Facing a Need? Dig a Ditch – 2 Kings 3

Has this Coronavirus chaos changed your prayer life any?  Do you find yourself praying before you go into a store? My parents are both 77 years old and I pray for them to stay healthy.   Often our needs drive us to pray more and that’s a good thing.  Our needs become a blessing when it makes us depend on God.  Often God will allow us to have needs that cannot be met in anyone but Him so that we will seek Him.

In our story of 2 Kings 3: 16-17, we see three kings with their armies in the desert without water.   They go to Elisha who hears from the Lord this message:  “Make this valley full of ditches.

Do you really think that the God of the universe needed these guys out there digging a ditch?  No!  God could provide water in any way He wants.  God could say:  “Lake! River! Pond!” and water was there.  He didn’t need them to do that.  But instead, he is saying, “You show me your faith and I’ll show you my faithfulness.  God loves to see our faith! All through the New Testament we’ll see “When Jesus saw their faith.”  How do we see faith?  We see faith in action.  When Peter was in a boat in a storm and said, “Jesus, if that’s you, tell me to come and I’ll come.”  And Jesus said, “Come,” what did Peter do?  He got out of boat!  That’s when you see faith.    For the other 11 guys, you didn’t see any faith. I believe there are many times when God wants to see us participate in his miracle. 

In the New Testament, there’s a guy with a withered hand.  What does Jesus say to him? “Stretch out your hand.”  Jesus could have healed the man on the spot, but instead he said, “I’m going to heal you but I want to see your faith to stretch out your hand.” Another time there man paralyzed his whole life. Jesus looks at him and says, “get up, pick up your bed and walk.”  I’m going to heal you but I’m not going to pick you or your bed up. I want to see you have the faith to believe that what I said was true.  Get up.  Only God can send the water but sometimes he wants you to dig a ditch.

There was a guy who was blind from birth and Jesus goes up and picks up some dirt and he spits in it, then he rubs it, makes mud and puts it on the guy’s eyes.  Jesus says, “Go wash your eyes in the pool of Siloam.  In other words, “I’m going to do my part, I want to see you do yours.  You show me your faith, I’ll show you my faithfulness.”  “Without faith, it is impossible to please God.”

I believe there are too many people waiting for God to show them His faithfulness but they’re not showing God any faith.  We must take a step of faith.  If we want to heal a relationship that’s gone bad, we will have to forgive before someone else even asked for forgiveness.  Treat someone with love when they are being a jerk.  What’s that?  You’re digging a ditch.

If we say, “I want my kids to serve Jesus and be strong Christians.”  Open up the bible in your own home.  Share God’s word with your kids.  Pray with your kids.  Be a godly parent.  That’s digging a ditch.

People say, “I want more money; church people say this and yet, they do not tithe.  God gives us crazy principal to the human mind.  If we give him our first and our best, he will bless the rest.  And those of us who are tithers, we know that with the supernatural power of God: 90 percent with his blessings goes further than the 100 percent without!  It is crazy, but it is true.  What are we doing?  We’re digging a ditch.  When you feel like you need more, you’re actually giving unto God and you watch as he proves himself faithful.   Only God can send the water but he wants us to dig a ditch.

Someone may be praying, “send me the ideal spouse.” That’s a great prayer!  But maybe before God sends you the ideal spouse, He wants you to Be the ideal spouse.  Start digging by growing spiritually,  working out, eating right, get a good job, comb your hair. Only God can send the water but sometimes he wants you to dig a ditch.

The second principal in this story is this:  Real faith believes big but is willing to start small. I know too many people who call themselves Christ followers that are not thinking big enough.  We serve a God who can do exceedingly and abundantly more than all you can ask, think or imagine. It’s time to think big.  We serve that big of a god.

I know just as many who won’t think big and yet at the same time, they are not willing to start small.  Think about this:  How do you dig a ditch?  If you’re in the 9th century BC, how do you dig a ditch?  You take a shovel one load of dirt at a time.   What do you do?  You start small.   Zechariah 4:10 says, “Do not despise these small beginnings for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin.”  We have to start small with a big vision.

