ORDINARY PEOPLE – EXTRAORDINARY LEGACY! (Part 2: Elijah)

Elijah

1 Kings 17:1 (GOD’S WORD® Translation)

Elijah, who was from Tishbe but had settled in Gilead, said to Ahab, “I solemnly swear, as the LORD God of Israel whom I serve lives, there will be no dew or rain during the next few years unless I say so.” 

 

Prophet Elijah had a larger than life epic impact on Israel. It was he who called down fire from heaven, and was himself carried into heaven on a chariot of fire while he was still alive. To cap it all, he and Moses appeared on the mountain of transfiguration and discussed with Jesus about his impending crucifixion.

But what do we know about the origins of Elijah compared with other great characters in the Old Testament like Abraham, Moses, Samuel, David and Daniel? Very little, nothing really – Elijah just seems to burst into the scene from nowhere to directly confront wicked King Ahab and his equally tyrannical wife Jezebel.

Elijah was not a prince like the Prophets Moses, Isaiah and Daniel, neither was he from a priestly lineage like the Prophets Jeremiah and Ezekiel. His background is just so insignificant; many Bible scholars believe he was an internal migrant or even a wanderer who eventually settled in Gilead for an extended period of time.

Despite Elijah’s ordinary background and lineage, he had an extraordinary prophetic impact on Israel, was a trusted counsel to the Lord Jesus, and his life has been an inspiration to millions and millions of Christians through the ages. What accounts for such an extraordinary legacy – its Elijah’s absolute trust in Yahweh.

So, you may have been born with a wooden spoon or no spoon, don’t envy those born with golden and silver spoons, turn your eyes upon Jesus, turn your eyes upon Yahweh, and you too will able to testify “Here is a poor man who called out. The LORD heard him and saved him from all his troubles.” (Psalm 34:6 GWT)  

 

Image: Ascension of Elijah (Wikimedia)

ORDINARY PEOPLE – EXTRAORDINARY LEGACY! (Part 1: Ruth)

Ruth's_Wise_Choice_(Bible_Card)

Ruth 4:13-17 (shortened) (New Living Translation)

So Boaz took Ruth… and she became his wife. When he slept with her, the LORD enabled her to become pregnant, and she gave birth to a son. Naomi took the baby and… cared for him as if he were her own… they named him Obed. He became the father of Jesse and the grandfather of David.

 

The story of Ruth starts with overwhelming tragedy but ends gloriously. Ruth from the tribe of Moab, a young widow, commits to caring for Naomi her mother-in-law. Naomi, an Israelite living in the land Moab had lost her husband and her two married sons, and become poor with no means of providing for herself.

Naomi decides to return to Israel; one daughter-in-law refuses to go with her, but good hearted Ruth would not let elderly Naomi return alone with no helper. Back in Israel, Ruth worked hard in the fields during the harvest to provide for herself and Naomi. In doing so, her beauty of character caught and won the attention of Boaz.

Boaz marries Ruth and their union eventually gave us King David. What explains this extra-ordinary outcome? The answer is in Ruth’s declaration to Naomi “Your people will be my people, AND YOUR GOD WILL BE MY GOD.” (Ruth 1:16 NLT)   

Ruth showed extra-ordinary faith in Yahweh, and Yahweh blessed her with an extra-ordinary legacy. As you look to the Lord in faith in all you do, I pray the Lord also gives you an extra-ordinary legacy, Amen!  

 

Image: Ruth’s wise choice (Wikimedia)

THANKFULNESS

Rest_and_be_thankfull_-_geograph.org.uk_-_808103

2 Corinthians 1:8-11 (New Living Translation)

We think you ought to know, dear brothers and sisters, about the trouble we went through in the province of Asia. We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure… we expected to die. But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God, who raises the dead. 

And he did rescue us from mortal danger, and he will rescue us again. We have placed our confidence in him, and he will continue to rescue us. And you are helping us by praying for us. Then many people will give thanks because God has graciously answered so many prayers for our safety.

 

Jesus referred to James and John as sons of thunder; in Acts, Chapter 4, Joseph the Levite was nicknamed Barnabas the ‘son of encouragement’; going through the letters of Apostle Paul, we easily see that he was a ‘son of thankfulness’.

Paul passed through many life threatening challenges in his missionary travels like the experience he shared in 2 Corinthians, yet he was always giving thanks and praising God in all his letters. How was Paul able to maintain a thankful spirit?

In 1 Timothy 1:15-16 Paul writes: ‘“Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”–and I am the worst of them all. But God had mercy on me so that Christ Jesus could use me as a prime example of his great patience with even the worst sinners. 

Paul was eternally grateful for God’s mercy and this led to a life of thanksgiving no matter his circumstances. Are we allowing our daily troubles, to blind us to the mercies of God, which empowers us afresh when we wake up every morning?

Are we grateful and thankful? Please make time every day in this coming week to pray – ‘thank you God for my Christian faith, which has come to me through the sacrifice of many, I am grateful and thankful, in Jesus name, Amen!’ 

 

Image: Rest and be thankful (Wikimedia)

WE SERVE A MAGNANIMOUS GOD

Matthew 5:43-45 (New Living Translation)

“You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike.

 

As long as planet Earth continues to exist, and the cycles of day and night, wet and dry seasons do not cease, the planet will continue to support human life. The seasons and cycles were established by God when he created the world, to sustain life on Earth, irrespective of our moral choices, whether good or bad.

