Randomness 

~~MTS-2664
Randomness
“Perhaps the Spirit of the LORD has picked him up and set him down on some mountain or in some valley.”        2 Kings 2:16

There was no reason for the Lord to do such a random thing, was there? To pick up the prophet and drop him off somewhere with no particular reason behind it. Why would the Lord do such a thing?
“If things merely take place accidentally, then there are no reasons behind all things that occur,” I said to a college professor who had come to visit his family and his daughter, a child who had been born with a severe handicap.
“How so,” he seemed a little puzzled.
“Things simply don’t just happen randomly if there is a sovereign God who is in control of all things,” I added. I meant to tell him that there were reasons behind what had happened to his daughter and we would just have to turn to God for answers.
The company of prophets insisted on going to look for Elijah, for they couldn’t believe that the Lord had simply taken their teacher away. They thought it might just have been one of those incidents when the Lord intended to demonstrate his might by performing something miraculous and spectacular.
Surely they looked for Elijah in vain. The Lord intended to take his prophet away in such a manner that no one could have imagined. It was a reward for a life well-lived and service faithfully completed. The prophet didn’t have to experience the pangs of death to enter into realms of glory.
Since the Lord did this for two of his servants, surely he could do it more often, couldn’t he?
I suppose what he did for Enoch and Elijah he will eventually do for all of us when the time comes, for when the trumpet finally sounds at the end of the ages, we will all meet the Lord in the air, perhaps in chariots of fire. Possibly the Lord was just revealing to us through what occurred to his prophet what would happen to all us as well, therefore giving us encouragement and eternal hope.
The event couldn’t have taken place randomly or for show, and it was foolishness for those prophets-in-training to look for Elijah in mountains and valleys, as if the Lord were just playing a game with them.
Therefore we continue to search for meaning in seemingly random events that happen to us every day, fully convinced that it’s the way the Lord speaks to us. “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.” If the heavens and the skies keep on speaking day and night, why should all things that take place every moment of every day remain silent? Those of us who listen to the thunderous voice of the heavens should also pay close attention to the small voice uttered by the smallest things that occur to us every day, for they are by no means capricious.     

Posted by Robert Sea Friday, January 31, 2014 6:31:00 AM Categories: Devotional

Bowing Down 

~~MTS-2663
Bowing Down
“And they went to meet him and bowed to the ground before him.”
           2 Kings 2:15

Elijah had been taken up by the Lord and Elisha’s life was never the same after that moment, for the spirit that was residing in the elderly prophet was now living within the junior prophet, who had served as a servant of Elijah. The newly anointed prophet might have felt a bit uneasy when his fellow prophets, fifty in total, were bowing down to him, merely because he was endowed with the power of performing signs and miracles.
The power of doing wonders from the spirit wasn’t meant to magnify the ones who carried it out; it was designed to glorify the Lord. Elisha had absolutely no right to accept his fellow prophets’ adoration and admiration, even though he possessed something his peers didn’t have.
The pulpit has been lifted so high since the Protestant Reformation to the point that many star preachers have been produced and, unfortunately, some of them might have been glorified. In some incidents, the preaching of the word might have usurped the power of the Word in people’s hearts.
We may become so spiritually gifted that we lose a more desirable attribute, which is humility. It might not have been that hard for Elisha to remain humble when he was serving his master and running errands for him, but the situation had been drastically changed, and the prophet found himself enjoying the glorious moment when he was receiving so much respect from others, forgetting for a minute who he really was.
What could he have done to escape from this trap?
Failing to look beyond a man with great ability to see what lies beyond seems to be our innate weakness, for we all have a tendency of practicing hero worship. This is an “identification” that we make to compensate for our insufficiencies and it helps us to vicariously live a heroic life through other people who are more capable and powerful than we are. We all desire to become the heroes with whom we identify, which is a form of idolatry.
Elisha instantly became an idol for some people shortly after he was endowed with some amazing spiritual gifts, and there was no escaping from the trap of self-glorification, self-deification even, for him. There was one thing, however, he could have learned from his master, which was to lead a life of relative isolation, and to refrain from performing miraculous signs unless it became absolutely necessary. Was it really essential for Elisha to call down a curse on some boys who were jeering him and, as a result, forty two of them were mauled by two bears. The prophet seemed to have such thin skin that he became irate when some wonting boys on the roadside called him “baldy.” The spirit of the Lord might have fallen on Elisha, but the man was yet to cultivate some spiritual qualities which were far more precious than miracle-performing.          

