Reflections – November 2, 2009

Today’s Readings: Psalm 93; 2nd Kings 2; Zechariah 6; James 5:13-20

Today’s first reading begins, “The Lord reigns, he is robed in majesty” and ends with “Your decrees are very trustworthy.” Another psalm celebrating the Lord’s divine kingship reminds me how mighty and awesome is the God I serve; more powerful than any other force or influence that I will face today.

Our second reading describes the transfer of leadership from Elijah to Elisha to serve as Israel’s prophet. We often speak of handing off the “mantle of leadership” and here we have a quite literal manifestation of that as Elisha picks up Eliah’s cloak as he is taken, by a whirlwind, into heaven.

As I reflect upon this reading, it occurs to me that it would be interesting to do a study of the lives of these two individuals. One question I have is, “Why are some of the prophets given a written platform in which to express and document the events of their lives whereas these two prominent prophets are not afforded that vehicle?” If you are reading these reflections and would like to leave your comments, I would be happy to consider them.

Frank Mead writes an interesting summary of the lives of these two prophets. He says of Elijah, “… Casting his mantle to Elisha, he ascended into heaven in a chariot of flame. He left as he had come, as he had lived, in a whirlwind of heavenly fire. He came back, at the transfiguration of the our Lord. He stood alone. He outwitted Jezebel and her priests. He destroyed Baal-worship, punished the apostate kings who introduced it, made Israel cry again, ‘Jehovah, He is God.’” He says of Elisha, “Miracles without number are credited to him…. But the miracles were the least of his spiritual works. He anticipated more than Elijah, the spirit of Jesus Christ. Elijah was wrapped in tempest, Elisha in an aura of profoundest spiritual truth. He was God’s lighthouse, steady and bright against a gray, carefree Court. In the darkest days, when doom was certain, he was still witness for truth and righteousness.” (Who’s Who in the Bible, pp. 122-123).

Our third reading recounts Zechariah’s final vision. He saw four chariots pulled by four horses of different colors. Chariots were symbolic of military power in ancient times and represent God’s power ruling over all the earth. Following this vision, Zechariah is told to have a crown made and to set it on the head of Joshua the high priest. He is also instructed to tell Joshua about “the Branch.” The prophecy’s message is that the Davidic monarchy and the Levitical priesthood will continue intertwined the one with the other.

Our fourth reading contains instructions of how to handle suffering, cheerfulness, and sickness. Prayer, singing of praises, and going to the elders of the church as a resource are all recommended. We are also urged to confess our sins to one another, to pray for one another and to do what we can to “bring back” a brother who has “wandered from the truth.”

All of today’s readings can help me formulate a strategy as I begin my day. Help me, O Lord, to appreciate how your inspired word, open before me this morning, can be a “schoolmaster” to teach me. I can learn from it how to deal with the uncertainties and brevity of life. I can learn from it how to deal with people I love when they let me down. I can learn from it how to deal with Satan when he throws his fiery darts at me from every imaginable angle. I can learn from it how to safeguard my kids before I send them out into the world. I can learn from it how to keep my relationship with my wife strong and how to be the husband and father you want me to be.

Thanks for reading with me and have a blessed day, dear friend! –Randy Sexton

Reflections – November 1, 2009

Today’s Readings: Psalm 92, 2nd Kings 1; Zechariah 5; James 4:11-5:12

Today’s first reading is a hymn of thanks and praise to God and celebrates His greatness in presiding over His creation and His goodness toward His faithful. The psalm reminds me to give thanks and to sing praise to Him in the morning and in the evening. As I begin my day, let me look to the Lord for strength, perspective, and a servant’s heart to accomplish His will in my life. As I end my day, let me look to the Lord to celebrate the successes and for wisdom to identify areas where I could have done better.

The second reading tells of God’s message to and judgment upon Ahaziah (sixth king of Judah), who worshipped Baal. Ahaziah seeks consolement, during time of sickness, from a false deity identified in the text as, “Baal-zebub, god of Ekron.” God delivered this message and judgement by the hand of His prophet Elijah. How important it is to recognize the true source of life and death.

The third reading recounts two of Zechariah’s visions; one of a flying scroll and the other of a woman in a basket carried away by two other women. The scroll is said to represent the “curse that goes out over the face of the whole land.” The woman is said to represent wickedness and the two women are said to represent the carrying away of the wickedness to the land of Shinar where a house is built for it. The idea is that, it is removed a safe distance, never to trouble God’s people by their wickedness again.

Zechariah is one of the most obscure of the minor prophets, and it may not always be readily apparent how his message can apply to my life. One thing is certain; he served a purpose and was given a work to accomplish. Zachariah lived in a time when God’s people needed a motivator and he fulfilled that role. I live in a time and in a culture that require boldness yet meekness to speak forth the word of truth. May I ever be ready to do that without faltering!

Today’s final reading encourages me to be a good steward of what God has entrusted to me. Warning is sounded, lest I be accused as were the rich of James’ day, “Your riches have rotted and your garments are moth-eaten” and are “evidence against you” and the voice of those whom you have defrauded are “crying out against you.” What a terrible picture is painted by the words of James. May they never describe me. I am also encouraged to be patient, to establish my heart and to be known as one who can be trusted when he says something.

Have a blessed day dear friend.–Randy Sexton