Sunday, June 24, 2018

Sun.’s Devo - The Army of God

Read 2 Kings 6:1-7:20; Acts 15:36-16:15;bPsalm 142:1-7; Provebs 17:24-25
Elisha did many personal miracles for his prophets like make a borrowed ax head float. He also spoke to the king the word of the Lord. He would warn him of every plot the king of Aram was planning against Israel so they would be ready for him. The king of Aram found out he was doing this and sent his army with horses and carrots to surround the city that Elisha was in. When Elisha’s servant woke up to see the army, Elisha wasn’t the least bit concerned. He knew that God’s army was surrounding him and it was so much more powerful. Elisha prayed that his servant’s eyes would be opened and they were. He saw for himself the army of God. Elisha prayed that God would blind their eyes and lead the whole army to the city of Sarmaria where he opened their eyes. Israel’s king lived there and as Elisha said, he fed them and sent them home. I can’t imagine what they told their king when they got home with full bellies and no kills.
The king came back and besieged Samaria and the people were starving. The king wanted to blame Elisha and sent out to kill him. Elisha knew he was coming and told him that by tomorrow, a seah of flour will sell for a shekel and two seah of barley for a shekel at the gate of Samaria. The king’s guard laughed at this and was told he would see it but never get any. It happened just as Elisha said. Once again, the army of Aram is humiliated and not able to fire a shot. They run with their tails between their legs as they hear the army of God. Lepers find their tents full of loot and food and share the news with Samaria. Samaria is blessed and the man who doubted is trampled in the gates.
In Acts, Paul sets out to go back and strengthen the churches he started. He is given a vision of an angel telling him to come to Macedonia and help them. He obeys and saves a prominent woman named Lydia who believes along with her household.
Lord, help us not to panic when the enemy comes in like a flood. Thank you that your army is still strong and fighting for us.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Sat.’s Devo - Count the Cost

Sat.’s Devo - Count the Cost 6-23-18
Read: 2 Kings 4:18-5:27; Acts 15:1-35 Psalm 141:1-10; Proverbs 17:23
The story of the Shunemite woman is so interesting to me. She was blessed with a son because of her kindness to Elisha and now the son was dead. She didn’t panic or even tell her husband. She went straight to Elisha and refused to leave without him.
When Elisha got there he found the boy dead on the bed. Gehazi had already placed his staff on him and it didn’t change his situation so Elisha got as close to the boy as he could. He wanted his spirit to be passed to the boy. It worked and the boy sneezed seven times and was healed and alive.
Gehazi was to Elisha as Elisha had been to Elijah. He would get Elisha’s mantle if he kept serving him and kept his heart pure.
Sadly, in the next story lost Gehazi the mantle.
A Jewish girl had been taken captive by the Armenians and became the slave of Naaman, the commander of the Armenian army. Naaman had leprosy and the young slave mentioned that there was a prophet in Israel who could heal him. He took 10 talents of silver, 6,000 shekels of gold and 10 sets of clothing. He sent a letter to the king of Israel to heal his leprosy. The king was distraught and tore his robe thinking that Aram was picking a fight with Israel. Elisha heard about it and sent word to the king to send Naaman to him.
Elisha didn’t even come outside to see him. He sent Gehazi out to tell him to wash in the Jordan 7 times. Naaman was outraged that Elisha didn’t even give him an audience and that he sent him to the muddiest river in Israel to wash in. He stormed off mad until his servant talked some sense into him. It was a small thing that the prophet had asked him to do. He was to dip in the dirt and come out clean. It was a dichotomy but God is the God of mystery and opposites. He did and was miraculously cleansed. He wanted to pay Elisha but he wouldn’t hear of it. Gehazi decided that he wanted some of that loot so he lied to the commander saying that Elisha had sent him to get 2 talents of silver and two sets of clothing for two young prophets. Then he lied again to Elisha about it. This cost him his prophetic mantle and he died of leprosy. How he thought he could trick Elisha showed how deceived he was. He sold his destiny for a little money and clothes! How sad.
The church in Acts was dealing with wrong teaching. Some thought that the Gentiles should be made to get circumcised. Circumcision was just a picture of salvation. Peter met with the apostles and elders and they decided that they didn’t need to be circumcised by they did need to abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality and meat of strangled animals. (Where was PETA, then?)
Lord, we pray with the Psalmist, “Set a guard over our mouths and keep watch over the door of our lips. Let our hearts not be turned to evil and let us not take part in anything evil.”

