What begins as an exciting vision—with big plans, eager hands, and an exciting dream of what is to come can sometimes feel more like…
Swinging without an ax head (2 Kings 6:5) 5 As one of them was cutting down a tree, the iron ax head fell into the water. “Oh no, my lord!” he cried out. “It was borrowed!”
Literally meaning “it was begged” for. During the reign of King Saul, the Israelites had to go to the Philistines to get all their iron plows, sickles, and axes sharpened, and still after 200 years, iron was precious and the cost was steep. There were no extra resources in this vision, unlike when you are putting together something from Ikea. All of a sudden there is a disconnection between what the prophet has and what he needs. With the loss of the iron ax head, suddenly he was facing a debt he was unable to pay, he was staring into the dark water which probably felt like a black hole, he would be hit with a bone-crushing debt- no more being a prophet, it would be time to become a slave. An ax head, something that seemed so small, and yet without it the entire project comes to a standstill. The vision has devolved into a vexing problem.
I was reminded of the problem of disconnection just this week. I was on the phone with someone who had called for advice and so I listened, probably for 15 minutes, listening intently with ideas formulating in my head, and when they opened the floor, it was one of my finest moments, the words made sense, I was surprising myself, thoughts were crisp and flowing, for a minute, minute 15 it was like I was a Gatlin-gun of good ideas. Continue reading “Disconnected”
Obstacles to vision aren’t a sing to give up, they are a reminder to give in to God’s leading.
7 Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Come near to God and he will come near to you.
You probably don’t have to struggle too hard to go back to where you went from everything seemingly perfect to falling flat, from well planned to a painful episode. Maybe it is a career trajectory that took a nose dive, a divorce left your wave after wave of friendship lost at sea, or one mistake which leaves you fighting to get back your reputation. Today, we are going to face the wobbling cake moments head on as we continue in our sermon series GREATER THINGS as we look at 2 Kings 6:1-7. We’ve been following the miraculous moments in Elisha’s ministry- as he has confronted false gods, half-hardheartedness, a lack of faith, and today we go from our wreckage to God’s divine recovery plan. Even when it seems impossible.
We don’t oftentimes start off wobbling, we start off with…
BIG PLANS: Cutting Down Trees (2 Kings 6:1-4) The company of the prophets said to Elisha, “Look, the place where we meet with you is too small for us. 2 Let us go to the Jordan, where each of us can get a pole; and let us build a place there for us to meet.” And he said, “Go.” 3 Then one of them said, “Won’t you please come with your servants?” “I will,” Elisha replied. 4 And he went with them. They went to the Jordan and began to cut down trees. Continue reading “Big Plans: Cutting Down Trees”
The mission for three servants was simple: Provide a cure to Naaman! The first servant came upon her assignment almost by accident as a…
Young Girl who was on the surface was POORLY PLACED, but found out she was PERFECTLY SITUATED (2 Kings 5:2-3)– 2 Now bands of raiders from Aram (Israel and Aram were ethnically related), had gone out and had taken captive a young girl from Israel, and she served Naaman’s wife. 3 She said to her mistress, “If only my master would see the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy.”
Talk about a poor placement for a young girl who was taken from her homeland, and family- what we would call her a non-enemy combatant—a treasure for an Aram raider who went about inflicting terror on the Israelites, leaving them constantly in fear of losing their livelihood, their family, and their life. It is telling that she is a nameless servant, without rights or identity to her captors. It is in horrible placement that she could have avoided bringing up the name Elisha or approached the assignment with apathy—why help these people, “they ruined my life! Let his life come to rot!” and yet from the beginning she shows herself poorly placed, but perfectly situated to speak truth into the life of someone who didn’t yet know God. Continue reading “Poorly Placed, Perfectly Situated”
Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. 2 Jesus answered, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? 3 I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. 4 Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? 5 I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.” /Luke 13:1-5
In the face of life’s tragedy we want an answer to the question of “WHY?” A day ago, we got news of a crushing loss that struck a family we met through ministry. It is shocking, horrifying, and the question rumbles all the louder: “WHY LORD?”
As unsatisfying as it is sometimes, we know the answer to the why. An imperfect world gives us imperfection. In the pain of loss, as we seek Jesus, he refocuses us. Instead of being lost in the question of why, he calibrates us to wake up to the question of: “WHAT WILL YOU DO IN RESPONSE!”
