The God of my father

Read: Genesis 31-32, Matthew 10:24-42

My grandfather was a pastor. For nearly my entire life, he was my pastor. That is, until he died.

Called to the ministry long before he entered it, he had an anointing to heal. People from all over were drawn to his charisma, his grand personality. He was a strong man in ideals and in faith. When he passed away, another minister preached—yes, preached—at his funeral. A room full of people from every facet of his life, both from church and work, heard this pastor speak of the mantle that would now be passed on. Like Elijah to Elisha, the anointing of Papa’s ministry would pass on, but not just to one person. It would spread. The foundation that he laid would not go to waste. The ceiling of his ministry would become the floor for those who would follow in his footsteps.

What is the significance in those who have gone before us?

All through the Bible, God is referred to as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Israel). It was recognised that the men who had gone before had a certain relationship with God. It was generational. And it was important to remember.

…the God of your father…

Genesis 31:29 (NIV)

If the God of my father, the God of Abraham and the Fear of Isaac…

Genesis 31:42 (NIV)

Genesis 31:53

“O God of my father Abraham, God of my father Isaac…”

Genesis 32:9 (NIV)

In two chapters of Genesis, there are no less than four examples of God being referred to as the God of a generation passed. Why?

Because God made promises to Abraham and to Isaac. Over and over again, God had proven himself faithful to Jacob’s father and grandfather. In his persistent reference to the God of his fathers, he reminded himself of those promises and that faithfulness.

We may throw away many things from the previous generation, but one thing that should never be set aside is the faith—the God—of our fathers. I don’t for one second take for granted the spiritual foundation that my grandfather laid. I know that he prayed for every person in his family by name every day. He prayed for me. I know that his work and his prayers were not in vain. I know that the relationship with God that I enjoy today has a lot to do with the relationship he had with God while he still walked this earth.

If you are fortunate enough to belong to the God of your fathers, don’t take it for granted. Look into your heritage and see the promises and the faithfulness.

If you are the first in your line, lay the foundation for future generations. Be the Abraham in your lineage.

Let us never forget the God of our fathers.

Surrounded

I live in a valley. Well, I guess I live halfway up a valley. My house overlooks the valley, but I can still look up at the mountains above me. Today’s reading made me think of my valley.

Just as the mountains surround and protect Jerusalem,
So the Lord surrounds and protects
his people, both now and forever.

Psalm 125:2 (NLT)

There aren’t many ways in and out of my valley. Really only one main highway. The city below is surrounded on all sides by mountains. Rock. Immovable. Firm. Unrelenting. Since the founding of the city, the mountains have not moved. They have not changed. They will not move. They will not change.

So it is with God. Like a city in the mountain valley is surrounded and protected, so we are surrounded and protected by God who is even more immovable and firm than the rock.

Should you ever feel as though you are surrounded by something other than God and His protection, like Elisha prayed for his servant, pray that your eyes would be opened.

Then Elisha prayed, “O Lord, open his eyes and let him see!” The Lord opened his servant’s eyes, and when he looked up, he saw that the hillside around Elisha was filled with horses and chariots of fire.

2 Kings 6:17 (NLT)

We may be surrounded by those who would wish us harm, but they are surrounded by an unshakable, immovable, relentless God who surrounds His own and protects us forever.

Daily Bible reading: Psalm 124-127, 1 Corinthians 7:1-24

Do not get a few

When you pray for a miracle, do you you expect just enough to get by? Or do you expect God to throw open the floodgates and bless you beyond anything you can think or imagine? How do you prepare yourself to receive your miracle?

I’m sure that we’ve all heard the story of the widow’s oil. Elisha had offered to help this woman so that she does not have to sell her two children as slaves to her creditors. All she has is a jar of oil. Elisha tells her to collect empty vessels. He could have told her to gather all she had in her own home, but he goes further than that.

The he said, “Go, borrow vessels at large for yourself from all your neighbors, even empty vessels; do not get a few.”

