Thursday, March 31, 2011

In A Cave

"Then the word of the Lord came to him, and He said to him, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’” (1 Kings 19:9b)

In prophetic lingo “the word of the Lord came to him” had special significance. It meant that God was about to speak authoritatively to and through His spokesman, the prophet. That is certainly the case here in the interaction between the Lord and Elijah on Mount Horeb, but this expression is somewhat unique. Here it says, “The word of the Lord came to him, and He said to him.” This is more of a personification of the word of the Lord. The Word came to Elijah, and He spoke to him.

This should remind us of John chapter one: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Then later we read, “The Word became flesh and dwelled among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten One of the Father.”

John was referring to Jesus, the Son of God, the Messiah, as this Word of God. That then suggests that Jesus, the Son of God, was the One who was in that cave with Elijah, the One who spoke to him.

Let’s translate this for ourselves. On those days when you find yourself in a proverbial dark cave, on the side of a mountain, in the middle of a desert, you can count on the fact that you as a believer will not be alone. Jesus will be there with you. And that is enough.

Lord, We thank You that no matter where we may be, You will always be there with us. You are our strength, our rock, and our fortress, and You enable us to face everything that comes our way. For this we thank You. Amen.

Monday, March 14, 2011


“Seeing their faith He said, ‘Friend, your sins are forgiven you.’” (Luke 5:20)

The second part of the verse above is the one that created some trouble for Jesus. It created no little stir among His observers who asked in their own minds, “Who can forgive sins but God alone?” The “B” word began to float around the room (“blasphemy”). Jesus took care of that by then actually healing the paralytic. The first part of the verse is the part that has great application for us, though.

Four men, great friends of this unnamed paralyzed man, heard that Jesus was healing. So they carried their friend on his mat to Jesus, but they hadn’t anticipated what they saw. The house Jesus was in was packed with people. They could not get in, and no one was predisposed to move aside. They would not be denied this opportunity, though, so they went up on the roof (via the typical outside stairs) and removed enough of the roof to lower the man on his mat in front of Jesus, so Jesus could heal him.

This is where we see that incredible statement: “Seeing their faith.”

We tend to think of faith as a subjective system of belief and trust. So it is. The tending among many believers, however, is to limit faith just to the area of subjectivity. We speak often of believing with the mind and the heart. In this case, however, Jesus “saw” the faith of these men. That tells us that faith is something that can and should be seen. It should be visible through the actions of those who say they believe.

Faith is something we demonstrate. If you say you believe in the Lord, show it.

Lord, Help us today to demonstrate our faith in You in how we live, speak, and relate. Amen.

Thursday, March 10, 2011


“When they heard this, everyone in the synagogue was enraged. They got up, drove Him out of town, and brought Him to the end of the hill that their town was built on, intending to hurl Him over the cliff.” (Luke 4:28-29)

Think your way through this.

Jesus went to His hometown of Nazareth, His disciples with Him. His brothers and sisters were there, along with his mother, Mary. We don’t know whether Joseph was still alive, but many assume he had died by this time. Jesus had at least four brothers who were named in the New Testament and two sisters. No doubt Jesus had numerous aunts, uncles and cousins there in Nazareth. Both Joseph’s and Mary’s families resided there. Childhood friends Jesus grew up with were there, and then there were the elders and the rabbis.

On the Sabbath Jesus was invited to read from Isaiah and speak. The men of the synagogue were all amazed at His speaking ability, at the graciousness of His words. They were with Him – until two things occurred: 1) they realized that this was the son of Joseph the carpenter, and 2) Jesus spoke positively about Gentiles and negatively toward the Jews. That so enraged them that they intended to execute Him (a portent of what was to come), but Jesus escaped from them miraculously.

Now, imagine the hurt of this rejection. These were people Jesus had grown up respecting and loving. This was His community, His home on earth. His family members lived among them. For these folks to take these actions had to have struck deep into the heart of Jesus.

We are not told the extent of the hurt He endured, but what we are told is that this was not a deterrent to His ministry and His direction. Jesus bore His pain, but was undeterred.

Following Jesus and carrying out the will of God calls for the commitment of a disciple, one who is willing to pay the price that comes with walking with the Lord.

Lord, Help us to understand that there is a cost to discipleship, and help us to be willing to pay that cost as we follow You. Amen.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


“Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion. It cannot be shaken. It remains forever.” (Psalm 125:1)

The sun rises on Mount Zion. Then it sets; next day, same thing. Day after day the sun rises and sets over Mount Zion, and the hill stays the same.

If you stand on the Haas Promenade on the Mount of Olives overlooking Jerusalem and the temple mount, and if you do so day after day, you will always see the same thing. As it was when the psalmist wrote, so it still is today the same Mount Zion. Ultimately, whatever is on Mount Zion may come and go. Two temples have been built there, and both were destroyed. Now, the Dome of the Rock mosque is there, but the hill, Mount Zion, remains.

Mount Zion's day in and day out consistency is how the psalmist describes those who trust in the Lord. Trusting God develops a consistency and an immovability. Whatever comes, comes. Whatever happens, happens. They simply abide in the Lord in trust.

An unshakable faith weather-proofs us. Trusting God is the benchmark of a solid life.

Lord, Help us to put our trust in You and keep it there. Amen.

Thursday, March 3, 2011


“For the Lord had caused the Aramean camp to hear the sound of chariots, horses, and a great army.” (2 Kings 7:6)

A light breeze created an eeriness over the sprawling camp. Mystery settled like fog over a now deserted siege camp outside the city of Samaria. Banners fluttered in the wind as campfires were still burning their way toward embers, the smell of cooking food still hanging in the twilight air. Horses snorted, still tethered to their hitching posts.

Four men – lepers all – starving from the prolonged Aramean siege against Samaria reasoned that they had nothing to lose and warily entered the now deserted camp. They had hoped the Arameans would either take pity on them and give them some food, or else just get it over with and kind them. Instead, they walked into a cornucopia of food and drink and immediately gorged themselves, still not half-believing their good fortune. Bellies full, they came to their senses and decided they must report this to the king of Israel.

The king’s cautious investigation bore out the facts. The announcement to the citizens of Samaria unleashed a torrent as the starving hordes poured through Samaria’s gates and swooped down on the Aramean camp like vultures and picked it clean.

At twilight, just hours earlier, the Lord had caused the Aramean army to hear the sound of chariots, horses, and a huge army moving against them. They concluded that the Israelite king had hired a mercenary army from the Hittites and the Egyptians, so they all fled in terror, leaving everything behind but their own lives.

When desperation seems to be the order of the day, it would be a mistake to assume the Lord is doing nothing. He is always at work, and there is always hope.

Lord, Help us to understand that You are the Author of hope, and that on the days when things don’t go so well, You are still sovereign and act in ways beyond our understanding. Amen.