Friday, June 22, 2018

Fri.’s Devo - The God of Abundance

Read: 2 Kings 3:1-4:17; Acts 14:8-28; Psalm 140:1-13; Proverbs 17:22
Mesha, the king of Moab had been supplying the king of Israel with 100,000 lambs and the wool of 100,000 rams a year. They decided they were done with that and rebelled. The king of Israel asked Jehoshaphat, king of Judah and the king of Edom to help him fight them. They all agreed but after a seven day march they ran out of water for them and their animals. Only Jehoshaphat wanted to ask for God’s help. He asked if there was a prophet around.
The king of Israel knew of Elisha and they called for him. He told them that the only reason he agreed to meet with them was because he had respect for Jehoshaphat, certainly not them. (You have to love the boldness God gives prophets to speak the truth!)
Elisha asked for a harpist to play while he got in God’s presence to hear his word. God’s word was to dig trenches because God was going to supernaturally fill the trenches with water. They would totally win the battle. It happened just as Elisha said it would.
We go from God using Elisha to save a nation to saving a widow and her two sons. She was the wife of a prophet who had died and was going to lose her two sons to slavery because she couldn’t pay her debts. Elisha asked her what she had and it was a little oil. She was able to fill all the jars she could find with that little oil and it sustained her and her sons the rest of their life.
Next, Elisha blessed a barren woman with a son.
God is able to take our obedience and multiply it for whatever we need. The kings needed water and God gave it in abundance. The widow woman needed money to keep her sons out of slavery and God blessed her with enough oil to sustain her through life. The barren lady needed a child and God blessed her with one. God is the God of abundance; the God of more than enough.
Our story in Acts is such an interesting story of human nature. The people in Lystra see one remarkable miracle and decide that Paul and Barnabas are Greek gods come to life in one minute and the next they are stoning them. If there is one thing we can learn from Paul it is that the church is very fickle and you have to keep your mission about God or you will fail. Paul did that and just kept going.
Lord, help us see that you are the God of more than enough. May we walk in obedience.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Thurs.’s Devo - The Next Generation

