Yesterday we were looking at the exchange between Elisha on his death-bed and king Jehoash, (or Joash depending on your translation.) You can read it here, if you missed it.
What keeps coming back to me is how God is looking for passion in our obedience. I said yesterday that God partners with our passion. I love that!
Here’s the verse again:
So the man of God was angry with him and said, "You should have struck five or six times, then you would have struck Aram until you would have destroyed it. But now you shall strike Aram only three times." - 2 Kings 13:19
But it’s not just any passion that He will join himself to. It’s a passion for what He has given you to do. You see, it was in God’s master plan for Jehoash to permanently wipe Aram off the map. He wanted Israel to be more than just conquerors who would win a few battles. God was looking to make them vanquishers to their enemies.
Does that remind you of anything?
But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. - Romans 8:37
Do you see it?
God’s plan—God’s design—for Jehoash, this moment was the thing God created him for. God designed him with just the right heart, the right desires and passions, the right temperament, all in the right place and at the right time to do this thing.
For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. - Ephesians 2:10
You Were Made For This
God created You and me for this time and this place. He designed us to walk in certain passions and fulfill specific positions. We must go after what He lays before us with some serious gusto.
Don’t just beat those arrows three times and stop.
Go after it.
Get it done!
Lest you feel condemned, let me add that God is amazing at presenting new entry points into your destiny. As you get older, you may feel you missed God’s best for your life, but that is just not so. In this River of Life, God presents new opportunities floating downstream toward you every day. Each represents a new way to step into God’s plan and begin to walk it your calling.
Today, dear brothers and sisters, pay attention to what God places in your path and see if you can hear His call.
As he lies there, the king, Jehoash, comes to visit him and weeps over this great man of God.
What follows is striking.
Elisha tells the king to pick up a bow and arrow, open the window and shoot toward the East, toward their enemy, Aram. Elisha held his hand over the hand of the king while he shoots. Israel had been warring against Aram and losing territory to them for generations, with a few small victories here and there. Elisha tells the king, this arrow is the arrow of the Lord’s victory.
Then the dying prophet tells Jehoash to take the arrows and beat them on the ground. The king picked up the arrows and hit the ground three times and stopped.
The kings lack of enthusiasm angers Elisha.
So the man of God was angry with him and said, "You should have struck five or six times, then you would have struck Aram until you would have destroyed it. But now you shall strike Aram only three times." - 2 Kings 13:19 NASB
Do you see how the Lord’s desire, as express by the prophet, was for the complete eradication of their enemy, their oppressors? It was in God’s plan to completely deliver Israel from the bondage and constant struggle against this enemy. But the Lord God Almighty’s deliverance would only come through the partnership with the king’s passion.
I often hear Christians talking about God’s ability to intervene in their circumstances. They think along these lines.
God is sovereign and in control. If He wanted to heal me, he could. He could let me win the lottery. He could fix my relationships, or get me a job, or—insert your solution here.
But in the case of king Jehoash, God was looking for the king to be as passionate about this victory as The Lord was.
God tells us to pray, and we throw up a two-second, “oh Lord help,” prayer.
God puts on our hearts to give, and we drop five bucks in an offering plate.
God stirs us to love our neighbor and we wave to them over the fence.
What would it look like for us to be all-in? How much greater could the Lord’s victories be if we completely gave ourselves to this partnership?
Take those arrows and beat the ground with them till there is nothing left of them.
Go after what God has put in your heart with everything you have and everything you are.
I hope this stirs you up. It’s stirring me up. I’m guilty of half measures, but I’m turning that around. Join me, will you?
Today would be a great day for renewing our minds. Don’t you think?
Ponder with me this story from the life of Elisha.
Jehoram, son of Ahab and Jezebel, is king of Israel. Due to some hard feelings he wants to go to war with Moab. He decides it would be best to go with great force. So he gets in touch with Jehoshaphat the king of Judah and the king of Edom who will remain unnamed.
They head out together with all the king's horses and all the king's men. For some reason, they take a circuitous route through a dry and thirsty land where there is no water. Seven days they march until they are in danger of death by dehydration.
Jehoshaphat, the only one of the three kings who really knows God, asks if they happened to have a man of God along with them.
Enter Elisha, God's man of faith and power.
I’m not sure why he is there since there is no love lost between him and Jehoram, but, in any case, there he is.
