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Daily Devotion May 2021
Good morning. Give thanks to the LORD; for he is good! His faithful love endures forever.
Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/Zsts7SMag7M
Complete the Verse & Name the Book:
The LORD bless you, and keep you;
The LORD make His face shine on you,
And be gracious to you;
The LORD lift up His countenance on you,
And . . . (completion at the end)
Yesterday, Dr. Michael Wedman taught from Jude 1-2 with a lesson titled “The Blessings of the Godly” as he continued Fireside Fellowship. The book of Jude is not commonly studied, but it is very relevant for our society today.
Jude was written around 65-80 A.D. There are some striking similarities with 2 Peter 2. Both books were written around the same time frame. The author of Jude is Jude, a half-brother of Jesus. Jesus had four half-brothers. In Matthew 13:55 we read: Then they scoffed, “He’s just the carpenter’s son, and we know Mary, his mother, and his brothers—James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas.” Jude is a shorter version of Judas.
James was very prominent in the early church. At the Council at Jerusalem, James said, “And so my judgment is that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God. Instead, we should write and tell them to abstain from eating food offered to idols, from sexual immorality, from eating the meat of strangled animals, and from consuming blood. For these laws of Moses have been preached in Jewish synagogues in every city on every Sabbath for many generations.”
Then the apostles and elders together with the whole church in Jerusalem chose delegates, and they sent them to Antioch of Syria with Paul and Barnabas to report on this decision. The men chosen were two of the church leaders—Judas (also called Barsabbas) and Silas (Acts 15:19-22).
We learn about the family of Jesus in Mark 3:20-35: One time Jesus entered a house, and the crowds began to gather again. Soon he and his disciples couldn’t even find time to eat. When his family heard what was happening, they tried to take him away. “He’s out of his mind,” they said.
But the teachers of religious law who had arrived from Jerusalem said, “He’s possessed by Satan, the prince of demons. That’s where he gets the power to cast out demons.”
Jesus called them over and responded with an illustration. “How can Satan cast out Satan?” he asked. “A kingdom divided by civil war will collapse. Similarly, a family splintered by feuding will fall apart. And if Satan is divided and fights against himself, how can he stand? He would never survive. Let me illustrate this further. Who is powerful enough to enter the house of a strong man and plunder his goods? Only someone even stronger—someone who could tie him up and then plunder his house.
“I tell you the truth, all sin and blasphemy can be forgiven, but anyone who blasphemes the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven. This is a sin with eternal consequences.” He told them this because they were saying, “He’s possessed by an evil spirit.”
Then Jesus’ mother and brothers came to see him. They stood outside and sent word for him to come out and talk with them. There was a crowd sitting around Jesus, and someone said, “Your mother and your brothers are outside asking for you.”
Jesus replied, “Who is my mother? Who are my brothers? Then he looked at those around him and said, “Look, these are my mother and brothers. Anyone who does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.”
Early in the ministry of Jesus, his brothers did not believe that he was the Christ. John 7:1-5 says: After this, Jesus traveled around Galilee. He wanted to stay out of Judea, where the Jewish leaders were plotting his death. But soon it was time for the Jewish Festival of Shelters, and Jesus’ brothers said to him, “Leave here and go to Judea, where your followers can see your miracles! You can’t become famous if you hide like this! If you can do such wonderful things, show yourself to the world!” For even his brothers didn’t believe in him. Before the crucifixion and resurrection, the brothers of Jesus did not believe he was the Messiah, the Son of God.
At some point after the resurrection, the brothers of Jesus came to believe he was the Christ. 1 Corinthians 9:5 says: Don’t we have the right to bring a believing wife with us as the other apostles and the Lord’s brothers do, and as Peter does? The brothers of Jesus changed from mockers to disciples. We have two books in the New Testament that are written by two of the brothers of Jesus—James and Jude.
