June 14 – Wait, who? – Elisha

Read 1 Kings 19:1-21 and 2 Kings 2:1-25, 6:8-19

Being the youngest, I often was called by one of my sisters’ names. In fact, truthfully, I felt like I grew up in the shadow of my two older sisters. Perhaps that’s how our biblical character we read about today felt. Many people get the stories of Elijah and Elisha confused because their names are so similar. Elisha definitely had big shoes to fill in the shadow of his mentor, Elijah, but we will see today that Elisha, although he may not be as well known, was just as prominent.

Our character, Elisha, enters the scene in 1 Kings 19 after Elijah, a great prophet of God, was burned out from ministry. Elijah fled from wicked Jezebel, who sought to kill him, hid under a tree wishing to die, ate breakfast made by an angel, heard God’s voice in a gentle wind and was convinced he was the only one left on God’s side.

He was done.

So, God told Elijah that another prophet would take his place. Elijah first found Elisha plowing a field but Elisha quickly left his family, the oxen and the fields behind and followed Elijah. Elisha was Elijah’s right-hand man who did not leave his side. He was dedicated to minister to Elijah and learn from him before God miraculously took Elijah in a chariot of fire right in front of Elisha. Wow! Can you imagine seeing that?! Elisha saw it and cried out, “My father, my father, the chariots of Israel and its horsemen!” And whoosh! A whirlwind took Elijah to heaven!

Before God whisked away Elijah, Elisha asked Elijah to give him a double portion of his spirit and he was granted that request. 2 Kings is full of story after story of the miracles God performed through Elisha. Oil was multiplied for a widow, a boy was raised from the dead, an iron axe head was caused to float. Elisha was no doubt a man of God, full of compassion for others.

One of my favorite stories of Elisha is found in 2 Kings 6:8-19. The king of Aram was at war with Israel and, because God gave Elisha the ability to supernaturally know where the enemy camped, the king of Aram was enraged and sought to take Elisha. At night the Arameans surrounded Elisha’s city with chariots. In the morning Elisha’s servant was shocked at the scene-completely surrounded without an escape! Elisha comforted him and said, “Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” God permitted Elisha to see the unseen spiritual battle! He saw that God’s forces outnumbered the enemy’s’. Elisha then prayed that his servant’s eyes would be opened to see the same thing and they were!

This reminds me of Ephesians 6:10-18 where Paul writes that our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Paul continues with instruction to put on the full armor of God- the belt of truth, breastplate of righteousness, shoes of the gospel of peace, shield of faith, helmet of salvation and sword of the Spirit, the Word of God. The unseen battle is real.  What are you fighting? Rest assured that, although we cannot see the spiritual forces at war, God’s forces outnumber Satan’s and the victory is God’s! Oh, that we could see, like Elisha, that those who are with us are more than those who are with them.

Be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of His might. You are on the winning side.

Charline Engle

June 5 – Wait, who? – Josiah

Read 2 Kings 22:1-23:30

If you are able to name more than three or four of the roughly forty kings of Israel and Judah, you are probably better than the average Jesus follower. Meanwhile, to know many of the specific details about Josiah, king of Judah from 640 to 609 B.C., is even more impressive. Of course, we must keep in mind that Jesus does not call us to just expand our knowledge so as to win at games of Bible trivia. Instead, He calls us to love God and love people (Matt. 22:34-40). So, what are the facts we learn about Josiah and what does he model that we can mimic?

Josiah was faithful in his youth – He became king at the age of 8 (2 Kings 22:1). By the time he was 16, he was seeking the Lord. By the age of 20, he was leading the nation to address the rampant idol worship present at the time (2 Chronicles 34:3).

If you are young, don’t allow your age to limit your faithfulness. Instead, “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity (1 Tim. 4:12).”

Josiah valued the Word of God – Up to the age of 26, Josiah had been following the Lord as likely defined by oral tradition. He knew of the ways of his forefather David and didn’t deter from the right path (2 Kings 22:1, 2). He didn’t have his own copy of the Old Testament Law on a shelf in the palace. But, at 26, a copy of the Law was found. Josiah was immediately humble and responsive to what he discovered in the Scriptures.

You and I enjoy the privilege of having unlimited access to multiple copies and diverse translations of the completed canon of biblical truth. Do we value that? Do we orient our lives accordingly? After all, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work (2 Tim. 3:16, 17).”

