The “MEAL” Makes the Difference

SCRIPTURE PASSAGE:  2 KINGS 4:38-41 The Message Bible (MSG)

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[38] Elisha went back down to Gilgal.  There was a famine there.  While he was consulting with the guild of prophets, he told his servant  “Put a large pot on the fire and cook up some stew for the prophets.

[38-40] One of the men went out into the field to get some herbs; he came across a wild vine and picked gourds from it, filling his gunny sack.  He brought them back, sliced them up, and put them in the stew, even though no one knew what kind of plant it was.  The stew was served up for the men to eat.  They started to eat and then exclaimed,  “Death is in the pot, O man of God!”  Nobody could eat it.

Elisha ordered,  “Get me some meal.”  Then he sprinkled it into the stew pot.

[41]  “Now serve it up to the men,” he said.  They ate it, and it was just fine–nothing wrong with that stew!

A SIMPLE BIBLE MESSAGE PRESENTED WITH THREE MAIN POINTS –

#1.  There is a FAMINE in the land.

#2.  Beware of POISONOUS STEW, and

#3.  The REMEDY if you are consumed by poisonous stew or bitter water.

There are two remedies found in the word for bitter things:

#1.  The Cross, 

#2.  The Word of God.

When there is DEATH in the pot, and the water is undesirable to drink, God has a CURE for us.

I want you to look at this passage of Scripture in the OT, where the Prophets literally had a poisonous stew, and how Elisha the prophet remedied the situation.

From the Literal Story, Spiritual Application Can Be found –

Sometimes words and deeds can be spoken to us and done to us that if not dealt with can produce negative consequences.

Keeping things in context, Elisha was in the presence of fellow prophets in Gilgal, which could be identified today, a church meeting.  They were learning from Elisha about the POWER of God.

There Was FAMINE In The Land –

Famine was often seen as a sign of JUDGMENT in the OT, where in Ezekiel 36:29 God says:

[29] I will save you from all your uncleanness. I will call for grain and make it plentiful and will not bring famine on you.  (NIV)

It can also be seen in the CURSES found in Deuteronomy 28:23-24:

[23] The heavens over your head shall be brass and the earth under you shall be iron.  [24] The Lord shall make the rain of your land powdered soil and dust; from the heavens it shall come down upon you until you are destroyed.  (AMP)

The physical reflects the spiritual as seen in Amos 8:11:

[11] Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord God, when I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but [a famine] for hearing the words of the Lord.  (AMP)

We are living in a society where the Word of God is scarce, even in the Church.  So it becomes our responsibility to SHARE what God has given us in the Bible.  This is the reason why I write a weekly Blog, sharing the Good News and as a constant reminder, I have a bible verse framed above my office desk:  Romans 10:15 ~

“How beautiful are the feet of messengers

who bring good news!”

FAMINE can be caused by materialism, scepticism (generally from others, even things we call ‘friends,’ for church, for God); the pursuit of those things that God hates from the lack of concern in reaching out to others with the LOVE of God.

The Community Stew in the Midst of Famine –

Lots of people contributed some things that were quite healthy and some things that were quite poisonous.

What I’m getting at here–there is a part of your personality that is just like the community stew and people are throwing things in the pot of who you are all the time.

Proverbs 4:23 reads,  “Keep and guard your heart with all vigilance and above all that you guard, for out of it flow the springs of life.”  (AMP)

GUARD YOUR HEART
GUARD YOUR HEART

There is a certain amount of diligence required to being sure that poisonous and ruinous thoughts and ideas don’t take hold on our inner man.

Every word you hear, everything you see, every idea someone expresses is an attempt to contaminate (put something into) the STEW of who you are.  And sometimes, the words we say to ourselves are more dangerous than the words others say to us.  Everything that happens to us, we want to put our own spin on it, categorize it, and put it into the STEW of who we are.

The Amazing Life of Moses –

Moses was a Jew, raised by Pharoah.  At 40 years old, he reconnects with his people.  One day, Moses sees an Egyptian beating a Jew mercilessly and he attacks and kills the man.  The authorities find out about what Moses has done and Moses flees into the desert wilderness…for 40 years!

He went from the PALACE to the DESERT.

Moses marries and has two children, GERSHON, and ELIEZER.  Gershon is Moses’ firstborn and his name means:  thrust out, kicked out, rejected, shut down.  Every time Moses called this boy by name, he was reminded of personal rejection, and personal failure:

“Hey, ‘thrust out’, dinner is on the table.”

Some people today are like Moses, continuously bringing up a failure or rejection.  THAT’S POISON IN YOUR STEW!

When you view your life through the lens of failures and the “what if’s…”, you will be eating a meal without nourishment and that is destructive.

Moses named his second child, “ELIEZER,” which means “God has helped me.”

