The water is bad

2 Kings 2:19-22Amplified Bible (AMP)

19 And the men of the city said to Elisha, Behold, inhabiting of this city is pleasant, as my lord sees, but the water is bad and the locality causes miscarriage and barrenness [in all animals].

20 He said, Bring me a new bowl and put salt [the symbol of God’s purifying power] in it. And they brought it to him.

21 Then Elisha went to the spring of the waters and cast the salt in it and said, Thus says the Lord: I [not the salt] have healed these waters; there shall not be any more death, miscarriage or barrenness [and bereavement] because of it.

22 So the waters were healed to this day, as Elisha had said.

 

What a perfect picture of our country today. Inhabiting it is pleasant, but the water is bad. And I’m not talking about the water coming out of the tap in your kitchen. I’m talking about the spiritual water that people are drinking for satisfaction.

Think about all of the pleasurable things that are polluted and are causing death and fruitlessness. We have music, something God created, and yet the music many people listen to is saturated with filth and vulgarity. The water is bad. We have movie theaters and television, but the films are contaminated with sexuality and curse words. The water is bad. We have something as innocent as dating that’s ripping the purity from our teens on a daily basis. The water is bad. The internet is flooded with pornography. The water is bad. It’s killing people! It’s keeping them from becoming fruitful and it’s causing miscarried dreams and purposes. It’s leaving people barren because they’re drinking from something that has no life giving nutrients that are vital to survival. The poison has worked it’s way into our workplaces and families and churches. It’s in our schools and in our government. The water is bad! It’s all around.

This was the condition of the city of Jericho in this Bible story. Though the place was nice and a great city to live in, the water was bad. Though there was such great potential, the water was bad. So Elisha did something that really made me think. He said, “bring me a new bowl and put salt in it.” Then Elisha went to the spring of the waters and cast the salt in it and said, Thus says the Lord: I [not the salt] have healed these waters; there shall not be any more death, miscarriage or barrenness [and bereavement] because of it.

Notice that it wasn’t the salt itself that healed the waters. It was the Lord that healed the water. His word declared it healed. So why the salt? God could have healed the water with just his word! But he chose to use the salt, accompanied with his word.

Matthew 5:14 tells us that we as believers are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.

Wow we are the SALT! The water is bad but God has placed us in this polluted and life-choking world so that we can be part of the purifying process. God’s the healer of the water, but he’s chosen us to accompany his word. In fact, we’re the ones who should be declaring the word. How do we do this? I see it all the time. Especially recently with the Christian movie production companies who are bringing clean films to the theaters. They’re placing salt in the water. How about the worship music that is lifting up the name of Jesus? It’s salt in the water. People can enjoy it without the pollution. But how does this apply to you? God wants to use you as the purifying agent in your office, in your school, in your relationships. Salt. Accompanied by his word. When you walk through a puddle of conflict, the area around you should be unable to stay muddy or murky.

 

Father we see that the land you’ve given us is well situated, but the water is bad. You’ve already placed the salt in the water! It’s us. Help us to fulfill our purpose and use us as you heal this land!

Feelings…

Romans 12:1-2

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

I believe that feelings are a product of your mind, heart, and perspective. A product of things that can be not only changed, but transformed and renewed. If you feel like giving up because you can’t change how you feel… You’re right! But I can assure you that change will come when you focus on and follow the truth. Put it in your mind. God’s word is true! Don’t look at it as rules and regulations… Look at it as a promise of FREEDOM! As believers we lay our lives down as an act of worship every day. We don’t do as the world does, even when we feel like it and desire to. Worship isn’t just something we do when we feel like it. Why else would the Word call it a sacrifice? A sacrifice is laying something of value down for something of more value. Through this process, we prioritize by placing the Lord above all else, which is where he belongs. And when He’s in his proper place, other things fall into their proper places! This includes those things you haven’t been able to change on your own, such as your feelings. Below is one of my favorite poems from Martin Luther.

 

“Feelings come and feelings go,
And feelings are deceiving;
My warrant is the Word of God–
Naught else is worth believing.

Though all my heart should feel condemned
For want of some sweet token,
There is One greater than my heart
Whose Word cannot be broken.

I’ll trust in God’s unchanging Word
Till soul and body sever,
For, though all things shall pass away,
HIS WORD SHALL STAND FOREVER!”

