

18 Then he said, “Take the arrows,” and the king took them. Elisha told him, “Strike the ground.” He struck it three times and stopped. 19 The man of God was angry with him and said, “You should have struck the ground five or six times; then you would have defeated Aram and completely destroyed it. But now you will defeat it only three times.”

20 Elisha died and was buried.

Now Moabite raiders used to enter the country every spring. 21 Once while some Israelites were burying a man, suddenly they saw a band of raiders; so they threw the man’s body into Elisha’s tomb. When the body touched Elisha’s bones, the man came to life and stood up on his feet.

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.

I John 3 Part 2–Love–Love for Us and Our Love for Others.

God truly demonstrated His love for us.  He loved us when we were unlovable.  He accepted us when we were unacceptable.  He calls us to love others the same way.  John reiterated his original message from his gospel, For God So loved the world that he gave his only son. He tells the church –this is how we know what love is…Jesus laid his life down for us. He tells the church its response should be similar…the church should lay their lives down for others.  Selfishness gets parked at the curb and believer’s lives are no longer their own.  It is not a mopey life of dower expression and mundane existence. Instead, it is a life full of meaning and purpose where the needs of others supersede the needs of self.  Amazingly, history reminds us that humans are at their best when they set their personal agendas aside.
 
In our lives, we have to choose each day to live for Christ and not for ourselves.  It is a difficult task. Even on Jesus’s birthday, we can lose the focus and become consumed with the consumerism of the holiday and the consumables we feast upon. If we are not careful, our entire life becomes filled with a desire to promote ourselves and obtain all we feel we deserve.  John’s reminder is stark and plain–live a life like Christ. Lay your lives and agendas on the alter and allow Christ dominion over them. When we live like that, we find ourselves full of life and purpose and we enjoy a glimpse of peace and joy like none other. 
 
God Bless You

 For this is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another. 12 Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own actions were evil and his brothers were righteous. 13 Do not be surprised, my brothers and sisters,[b] if the world hates you. 14 We know that we have passed from death to life because we love each other. Anyone who does not love remains in death. 15 Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him.

16 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. 17 If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? 18 Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.

19 This is how we know that we belong to the truth and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence: 20 If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. 21 Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God 22 and receive from him anything we ask, because we keep his commands and do what pleases him. 23 And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. 24 The one who keeps God’s commands lives in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.

Saving the Best for Last–Genesis 1 Final

After doing all the preparation, God finished out creation by filling his lush and beautiful earth with animals.  It must have been beautiful.  The glorious skies pure and pristine–filled with birds of all colors and sizes, oceans and lakes teaming with some of the most amazing creatures and now God filled the land with amazing animals and finally, the guest of honor…Man. 

Say what you will, but this was a gift for us.  We were given dominion over the earth and all the wonderful things it contains.  If we were not so stinking sinful, selfish and stingy, we could have enjoyed a lifetime of beauty and splendor.  We still are called to be good stewards of this gift, BUT, we were never called to worship the created earth! We were, are and always will be called to worship its amazing creator!!!

If we could ever grasp that the wonder is not the universe, but, its designer, implementer and caretaker; then we would not only adore this creation, but we would be free to celebrate it as a great gift and be free in God’s presence to trust, follow and watch him do miraculous things in our lives.

Remember at the beginning of that week, the earth was without form and darkness loomed over the face of the earth–BUT THEN, God said let their be light, AND THERE WAS–and he can do it again today! Join me in prayer to ask him to bring light back to the world, our country, our churches and our spirits!

God Bless You

Then God said, “Let the earth produce every sort of animal, each producing offspring of the same kind—livestock, small animals that scurry along the ground, and wild animals.” And that is what happened. 25 God made all sorts of wild animals, livestock, and small animals, each able to produce offspring of the same kind. And God saw that it was good.

26 Then God said, “Let us make human beings[b] in our image, to be like us. They will reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, the livestock, all the wild animals on the earth,[c] and the small animals that scurry along the ground.”

27 So God created human beings[d] in his own image.
    In the image of God he created them;
    male and female he created them.