Josiah, then, serves as a great example of faithfulness to God and His word. Will you follow in his footsteps?

Steve Kern

June 3 – Wait, who? – Naaman

Read 2 Kings 5:1-27

Well, that was intense.

In this chapter, there are two different sections highlighted by two separate characters on two different journeys.

First of all, we read about Naaman who is a commander of the king of Aram who has leprosy. Through one of their raids, they captured an Israeli girl who eventually asked why Naaman hadn’t gone to a prophet of God to cure his leprosy.

Initially, Naaman went to Israel with the intent of personally meeting Elisha and having him pray immediately over his disease. Instead, he is caught off guard when Elisa sends word through a messenger to dip himself in the Jordan River seven times to be cured of his leprosy.

You can almost feel Naaman’s frustration, “I traveled all this way to do something that I could have done back home? How does this make sense? Our rivers are in way better condition than these Israeli rivers!” In the midst of his frustration, he turns and walks away from the promise of healing.

How often do you allow something like a small annoyance or set back to turn you away from what’s best? “Ah! This isn’t how I wanted things to go! I deserve better! This is humiliating!” and with that, we turn away from God’s promise for us. All throughout the Bible, God promises to care for us and never forsake us. What are you allowing to hold you back from experiencing that promise?

Naaman is eventually healed by following the command of Elisha and, after Elisha refuses to accept payment for his help, Naaman is back on his way home.

This is where we meet the second character of the story. Naaman just experienced life change through God and commits his life and worship to him. However, the servant of Elisha saw this as an opportunity to extort monetary compensation from Naaman. He, Gehazi, tracks Naaman down and makes up a story of why he needs to take money back, of which Naaman is quick to provide.

However, Gehazi’s sin is quickly found out and, after lying about his whereabouts, Elisha says that the leprosy that Naaman was just cured from would cling to Gehazi and his family forever.

Well, dang…

There is such power in greed. If your perspective is not heavenly and you are shortsighted in your faith, there is the possibility to make huge mistakes.

My encouragement to you all is simple and comes from lessons that we learned from Naaman and Gehazi: have complete trust in God’s plan for your life and be ultra-sensitive to greed in your life.

As you finish this reading, I urge you to pray and open yourself up to the Holy Spirit. Allow Him to reveal any distrust or greed in your life and take it upon yourself to live in a way that honors God.

Jake Lawson

April 11 – Jesse Tree – Heze…who?

Read 2 Kings 18:1-19:1932-37

“It is true, O LORD, that the Assyrian kings have laid waste these nations and their lands. They have thrown their gods into the fire and destroyed them, for they were not gods but only wood and stone, fashioned by men’s hands. Now, O LORD our God, deliver us from his hand, so that all kingdoms on earth may know that you alone, O LORD, are God.” 2 Kings 19:17-19

Hezekiah was a godly king who really worked hard to honor God. He took a stand against evil and sought to do right. God was pleased with him.

But Sennacherib, king of Assyria, wasn’t one of Hezekiah’s fans. Sennacherib’s army had already conquered Jewish people to the north. His army carried away men, women, and children. And now, Sennacherib was coming after Hezekiah and the Jews under his control in and around Jerusalem.

Are there people in your life that aren’t big fans of you? Do they make fun of, try to insult, bully, or criticize you? What do you do in situations like that? Hezekiah is a good role model for us to imitate.

  1. First of all, seek to please God. Don’t give other people valid reasons for accusing you of doing wrong. Make sure you have a good reputation with people and you are doing what God expects. That’s what Hezekiah did!
  2. Remember that God is your greatest resource. Rather than going on your own campaign to destroy the other person, take the threats and accusations to God. Hezekiah took a threatening letter into the house of the Lord and spread it out before God. He prayed.

The battle really wasn’t between Hezekiah and Sennacherib. It was between God, the Creator of heaven and earth, and Sennacherib, the powerhouse of that part of the world. If you read the story, you know who won!

Steve Kern

March 8 – Do Not Fear – What Elisha Saw

Read 2 Kings 6:8-23

What Elisha knew was that God outnumbered the Aramean army any day of the week.

Those who are with us are more than those who are with them (v16).

His first reaction when the servant asked, What shall we do?! was Do not be afraid.

Oh, that I might react like that. When kings and chariots seem to outnumber. When germs and sickness look like they might win. When people who are different than me approach and ask for help I don’t know how to give. When cancer looks like it will win the fight. May I respond with those four words when my kids freak out and ask what we should do.