Jude is writing to a church that has been around for approximately fifty years, and falsehood has started to enter the church. Truth is being shifted and manipulated. There are people in the church who claim to be disciples of Jesus, but they don’t follow the truth of Jesus. They claimed falsehood as truth. They had embraced antinomianism which means “against the law”. Their position was: Law is now over. We no longer follow Old Testament law; we follow grace. Since we are under grace, sin no longer matters. What one does with their body doesn’t matter because grace is about spiritual salvation. A person can sin all they want because they are covered by God’s grace. Moral laws no longer matter. God has to forgive because he’s a gracious God. Part of the antinomianism belief was that truth is relative. In other words, if you want something to be true, then it’s true. If you prefer your own truth over God’s truth, that’s okay, because grace will cover any of your wrongs. Do whatever you want. There’s no such thing as living rightly.
Antinomianism is a perversion of grace! When we receive grace and the forgiveness of sins, grace helps us to live a transformed life. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says: This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! We are to walk in the Spirit—in our new nature. Jesus said, “If you love me, obey my commandments” (John 14:15). Antinomianism says there is no absolute truth you have to follow; follow your own truth. By holding this belief, they are in direct opposition to Jesus who said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). Antinomianism is also in direct opposition to the word of God that says:Everyone who sins is breaking God’s law, for all sin is contrary to the law of God. And you know that Jesus came to take away our sins, and there is no sin in him. Anyone who continues to live in him will not sin. But anyone who keeps on sinning does not know him or understand who he is.
Dear children, don’t let anyone deceive you about this: When people do what is right, it shows that they are righteous, even as Christ is righteous. But when people keep on sinning, it shows that they belong to the devil, who has been sinning since the beginning. But the Son of God came to destroy the works of the devil. Those who have been born into God’s family do not make a practice of sinning, because God’s life is in them. So they can’t keep on sinning, because they are children of God. So now we can tell who are children of God and who are children of the devil. Anyone who does not live righteously and does not love other believers does not belong to God (1 John 3:4-10).
Tomorrow we will continue the recap of Dr. Wedman’s lesson from Jude with the second half.
Verse Completion: . . . give you peace. Numbers 6:24-26 (NASB)
Good morning. Give thanks to the LORD; for he is good! His faithful love endures forever.
Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/G2GOlOv05YY
Complete the Verse & Name the Book: But no one can tame the tongue; it is . . .(completion at the end)
Yesterday we did a recap of the first half of Pastor Del McKenzie’s lesson on contentment. Today we will complete the lesson with a recap of the second half. We left off with Pastor Del talking about proper contentment.
Now let’s take a look at improper contentment. We shouldn’t be content with some things such as our spiritual progress. Paul said in Philippians 3:12-14: I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us. Paul wasn’t content with his level of spiritual maturity. We need to ask ourselves, “Am I as mature spiritually, emotionally, and socially as I should be?” If we are content with where we are at in these areas, we are improperly content because there’s always room for growth. Peter said in 2 Peter 3:18: You must grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We always need to be in a state of spiritual development; we are a work in progress.
Improper contentment has to do with our ability to care for other people. Am I satisfied with how I care for other people? Is there room for growth in this area? Ephesians 4:28b says: Give generously to others in need. In our culture the efforts people put out to get more money are not so they can give more money to people who have needs. Titus 3:14 says: Our people must learn to do good by meeting the urgent needs of others; then they will not be unproductive. Are we content with our level of production, or are we unproductive as far as God’s kingdom is concerned and helping other people is concerned? Is my involvement in world missions at the level it should be? We can become content with what we are doing for other people when we can and should be doing more.
The opposite of contentment is dissatisfaction. We can be dissatisfied with our job, our house, the location where we live, our family, our neighbors, our country, and many other things. Another opposite of contentment is greed: the desire for more than is needed. We live in a very affluent culture. It wasn’t always like this. The fur trappers who lived before us had a difficult life compared to ours now. Greediness often leads to envy and jealousy as we want what others have. Greed is an obsession. Greed is idolatry. A third opposite of contentment is fear, anxiety, or worry. We can be fearful that we won’t have enough. We can be fearful that God won’t take care of us.
Not being content with what we have can lead us to ingratitude. Expressing thanks from a heart of filled with thankfulness is a great remedy for discontentment.