28 Then God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it. Reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and all the animals that scurry along the ground.”

29 Then God said, “Look! I have given you every seed-bearing plant throughout the earth and all the fruit trees for your food. 30 And I have given every green plant as food for all the wild animals, the birds in the sky, and the small animals that scurry along the ground—everything that has life.” And that is what happened.

31 Then God looked over all he had made, and he saw that it was very good!

And evening passed and morning came, marking the sixth day.

Live Like Christ–But Do it in His Power 1 Peter 4

There is a sense of urgency–We should be living as though Christ is returning…Because he is! It is so easy to become complacent in these current circumstances.  No matter how comfortable things seem, we are living for eternity.  That means we seek God, we love others and we act as he would act.  The great news is that we do not have to do it in our power.  The Holy Spirit comes and fills us and guides us to living a Christ like life. 

So what does that life look like, well according to Peter their are three major components–Love, selflessness and humility. If we are selfless and humble, it does not mean we act like EEOre.  It only means that we are always looking for ways to promote others and show them Christ in our lives. Loving others means that we see the from God’s perspective and as members of our family.  We accept them as they are but steer them to the wonderful journey with Christ.  Life is about selfless, loving humility.

Living that kind of life is a sign we are looking to eternity–not simply existing for today!

God Bless You

The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. 10 Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 11 If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.

The Mystery–I Timothy 3 Final

Paul had a method to his madness.  He was doing his best to lay out the plan for God’s people to live by.  He realized that as a family, selflessness was the key to peace and joy.  More importantly he knew we represent God who became man–the great mystery of the world.  We do not often realize the import of the God Man–Jesus.  He created the universe and yet died a slaves death.  The very people he loved and came to save acted as judge, jury and executioner.

In addition, he healed the sick, raised the dead, brought site to the blind.  He cleaned the lepers, gave hope to the hopeless, freed the condemned and fed the hungry.  he dispatched legions of devils and had a host of angels at his beckoned call. This Savior, Lord takes personal interest in each of us-his kids, and wants nothing more for us than to enjoy peace on earth and eternity with him in Heaven.  So the challenge is simple–Live well and act selflessly. 

God Bless You

 Although I hope to come to you soon, I am writing you these instructions so that, 15 if I am delayed, you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God’s household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth. 16 Beyond all question, the mystery from which true godliness springs is great:

He appeared in the flesh,
    was vindicated by the Spirit,[d]
was seen by angels,
    was preached among the nations,
was believed on in the world,
    was taken up in glory

Rejoice–Philippians 4 Part 2

 

There is a fabulous switch within each of us that, when flipped, allows us to continue to move forward even when the forces against us seem overwhelming—it’s our attitude.  Paul, the guru of bad circumstances, sums it up in a phrase—“Rejoice in the Lord always!”. Not an easy switch to flip, subject to flipping back at a moment’s notice—but when we abide by this rule, we can actually face lifes daily struggles.

Paul is kind to explain how to work the switch—1. Don’t worry, 2. Pray 3. accept peace 4.  Think on the good stuff. Oddly, Paul does not promise the trouble will disappear, he only promises that God’s peace will appear. At the end of the day, however, that is what we mostly long for—peace.  In my life, I confess, while that is my desire

—I spend too much time looking for ANYTHING else.  So rejoice! Seek God and his peace will follow.

God Bless You

 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

Let’s Get to It–Mark 1 part 4

Jesus preparation was done, his followers were coming aboard and his reputation growing in the community—time to go to work.  Jesus began his ministry by healing the sick and breaking the chains of possession by Satan.  It is quite revealing, however, that along with the highlights on miracles, Mark reports about Jesus’ personal time in prayer. It is no coincidence that after a day of ministry, Jesus headed out to be alone with the Lord.  It was as important to his mission and ministry as was his followers or his miracles.

