I Kings 4 Part 1–Elisha Highlights God’s Provision

I love Elisha’s style. A widow approaches Elisha.  She is completely distraught. Her husband died and left her poor and in debt.  Her creditor was in route to take her sons in payment for the debt as slaves.  She was heartbroken, hopeless and completely without options…well, except one. She came to God’s man and told Elisha her trouble and need.  Elisha, the pragmatic prophet, went right to work–“Go get all the jars you can put your hands on. Do not be shy and do not be lazy. Ask everyone.”  She does as he told her.  She gathers jars and jars.  He then tells her to take the little olive oil she has, and start filling the jars.  She does.  In that moment, God provides an ulimited supply of oil.  She continues to pour until the last jar is copmpletely full.  Then the oil stops flowing.  Elisha then tells her to sell the oil and pay the debts. Then use the rest to live from then on.
 
Once again God shows His miraculous ways in very simple fashion.  There was no pomp or ceremony. Elisha did not demand a special recognition or sacrifice.  He simply led the woman back to the provider and her faith caused an amazing thing to occur.  In that, she was saved and her family was kept in tact.  We need to have that same faith that looks around, assesses a situation, and allows God to do what he does best–protect, prepare and provide.  There need not be any drama, ceramony or special recognition–only the faith to ask God for our needs and then the faith to trust Him to provide.  Elisha never had a doubt and the widow would never doubt again that God does provide.  We need to have that saame faith and confidence–God will provide, that is simply who He is! Jehovah Jirah.
 
God Bless You

The wife of a man from the company of the prophets cried out to Elisha, “Your servant my husband is dead, and you know that he revered the Lord. But now his creditor is coming to take my two boys as his slaves.”

Elisha replied to her, “How can I help you? Tell me, what do you have in your house?”

“Your servant has nothing there at all,” she said, “except a small jar of olive oil.”

Elisha said, “Go around and ask all your neighbors for empty jars. Don’t ask for just a few. Then go inside and shut the door behind you and your sons. Pour oil into all the jars, and as each is filled, put it to one side.”

She left him and shut the door behind her and her sons. They brought the jars to her and she kept pouring. When all the jars were full, she said to her son, “Bring me another one.”

But he replied, “There is not a jar left.” Then the oil stopped flowing.

She went and told the man of God, and he said, “Go, sell the oil and pay your debts. You and your sons can live on what is left.”

I Kings 19 Part 2–I Am Here,and I am Listening

This scene speaks volumes about Elijah and about the Lord.  Elijah demoralized in Hebron, and God there to meet him.  God asked Elijah to stand at the mouth of a cave before God. Then a strong and violent wind passed, a mighty earthquake shook, then a fire pushed through–but, God was not in any of those. Then a quiet wisper immediately grabbed Elijah’s attention and reverence.  Isn’t it amazing that often we hear a whisper clearer than a violent weather event.  Elijah knew his Lord. He was not fooled by the fanfare; nor, was Elijah shaken in his devotion to God. Elijah was simply worn out, and ready to go home.  So, God spoke very candidly to His prophet–in a sense, God told Elijah to finish up what I have for you to do. Then God asked Elijah to prep his replacement and then they would get Elijah home.  God did not berarate Elijah, nor, did God promise things would be OK or get better for Elijah. 
 
Life is difficult, God does not make excuses. We seek Him and He prepares, protects and provides for us.  But, it is important to remember that God is personal.  He individually cares for His own. He is with you and listens to your prayers.  As any Father, He seeks to meet us where we are and lead us where we need to be.  He asks us, like He asked Elijah “What are you doing here?” It is our duty as God’s kids to ask ourselves the same question–Why are we here??? if it is because of sin, then repent, if it is a trial, then pray and persevere.  Whatever the case, we must continue to seek God and listen for His still, small voice.  We may never fully understand God’s plan or God’s timing; but, we can know God! We can trust God to complete His plan for our lives.  
 
God Bless You

And he said, “Go out and stand on the mount before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 12 And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper.[a] 13 And when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. And behold, there came a voice to him and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” 14 He said, “I have been very jealous for the Lord, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away.” 15 And the Lord said to him, “Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus. And when you arrive, you shall anoint Hazael to be king over Syria. 16 And Jehu the son of Nimshi you shall anoint to be king over Israel, and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah you shall anoint to be prophet in your place. 17 And the one who escapes from the sword of Hazael shall Jehu put to death, and the one who escapes from the sword of Jehu shall Elisha put to death. 18 Yet I will leave seven thousand in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.”

