Wednesday, May 20, 2020

2 Kings 2, we must carry on

2 Kings 2 tells about when Elijah was taken up to heaven with chariots of fire leaving Elisha behind.  Elisha knew for days that Elijah would leave him on the earth.  For three days, the sons of the prophets told him so.  "I know," he said, "but I will not leave him."  Even when Elijah told him to leave, he would not leave.  But Elijah promised him through the Holy Spirit that if Elisha saw him go up into heaven, then he could have a double portion of Elijah's spirit as he continued as his successor.

I think of the three spiritual giants who have passed away since 2017: RC Sproul, Billy Graham, and Ravi Zacharias.  Those three men have made Jesus's name great in ways unprecedented, and who will carry on their ministries without them.  The good thing in the case of Ligonier is that RC's role was carried on to many men so that people wouldn't look to just one guy for their spiritual nourishment, but to the Lord.

I remember years ago while my mother was sick from the cancer that she died from, she had directed VBS, painted the backdrop for the skits, led music, but she could not do that in 2008 because of her cancer.  I lead the music, and Denise Martin and others put together a background that worked, and it showed that one person's ministry can carry on without them, and sometimes go even better.  Without me looking to and shadowing my mom, I could actually shine on my own in her spirit, even while she was still alive.

The good thing is that Elijah did not have to go through death.  He did leave Elisha behind.  There was a point where Elisha could follow him no further, and as much as it grieved Elisha, he would have to be okay with that.  However, as Elisha was a prototype of Jesus, his ministry would be much better.  Immediately, he goes to a city where the water had been made bitter, and he healed the water.

And then, to show that you don't mess with God's man, and that being a precursor to Jesus means a bit of assassination, some young men seriously taunt Elisha and his bald head.  Elisha calls out to God who sends she bears to maul the guys.  We may wonder what is so bad about mocking someone's bald head, but in that culture, it was a serious insult.  It seriously undermined his ministry.  And God told us all that we would die if we sinned.  If he sends that death immediately, that is his judgment.  I sit and wonder why I'm still alive.  I've had many brushes with death, but God has kept me alive.  And he kept Elisha alive to carry out his ministry on earth.

And we must go on carrying on the ministries of those we loved not for their sakes, but for God who mercifully gives ups breath and wakes us up every morning. 

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Proverbs 3:21-27 Safety for my soul

Proverbs 3:21-27

Through the years, you begin to realize that although Christians struggle with sin, catastrophe, and disaster beyond their control, generally the Proverbs prove true.  If you don't let wisdom and understanding out of your sight, then, if nothing else, your soul is protected from the eternal effects of sin.  They aren't what save you.  Jesus saves you.  But Jesus is wisdom and understanding at its fullest.  Never let Jesus out of your sight, and don't follow anything that will lead you away from his Word.

"They will be a garland to grace your neck."  Following Jesus causes you to stand out.  Even without trying, people will know you are a Christian.  And being true Christians who follow the word and eat and drink it every day are what caused me to have my closest friends.  I was drawn to them because they truly care about the Lord and honoring him.  I can face anything knowing that not only Jesus, but they are on my side.

"Then you will walk in safety and your feet will not stumble."  Yes.  I don't live perfectly.  I've made mistakes that have taken me years off course.  But generally, I have avoided diseases and other disasters because I took God's Word seriously.

"When you lie down, you won't be afraid.  When you lie down, your sleep will be sweet."  I know for sure, that if I breathe my last breath, I will be in Jesus's presence, and it will be a joyous union.  I can sleep peacefully knowing that.  God has not guaranteed another day of life on this planet.  But if I go home to be with him right now, it will be home, and not in the presence of his anger.  Can you say that?

I also have no fear of the disaster that will overtake the wicked because the Lord keeps my feet from being snared.  In all that, I need to do the first thing and not let Jesus out of my sight.  I can walk on water as long as I keep looking at him and not get spooked by the waves around me.

Monday, May 4, 2020

2 Kings 1, and me being a broken record

2 Kings 1 tells the account of Elijah's last message to Ahab's family and how his sons never learned the lessons taught them much to their judgment.

His son Ahaziah is now king, and he falls through the lattice in his house and gets maimed.  He decides to send messengers to the god of Ekron to see if he will recover.  Elijah intercepts them and says, "Is it because there is no God in Israel that you are going off to consult Baal-Zebub the god of Ekron?"  Because they still flagrantly act like there is no god and go off to find someone who will give them a quick answer, king Ahaziah is going to die.

When the messengers come back to the king, he asks them to describe the man.  He knows immediately that it is Elijah.  He sends fifty men to kill him, but Elijah calls down fire that consumes them.  After the third set of fifty man, the leader trembles before Elijah in repentance.  Elijah comes with them, tells the king the same thing, and later on the king dies.  His brother Jotham takes the throne, and I assume in the later accounts of Elisha, that he is the king mentioned.