There are practical reasons for me to be content:
1. Material possessions don’t satisfy. We always want more no matter how much we have. Material things don’t last. When we die we leave everything behind. Job 1:21 says: “I came naked from my mother’s womb, and I will be naked when I leave. The LORD gave me what I had, and the LORD has taken it away. Praise the name of the LORD!” 1 Timothy 6:7 says: After all, we brought nothing with us when we came into the world, and we can’t take anything with us when we leave it. Material possessions don’t last, and we don’t last. Why invest our lives in something that isn’t going to last? We need to invest in that which is eternal.
2. Material possessions distort values. Material things take us away from spiritual things, mental things, and social pursuits. We can spend a lot of time with our recreational possessions. We can spend a lot of time on a mountain home. We can spend a lot of time on a boat. These things can distort values. What is really important in life? What is our purpose in life? Some of us become workaholics while our families suffer for it.
3. Material possessions disrupt our priorities. Have you made a list of priorities in value order? God should be our first priority. Paul said, “For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better” (Philippians 1:21). We also need to make ourselves a priority. Sometimes we get so busy we don’t take time to take care of ourselves, and the result is our mental, emotional, and physical health suffers. Our spouse needs to be a priority. How much of our time, energy, attention, and affection do we give our spouse? Our family needs to be a priority. How much do we give to our biological family and our spiritual family?
Contentment is an answer to things which hurt us. Discontentment hurts. Those who are fearful and anxious will have their physical health affected detrimentally. There are people in hospitals with emotionally-induced illnesses. Fear, anxiety, worry, and self-pity lead to complaining which leads to discouragement, despondency, despair, and depression. Dissatisfaction can lead to apathy, and people sleep their lives away. Sometimes people turn to eating because of their dissatisfaction. Food becomes their comfort.
How do we build contentment into our lives?
1. Spend time alone with God. Jesus said, “But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private. Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you” (Matthew 6:6). Read his word. Psalm 1:2 says: But they delight in the law of the LORD, meditating on it day and night. God needs to be included in the best time of our day. Early morning people need to give God some of their early morning time.
2. Cultivate true worship. Worship the true God, not a counterfeit or an idol. Jesus said, “For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24). Psalm 96:9 says: Worship the LORD in all his holy splendor. Let all the earth tremble before him. Psalm 95:6 says: Come, let us worship and bow down. Let us kneel before the LORD our maker, for he is our God.Psalm 24:3-4 says: Who may climb the mountain of the LORD? Who may stand in his holy place? Only those whose hands and hearts are pure, who do not worship idols and never tell lies. True worship involves: awe, wonder, admiration, adoration, affirmation, appreciation, confession, submission, contrition, petition, praise, and thanksgiving. We praise God for who he is, and we thank God for what he does.
3. Reject cultural pressure. You might hear, “Everyone is doing it.” “Everyone has one.” To combat the pressure spend time in God’s word, spend time in prayer listening to God, and spend time in true worship.
Contentment is a godly character quality that God wants us to have so we will be transformed and conformed to the image of Jesus.
Verse Completion: . . . a restless evil and full of deadly poison. James 3:8 (NASB)
Good morning. Give thanks to the LORD; for he is good! His faithful love endures forever.
Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/gshu9c73Qjc
Complete the Verse & Name the Book: “Speak to the sons of Israel, ‘When a man or woman commits any of the sins of mankind, acting unfaithfully against the LORD, and that person is guilty, then he shall confess his sins which he has committed, and he shall make . . . (completion at the end)
On Monday, Pastor Del McKenzie continued his series on “Godly Character Qualities” with the topic of contentment. So far he has taught on gentleness, humility, integrity, endurance, responsibility, thankfulness, forgiveness, acceptance, generosity, loyalty, honesty, flexibility, sincerity, orderliness, thoroughness, discernment, decisiveness, punctuality, respect, graciousness, deference, truthfulness, commitment, initiative, submission, diligence, and self-control.
Character is what we are. All the things we do add up to our character. There is a difference between having character and doing good character things. God extends grace to us time and time again. God’s grace comes out of his graciousness. He gives us gift after gift, and he does it joyfully, willingly, and bountifully because he is a gracious God. God also extends mercy to us. Every morning his mercies are new. We can’t begin to calculate how many times he’s shown us mercy. The wages of sin is death. We should all be dead, but because of God’s mercy we aren’t.