― Martin Luther       Martin Luther

The Spirit of Completion

A dear friend and pastor taught me something several years back that has really stuck with me. What he taught me is the importance of completion. He said that there is a spirit of completion that God wants us to obtain in our lives. It’s something that many people don’t have. This is very apparent in addicts and others who get stuck in cycles that they are unable to break. It’s also seen in folks who always leave things hanging. They always leave loose ends and leave projects unfinished. These may be somewhat tangible things such as a book you started, yet never got past the 3rd chapter. Or a weekend home project that you started 2 years ago that has left your home in a permanent state of incompletion. Then there are the not so obvious areas such as relationships and personal growth. Both of which have seasons of completion in order to transition into newness and depth.

Life has chapters just like a book. We complete one and move on to the next. We conquer mountains, fight through temptations, win battles, reconcile relationships, and resolve conflicts. These are things we complete. We tie up loose ends through hearing people out and following through. We turn the pages by forgiveness and moving forward. We persevere! We run the race – a race that has a finish line. We don’t just do this because it’s recommended or so that we can continually get ahead in life. We do this because completion is an aspect of God’s character. Even from the beginning, as God created the heavens and the earth, He completed something each day. Then we skip ahead several chapters of time when Jesus says, “It is finished” as he hung on a cross. He completed something! And although one thing was completed, the Father proves once again that He never just leaves things “hanging”. Although the payment for our sin was complete, and although the law was fulfilled… Jesus was placed in a borrowed tomb where he walked into hell and took Satan’s own house keys away from him. The Father raised Christ from the dead so that we too can LIVE! Talk about completion. Now as we jump many chapters ahead to the here and now, we find ourselves, and there’s a great work that has begun in us! And there’s good news found in Philippians 1:6 that tell us that He who has begun this work in us is faithful to complete it. COMPLETION!

The spirit of completion is necessary in the life of the believer. It’s proof of God’s work in our lives. This is not always easy. As a matter of fact, it is seldom easy. But it’s necessary. Ecclesiastes 3:1 says that to everything there is a season, and a time for every matter or purpose under heaven. Seasons aren’t meant to last. They change. But the change should come through completion, not neglect. If there is an area in your life that needs completion, I encourage you to follow the Lord to the finish line. He’s always leading in that direction! Pray for conviction and Spirit led commitment to the purposes you’re meant to fulfill in your life. If you’ve been called to a fast, complete it. If you’re in a difficult season in your marriage, persevere and complete it. If you’re enrolled in school, complete it. If you’ve started a project at work or home, complete it. And most of all, the race you’re running for the Lord…. Complete it! Just like Paul in 2 Timothy 4:7 said, “ I have fought the good fight, I have finish the race. I have kept the faith”.

Tie up the loose ends knowing that God’s going to do the same. It won’t be long until our time on earth is complete. He’ll leave no loose ends and won’t leave us hanging. He’s going to follow through. Let’s make every effort to do the same!

Is this it?

1 Chronicles 11:3, 9 So all the elders of Israel came to the king at Hebron. David made a covenant with them at Hebron in the Lord’s presence, and they anointed David king over Israel, in keeping with the Lord’s word through Samuel.
Vs.9 David steadily grew more powerful, and the Lord of Hosts was with him.

David had been told that he would be the king of Israel and there’s no telling what he thought in his mind. I know I’ve cherished words spoken over me. I bet he imagined a grand coronation with feasting and celebration all around. But I wonder if he ever thought he’d take the position in a time when the people were over run and in trouble? Did he think to himself, “Is this it? Is this what I was anointed for?” The king and his family (including David’s best friend) were dead. The Philistines had won and the Israelites had fled from their camps. They feared even entering into the cities which were theirs only a few days before.

God’s word came true to David. He became king; however, David had some work to do! The great thing is that The Lord was with him through all of the work, as well as the battles, and the victory was given to David because he trusted God.
Maybe you’ve been called to a position and you’ve always imagined it a certain way in your mind, and yet your currently in a place that needs some work! David’s first moments as king weren’t glamorous and filled with treasure, but he was still king. He wasn’t appointed in a day of victory, but he was still Royalty.
His career and calling started with the worst part of the position, and yet it was the part that took back what belonged to God’s people! It built up the kingdom. Be encouraged today by simply trusting that God knows what He’s doing! Stepping into the promise land often comes with a battle. But the battle is the Lord’s and there’s a victory on the horizon.

The Great Escape

1 Corinthians 10:12-13

So, whoever thinks he stands must be careful not to fall. No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to humanity. God is faithful, and He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation He will also provide a way of escape so that you are able to bear it.

It’s crazy how sometimes we can be ashamed of what temps us and we don’t talk to anyone about it because of our shame or fear of what someone’s gonna think. Well if that’s you today then let this verse sink in… NO temptation has seized you EXCEPT what is COMMON to man. That means that there isn’t a temptation that you can have that others haven’t or don’t also have. You aren’t alone in your struggles. Never believe that lie from Satan. Also, know that God is aware of our temptations and will not allow us to be “trapped in a room” with them. We know this because the word says that He always provides a way of escape for us. Just like a building with emergency exits! I pray today that The Lord will shine bright lights on, and make obvious your ways of escape!