I love the faith of a member of our church named Leilani.  She wanted to feed the homeless people in Austin.  She started with a few sandwiches just her and her husband going to downtown Austin.  Then she opened it up as a Ministry Team called “Blessing Bags” at our church and people from all locations come and they pack over 450 sack lunches, bags of toiletries, clothes, and bibles bags for the homeless in Austin twice a month.  She started small but it grew!

Our church started small, no land, no building, no members just 8 people in our living room.  Now we have three pieces of property for ministry in three cities with hundreds that call us their church.

Let’s think big but be willing to start small because only God can send the water but he wants you to dig the ditches.   Say, “God, I believe you can.”  And then you start where you are.

God loves when we participate in his miracles when he can see our faith because faith without works is dead.  2 Kings 3:20 says this:  “The next morning about the time for the offering of the sacrifice” — After they faithfully dug the ditches, the bible says, “… the land was filled with water.”  Only God can send the water but sometimes he wants you to dig a ditch.

Some of you, right now, you’ve got a significant need in your life, and you think, “If only, If only God would meet that.  Our biggest need can become our biggest blessing when it drives us to depend on God.  I pray for us to think big, but start small.   I pray that we will dig the ditch believing that God will send the water.

Darrell

www.Upwards.Church

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Facing Need – 1 Kings 3 Background

Israel and Judah held some of the most fertile land and strategic positions in the ancient Near East. It is no wonder that neighboring nations like Moab envied them and constantly attempted to seize the land. Moab lay just southeast of Israel. The country had been under Israel’s control for some time due to Ahab’s strong military leadership. When Ahab died, Mesha, the Moabite king, took the opportunity to rebel. While Israel’s next king, Ahaziah, did nothing about the revolt, his successor, Joram, decided to take action. He joined forces with Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, and went to fight the Moabites. Together

In planning their military strategy, Jehoshaphat suggested they march south instead of north through the Desert of Edom. This meant they would march in a large half-circle pattern and then launch a surprise attack from the south below the Dead Sea (2 Kings 3:8). This particular strategy of attack seemed to be brilliant, for the forces of Moab were mobilized along the northern border above the Dead Sea. Also, by going around the southern end of the Dead Sea, the army of the alliance not only would catch Moab by surprise, but they could also enlist the support of Edom. Since the alliance had to march through the land of Edom, the Edomites, with a smaller army than the alliance, would join Israel and Judah instead of fighting against them.

Although the southern strategy would be far more difficult because of having to march through the desert, the alliance adopted this strategy of assault against Moab. But after marching seven days through the desert, the alliance army faced a severe, life-threatening crisis: they ran out of water. There was no water for the soldiers or for the animals.

Note the reaction of King Joram of the Northern Kingdom: he became terrified. He complained and blamed the Lord, accusing Him of bringing the crisis upon them in order to defeat them before the power of Moab. But note the response of Jehoshaphat, who, despite some spiritual weaknesses, was a true believer in the Lord: he suggested they find a prophet who could seek the Lord on their behalf (2 Kings 3:11).

Jehoshaphat’s request for a “prophet of the Lord” shows how true worship and religious experience in both Israel and Judah had declined. In David’s day, both the high priest and the prophets gave the king advice. But most of the priests had left Israel (Northern Kingdom) and God’s prophets were seen as messengers of doom (1 Kings 22:18).

Thankfully and providentially, one of the officers of Israel knew about Elisha and informed the kings that Elisha was actually accompanying their army into battle. Furthermore, the officer informed the three kings that Elisha had been the aide of the great prophet Elijah. Obviously, the Lord had moved upon the heart of Elisha to accompany the troops and to minister to them. Facing the crisis of utter defeat due to lack of water, the three kings humbled themselves and went personally to Elisha to seek his help and godly counsel (2 Kings 3:12).

When the three kings sought Elisha, appealing for his help, Elisha boldly and sternly rebuked Joram for his idolatry. The king was following false prophets and engaging in false worship. King Joram should go to the prophets of his father and mother for help, the prophets of Ahab and the infamous Jezebel.

But note the response of King Joram: he again blamed the Lord for their severe, life-threatening crisis. He accused the Lord of having led the three kings to form an alliance in order to bring about their defeat by the king of Moab.