2 Kings 1:1-2:25; Acts 13:42-14:7; Psalm 139:1-24; Proverbs 17:19-21
Ahab’s son Ahaziah followed him in evil and was injured by falling through the roof of his house. He sent his officers to ask Baal-Zebub if he would recover from his injury. Baal-Zebub means “lord of the fly” and refers to a poisonous fly that bites. God sent Elijah to intercept the messengers and give his message to the king. God’s message was that since he thought he needed to ask a false prophet his future, he would die without recovering.
When Azariah discovered it was Elijah who had prophesied his death, he sent 50 men to bring him back. Elijah called down fire and they were consumed. Another 50 were sent and the same thing happened to them. When another 50 were sent, that officer humbled himself before Elijah calling him a man of God and begging him to spare his life and the life of his men. God told him to go with that man back to the king.
Elijah followed him back to the king and told him face to face what God said. Ahaziah died and his son, Joram succeeded him.
It was time for Elijah to leave and all the prophets knew it including Elisha. Elijah kept trying to get alone so he could leave the earth. Elisha was determined to get a blessing from Elijah and would not leave Elijah’s side. Elijah went to Beth-el, Jericho, and Jordan. Bethel was the place Abraham was called by God to be the Father of many nations. Jericho was the first city Joshua led the people to conquer when they reached the promised land and Jordan was the region that Jesus ministered in while he was on earth. Elijah felt the need to walk these areas on the last day of his life on earth. When he asked Elisha what he wanted, he replied that he wanted a double portion of Elijah’s spirit. Elijah told him that what he asked for was difficult but if he saw him leave, then he could have it. He did see the chariot of fire and he did see Elijah leave so he tore his own clothes off and put on the cloak of Elijah’s and immediately started calling on his spirit. He parted the Jordan and walked across. Then he healed the bitter waters with salt and called down a curse on some boys who were mocking him. Bears mauled them to death.
Elisha went to Mount Carmel where Elijah had called down fire and killed the prophets of Baal to spend some time there, then returned to Samaria.
In Acts, Paul and Barnabas were asked to come back the next Sabbath and teach. That next week, most of the town showed up to hear what they had to say. They explained that they were lights to the Gentiles to find their way to their God. The Gentiles were elated, but many of the Jews were not so happy about that. They formed a coalition of important people in the town against Paul and Barnabas. They threw them from their region. Paul and Barnabas left praising God for the opportunity to suffer for Christ.
They left there and went to Iconium where the same things happened. Many were saved and saw the miraculous power of God and many were upset and caused trouble for Paul and Barnabas. When they found out their was a plot to stone them, they fled the town and went to Lystra and Derbe. Nothing could stop them from preaching the truth.
Lord, may we be as determined as Elisha to get the mantle we want and as faithful as Paul and Barnabas to continue in our walk no matter the opposition.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Wed.’s Devo - Living For Eternity

Read: 1 Kings 22: 1-53; Acts 13:16-41; Psalm 138:1-8; Proverbs 17:17-18
After years and years of fighting one another, Judah and Israel decided to join forces and fight Aram to regain Ramoth Gilead. Ahab had his false prophets who prophesied that they would win. Jehoshaphat, king of Judah asked if there was a prophet of the Lord they could ask. Ahab knew of Micaiah but he hated him because he never had anything good to say to him. Jehoshaphat insisted they ask him anyway so Ahab sent for Micaiah.
He sarcastically prophesied what the other prophets said then told them the truth. They would not win if they went out against Aram. He told them that if Ahab went to war he
would be killed. When he said this one of Ahab’s prophets slapped him in the face and mocked him. Ahab had Micaiah sent to Amon and put in jail until he returned safely.
Ahab never returned safely because just as Micaiah had prophesied, he died in the battle. The dogs licked his blood from his chariot to fulfill Elijah’s prophesy. Ahaziah his son became king of Israel for two years. He was also evil and worshiped Baal.
The prophets laid down their lives to say the truth. They refused to sugar coat God’s word for their own comfort. It is truly not this life that we are living for but eternity. Whatever we lose for the gospel will be rewarded in eternity.
In Acts, Paul is in Antioch at the synagogue. The rulers had asked Paul if he had any encouragement for the people. Paul stood up and gave them a history lesson. He started with Moses and spoke of Samuel, Saul, David, John the Baptist, and Jesus. He explained that Jesus was the one David had said would be God’s son. He was the one promised that would forgive their sins and be their Messiah.
Lord, help us to live for eternity.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Tues.’s Devo - God is the Victor