Spiritually speaking, everything in our lives should be stored in our “ELIEZER FILE”, because the Bible says God causes ‘some’ THINGS–no, “ALL THINGS” to work together for good (Romans 8:28).

If we don’t learn to categorize life events through the lens of the Word of God, we can become very miserable and a depressed person.

Whatsoever is pure, Whatsoever is lovely… (Philippians 4:8).

How To Deal With Poison That May Be In Your Pot –

In this biblical account, Elisha is told the STEW IS POISONOUS and the remedy he prescribes is to throw some MEAL into the pot.

And that is what they did, and the CURE was effected.

MEAL has no known power.  Starch does have the ability to mitigate certain bitterness and acidity in foods, so it’s quite possible that this ingredient actually “fixed the problem”  [ Biblical Hermeneutics ].

But to change the NATURE OF THE STEW required a miracle of God!

There is got to be a spiritual lesson here.  Similar incidents of Jews wonderings in the desert wilderness came to my mind:

Exodus 15:23:  When they came to Marah, they could not drink its water because it was bitter.

Exodus 15:24:  So the people grumbled against Moses, saying, “What are we to drink?”

Exodus 15:25:  Then Moses cried out to the LORD, and the LORD showed him a piece of wood.  He threw it into the water, and the water became sweet.

The water supply was contaminated, much like THE POT OF STEW in 2 Kings.

In 2 Kings there was DEATH in the pot, and in Exodus 15, the situation was very similar, for undrinkable water in the desert is a death sentence.

Moses prays and God shows him a tree, which when cast into the waters made sweet and they were able to safely drink.

Now looking back to the passage from a Christian perspective, we can see that God is implying that THE CROSS can make a bitter life sweet again!  That’s not a big stretch.

Going back to 2 Kings, the REMEDY for DEATH IN THE POT IS “MEAL”

MEAL is flour, the basic ingredient for BREAD.

how-to-feed-your-faithBREAD is the common metaphor for the WORD OF GOD (John 6:22-71).  

And, the Word of God is a strong testing agent to counteract all the negative thoughts and ideas placed inside of us.

Sure makes me hungry!

WARNING:  Being Careful What We Put In The Stew Pot– what you let others throw in the pot!

  • Are you living with Gershom–“thrust out”?
  • Or Eliezer– God of the right hand?
  • Have you been allowing the enemy, Satan, put bitter gourds into the STEW of who you are in Christ Jesus?

We all need to ask God to help us FILTER all of life’s events through the MEAL of the WORD for it really does make a difference.

 


BLOG CREDITS:

Bible Names – Moses’ Sons:  http://www.biblestudytools.com/search/?g=gershom&s=References.

Bible Translations:  Amplified Bible (AMP), except where noted.

Photos:  Google Image Search.

Speak Up, I Can’t Hear You!

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The LORD is dealing with the prophet Elijah in this chapter of 1 Kings 19.

Elijah is overwrought and needs some real psychological help.

I do think there are times in some people’s lives that consulting a psychologist is needed.  Most of us, however, could solve our problems if we crawled on the couch of the LORD Jesus and told Him everything that was on our mind.  We wouldn’t have to be running around telling everybody else about our trouble and problems if we would just talk them over with Him.

1 Kings 19:11 (The Message Bible):

[11] Then he was told “Go stand on the mountain at attention before God.  God will pass by.”  A hurricane wind ripped through the mountains and shattered the rocks before God, but God wasn’t to be found in the wind; after the wind an earthquake, but God wasn’t in the earthquake.

First of all, there was a great and strong wind that split the mountains and broke rocks.

Oh, did Elijah love a good wind storm!

Then the mountains rolled and shook under his feet!

He loved it–he was that type of man.

And after the EARTHQUAKE, a FIRE; but the LORD was not in the FIRE; and after the FIRE,  “A STILL SMALL VOICE” (1 Kings 19:12).

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After the EARTHQUAKE there was FIRE.  After all, Elijah was the man who brought FIRE down from heaven on Mt. Carmel.  He like that too!

Now wait just one minute.  God wasn’t in the strong wind, nor the earthquake, nor the fire.  

It was after the fire that came a “still small voice.”

If there was one thing that Elijah didn’t like, it was a still small voice.  God was TEACHING Elijah an important lesson in life.

The battle wasn’t actually WON on top of Mt. Carmel by FIRE coming down from heaven.

God moves in mysterious and unpretentious ways.

God moves in a quiet way.  God uses little things to accomplish His purposes and not ours.  As someone has said,  “Great doors are swung on little hinges.”

God uses small things to open mighty doors.  That’s what Elijah had to learn.

GOD SOMETIMES WHISPERS –

A young man had lost his job and didn’t know which way to turn.  So he went to see an elderly preacher.  Pacing about the preacher’s study, the young man ranted about his problems.  Finally, he clenched his fist and shouted,  “I’ve begged God to say something to help me and my family.  Tell me, Pastor, why doesn’t God answer?”