After years and years of prophets, God sent Jesus to be the last true prophet.  Hebrews 1:1-2, "In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe."  After Jesus ascended back in to heaven, his apostles finished up his message as they built the church, and then they died.  Then John, the last apostle, wrote Revelation.  At the end in 22:18-19 he says, "I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this scroll: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to that person the plagues described in this scroll.  And if anyone takes words away from this scroll of prophecy, God will take away from that person any share in the tree of life and in the Holy City, which are described in this scroll."

It is amazing how people to this day, sometimes myself included, look outside of God's word for quick answers to their problems.  We look to people who claim to speak the very words of Jesus or popular novels that portray God in ways more comfortable to the reader.  But let me tell you, God could not have done more to reach down to our level than sending Jesus as a man.  And he has told us everything we need to know for life and salvation in the Bible.  If you have have a question that only God can answer, you need to read the Bible.  He will come back to you when the time is right.  He speaks through the Bible and he often uses other people who also read the Bible to speak through you.  But if he speaks through them, they will probably not tell you that they are giving you the very words of Jesus.  For example, I'm pretty sure God is leading me away from CCS to who knows where, but I'm not going to tell you that God told me that.  And who knows, I may be back with bells and whistles in August.  But if the Bible does not forbid or command something, then I'm free to make my own decision.  Though in my example, I'm basing my conviction based on my own hurts, habits, and hangups and my desire to please God with who I am and to not be in a toxic environment.

Even so, I need to stay in the Bible for my daily bread and my daily steps to take.  I can't go off and consult a horoscope or take a personality test.  And I certainly can't base my decisions on strong feelings that won't go away.  I need to stay in the Word and possibly consult people that I trust who also stay in the Word to pray with me and give me advice.  And that's pretty much why if you tell me God told you to do something, I won't call you a liar, but I will seriously question whether he told you that or not and see if you are mistaken.

There is a God, and he does speak.  He's spoken through his Son and he continues to speak through his Spirit flowing through the living Word.  Rely on that and nobody else.

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Proverbs 3 and longings this world won't satisfy

In the past couple of weeks, I spent some time in Proverbs 3:13-20.  The thing about this section is that Solomon personifies wisdom as a lady who comes alongside God in creating and ruling the world, especially in verses 19-20.  And she sounds so much like Jesus that liberal protestants have made this cult around "Sophia", as if the Bible was portraying Jesus in female pronouns.

Let me tell you, the Bible has never portrayed any member of the Trinity in female terms.  Some may argue that the Greek word for Holy Spirit is female, but it's not.  Our God only presents himself in male pronouns and he sent Jesus as a man.

On a side note, this does not really have to do with a conversation I had the other day where I was saying, "God is not a woman".  I more meant that he's not overly emotional and sappy, and that I feel like the Message Bible is.  But it's not a bad leap of logic.

Anyway, wisdom sounds so much like Jesus, however, the it would not be in appropriate to change "wisdom" for Jesus and to change the pronouns to male.

Let's do that starting at verse 13: Blessed are those who find Jesus, who gain understanding of him.  He is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold.  He is more precious than rubies and nothing you desire can compare with him.  Long life is in his right hand and in his left hand are riches and honor.  His ways are pleasant ways and his paths lead to peace.  He is a tree of life to those who take hold of him, and those who hold fast to him are blessed.

Sometimes it seems to good to be true.  His ways don't always seem peaceful, and if you follow him, it seems that the world will forsake you, and sometimes, often times, godly people die young.  But we must remember that the Bible's promises are mostly for the life to come in Christ's complete kingdom when he comes back to earth.  In that era, we will live forever and not lack anything.  There will be no holes in our hearts because our Bread of Life is here in the flesh.

It brings to mind the concept from CS Lewis, that if we find that nothing in this world truly satisfies, even the best things, then it could be because we were made for another place.  And it's true.  God has given me a house, a husband, an active church, opportunities to serve him, friends to fellowship with.  None of them are enough.  They weren't meant to be.  They were meant to point to him.  And if I lose sight of him and focus on them, I find he slowly takes them away, and I'm heartbroken again.

I was listening to a lecture by Joel Beeke of Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary.  He talked about how Joseph of Genesis sent wagons of riches to his father Jacob to show that he is alive and living in Egypt.  What if Jacob saw those riches and said, "I'll just settle here in Canaan and enjoy these gifts."?  No, Jacob wants to go see his son who he thought was dead.  These things in life are supposed to make us long for our Lord who we have never seen.  Sometimes the idea of him gets lost because we have not seen him and I start focusing on this person over here or that house over there.  No, and I have to tell myself this over and over because I forget daily, they are meant to point to Jesus, and only he will satisfy those longings that they don't quite quench.