What Do You Have In Your Hands

As I am studying through the book of 2 Kings and 2 Chronicles and digging into the life of Elisha and all that God called him to do there was a huge thing that caught my attention. So out in the margin of my Bible at the top of the left hand page right beside 2 Kings 6:3-6 I wrote, “God always uses a tool that is ready and available to do His works.” He does so, because it is never the person, nor the tool that has any power, it is always only the Lord and our obedience to His Word. As I stopped at this revelation in 2 Kings 6 and went back and read through 2 Kings 2 – 6 again I saw that it was never about Elisha, or Elijah before him, but it was always about their faith.

For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. (1 John 5:4)

Here is the perseverance of the saints who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus. (Revelation 14:12)

In 2 Kings 2:14 God used a mantle.

In 2 Kings 2:21 God used a jar and some salt.

In 2 Kings 2:24 God used some bears.

In 2 Kings 3:15 God used a minstrel.

In 2 Kings 4:3 God used some borrowed vessels.

In 2 Kings 4:8 God used the hospitality of a woman.

In 2 Kings 4:16 God used the husband of that hospitable woman ;-).

In 2 Kings 4:33 God used the prayer of Elisha.

In 2 Kings 4:41 God used some meal.

In 2 Kings 4:42 God used some bread.

In 2 Kings 5:3 God used the voice of a young girl.

In 2 Kings 5:10 God used the Jordan River.

In 2 Kings 6:6 God used a stick.

In 2 Kings 6:17 God used His angel armies.

When I went back through and wrote down all these accounts, there was one verse that the Holy Spirit kept repeating in my heart: The Lord said to him, “What is that in your hand?” (Exodus 4:2). Too many times we watch what God is doing in and through someone else and think that since we are not able to be that or do that we have nothing to offer the Lord and no means by which to serve Him. Beloved of God, let me assure you that is a flat out blatant lie from the pits of hell. There is no such thing as being “unable” to serve the Lord… there is only being unwilling.

In 2 Kings 5:9-19, a man named Naaman almost missed the blessing of the Lord simply because he was unwilling to do the simple thing that he was instructed to do. This small seemingly insignificant thing was not a big enough thing for him to think it meant anything. One of his men came to him and said, “My father, had the prophet told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it?” (2 Kings 5:13). Humbled by the words of his servant, Naaman went and did this very small thing and because if it he not only was healed physically, but he came to know the One True God.

Is there an act of service that has been requested of us and we are unwilling because we think that what has been requested is too small and beneath us… then we will miss our God.

Is there a request that has been brought to us yet we are unwilling to give because the amount we have to offer seems too small and insignificant and we are embarrassed that this is all we have to give… then we will miss our God.

Is there an opportunity placed before us and we are unwilling to step into it because in our eyes we stand unqualified and incompetent to carry out the task at hand… then we will miss our God.

The Lord looks at us and asks, “What is that in your hand?” It is never about us… our God is able to use whatever it is that is in our hands. Stop looking at what others have in their hands and start looking to your own and offer it up to our God to be used for His glory. It’s not about being able… God is always able… it is always about us simply being willing.

 

 

How Big Is Your God?

 Elijah the Tishbite was getting ready to leave this world and be taken up to glory. The Lord knew he had fulfilled his purpose at this time on this earth, but he would not leave without discipling another to take up his position as prophet. The Lord would lead Elijah to anoint Elisha as the next prophet to Israel and he would spend possibly around seven years being taught by Elijah. The Scripture says that Elisha was known as the one “who used to pour water on the hands of Elijah” (1 Kings 3:11).

When it came time for Elijah to be taken up in the chariot of the Lord, Elisha still did not feel competent or confident in this new role as prophet. He asked for a double portion of Elijah’s spirit because he knew he could not fulfill this mission before him without the help of the Lord. The Lord would honor Elisha’s request and the mantle of Elijah would be left for Elisha as a symbol of the answer to His yes (2 Kings 2). Elisha takes the mantle and steps on the banks of the Jordan and he strikes the waters with the mantle and asks, “Where is the LORD, the God of Elijah?” At that moment the waters of the Jordan divide and Elisha crossed over to the other side where the sons of the prophets stood watching the entire thing take place. Here begins the ministry of Elisha.