The old preacher, who sat at his desk across the room, spoke something in reply–something so hushed, it was indistinguishable.  The young man stepped across the room:  “What did you say?” he asked.  The preacher repeated himself, but again, his tone was as soft as a whisper.  So the young man moved closer until he was leaning on the preacher’s chair.  “Sorry pastor.  I still didn’t hear you.”  With their heads bent together, the old preacher spoke once more.  “God sometimes whispers,” he said, “so we will move closer to hear Him.”

WE ALL WISH THAT GOD WOULD SPEAK TO US LOUDLY AND CLEARLY –

We all want GOD’S VOICE to thunder through the air in the answers to our problems.

We all wish that God would just burst into our private world we live in and give us some concrete answers to the nagging problems of life!

We wish that He would just tell us why:

  • He has not chosen to heal us.
  • He has not chosen to meet the financial need yet.
  • He has not chosen to SAVE our lost loved ones yet.

We just wish there was no guesswork involved.

IF HE WOULD ONLY SHOUT THE ANSWERS OUT, then I would know what to do.

Finding Yourself In A Cave and Feeling Sorry For Yourself –

Now the interesting thing about the story here in the First Book of Kings, is not so much that Elijah was having a pity party, that’s human nature.  What is amazing to me is, he’s having this ‘pity party’ AFTER God had sent FIRE from heaven and destroyed 450 prophets of Baal.  In fact, the very day after the miracle, Jezebel heard of what happened on Mt. Carmel and said,  “Tomorrow you are DEAD, son!” And Elijah runs to the desert and says,  “Oh God, take me now!”  (1 Kings 19:4). 

Elijah had no problem understanding God when:

  • The FIRE was falling!
  • The EARTH was shaking!
  • The WIND was blowing!

But the one place Elijah had never learned to listen to God was in the “STILL SMALL VOICE.”  And it is here that God is about to teach Elijah a LESSON.

And the LESSON for Elijah, and all of us today is:

  • I AM not always going to yell!
  • I AM not always going to send fire.
  • I AM not always going to shake the earth. 

Sometimes I AM going to take you to:

  • A PRISON CELL.
  • A WILDERNESS.
  • A DESERT.
  • A CAVE.
Finding Yourself Spiritually Alone
Finding Yourself Spiritually Alone

But I AM only doing it because I can see you drifting away from Me and I want to get close to you again!

Sometimes in our Christian lives, with all the technology available, we want to program God using an APP; thinking that He has to move in the:

  • SHOUT.
  • HOOP and HOLLER.
  • DANCE.

But, sometimes God WHISPERS so that we will draw closer to Him!

I believe there is a REASON, for nothing draws human focus quite like a WHISPER.

GOD’S WHISPER MEANS…I must stop my ranting and move close to Him, until my Cal hugs head is bent together with His.  And while I’m attentive in my listening, I’ll find my answer.  Better still, I will find myself closer to God.

We live in a society inundated with NOISE, CLUTTER, and CONFUSION.  It is an age of more information but less communication.

Has all the available technology shaped our thinking?

  • We are used to having what we want when we want it.
  • We are used to receiving any piece of information we need when we need it.
  • We want to treat God like the INTERNET, just open a heavenly search engine, type in our question, push the button and get the answer.

Is that what our PRAYERS have become?

But sometimes God doesn’t respond immediately with a wealth of information like the internet does.  

That’s why David said in Psalm 46:10:

“Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”  (NIV Bible)

The apostle Paul makes an interesting appeal to the Thessalonian church;

1 Thessalonians 4:11 (AMP):

“Make it your ambition and definitely endeavor to live quietly and peacefully…”

I’ve never read this bible verse before, in context with 1 Kings 19:12  “…[a sound of gentle stillness] a still, small voice.”

But Paul tells us, we need to STUDY TO BE QUIET!

When we are ranting and raving, shouting, yelling, moving about, lost in a myriad of activity, we can’t HEAR what God is saying to us.

I don’t know why God doesn’t choose to give us the answers we’re seeking through:

  • FIRE.
  • WIND.
  • EARTHQUAKES.

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“God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains; it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world”  C.S. Lewis

If you will but LISTEN CLOSELY, draw near to Him, get very close, I know that you will HEAR what God is saying!

 

 


CREDITS:

PHOTOS:  Google Image Search.

BIBLE TRANSLATIONS:  Amplified Bible (AMP), New International Version (NIV), except where noted.

Strange Women and Old Men

1 Kings 11:1-14

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KING SOLOMON –

No man began with more promise than Solomon did.  Yet a good beginning doesn’t mean a good finish.  Solomon drifted and finally defected.  Could the same thing happen to us?

