Archive for July, 2008

The Cost of Commitment

Thursday, July 24th, 2008

“So Elisha turned back from him, and took a yoke of oxen and slaughtered them. . . . Then he arose and followed Elijah, and became his servant.”  (1 Kings 19:21)

When Elijah threw his mantle, or his outer garment, on Elisha, it was a symbolic gesture that said, “I’m passing on my calling to you.” 

From the account we find in 1 Kings 19, we discover a few things about Elisha.  First, we know that he was a relatively wealthy man and came from an affluent home. 

How do we know that?  Because the Bible says that he had 12 yoke of oxen.  Back in those days, owning one pair of oxen meant that you were pretty well off.  To have 12 would mean that you had a considerable acreage. 

For Elisha to follow Elijah was not an easy life.

Elijah’s invitation was not to a leisurely life on easy street.  Elijah’s life was a hard one.  He had many enemies.  He had people who hated him, most notably, Queen Jezebel.  For Elisha to follow Elijah would mean that he would have the same enemies.  The same people who hated Elijah would now hate him.

Many people are surprised to find that the Christian life is not a playground, but a battleground.  The day that you decide to follow Jesus Christ, you begin to face opposition from the devil.  He doesn’t want you to grow spiritually.  He doesn’t want you to move forward.  So he will use every trick up his sleeve to try and pull you back.

We must recognize that to follow Christ means there is a price to pay.  We may lose some friends.  We may have to give up a few things.  It may be difficult at times.  But certainly, it is worth it.

Right Where You Are

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2008

“So Elijah went and found Elisha son of Shaphat plowing a field with a team of oxen. . . . Elijah went over to him and threw his cloak across his shoulders and walked away again.” (1 Kings 19:19)

What was Elisha doing when Elijah called him into the Lord’s service? Was he walking around saying, “I wonder if God ever will do anything in my life?”

No. He was busy. He was plowing a field.

You will find this pattern throughout Scripture. The people God uses are people who are faithful with what He has put before them. The people God uses in big things are people who are faithful in little things.

A lot of people of think that, one day, they would like to perhaps dedicate their lives to Christian service. They say, “I would like to go to another country and maybe become a missionary.”

That is great, but how about serving the Lord where you are right now? Do you think that some mystical thing will happen the moment you step onto foreign soil? Seize the opportunities around you today.

If you want to go to a foreign land where people speak a different language, I know of such a place. The people indigenous to this region are small of stature and hard to understand. They try your patience. They are called kids, and the mission field is called Sunday School.

When we are busy looking for distant opportunities, we might miss the ones that are right in front of us.

Are you serving the Lord right now with what He has called you to do? If so, be faithful in that. Hang in there. Do it well. Do it as unto the Lord. He sees you, and He will one day reward you openly.

The “Best” Gifts

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2008

“Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them. . . . ” (Romans 12:6)

What are the best spiritual gifts for a believer to have? It all depends.

If I am having a difficult time sharing my faith with someone, and you come along and have been gifted as an evangelist, then that is the best gift at that particular moment.

But then let’s say I am trying to understand the meaning of a particular passage of Scripture, and God has given you the gift of teaching. For you to come along could be a great benefit to me.

Then again, let’s say that I am undertaking a complex project, and I need help. What I really need is someone with the gift of helps or administrations.

Or, let’s say that I’m lying in a hospital bed, and I’m discouraged. I don’t really need a Bible study. I don’t need someone to come and help me organize my life. I need someone with the gift of exhortation or encouragement. I need someone to come and help me see that God is still in control of my life.

Each one of these gifts is important, as God has distributed them.

We make a big mistake when we think some gifts are of greater importance than others. They all have their place, and God has given them as He has chosen. Therefore, we need to pray, “Lord, what are my gifts? Help me to discover them. Help me to develop them. Help me to use them.”

One day, when you stand before God, you will be held accountable for what He called you to do. And one day, He will reward you for how faithful you were with what He gave you.

Time Well Spent

Friday, July 18th, 2008

Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the firmament, and those who turn many to righteousness like the stars forever and ever. (Daniel 12:3)

I heard the other day that the average American will spend 15 years in front of the television during his or her lifetime. Can you imagine 15 years of sitting in front of that box, clicking away? What a waste of life.

On the other hand, the Bible speaks of many rewards in heaven for the person who faithfully serves the Lord during his or her lifetime, and even speaks of crowns that will be given. In fact, I think we might be shocked when the awards are presented in heaven.

We may expect them to go to all the big names that we know. But just imagine if most of the awards were given to someone named Maude Firkenbinder. You hadn’t heard about her. She never pastored a church. She never recorded Christian music. She never wrote a book. But she used the gifts that God gave her. Maybe God called her to be a person of prayer. Maybe she labored in obscurity somewhere. But God saw her faithfulness and rewarded her openly.

When you get to heaven, what will you have to show for your life on this earth? Every man will be tried. Every woman will be tried. All of your accomplishments will be evaluated when you stand before Christ.

It is not so much a judgment for sin, but a judgment of time that was spent in a worthless way. Did you have more passion or excitement for your career or for a sport or for your possessions than you had for the things of God?

It will all come to nothing. Wasted hours. Wasted days. Wasted years.

A Matter of the Heart

Tuesday, July 15th, 2008

“And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:13)

It is fascinating to note how Jesus dealt with different people. He never dealt with any two individuals in precisely the same way. He would look beyond the outward veneer and see their hearts.

When a person was really seeking and a miracle was in order, Jesus did one. There are numerous miracles He did for hurting and searching people, like blind Bartimaeus, or the woman whose child was sick, or the woman who spent everything on doctors and needed a miracle, or the ten lepers who came to Him, looking for His touch.

But when people came to Jesus with the wrong motives, it was a different story. In fact, on some occasions, He did not even reveal Himself to them. For example, John 2:23 tells us that when Jesus was in Jerusalem for the Passover, many people believed in Him when they saw the signs He did. But it goes on to say, “Jesus did not commit Himself to them, because He knew all men, and had no need that anyone should testify of man, for He knew what was in man” (vv. 24–25). 

Here were people who believed after they saw Jesus’ miracles, but He would not commit Himself to them. That really seems strange, doesn’t it?

But let’s consider what the word “commit” means. It means, “to entrust someone with something.”

Jesus would not entrust these people with His truth. If they were true seekers, Jesus would have revealed Himself to them. (more…)