2 Kings 4:3 (NASB)

He sends this woman and her sons all around the neighbourhood to prepare for a big miracle. Do not get a few. The miracle the widow received was directly related to her preparation for it. Had she only gathered a few vessels, I wonder if she even would have received her miracle since she would have been in disobedience to the word from the Lord.

When you pray for a miracle based on a promise from God’s Word, prepare yourself for the complete and total fulfillment of that promise. When Jesus says he will heal you, prepare for complete—not partial—healing. When the Word says that God will supply for all your needs, prepare for all, not a little.

I think that, many times, we miss out on our miracles because we don’t want to bother God with the big things. We just ask Him for a little hoping that we won’t annoy Him with our request. But He doesn’t want to perform little miracles. As we read through the Word, we see over and over and over again that God is a God of great big miracles. Stop preparing for the minute and get ready for the monumental.

Daily Bible reading: 2 Kings 4-5, John 4:1-30

When the promise dies

Death is not something most people relish. It is not something we want to be associated with. We don’t want to be near it. But is it as much a part of us as life is. We will all eventually experience physical death. Most of us will have people close to us die. Death is inescapable.

My great-grandmother was an incredible woman of God. As she came close to the end of her years on earth, she said she would often spend her days in the company of angels. At almost 101 years old, her eyesight had faded, but she could still see the outline of an angel sitting in her rocking chair keeping her company as she prayed for her family.

Years before she kept constant company with angels, she birthed a son. She was on in years. In fact, my mother was already on the scene. She had an uncle just a few months younger than her. Wesley was born with Down’s Syndrome in addition to several other serious physical conditions. But he lit up the room.

I never knew Uncle Wesley. He died before he ever really lived. But he had a happy childhood. He loved and was loved. How do I know? I’ve heard the stories. I’ve looked at pictures. I’ve watched him wave to the camera on the old film from a trip to Disneyland. But the promise of life was never fulfilled for him.

The Bible gives an account of another boy who lost his life too early. In 2 Kings 4, we see Elisha forming a bond with a Shunamite woman and her husband. For all the couple did for him and his servant, Elisha gave the promise of a son to the childless couple.

Sure enough, a year later, the woman had a son. The boy grew, but one day in the fields, something went terribly wrong. The boy collapsed and, after being carried home, died in his mother’s arms. The promise was dead.

Did the woman wail and rail against God? Did she run out and slander Elisha for his failed promise? Did she shut herself off from the world? No. She laid the boy on the bed in the room she had prepared for Elisha and set out to find the man of God.

To make a long story short, the woman brought Elisha back with her. Elisha did his thing and the boy woke. The promise was not lost.

I wish I could say that Wesley, too, enjoyed the promise of a long life on earth, but he did not. The promise in his life lives on in the stories that have been told for generations. He lives on in the memories of those who loved him.

So what happens when our promise dies? Do we give up and mourn or, like the Shunamite woman, do we close the door on death and go seek out life? I think we too often give up too easily. We see death as finite. Death was not enough to keep a mother from seeking God. She knew a promise had been made and she was going to be sure that the one who made the promise kept it.

What promises have you lost? What will it take for you to get them back? Instead of giving up so easily, go after it.

For he performs what is appointed for me, and many such things are with Him.

Job 23:14 (NKJV)

If He promised it, He will perform it. Don’t just trust in the promise. Trust in the One who made the promise.

Daily Bible reading: 2 Kings 4-5; John 4:1-30

Dig

Do you like to work? I mean really work. Physical work. Ditch-digging work. No? Didn’t think so.

Do you like the idea of miracles? Something coming from nothing. Dead made to live. Sun-standing-still miracles. Yes? Thought so.

We all want to see the miraculous, but precious few are interested in doing the work required to bring it about.

Go through your Bible. Find accounts of miracles and tell me how many required no work at all.

