Elisha

Today’s reading is 2 Kings 2, 4, and 6 as we focus on the prophet Elisha.

A famous movie line many know from the movie Top Gun is, “I’m not leaving my wingman.” Maverick, the movie’s main character, learned his lesson after leaving his wingman earlier in the movie for selfish ambition which led to a bad outcome. When he made the decision later to stay and protect his wingman, putting others’ needs above his, good things happened, and he ultimately became the hero. Elisha was the long-time servant of the prophet Elijah. As we read here in 2 Kings 2, Elijah tells Elisha to leave him 3 separate times because Elijah must travel further. However, Elisha stays true to his master, his mission, and purpose by staying with Elijah to the very end. And what happens, but he receives a double-portion of the same prophetic gifts Elijah had. As we read on, not only does God help Elisha perform many miracles in the Lord’s name, but we see God protect him with horses and chariots of fire, who we can assume to be angels, in 2 Kings 6:15-17 when the king of Syria sends his men to kill Elisha. A few weeks ago, we read about how God rewarded Ruth for her steadfast loyalty to her mother-in-law Naomi which led her to not only receiving gifts at the end of her life, but also naming a book after her and becoming part of the genealogy of Jesus. We also know about the prostitute Rahab who showed courage to protect the prophets of Israel and as a result is referenced throughout the Bible and who also became part of the lineage of Jesus. The people we just mentioned showed an unfailing courage and trust in God for their lives. Over the past weeks we have also read in the Old Testament about many kings and rulers who abandoned God and things didn’t go so well for them.

Here is my question…what is God asking you to do in your life to serve Him, your family, and others in His name that is not an easy decision and choice to make requiring great faith and trust in Him? It could be helping a friend or stranger in need, a financial change or commitment, dedication of more of your time to person or a cause or even your own family, or could be a change in career direction. Whatever it is, I can assume it’s not easy. It may put your time or money at risk which are two things I know I hold far too tightly far to often because wrongly I see them as 2 of my most valuable resources which in my mind are also scarce. However, God sees our spiritual gifts to serve others in His name as being way more valuable and has no limitations on what He can do if He sees fit financially…and His timeline is also eternity. I have seen it time after time, and we can also see in the Bible, where it may not come for a very long time, but God rewards this faithfulness to Him and his purpose in ways we could never imagine. Yet, it is still very hard to completely trust and follow Him and His will for our lives. No, these choices will not get us to Heaven, only belief in Jesus’ loving sacrifice on the cross will (Ephesians 2:8-9), but scripture does tell us we will be rewarded when we get there (Revelation 22:12, Revelation 2:23). In what way, I’m not sure…but isn’t hearing Him say to you, “Well done my good and faithful servant” enough?

See His Vision.

Work His Mission.

Live His Values.

 

 

 

 

Jars of Clay

 

Young plant - "Ficus" in a broken flower pot
Today’s Reading: 2 Samuel 11; 2 Corinthians 4; Ezekiel 18; Psalms 62–63

I was recently asked about what I do to stay motivated. I offered the stock answers, explaining how I spend time every morning studying and praying. I exercise and eat right (sometimes). I read a lot and am careful of how much sleep I get. Sounds like a 10-step plan, doesn’t it. In fact, you could get similar advice from any self-help book ever written. Don’t get me wrong, there is some truth in those answers. The problem with them is that they don’t get to the Truth.

The Truth is that no matter how much you exercise, eat right or study and pray, you are going to have hard days. Maybe not only days, but weeks, months and years! Our lives are, in fact, fragile. In every moment, we are vulnerable physically and mentally to the forces of nature, illness, economics, character assassination, and defamation. The Apostle Paul calls us “jars of clay.” It is a fitting metaphor. You see, anything made of clay is rigid and strong enough to contain precious things. Even so, it is brittle and fragile. It reminds me of our clay flower pots.  When that clay pot makes sharp contact with the corner of your table or the wind blows it over onto your concrete patio, watch out! We encounter these same dangers in our everyday lives. So, if we are so fragile, how is it that we are to live fearlessly?   How will we stay motivated to press on?

The answer those questions lie in your “big why.” I learned about this from the founder of Keller Williams Realty, Gary Keller. He writes, “The Big Why is about having a purpose, a mission, or a need, that in turn gives you focus. High achievers always have a Big Why powering their actions.” This statement is spot on. In fact, we can look throughout history and see where many people put their very lives on the line to achieve their singular purpose. To illustrate this further, I could cite men like Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King. No person stands out to me more than the Apostle Paul. He endured one painful day after another. Amazingly, Paul didn’t just endure the suffering of his life he thrived in it. So, how did Paul stay motivated? Simple, he had a really big why.

as God’s grace reaches more and more people, there will be great thanksgiving, and God will receive more and more glory. (2 Corinthians 4:15, NLT)

That’s it! Paul was so enamored with God that he became laser focused on Him. His sole purpose, his Big Why, in this life was to “reach more and more people so that there would be great thanksgiving and God would receive more and more glory.” Wow! I am immediately and deeply humbled by the purity and righteousness of Paul’s motives. Truly, I want to be “sold out” like that. I want to be fully aware that the dangers to my “earthen vessel” are nothing. As Paul says, “our present troubles are small and will not last very long.” (2 Corinthians 4:17, NLT) That mindset is only possible when we “fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen.” (2 Corinthians 4:18, NLT). When we do, God will remove the cares of our temporary, earthly minds and bodies, replacing them with His “surpassing power,” (2 Corinthians 4:7, ESV) which becomes our motivation. What is your Big Why?

Works Cited:
Keller, Gary; Jenks, Dave; Jay Papasan; Gary Keller; Dave Jenks; Jay Papasan (2004-03-11). The Millionaire Real Estate Agent (Kindle Location 1163). McGraw-Hill. Kindle Edition.