He asks for a singer and gets a worship set going.
It wasn’t long before He has the mind of the Lord.
The Lord says to Elisha, fill this valley with ditches. You won’t see wind or rain, but I’ll fill them with water by morning. You and all your cattle will drink.
Oh, and in case you think this is a big deal - it’s not. It’s simple for me. I’ll also defeat Moab for you while I’m in the neighborhood.
OK - that’s a rough paraphrase, but my takeaway for today is that last bit. Here’s the way the New King James puts it.
"And this is a simple matter in the sight of the LORD; He will also deliver the Moabites into your hand. - 2 Kings 3:18 NKJV
Seven days without water with an army and herds of cattle and horses dying of thirst and the Lord God says “this is a simple matter.”
How bad is your thirst? How desperate are your circumstances? How far are you from the end of all the hope you can see?
This even works if your country is in a mess, politically!
Hear the word of the Lord, today.
This is a simple thing in the sight of the LORD.
I want you to put that in your mouth so that you can hear it.
Say it out loud, really!
This is a simple thing in the sight of the LORD.
We must have our minds renewed.
This is a simple thing in the sight of the LORD.
I’m going to keep this on my lips, and in my mind today, and probably tomorrow too. Because I need to hear it and hear it, and hear it, until it transforms one more part of me into the image of Christ.
That’s how it works. We are transformed by the renewing of our minds. Our minds are renewed by meditating on His word, His Truth. We must keep our minds from focusing on our problems. Let's get them focused on the LORD, who says, “This is a simple thing in my sight.”
“If I can put a finger on his robe,
I can get well.”
Blood in the Sheets
Woman with the Issue of Blood
At first I thought it was my time of month.
Blood in my sheets.
I am so tired of blood in my sheets, but now I am too weak to even care.
My little one was only three then; now she is a young woman, and she is probably finding her own blood in the sheets. It’s strange to think of my daughter in that way, but to me it is always blood.
I have not been able to live with her in over a decade. She and my husband live in town, in our little home right down from the market. Oh how I miss the market!
I was selling my olives there when I first noticed the twinge of pain I now know is my hemorrhage. It was the first night of thousands strung together to make up who I am, who I have become.
I was Gilda the olive girl. I sold olives in the market. I was beautiful. People always remarked about the color of my eyes. They said my eyes matched my olives.
I can’t remember the last time anyone even looked at my eyes.
Now I am forgotten.
This blood—this hemorrhage—has robbed me. It’s as though a thief broke in and took everything.
Not my silver, and linen, and fine china, though those are all gone, too. We sold it all to raise money for the doctors. The doctors couldn’t do a thing. I went to doctors in six villages. I even went down to the hospital in Capernaum, but I returned much as I’d left, only bruised and penniless.
The thief I speak of did not walk away with my possessions; he stole my family, my dignity, my humanity, my identity. I was Gilda the olive girl. Now I am no one. I am invisible. I am a scar on the roadside, to be stepped around, avoided. Who am I? I don’t have an answer.
Not long ago, some lepers were talking about a man. This man, I overheard, was wandering all over the region of Galilee, doing things I’ve never heard of before except at the storyteller’s. Jesus, they call Him. He was opening the eyes of the blind, healing all manner of sickness, and even cleansing some lepers.
Oh that name! Jesus! The LORD is salvation. O how I need a Savior!
When I heard the stories, I felt something deep in my chest, something I had not known for ages. I felt hope. After twelve years of blood on the sheets, after a decade alone, an outcast, forgotten, I felt hope.
My first thought was to go to Him. I must have Him put His hands on me and command this blood to stop. But my own husband was unwilling to touch me. The last time he came and held my hand, they would not let him back in the congregation for a week.
The stories kept coming. He healed everyone in town, laid hands on the sick folk there. I even heard He forgave a man’s sins just a few days back.
Who is this Jesus?
I began to wonder if I could get to Him through the crowds that are always thronging Him. I wondered if I could get close enough to touch Him. I remembered a story from my childhood of the day they threw a dead soldier on the corpse of an old prophet, and the soldier came back to life.
If this Jesus is anything like the old Elisha, I bet just touching the hem of His cloak would be enough to stop my bleeding. As soon as this thought entered my mind, I felt warm all over, like the healing had already started, like the LORD Himself was telling me to do it.