Do not be afraid!

He stood so still, his heart so calm because Elisha was privy to what his servant could not see. His faith saw what his servant could not. And that faith brought Elisha real life. Unafraid.

It brought his servant that kind of “unafraid”, too.

O LORD, open his eyes so he may see.

Elisha knew that even though the Aramean king and his men and his horses appeared to be strong in number, the army of God stood at the ready, surrounding him and the people of God.

I wonder what it would be like to see with those kind of eyes. To look at the scary and see its defeat. What might we live like if we could see all that we fear as Elisha saw the enemy?

Perhaps we would face adversity more strongly. Perhaps when the doctor calls with bad news from a test, we might see God’s army, look for His fire chariots fighting for us, surrounding what scares us, calling it into submission to His will and His plan.

That’s what He did for Elisha and for the people of Israel. He struck their enemy with blindness and forced them into submission. Then he showered them with mercy and brought peace with His own kind of fear.

*I’ve written a short e-book on living unafraid. A manifesto, if you will. And I would love for you to read it, to find the challenge to really live. Unafraid. Just click here for the download. Then start living. Unafraid.

Bria Wasson

October 29 – 35 Prayers in the Bible – Elisha

Read 2 Kings 6:8-19 and Psalm 27:3-4

In my youth, I remember reading this story of Elisha and his servant. My friend and I talked about it with wonder. Especially, when most of life felt like a “great unknown,” to think of God’s protection in such a grand way was so reassuring! We could relate to the servant and his fear upon waking up to an army surrounding him. Yet, Elisha’s prayer did not BRING God’s army of fire, it opened the eyes of the servant to what was ALREADY there! Later, Elisha would pray a very opposite prayer that physically blinded the eyes of the Aramean army, so he could lead them into Samaria to defeat and never to return for God’s glory.

You’ll notice that the writer of this story is not so concerned about recording details of the “when and where’s” as much as conveying the glory of God! God used prophets, such as Elisha, to speak and be glorified. (Hebrews 1:1) As a prophet, Elisha’s very life was focused on God. How powerful faith in God truly can be, even today as we fix our eyes on Jesus – the author and perfecter of our faith. (See also Hebrews 1:2-4;12:2) And, how wonderful that God can use even us, in our messy human state, to be glorified!

The passage from today reminds me of Psalm 27:3-4:

Though an army deploys against me,
my heart is not afraid;
though a war breaks out against me,
still I am confident.

I have asked one thing from the Lord;
it is what I desire:
to dwell in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life,
gazing on the beauty of the Lord
and seeking Him in His temple.

How incredible to think of all the spiritual things our eyes cannot typically see in this physical world!  Our God is mighty! “Do not be afraid, for those who are without outnumber those who are with them.” (vs. 16)

And, perhaps, one could argue that what we CHOOSE to see or not in this world also matters.  The focus of our “heart’s eyes” is so key! Our perspective. One day, whether by death or by Christ’s glory, our eyes will be opened and we will behold the true vastness of our God’s glory and might! What a wonderful day that will be to truly see! Until then, we press on and into our God. We seek His face. God, that you may open our eyes today and let us see YOU!

Beth Starkey

21 DAY PRAYER CHALLENGE

For the full challenge, go here!

Day 9: Family Airplane Mode

Spend some quality time with your family tonight with no distractions for at least 45 minutes. Included in this time should be a time of prayer as a family. Imagine what it would be like to have this be a consistent part of your schedule?

October 27: The Shunammite Woman

Read 2 Kings 4:8-37

Spending money is easy when it’s your parent’s. For about the first 18 years of my life, I was on mom and dad’s payroll, or at least that’s how I saw things. Just about the only thing I would pay for was gas and insurance for my car. Spending was easy, because it wasn’t mine! I rarely thought twice if mom and dad were paying for it. However, when I became “of age” I received the responsibility of paying for everything myself. Decisions became a little more difficult.

One thing that never really peaked my interest was tithing. If I worked so hard for this money, why would I give it away? For the longest time, I didn’t tithe because it never registered that “it all belongs to God”. I hadn’t connected the fact that everything is on loan from God. We have been blessed immeasurably by God and tithing is one way that we give back. It wasn’t until I saw a podcast from a pastor in Texas that I changed my mind. “Tithing isn’t giving,” he said, “it’s returning.” From that day on, I believed that it all belongs to God and tithing has been a part of my budget ever since.