Some may have looked at Elijah as he called down fire from heaven atop of Mount Carmel, or as he prayed for rain, and thought; well that’s Elijah, God listens to him. However, James tells us that, “Elijah was a man with a nature like ours” (James 5:17). Elisha understood this because Elisha was there with him, spending time with him and learning from him. Elisha saw that Elijah was just a man. He knew that it was never really about Elijah, but the LORD, the God of Elijah. The very same LORD that we serve today.

Here in America we have many pastors and denominations that will tell us that the Lord is not in the signs, wonders, and miracles business anymore. The canon of Scripture is here and complete and God has left us His manuscript to follow and that’s it. We are simply to believe who He was in the past and have faith in who He will be in the future, but here in the present we are  just to try to be good and not sin and show up for church on Sundays, give our tithes, and tell others they are sinners and Jesus is the only way to keep them from Hell, where all the sinners go when they die. Now I ask you, how big is your God?

In 2 Kings 3 the King of Israel and the King of Judah come together to seek the Lord through Elisha because they need water for their army and cattle. Elisha tells them,Thus says the Lord, ‘Make this valley full of trenches.’ For thus says the Lord, ‘You shall not see wind nor shall you see rain; yet that valley shall be filled with water, so that you shall drink, both you and your cattle and your beasts This is but a slight thing in the sight of the Lord; He will also give the Moabites into your hand. (3:17-18). Elisha says, this is but a slight thing in the sight of the Lord. Not only is the Lord going to provide water out of nowhere, but He is going to fight with and for them to give them victory over their enemy. I ask you again, how big is your God?

Then in 2 Kings 4 we begin to see a string of miracles performed through Elisha. We see a widow woman who needs money to provide for her home be supplied as she steps out in obedience to the Word of the Lord. We see a barren prominent woman who loves the Lord and shows hospitality and kindness to Elisha be blessed with a son, and then we see her and Elisha’s faith in the Lord raise that same son from the dead. We see hungry men who almost kill themselves with poisonous ingredients in a stew be able to eat that very same stew, and we see an offering of firstfruits be used to feed a multitude with some left over, all “according to the word of the LORD” (4:44).

Let us fast forward several hundred years to the day that a man named Jesus would walk the streets of the land of Israel. When we read the gospels we see Jesus perform similar signs, wonders, and miracles as those of Elijah and Elisha. We see Him raise the dead and feed the multitude. We see prominent women step up and provide for Him and show Him hospitality. Then when it comes time for Him to leave this world we see Him say, “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father.” (John 14:12).

Looking back we see the mantle passing of Elijah to Elisha as a beautiful picture of Jesus commissioning us for the work of the continuation of His ministry; “And behold, I am sending forth the promise of My Father upon you; but you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.” (Luke 24:49). In the book of Acts we see the disciples wait just as they were commanded by Jesus to do.  Then we see them filled with the Holy Spirit and go out and perform the works that Jesus said they would perform. I ask again, how big is your God?

The Word of God tells us that, “For I, the Lord, do not change…” (Malachi 3:6). The book of Hebrews tells us, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (13:8). In 2 Chronicles we read that, “For the eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His” (16:9). Our God is searching for and seeking those that He can strongly support. Now the question is are we someone that His eyes can rest on, and be found as one He can strongly support? Perhaps the reason we do not see the strength and power of God in our lives, in our churches, is because our hearts are not completely His.

We are told in the book of Hebrews that we are to, “Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord” (12:14). Perhaps the reason why our God has become so small is because our egos have become so big. If we are to see God, then we must pursue peace with ALL men and sanctification, because without peace with men and personal holiness we cannot see the Lord. The word pursue in this verse means to aggressively chase like a hunter going after a catch. It means to eagerly and earnestly go after. Do we, here in the American church, really aggressively chase and earnestly go after peace with all men and personal holiness?