Solomon Became The Wisest Man In The World!

1 Kings 4:31-34 (AMP bible):

[31] For he was wiser *than all other men–than Ethan the Ezrahite, and Heman, Calcol, and Darda, the sons of Mahol.  His fame was in all the nations round about.

[32]  He also originated 3,000 proverbs and his songs were 1,005.

[33]  He spoke of trees, from the cedar that is in Lebanon to the hyssop that grows out of the wall; he spoke also of beasts, of birds, of creeping things, and of fish.

[34]  Men came from all peoples to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and from all kings of the earth who had heard of his wisdom.

[“Wiser than all other men,” until Christ came.  Jesus said, “Someone more and greater than Solomon is here” (Matt. 12:42) – Amplified Bible footnote.]

So What Went Wrong?”

Solomon had a misplaced LOVE (VERSES 1 & 2):

[1] BUT KING Solomon [defiantly] loved many foreign women–the daughter of Pharaoh, women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians, and Hittites.  [2] They were of the very nations of whom the Lord said to the Israelites,  You shall not mingle with them, neither shall they mingle with you, for surely they will turn away your hearts after their gods.  Yet Solomon clung to these in love.

I remember when I was in school at an early age–when I would do something wrong, my teacher would shout out my name across the playground and I would pretend not to hear her call.  It was because I knew I’d done wrong and knew I was in trouble.

  • God tells Israel NOT to have anything to do with these women!!!  (Deuteronomy 7:3-4)
  • God told the kings of Israel NOT to marry many wives!!!               (Deuteronomy 17:17)

Now before we misinterpret God’s word into something racial, let me make it clear.

When God commanded the Israelites NOT to marry foreigners–“strange women”–it is not because they are a different color, or from a different country, or because they look different.  It was simply because they WORSHIPPED IDOLS and pagan gods.

God knew that if His people were to marry those who did not WORSHIP the true God of heaven, that the influences of these “strange women” would influence and eventually poison the house, the husband, the children, and the bloodline.

Solomon LOVED these women (VERSE 1) –

Solomon was like that certain kid in school I mentioned earlier–he pretends NOT TO HEAR God give the command NOT to marry these women because deep down he knew it was wrong.

The LORD tells Israel not to marry these women because they’ll turn their hearts away from God and that’s exactly what happened to Solomon.

Romans 12:1 (NIV Bible):

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of worship.

It is impossible to present your bodies as a living sacrifice if your HEART is not right.  Don’t let the WORLD around you squeeze you into its own mould.

TEMPTATION seems to arise when things start to crop up in our lives; causes us to start missing our personal prayer time in the mornings, and daily Bible reading is skipped over.  How easy it is for Satan to get in and cause us to have a MISPLACED LOVE.

A HINGE VERSE – Things Change From This Point On.

VERSE 4 (AMP):

idol-moloch[4]  For when Solomon was old, his wives turned away his heart after other gods, and his heart was not perfect (complete and whole) with the Lord his God, as was the heart of David his father.

NOTE: “Old Age won’t cure the heart of any evil propensity” – Matthew Henry Commentary.

Solomon had his HEART turned away from God, and as a result of his MISPLACED LOVE, his heart is turned not only away from God, but towards false gods.

The WORSHIP SYSTEMS that Solomon was involved in were sexually oriented and obviously this would appeal to Solomon.  If he wasn’t interested in this kind of thing, he probably would have stuck with just one wife.

Have we had our HEARTS turned away?

Worshipping false gods are just Old Testament stories, right?  Well, let me point out that thousands of churches across the land are EMPTY today because of the WORSHIP of false gods!

  • Sunday is the only day that kids can play football, so we have to take them while church is in session.  Sorry!
  • I can’t read IN my Bible right now, because I would miss too much TV.
  • I go to watch my soccer/football/baseball team play Sunday afternoon.  I could never miss that opportunity for church.

The minute we place more priority on something other than Jesus Christ, then we are in effect, worshipping false gods.

We need to pray and ask God to remove our idols in life.  I don’t want SPORT to be my god or, I don’t want TV to be my idol.  The only GOD I want is YOU!!  I want the TRUE GOD in my life, the only God!!

The Cause of Misplaced Love (women, false gods/money, jobs).

hqdefaultVERSE 5

For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and after Milcom the abominable idol of the Ammonites.

What causes us to turn our HEARTS away from God?

Satan will use every means possible to get us as far away from GOD as possible.

That job you’ve been praying for all of sudden requires you to work 12 hours a day and if you don’t do it, then they will find someone who will.

Or, SIN will creep into our lives, and in turn our hearts start to drift away.  I’ve been here before many times and know the results!  Satan makes SIN so attractive and we say to ourselves,  “It will be different for me, that it won’t hurt.”