With disgust in his voice toward Joram, Elisha responded bluntly: he would not help them if it were not for the presence of Jehoshaphat, king of Judah. In fact, he would not even bother to look at them at all if it were not for Jehoshaphat, the only true believer associated with the alliance. But for the sake of Jehoshaphat he would seek the counsel of the Lord on behalf of the three armies of the alliance.

Note God’s wonderful promise to meet the needs of the three-nation alliance—all because of the presence of the true believer Jehoshaphat (2 Kings 3:15-19). Elisha requested a harpist to play music while he was praying. No doubt, this was for the purpose of quieting his mind and his thoughts from the disturbance of the confrontation with Joram. He needed to focus and concentrate in prayer, and the music would help him.

At some point, the Lord spoke to Elisha and gave him instructions for the three kings. Turning back to the kings, Elisha declared the Word of God to them, instructing them to dig ditches throughout the valley (2 Kings 3:16). If they would dig ditches in the dry sand of the desert—believe the promise of God—the Lord would fill the valley with water. And note: they would see neither wind nor rain; yet the valley would be filled with water for both their soldiers and their livestock (2 Kings 3:17). Furthermore, the Lord would give them victory over Moab (2 Kings 3:18).

Darrell

www.Upwards.Church

Facebook: Upwards Church

 

Sources:
 Life Application Study Bible, (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale, 1988), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 570.
Preacher’s Outline and Sermon Bible – Commentary – The Preacher’s Outline & Sermon Bible – 2 Kings.
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Elijah’s Ascension & Ours: Are You Ready for Christ’s Return? 

2 Kings 2:11

Ascension:  (New Testament) the rising of the body of Jesus into heaven on the 40th day after his Resurrection.  ascension, ascending (noun) the act of changing location in an upward direction. (Definition.net)

The taking up of Elijah by the LORD prefigures the ascension of the Lord Jesus, and anticipates our own meeting with Jesus in the air.

  1. Elijah’s ascension was attended by horses and chariots. As Elisha and the sons of the prophets looked on, Elijah was taken up “in a whirlwind into heaven” (2 Kings 2:11).
  2. The ascension of Jesus was attended by angels. As the disciples looked on “a cloud received (Jesus) out of their sight” (Acts 1:9-11). The angel reminded them; “This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come backin the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”
  3. Our own meeting with the Lord in the air will be “with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God.” Believers will be “caught up together in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17). This event is called the Rapture and is part of the Second Coming.

Second Coming of Christ

The second coming of Christ is in two parts: the Rapture which occurs sometime around the beginning of the last seven years and the Revelation which concludes at the end of the seven years.

Note the following verses that reveal a Biblical paradox concerning Christ’s second coming. In each case, the first verse describes the Rapture while the second verse describes the Revelation.

1 Thessalonians 4:17“…we will meet the Lord in the air.”

Zechariah 14:4-5“His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives.”

1 Thessalonians 5:2 and Revelation 16:15“He will come like a ‘thief in the night.’”

Revelation 1:7“Every eye will behold Him.”

Titus 2:13: “The return of Christ is a time of blessing and hope.”

2 Thessalonians 1:8-9“The return of Christ is a time of punishment and judgment.”

1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 and John 14:2-3“He will come ‘for’ His saints.’”

Zechariah 14:51 Thessalonians 3:13Revelation 19:11-16: “He will come ‘with’ His saints.”

The only way to reconcile these verses is to understand that Christ’s second coming is in two stages:

Rapture

The first stage occurs when Christ comes in the air, like a thief in the night, in great blessing and hope, for His saints to remove them to Heaven. This is called the Rapture. Rapture comes from a Latin word, Rapturo which means to catch away.

The Rapture is not without precedent (Both Enoch (Genesis 5:24Hebrews 11:5) and Elijah (2 Kings 2:1 and 11) were raptured.

Revelation

The second stage occurs at the end of the last seven-year period called the Great Tribulation when Christ comes to the ground, with every eye on Him, with His saints, to bring judgment and punishment. This is called the Revelation.

Will Christians be here? That depends upon which scenario you choose.

