Afraid To Ask
Pastor Shawn Follis
2 Kings 3:1-4:17
Verse of the day:
Elisha said to Gehazi, “Tell her, ‘We appreciate the kind concern you have shown us. What can we do for you? Can we put in a good word for you to the king or to the commander of the army?’” (2 Kings 4:13)
Have you ever wanted something so bad that you were afraid to admit it? You wanted it so bad that it would hurt too much to admit that you wanted it and to never get it. So you try to remain silent and convince yourself that you don’t really want it; that it is not that important. But it is. It keeps you up at night and drives your daydreams. It is constantly a longing in the pit of your soul or the back of your mind. You know that you will never be complete without it, yet you are afraid to ask for it. So you suffer, alone in your thought. Or at least that is what you think is happening.
The verse of the day today comes out of a great little story in 2 Kings Chapter 4. Here we meet a women from the town of Shunem, a small town in the northern kingdom of Israel. Shunem is still there today, a small town just a bit south of Nazareth. Long before the Son of God would roam the streets of the nearby towns, a wealthy family had begun to build a relationship with the prophet of god, Elisha, and would be a place where he could plan on grabbing a meal as he passed by that way. The story is all about how this lady was willing to give to be a blessing to others. She would even add a room to the house to give the man of God a place to say. This is story about giving, not receiving. However, you cannot out give God.
Elisha was so moved by the generosity of the woman that he wanted to do something nice for her. He offers to use his influence and connections to the kings and generals to bless her family. However, earthly connections were not on the mind of the woman. She wanted something, but was afraid to even ask. She could not bear it if she was to ask and be turned down. You see, I am sure she had asked God hundreds of times. The fact that he had never answered seemed like an answer enough. It was never going to happen, so why hope? Why ask?
The woman at Shunem did not bless the prophet so that she could manipulate God to her will. She did not act to try and barter with God. She gave. So God Gave. She gave a meal and a room. What she wanted was to be a mother. Since she did not have her own children, she gave away what she desired. She longed to love and care for her own child. Since she did not have one, she gave away the love and care instead of holding it all inside. Because she was willing to give away what she cherished, God gave what her heart desired. God gave a child.
So many of us have it backwards. We want things and are too afraid to ask for them so we try and hold onto the little we have. Instead, we should be more like this woman. She gave away that which she wanted the most. If she did not have a child to love, she would find someone to love and care for. God saw past her fear and saw her desperation. Do you want friends? Then give away friendship. Do you want a child? Give your heart to other children. Stop being afraid to ask and start being brave enough to give. Give and it will be given, every time.
The Feels From Psalm 139
Pastor Joshua Humpa
Psalm 139 is a powerful and refreshing chapter of the Bible. If you haven’t already, I really encourage you to pause from reading this devotional and read the chapter. It’s so good!
When I read this, I was encouraged, challenged, scared, and excited all at the same time! The fact that God knows exactly what’s going on in and around me, stirs up all the feelings!
I am encouraged by God knowing my heart and everything about me because it means He cares! Of the billions and billions of people on the planet, God cares enough to know my heart. Of all of the people that I drive past today, walk by, see on Facebook, and more, God cares about and knows me! As the Psalmist writes in verse 6, it’s to much to fully comprehend!
Psalm 139 challenges me because it means God is literally always keeping an eye on me. There’s no place I could ever flee to that escapes God’s sight. Verse 5 says God goes before me and follows me. Before every step is taken, God is aware of my heart and the choices I will make. It challenges me to be better, to be full of truth and love, and to keep sin far from my life.
The chapter scares me because I like privacy! I’m the type of guy that views my home as a place of tranquility and seclusion. It’s the safe place my family can escape the rest of the world, and choose what comes in. We’re in a world that has little privacy, but God has always been watching. There’s no choice that goes without God being a part of it.
Finally, this chapter excites me! It means I will never be to far from God’s reach. There will never be any circumstance where I am to far from God to be able to receive His help! No matter how dark, scary, or hopeless a situation is - God is there with me! Psalm 139 brings out all of the feels, because it’s a chapter of God’s love for us! He is present because He loves us, and nothing can separate us from the love of God.