We have the tendency to justify to ourselves, that it is OK.  How spiritually naive we are to let anything, or anyone, turn our HEARTS away from GOD.

2 Corinthians 6:14-16 (NIV):

[14] Do not be yoked together with unbelievers.  For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? [15] What harmony is there between Christ and Belial?  What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?  [16] What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols?  For we are the temple of the living God.  As God has said:  “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.”

I read a story in the Scientific American that most people are familiar with:

Chimpanzees, can seem like cute, hairy iterations of people.  The chimp, Travis, appeared in television commercials, he seemed comfortable at a computer, and in bathing himself, sipped wine from a stemmed glass, all according to the New York Times.  In February 2009, Travis the adorable, almost human, and his owner gained international notoriety after he suddenly attacked and mauled the owner’s best friend.  The owner later told reporters after Travis’ demise,  “I’m like hollow now.  He slept with me every night.  Until you’ve eaten with a chimp and bathed with a chimp, you don’t know a chimp.”

SIN too often comes dressed in adorable disguises, and as we play with it, eat with it…, live with it daily, how easy it is to say,  “It will be different for me!”

SIN won’t be different, it may come in a different disguise, but it will have the same effect.

If we play with SIN, it will not let us stop where we want to stop!  It will take us down further than we wanted to go.

When we CHOOSE not to do what God wants, we have to face the CONSEQUENCES.  Not following God always has its consequences.

The Consequence of Misplaced Love (God raised up an advisory and tore the kingdom in two/things don’t work out!).

VERSES 11 & 14

The consequence of sin will always cost more than the pleasure the sin provides.

Solomon’s motivation had changed; gone from building God’s Temple and serving God, to building ALTARS to false gods that his wives worshipped and he would be serving them as well.

And the LORD stirred up an adversary unto Solomon (verse 14):

[14]  The Lord stirred up an adversary against Solomon, Hadad the Edomite; he was of royal descent in Edom.

ISRAEL goes from GLORY to EXILE –

ISRAEL went from the glories of having fellowship with God and walking with God– to having their country split into two and several hundred years later, their Temple destroyed and the people carried off to another country in captivity.

We can miss out on what God wants to do in our lives today.

He wants to have FELLOWSHIP with us, that was the reason He created mankind and SIN keeps messing it up!

You see, we get involved in things that appear to be nice, but at the same time, they are destroying our spiritual lives.

Remember, the enemy is always in the background.

Looking back in Chapter 10, VERSE 14, we see the weight of gold that came to Solomon in one year as, six hundred threescore and six talents of Gold (King James Version).  I found it interesting in other translations, that this number just happens to be “666” *[See Revelation 13:1, 7, 17-18].

Now this wasn’t all of Solomon’s income, but this is what has been written down in Scripture.  The ENEMY is always in the background!

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Don’t Negotiate With Satan!

A hunter raised his rifle and took careful aim at a large bear in a clearing.  About to pull the trigger, the bear spoke in a soft tone,  “Isn’t it better to talk that to shoot?  What do you want?  Let’s negotiate the matter.”  Lowering his rifle, the hunter replied “I want a fur coat.”  “Good,” said the bear, “that is a negotiable question.  I only want a full stomach, so let us negotiate a compromise.”  They sat down together and after a time, the bear walked away alone.  THE NEGOTIATIONS HAD BEEN SUCCESSFUL!  The bear had a full stomach, and the hunter had his fur coat!

Satan says,  “Let’s negotiate.”

But there are things that should never be negotiable.  We cannot compromise church with the world.  JESUS and His church deserves our very best and absolute loyalty in ALL things.

SOLOMON WAS THE WISEST MAN ON EARTH!!

Yet, he turned away from God.  Solomon’s problem wasn’t ignorance but rebellion!  

He knew better but did not do better!

We need to keep our eyes open in the world around us.  We need to watch for the enemy, because he is always in the background, waiting to trip us up, waiting to turn our hearts.

It is said that the devil will find things for idle hands to do, so let’s not give him the opportunity.

Matthew 5:8 (AMP):

Blessed (happy, enviably fortunate, and spiritually prosperous–possessing the happiness produced by the experience of God’s favor and especially conditioned by the revelation of His grace, regardless of their outward conditions) are the PURE IN HEART, for they shall see God.

 


CREDITS:

Bible Translations:  Amplified Bible (AMP); King James Version (KJV); New International Version (NIV).

Photos:  Google Image Search (1 Kings 10, 11).

Commentary:  God’s lessons from history by Philip Smith – About the Books of 1 Kings and 2 Kings – http://www.easyenglish.info

So, Who Has the Final Say Here?

A STUDY IN COLOSSIANS – (Colossians 1:10-20)

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In preparing for this week’s blog, I came upon this story that illustrated my blog-title.