The Call of Elisha

19 So he departed from there and found Elisha the son of Shaphat, who was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen in front of him, and he was with the twelfth. Elijah passed by him and cast his cloak upon him. 20 And he left the oxen and ran after Elijah and said, “Let me kiss my father and my mother, and then I will follow you.” And he said to him, “Go back again, for what have I done to you?” 21 And he returned from following him and took the yoke of oxen and sacrificed them and boiled their flesh with the yokes of the oxen and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he arose and went after Elijah and assisted him.

Esther 5 Part 1–Esther Has a Plan

Esther finished praying and set a plan in motion.  She went before the king, and the king gladly welcomed her before his throne.  So Esther, who was presented with the offer of being granted anything up to half the kingdom, asked if she could serve the king and Hamaan a banquet…The king, who is never asked if someone could do something for him was estatic. He brought Hamaan and the two partied like rockstars. So The king asked Esther again, I will grant you anything, so Esther asked to serve another banquet to the king and Hamaan. The king agreed and Hamaan went home proud and sure.  Esther knew Hamaan was her enemy, so she was keeping her enemy as close as possible.  She also knew that serving was always better than being served. So she acted selflessly and graciously. The great news is that what was coming would literally save Israel.
 
When faced with a difficult task, it is always critical to start with prayer. Then, if we clothe ourselves with humility and graciousness, odds are we will be well received and be able to be effective in our plans to achieve great things.  We have to be willing to put personal feelings aside and treat even our enemies with grace. Then God will make amazing things happen through us, and we will complete our plans–knowing God is Large and in charge. The critical piece is trusting God and patiently waiting for him to do the work. There can only be one person in charge, We have to allow God to take the lead.
 
God Bless You.

On the third day Esther put on her royal robes and stood in the inner court of the palace, in front of the king’s hall. The king was sitting on his royal throne in the hall, facing the entrance. When he saw Queen Esther standing in the court, he was pleased with her and held out to her the gold scepter that was in his hand. So Esther approached and touched the tip of the scepter.

Then the king asked, “What is it, Queen Esther? What is your request? Even up to half the kingdom, it will be given you.”

“If it pleases the king,” replied Esther, “let the king, together with Haman, come today to a banquet I have prepared for him.”

“Bring Haman at once,” the king said, “so that we may do what Esther asks.”

So the king and Haman went to the banquet Esther had prepared. As they were drinking wine, the king again asked Esther, “Now what is your petition? It will be given you. And what is your request? Even up to half the kingdom, it will be granted.”

Esther replied, “My petition and my request is this: If the king regards me with favor and if it pleases the king to grant my petition and fulfill my request, let the king and Haman come tomorrow to the banquet I will prepare for them. Then I will answer the king’s question.”

Haman’s Rage Against Mordecai

Haman went out that day happy and in high spirits. But when he saw Mordecai at the king’s gate and observed that he neither rose nor showed fear in his presence, he was filled with rage against Mordecai. 10 Nevertheless, Haman restrained himself and went home.

Esther 4 Part 2–For Such a Time as This

Esther was  faced with a very difficult choice.  Her people faced certain obliteration.  The irreversable decree had been sealed and notice posted throughout the land. Mordechi encouraged Esther to go to the king and intercvede on Israel’s behalf.  Esther knew that if she approached the king without being summoned, she could be killed, but failiing to approach the king meant certain death for her people.  Mordechi made two very important observations.
  1. If you sit silently, God will use someone else to save Israel, but all traces of your family will be destroyed.
  2.  Who knows, but that your rise to prominence was orchestrated for such a time as this.
Esther sent the people off to fast and to pray. She and her staff did the same. At the end of the day she would do what she knew to be right and if she dies, well she dies.
 