God doesn’t extend mercy to us when he’s feeling good or having a good day; he extends mercy to us out of his nature, his character. He’s a merciful God. The same goes for God’s love. God could send us love occasionally and still not be a loving God. We can extend love to people occasionally and still not be loving people. God extends love consistently because he is a loving God. Love is part of his character—who he is. God’s desire for us and his working in us is to change us from what we were and are to what we can be. God’s wants to do a work in us to change our character. He desires to bring about a transformation.
Romans 12:1-2 says: I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. (NASB)
2 Corinthians 3:18 says: But we all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit. (NASB)
Transformation involves an internal change, a character change. This is real change; it’s not a surface change. Transformation is depth change, divine change, and lasting change.
As God works to bring about transformation in us, he also works to conform us into the image of Christ. Romans 8:29 says: For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. (NASB) The end result of being transformed and conformed is having the character of Jesus.
God is the potter; we are the clay. Romans 9:19-24 says: Well then, you might say, “Why does God blame people for not responding? Haven’t they simply done what he makes them do?”
No, don’t say that. Who are you, a mere human being, to argue with God? Should the thing that was created say to the one who created it, “Why have you made me like this?” When a potter makes jars out of clay, doesn’t he have a right to use the same lump of clay to make one jar for decoration and another to throw garbage into? In the same way, even though God has the right to show his anger and his power, he is very patient with those on whom his anger falls, who are destined for destruction. He does this to make the riches of his glory shine even brighter on those to whom he shows mercy, who were prepared in advance for glory. And we are among those whom he selected, both from the Jews and from the Gentiles. (NLT)
The lyrics to the first verse of the song “Have Thine Own Way, Lord” as are follows:
Have Thine own way, Lord
Have Thine own way
Thou art the potter; I am the clay
Mold me and make me after Thy will
While I am waiting yielded and still
We are to be transformed and conformed so others are able to see Christ in us.
One of the character qualities we need to be transformed and conformed to is the character quality of contentment. Proper contentment is being happy with what we have—not wanting more; not being irritated, agitated, or disgruntled because we don’t have something. It means being satisfied with what we have. Contentment is realizing God has provided everything I need for my present happiness. It’s saying, “Right now I have everything that I need. God has provided it for me.” Everything I have has been given to me by God. It all comes from his free grace. If it wasn’t for God’s grace I wouldn’t have anything. All that I have accomplished God has done for me. Isaiah 26:12b says: All we have accomplished is really from you.
Material things include bank accounts, property titles, buildings, vehicles, and so on. God has entrusted us with what we have, and he wants us to manage them for him. 1 Timothy 6:6-8 says: Yet true godliness with contentment is itself great wealth. After all, we brought nothing with us when we came into the world, and we can’t take anything with us when we leave it. So if we have enough food and clothing, let us be content. Jesus was content with what he had materially even though it wasn’t much.
Hebrews 13:5 says: Don’t love money; be satisfied with what you have. For God has said, “I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.” If we have God with us we can be content with what we have. In Philippians 4:11-13 Paul said: Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. Contentment comes out of trusting God.
Tomorrow we will continue the recap of Pastor Del’s lesson on contentment with the second half.
Verse Completion: . . . restitution in full for his wrong, and add to it one-fifth of it, and give it to him whom he has wronged. Numbers 5:6-7
Good morning. This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.
Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/5bpgmJGkQbs
Complete the Verse & Name the Book: For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy; . . . (completion at the end)
Yesterday we did a recap of the first half of Pastor Michael’s sermon “Elisha’s Double Portion Blessing” that was based on 2 Kings 2:1-15. Today is a recap of the second half. We left off with Pastor Michael pointing out how they followed Elijah and Elisha at a distance. They wanted to see what would happen next. When Elijah rolled up his cloak and struck the water, the Jordan River divided and the two of them crossed over on dry ground.
When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, “Tell me, what can I do for you before I am taken from you?” (verse 9a) Remember that Elijah is the prophet who has stopped the rains, brought fire down from heaven, stood against the nation, stood against Ahab and Jezebel, been Enemy #1 of the state, has set up Bible schools, and yet he is the one who asks Elisha, “Tell me, what can I do for youbefore I am taken from you?”
