Category: Insecurity


Scripture

2 Kings 13:18-19 (NIV)

Then he said, “Take the arrows,” and the king took them. Elisha told him, “Strike the ground.” He struck it three times and stopped. 19 The man of God was angry with him and said, “You should have struck the ground five or six times; then you would have defeated Aram and completely destroyed it. But now you will defeat it only three times.”

Observation

Too often when we look upon our lives, the victories, and more often the defeats, we focus, not on God and His unlimited power, but on the little that we think we have available to us. Let’s look at the case of King Jehoash of Israel. Israel had been at war with Aram for quite a while. During the reign of his father, Jehoahaz, Israel had been under great oppression to the point that his father, a sinful man who followed the ways of Jeroboam, son of Nebat (2 Kings 13:2), turned to the Lord for help (2 Kings 13:4-6). Despite the Lord’s help, the people of Israel continued to sin against God. This might come as a surprise because Jehoahaz had sought the Lord’s favor. Jehoahaz seeking the Lord, amongst the other “gods” that he worshipped, was a symptom of a desperate, not faithful, man.

When Jehoash goes to the prophet, Elisha, who is on his deathbed, Elisha has him shoot an arrow out the window. When Jehoash shot the arrow out the window, Elisha declared it to be an arrow of victory over Aram at Aphek, a single battle (2 Kings 13:17). Elisha then instructed Jehoash to strike the ground with the remaining arrows. Jehoash strikes the ground three times and stops, angering Elisha (2 Kings 13:18-19). I have often wondered about this incident. Why would Jehoash strike the ground more than three times? What is the connection?

Amongst the many tools used for divination, were arrows (Ezekiel 21:21). When the first arrow was shot out the window, Jehoash knew that there would be victory over the Arameans at Aphek. I think that was enough for Jehoash. While I believe that he would have wanted his enemy destroyed, I think that he thought about the things of his world. The size of his army and the years of oppression by the Arameans. The army was quite small, only “fifty horsemen, ten chariots and ten thousand foot soldiers” (2 Kings 13:7). Surely, it would be even smaller after defeating the Arameans at Aphek. However, God had more available to Israel.

In striking the ground with the arrows only three times Jehoash demonstrates the weakness of his faith, his belief in the power of God. If Jehoash had a true zeal for the Lord and what he had just been told, he would have been excited and struck the ground, in victory, over and over again, smashing those arrows, and would have only stopped when Elisha told him to do so. We aren’t that different from King Jehoash.

Each one of us was in the world, at one time, we saw things from a worldly viewpoint. Some of us may have gone to God in desperation. There’s nothing wrong with that. He’s a good Father and draws people to Him in the easiest way that they will come. What we do, however, once we have entered into the bosom of the Father, is another thing. Are we able to recognize the power of God in our lives? Can we recognize the power of God in our lives if we have sought so many other gods in our search for the One true God?

There are many tools that God uses to help us in our lives. Look around you. God gives each one of us the skills that we need in this life. Some are doctors, lawyers, counselors, bankers, etc. When I was delivered from lifelong depression it was God who did it. How it was done isn’t as relevant as to who did it. How we assign credit in our lives is more important than that which was done. Similarly, how we see defeat is important. Before you knew God, you were in the world and you were shaped by the sin in the world. Once you became born again you were no longer of this world but still affected by the world.

The things that weigh upon us are weightless in the hands of God. If only we could remember that when we go to Him. However, we look at ourselves, our circumstances, and where we see ourselves. Not in God’s plan, but in our limited scope of yesterday. We may try and not worry about tomorrow but it still threatens us. Perhaps it’s just me. Perhaps I’m the only one who wants to see God’s promises in my life fulfilled, but I’m often too comfortable with the way that things are right now. I revel in the needs supplied yesterday and truly want to do more, but I’m afraid. Afraid that I will fail God. That I’m not strong enough. I’ve walked through the defeats, and they weigh heavily on me, in the victory today, I strike the ground, in my cautious zeal, not wanting to push my luck, and God, He’s not angry, but He tells me, “I have more.”