Should you co-sign a loan?
Pastor Jon Brooks
1 Kings 22:1-53
Verse of the day:
"It’s poor judgment to guarantee another person’s debt or put up security for a friend." (Proverbs 17:18 NLT)
Have you ever been asked to co-sign a loan for someone? If yes, then congratulations. You must be a kind, warm and endearing person. I like to think of myself as a nice person.
Now do the right thing and say ‘no’.
If someone is trying to get you to co-sign with them, it is because they could not get a loan from a bank. When a lender does not feel an individual is a safe enough risk for credit another person can co-sign on the loan as a guarantor. Anytime you co-sign, you become legally responsible for the debt of another. It is just as if you went to the bank, borrowed the money and gave it to your friend or relative who is asking you to co-sign.
A Federal Trade Commission study found that 50 percent of those who co-signed for bank loans ended up making the payments. And 75 percent of those who co-signed for finance company loans ended up making the payments. Odds are, you’ll pay. When that happens the relationship will be forever changed. It’s nearly impossible to maintain a healthy relationship with someone after they default on a loan you co-sign; naturally you’ll feel taken advantage of. As a pastor I’ve talked with and prayed with enough people to know this is the case.
Perhaps you should consider whether it’s in the person’s best interest to get a loan in the first place. Is it in their best interest to borrow money they can’t afford to repay? At a minimum scripture makes clear that there is little benefit from borrowing money.
If through prayer you feel led to help someone financially consider giving them a gift of money without expectation of repayment or favors in return, which is what Jesus teaches in Luke 6:34-35. But co-sign a loan? You are not kinder than God or wiser than scripture. Just say no.
Meanwhile Back at the Ranch . . .
Pastor Dan Wootton
1 Kings 20:1-21:29
Verse of the day:
“Meanwhile, the word of God continued to spread, and there were many new believers.” (Acts 12:24 NLT)
If you’ve never read Trinka Noble’s “Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch,” I think you’re missing out on a classic! It’s a brightly illustrated children’s book about an old farmer who heads out for an exciting day in the town of Sleepy Gulch. The highs of his adventure include stopping by the post office, eating potatoes, and watching a turtle cross the street. The gleeful irony is what happens meanwhile back at the ranch. The farmer’s wife wins the lottery, inherits an estate, strikes oil, and stars in a movie! The old farmer misses it all.
In the Book of Acts, the church expands with every chapter. It’s as if each section opens with a repeated line… “Meanwhile back at the ranch, the word of God spread, and there were many new believers.” The good news for the church today is this: the kingdom of God is still expanding! Every day in America and around the world, new believers are coming to Christ for the first time. In Matthew chapter 16, Jesus promises Peter, “I will build my church and all the powers of hell will not conquer it.” The growth of the church is an unstoppable event propelled through history by the love of Christ. God’s kingdom WILL advance.
The question for the believer is this . . .
Are you going to be in the middle of the action? Or are you going to be in town watching a turtle cross the road? Will your spiritual fervor be fixed and unwavering? Or will the immediacy of this life cause you to miss out on the great commission? I don’t want to be distracted. I don’t want to miss out on the greatest evangelical movement this world has ever known. I want to be in the middle of it. In the words of Isaiah, “Here I am. Send me!” (Isaiah 6:8)
Go Again Seven Times
Pastor Ken Beach
1 Kings 18:1-46
Verse of the day:
“Elijah climbed to the top of Mount Carmel and bowed low to the ground and prayed with his face between his knees. Then he said to his servant, “Go and look out toward the sea. The servant went and looked, then returned to Elijah and said, “I didn’t see anything.” Seven times Elijah told him to go and look. Finally the seventh time, his servant told him, “I saw a little cloud about the size of a man’s hand rising from the sea.” Then Elijah shouted, “Hurry to Ahab and tell him, ‘Climb into your chariot and go back home. If you don’t hurry, the rain will stop you!’”
(1 Kings 18: 42-44)
Below is a devotion by Charles Spurgeon (1834-1892) from the September 28th evening entry of Morning and Evening. It still speaks truth—let it speak to you.