 

Posted by Robert Sea Thursday, January 30, 2014 6:41:00 AM Categories: Devotional

Was This True? 

~~MTS-2662
Was This True?
“…and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind.”
          2 Kings 2:11

If I had a choice concerning the way I depart from the world, this would be the way I would choice, but I doubt this will materialize since it only occurred to two people, Enoch being the other one.
He might have been picked up by some sort of tornado, some of the prophets seemed to assume, and they urged Elisha to send some people to look for him. “Perhaps the Spirit of the LORD has picked him up and set him down on some mountain or in some valley.”
Questioned they might have, but the truth still remained - the Lord came down in whirlwind and took his servant away. The Lord did what he chose to do, and that should end all discussion.
But, was it true?
Billions of people have died and the processes they have gone through appear to be quite similar. Many might have died fighting a war or perished in some sort of accident, yet most of them became ill, suffered for a certain period of time, and breathed their last.
Elijah was radically different in his life; therefore he was dramatically different from all of us in his death. We can choose to believe it, or not to believe; still the fact remains, if it was truly the fact.
I seriously doubt that people who don’t believe the Bible is the inspired word of God would venture beyond the creation narrative in their reading. They have already made their conclusion long before they reached the books of the prophets.
If we believe the Lord created the heaven and the earth, surely we can believe the prophet was truly picked up by a whirlwind, for compared to the former, the latter was just an afterthought. The Lord is capable of doing all things both naturally and supernaturally. He chooses to do the former most of the time, but that doesn’t mean that he chooses to do it all the time. Even so, both the natural and supernatural are equally miraculous and wonderful. Indeed all things are wonderful for the ones who consider them wonders. Wonders are in the eyes of the beholders.
O how I wish the wonder that happened to Enoch and Elijah would occur to me as well. Is it presumptuous on my part to ask, to wish even? Perhaps, but I ask because there is a slim chance that it may happen, for the Lord is capable of bringing it to pass. Isn’t this the reason behind all our prayers and intercession? Human reason may state otherwise, but our faith believes the opposite, therefore we continue to pray until we take our last breath, or until the Lord takes us away in a whirlwind, or until the day when all of us meet our Lord in the air, without having to experience the agony of death.  
 

    

Posted by Robert Sea Wednesday, January 29, 2014 6:07:00 AM Categories: Devotional

Separation 

~~MTS-2661
Separation
“As they were walking along and talking together, suddenly a chariot of fire and horses of fire appeared and separated the two of them…”   2 Kings 2:11

One was an accomplished prophet and the other was a prophet-in-training, and the two were soon to be separated by a chariot of fire. The two couldn’t have been more different in their maturity and spirituality, for one had been walking with the Lord for years and the others was merely at the beginning stage of experiencing God’s presence and might.
“Rev. Ton, a well-known evangelist and fiery preacher is retiring and he has picked his successor, an up and coming young man with great gifts,” someone told me.
“Well, ultimately it’s up to the Lord to choose his servant,” I replied.
The thought of choosing someone to take my place to serve in this little church has never entered into my mind, even though I am rapidly approaching retirement age. Am I being irresponsible? Far from it. The Lord will have to choose his own servant when the time comes, and when it does, a separation will take place.
Just when the servant of the Lord was fully equipped to serve, it was about the time for him to be picked by the chariot from above. Elisha was full of zeal, yet little did he know what he was getting into, and his spirituality hardly matched the spiritual gift he was going to be receiving. The one was ready to depart from the scene, but the other wasn’t ready to take on the heavy responsibility to serve.
The chasm between Elijah and Elisha was quite vast, and it would take years to bridge the gap, if it happened at all.
There was a choice to be made, though. The Lord could have kept his elderly prophet on earth a little bit longer and accomplished a few more things, yet this would have been only a short-term solution, for even the greatest prophet in Israel couldn’t have defied the onslaught of time. Ready or not, Elisha would have step up to the plate and do his batting.
The young prophet was endowed with the gift of performing signs and wonders, and seemed to be eager to show off his newly-discovered skill, yet there was something that seemed to be lacking in him, which might have been what separated him and his mentor - an inward thing that was hardly visible.
Elisha instantly became a public figure after he assumed Elijah’s position and he further solidified his status by performing one miracle after another, and at least one of them seemed to be quite capricious, when he called down a curse against a group of children who jeered him on the road.
There was indeed a separation between the two in their spirituality, which causes us to develop a longing for the elderly prophet who had been taken away, and a slight dissatisfaction with the one who succeeded him.