Be blessed today

 

What are you doing here?

1 Kings chapter 19 shows us a very relatable side of a famous prophet. Here we see Elijah, this mighty, bold, prophet who has just been used to turn Israel back to God, running in fear from the king’s wicked wife. He’s even come to the point of praying that God will just take his life. He doesn’t even want to live anymore! So now he’s in this cave and the Bible says the word of the Lord came to him. But the word wasn’t instruction or promise, but in a question. What are you doing here, Elijah?

We have to remember that when God asks a question, it isn’t because he doesn’t know the answer. It’s because he wants us to answer it. We will all give an account for what we’ve done. And Elijah now has to answer this question. What are you doing here? It wasn’t long ago that you outran a chariot in the spirit to the very place you ran from in fear. Elijah answers the Lord and then Elijah is told to go stand on the mountain in the very presence of the Lord because the Lord is about to pass by. This is getting good! The Lord is going to actually be right there. Before it was just his word, but now it’s his presence! I wonder what he’ll say to Elijah when he himself if right there to speak to him? So the Bible says that a strong, mighty wind comes that tears the mountains apart and shatters the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord wasn’t in the wind. Then there was an earthquake, but the Lord wasn’t in the earthquake, then there was fire, but the Lord wasn’t in the fire. And then, all of the sudden, a quietness and a still small voice… You just know God’s gonna say something good… Then God says… What are you doing here, Elijah?

Isn’t that something? God’s word was the same. His question was the same. What are you doing here? Elijah answers the same each time in honesty and God in return gives him further instruction to go back and to continue in obedience.

This is a story most of us can relate to. We have these amazing encounters with God and he provides for us and proves himself to us, and yet we find ourselves running and secluding ourselves when something hits a little too close to home. Is this where you’re at? If so then answer this question… What are you doing here? How did you get to where you are? Why are you in this position? Why aren’t you where you’re supposed to be? What are you doing here? Where is “here”? Have I forgotten how mighty you are, Lord? Have I forgotten that your spirit will not take me where you’re grace can’t keep me?

Our honest answer brings us into confession, which brings us into a position for forgiveness.

I love that the last thing before the still small voice was fire. God’s reminder of the chapter before when he proved himself by answering by fire. I believe we hear his voice better when we’re also reminded of who he is. We can do this by looking back at all he’s done in our lives. God is waiting to give you new instructions. And you may not experience a mighty wind, or earthquake, or fire, and you may not even hear a still small voice…. But guess what, the word of the Lord has already come to you. And his word is the same whether you are standing in his presence or hiding in a cave.

 

The Miry Clay

Growing up working every summer for my dad’s plumbing company, and digging lots of ditches and holes, I can tell ya that the worst thing to dig was that miry, Texas clay. It sticks to everything! It even forms a suction on the shovel and makes it really tough to pull it back out! It doesn’t take long for your shovel and shoes to weigh 3x as much as when you started…. That is, if you can get your shoe out that got stuck in that nasty and sticky clay! And even when you do get it out and put it on, you carry the weight around with you and leave traces of it everywhere you go. That’s why I love the verse in psalm chapter 40 that says “He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, making my footsteps firm.” 
If you ever feel like you’re stuck, weighted down, and that you’re tracking your mess all over the place, then check out the previous verse…. “I waited patiently for the Lord; and He inclined to me, and heard MY CRY.” 
Cry out to God who hears and He’s gonna help you! He’s gonna pull you out of that clay…… And He’s also been known to wash some feet.

The World’s advise or the Word’s advice?

The world’s advice is to follow your heart. The Word’s advice is to follow Christ. The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? (Jeremiah 17:9) Yet Christ never sinned, nor ever deceived anyone.(1 Peter 2:22) If your heart’s desires don’t line up with the word, hand them over to God. It’s sometimes hard to fathom that freedom and abundant life come through denying things that promise to give us just that. However those things that we often believe will set us free, are really prison cells that prevent us from true freedom. Just like an inmate is unable to walk across the street due to the prison gates, those enslaved by sin cannot walk into the fullness of God’s plan for their life. They are limited by their lack of limits. Lead astray by the wrong leader. 
Create in us clean hearts oh God, and renew a steadfast Spirit in us as we make the choice to deny ourselves and to follow you!

The Hedges

Luke 14:23, And the lord said unto the servant, ‘Go out into the highways and hedges and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.

