VIDEO Why Be Blessed?

And so it was, when they had crossed over, that Elijah said to Elisha, “Ask! What may I do for you, before I am taken away from you?” Elisha said, “Please let a double portion of your spirit be upon me.” 2 Kings 2:9

As a young man, Robert G. LeTourneau made God his business partner early in his career. He went on to design and manufacture a wide range of heavy equipment used for clearing land, building roads, and transporting heavy machinery. He and his wife founded LeTourneau University in Texas and gave ninety percent of their large income to the Lord’s work, living on the remaining ten percent.

No doubt LeTourneau asked his Partner for advice, guidance, and blessing in his work. And it seems God responded abundantly based on the way the LeTourneau’s were able to bless others throughout their lives. Is it right to ask God to bless us? The apostle James wrote that sometimes we lack because we ask God out of wrong motives. When the prophet Elisha asked for twice the blessing of his mentor, Elijah, he used that blessing to bless others.

If you ask God for His blessing, consider what you will do with that blessing when it comes. God blesses us so we may become a blessing to others.

Pure prayers have pure blessings. Thomas Goodwin


2 Kings 9 lesson by Dr. Bob Utley

Empty Hands

His father saw him and was filled with compassion for him. Luke 15:20

Robert was embarrassed when he showed up for a breakfast meeting and realized he’d forgotten his wallet. It bothered him to the point that he pondered whether he should eat at all or simply get something to drink. After some convincing from his friend, he relaxed his resistance. He and his friend enjoyed their entrees, and his friend gladly paid the bill.

Perhaps you can identify with this dilemma or some other situation that puts you on the receiving end. Wanting to pay our own way is normal, but there are occasions when we must humbly receive what’s graciously being given.

Some kind of payback may have been what the younger son had in mind in Luke 15:17–24 as he contemplated what he would say to his father. “I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants” (v. 19). Hired servant? His father would have no such thing! In his father’s eyes, he was a much-loved son who’d come home. As such he was met with a father’s embrace and an affectionate kiss (v. 20). What a grand gospel picture! It reminds us that by Jesus’ death He revealed a loving Father who welcomes empty-handed children with open arms. One hymn writer expressed it like this: “Nothing in my hand I bring, simply to thy cross I cling.”

By:  Arthur Jackson

Reflect & Pray

How does it make you feel that because Jesus has paid your sin debt, you can receive forgiveness for all your sins? If you’ve never received this forgiveness, what’s keeping you from accepting this gift through Jesus?

God of heaven, help me to receive and enjoy the forgiveness You’ve provided through Your Son, Jesus.

Protecting Our Future

Genesis 25:19-34

Many people give little thought to the long-term consequences of their choices. As a result, they can sacrifice future blessings for the sake of present pleasures. But this is nothing new; we see it in the very first book of the Old Testament.  

Swayed by his immediate needs and desires, Esau failed to value the privilege of his birthright. In those days, the eldest son received a double portion of the inheritance from his father, along with leadership of the family. But in this particular situation, there was much more at stake—the birthright contained blessings of the covenant God had made with Abraham. Esau didn’t care enough about his spiritual heritage, so he thoughtlessly sold it for a meal.

Being far removed from that particular transaction makes it easy to see the folly of Esau’s choice. But what about you? Are you sacrificing God’s spiritual blessings for short-term gain? Maybe you’re spending long hours working or playing but reserve little time to spend in God’s Word and prayer.

You can protect your future by yielding to the Spirit’s control and pursuing what Scripture considers most valuable: knowing, loving, obeying, and serving God. This investment reaps long-term blessings that continue into eternity.

Faith, Substance, and Evidence

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1)

The 11th chapter of Hebrews, known as the great Hall of Fame of Faith reciting the faith and resulting action of many Old Testament heroes, begins with a description of what faith is.

First, we see that it is the “substance of things hoped for.” Biblically, we know that the Christian “hope” is a hope so real it has substance in the present. None of the people of faith recited in this chapter actually saw the promises made to them come to fruition, but they so believed in them that they lived in the present as if the future were reality.

The word “substance” occurs only two other times in Hebrews. It is used to speak of Christ as the exact representation of God’s essence and nature, “who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person [i.e., substance]” (Hebrews 1:3). It is also translated “confidence,” “for we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end” (Hebrews 3:14), and speaks of a deep assurance. Putting this all together, our text could then be rendered “faith is the essence of our assurance of things yet in the future.”

The word “evidence” could be translated “conviction,” or even “proof.” The word implies a logical, airtight argument. “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof [same word as ‘evidence’], for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16). This sort of evidence is something we know to be true, something about which we have such conviction we act accordingly.

The first half of the verse brings a future truth down into the present; the second half commits our lives to that truth. JDM

Confessing Sin-Psalm 106

Both we and our fathers have sinned; we have gone astray and have acted wickedly. Our fathers in Egypt did not grasp [the significance of] Your wonderful works or remember Your many acts of faithful love; instead, they rebelled by the sea—the Red Sea. Yet He saved them for His name’s sake, to make His power known… They soon forgot His works and would not wait for His counsel… They defiled themselves by their actions and prostituted themselves by their deeds (vv. 6-8, 13, 39).