In August 1994, a Korean Air Jet skidded across a rain-soaked runway, running into a safety barricade while landing in Cheju, Korea.  All 160 passengers escaped safely moments before the plane exploded into flames.  What could cause such an accident?  According to news reports, the PILOT and the CO-PILOT had got into a fist fight…over who was in charge of the landing controls.  I don’t know about you, but I would have thought it would have been covered in the Flight Manual!!!

The main thing I wanted to point out in this story is that NOBODY knew who was in charge…and the CONFUSION that arose, resulted in absolute CHAOS & DESTRUCTION.

So, Who IS In Charge Here?

This question is important to answer in almost every situation.  When we don’t know who has the final say…who’s is ultimately IN CHARGE, we become left with confusion and frustration.

For example…who should be in charge in the CHURCH?

The Bible is very clear with the answer:

Colossians 1:16-18 (Amplified Bible – AMP):

[16]For is was in Him that all things were created, in heaven and on earth, things seen and things unseen; whether thrones, dominions, rulers, or authorities; ALL THINGS were created and exist through Him [by His service, intervention] and in and for Him.  [17] And He Himself existed before all things, and in Him all things consist (cohere, are held together).  [18] He also is the Head of [His] body, the church; seeing He is the Beginning, the Firstborn from among the dead, so that He alone in everything and in every respect might occupy the chief place [stand first and be preeminent].

Now that could sum up the answer to “Who Is In Charge Here?” in just THREE VERSES!  But I want to expound my thought process even further.

Every Church Has Structure –

No matter what the church denomination might be, a CHURCH has structure to it. And every local assembly has people who are so designated to run the day to day affairs.

In Scripture, we can find that the FIRST CHURCH had…

  • Elders–also called Shepherds of Pastors.
  • Preachers or evangelists.
  • Deacons.
  • Teachers (like me).
  • And all kinds of ministries within the church setting.

QUESTIONS:  “That’s all very informative…but who’s IN CHARGE?”

That would be JESUS.

“No…I mean, who has the AUTHORITY in the church?”

That would be JESUS.

“No, no  no…who has the FINAL SAY in the church?”

That again, would be JESUS!!!

Now if you are asking, Who makes the day to day decisions in the local congregation…that would be the ELDERS/DEACONS and…they are to get input from the Lead Pastor, his associates and everyone else within the body of Christ–the Church.

God has given the Elders a very important responsibility –

Their job is to take care of the Bride of Christ (the church)…to protect her from heresy and false doctrine and immorality.

These are the PROTECTORS of God’s family here on earth.  This is why God wanted His Elders to be good fathers and husbands (1 Timothy 3:1-5).  In Paul’s letter to Timothy, he refers to the term “elder,” “bishop,” “superintendent overseer.”  Paul also refers to the Elders at Ephesus as “overseer”, likewise in Titus 1:7.  

So, it seems to be a synonym for the term “ELDER”:  A GOOD FATHER and HUSBAND; one who will have experience protecting their own family.  They should know how to LOVE God’s children.

Since the Church Belongs to Jesus…

The Elders must ALWAYS make their decision based upon what they think JESUS would want–because the church doesn’t belong to the ELDERS.

And the Elders (along with preachers and teachers and other leaders in the church) will be accountable at the day of judgment on how they treated the Bride of Christ.

I am at fault here, by not continually lifting up our Elders in prayer and to encourage them wherever and whenever possible.  I am going to start doing this today!

JESUS IS THE HEAD OF THE CHURCH!!!

I have given you the importance of how the Elders and our church leaders’ needs of keeping JESUS as the head.

BUT, How About the Rest of Us?

How can we know, whether WE have allowed JESUS to be the Head of His Church ?

One ANSWER…JESUS earned the Right!

As Colossians 1:16-18 tells us,  “…in Him (Jesus) all things were created, in heaven and on earth, things seen and things unseen, whether thrones, dominions, rulers, or authorities; ALL THINGS were created and exist through Him…and in and for Him.”

JESUS IS THE HEAD OF THE CHURCH, because that’s His RIGHT!

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But there’s another answer to the question of  “Who Shall Have the Final Say” in the Church?  Who’s in charge?

The ANSWER is, that Jesus being the head of the Church, should always have the final say because that’s the way God DESIGNED the Church to function.

I was reading an article in The New York TimesAltering Your Engine With New Chips, by Jim Motavalli.  It was about a man who owned a Porsche 944 Turbo and wanted to increase the horsepower.  He decided to install himself, a business-card size electronic part–a so-called “performance chip” designed to reprogram the car’s engine control module and giving the Porsche a “power boost”.  And it appeared to do the job–he gained 40 HP at first, but by taking charge of and installing the power boost himself…it all blew up in his face; $7000.00 damage and voided the auto’s warranty.

I saw a poignant parallel between this story and what occurs when we try to alter the performance of the local church, forgetting Who IS really in charge!

