2 Kings 2 – Little Things

Little things are important. If you don’t do the little things for your car…like changing the oil, rotating the tires, checking the fluid levels…it will lead to big problems. If spouses ignore little things like communication, time together, and encouraging each other, it will lead to big problems in the marriage. We tend to forget, it’s the little things that make the big things possible.

In 2 Kings chapter 2, it’s easy to focus on the big, miraculous things recorded there:

  • Parting the Jordan river.
  • A chariot of fire.
  • Elijah taken up in a whirlwind.
  • Purifying the water.
  • Bears attacking kids.

These are the big things that catch our attention in this chapter.

But there is a little thing that sets the stage for all of these bigger things. What is it? It’s Elisha’s commitment to stay close to Elijah.

Three times, Elisha tells Elijah that he will not leave him. Elisha stays as close as he can to the man of God, refusing to let him out of his sight.

There’s a line from an Aerosmith song that says, “I don’t want to close my eyes. I don’t want to fall asleep, cause I’ll miss you. And I don’t want to miss a thing.” Elisha didn’t want to miss anything Elijah was going to do. It was this little thing that allowed him to do bigger things.

Could that be the reason we don’t do mighty things for God? Is it because we don’t stay close and keep our eyes on Him? It seems like a small thing to do, but this little thing can make all the difference in the world.

If you want to see big God-sized things in your life, do the small things…like staying close and connected to God.

2 Kings 1 – Fishing for Answers

When you were growing up and needed to get your parents to sign off on something, didn’t you know which parent was more likely to say “yes” to what you wanted? Isn’t that the parent you went to?

As adults, we still tend to seek advice from friends and family whose opinions are in line with ours.

King Ahaziah

In 2 Kings chapter 1, King Ahaziah of Israel is seriously injured and seeking the advice of a pagan prophet.

Elijah

But Elijah, the prophet of God, intercepts the king’s messenger. Elijah tells the messenger to return to king Ahaziah and tell him that, because he turned to a false god for information, he would die in the bed to which he was currently confined.

Furious at not receiving the answer he wanted, the king sends soldiers to arrest Elijah. But the soldiers are destroyed as a sign that Elijah was delivering truth from God. The king sends more soldiers, and the same thing happens to them. Then, the king sends even more soldiers. But this time the soldiers ask Elijah to be merciful and spare them. Elijah not only spares them, but he also returns with them to confront the king.

Elijah comes before the king and delivers the exact message he delivered in the beginning. No embellishment. No dramatics. He simply repeats the original message.

What happened next?! 2 Kings 1:17 makes this simple, matter-of-fact statement: “So Ahaziah died, just as the Lord had promised through Elijah.” It happened exactly as God said it would.

Us

What is it that leads us to turn to anything and everything but God? Why do we turn to that which will feed our ego, rather than to that which will feed our soul? Why do we fish for the answers we want, rather than the truth we need?

God knows the beginning from the end. (Revelation 1:8) He has the answers we need, and we should pursue His answers, even if they’re not really what we want to hear.

1 Kings 21-22 – You Can’t Get Away With It!

Some people just don’t get it. Do you know the type? These people don’t listen, even though the message is clear and strong. They keep walking down the wrong paths, even though the warning signs are loud and clear. It’s as if they think they’re exempt from the consequences, even though the consequences are nipping at their heels. They are what the Bible calls…fools.

This is the picture we get of King Ahab, in 1 Kings chapters 21-22. Ahab is self-focused. Despite the warnings and consequences, he wants what he wants. He only wants to hear what he wants to hear and tries to squelch the truth he doesn’t want to hear. (See 1 Kings chapter 22.)

But God’s truth and God’s consequences are sure, no matter what we do to ignore them or avoid them. We can’t escape God. That’s why an arrow, shot randomly into a crowd of soldiers, finds the disguised Ahab and strikes him in the very small space between the joints in his armor.

Lucky shot? I think not. Numbers 32:23 tells us that we can be sure that our sin will find us out. Ignoring our rebellion and denying our sin will not make it go away. And it will not make God go away!

Don’t be like king Ahab; doing what you want, when you want, and how you want. Listen to God, follow His instruction, count the cost of discipleship, and avoid the consequences of serving yourself.

“Don’t be misled—you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant.” (Galatians 6:7 NLT)

1 Kings 20 – Disregarding God

Have you ever done something good for someone, only to have that person disregard you? When that happens, your response is often, “How could they do that, after all I’ve done for them?!”