It has been said that the curse of Christianity is a short memory! Why can’t we learn? Why must we continue to make the same mistakes? Don’t we know the consequences of following our spiritual ancestors who sinned in the same ways as their fathers before them?

Listen to the psalmist’s litany of sins and feel deep empathy with those ancient brothers and sisters who stumbled through the wilderness. Over and over again—at the Red Sea, at Peor, at Meribah—they resisted God’s guidance. How could they have made such arrogant demands to be fed, then complain when the menu never varied? How could they forget all those miracles so soon and begin their murmuring and complaining? Moses himself was no paragon of virtue. His disobedience cost him the dream of his life—entering the promised land.

Pride, arrogance, complaining, disobedience. Guilty as charged—my spiritual forebears … and me! I stand condemned before the God of Abraham and Moses “without one plea, but that thy blood was shed for me.”

Personal Prayer

I’m just like my fathers, Lord! Those people just couldn’t learn. Neither can I. My soul is also a litany of disobedience and rebellion, but I’m glad 1 John 1:9 is still in the Book!

A Beloved Hymn

Just As I Am

Just as I am, and waiting not,

To rid my soul of one dark blot,

To Thee whose blood can cleanse each spot,

O Lamb of God, I come! I come!

Just as I am, Thou wilt receive,

Wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve,

Because Thy promise I believe,

O Lamb of God, I come! I come!

Words by Charlotte Elliott. Music by William B. Bradbury.

Like a Fine-Tuned Violin

Don’t you know that the runners in a stadium all race, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way to win the prize.—1 Corinthians 9:24

What and how much we eat can greatly affect the way we feel. If the nerves are starved on account of a lack of vitamins, they will kick back in physical depression—exactly the same way that a starved soul or spirit will kick back in psychological depression. So discipline yourself to eat correctly and nutritionally.

Next, discipline yourself to take appropriate physical exercise. God designed our bodies for movement, and if they don’t move, they get sluggish. Then what happens? A sluggish body contributes to a sluggish spirit.

Time and time again, when counseling people who are suffering with depression, I have recommended (along with other suggestions) that they take up physical exercise. One should not, of course, embark upon vigorous exercise, like playing racqetball or jogging, without having a medical check-up. But I have been surprised at how even a short, brisk walk can do wonders for the soul.

I feel a word of caution may be needed here, because many people in our culture are fast becoming exercise “freaks.” It is possible to regulate the body too much! You should get enough exercise to remain fit, but also keep in mind that too much attention to exercise or sports may drain higher interests. Everything must be kept in balance: just enough food to keep you fit and not enough to make you fat; just enough sleep to keep you fresh and a little less than that which would make you lazy. We must keep our bodies like a fine-tuned violin, and then the music of God will come out from every fiber of our being.

Prayer

O God of my mind and my body, I come to You to have both of these brought under the control of Your redemption and Your guidance. May I pass on the health of my mind to my body and the health of my body to my mind. Amen.

Further Study

1Kg 19:8; Php 3:1-16; Gl 2:2; Heb 12:1

What picture did Paul use in illustrating truth?

How much do you exercise?

The Priority of Love

Matthew 22:34-40

Jesus was asked to single out one segment of law as more important than the rest. Yet the Pharisees and Scribes regarded the law as sacrosanct, to be obeyed not only in its scriptural detail but also in subsequent interpretations.

This group of men would not normally condone any selectivity on observing parts of the law, considering that each part was equally valid. There is a danger, which we sometimes fall into, that we want to be selective about God’s will, to obey Him in some things and be self-determining in others. So Jesus would have been on dangerous ground if He had said, for instance, “You shall not commit adultery” is more important than “You shall not steal” (Deuteronomy 5:18, 19). You can’t pick and choose like that.

Jesus did not rise to this bait of discriminating between one specific commandment and another. He selects a verse that is the summing up of all other commandments (Deuteronomy 6:5). He boils down religion to loving God with a total love: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37).

And yet, when Jesus has selected that verse, it is not quite all-embracing enough. So He expertly selects a second general statement, from Leviticus 19:18, which requires also love for one’s neighbor, a love that is on a par with our own self-respect: “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39).

Love must have a two-way thrust to satisfy Jesus but, when He has said that, He is content for all other laws to stem from it. Religion for Jesus is all about responses and relationships, both to God and to others.

To quote William Barclay: “To be truly religious is to love God, and to love the men whom God made in His own image; and to love God and man, not with a nebulous sentimentality, but with a total commitment which issues in devotion to God and practical service of men.”

It has been said that while both the commands were known to His hearers, the new thing in what Jesus said here was to link “Love your God” with “Love your neighbor.” Loving our neighbor means that we should be determined always to show genuine goodwill toward our fellow human beings and seek to bring out the very best in them; seek their highest good. We must show goodwill to others as we do to ourselves.

Clifford and Maureen Kew, Question Time