When are each of us going to wake up to our own need for repentance? When is tomorrow too long to wait? Today you have enough time to stop and come back to Jesus. Take a few minutes right now and allow the light of God to shine into the dark places, turn back to holiness, and let’s repent instead of perish.
“What God knows about you is more importnat than what people think about you.”
Psalms 118:9-It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in princes (NIV, both stated in People of the Second Chance)
Tim Keller: “You don’t really know Jesus is all you need until Jesus is all you have.” (5).
“Christianity teaches that, contra fatalism, suffering is overwhelming; contra Buddhism, suffering is real; contra karma, suffering is often unfair; but contra secularism, suffering is meaningful. There is a purpose to it, and if faced rightly, it can drive us like a nail deep into the love of God and into more stability and spiritual power than you can imagine.” (30).
Waking With God through Pain and Suffering
After living with less the Shummanite woman faces loss–something so common we expected it and yet at the same time long for more. It was her rejoicing turned mute: going cold, dark, and dead—as we actually begin …
Living Through Loss (2 Kings 4:18-20, 25-28) 18 The child grew, and one day he went out to his father, who was with the reapers. 19 He said to his father, “My head! My head!” His father told a servant, “Carry him to his mother.” 20 After the servant had lifted him up and carried him to his mother, the boy sat on her lap until noon, and then he died. A miraculous birth now amounts to a mountain of pain! Alfred Lord Tennyson famously penned, “Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all… 25 So she set out and came to the man of God at Mount Carmel. When he saw her in the distance, the man of God said to his servant Gehazi, “Look! There’s the Shunammite! 26 Run to meet her and ask her, ‘Are you all right? Is your husband all right? Is your child all right?’” “Everything is all right,” she said. 27 When she reached the man of God at the mountain, she took hold of his feet. Gehazi came over to push her away, but the man of God said, “Leave her alone! She is in bitter distress, but the Lord has hidden it from me and has not told me why.” 28 “Did I ask you for a son, my lord?” she said. “Didn’t I tell you ‘Don’t raise my hopes’?” Continue reading “Living Through Loss”
As we continue in our sermon series called Greater Things following the miraculous moments of Elisha’s ministry. He decluttered the past to make room for a greater future. He ferociously followed his master until he was ready to lead. He changed the course of kings, and last week we saw him change the life of one solitary woman who was facing disaster. A woman who felt like she had nothing, but found that what she overlooked was what God used to overcome. This morning in 2 Kings 4: 8-37 we go from a woman who had nothing to the other end of the spectrum, to a woman who seemingly has more than enough.
Background: It all started as Elisha’s work had him traveling throughout the land administering his duties, like Lincoln rode through IL on his legal circuit. Elisha would go from Mt. Carmel to Shunem, south to Gilgal, and each time he arrived in Shunem he received the hospitality—welcomed into the home of the Shummanite woman and her husband. It is one thing to get a home cooked meal, good conversation and friendship, but this couple went further, building on to their house, giving Elisha a motel 6 experience—“We will leave the light on for you!” From the outside the Shummanite looked content, like she had everything she wanted or needed, but God was about behind the curtain she was actually:
Living with Less (2 Kings 4:13, 16-17) 13 Elisha said to him, “Tell her, ‘You have gone to all this trouble for us. Now what can be done for you? Can we speak on your behalf to the king or the commander of the army?’” She replied, “I have a home among my own people.” 14 “What can be done for her?” Elisha asked. Gehazi said, “She has no son, and her husband is old.”15 Then Elisha said, “Call her.” So he called her, and she stood in the doorway. 16 “About this time next year,” Elisha said, “you will hold a son in your arms.” “No, my lord!” she objected. “Please, man of God, don’t mislead your servant!”
The Shummanite woman was comfortable and generous. She was willing to do almost anything for Elisha—share her wealth, add on to her house, give him a room fully furnished with a lamp, bed, and table, but she wasn’t sure she wanted God to do anything to her! Continue reading “Living With Less”
Listening is so difficult because it is a moment to moment dying to self. Muffling that immature voice inside which screams silently as others speak: “Wait! Hear me! See me! Notice me! Acknowledge me!” Instead the other person has a voice, grows in significance, and increases in value.
James 1:19 declared, “Brothers and sisters, take note of this: everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry.”
Investing in others begins by hearing the other person. They matter to God and therefore should matter to us.