Success is certain when the Lord has promised it. Although you may have pleaded month after month without evidence of answer, it is not possible that the Lord should be deaf when his people are earnest in a matter which concerns His glory. The prophet on the top of Carmel continued to wrestle with God, and never for a moment gave way to a fear that he should be non-suited in Jehovah’s courts.
Six times the servant returned, but on each occasion no word was spoken but “Go again.” We must not dream of unbelief, but hold to our faith even to seventy times seven. Faith sends expectant hope to look from Carmel’s brow, and if nothing is beheld, she sends again and again. So far from being crushed by repeated disappointment, faith is animated to plead more fervently with her God. She is humbled, but not abashed: her groans are deeper, and her sightings more vehement, but she never relaxes her hold or stays her hand.
It would be more agreeable to flesh and blood to have a speedy answer, but believing souls have learned to be submissive, and to find it good to wait for as well as upon the Lord. Delayed answers often set the heart searching itself, and so lead to contrition and spiritual reformation: deadly blows are thus struck at our corruption, and the chambers of imagery are cleansed. The great danger is lest men should faint, and miss the blessing. Reader, do not fall into that sin, but continue in prayer and watching.
At last the little cloud was seen, the sure forerunner of torrents of rain, and even so with you, the token for good shall surely be given, and you shall rise as a prevailing prince to enjoy the mercy you have sought. Elijah was a man of like passions with us: his power with God did not lie in his own merits. If his believing prayer availed so much, why not yours? Plead the precious blood with unceasing importunity, and it shall be with you according to your desire.
I can only add—Amen!—to that devotion.
Pastor Tom Murray
1 Kings 15:25-17:24
Verse of the day:
She went away and did as Elijah had told her. So there was food every day for Elijah and for the woman and her family. (1 Kings 17:15 NIV)
It could be unexpected. You may have some warning. A job, investment, resource or relationship that you depend upon for provision is lost, broken, depleted or ruined. You begin to worry about how you will pay the bills, where you will stay and what you will drive. What was stable is no longer there for you.
Maybe you expect the worst-case scenario will unfold and you’re not sure how you’ll even make it another day. If that’s you, you have something in common with a widow who lived thousands of years ago in community called Zarephath.
In Zarephath, the food supply depleted due to a drought. A widow and her son prepared to eat what little they had left and die. Elijah met the woman at the town gate as the woman was gathering sticks to prepare their last meal. Here’s what happened next:
Elijah said to her, “Don’t be afraid. Go home and do as you have said. But first make a small loaf of bread for me from what you have and bring it to me, and then make something for yourself and your son. For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the Lord sends rain on the land.’”
She went away and did as Elijah had told her. So there was food every day for Elijah and for the woman and her family.
(1 Kings 17:13-15 NIV)
Before Elijah arrived, the woman anticipated that nothing could stop the worst case scenario from coming true. Every source of provision she knew was gone. You and I may have reached the same conclusion if we were living in that scenario.
When you are at a point where it seems like there is no way out and it feels like every possible avenue has been exhausted - remember, your Heavenly Father is aware of your situation. He cares for you and wants the best for your life. Your inclination may be to push away, but He wants to you press in. God’s provision may be supernatural, He may open a door that appeared to be shut or an improbable sequence of events may come together in way that can only be attributed to Him.
Thank your Heavenly Father that He knows what’s going on and express your trust in Him to provide for your daily needs - even in ways you would never imagine.
Can’t We All Just Get Along?
Pastor Stephanie Humpa
Have you ever worked on a project with a team that wasn’t unified? How did it go? Several years ago I was on a team that was trying to plan a surprise party for a friend. It was a great idea to bless our friend but we had a hard time being unified as a team. We all had different ideas and ways that we thought things should be done. While we were trying to push our own ideas instead of working towards unity we couldn’t get anything done or make any progress. We were at a complete standstill until we remembered that the goal that brought us together was trying to bless our friend.