  • Moses and the Red Sea ( Exodus 14) – as long as his staff was up, the seabed remained dry. His brother, Aaron had to hold his arms up just so Israel could cross.
  • Bitter water made sweet (Exodus 15) – Moses had to throw a log, not a stick, a log into the water to make it drinkable
  • A new covenant (Exodus 34) – after the original commandments were destroyed, Moses actually had to cut new tablets for God to write the new covenant on.
  • Taking the Promised Land (Joshua 3) – just because God had promised them a new and good land, didn’t mean they weren’t going to have to fight for it.
  • The defeat of Jericho (Joshua 6) – Israel had to walk for a week!

The list goes on an on.

Jump ahead to today’s reading in 2 Kings 3.

(As a side note, as a worship leader, I’m a fan of Elisha – before he prophesies, he calls for a musician. It wasn’t until after the music started that the Spirit of God came upon Elisha.)

So here we are in 2 Kings and a group of kings has decided to take on Moab. They claim that their battle is God-ordained. Elisha begged to differ, but God still worked. Now, they went to battle in the middle of a drought. (Way to go, kings.) Their armies were thirsty. Their animals were thirsty. They’d never be able to win a battle dehydrated. And what did Elisha say?

 

“Now bring me someone who plays the harp.” While the harp was being played, the Lord gave Elisha power. Then Elisha said, “The Lord says to dig holes in the valley.”

2 Kings 3:15-16 (NCV)

Dig. Hey all you thirsty guys, we’re going to need you to go dig us some ditches. I know you’re thirsty, but if you want to drink, you’re going to have to work first.

The miracle required effort on the part of the kings and their armies. God came through and water filled the ditches, but only after they had been dug.

If you’re praying for a miracle, stop and listen. Maybe God requires some work on your part before you see the miracle come to pass.

 

Daily Bible reading: 2 Kings 1-3; John 3:22-36

Burn it all

You shall surely destroy all the places where the nations whom you shall dispossess served their gods, on the high mountains and on the hills and under every green tree. You shall tear down their altars and dash in pieces their pillars and burn their Asherim with fire. You shall chop down the carved images of their gods and destroy their name out of that place. You shall not worship the Lord you God in that way.

Deuteronomy 12:2-4 (ESV)

I’ve never had idols that I worshipped. Not this sense. Not that I’ve carved for the specific purpose of worship. But I’ve had things in my life that I put before God. I’m sure that, at some point, we’ve all had those things.

But what do we do with them when we turn away from them? Do we put it in a dark corner in case we might want to bring it out again to look at later? Do we put it on display and say that it no longer has a hold over us? Or do we tear it down and burn it so that nothing remains?

When we turn to God from the things that hold us back, we should utterly destroy the old thing. Like Elisha slaughtering his oxen and burning his plow. He made sure that there was nothing to go back to.

Daily Bible reading: Deuteronomy 11-13, Mark 13:1-13

See

Sometimes… okay, a lot of the time… most of the time, I have trouble seeing God’s promises and provision through my situation. I’ve even taken a Sharpie to my arm to remind myself that God is greater than my circumstance and He is able to see me through. In my frustration, I ask God to send me His provision. I remind Him of His promise (like He’s forgotten what He said).

My line of questioning should not be whether or not God has sent the answer, but rather, whether or not I have seen His answer.

There is a great Old Testament account that brings this to light. Here is some back story: Elisha has been helping the kings of Israel and they’ve been kicking butt with all the information that God has been providing through Elisha. All of the other kings are getting tired of having their butts kicked and decide to gang up on Elisha once they realise he’s the reason behind it all. Elisha and his servant are camped out in a city and, one morning, the servant heads outside the tent and sees a massive army surrounding the city. He tells Elisha they’re in trouble.

So he [Elisha] answered, “Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”

II Kings 6:16

At this point, I’m sure that the servant is sure Elisha has gone mad overnight. But Elisha sticks with his observation.

And Elisha prayed, and said, “Lord, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.” Then the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw. And behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.

II Kings 6:17 (NKJV)

In this case, it wasn’t that God had not sent the provision, it was that the servant couldn’t see it.

I know that, in my life, I need to focus more on what God has provided for me rather than looking for all that I think He hasn’t. His promise is sure. He hasn’t failed me yet, why would I think that He ever would?