You might expect Elisha to ask for protection or more comforts of life, but he says, “Let me inherit a double portion of your spirit” (verse 9b). Rather than asking Elijah for that which he wants, Elisha asks for what he needs—more of God. Elisha knows he’s going to be the mouth for God. He knows he’s going to work to change a nation and bring it back to God. Elisha asks for more of God in his life. He knows he can’t do any kingdom good without the Spirit of God, so he asks for a double portion. It’s the Spirit of God in Elisha that will enable him to accomplish that which God desires from him.
Elisha asks for what is indispensable. Elisha knew, and we should know, that we can’t do any good for God without his Spirit in us. We need a double portion of God’s Spirit these days. We can’t be people of truth, salt, and light without his Spirit in us. We can’t promote and partner with the gospel without the Spirit of God. Sometimes we act as though God’s Spirit is optional, but it is indispensable. It is impossible to build the kingdom of God without the Spirit of God.
Elisha asks not for the things God can give, but he asks for the Giver of all things. He’s not after the gifts; he’s after the Giver. Elijah’s answer is, “You have asked a difficult thing, yet if you see me when I am taken from you, it will be yours—otherwise not.” (verse 10)
Elijah is not in charge of God’s Spirit. God’s Spirit isn’t something Elijah could give. Elisha is the one who is going to have to receive the Spirit of God directly from God. What Elisha wants can only come from God. He needs to pay attention. Elijah is interested in the degree of thirst Elisha has for the Spirit of God. Elijah wants to know Elisha’s level of commitment to the Spirit. The question facing Elisha and all of us is, “Are you going to give all that you have to pursue God?”
As they were walking along and talking together, suddenly a chariot of fire and horses of fire appeared and separated the two of them, and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind. (verse 11) Artists have sometimes drawn Elijah going to heaven in a chariot, but the chariot of fire is what separated the two of them, and a whirlwind is what takes him to heaven.
Elisha saw this and cried out, “My father! My father! The chariots and horsemen of Israel!” And Elisha saw him no more. Then he took hold of his own clothes and tore them apart. (verse 12)
Elisha is grieving. Elijah has become like a father to Elisha after having Elijah mentor him for the past twenty years.
Chariots and horsemen are weapons of war. Ahab had the most powerful army in the land. By calling Elijah the “chariots and horsemen of Israel,” he was calling Elijah the guardian and protector of Israel. He was saying, “It’s not by the power of horses. It’s not by man’s strength. It’s by God’s strength.” The real protector of Israel, or any nation, is the Spirit of God, the truth of God, the word of God. Elijah has been protecting the nation by speaking the truth of God. It’s only by God’s Spirit, power, will, and determination that any nation stands. Elisha rightly calls Elijah the “chariots and horsemen of Israel.” Elijah is the one who is causing the nation to be revived and stand before God. Before Elijah came Israel was a nation of Baal worshipers with less than one percent of the people worshiping Jehovah. Now the people are returning to worshiping God.
America has arguably the strongest military in the world, but it’s not the ships, planes, bombs, missiles, guns or any other weapons of war that will keep the nation on its feet. The Armed Forces will not keep our country from falling; it’s God’s Spirit that will save our nation. Without God’s Spirit and truth, a nation will fail. We need an Elijah in America and in every other nation. We need someone who has the Spirit of God in him proclaiming truth.
He picked up the cloak that had fallen from Elijah and went back and stood on the bank of the Jordan. (verse 13) This is the same cloak that was placed on Elisha by Elijah. Elisha has the symbol of God’s anointing, the Holy Spirit, and God’s power. He steps up to the Jordan River for the first test to see if Elisha has the Spirit of God in him. This will be the test to see if he inherited a double portion of God’s Spirit. The fifty men of the company of the prophets are watching to see what happens.
Then he took the cloak that had fallen from him and struck the water with it. “Where now is the LORD, the God of Elijah?” he asked. (verse 14a) Elisha is saying, “God, are you here with me now? God, am I the new prophet? Have you anointed me? Are you going to part the waters? Are you going to give me the sign that I have received a double portion of your Spirit and can do the work you’ve given me to do?”