 

Posted by Robert Sea Tuesday, January 28, 2014 6:18:00 AM Categories: Devotional

To The End 

~~MTS-2660
To the End
“Yet if you see me when I am taken from you, it will be yours—otherwise, it will not.”            2 Kings 2:10

Their enthusiasm was kindled after they witnessed what the Lord Jesus had done and quite a few of them were determined to follow the Lord. Surely they were highly motivated in the beginning and fully intended to follow the Lord to the end, for Jesus represented the only hope that their dreams and aspirations would finally be fulfilled.
Many of them were fishermen and people from the lower echelon of society and the only way they could become somebody was to hook up with somebody great. So some dropped everything and followed the Lord, forming a sizable crowd.
Their youthful enthusiasm couldn’t be sustained by mere promises, and even the miraculous signs the Lord did routinely in public had somehow become commonplace to them. Their love for the Lord began to wax cold as the days went by, and the thought of returning home started to gain strength. When the chance arose, many of them took off, for home was where they truly belonged.
There were hundreds of prophets in training during the time who were also aware of what was going to happen to Elijah, yet not a single soul decided to follow Elijah until the end. Elisha was the only one there, witnessing the departure of the great prophet.
Under the lengthening shadow of the cross stood only one among the twelve, who was the Lord Jesus’ beloved, and he was there not to acquire any spiritual blessing from the Lord before his departure; he merely wanted to be present when his Master took his last breath and to be a participant of Jesus’ passion. John’s love for the Lord outlasted Jesus’ physical presence and his presence at the gruesome scene must have strengthened his faith in God. No one could have remained the same after they had witnessed the crucifixion.
I regret that I wasn’t there when my parents took their last breath, which might have provided for me a better closure, therefore easing the pain of my loss. I could have done better.
Even if nothing had happened and Elisha hadn’t gotten what he really wanted - the double portion of Elijah’s spiritual blessing, he at least would have led the rest his life without regret, knowing he had done all his could for his master, and he was there when the man of God was taken up by the chariot of fire. Being there was the least he could have done both for his master and for himself, for the last sight of the departed would forever remain in his memory, serving as both encouragement and comfort in the days that were to come.        

Posted by Robert Sea Monday, January 27, 2014 6:48:00 AM Categories: Devotional

A Request 

~~MTS-3659
A Request
“Let me inherit a double portion of your spirit.”
             2 Kings 2:9

Elisha made a difficult request that Elijah couldn’t have granted, for it was only the Lord who could empower his servants with an abundance of spirit. Elijah was unable to do it, even if he wanted to; therefore he said to Elisha: “You have asked a difficult thing.”
Why did Elisha make such an unreasonable request?
Perhaps the pupil of the great prophet was rightly motivated when he made the petition, but I can only perceive it from a human point of view. Elisha was so impressed and amazed by the prophet’s prowess of performing miracles that he desired to have the same ability as well. Not only did he desire to have the spiritual power his mentor possessed, he wanted a double potion of it. Indeed Elisha was a man of great aspiration or, possibly, ambition.
I guess there is nothing essentially wrong in asking the Lord for an abundant filling of the Holy Spirit, providing that we do so with proper motivation, which is to bring honor and glory to God. We do signs and wonders to bring people to the knowledge of God so that his name may be praised and magnified.
The crux of the matter is that we may be tempted to get some credit from what we have done in God’s name and to rob some of the glory that rightly belongs to the Lord. Just the thought of such a thing as this is enough to keep me from seeking more spiritual power from God, knowing how frail and wicked I am and how easily and quickly I can fall into the trap.
I always feel very ill at ease when people make some positive comment about my sermon or something else that I do in the ministry. The comments seem to rejoice and repulse me at the same time. Anything that brings both delight and disgust into our hearts has to be something that is contaminated by selfishness and sin. Pure joy can only be produced by pure love, which we rarely possess.
“Why was a thorn in the flesh even necessary in the Apostle Paul’s life?” we ask. Was it because his revelation from the Lord was so vast and his spiritual power so great that it had to be counterbalanced by severe physical pain, which served as a reminder that the Apostle was merely a man, not a god incarnated.
I fear for Elisha to ask for such a thing. The junior prophet might not have known what he was asking for and all the implications behind his request. He might have wanted to be picked up by a chariot of fire like his mentor, but he might not have had any inkling of how much suffering he would have to experience before that took place. Being a prophet of the Lord wasn’t as glamorous as some might have expected.          

