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.”

2 Kings 2–I want to Go Out Like Elijah

Elijah completed all that the Lord had for him to do.  He trained Elisha, he annointed the proper leaders. He killed  prophesied the ends of some stupid kings and now the Lord was ready to take him home. The awesome thing was that Elijah was going to be the second person that God took straight to Heaven without death touching them. Enoc, Noah’s Great Grandpa, left earth with God at age 350. He did not die, so by all records he is the oldest living man.  Now, Elijah would be the second.  God loved Elijah and used him to carry Israel through a time of Godlessness.  So as a result, God took Elijah home–literally.  No death, no suffering. Elijah just went off in a chariot of fire. He left Elisha. Elisha would carry on with the work.  Elisha would be armed with a double portion of God’s spirit to guide and empower him.
 
God always works His Plan.  He is never late and never wrong.  Elijah asked God to take him earier, and God revealed to Elijah that He had things well in hand.  If we could walk in the faith God provides, and if we trust God to complete His plan–then we will see God do greta things in our lives and in the lives of others.  It will never happen fast enough to suit us, but it will always be the right thing at the right time.  As a nation, we have been  thrown into dissarray  by  a virus. Our economy has shut down. Schools and churches stopped dead in their tracks. The military and the leaders of our nation are scrambling to lessen the effect of what lies ahead.  As a people, we must trust that, as with Elijah, God has this well in hand.  We must use this time to draw closer to God and our families.  We all want it to end.  We, like Elijah, just want it to be over.  God says, “Trust me”–in that still small voice. Let’s trust God and simply follow His lead as we draw closer in the journey!!!
 
God Bless You

When the Lord was about to take Elijah up to heaven in a whirlwind, Elijah and Elisha were on their way from Gilgal. Elijah said to Elisha, “Stay here; the Lord has sent me to Bethel.”

But Elisha said, “As surely as the Lord lives and as you live, I will not leave you.” So they went down to Bethel.

The company of the prophets at Bethel came out to Elisha and asked, “Do you know that the Lord is going to take your master from you today?”

“Yes, I know,” Elisha replied, “so be quiet.”

Then Elijah said to him, “Stay here, Elisha; the Lord has sent me to Jericho.”

And he replied, “As surely as the Lord lives and as you live, I will not leave you.” So they went to Jericho.

The company of the prophets at Jericho went up to Elisha and asked him, “Do you know that the Lord is going to take your master from you today?”

“Yes, I know,” he replied, “so be quiet.”

Then Elijah said to him, “Stay here; the Lord has sent me to the Jordan.”

And he replied, “As surely as the Lord lives and as you live, I will not leave you.” So the two of them walked on.

Fifty men from the company of the prophets went and stood at a distance, facing the place where Elijah and Elisha had stopped at the Jordan. Elijah took his cloak, rolled it up and struck the water with it. The water divided to the right and to the left, and the two of them crossed over on dry ground.

When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, “Tell me, what can I do for you before I am taken from you?”

“Let me inherit a double portion of your spirit,” Elisha replied.

10 “You have asked a difficult thing,” Elijah said, “yet if you see me when I am taken from you, it will be yours—otherwise, it will not.”

11 As they were walking along and talking together, suddenly a chariot of fire and horses of fire appeared and separated the two of them, and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind.

1 Kings 16/17 Part 1–Elijah the Amazing Prophet

The story of Elijah is as much a testement to God’s patience with Israel, as it is the Lord choosing an amazing prophet.  Elijah was called by God to confront the most evil king in all Israel. Ahab was known to be more evil than all the kings before him. He did anything to be independent of  God, Ahab was worshipping the God’s of Jeroboam, and He then married Jezebeel, a very prominant Baal worshipper. He set up Asheraah poles and Baal worship sites.  Ahab also allowed the rebuilding of Jericho.  God decided enough was enough. God sent Elijah to make his position clear.  Elijah told Ahab, God is done…No rain or moisture until Elijah says otherwise–otherwwise means when you turn the nation back toward the God of your fathers..  What Ahab had to face was that God will be God no matter what Ahab wanted. 
 