I hope, in hearing His voice. In knowing that He has more, for you, for me, that we will push our faith, in God. Not in us, for we will fail, in our strength. I hope we will smash those arrows, those fearful arrows of doubt, upon the ground, shouting to God, “I believe! I believe!! I believe!! I believe!!! I BELIEVE!!!!”

Do you know God? God knows you and He loves you. He sees you as significant because you are. Nothing is insignificant to Him. He’s with you today, right now, and He wants you to know Him. Jesus died for your sins and mine so that we could be free of guilt, be freed from death, and live eternally with Him. Eternal salvation is just a prayer away.

Pray this prayer with me to accept the gift of salvation today:

Dear Lord Jesus, I know that I am a sinner, and I ask for Your forgiveness. I believe You died for my sins and rose from the dead. I turn from my sins and invite You to come into my heart and life. I want to trust and follow You as my Lord and Savior. Amen.

If you prayed that prayer then congratulations! You are on the first step of a brand new life. Allow me to be the first to welcome you to my family, the family of God. There are abundant resources available online for new Christians. You can visit here for more information on what to do next. You can also leave me a comment and I’ll do my best to help you on the next step of this incredible journey.

Most of us don’t want pain in our lives. We want everything to be hunky-dory. We’ll pray for “traveling mercies” and we thank God when everything goes well. There’s nothing wrong with any of that. Think about it, how would our lives be if we wanted bad things to happen? The thing is, though, those good things happen and so do bad things. I believe that without all of the bad things that happen in our lives we wouldn’t be able to appreciate the good. Good and bad are two sides of the same coin. Life is made up of coins and they have two sides. However, unlike accepting coins, when they’re freely given, we often, as in terms of good and bad, only want the one side of the coin. I want to take a look at the coin that is hope.

Hope is belief. If I have hope then I am believing something. Allow me to suggest that where there’s hope there’s doubt. It makes sense, doesn’t it? If I am certain, then there’s no need to hope. Hope means that I have a belief that something is going to turn out in a way that I want it to turn out, right? Subsequently, if I have a belief that something is not going to turn out how I desire then I also have doubt. You cannot have hope without doubt. Let’s look at it like this:

What we want to happen is hope.
What we do not want to happen is doubt.

I want to look at faith, because I don’t see it like a coin, because faith is neither good nor bad, in itself. Let’s look at what Merriam-Webster says:

2 b (1) firm belief in something for which there is no proof.

Faith is a belief in something. Hope is the expression of something happening in the way that we want it to happen. Doubt is the expression of something happening the way that we don’t want it to happen. When you’re sitting on a chair, you don’t have hope that it will hold you up unless the chair has demonstrated that it might not be able to do so. You have faith that the chair will do what it’s supposed to do. When we are expressing our hope in God, through faith, and we believe Him to be good, then we believe that He will do good.

Let’s look at some expressions of faith, hope, and doubt in Scripture.

Mark 9:21-24 (NIV)
21 Jesus asked the boy’s father, “How long has he been like this?”
“From childhood,” he answered. 22 “It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”
23 “‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.”
24 Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”

Here the father of this boy came to Jesus to heal his son from demon possession. The father had lived a long time within these circumstances but he hoped that Jesus would be able to do something. Hope is expressed in faith through his action by going to Jesus for healing. After the disciples couldn’t cast out the demon and heal the boy, the father’s doubt was likely soaring. However, he didn’t turn away and leave. He even asked Jesus to help him with his lack of belief in hope rather than doubt. Did Jesus turn the man away because of his doubt? No, He did not. Jesus told the man that “everything is possible for one who believes” and healed the boy. Jesus didn’t turn the man away telling him that He wouldn’t help him because he had a doubt. It was the man’s faith in hope, perhaps as small as a mustard seed (Matthew 17:20), that allowed his son to be healed.