This is the theme and feel of 1 Kings chapter 20. Twice, God rescues King Ahab of Israel by giving him victory over King Ben-Hadad of Aram…despite overwhelming odds. There should have been no way King Ahab could have survived, let alone been victorious in these two battles. But God intervened and gave Ahab the victory so that he would know the Lord was really God. (1 Kings 20:13, 28)

Yet, after all God did for Ahab, Ahab disregards God by disobeying His command to kill King Ben-Hadad. And Ahab disobeyed, not because of humanitarian reasons, but because of his greed. (1 Kings 20:34)

Then, after being confronted with what he’s done and the consequences of his disobedience, Ahab cops an attitude. (1 Kings 20:43)

You read this story and think, “What’s up with this guy?! What a jerk!” But, before you judge Ahab too harshly, you need to ask yourself, “Have I ever been guilty of the same thing? Have I received help, blessing, and rescue from God, only to later disregard Him? Have I failed to recognize my indebtedness to Him?”

As He was with Ahab, God has been gracious toward us…daily. We’re not even aware of all the times He’s rescued us, protected us, and provided for us throughout life. The honor and obedience He deserves from us should be a small token of our gratitude.

Today, take time to recognize God’s goodness toward you and take some time to respond to Him in gratitude and obedience.

1 Kings 19 – Will You Get Back in the Game?

Everyone goes through difficult and draining times…even those seeking God. (John 16:33) Some will recover from those times, while others will not.

In 1 Kings chapter 19, we see Elijah fearfully running. He wants to quit and die.

Was he exhausted after his battle on Mt. Carmel? Did his adrenalin bottom out after all the excitement was over? Was the queen’s threat to kill him the straw that broke the camel’s back?

We don’t know, but we know God sought to refresh him (1 Kings 19:5-8) and refocus him. (1 Kings 19:9, 13) And God didn’t chastise for his discouragement.

The sad thing is, Elijah never really came back from it. After God replenished Elijah physically, He tried to get redirect his focus by asking, “What are you doing here?” But Elijah responded with self-pity. (1 Kings 19:10) So God reminded Elijah to Whom he was talking, (1 Kings 19:11-12) and once again asked Elijah, “What are you doing here?” (1 Kings 19:13)

At this make-or-break moment, Elijah could have turned his eyes off himself and back to God. He could have said, “I am here to serve you and bring you glory.” But instead, Elijah repeated the previous self-pitying speech. At that point, Elijah could no longer be the instrument God needed, and God prepared his replacement. (1 Kings 19:16)

We all will go through difficult, disheartening, and discouraging times that will take their toll on us and leave us depleted. And God will be gracious to minister to us.

But then God calls us back into the game by asking, “What are you doing here?” How we answer that question determines whether we get back in the game or are benched. At that moment, we need to realize we’re called to something greater than the cave we’re in.

1 Kings 18 – What Will You Choose?

There are stories that are timeless classics. They have action, intrigue, a good hero, a strong villain, a powerful conclusion, and a timeless message.

1 Kings chapter 18 has such a story. In this story, after years of moral and religious decline, God finally says “Enough!” and He calls for a showdown.

The prophet Elijah presents the challenge. Two offerings: one for the God of Israel and the other for Baal. Two representatives: Elijah versus four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal. One objective: the God who answers by setting the offering ablaze is the true God.

The prophets of Baal work feverishly. They shout, they dance, and they even cut themselves. And they do this all day long, but nothing happens.

Finally, Elijah quietly prepares his alter and his sacrifice. Then, he does something unexpected. He saturates everything with water so there is no human way for the offering to be set ablaze. Lastly, he prays a short and simple prayer to God, and God sends a fire that completely disintegrates everything!

That’s a great story!

But the purpose of the story is not that we’re supposed to be doing dramatic acts of faith like Elijah. The purpose is to call people (then and now) to a decision. “How long are you going to waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him! But if Baal is god, then follow him.” (1 Kings 18:21)

And the sad part of the story is that, when Elijah asked the question, the people didn’t respond. They didn’t choose. (1 Kings 18:21) It took something dramatic to get them to choose.

All Scripture and all life call us to this decision. To choose a path. To choose a god. To make a commitment. To follow something or someone.

What have you chosen? Whom will you choose?

1 Kings 17 – If You Loved Me You Wouldn’t…

“If you loved me, you wouldn’t…”

We say this when someone who is supposed to care about us is not responding as we hoped or expected. The underlying message is, “If you loved me, you would keep me from hurt, struggle, and difficult times.”

1 Kings chapter 17 raises this issue. As the chapter begins, God is taking care of Elijah’s needs in the face of a drought and king Ahab’s anger. God gives Elijah a place to hide, a brook from which to drink, and birds that bring him food. But then the brook dries up.

“God, if you loved me, you wouldn’t dry up the brook.”

Then God directs Elijah to a widow in Zarephath who is supposed to feed him. But when he gets there, the widow only has enough for one small meal.

“God, if you loved me, she wouldn’t be running out of food.”

The widow obeys Elijah’s instructions and they wind up with plenty of food. But then, just as everything is going well, the widow’s son dies.

“God, if you loved me, you wouldn’t have allowed him to die.”

Then, God uses Elijah to bring the son back to life…(and the saga continues.)