It is only when JESUS is the “HEAD OF THE CHURCH” that the church will ever run right.

Just before the apostle Paul introduces the idea of Jesus as the HEAD of the Church, he says this:

That you may walk, (live and conduct yourselves) in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him and desiring to please Him in all things, bearing fruit in every good work and steadily growing and increasing in and by the knowledge of God…that you may be invigorated and strengthened with all power according to the might of His glory… (Colossians 1:10-11; AMP bible).

When Jesus is the One Who Is In Charge of The Church…this is what you get:

#1.  You are EMPOWERED to live a life worthy of your LORD.

#2.  You can PLEASE HIM in every way.

#3.  You can BEAR FRUIT in every good work.

#4.  You can GROW IN KNOWLEDGE of God.

#5.  And be STRENGTHENED with ALL POWER of God.

How often have I tried to FIX things over my life–in the workplace, in the family, and yes, the church as well.  And when I can’t…like the owner of the Porsche, it eventually ‘BLEW UP” in my face; effecting not only my own spiritual life, but those close around me; from my frustration and anger, I was disrupting their spiritual lives.

When we don’t allow JESUS to be the Head of our lives, the Head of the Church, that is UNHEALTHY!

In Galatians 5, we’re told what constitutes SPIRITUAL HEALTH –

“The acts of the sinful nature are obvious…hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy… (Galatians 5:19-21 NIV).

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.  Against such things there is no law”  (Galatians 5:22-23).

Notice the difference between the “acts of the sinful nature” and the Fruit of the Spirit.”  SINFUL NATURE is filled with ANGER and FRUSTRATION.  But the Fruit of the Spirit has no anger and no strife…there is no contention.

WHY?

Because when we [“I”] bear the Fruit of the Spirit, JESUS is in charge.  He’s our head!

When He is in charge we trust Him to control the situation we are personally dealing with.

Refreshment Is Always A Good Thing!

This week in my study and mediation of Colossians 1, I had to relearn some things about myself– I needed some refreshing.  Okay, not “some”, but a lot of refreshment.

When JESUS is IN a Church–people change.  When He is in charge of my life, your life, we become different…we are transformed by His presence and His power 

Who has the final say in your church and in your life today?  I HOPE it is JESUS!

 


Credits:

Photos:  Google Image Search.

Bible Concordance:  The NIV Complete Concordance by Edward W. Goodrick & John R. Kohlenberger 111.

Bible Translation:  Amplified Bible (AMP), except where noted.

 

 

 

 

Praying Responsibly

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A Study in 1 Kings 3:3-14 –

“ASK ANYTHING IN MY NAME, AND I WILL DO IT” (John 14:13,14) –

A young man, taking this Scripture in the Gospel of John quite seriously and quite literally, said he was still waiting for the LORD to supply his request for a new Vette.  That’s a super sports car, for those who are not familiar with this car term.

A new Vette, and LORD, while I’m asking, I need a sunroof, and racing stripes, and the spoked wheels too!

You talk about PRAYING with specifics!  Some people do it up in a big way.

Now this young man was really only half serious about this petition of his; he does know the LORD isn’t bound to answer SELF-INDULGENCE.  He’s aware that God doesn’t provide us with expensive toys just to help us along with the Sin of Pride. Most of us don’t need any help in that category.

This man is also quite clear that there are other dimensions of the Bible verse,

“So that the FATHER may be glorified in the Son”

Thus his request, his PRAYER, is not up to par because there isn’t much of any room for the FATHER to get the glory.  The GLORY is all going to the car and the driver.

SELFISH URGES –

There are, after all, in the best of us, in the most Christian of us, some Selfish Urges.  Some things we want to have and some things we want to do, no matter what!

That might not be spiritual, but it’s real.

And so when it comes down to what we PRAY FOR, what the DESIRES of our hearts really are, it seems to be somewhat of a mixture.  It seems some of the things I find myself praying for, I might want, but maybe I shouldn’t have.  So what do I pray for?  What should I pray for?  What are the right things to pray for?

Thirty Centuries Ago… 

A young man was facing the same kind of choices with a whole candy store full of possibilities.

  • WEALTH in tremendous quantities.
  • POWER beyond what most of us can ever dream of.
  • RECOGNITION, RESPECT, ADULATION, he could have had it all!

And in fact it seemed, if you looked at one side of the records book…he was well on his way.

HEIR to the family fortune, named by his father as his successor, backed by some of the finest families of the nation, shoved ahead by an ambitious mother; about all he lacked, a degree from the Jerusalem School of Business.

Solomon had ALL THE GOODIES in the world, right there for the taking.

Life Wasn’t All A Bowl of Cherries.

Solomon had a half-brother out there drumming up rebellion against him.  There were old wounds left unhealed from his father’s days, for David had not yet settled all the scores or finished all the battles before he died.