Another individual that learned a similar lesson was a Shunammite woman in 2 Kings 4. After housing the prophet Elisha many times, he tells her she will be expecting a son. She, of course, doubted only to see Elisha’s statement come true in a year’s time. Years pass before he tragically dies. Understandably confused, the woman goes to inquire of Elisha. A miraculous healing takes place but the story contains an important principle for all of us today.

Are you a believer that “it all belongs to God”? Do you thank Him for all the blessings you have received in life? A common trap to fall into is thinking that you are to thank for earthly accomplishments and blessings. While you play an important part, if it wasn’t for God, where would you be? Who gave you the hands to work? Who gave you the eyes to see? Who gave you the lungs to breathe?

Take some time and thank God for His many blessings. Don’t lose sight of the reality that it all belongs to God. He blessed us, not because we deserve it, but so that we can bring glory and honor to Him.

jdl

November 27: Angelic Armies

Read 2 Kings 6:8-23

If you have the right kind of lenses, you are able to see things not normally visible with the naked eye.  If you place what seems like clean pond water under a microscope, you will likely be able to see microorganisms like amoebas and paramecia.  If you pull out a telescope on a clear night, you will be able to see stars or maybe even the moons around Jupiter that are not otherwise obvious.  The use of the microscope or telescope did not bring those things into existence.  They only made visible what was already there.

Even though Elisha’s servant did not use a telescope, microscope, or special X-ray glasses, he too was able for a moment to see something that was already present but just hadn’t been visible.  He was able to see an angelic army or “heavenly host.”

But let’s step back and place this event into its context.  Elisha’s incredible, prophetic knowledge of the enemy’s plans had more than once served as a forewarning that protected the people of God.  But that knowledge had also caused great frustration to enemies like the king of Syria.  In anger and consternation, the king dispatched an army that surrounded Elisha and the city of Dothan.  Their plan was to destroy Elisha!

When Elisha’s servant rose early the next morning, he discovered their hopeless predicament.  Surely, they would be captured and tortured!  But that’s when Elisha asked God to open his eyes.  Heavenly armies were there ready to do battle on behalf of Elisha and God’s people!

So what do things really look like when you feel most vulnerable?  What troops are mustered and ready to do battle when your situation seems hopeless?  While I have never seen an angelic army with my own eyes, I have been rescued from what seemed like impossible circumstances.  I suppose I will never know if an unseen battle was waged or what it might have looked like.  But, based on Elisha’s story, I do know that God does unleash angelic beings to come to my aid.

Thank you, Father!

sbk

December 19: Heze…who?

Read 2 Kings 18:1-19:19, 32-37

“It is true, O LORD, that the Assyrian kings have laid waste these nations and their lands. They have thrown their gods into the fire and destroyed them, for they were not gods but only wood and stone, fashioned by men’s hands. Now, O LORD our God, deliver us from his hand, so that all kingdoms on earth may know that you alone, O LORD, are God.” 2 Kings 19:17-19

Hezekiah was a godly king who really worked hard to honor God. He took a stand against evil and sought to do right. God was pleased with him.

But Sennacherib, king of Assyria, wasn’t one of Hezekiah’s fans. Sennacherib’s army had already conquered Jewish people to the north. His army carried away men, women, and children. And now, Sennacherib was coming after Hezekiah and the Jews under his control in and around Jerusalem.

Are there people in your life that aren’t big fans of you? Do they make fun of, try to insult, bully, or criticize you? What do you do in situations like that? Hezekiah is a good role model for us to imitate.

  1. First of all, seek to please God. Don’t give other people valid reasons for accusing you of doing wrong. Make sure you have a good reputation with people and you are doing what God expects. That’s what Hezekiah did!
  2. Remember that God is your greatest resource. Rather than going on your own campaign to destroy the other person, take the threats and accusations to God. Hezekiah took a threatening letter into the house of the Lord and spread it out before God. He prayed.

The battle really wasn’t between Hezekiah and Sennacherib. It was between God, the Creator of heaven and earth, and Sennacherib, the powerhouse of that part of the world. If you read the story, you know who won!

Questions and Activities:

  1. Who are some of the people in your life who seem to oppose you?
  2. Pause to pray for them…and pray that God delivers you and that people see His greatness.
  3. Cut out, color, and display today’s ornament.

sbk