We think double portion means twice as much as what Elijah had. He wasn’t asking for that. He was asking for God to fill him with his Spirit, his presence, and his power so he could complete his duties as the spiritual leader of the nation. The eldest son of Israelites received a double portion inheritance. That didn’t mean he received twice as much as his siblings; it meant he became the leader of the family after the father died. The eldest son had a huge responsibility and needed a double portion of the Spirit of God in order to carry out that responsibility well. Elisha wanted all he could get of God (his power, his authority, his presence) to lead the nation closer to God.
When he struck the water, it divided to the right and to the left, and he crossed over. (verse 14b) Elisha knew at that point that the Spirit of God rested upon him. He knew the presence of God was in his life. He knew he had the authority of God to lead the nation as the next prophet of God.
The company of the prophets from Jericho who were watching said, “The Spirit of Elijah is resting on Elisha.” And they went to meet him and bowed to the ground before him. (verse 15) They recognized Elisha’s authority as the next leader who would continue the work to lead the nation back to God.
Both Elijah and Elisha wanted more than anything else to be in the very center of God’s will. Their passion was to pursue God as much as was possible. Their prayer was: God, give me every speck of the Spirit that you have to give so I can give every speck of me to your word, will, and ways. They were fully invested. They were fully committed to doing all God asked them to do.
You and I have been called by God to use our gifts, talents, abilities, health, and wealth to build his kingdom. We are called to invest our lives in his kingdom. We are called to serve God with all the passion we have. Our work of promoting and proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ for the salvation and sanctification of all people is just beginning. When we are told to stay, as Elisha and Ruth were told to do, we can stay and be satisfied with the past, or we can be like Elisha and Ruth and join Paul in saying, “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press ontoward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:12-14)
We need to be saying, “I want to know Christ more deeply. I want to know Christ crucified. I want to know him in suffering. I want to know him in resurrection power. I want to know Jesus as much as I can possibly know Jesus. I want to be overwhelmed by Jesus.” This is our calling. We have work to do. We’re not called to retire from the work of God in our lives. Let’s move forward with Christ. Let’s pray: God, I need more of you so I can do more for you.
Verse Completion: . . . mercy triumphs over judgment. James 2:13 (NASB)
Good morning. This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.
Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/gNec8rH1KmU
Complete the Verse & Name the Book: When you reap the harvest of your land, moreover, you shall not reap to the very corners of your field, nor gather the gleaning of your harvest; you are to . . . (completion at the end)
Yesterday Pastor Michael’s sermon “Elisha’s Double Portion Blessing” was based on 2 Kings 2:1-15. Last week we saw where Elijah called Elisha to be a prophet. Elisha left the security of his wealthy family’s farm to answer the call of God on his life. The next time Elisha appears in Scripture is twenty years later in 2 Kings. Elijah is nearing the end of his life here on earth. He has been a prophet for over 25 years. Elisha has been traveling with Elijah for 20 years. Let’s begin reading about Elijah’s last day on earth:
When the LORD was about to take Elijah up to heaven in a whirlwind, Elijah and Elisha were on their way from Gilgal. Elijah said to Elisha, “Stay here; the LORD has sent me to Bethel.”
But Elisha said, “As surely as the LORD lives and as you live, I will not leave you.” So they went down to Bethel.
The company of the prophets at Bethel came out to Elisha and asked, “Do you know that the LORD is going to take your master from you today?”
“Yes, I know,” Elisha replied, “but do not speak of it.”
Then Elijah said to him, “Stay here, Elisha; the LORD has sent me to Jericho.”
And he replied, “As surely as the LORD lives and as you live, I will not leave you.” So they went to Jericho.
The company of the prophets at Jericho went up to Elisha and asked him, “Do you know that the LORD is going to take your master from you today?”
“Yes, I know,” he replied, “but do not speak of it.”
Then Elijah said to him, “Stay here; the LORD has sent me to the Jordan.”
And he replied, “As surely as the LORD lives and as you live, I will not leave you.” So the two of them walked on. (verses 1-6)
Elijah and Elisha has been traveling together for 20 years and have been involved with schools for prophets (Bible college). On Elijah’s last day of life, he says to the one who is going to take over for him, “You don’t need to come with me today.” That seems rather odd that Elijah would say that to his traveling companion of the past 20 years.