As God’s people, we need to have the same attitude as did Esther. We will be faced with trials and opportunities where our faith will be tested.  In those times, we have to decide to trust and obey.  If we fail to do so, God will use others to achieve His plan.  But, we can rest assured that our blessing will be stripped away.  Conversely, if God blesses us, and we find ourselves in a position to assist others, who knows but that we have come to our position for such a time as this…We must stand ready to pray and to act for the furtherence of the Kingdom. Even without discussing Gods’s intervention, His leadership, guidence and direction are evident in all that we see and do.  
 
God Bless You

 

Then she instructed him to say to Mordecai, 11 “All the king’s officials and the people of the royal provinces know that for any man or woman who approaches the king in the inner court without being summoned the king has but one law: that they be put to death unless the king extends the gold scepter to them and spares their lives. But thirty days have passed since I was called to go to the king.”

12 When Esther’s words were reported to Mordecai, 13 he sent back this answer: “Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. 14 For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”

15 Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai: 16 “Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my attendants will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.”

17 So Mordecai went away and carried out all of Esther’s instructions.

Esther 2 Part 2–The Favor of the Lord

Esther was raised differently. She was humble and grateful. She found favor with everyone with whom she made contact.  She was different.  She was different bbecause she walked with the Lord.  The selflessness that comes with following God stands out in the world and makes those that follow Him seem different.  It was a stark contrast from the queen Vashti. Vashti thought it was her job to be served and to be exalted. Esther asked for very little, expected very little and sought to be kind and humble.  When the folks in the palace saw that, they adored her.  When the king saw that, it was true love.  He picked Esther over all the candidates, made her queen and threw a party like none other.(Esther gladly attended it!)
 
In our lives, we need to have the same heart of humility.  We need to expect very little and live to serve God.  We should be selfless and grateful–ready to give and to serve.  If we walk with that attitude, God will be honored and we will find favor with many who will ultimately be affected for Christ.  As Solomon said in Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Lean not on your own understanding. Acknowledge Him in all your ways–and He will make your path straight!”
 
God Bless You

 Now when the turn came for each young woman to go in to King Ahasuerus, after being twelve months under the regulations for the women, since this was the regular period of their beautifying, six months with oil of myrrh and six months with spices and ointments for women— 13 when the young woman went in to the king in this way, she was given whatever she desired to take with her from the harem to the king’s palace. 14 In the evening she would go in, and in the morning she would return to the second harem in custody of Shaashgaz, the king’s eunuch, who was in charge of the concubines. She would not go in to the king again, unless the king delighted in her and she was summoned by name.

15 When the turn came for Esther the daughter of Abihail the uncle of Mordecai, who had taken her as his own daughter, to go in to the king, she asked for nothing except what Hegai the king’s eunuch, who had charge of the women, advised. Now Esther was winning favor in the eyes of all who saw her. 16 And when Esther was taken to King Ahasuerus, into his royal palace, in the tenth month, which is the month of Tebeth, in the seventh year of his reign, 17 the king loved Esther more than all the women, and she won grace and favor in his sight more than all the virgins, so that he set the royal crown[b] on her head and made her queen instead of Vashti. 18 Then the king gave a great feast for all his officials and servants; it was Esther’s feast. He also granted a remission of taxes to the provinces and gave gifts with royal generosity.

Nehemiah 3-Community is Key

Chapter 3 of Nehemiah is a testament of the community effort that Nehemiah’s leadership brought to Jerusalem.  People from all over the land rose up and built a section of the wall and gates. Not everyone was as committed as others, but from preists to artisans; each group attended side by side to the care and rebuilding of the walls and gates!  What makes chapter three more encouraging is the reminder that side by side, the community of God’s people were far more effective than they had neen on their own. If one was to check the history, they would find that all that returned to Jerusalem had nice enough homes and lands. The city’s infrastructure, however remained in complete dissarray.  Once the people banded together as a community, the things that needed to happen began to happen.
 