Matthew 14:28-31 (NIV)
28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”
29 “Come,” he said.
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water, and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”
31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”

When you read of Peter walking on the water, here in Matthew, what do you see? Peter demonstrates his hope through faith in Jesus when he declares, “Lord, if it’s you, tell me to come to you on the water.” Peter’s belief that Jesus was the Christ gave him hope that he could do anything that Jesus told him to do. However, once Peter got out of the boat (faith) and started walking on the water (faith) he doubted when he took his eyes off of Jesus. We can surmise that Peter didn’t merely step onto the water, see the waves being buffeted by the wind, and sink immediately. I expect that Peter walked some distance towards Jesus as Jesus walked towards him because I don’t see Jesus just standing there while Peter walked towards Him (James 4:8). He had to have walked towards Peter, or else Peter traveled a bit of a distance, to be so close that Jesus was able to reach down and save him.

Walking on water and staying on top of the water requires persistent faith. A constant source of hope being expressed in faith. All it takes is a moment of doubt and down you go.

As Believers, we never want to have any doubt. This is where I find thanksgiving to be very helpful. Scripture tells us, “whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours” (Mark 11:24 NIV). It’s fantastic to ask God to heal, bless, save, and deliver. He’s our Father and He wants us to come to Him in prayer. There is something, however, that changes in our mindset when we start thanking God for the things we ask for in prayer and stop praying for them as if they haven’t happened yet. It’s like we’re no longer flipping a hope coin but a hope/hope coin that will not be shaken.

Do you hope for better days? Are you tired of placing your hope in things that don’t deliver? God is the source of hope, and when you hope in Him, He will not let you down.

Pray this prayer with me to accept the gift of salvation today:

Dear Lord Jesus, I know that I am a sinner, and I ask for Your forgiveness. I believe You died for my sins and rose from the dead. I turn from my sins and invite You to come into my heart and life. I want to trust and follow You as my Lord and Savior. You are my only hope. Amen.

If you prayed that prayer then congratulations! You are on the first step of a brand new life. Allow me to be the first to welcome you to my family, the family of God. There are abundant resources available online for new Christians. You can visit here for more information on what to do next. You can also leave me a comment and I’ll do my best to help you on the next step of this incredible journey.

Scripture

1 Kings 19:3-5 (NIV)

3 Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, 4 while he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness. He came to a broom bush, sat down under it, and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.”

Observation

We all need encouragement sometimes. It doesn’t matter how long we’ve walked with the Lord or what He’s done in and through us, we need an encouraging word. Let’s look at the case of Elijah the Tishbite.

Elijah had such a strong anointing that he was able to stop it from raining by his word (1 Kings 17:1). His faith was so great that he did what God told him to do without question. When God told him to hide in the Kerith Ravine and that ravens were going to supply him with food, he believed God and went and hid at the Ravine. Ravens brought Elijah food every morning and evening (1 Kings 17:2-6). When the brook that was supplying him water dried up, the Lord told him to go to Zarephath, to a widow there, who the Lord had directed to supply Elijah with food (1 Kings 17:7-9). and Elijah went! (1 Kings 17:10)

You might be thinking to yourself that a man who had gone, at the direction of the Lord, to live at a brook and be fed by the birds, surely would go someplace else and let a human supply his needs, right? Well, the land of Zarephath, in the region of Sidon was a place of gentiles. Anyone who isn’t Jewish is a Gentile. In Elijah’s time, God had been very clear that His chosen people, The Israelites, were not only to not associate with gentiles, because they worshiped other gods and would corrupt the Jews with their practices. Furthermore, each day, a Jewish rabbi, such as Elijah, would wake up and pray, “Thank you God that I was not born a slave, a Gentile, or a woman. I can’t imagine what went through Elijah’s mind at the time. All that we know from the text is that Elijah did exactly what God told him to do (1 Kings 17:10). Elijah was the first missionary sent to a foreign people. That took faith.