There are three major choices with a number of variation to consider as we attempt to pinpoint when rapture will occur during the end times:

  1. Pre-Tribulation is the view that the rapture will occur sometime before, or at the beginning, of the final seven years of the Great Tribulation. This is the view I hold.

God has rescued His people from great trouble in the past:

  • He closed the door of the ark and Noah and his family were saved from the flood.
  • He opened the Red Sea to make a way of escape for Israel when the Egyptians were on them.
  • In Daniel 3, Daniel is absent from the fiery furnace. Some believe that by missing the fire he is a pre-figure of the deliverance of Christians by the rapture.

Of course, there are numerous pictures in Revelation of Christians who are undergoing suffering. Many suppose that these are people who missed the rapture but received Christ afterwards.

  1. Mid-Tribulationis the view that the rapture will occur in the middle of the seven years when the Antichrist sets up the Abomination Of Desolation on the altar in the Temple. Like Pre-Tribulationists, Mid-Tribulationists will not experience the horrors of the last 3½ years described in Revelation.
  2. Post-Tribulationis the view that the rapture occurs after the seven-years, and that, therefore, Christians will go through the horrors described in the book of Revelation. There are verses that may support this interpretation, but I hope not. I don’t want to be anywhere around that horrible time.

How to Prepare for the End Times

  1. Be Ready.  Live for Jesus now. Prophecy is a call to live right.
  2. Be certain that you know Jesus: Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.
  3. Be Prepared: Plan as though He weren’t coming for 1000 years; but live as if He were coming in the next 10 minutes.

Darrell

For more see:
https://billygraham.org/answer/what-is-the-rapture/
https://www.learnreligions.com/rapture-vs-the-second-coming-700630
Will Christians Witness the Second Coming? When Is the Rapture? And More End Times Questions Dr. Roger Barrier
https://www.christianity.com/theology/end-times/nine-reasons-why-christ-must-return-11607117.html
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Facing Change – Part 2 (2 Kings 2:1-15)

Change or transition is hard, but we can face it bravely with God’s help. The transition in leadership from Elijah to Elisha reminds us to be ready for change, to seek the Holy Spirit’s filling, and to courageously take up the task given us.

2 Kings 2:1-15

Today we look at the transition in leadership from Elijah and Elisha.

These two were similar in names, and also in their spectacular miracles. They performed more miracles than any prophet other than Jesus. Yet, they were quite unique as individuals. Elijah was a loner who preached repentance and brought down evil kings in sensational challenges. Elisha lived among the people and showed a deep concern for the poor and downtrodden.

Today’s scripture points to their transition. We all go through times of transition. Some of us get married, and later lose a spouse to death or divorce. We start a career, we retire. We go back to work in a different field, and we retire from that. We move from house to house, from job to job, from one level of care to another. We make friends and we lose friends. And most profoundly, we’re born and we die.

Every one of us faces transitions in life. So I wonder, can we learn anything from Elijah and Elisha about transitioning well? I think so. I want to encourage us to…

  1. Be ready for change.

This may sound obvious, but you would be surprised how often we ignore them, pretending they’re not happening. Change is hard. We don’t like it when friends move away. We don’t like saying good-bye. We have trouble facing a terminal illness. Everyone believes in heaven, but no one wants to go, at least not yet.

Elijah and Elisha faced head-on their great transition, a change of command ceremony for the lead prophet of Israel. Elijah notably went to each of the seminaries to personally say good-bye. That’s what these or schools of prophets were. They were like our modern-day seminaries. That’s what Elijah was visiting when he traveled to Gilgal and Bethel and Jericho. He was saying good-bye to all of his “sons” in the faith.

As Elisha contemplated the loss of his great mentor and friend, he was understandably a little raw in emotion. You can see it when he snapped at each group as they asked him if he knew about Elijah’s imminent departure. Change is hard, isn’t it? But the good thing is, Elisha refused to leave Elijah’s side. Elijah offered three times for Elisha to stay behind, and three times Elisha adamantly refused. Elisha wanted every possible moment left with his mentor.