Why is it, when things are going well, God seems to allow something to mess it up?

I believe these unwelcome events are important and necessary. How would the hero of a story ever gain the trust and loyalty of others if they never faced a villain or threatening situation?

In 1 Kings chapter 17, each time there’s a dead-end, God reveals Himself in a new and powerful way. And each time God meets the new challenge, the people become stronger in their faith and more confident in their God.

The thing that makes us say, “God if You loved me you wouldn’t…,” is the very thing God uses to show His love for us. Because it’s the difficulties that develop our faith and trust.

1 Kings 15-16 – Groundhog Day

In the movie “Groundhog Day,” a self-centered and difficult man relives the same day over and over again. Each day, the same people say the same things. The same songs play at the same time on the radio. And the same people have the same flat tire at the same spot each day. There seems to be no way to stop history from repeating itself.

1 Kings chapters 15-16 feel like Groundhog Day. With each king, the story’s the same. The new king follows in the old king’s idolatry, false worship, pride, and arrogance. Over and over again, the kings change, but the story remains the same.

But, there is one bright spot in these two chapters.

In 1 Kings chapter 15, you read about King Asa. Asa chose to do something different. He broke the mold and followed after God. He obeyed God’s commands, destroying idols and pagan temples. And he led the people back to faithfulness to God. Asa was like the sun breaking through the dark clouds of the times.

We need someone like Asa to stand up and break the cycle of darkness.

Each of us is called to be that someone. It starts by focusing on changing things within us before we try to change around us.

In the movie “Groundhog Day,” the main character eventually escaped repeating the same day over and over again. And he did it by daily making a positive change in himself and learning to focus on others more than himself. Consequently, he woke up one day and things were different.

That’s what Asa did, and that’s what we’re called to do. If you’re tired of living the same story over and over again, then you need to do something different. And you need to start with what’s going on inside of you before you try to change what’s going on around you.

1 Kings 14 – What a Waste!

It happens. You open up your news feed or turn on the news, and you hear about someone with a lot of promise and with everything going for them who threw it all away on bad choices and wrong living. It’s not only sad, it’s mystifying. All you can do is shake your head and think, “What a waste!”

This is the feeling you get from 1 Kings chapter 14. Both Jeroboam and Rehoboam had been given great opportunities. God had given each of them a kingdom and a promise to meet their needs and desires if they would simply follow and obey Him. Yet, they took God’s goodness toward them as a sign they were invincible and they did whatever they wanted.

We can read 1 Kings chapter 14 and say, “What a waste,” but aren’t we prone to demonstrate the same type of behavior?

When things are going well, we tend to let down our guard and become less disciplined and vigilant. We do more of what we want to do and less of what we need to do, acting as if God’s blessings are going to just keep coming…even though our actions are less and less worthy of blessing.

We must remember that every blessing we experience is a gift from God. (James 1:17) We need to realize that we have been bought with the great price of Christ’s life. We should honor and obey God out of gratitude, rather than honor ourselves by doing whatever we want. (1 Cor. 6:20)

Don’t take for granted the blessings of God and your need to gratefully obey His directions. Don’t live your life in such a way that someone might someday look at your life and say, “What a waste!”

1 Kings 13 – Trust the Director, Not the Plot

“Have you ever watched a movie and thought… “Wait a minute? That’s not supposed to happen!”

I feel that way after reading 1 Kings chapter 13. The chapter starts off well. There’s a clear good guy and bad guy. The good guy confronts the bad guy. And the bad guy seems to change his ways, while the good guy seems to win, staying true to his cause.

But then, everything changes. One good guy deceives the other good guy. A good guy walks away from his code of honor and gets killed. And the original bad guy continues to be just as evil as he ever was!

What kind of movie is this?!

Unfortunately, it’s not a movie. It’s real life. We want:

  • Things in life to be clear cut, with a predictable plot.
  • The good guy to always win.
  • The husband and wife to get back together.
  • Children to stay pure and innocent.
  • The cancer to be cured.
  • Hard workers to be rewarded.

And there are times when things work out the way we want. But there are other times when the plot changes and the outcomes just feel wrong.

But know this…the plot does not control the movie. The Writer/Director does. And in the end, it is what He wants that will prevail.

Throughout 1 Kings chapter 13, God is still writing and directing, no matter how twisted the plot may seem to be. (see 1 Kings 13:1,4-5,21-22,24,28,34.)

Even though the plot may appear twisted and unjust at times, the Director still controls the plot. And His plans for us are always good (Jeremiah 29:11). (Note: Jeremiah 29:11 was given to the Jews, even though they had been defeated, deported, and taken as slaves in a strange land for 70 years. How’s that for a twisted plot.)

There is a Writer/Director Who loves us unconditionally. He is in control of the plot, and He will ultimately make things right, in His time. (Proverbs. 3:5)