Read: 1 Kings 20:1-21:29; Acts 12:24-13:15; Psalm 137:1-9; Proverbs 17:16
God had told Elijah to anoint Hazael the king over Aram. Ben-Hadad was king at the time. He rallied his army to attack Samaria, Israel’s land. First he sent his messengers to intimidate Ahab and then he boasted of what he was going to do to them since they refused to give him all he wanted. Ahab told him he shouldn’t count his chickens before they hatched and got ready for war. Ben-hadad’s army way out-numbered Ahab’s but God sent a prophet to Ahab to give him strategy and tell him that He would give him the victory. Ahab was to start the battle himself and he was to send out the 232 young officers of the provincial commanders to fight first. The officers killed their opponents and caused the Armenian army to flee with Israel on their tails.
The prophet came back and told Ahab that the army of Aram would return to fight in the spring.
They did come back and this time were defeated even worse. They had thought that God could only fight in the hills and not in the plains. God proved that he was the God of the plains also. One hundred and twenty-seven thousand were killed of the Armenians. Their officials told Ben-hadad, king of Aram that the Israelites were merciful so they should surrender to them. They made a treaty of peace and the prophet returned to let Ahab know that he had made a mistake by letting Ben-hadad live. Ahab would die for this.
Ahab didn’t learn his lesson and went home and lusted after Naboth’s vineyard which he wanted for a vegetable garden since it was so close to his house. The vineyard was Naboth’s inheritance and he didn’t want to sell it so Jezebel got involved and had Naboth’s name slandered and wrongly accused him of blasphemy with the penalty of stoning. Once Naboth was dead, Ahab was able to take his vineyard.
God sent Elijah to tell Ahab that he would die in the same place that Naboth died. Jezebel would have her blood spilled on the ground by the wall of Naboth’s vineyard and the dogs would eat her body.
Ahab humbled himself and God repented of judging him in his lifetime. The judgment would be passed to his children.
In Acts, revival continued to spread. When the Spirit was moving, and prophecy was coming forth, Satan couldn’t stand it and sent his prophets. Satan’s prophet was Bar-Jesus who was an attendant of the proconsul. The proconsul was interested in hearing about Jesus but Bar-Jesus tried to stop Paul. Paul called him out and called down blindness on the sorcerer and he immediately became blind. This got the proconsul’s attention and he became a believer in Christ.
Lord, we pray for discernment to know your prophets from Satan’s. Let us not be afraid to confront evil because light is so much more powerful than darkness. Light disperses the dark.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Mon.’s Devo - A New Order

Read: 1 Kings 19:1-21; Acts 12:1-23; Psalm 136:1-26; Proverbs 17:14-15
Ahab come home awestruck by what he had witnessed but Jezebel was there to strike him down from his spiritual high. Elijah was hopeful of a national repentance but instead was threatened and had to flee for his life. He ended up under a broom tree in Beersheba ready to quit. This was the same place that Hagar found herself when she had been kicked out of Abraham’s house. God sustained her and Ishmael and so God did for Elijah. An angel woke him up twice and fed him and gave him drink that would sustain him for the 40 day trek to the mountain of Horeb. Horeb is the mountain range that has Mt. Sinai where God gave Moses the law.
God told Elijah to go and stand on the mountain because He was about to pass by. Elijah witnessed destructive winds, an earthquake and a fire, but God was not in any of them. Then he heard the whisper of God and went outside where God gave him instructions. He sent him to anoint Hazel king over Aram, Jehu king over Israel and Elisha to succeed him as prophet. He encouraged him with the fact that there were 7,000 people in Israel who had remained faithful to him.
Elijah left and met Elisha first. Elisha was plowing with 12 oxen when Elijah threw his mantle on him. No doubt, these oxen were his inheritance and his occupation. He had to sacrifice them and completely burn them to follow his new calling.
It is so easy to get distracted by the bad events happening in our world, but if we will just wait, God will whisper peace to our hearts and give us his instruction. We cannot save the world, but we can do what God calls us to do and that is enough. God is in control of the rest.
In Acts, Peter is thrown in prison again but this time Herod has him more heavily guarded. There are four squads of soldiers assign to him and he is chained between two guards. An angel comes and springs him out of jail and saves his life. Herod is furious and has the guards killed. He leaves for Caesarea and there his pride kills him…literally.
God knows how to preserve us and protect us. We don’t ever have to fear the enemy.
Lord, help us to boldly proclaim the truth.