Big Plans: Cutting Down Trees

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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. 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.” Then one of them said, “Won’t you please come with your servants?” “I will,” Elisha replied. And he went with them. They went to the Jordan and began to cut down trees. Continue reading “Big Plans: Cutting Down Trees”

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From Empty to Excess

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As the widow found in coming to Elisha (2 Kings 4), God would not be held hostage by the expectations around her, he instead would set her free with the exceptions; however, in the end it would all come down to whether she would allow herself to go from…

Empty to Excess! (2 Kings 4:5-7) 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.”

Elisha didn’t magically give her enough oil to pay her bills; instead he reveals God’s plan was to allow her willingness to step out in faith to match his provision. God wasn’t something to be possessed, a check to cash, but took on flesh to be pursued!   Think about it, if she would have only gone out, sheepishly, nervously, uncertainly asking for a few jars—3 or 4 from only her closet friends because she was nervous of the result—nothing would have changed her situation for a lifetime. It was in the midst of her problem that God’s provision was given in proportion to her willingness to trust Him! Continue reading “From Empty to Excess”

Personal and Deepening

Not only are time and thought key components of a great gift, but I bet you’ll agree that the best gifts ever are:

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Personal and Deepen Our Relationship—Over the course of years, you probably are like me, you’ve gotten fancy and expensive gifts from people—gifts that are electric and fancy, require directions and set ups, and yet for some reason the gifts that I have saved are the ones that are worth externally nearly nothing—they are the ones that months after Father’s Day still hang on the fridge declaring me the Best Dad—written in crayons and outside of the lines. Or for some of you this is where the coupon book comes in handy—homemade coupon book to give your wife who stays at home with the kids a full day for relaxation, or a day to just read something other than picture books. Continue reading “Personal and Deepening”

Looking Like Jesus

It is as we are grafted into Christ—accepting him as Lord and Savior—that we are cleansed through the sacrifice of Christ-from dormancy to dramatic harvest, through:

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 Conformity to Christ (John 15:9-11) “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.

You can hear Christ revealing a harvest of the Spirit in and through us but not from us. Yet, so many people are spending their lives drunk searching for the next shot of happiness, while dangerous low on joy-needing life to be perfect to feel the presence of God.  Somehow, we have fallen into a trap of thinking that just identifying with a church is enough, or just claiming Christ on Facebook is the goal, when all along God offers us an identity in Him rather than just asking us to identify with Him.  Jesus has in store a transcendent change for us—in Verse 11. Happiness is fragile, joy is fruitful. Continue reading “Looking Like Jesus”

CAUTION

Sometimes, we wonder if commitment is worthwhile…wouldn’t it be safer to play it safe and to just keep your options open, being…

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CAUTIOUS— Caution could have very easily started seeping into Simeon’s life, as the months of waiting gave way to years. Have you ever been there? Faithful and then you find yourself falling flat after losing a child or jobless. Faithful and then facing financial ruin or faithful and then feeling rolled over in the world and those caution flags go up. Yet as Mary and Joseph approach, he found his commitment was well invested.  (Luke 2:27b-32) When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, 28 Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying: 29 “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace. 30 For my eyes have seen your salvation, 31 which you have prepared in the sight of all nations: 32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.” Continue reading “CAUTION”

Trading Places

Why should you care? Why should you give up even a penny, or an ounce of time, or give a fragment of focus? Why should compassion ever compete with your comfort?

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 It is in the aftermath of Jesus engagement that we find our answer:

TRADING PLACES: Mark 1: 45 Instead he went out and began to talk freely, spreading the news. As a result, Jesus could no longer enter a town openly but stayed outside in lonely places. Yet the people still came to him from everywhere.

Despite Jesus telling him to keep quiet, the man had experienced something so powerful and tangible that he couldn’t contain himself.  His God moment resulted in a persistent Gratitude.  The guy wasn’t being paid to spread the news of Jesus. He realized that Jesus had traded out his ailment with Jesus awesome power! Here is what’s crazy in the aftermath, Jesus ends up in the very place that the man used to be confined–in the lonely places. The leprous were sent outside of camp, and it is Jesus that will one day carry his cross to another lonely place to trade places with us.  This isn’t just someone else’s story; it has the potential to become our story. Paul writes in  Romans 4:25 “He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.”  Jesus didn’t save us via Facebook message, he didn’t save us through a cosmic decree finger-painted in the clouds, he saved us by trading places with us through an incarnation. He allows us to experience compassion before calling us to be compassionate.  Jesus became nothing, so that you could become something in the lives of others

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Now or Never

Earbuds blaring, makes it hard for actually hearing the words that come from your mouth .

Going through the motion, 1 foot in front of the other while our hearts seem to be for another .

Who is your conductor, for whom do you lift your voice and where you find your rest?

Constantly we are tempted by the sirens offering comfort which in turn becomes our soma, nothing more than an ongoing coma. My Lord and my God some mock others marvel, mesmerized by a mission that goes beyond each moment.

Lord wake me up from the silence, playing a mime is just a waste of my time , flailing around without changing the times.

How easily we lose sight this whole planet doesn’t revolve around us but that doesn’t stop us from the fight to devise it…

Before you blow your final trumpet let us be found making more disciples, dying like a seed in the garden trying to produce an abundant harvest.

Finally a plan with a greater purpose that exceeds all my contrivance. The final restoration not postponed in your slowness but we saw patience purchased at a price of the Prince of Peace, when it was now if never you responded.