Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Don't Tell God What He Can't Do!

Here is the heart of my sermon from this past Sunday, taken from a great Old Testament story.

Elisha replied, “Listen to this message from the Lord! This is what the Lord says: By this time tomorrow in the markets of Samaria, five quarts of choice flour will cost only one piece of silver, and ten quarts of barley grain will cost only one piece of silver.” ~2 Kings 7:1

I’m not an expert in exchange rates, but Elisha is stating a miraculous thing, that prices will drop…drastically.

The officer assisting the king said to the man of God, “That couldn't happen even if the Lord opened the windows of heaven!”
But Elisha replied, “You will see it happen with your own eyes, but you won’t be able to eat any of it!” ~2 Kings 7:2
Here is the first truth;

Our view of God makes a difference. (7:2)

The messenger of the king said it couldn't happen even if the gates of Heaven opened up. It is one thing for us to doubt our own strength and power, the power of man or governments but when we start doubting what God can do, we reveal what we believe. What we really believe.

Now there were four men with leprosy sitting at the entrance of the city gates. “Why should we sit here waiting to die?” they asked each other. “We will starve if we stay here, but with the famine in the city, we will starve if we go back there. So we might as well go out and surrender to the Aramean army. If they let us live, so much the better. But if they kill us, we would have died anyway.”
So at twilight they set out for the camp of the Arameans. But when they came to the edge of the camp, no one was there! For the Lord had caused the Aramean army to hear the clatter of speeding chariots and the galloping of horses and the sounds of a great army approaching. “The king of Israel has hired the Hittites and Egyptians to attack us!” they cried to one another. So they panicked and ran into the night, abandoning their tents, horses, donkeys, and everything else, as they fled for their lives. ~2 Kings 7:3-7
Here is the second truth.

We are sitting in want while God has provided everything we need. (7:5-7)

The Israelites were starving, but God had scared off the Arameans and left all of their food and riches behind. How often do we scrape by on what we are able to provide for ourselves when all along God has an abundant supply to care for our every need?

When the lepers arrived at the edge of the camp, they went into one tent after another, eating and drinking wine; and they carried off silver and gold and clothing and hid it. Finally, they said to each other, “This is not right. This is a day of good news, and we aren't sharing it with anyone! If we wait until morning, some calamity will certainly fall upon us. Come on, let’s go back and tell the people at the palace.”
So they went back to the city and told the gatekeepers what had happened. “We went out to the Aramean camp,” they said, “and no one was there! The horses and donkeys were tethered and the tents were all in order, but there wasn't a single person around!” Then the gatekeepers shouted the news to the people in the palace. ~2 Kings 7:8-11
And now we arrive back where we began, proclaiming the third truth, the one we already know in our hearts.

The riches should be shared. (7:9)
The four lepers were plundering and realized the good news needed to be shared. We can’t keep it to ourselves, right?

Here is where the story takes some interesting twists. First, King Joram assumes it’s a trap by the Arameans. In fact, that’s exactly what he says. ‘It’s a trap!’ I think many people feel that way about giving themselves over to Jesus. This is what I was talking about weeks ago when we discussed how God knows us. To some that brings relief, to others fear. To some we bring the aroma of life, to others the stench of death.

The Israelites end up sending some men to go check it out. They find it exactly as the lepers said, riches and food and clothing waiting to be plundered. When they share the news, the people stampede out the gates to go and collect the spoils. There’s so many of them and their desire so great, they actually trample one man to death at the city gates.

The man who died was the very officer assisting the king who said even God could not lower the prices of barley and flour. Elisha said this officer would see it, but not eat any of it.

This story has the gospel written all over it. We live in disturbing and troubling times. What we believe about God will affect how we handle this life. But make no mistake about it. Every Word of God will come about as He has declared. Some will see it and shudder, but the gift of life is freely offered. We, the Church, are tasked with the mission of sharing this good news.

Our news is not lowering prices for food or where we can find earthly riches. We proclaim a bold message of true riches, found only in Christ.

We are to declare as Paul did in Romans 11:33, Oh, how great are God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge!

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