More than that, there was the defiant, the disobedient, the disenchanted in the kingdom.  How was Solomon going to reign and reign effectively?

There was definitely serious problems of management, of loyalty, of governing.

Where to go and what to do?  What to PRAY FOR?

What do you say to the LORD?  Is it, “Let’s go for the snazzy sports car”, or is it something like, “Destroy my enemies, put down those who are against me”?

Or is it something else?

I think you know the story.  Solomon opted for something else to pray for.

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Not RICHES, nor FAME, nor CRUSHING of the OPPOSITION…

But something else–WISDOM.

Solomon PRAYED first for Wisdom, then for Understanding and for Discernment.

WISDOM, the power to know what to do with your knowledge, your resources, your energies.

“MORE IS BETTER”

I sometimes really get a kick out of watching television commercials with kids in them.  Children seem so honest in their desires and answers to the questions asked about the “why’s”.

The AT&T Commercial of an adult sitting on the floor with school children illustrates one point of Praying Responsibly.

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The conversation sort of went like this:

“More is better than less because if there’s more stuff, then you might want to have some more…” [Credit to iSpot.tv].

So MORE means not more resources, energy or time in our lives, but the WISDOM to use what you have already.

One of the Issues in Praying for Wisdom –

We so often, like Solomon, wait so late to do it.  We wait until we have tried everything else with our hands and we’ve blown it–and then, out of desperation, we ask for the LORD’S GIFT of Wisdom.  Our sense of timing is all off and so it was with Solomon.

In the first two chapters of 1 Kings, we can read and recognize, how like Solomon we are, trying everything to manage our own problems, even desperate measures, before we get down enough and strung out enough to PRAY FOR WISDOM & GUIDANCE.

When all’s said and done, the bottom line is… a young king who is still desperate, still unhappy, and still insecure.  He has done everything humanly possible to do in securing his kingdom, but he is not yet secure.

ROYAL MACHOISM just isn’t getting it done!

And Now, Solomon Turns to PRAYER for WISDOM –

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LORD, I’ve tried all I know to do, the people still aren’t behind me, the thing isn’t coming together, all my hard work and efforts and all my struggling; it just won’t do.  I have to have YOUR WISDOM!

PRAYING REASONABLY –

I noticed in my reading in 1 Kings 3, when Solomon did pray for WISDOM, it wasn’t just a PRAYER for relief from all his troubles.  No, his PRAYER was a Responsible Prayer; his PRAYER ASKED FOR WISDOM to help him deal responsibly with his tasks at hand (VERSE 9):

“So give Your servant an understanding mind and a hearing heart to judge Your people, that I may discern between good bad.  For who is able to judge and rule this Your great people?”

To Govern and Discern…

You and I might well be tempted to PRAY,

“LORD, just take it all away; who needs this kingdom business?

What a headache.

Take it all away!”

 But Solomon’s PRAYER is responsible prayer.

Although Solomon must have finally come to a point of desperation after trying and trying to manage his kingdom, and nothing was working as well as it should, but now I’d say he exercises creative desperation.

He PRAYS for Wisdom, being aware that he cannot expect God to lift the burden entirely, but that he can EXPECT help and guidance, insight and discernment:

 “I cannot do it all, so I turn it over to You LORD.”

“MORE, IS BETTER!”

Solomon now takes a step further; he has moved along another notch into spiritual maturity.  Now his PRAYER IS,  “Give me what I need in order to keep on doing what I must do.”  Give me help; but I don’t shirk my responsibility.  I do not surrender, but I PRAY for WISDOM!

Finally, I wouldn’t want to forget that the GLORY of it all when we Pray for Wisdom, we get that and MORE!

We get better than we even ask for!

When we pray responsibly, even when it seems rather late in the day, our God is pleased and gives us not only that WISDOM, but a good deal MORE!

1 Kings 3:10-13 (NIV bible):

[10] The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for this (WISDOM).  [11] So God said to him, “Since you have asked for this and not for long life or wealth for yourself, nor have asked for death of your enemies but for discernment in administering justice,  [12] I will do what you have asked.  I will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be.  [13] Moreover, I will give you what you have not asked for–both riches and honor–so that in your lifetime you will have no equal among kings.

PRAY FOR WISDOM IF…you would PRAY for the right things, and then EXPECT God’s Gifts in abundance!

An unknown, unnamed soldier during the terrible days of the American Civil War, left behind a most eloquent testimony to this truth –

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 [See Footnote [i] for Prayers from the Confederacy – A Christian Confederate Soldier’s Prayer]


CREDITS:

Footnote [i] –  See www.historyaddict.com/CSPrayer.html

Photos:  Google Image Search. 

Bible References:  Amplified Bible, except where noted in the text.