We’re reminded of the story of Ruth, Naomi’s daughter-in-law. Naomi is an Israelite who moved to Moab. She had two sons who ended up marrying Moabite women. As time passed Naomi’s husband died, and her two sons died as well. Naomi decided to return to her native land, Bethlehem. She told her two daughters-in-law to remain in Moab since that was their native land. Orpah decided to do that but Ruth insisted on going with Naomi.
But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the LORD deal with me, be it ever so severely, if anything but death separates you and me.” When Naomi realized that Ruth was determined to go with her, she stopped urging her. (Ruth 1:16-18)
Naomi was saying she didn’t have much time left on earth, and she was returning to Bethlehem to die. Ruth was determined to go with her to Bethlehem. The story of Elijah and Elisha, and the story of Naomi and Ruth are very similar. Elijah and Naomi were the ones going off to die while Elisha and Ruth were determined to stick with their dear friend no matter what. Three times Elijah told Elisha he didn’t have to go with him. Three times Naomi told Ruth she didn’t have to go with her. Elisha’s reply was, “As surely as the LORD lives and as you live, I will not leave you.” Ruth’s reply was, “Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay.” Both Elisha and Ruth loved their mentors who were their dear friends. But their relationship with each other went beyond mentor and friend; there was a connection with God as well. Ruth told Naomi, “Your people will be my people and your God my God.” Ruth and Elisha wanted the same kind of relationship with God that Naomi and Elijah had. Elisha and Ruth felt like they were in the center of God’s will for their lives when they were with their mentors. They knew that following their mentors was following God. They didn’t just want to hear about God, they wanted to know, see, experience, and feel God in their lives.
Elisha and Ruth were determined to follow God, and to them that meant staying close to Elijah and Naomi. Both Elisha and Ruth didn’t have to go with their mentors. On their own they made the decision to go with their mentors. They wanted to go with them because they wanted to experience God to the fullest. They didn’t want to hang out on the fringes of God’s will; they wanted to be in the very center of God’s will.
Fifty men of the company of the prophets went and stood at a distance, facing the place where Elijah and Elisha had stopped at the Jordan. Elijah took his cloak, rolled it up and struck the water with it. The water divided to the right and to the left, and the two of them crossed over on dry ground. (verses 7-8)
Why did this company of prophets, this group of Bible school students, say in verses three and five: “Do you know that the LORD is going to take your master from you today?”? Did they think Elisha, their professor who has been teaching them, didn’t know? No, the company of prophets want Elisha to know that they know God is going to take Elijah away today. God had revealed it to them as he had revealed it to Elisha. For the company of prophets, it was all about knowledge.
Pastor Michael tells about the time he returned home after attending Bible college. He had gained a lot of knowledge about the Bible, and he was eager to share that knowledge with family and friends. He could be heard saying, “Did you know . . .?” It wasn’t that he wanted them to know God more, he wanted them to know that he knew a lot about God. It was a pride thing: “Look at what I know! Look at what I’ve learned! Look at all this knowledge I have!” The same thing is happening here with this company of prophets. They are proud that they have this knowledge. They aren’t using their knowledge to help Elijah and Elisha make this transfer of power and authority happen as smoothly and painlessly as possible. They aren’t using their knowledge to bring comfort.
Paul said in 1 Corinthians 8:1-3: Now about food sacrificed to idols. We know that we all possess knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. The man who thinks he knows something does not yet know as he ought to know. But the man who loves God is known by God.
Paul was saying that knowledge can actually diminish relationships rather than build relationships when pride accompanies the knowledge. Arrogance and pride repel people rather than attract them. Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. The company of prophets were puffed up with the knowledge they had. They hadn’t matured to the point where their knowledge was translated into love for others. The knowledge we have of God is supposed to bring other people closer to God. Our knowledge is to help build relationships rather than damage relationships. The company of prophets don’t do anything to help Elijah and Elisha.
Notice how the company of prophets follow at a distance. They just want to see the show. They want to be witnesses to what happens. They are there to be entertained. They see Elijah take his cloak, roll it up, and strike the water. The result is the Jordan River divides and they cross over on dry ground.
Tomorrow we will continue the recap of Pastor Michael’s sermon with the second half.