We often forget that our walk with the Lord is the key to our doings for the Lord.  When we tie our personal relationship to activities and actions, it is easy to stop spending time in the word and in prayer.  But, the time alone with God is the key to successful ministry—Jesus knew that and demonstrated that from the start.  Martin Luther, the priest that started the reformation of the Catholic Church, used to say that because  of his hectic schedule he would have to spend an extra hour in prayer…He understood the nature of warfare.  No matter what is ahead, failure to prepare for battle and to arm yourself properly is a certain recipe for disaster.

Doing ministry and facing trial and temptation is a huge part of the Journey, but, personal time in God’s word and prayer are the critical part of your faith and walk with him.

God Bless You

29 As soon as they left the synagogue, they went with James and John to the home of Simon and Andrew. 30 Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they immediately told Jesus about her. 31 So he went to her, took her hand and helped her up. The fever left her and she began to wait on them.

32 That evening after sunset the people brought to Jesus all the sick and demon-possessed. 33 The whole town gathered at the door, 34 and Jesus healed many who had various diseases. He also drove out many demons, but he would not let the demons speak because they knew who he was.

35 Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. 36 Simon and his companions went to look for him, 37 and when they found him, they exclaimed: “Everyone is looking for you!”

38 Jesus replied, “Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.” 39 So he traveled throughout Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out demons.

Preparation is Key–Mark 1 part 1

The Gospels tell the story of salvation from many different perspectives.  Mark’s version is most famous because it seems to take the Jack Webb’s “Dragnet” approach.  The famous Dragnet line was always, “Just the facts ma’am.  Just the facts.”  And as you read Mark, that is what you get. 

God planned Jesus entrance from the dawn of time and knew that preparation was critical.  He sent John the Baptist ahead to lead the people of the time to a place of personal responsibility for their sin.  Once they saw their sin as personal they could begin to see their salvation as personal.  Once they saw their salvation as personal, they could see their relationship with God as personal and that is where Jesus comes in.

In our lives, we have the same issue even today.  It is easy to rely on our checklist for salvation.  We think if we are good enough, at church enough or at least not as bad as others, then we will be fine.  But as John told the Jews—we have to repent of our sin, turn and go the other way. Agree that we cannot earn our salvation by deed or promise; and simply accept that he sent Christ to redeem us from our sin and restore us to a right relationship with God.  God prepared for our redemption and his plan was flawless.  Help me Lord, to accept the plan you made and not try to do things my way.

God Bless You

1 The beginning of the good news about Jesus the Messiah,[a] the Son of God,[b] as it is written in Isaiah the prophet:

“I will send my messenger ahead of you,
who will prepare your way”[c]
“a voice of one calling in the wilderness,
‘Prepare the way for the Lord,
make straight paths for him.’”[d]

And so John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River. John wore clothing made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. And this was his message: “After me comes the one more powerful than I, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I baptize you with[e] water, but he will baptize you with[f] the Holy Spirit.”

Matthew 25 part 1–Always Be Prepared

We must live our lives being prepared for Christ’s return.  Jesus was trying to help the folk of his day understand that it took more than simply knowing the Messiah was coming—They needed to be ready to meet him.  The foolish ones knew he was coming, but when his arrival came they were not ready.  When they finally became ready, it was too late.  The same was true for Israel’s religious establishment.  They knew a Messiah was coming, they watched for him for generations.  But when the time came they were simply not prepared for him and totally missed him.  When they finally realize he is Lord, it will be too late.

The same holds true for our culture.  So many folks know of Jesus.  They have heard the stories and many think that someday they will deal with him.  But like the foolish ones in the story, they are not prepared for him and miss him in their lives.  When reality sets in—t will be too late.  We have to enter a relationship with him.  We have to allow him to be a part of our lives so that he can forgive us and restore us to the people he created us to be—free, forgiven and following him.  If we prepare, we will be ready for his return and follow him to eternity.  Do not allow yourself to be caught unaware, ask him to be a part of your life, today.

God Bless You

“At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.  “At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’  “Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’

“‘No,’ they replied, ‘there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’10 “But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut.  11 “Later the others also came. ‘Lord, Lord,’ they said, ‘open the door for us!’ 12 “But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.’

13 “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.