Living Through Loss

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 …

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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”

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Living With Less

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:

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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”

2 Ears, 1 Mouth

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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.

 

Greater Things- First Day

In the midst of the everyday comes the opportunity for something different, something out of the ordinary…not an everyday, but a…

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First Day (1 Kings 19:19c) Elijah went up to him and threw his cloak around him.

It doesn’t sound like anything really that noteworthy, but in this Jewish culture the cloak represents the calling. (Like the Wild West, if you got deputized with a badge.) The cloak in the same way was used as protection in bad weather, bedding on rough ground, a pad to sit on, luggage to get around, a pledge to pay a debt, was actually torn to pieces as a sign of joining in the grief of another. God started to prepare a transition. Elisha would be the next great prophet of God! This day was unlike any before it or after it, this was the First Day of a new adventure, a mission on behalf of God. Elisha’s response is so interesting- 20 Elisha then left his oxen and ran after Elijah. “Let me kiss my father and mother goodbye,” he said, “and then I will come with you.”  This calling is an interruption of life as Elisha knew it and as a result there is a tension between what he knows and the unknown before him; between the past and this potentially amazing future; what is good and what might be greater. Continue reading “Greater Things- First Day”

Anticipated but Never Obsolete

Time and thought, personal and deepening, and sacrifice all go into making the perfect gift, but if you remember back to build of Christmas morning, you know that a great gift is one that is:

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 Highly Anticipated. Remember the rush of repeating to your parents your gift preferences, written list for Santa and an extra for mom and dad, aunts and uncles, strangers at the mall who will listen—letting them know exactly what you want.

In fact, I want your help here, let’s look back at the most anticipated gifts of the last 50 plus years and if you remember the gift, wanted one, go ahead and clap or yell. 2016’s most anticipated gift is Star Wars themed BB-8 Droid, looking like R2D2. 2010—IPAD, 2005—XBOX 360, 2000—RAZOR Scooter, 1996- TICKLE ME ELMO, 1992—BARNEY DOLLS, 1989—Nintendo Gameboy, 1982-Cabbage Patch Dolls, 1978- Hungry Hungry Hippos, 1975—If you’ve spent way too much this holiday season you’ll be jealous on this one—most anticipated gift was the PET ROCK, 1963—EZ Bake Oven…Here is the issue that starts to probably become pretty obvious—each of these gifts despite being the best gift ever in their year—are now in a trash heap, antique shop, stuck aimlessly in someone’s basement collecting dust, now they are all obsolete—unless you need a good rock. The BEST Gift Ever is one that is anticipated but never obsolete.

In Acts 4:12—Luke makes a mighty proclamation about the longevity of God’s gift of Christ– 12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” Continue reading “Anticipated but Never Obsolete”

Requires Sacrifice

With each criterion we get closer to being able to judge a so-so gift from the great gift, a way of determining what the BEST GIFT EVER really means. As you think about gifts that stick with you most of the time the greatest gifts:

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 Requires Sacrifice—What instantly comes to mind is the story the Gift of the Magi-where a poor young husband and wife each sacrifice something they highly value to get something for the other. Jim, sacrifices his most cherished possession, his grandfather and father’s golden watch…Della sacrifices her cherished beautiful brown locks. The author O. Henry summed up his decree: “And here I have lamely related to you the uneventful chronicle of two foolish children in a flat who most unwisely sacrificed for each other the greatest treasures of their house. But in a last word to the wise of these days let it be said that of all who give gifts these two were the wisest. O all who give and receive gifts, such as they are wisest. Everywhere they are wisest. They are the magi.” Thomas A. Kempis-“A wise lover values not so much the gift of the lover as the love of the giver.”

Sacrifice becomes a standing of our value in the eyes of the other person. (1 John 4:9-10)  This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Even before the cross, Jesus sacrificed for us: Eternally living outside of time and space to enduring the agony of being bound, the all-powerful word was forced to learn each word as a baby, perfectly and fully God to suddenly also fully man, from at peace with the Father to taking the punishment befitting others, creator suddenly subject to the laws of creation. Continue reading “Requires Sacrifice”

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.