Pay attention to the changes happening around you. Express appreciation to one stepping down from leadership. Build up the one taking on new tasks. Be sure to say good-bye to friends who move away. (I’m reminded of Paul’s tearful good-bye on the seashore with the elders of Ephesus, recorded in Acts 20.) Don’t ignore the changes happening; embrace them, even when they hurt, because there is love behind the hurt. And #2,

  1. Seek the Holy Spirit’s filling.

In verse 9, Elijah asked Elisha, “Tell me, what can I do for you before I am taken from you?” Elisha replied, “Let me inherit a double portion of your spirit.” What was he asking here? Was he selfishly wanting to upstage his master? I don’t think so. Elisha was using the language of Hebrew inheritance law. The firstborn always received a double portion over all the other kids. Elisha was basically saying, “I want to be your firstborn. If I’m going to be able to step into your shoes, I’m going to need twice as much of your spirit as anyone else would need!”

After all, who could follow Elijah? He was the man! He was the spiritual leader of Israel during a time when kings were corrupt and godless. Elijah carried the country through some very dark times. And now, to follow in those footsteps? A daunting task indeed!

Elisha knew he would need the very power of God, a double helping of the same spirit at work in Elijah’s life, the Holy Spirit himself. Perhaps you’ve been there, when you’ve been desperate for God’s strength to accomplish a task. It’s a scary place to be, but it’s also a great place to build your faith. You know you need God to see you through that health challenge. You need God’s Spirit to lead your home through turbulent times. You need God’s presence to make peace in your family. You need God’s strength to risk ministering in new ways.  And God will come through, as you depend on him.

Elijah was wise enough to say that was not his decision to make. But he told Elisha, “If you see me depart, then you know it has been granted to you.” And Elisha saw it all! One moment he was walking with his mentor and friend, and the next, he saw his friend carted off to heaven in a whirlwind by a chariot and horses of fire. Elijah became the second man after Enoch to go to heaven without having to die first. Not a bad gig! Elisha was so moved that he cried out in deep respect, in verse 12, “My father! My father! The chariots and horsemen of Israel!”

What happens next bring us to our third point, and that is, to…

  1. Take up the task given you.

Since Elisha had been able to see Elijah’s departure, he knew that the Lord had answered his request. Verses 13 and 14 record what happened next: “Elisha then picked up Elijah’s cloak that had fallen from him and went back and stood on the bank of the Jordan. He took the cloak that had fallen from Elijah and struck the water with it. ‘Where now is the Lord, the God of Elijah?’ he asked. When he struck the water, it divided to the right and to the left, and he crossed over.”

Earlier Elijah had struck the water and it parted; now Elisha, his successor, struck the water, and again it parted. God confirmed Elisha’s leadership publicly much as he did for Joshua so many years before. Remember how Moses had parted the Red Sea? After his death, God enabled his successor Joshua to part the Jordan River in the same way, as the people first entered the Promised Land. God always confirms his new leader.

Yet, Elisha had a role here, too. He had to reach down and pick up his mentor’s cloak. He had to strike the water in front of all the prophets, not knowing for sure until that moment what would happen. Elisha obeyed the prompting of God and God rewarded him publicly, stating in effect, “This is my man now. Follow him!”

When God gives you a task, take it up. Do it with all your heart, and watch God honor you for your obedience. Sure, you may be new to your responsibilities. Maybe it was never done the way you’re going to do it. But people will follow you, as you are obedient to the cause.  Many of us are now homeschoolers, house church pastors, having to stretch income, forced to be creative at home, learning new recipes and balancing new stressors in changing world.  God says, “you’ve got this!”  I have placed you on the planet at “such a time as this.!”

God did bless Elisha. Remember how he asked for a double portion of God’s Spirit? Do you know that scripture records exactly twice as many miracles attributed to him as to Elijah? And at his death, the king of Israel would shout out: “My father! My father! The chariots and horsemen of Israel!” (2 Kings 13:14). Do these words sound familiar? The very words Elisha said for his mentor and friend would later be said at his own death. The apple did not fall far from the tree.

May each of us be ready for the changes taking place around us, depend on the Holy Spirit and courageously take up the tasks given us!

Darrell

www.Upwards.Church

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