Elijah had a difficult job–he had to face God’s annointed and make clear God had had enough.  This was not an invitation to an easy life, nor was it an indcation that God would turn a blind eye to the sin of His chosen people.  Sadly, the people followed the leadership of their king. Ahab’s push toward Baal dragged the nation with him.  So God was faced with decision to save his people or allow them to destroy themselves.  He chose to let them be.  So God stopped His provision and protection .  He implemented a drought that would continue until Elijah ended it.  God was confdident that Elijah would remain faithful, no matter what.
 
That is who we need to be.  The person God can look to to remain faithful no matter what.  It requires faith; it requires seeking  the Lord daily through prayer and spending time with God.  It also requires a desire to make God the Lord of your life not just your token God.  Elijah was in the journey no matter what–from there, God would use Elijah to reclaim His people.  Help me Lord, to have the heart and desire to follow like Elijah.
 
God Bless You

 In the thirty-eighth year of Asa king of Judah, Ahab son of Omri became king of Israel, and he reigned in Samaria over Israel twenty-two years. 30 Ahab son of Omri did more evil in the eyes of the Lord than any of those before him. 31 He not only considered it trivial to commit the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, but he also married Jezebel daughter of Ethbaal king of the Sidonians, and began to serve Baal and worship him. 32 He set up an altar for Baal in the temple of Baal that he built in Samaria. 33 Ahab also made an Asherah pole and did more to arouse the anger of the Lord, the God of Israel, than did all the kings of Israel before him.

34 In Ahab’s time, Hiel of Bethel rebuilt Jericho. He laid its foundations at the cost of his firstborn son Abiram, and he set up its gates at the cost of his youngest son Segub, in accordance with the word of the Lord spoken by Joshua son of Nun.

Now Elijah the Tishbite, from Tishbe[a] in Gilead, said to Ahab, “As the Lord, the God of Israel, lives, whom I serve, there will be neither dew nor rain in the next few years except at my word.”

Elijah Fed by Ravens

Then the word of the Lord came to Elijah: “Leave here, turn eastward and hide in the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan. You will drink from the brook, and I have directed the ravens to supply you with food there.”

So he did what the Lord had told him. He went to the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan, and stayed there. The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning and bread and meat in the evening, and he drank from the brook.

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 1–Preparing to be Queen

It was no small task to become queen in Xerxes harem. After Xerxes settled down, the leadership searched accross the kingdom and brought several virgins to audition for queen.  To be selected to audition was an amazing honor. The preparation  to appear before the king took a  year. The ladies selected had to not only find favor with the King, but, she had to find favor with those that guarded and prepared the ladies.  Esther did that very well.  Not only was she beautiful, but she had a great heart and won favor with all whom she came in contact.  She was an orhan raised by her uncle.  On paper she would not have been the pick for a king.  An orphaned exile from Israel…But, God had a better plan.
 
God chooses and uses those He has prepared for service.  It is rarely the ones that the world would pick.  Truth be told, God picks the right person because he sees within and without.  If we will prepare our lives for service–seek Him, read God’s word and pray. Then at just the right time God can use us to accomplish His plan for our lives and often the lives of others. Few would expect that a year of spa days would be the training for saving a nation. In Esther’s life. that was God’s plan.    She was faithul to follow the plan and that would in time change the world. It needs to be our goal to be humble, faithful and ready to go where He leads us.
 
God Bless You

 Later when King Xerxes’ fury had subsided, he remembered Vashti and what she had done and what he had decreed about her. Then the king’s personal attendants proposed, “Let a search be made for beaunot only find favor with the Kingtiful young virgins for the king. Let the king appoint commissioners in every province of his realm to bring all these beautiful young women into the harem at the citadel of Susa. Let them be placed under the care of Hegai, the king’s eunuch, who is in charge of the women; and let beauty treatments be given to them. Then let the young woman who pleases the king be queen instead of Vashti.” This advice appealed to the king, and he followed it.