Posted by Robert Sea Friday, January 24, 2014 6:30:00 AM Categories: Devotional

What Can I Do 

~~MTS-3658
What Can I Do?
“Tell me, what can I do for you before I am taken from you?”
             2 Kings 2:9

What Elijah could have done for his disciple had probably already been done and there was very little left undone as far as Elijah was concerned. What could he do for Elisha at the last moment of his life?
My dad passed away suddenly just a month after I visited him for the last time, and my father didn’t utter his last words to me since he had no idea the visit would become our last. Had he known that, he probably would have done something for me he deemed the most important. There was a blank space, however. No last words were spoken and none were written.
Was there anything I would have liked to get from my father? Nothing, really. Whatever I could have gotten from him I had received from him over the years and there was no need for me to ask him for anything just before his life ended. I will carry the legacy he left behind the rest of my life, and most of that isn’t material in nature. My father was just a simple man who led a simple life, and spent his entire life trying to scrape a simple living for his family. One could have done a lot less than that! What he left behind was his deep love for his children, which is quite enough for me.
Elisha should have acquired all he wanted from the prophet before the last moment, and none of it was the ability to perform miracles, which was, unfortunately, what Elisha coveted the most.
What made Elijah so admirable? What caused the man to stand out from all the other prophets of the time?
The man held onto his faith in God while all the others were losing theirs during a time when the worship of the Lord was frowned upon. The prophet didn’t flinch before the evil king and queen who sought to take his life and had absolutely no fear when he was surrounded by hundreds of sword-waving prophets of Baal. Such were the attributes Elisha should have learned and imitated, not the ability to call down fire from heaven to consume the sacrifices on the altar.
“You have done more than enough for me,” Elisha should have replied. Yet that wasn’t the case. He took hold of the last opportunity and pleaded for the thing he desired the most - the spiritual blessing of performing signs and wonders.
“And yet I will show you the more excellent way.” Paul wrote at the end of his elaborate discussion on spiritual gifts. He encouraged his readers in the church of Corinth to value the way of love more than all the spiritual gifts, miracle-performing and demon-casting included.
It will be far too late for us to ask our loved ones such a question when we are about to cross the river. What could have been done should have been done long before. Indeed we should have exhausted our entire life time giving to our loved ones what we consider the most important and precious.           

Posted by Robert Sea Thursday, January 23, 2014 6:32:00 AM Categories: Devotional

Miraculous 

~~MTS-3657
Miraculous
“The water divided to the right and to the left, and the two of them crossed over on dry ground.”           2 Kings 2:8

It was far more miraculous for the water to continue to flow for thousands of years than it was for it to cease flowing for a brief moment, wasn’t it? Yet we are more overwhelmed by the cessation than the continuation.
The Jordan is still flowing up to this day and will continue to do so until the end of days. What’s amazing about it? A lot of things could have occurred to keep it from flowing, such as severe drought or other factors, but the water still flows and continue to nurture life on its way.
People were greatly amazed by Lazarus’ coming back to life; yet they paid absolutely no attention to the reality that they were alive. We won’t know how miraculous life is until we are about to lose it; we have no idea how precious and miraculous it is for our spouse to love us until she or he serves us divorce papers.
The fact that we have been waking up for thousands of mornings does not mean that we will wake up from our sleep tomorrow morning. How can we be one hundred percent sure that our hearts will continue to beat, even though they have been pumping for years?
I have learned to thank the Lord for every breath that I take and every step that I make, for they don’t take place automatically and, apart from God’s mercy, all these things will cease to happen.
All things are miraculous, because they are willed to happen by a loving will and forced to occur by a divine force.
Elijah seemed to be showing off his ability of miracle-performing, for they could have easily gotten across the Jordan by boat or by other means, yet he found it necessary to divide the water supernaturally.
What makes supernatural signs necessary is our insensitivity to God’s work in nature. A sudden downpour becomes miraculous after we have suffered a few years of severe drought. Signs and wonders are “omnipresent” in the world and it takes trained eyes and grateful hearts to unveil them.
For sure Elisha would inherit his mentor’s legacy of performing miracles and his ability would overwhelm many, yet there was something far more precious that isn’t mentioned: Elijah’s reverence and love for the Lord and his ability to see God’s presence in all things.
It was nothing short of miraculous that Daniel’s three friends were kept from being consumed by the scorching fire in the furnace, but it seems to me more spectacular that they refused to bow down to the golden statue, fully aware of what the consequence would be. Their insight into what ultimately was going to transpire was more miraculous than what actually occurred.     