Perhaps the reason we don’t see God move the way He did through Elijah, Elisha, and the early disciples is simply because we aggressively chase after the things of this world and not personal holiness. Perhaps it’s because we allow the things of this world to cause us to pursue dissension with others instead of peace. Instead of setting our own personal importance aside we demand our way or the highway. Instead of laying our opinions down at the cross and to the weak becoming weak that we might win the weak (1 Corinthians 9), our message dies on the hill of pride. I ask again, how big is your God?

Is He big enough to humble yourself under enough to pursue peace with all men? Is He greater than your opinions and your view of life?

Is He big enough to humble yourself in obedience to enough to pursue personal holiness. I don’t mean outward appearance of holiness, but inner true holiness in the secret places of your heart and mind.

Where is the LORD, the God of Elijah? He is right here. His eyes are still searching to and fro for those whose hearts are completely His.

 

God, Where Are You?

 Sometimes… well who am I kidding, most of the time life is just plain hard. We get up in the morning already overwhelmed with the day that lies ahead not usually because of some huge event, but all the small ones that we must navigate through simply to make it to bedtime. We wake up and check our phones or turn on the news and the scroll and the stories before us are of people hurting, fighting, and doomsday proclaiming. The economy is awaiting a global crash, the President is tweeting like a twelve year old boy instead of a grown man holding the highest office in the nation, the young girl that used to ride her bike in front of our house has just taken her own life, and a friend of a friend is watching their son fight cancer with all the strength he can muster. We can see this and think, “God where are You?

I think most of us stand out on the ledge of life and we are trying to find God in the strong winds, in the earthquakes, in the fires of life. We are searching for the Lord in the storms. Our eyes frantically scanning out into the midst of the fearful situations before us and we can’t find Him. Our hearts and minds completely fixed on the problems that are so much bigger than we are and completely out of our ability and power to do anything to change what we see before us, and we cry out, “God where are You?

While we stand out on the ledge and look up and outward to find the Lord, He is whispering inwardly to our hearts the entire time, “I AM.” I Am right here. Take your eyes off the storms, stop scanning the horizons and searching the distance, because I Am near.

“For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as is the Lord our God whenever we call on Him?” (Deuteronomy 4:7).

“You are near, O Lord, And all Your commandments are truth.” (Psalm 119:151)

“But what does it say? ‘The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart’—that is, the word of faith which we are preaching” (Romans 10:8)

When Elijah the Tishbite stood out on his life’s ledge he was tired, frustrated, scared, lonely, and  wanting to die. He was done with life, but the Life-Giver was not done with Him. Elijah came out on the ledge and the earth shook and the winds blew and the fires raged and he could not find God anywhere. Then he felt a gentle wind blow across his face… (1 Kings 19:3-21).

“Cease striving (be still), and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10)

“And He got up and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, ‘Hush, be still.’ And the wind died down and it became perfectly calm.” (Mark 4:39)

When our girls were little and we would walk into a crowded room or down a crowded street, or we were trying to make it to the car or to a storm pit in he midst of strong winds and pounding rain… we didn’t hold them out at a distance from us. We didn’t even leave them in the carrier. No, instead we pulled them in close to us. We wrapped our arms tightly around them and put their little heads in the crick of our neck so that we could whisper words of calmness directly into their ears. Shhhhhhhh… it’s going to be okay, don’t be afraid, I have got you. 

Elijah stood out on the ledge and when the gentle breeze blew across his face he wrapped his cloak around his head and blocked out the strong winds, earthquakes, and fires and tucked his head into the crick of the neck of his Father God and let Him whisper in his hearts ear and Elijah knew that His God was indeed still near. Beloved, our God is still near. The God of Elijah is still our God and he desires to be even closer than near us; He desires to be one with us.

“I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.” (John 14:16-17)

“The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me.” (John 17:22-23)

Our God is near. His word is near. He is not far off. He is not on the other side of the storms and fires of life separated from us. No, He is right there with us. We have to stop looking up and out and searching the horizons and trying to see past or through the storms to find Him, and instead just stop and choose to be still, and listen. Wait for the gentle blowing, the sweet whisper of His Spirit is there calling us to Him. Wrap your cloak around your face, block out all the noise, and open your heart, He is right here with you.

“Do not fear, for I am with you;
Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you, surely I will help you,
Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10)