Now there was in the citadel of Susa a Jew of the tribe of Benjamin, named Mordecai son of Jair, the son of Shimei, the son of Kish, who had been carried into exile from Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, among those taken captive with Jehoiachin[a] king of Judah. Mordecai had a cousin named Hadassah, whom he had brought up because she had neither father nor mother. This young woman, who was also known as Esther, had a lovely figure and was beautiful. Mordecai had taken her as his own daughter when her father and mother died.

When the king’s order and edict had been proclaimed, many young women were brought to the citadel of Susa and put under the care of Hegai. Esther also was taken to the king’s palace and entrusted to Hegai, who had charge of the harem. She pleased him and won his favor. Immediately he provided her with her beauty treatments and special food. He assigned to her seven female attendants selected from the king’s palace and moved her and her attendants into the best place in the harem.

10 Esther had not revealed her nationality and family background, because Mordecai had forbidden her to do so. 11 Every day he walked back and forth near the courtyard of the harem to find out how Esther was and what was happening to her.

Esther 1 Part 2–What to Do with a Rebellious Queen

Xerxes was in a cunundrum, He loved his beautiful wife, but, her behavior was so over the line that he had to look at the situation as a King, not as a Husband. Vashti’s behavior would have an impact on all wives in the kingdom.  If she was left unpunished, women all over the kingdom would become rebellious to their husbands and chaos would ensue.  So after meeting with his leadership,it was determned that the kingdom would need a new queen and queen Vashti would be exiled.  No more glamour, no more pampering, no more grand parties and never allowed in the presence of the king again.  It was not the way she expected to spend her days, but, actions do have consequence.
 
When we live our lives, we are faced daily with opportunities to trust the Lord and follow Him closely. We are also tempted to “Help God Out” or carry on independent of the Lord’s leadership. If we do that, there is always chaos and ultimately we have to bear the consequences that come with that behavior. If we will, follow the Lord and trust Him, we will not have to bear the consequence of sin.  If however, we refuse, the consequences can be dramatic and permanent.  That is why  we must seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness then all these things will be added to you. Matthew 6:33. 
 
When we seek Him, He will guide us and He will bless us and He will prepare, provide and protect His own. That is why we must humble ourselves and walk in his path.  If we will, our lives will be full, complete and rich with His spirit.  Help me, Lord to trust in you and follow you closely.
 
God Bless You

Since it was customary for the king to consult experts in matters of law and justice, he spoke with the wise men who understood the times 14 and were closest to the king—Karshena, Shethar, Admatha, Tarshish, Meres, Marsena and Memukan, the seven nobles of Persia and Media who had special access to the king and were highest in the kingdom.

15 “According to law, what must be done to Queen Vashti?” he asked. “She has not obeyed the command of King Xerxes that the eunuchs have taken to her.”

16 Then Memukan replied in the presence of the king and the nobles, “Queen Vashti has done wrong, not only against the king but also against all the nobles and the peoples of all the provinces of King Xerxes. 17 For the queen’s conduct will become known to all the women, and so they will despise their husbands and say, ‘King Xerxes commanded Queen Vashti to be brought before him, but she would not come.’ 18 This very day the Persian and Median women of the nobility who have heard about the queen’s conduct will respond to all the king’s nobles in the same way. There will be no end of disrespect and discord.

19 “Therefore, if it pleases the king, let him issue a royal decree and let it be written in the laws of Persia and Media, which cannot be repealed, that Vashti is never again to enter the presence of King Xerxes. Also let the king give her royal position to someone else who is better than she. 20 Then when the king’s edict is proclaimed throughout all his vast realm, all the women will respect their husbands, from the least to the greatest.”

21 The king and his nobles were pleased with this advice, so the king did as Memukan proposed. 22 He sent dispatches to all parts of the kingdom, to each province in its own script and to each people in their own language, proclaiming that every man should be ruler over his own household, using his native tongue.