When the widow’s son died, Elijah did something else in faith that had never been done before in the Bible. He prayed and asked God to bring the woman’s son back to life (1 Kings 17:20-23). It might not seem like a big deal to us today. We know that God heals the sick and raises the dead. A large part of our faith is based on what know God has done in the past. It’s one way we get encouragement. I can say, “I may sick, right now, but God has healed me before, He can do it again.” It’s one reason that Zechariah, John the Baptist’s father, was made mute by the angel Gabriel when he asked the angel, “How can I be sure of this?” (Luke 1:18-20) Zechariah knew of his forefather Abraham and how he was an old man with a wife who, in the natural, couldn’t bear children and yet, because of the promise of God, they had Isaac. And there were many other cases afterward of God bringing healing to barren couples. Zechariah doubted. Elijah, however, believed that God could do anything so he asked for the widow’s son’s life to be restored and God did it.

There’s no doubt that Elijah had a rock-solid faith in God. By the time we see Elijah here, afraid and running for his life, he had seen God do so much. However, Jezebel, King Ahab’s wife, told him that she was going to kill him so he ran in fear. (1 Kings 19:2-3). We can see that Elijah was a man of great faith. I believe that Elijah also had humility. We know that God opposes the proud but shows grace to the humble (James 4:6). In his prayer to the Lord, “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors” (1 Kings 19:4 NIV), I see the force of humility at work. Elijah knew, just as we know, that the things that God had him do had never been done before. The greatest prophet before Elijah had been Moses. I can see Elijah hoping that God would use him like Moses and then, when he became afraid and ran, thinking that he “was no better than his ancestors” who had rejected the covenant and torn down God’s altars. This experience, of running away in fear, would have been even more humbling to Elijah if he had wanted to be the next Moses. Regardless of whether or not Elijah desired to be the next Moses, he couldn’t have done what God had asked him to do without humility.

God encourages Elijah in three ways.

  1. He meets him where he’s at, in the wilderness. Previously, God had always told Elijah to go here or there and Elijah went. In this time, when Elijah was exhausted and at the end of his rope, the Lord sends an angel to feed him to give him the strength to continue.
  2. God reminds Elijah of what He has done and how Elijah has served Him. The Lord asks Elijah twice, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” (1 Kings 19:9,13). God does nothing without a reason. We know that God knows all things and so did Elijah. Therefore, when God asked him, “What are you doing here?” I believe the question is a means of bringing remembrance to Elijah of what the Lord had done and who He did it through. I’m reminded of Jesus asking Peter if he loved Him in the book of John (21:15-19).
  3. The presence of the Lord comes to Elijah. Whenever Elijah had previously heard from the Lord it is described as “The word of the Lord, The Lord said, etc.” However, after the wind, earthquake, and fire there is a gentle whisper and it is a voice that asks Elijah, “What are you doing here?” (1 Kings 19:11-13)

God speaks to us in many ways. He wants us to be encouraged. He doesn’t want us to give up. God could have taken Elijah when he asked to die. Even though Elijah had given up on himself, God didn’t give up on him. He still had work that only Elijah could do. Allow me to encourage you today. God sees you. He knows that you’re tired. He knows that you are walking through this dark world, but you are not alone. He wants you to be refreshed. He has a job for you to do. Otherwise, He’d bring you Home, but right now. Just stop, sit for a moment and listen to his gentle whisper, “I love you, I am with you. I will never leave you nor forsake you. You are mine and I am yours.”

Do you know God? He loves you. He wants you to know Him. He already knows you and He would rather die than not have you in His family. Jesus died for your sins and mine so that we could be free of guilt, be freed from death, and live eternally with Him.

Pray this prayer with me to accept the gift of salvation today:

Dear Lord Jesus, I know that I am a sinner, and I ask for Your forgiveness. I believe You died for my sins and rose from the dead. I turn from my sins and invite You to come into my heart and life. I want to trust and follow You as my Lord and Savior. Amen.

If you prayed that prayer then congratulations! You are on the first step of a brand new life. Allow me to be the first to welcome you to my family, the family of God. There are abundant resources available online for new Christians. You can visit here for more information on what to do next. You can also leave me a comment and I’ll do my best to help you on the next step of this incredible journey.

Was it you

crying out,
in ebony,
silence, on
the line,
an intake
of breath,
sharp,
stolen-
with a
click?