Posted by Robert Sea Wednesday, January 22, 2014 6:33:00 AM Categories: Devotional

Not Leaving 

~~MTS-3656
Not Leaving
“As surely as the LORD lives and as you live, I will not leave you.”
             2 Kings 2:2

Elijah, before he was taken up to heaven by the Lord, gave his follower Elisha an opportunity to leave, which might have been a reasonable thing to do. Elijah was the one who had been performing all the miraculous signs and Elisha seemed to have hidden behind the scenes and appeared to be ill-prepared to take up the spot his teacher was leaving behind. By sending him home, the senior prophet seemed to imply that Elisha wasn’t ready for the big stage yet.
We have no idea how much Elisha had learned from his teacher, but it probably wasn’t all that much, from what we can gather from reading the Biblical narrative. Elisha appeared to play the role of servant to his teacher, and whatever he might have learned from the prophet was mostly by observation. Yet whatever little he learned by observing his teacher was quite enough. Elisha was passionate about becoming someone exactly, if not more, like his mentor. He wanted to become a prophet with greater spiritual power than Elijah.
Was Elisha rightly motivated? Did he desire to possess Elijah’s power more than to strive to be like him? Surely Elijah was unsurpassed by most prophets in his prowess of miracle-performing; yet what separated him from the rest was his undivided faithfulness to the Lord and his single-heartedness and remarkable courage to obey God’s commands, no matter how much it would cost him.
Without a doubt Elisha was seeking the blessing that could be bestowed by his mentor; therefore he was determined to stay with him until he achieved his goal. Elijah represented his last chance to become the person he had aspired to be when he forsook all he had years before and become Elijah’s servant.
“I will not let you go unless you bless me,” Jacob said to the One against whom he was wrestling all night. What Jacob was hungering for wasn’t physical in nature, for he had come to realize what spiritual quality he was lacking and only the Lord could bestow it on him. Was this the same thing Elisha was seeking at the time?
That isn’t the impression I have gleaned by reading the narrative. It was a tangible thing that he was searching for - he wanted a double portion of God’s spirit that Elijah possessed, enabling him to perform one great miracle after another.
Was it a worthy aspiration or ambition that the junior prophet was requesting from his mentor?
Unquestionably the man became a great prophet who might have performed more miraculous signs than his predecessor, yet he still paled a great deal compared to the one who mentored him.  
   

Posted by Robert Sea Tuesday, January 21, 2014 6:50:00 AM Categories: Devotional

He Went Down 

~~MTS-3655
He Went Down
“So Elijah got up and went down with him to the king.”
            2 Kings 1:15

By this time Elijah was Ahaziah’s public enemy number one, for the prophet had called down fire from heaven and consumed over one hundred of the king’s men. Surely Elijah had ample reason to be frightened and would have had gone into hiding had the Lord not told him to go down to meet the king.
“So Elijah got up and went down with him to the king.”
It wasn’t something that you or I would have done, had we been placed in his position. It wasn’t prudent, was it? Even though the king was ailing at the time, an ailing king was still a king with the authority to put anyone to death. In fact, a king who was on the verge of death was far more dangerous than the one with a relatively sound mind. This is a certain death, Elijah might have thought.
The prophet could easily have made an excuse to stay where he was and not go down to meet the king, or he might have questioned whether it was truly God’s will for him to go or not. Yet Elijah did neither. He received the message from above and he did accordingly without the slightest hesitation. 
He had seen fire come down from heaven and consume all his enemies we presume. No wonder he had the amazing courage to venture out to meet what was ahead of him, even death. Our faith in the Lord would have been greatly increased had we witnessed such an incredible event. What the prophet did really wasn’t all that great after all.
Is that really so? Does it mean that Lazarus had no more fear of death since he had been brought back from the portal of death? Were the five thousand people fed by the Lord forever liberated from the dread of hunger and starvation? I doubt that was the case.
Our faith in God may be strengthened by experiencing the Lord’s mighty work in our lives, yet it doesn’t mean it will become completely sufficient to meet all the challenges of life. Every challenge is a new one and it must be overcome by faith just the same, no matter how many times we have been victorious in the past. Failure is still a real possibility; therefore a strong effort on our part to overcome evil is entirely necessary.
Obeying the Lord’s command to go down to the king wasn’t automatic for the prophet, I believe. His heart might have been filled with dread and apprehension, and unwavering faith in the Lord was essential for him to proceed. 
“Strength for today is mine always, and all I need for tomorrow.” I think faith in God works the same way. The Lord remains faithful to us forever, but we still need to turn to him for sufficient faith to overcome various temptations on a daily basis.      
  

Posted by Robert Sea Friday, January 17, 2014 6:39:00 AM Categories: Devotional
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