When I was growing up I spent most of my summer days at my cousins house. We’d play outside and run around the neighborhood as kids do. Swimming, tetherball, baseball, kickball, and hide-n-go seek were everyday events. My aunt and uncle’s house had bushes along the front with those pointy leaves and we learned really quickly to stay out of those hedges! They were mosquito filled, prickly, and dark and dirty underneath as well as behind.

We lost many a Frisbee and many balls have been banished because it just wasn’t worth it to get all scratched up and dirty. However, every once in a while, what had landed in the hedges was valuable enough for us to tough it out and get it. One of us would get back behind the needle tipped leaves and would recover not only what we originally intended to get, but would also find all of those toys and treasures we’d forgotten about. Things that had been lost and were hidden from our sight. Things that hadn’t seen daylight in a long time. Things that wouldn’t have been found, unless someone had searched for them.

The Bible tells us to go out into the highways and the hedges. The highways are easy. We see people standing beside them everyday holding signs declaring their need. In the spiritual, these people are easily seen and their needs are obvious. We help them all the time.

But what about the people who have been lost in the hedges? The ones who have been forgotten about and declared unworthy of rescue. The ones who aren’t on our way to work and aren’t standing in the light where God desires them to be. We’re instructed to go out INTO the hedges to compel them to come to the master’s house. Yes we may get scratched up, we may get attacked by a swarm of mosquitos who are out for blood, and we may get dirty.

But there are treasures in the hedges. There are more than we know of and we’re instructed to go in after them. We acknowledge their worth by meeting them where they are. Philippians 2:3 tells us not to do anything for selfish purposes, but with humility think of others as better than yourselves. We know that Christ came to seek that which was lost, and He now lives in us and through us. This is our duty. This is part of our purpose.

Just like it was at my aunt and uncle’s house, the hedges were in the front yard. We didn’t have to go far, and neither do you. Say yes to the master’s command today and go out into the hedges.

Norman Normalton

Norman Normalton was a normal boy in a normal neighborhood with a normal house that had an abnormally large tree in the back yard. Norman had always dreamed of building a big amazing tree house for he and his friends to play in. But Norman felt that he was just too normal to complete such a big task.

One day Norman told his friend Encouragement about his dream of building a tree house and to his surprise, Encouragement said, “I believe you can do it!”
“Really?”, said Norman. “Really!”, said Encouragement. “I’ll even help you, and I bet our friends would help too.”

Encouragement had caused Norman to believe that this really was possible.

The next day at school, Norman saw the Attitude twins, who were nothing alike might I add. Their names were Good Attitude and Bad Attitude. Norman told them about the new project and asked if they’d like to help.

“That’s dumb.” Bad Attitude grumbled. “How fun!”, said Good Attitude “I’d love to help. I know we could build an amazing tree house!” So Norman told Good Attutude to head to his house after school.

Negativity overheard the conversation and quickly budded in. “There’s no way you guys can build a tree house in your tree. It’s too big.
“Well, there’s no harm in trying.”, replied Good Attitude

So throughout the day, Norman invited all his friends to come over after school to help with the tree house.
Everyone showed up and they got to work right away. Norman, Encouragement, Good Attitude, Patience, Perseverance, Kindness, Hard Work, and of course Faithfulness, who was always there, worked hard.

“This is really coming along nice”, said Kindness.

“It sure is, this is the greatest tree house ever” exclaimed Good Attitude

Norman was so happy to see his dream coming true.

Then out of the house came Norman’s mom, Mrs. Normalton. “It’s time to eat”, said Mrs. Normalton. “Looks like you’ll have to finish tomorrow.”
“Oh no”, Norman said sadly. “I really wanted to finish today”

“It’s ok”, said Patience. “There’s always tomorrow.”

“I wish we could finish, but I’ll come back tomorrow if you want.” said Faithfulness.

The neighbor boys Optimist and Pessimist from next-door walked over to see what was going on. “We’re building a tree house”, Norman said excitingly. “But now we have to quit to eat.”

“It’s half unfinished”, Said Pessimist

“Looks half finished to me”, Optimist quickly replied

Just then Thoughtfulness showed up with sandwiches for everyone! “Hey guys, I thought you might be getting hungry!”

“Yea!” shouted everyone. “We can keep working.”

“If we keep this up, we’ll be finished in no time!”, said Perseverance.

So Norman and his friends worked and worked and finished the tree house. Norman stood back and looked at it in amazement.

“I knew you could do it”, exclaimed Encouragement

Norman smiled and replied, “I bet I could do anything with the help of Encouragement, Good Attitude, Patience, Kindness, Perseverance, Faithfulness, Thoughtfulness and Hard Work!”
And Norman was right!