In our lives, we need to remain committed to the community of believers.  We need to understand that church is a team effort.  We work together to seek and to save that which is lost.  We need to be a part of the group that greets, that repairs, that gives and that prays for the body.  We need to rush forward to be a volunteer and accomplish whatever it is that needs to be done. We need to be generous with our time, our talent and our treasure. We know that it is God that provides all three.  Finally, we need to be a people without excuse. We simply and humbly jump in and be a part of something great–together we can!  As Paul said in Philippians 2–“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but  in humility–consider others better than yourself. Don’t only look out for your own interest, but also the interest of others.  Have the same attitude as Christ!…”
 
God Bless You

Eliashib the high priest and his fellow priests went to work and rebuilt the Sheep Gate. They dedicated it and set its doors in place, building as far as the Tower of the Hundred, which they dedicated, and as far as the Tower of Hananel.
2 The men of Jericho built the adjoining section, and Zakkur son of Imri built next to them.
3 The Fish Gate was rebuilt by the sons of Hassenaah. They laid its beams and put its doors and bolts and bars in place.
4 Meremoth son of Uriah, the son of Hakkoz, repaired the next section. Next to him Meshullam son of Berekiah, the son of Meshezabel, made repairs, and next to him Zadok son of Baana also made repairs.
5 The next section was repaired by the men of Tekoa, but their nobles would not put their shoulders to the work under their supervisors.
6 The Jeshanah Gate was repaired by Joiada son of Paseah and Meshullam son of Besodeiah. They laid its beams and put its doors with their bolts and bars in place.
7 Next to them, repairs were made by men from Gibeon and Mizpah—Melatiah of Gibeon and Jadon of Meronoth—places under the authority of the governor of Trans-Euphrates.
8 Uzziel son of Harhaiah, one of the goldsmiths, repaired the next section; and Hananiah, one of the perfume-makers, made repairs next to that. They restored Jerusalem as far as the Broad Wall.
9 Rephaiah son of Hur, ruler of a half-district of Jerusalem, repaired the next section.
10 Adjoining this, Jedaiah son of Harumaph made repairs opposite his house, and Hattush son of Hashabneiah made repairs next to him.

Nehemiah 2 Part 2–Assessing Our Mission

Nehemiah was on task and ready to begin the mission of returning Jerusalem to its former glory.  He was committed to the Lord and committed to the mission.  As he approached Jerusalem, the devestation and disrepair was obvious.  But, Nehemiah was not simply interested in dwelling upon the mess that Israel was, He wanted to gain perspective on what must be done, and what Jerusalem could be again. In that aim, he took his time assessing the city from all perspectives and not taking the advice and criticism of others. Instead he sought the truth 1st hand and  from all angles. As he did this, his detracters wasted no time ridiculing him and calling him a traitor.  They were most interested in the status quo that gave them power and control.  But, again, Nehemiah was not concerned about the criticsm of those that did nothing.
 
In our lives, when God puts us on mission, we have to stay focused onthe mission He assigns. We need not get in a hurry to solve the problem; instead we need to seek him pray and carefully assess the issue.  We also need not fall prey to the outbursts of our detracters. We need to remember our enemy will do any and everything to nuetralize our impact and discredit our Lord.  We are the ones that must be dilligent, remain vigilent and proceed humbly and steadily along the path he sets out.  It is never easy and it is often through chaos and conflict.  But as Solomon so clearly stated in Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Lean not on your own understanding! Acknowledge Him in all your ways and He will make your path straight!”
 
God Bless You

11 I went to Jerusalem, and after staying there three days 12 I set out during the night with a few others. I had not told anyone what my God had put in my heart to do for Jerusalem. There were no mounts with me except the one I was riding on.

13 By night I went out through the Valley Gate toward the Jackal Well and the Dung Gate, examining the walls of Jerusalem, which had been broken down, and its gates, which had been destroyed by fire. 14 Then I moved on toward the Fountain Gate and the King’s Pool, but there was not enough room for my mount to get through; 15 so I went up the valley by night, examining the wall. Finally, I turned back and reentered through the Valley Gate. 16 The officials did not know where I had gone or what I was doing, because as yet I had said nothing to the Jews or the priests or nobles or officials or any others who would be doing the work.
17 Then I said to them, “You see the trouble we are in: Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been burned with fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, and we will no longer be in disgrace.” 18 I also told them about the gracious hand of my God on me and what the king had said to me.
They replied, “Let us start rebuilding.” So they began this good work.
19 But when Sanballat the Horonite, Tobiah the Ammonite official and Geshem the Arab heard about it, they mocked and ridiculed us. “What is this you are doing?” they asked. “Are you rebelling against the king?”
20 I answered them by saying, “The God of heaven will give us success. We his servants will start rebuilding, but as for you, you have no share in Jerusalem or any claim or historic right to it.”