I knew what I had to do. He was walking by, and the crowd, as always, spread around Him like a river flowing through the street. So I went for it. I wrapped my tattered robes around me, covering as much of myself as I could. I kept my eyes to the ground and edged my way into the mob.
I could not see Him yet, but I knew He was only a few paces ahead of me. I kept saying to myself the words I’d heard deep inside my soul: “Touch the hem of His cloak. Touch the hem of His cloak.” It was all I could think, all I could hear.
Then I heard a voice right in front of me.
“Master, where did Jairus say he lived? Do you think it is much farther?”
That voice! The heat in my body doubled, and I knew it must be Him. I dove to the ground, my outstretched hand barely brushing the fringe of His robe.
Everything stopped. I could hear my heart pounding in my chest.
The Master stopped. The crowd stopped. My heart stopped.
To my horror, Jesus turned around and said:
“Who touched me?”
Peter laughed. “Who touched You? Everyone touched You. Maybe You should ask who didn’t touch You.”
“Someone touched me. I felt power discharging from me.”
I knew I was caught. I knew He was talking about me. I had broken the law. I had come into the crowd, making them all unclean like me. I had touched Him, and not only was I not allowed to touch anyone, but to touch this man who was not my husband . . . They could arrest me, or excommunicate me, or even stone me.
I was already on the ground, so I found my way to my knees, buried my face in my hands, and blurted out the whole thing.I waited for His verdict. What would He do? What would He say?
Then there was that voice again.
“Daughter, you took a risk of faith, and now you’re healed and whole. Live well, live blessed! Be healed of your plague.”
Then I understood. The heat I was feeling was right at the source of the bleeding.As the heat faded, the trickling of blood I’d felt for twelve years was gone. I knew right then and there my nightmare was over.
That was yesterday.
Today I awoke on my cot, and there was no blood.
Today I will return to my home, my husband, my beautiful daughter.
Today I will return to my life, my identity.
When Jesus healed me, He didn’t just stop my bleeding. He restored everything the thief had taken.
What manner of man is this?
To read the original story, see Matthew 9:18-26, Mark 5:21-43, and Luke 8:40-56.
Copyright - Benjamin Nelson - 2015
The story above is a chapter from my book Encounters With Jesus, which is a compilation of forty such stories. It takes the reader from Christ's conception to His resurrection through the eyes of dozens who were touched by His ministry.
We have been pondering these 3 methods for pursuing the hand of God in our lives, Ask, Seek, and Knock, each with its corresponding promise.
Ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it shall be opened. ~ Matthew 7:7-8 NASB
Today, I want to take you to a story about knocking, but not on a door.
Elisha, man of God, doubly anointed successor of the great prophet Elijah, raiser of the dead, floater of ax heads, lay dying.
The king at the time, Joash, came to visit. Joash could see that Elisha was dying, and he (Joash) was distraught. As it happens, the nation was in conflict at the time, and as every warring king knows, it always good to have a prophet on your side.
Elisha tells Joash to take his bow and with Elisha’s hand covering the kings, he has him shoot an arrow out the window
And he said, “Open the window toward the east,” and he opened it. Then Elisha said, “Shoot!” And he shot. And he said, “The LORD’S arrow of victory, even the arrow of victory over Aram; for you shall defeat the Arameans at Aphek until you have destroyed them.” ~ 2 Kings 13:17 NASB
Next the prophet has the king take - well – here, you read it:
Then he said, “Take the arrows,” and he took them. And he said to the king of Israel, “Strike the ground,” and he struck it three times and stopped. ~ 2 Kings 13:18
So this could have gone two ways, but the king never realized that he was being observed.
God loves to be pursued. Did you know that? God loves our persistence. God is honored by persistent pursuit and His people grow by persistence pursuit. [Tweet This]
Check out Elisha’s reaction here to the kings halfhearted knocking.
So the man of God was angry with him and said, “You should have struck five or six times, then you would have struck Aram until you would have destroyed it. But now you shall strike Aram only three times.” ~ 2 Kings 13:19
When God, through His prophet, or through our inner witness, or through the clear teaching of the Word of God, gives you a task to do, do it like it is the reason you were born.
God is honored when we obey Him, love Him, with all our heart, mind, soul and strength.