Sunlight is not just good for plants, but allows for human activities of all kinds during the day, and has a powerful influence on our moods and emotions. The rain nourishes the soil and is a delight to the human soul – just ask the billions and billions of children throughout human history with great memories of playing in the rain.

God in his magnanimity – in his great generosity and kindness towards all people, just and unjust – has given us a world where all the elements, living and non-living things, exist partly to be a joyful blessing to humans on the planet.

Our daily troubles often make us blind to the joys and wonder of creation freely available to all. Lets take a moment this week to appreciate God’s magnanimity to us all, and his great heart of love towards us that is behind it all.

Take a minute every morning this week, before you get busy, to pray ‘thank you Lord for the sun and rain, trees and flowers, birds that sing, people that are nice to me, and for your love that makes it all possible – Amen’.

 

Image: Enjoying the rain (Wikimedia

THE GOOD NEWS FROM JESUS – Part 3 conclusion

Prayer hands

Luke 4:18-21 (New Living Translation)

“The Spirit of the LORD is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, and that the time of the LORD’s favor has come.” … The Scripture you’ve just heard has been fulfilled this very day!

 

In his earthly ministry, Jesus did heal a number of blind people. However, his message here is addressing spiritual blindness – an inability to see and understand God’s plans and purposes for the world and for our individual lives.

When Jesus states that he has come so the ‘oppressed will be set free’ – the people felt he meant he was going to deliver them from Roman conquest, but as always Jesus was referring to spiritual oppression. A condition that involves wicked Satanic domination over a person’s spirit, sometimes in the form of demonic possession.

The good news for those who heard him read that passage from Isaiah, and to us, is indeed that the time of God’s favor has come through Jesus, and He is destroying the wicked works of the Devil. How can we enjoy this favor from God?

Apostle Paul states in Romans 10:13 (NLT) that whether Jews or Gentiles “Everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved.” 

FREEDOM from Satanic captivity resulting in ungodly habits, and eyes to understand God’s loving plans and purposes, is now available to us through Jesus. Speak with Jesus in sincere persistent prayers today, asking for freedom and spiritual enlightenment. May the Lord answer your prayers speedily, Amen!

 

Image: Praying Hands (Wikimedia)

 

THE GOOD NEWS FROM JESUS – Part 2

Peanut

Luke 4:18-19 (New Living Translation)

“The Spirit of the LORD is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released…”

 

Who are these captives? We read in the gospel that when Jesus died, many graves were miraculously opened and The bodies of many godly men and women who had died were raised from the dead” (Matthew 27:52 NLT).

There are Christians who hold that these were Old Testament saints held in captivity by Satan, but now have been set free by Jesus and are in heaven with him. There are others who teach that these were ordinary people who had died in Jerusalem and God raised them up as a sign that Jesus will rise from the dead. While there is disagreement over this, there is no disagreement over Romans 7:21-25 (KJV).

“I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord…”

Apostle Paul states that we are all captives to the power of sin, such that even when we want to do good, we experience an internal power influencing us towards sin. This is  why many are addicts or captives to destructive habits – over food, alcohol, clothes and jewelry, gossiping, pornography, love of money, and countless other vices.

What is that sin or vice that forcefully holds me captive? There is no shame in admitting to it in prayer and asking to be free. Jesus has come to set the captives to sin free, reach out to Him in prayer, in faith, and be FREE! Amen!!!

 

Image: Sprouting new life from an old seed… (Wikimedia)

 

THE GOOD NEWS FROM JESUS – Part 1

Street Painter View of Jesus

Luke 4:16-21 (New Living Translation)

When he [Jesus] came to the village of Nazareth, his boyhood home, he went as usual to the synagogue on the Sabbath and stood up to read the Scriptures. The scroll of Isaiah the prophet was handed to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where this was written:

“The Spirit of the LORD is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, and that the time of the LORD’s favor has come.”

He rolled up the scroll, handed it back to the attendant, and sat down. All eyes in the synagogue looked at him intently. Then he [Jesus] began to speak to them. “The Scripture you’ve just heard has been fulfilled this very day!”

 

The above passage is about Jesus introducing his ministry to the people after his 40 days fasting and being tempted by Satan in the wilderness. This is Jesus laying out the five big goals behind the work he will do while he walked on Earth. Let’s consider the first of these in today’s blog – “bring Good News to the poor.” 

Let’s start with the bad news – at creation, Adam was given rulership over the Earth, to rule under the guidance of God. Satan dethroned Adam, gaining authority and power over the Earth, including over our bodies, our soul, and our spirit. Satan uses this power to strongly influence every human person to live ungodly lives.

So, what is the good news?

It is that Jesus has set up the kingdom of God on Earth, side by side with the kingdom of Satan. Jesus has invaded the Earth and is forcefully establishing his own area of authority and power over our spirit, soul, and eventually our bodies. I can now choose to follow Jesus and live under the resurrection power of the kingdom of God.

Believing in Jesus, joining a Church, and diligent study of the Bible to understand God’s character, is how we join the kingdom of God. When God is satisfied with the number of people who have entered into the kingdom of God, this world will end, and a new world made up of only members of kingdom of God, ruled by Jesus, will begin.

This is the good news in summary. Are you in or out? Holy Spirit, please give us all a clear view of the good and beautiful kingdom of God, Amen!!!

 

Image: A street painter’s drawing of Jesus (Wikimedia)