The same thing happens in building the Kingdom of God. As believers we are all on a team together with the common goal of advancing God’s Kingdom. The problem comes in when we begin to have disunity within the team. We begin to separate because of different preferences and disagreements with other believers. It is hard to keep making progress when there is no unity. That’s why the Psalmist says that it is good and pleasant when God’s people live together in unity. When we are unified we are able to accomplish amazing things for God!
It’s inevitable that we will face times of disagreement with fellow believers. The best thing that we can do is try to resolve the difference quickly and early on. If you are at an impasse over an issue with a fellow believer can you agree to disagree for the sake of unity? Ephesians 4:3 says, “Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace.” This isn’t a nice suggestion this is the expectation for how believers are to live. Are you at odds with another believer? What can you do today to restore unity?
Who Will Tell Your Story?
Pastor Armin Colón
1 Kings 12:20-13:34
Verse of the day:
“So Peter returned with them; and as soon as he arrived, they took him to the upstairs room. The room was filled with widows who were weeping and showing him the coats and other clothes Dorcas had made for them.” (Acts 9:39 NLT)
In the ancient seaport town of Joppa lived a female disciple of Jesus who did not meet Him personally but whose life was transformed by Him. She was known by two names Tabitha (Greek) and Dorcas (Hebrew). Both names meant the same – gazelle. This implies she was a graceful woman. Since she had a Greek name, it is safe to assume she was a Greek speaking Jew. Also, since she had a large house, it is very likely she was wealthy and even well-educated. Out of gratitude for Jesus, she dedicated herself to serving the most vulnerable in society.
When Dorcas became sick and died, those whom she served mourned her loss and did everything in their power to help her. They called for the Apostle Peter. When he arrived, they told him her story. Grief-stricken, they showed him the coats and other clothes Dorcas had made for them. After asking them to leave the room, Peter prayed and Dorcas was raised from the dead.
As I read this true story, I was reminded of the words of the award-winning composer, lyricist, and performer Lin-Manuel Miranda: “You don’t have control of who lives, who dies, who tells your story.” Who would’ve thought that those in the fringes of society would’ve been the ones attesting to the virtues of a wealthy Christian woman? Dorcas cared for the poor and in her hour of need the poor cared for her. Notice that it was neither Dorcas’ family nor her friends who told her story; but it was the people she spent her life serving who kept her memory alive.
If we want to lead people to Christ, as Dorcas clearly did, we must use our talents and abilities to serve them. Our highest calling is to care in practical ways for the most vulnerable in society.
What are your skills? What do you enjoy doing? What energizes you? About what are you passionate? What are you doing, in the name of Jesus, to serve those in need? Whose life are you improving? Who will tell your story?
Pastor Shawn Follis
1 Kings 11:1-12:19
Verse of the day:
“But the Lord said, “Go, for Saul is my chosen instrument to take my message to the Gentiles and to kings, as well as to the people of Israel." (Acts 9:15)
Each year, as schools close for the summer and another class of students graduate, we all begin to think about how God has a plan and purpose for every life. Each one of us have a vocation that God has uniquely shaped us for. Each one of us have passions, talents, gifts and biases that uniquely lead us in one direction or another. One of the most powerful elements of a graduation service is Hope.
If it has been a few years since your high school graduation, maybe you have had the chance to return to a reunion. It is pretty amazing to see the different people and where they are in life. Body changes, lifestyle changes and life situations have a way of showing themselves. I am sure that there are many surprises. I can hear the people saying how they never thought that person would land that job or that person would be where they were in life. We are poor predictors of the future.
So is the case with Saul. I am sure his friends growing up with him as he was trained by the Jewish elite never saw the change that would take place in his life. God had called him to take the message of the “Good News of King Jesus” to the gentiles and to Kings. As an enemy of the early church and a killer of Christians, Saul definitely did not fit the bill. No one saw this one coming. Well almost no one. Jesus saw it the whole way. He had a plan for Saul’s life.
Be careful how you look at other people. That friend who is so resistant to the gospel and the good news of Jesus may just be someone that God has big plans for. They could be the one that brings salvation to their families, workplaces, and/or schools. You never know the plan that God has on someone’s life, so before you write them off, you may want to check and see what God has written about them. He may just have chosen them for something greater that you can imagine.