What is it?

Looking through my journals and email, I found out that I was wishing for a lot of good things to happen. I claimed to be “hoping,” but I did not/could not be confident the desired outcome would happen. That is not what hope is about. Hope is more than wishing. [Want to know more? Click here.]

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Who is in Control

Looking out my office window, I wonder what’s going on “out there?” I’m not talking about the squirrels running all over the place or the birds flitting around the bird feeders. I’m talking about the whole wide world out there.
I do not understand the intricacies of the way the world works. I know I am not an eyewitness to all that is happening. But, things – miracles even – are happening. Everyday the sun comes up. The rain or the sunshine blesses us. And doctors and scientists discover new treatments, cures and preventatives. I have to remember that all this is happening under the influence of a Mighty God.
I was impressed by these thoughts as I read and studied 2 Kings 2, and looked back on the things Elijah, the prophet of God, was able to do because of God’s empowerment. In 1 Kings, I read that he withheld the rain and created a drought in the lands of the 10 northern tribes of Israel. Then God told him to end the drought and a deluge fell upon the area. Elijah challenged the false prophets by making a sacrifice for their gods to consume, which never happened. Then Elijah prepared his sacrifice for God including drenching it all with buckets and buckets and buckets of water. God consumed the soggy mess right down to the ground, which was dry at the end. God protected Israel, in spite of their lack of faithfulness, from invading armies. Now in 2 Kings, Elijah is able to confront an evil and angry king with God’s full protection. He divided the water of the Jordan River with his cloak (reminding me of the Red Sea being parted by Moses’ staff). And he trained up a successor, Elisha. And finally, Elijah was taken into the heavens on a wind being escorted by a blazing chariot, to be seen no more.
What does all that have to do with what I see (and don’t see) out my window? I need to sit in amazement at the wonderful things God has done, is doing, and will do. He’s a powerful God whose plans are not yet fulfilled on this earth or in the heavens. As Habakkuk encouraged the people during his time as prophet:
“Look among the nations! Observe!
Be astonished! Wonder!
Because I am doing something in your days—
You would not believe if you were told.”
(Habakkuk 1:5)
So, I will look out my window expecting to see God’s handiwork, but I will also be looking for what God is doing on a much bigger scale. Just as He has always done, He is doing things we cannot imagine, and we should be amazed.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

I Don't Want To

I don’t want to!! Someone gives me a command (or even just a suggestion) and I instantly fall into thinking, “Don’t tell me what to do!” Today as my Bible study partner and I reviewed our notes and the commentator’s notes for 2 Kings 1, I saw that I am not the only one who thinks like that. Maybe you also fall into that line of thinking when someone “tells” you what to do.
As part of the introduction to the book of 2 Kings, the commentator reviewed the history of Israel, starting with Moses on Mount Sinai getting the Ten Commandments. He actually cited two other commentators:
In a new book produced by Walter C. Kaiser, Jr. called Recovering the Unity of the Bible, he calls upon [David Noel] Freedman’s astute observation that essentially all the Biblical books occurring after Mt. Sinai and leading up to 2
 Kings record Israel’s breaking all of the 10 Commandments that are essentially the founding principles that forms the basis for Israel’s existence as a Kingdom of God.
He goes on to assert that as a nation, Israel, sequentially, and in the order on the tablets Moses received, broke every one of the commandments by the time they got to the point in history of 2 Kings. The first two commandments were actually broken at the very moment the commands were given. Exodus 20 gives a list of the Ten Commandments starting in verse 3. Verses 3-4 say,
You shall have no other gods before Me. You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth.
The whole story of how they broke the first two commands is in Exodus 32:1-10. The people became impatient waiting for Moses to end his private conference with God, so they took things into their own hands. They formed the molten calf (Exodus 32:4), thus placing another god before Jehovah God and having an image/likeness of something on the earth as their god.
My thoughts: this is human nature then and now. Remember my opening paragraph? For the most part, we don’t like to be told what to do. Even though I profess to be a follower of Christ and diligently try to apply the commands I get from the Holy Spirit, I often fail. In order to truly be a follower of Christ I need to make specific applications that, little by little, lead me to be changed into the character of Jesus. Yet, I often rebel and disobey God of the exact commands He’s giving me.
For instance, for over a year now, I’ve frequently come across in my Bible reading, studying, and highlighting the command to pray – specific and consistent prayer. Yet, each day as I set about my activities for the day, I do not put on my schedule specific and devoted time to pray. I am praying short and pointed prayers throughout each day, but there are some long-term, ongoing requests I tend to forget about. (They are written down in a notebook, which I should also be regularly adding to.)
It’s just too easy to rebel and say to myself either, “Don’t tell me what to do!” or “I don’t want to do that!” Fortunately, even though God’s desire is for us to obey every command in the Bible (Old and New Testaments), He forgives those who fail when they confess to Him and try again. Unfortunately, the nation of Israel was led by men who did not make following the Ten Commandments (or any of God’s commandments except when convenient) a priority for them or their nations. So, one by one (and repeatedly) they broke all Ten Commandments, which we will see in 2 Kings led to God’s judgment. We will begin to look at some of that judgment next week.