Verse Completion: . . . leave them for the needy and the alien. I am the LORD your God. Leviticus 23:22 (NASB)
Good morning. Welcome to May. If April showers bring May flowers, what do May flowers bring? (answer at the end)
Complete the Verse & Name the Book: When you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, . . . (completion at the end)
Yesterday we did a recap of the first half of Dr. Michael Wedman’s lesson “Faithfulness in Discerning and Doing Good” from 3 John 9-14. Today we will do a recap of the second half.
Diotrephes is not walking as a disciple of Christ. He’s not loving Jesus. Jesus said, “If you love me, you will obey what I command” (John 14:15). Diotrephes is gossiping maliciously about John and his messengers. He is spreading wicked words about them. He’s slandering them. He’s saying spiteful and baseless things about them. He’s speaking evil against them. He’s trying to bring suspicion on the person and character of the apostle John. Perhaps he’s saying, “I think the old man has lost it. He’s definitely old school and out of touch with the times. He’s far too conservative and old fashion. I don’t even think he’s aware of the new truths that have been revealed. John doesn’t see that the culture has changed, and we need to change our message for the culture.” Diotrephes is attempting to undermine and draw suspicion to the authority and position held by the apostle John. By doing so, Diotrephes is undermining the truth of the gospel.
Power people, those who love power, typically accuse others of wanting power. Power people want to be first. They want to be the ones in control. They want to be in positions of authority. It’s likely that Diotrephes said something like, “John is just power hungry.”
Not only is Diotrephes rebellious to authority, loves to be first, is self-centered, puts himself before Christ, and gossips maliciously, but he even refuses to welcome other believers. He doesn’t want the church to grow. Newcomers won’t know about all of his accomplishments. Newcomers won’t know about his impressive history in the church. Diotrephes doesn’t want the truth John is spreading getting in his way. Diotrephes has his group of followers, and he convinces them to oppose the newcomers and oppose those who support welcoming newcomers. Diotrephes is doing all he can to make newcomers feel uncomfortable in the church. He wants them to sense conflict in the church and leave.
Diotrephes is living a life of sin but trying to make his life look righteous. He’s working hard to compromise the truth.
In verse eleven John addresses his dear friend, Gaius. John senses that Gaius needs to be reminded that he is loved by God, John, and many others. John wants to give Gaius words of encouragement. Gaius has it tough. He’s in leadership and having to deal with Diotrephes and his band of supporters. Gaius is trying to do what’s right and remain faithful to the whole truth. John is telling Gaius to not give in to Diotrephes. Gaius is to discern the truth and be faithful in doing the truth even though it’s more difficult than giving in to pressure.
John said, “Anyone who does what is evil has not seen God.” We know that the person doing evil in the church is Diotrephes. 1 John 3:7-10 says: Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. He who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. He who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God. This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother.
Diotrephes is not walking in love, and he’s not walking in truth. He’s walking in sin, and he’s making a habit of it. It’s his lifestyle. Gaius needs to know that.
In contrast to Diotrephes we have Demetrius who is well spoken of by everyone. He’s walking in truth and obeying Jesus. Jesus said, “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them” (Matthew 7:15-20). When there’s no faithfulness to love, no faithfulness to truth, no faithfulness to doing what is good, then it’s a bad tree. Demetrius is a good tree. He’s doing what is right. He’s preaching the whole truth. The fruit of Diotrephes show that his words are false. His fruit includes: rebellion, self-centeredness, lack of love, and malicious gossip. His fruit doesn’t line up with the words that he is right before God.
John closes 3 John similarly to how he closed 2 John. Gaius needs to feel the peace of Christ. Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27). John is telling Gaius, “Let the peace of Christ remain in you, and know that you have friends. There are lots of people of the truth. Greet them. Welcome them. Love them.”
In 2 John, John says to walk in the truth, walk in love, and walk in discernment. In 3 John he says to remain faithful in the truth, remain faithful in love, and remain faithful in discerning and doing what is good.
May we continue to walk in the truth and remain faithful to the truth even if others do not. May we continue to walk in love and remain faithful in love even when others are not. May we walk in discernment and remain faithful in discerning and doing what is good even if others do not. May your life be spoken well of by the truth.
Verse Completion: . . . forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins. Mark 11:25 (NIV)