Integrity

2 Kings 12:15 They did not require an accounting from those to whom they gave the money to pay the workers, because they acted with complete honesty. 

Integrity, ever heard of it?  It seems like today we have the most elaborate systems in place to ensure integrity.  We need time clocks, security systems, elaborate locks, accounting audits, and the like.  There is a great need for businesses to have a way to make sure their people are honest.  Because people cheat the system.  They steal money, time, and reputations.  What ever happened to integrity?  What happened to character?

It says in 2 Kings 12 that there was no time clock installed at the temple for the repair workers; they acted with complete honesty.  They worked hard for their money and didn’t try to get away with doing less.  They did the job right even when no one was keeping track.  Their job site didn’t require L & I insurance or a safety inspector.  These guys just did it right.  Why is that?  I think they understood that they were working for the Lord.  Colossians 3:23 says, whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.

As God’s people, we ought to approach life with the same mentality.  You see, the world is watching to see if you are honest.  They want to know if you are different.  Will they see a guy who shows up late to work but writes down that he was on time?  Will they find someone who takes the office supplies home for personal use?  Or will they find someone with integrity?  We should be different, friends.  We should be set apart from the world; we should be setting the benchmark for integrity.  If we could just wrap our minds around the fact that in all we do, we are really working for the Lord, it would change us.  Let that kind of thinking build in you Godly character and integrity today.

The boy king

2 Kings 11:21  Joash was seven years old when he began to reign. 

Sometimes kids think they run the show. Shoot, in some houses they do run the show.  Do you know any kids like that?  They are convinced that they are the boss, the ruler of the world.  Ya, I have a 3-year-old like that.  But she’s learning that she isn’t the boss.  Joash had a different predicament.  He had to learn to run the show.  At age seven, he became king of all the land.  Can you imagine having a child for a king?  Would you have ever thought to use a seven year old?

Well, God did.  Making Joash king was God’s idea.  Apparently He doesn’t have a problem using children for His kingdom purposes.  But we adults don’t always see the same way.  We are like the disciples that tried to keep the little ones out of the way.  But Jesus said, let the little children come to me.  He wanted to touch them, to interact with them, to give them purpose for their lives.  So why is it that so many people view children as getting in the way of ministry?  Why do we view children as an obstacle to effectiveness?

Something tells me that God doesn’t share that view.  He doesn’t subscribe to a mindset that children should be seen and not heard (some people don’t want them to be seen or heard).  He wants the little children to come to Him.  He wants to speak into their lives and shape them.  Yet churches view too many kids as a problem.  They can’t find the volunteers to babysit.  In our church, I don’t want volunteers to babysit.  I want people to partner with God’s heart and invest in our children.  You see, at the church I am a part of, one-third of the population is children.  They cannot be ignored nor should they be.  They should be loved, taught, and brought to Jesus.  Because you never know when you’ll find a little king or queen in your midst.

Full of crap

2 Kings 10:26-27   26 They dragged out the sacred pillar used in the worship of Baal and burned it. 27 They smashed the sacred pillar and wrecked the temple of Baal, converting it into a public toilet, as it remains to this day. 

This is pure awesomeness!  You’ve got to give credit to Jehu.  He was one hardcore dude.  He annihilated the leadership of Israel that was leading them away from God.  Then he tricked all the followers of Baal into attending a massive fake worship service for their fake god.   Once they started to worship, he had them all killed. But he didn’t stop there.  He destroyed the temple.  Now he could have burned it all to the ground, turning it into ashes.  Instead he did something totally creative and unexpected – he turned it into a public restroom.  Now for years and years to come, it would be known that Baal was full of crap.

You know what I like about this?  It’s that he took something horrible, sinful, and wicked… and did something useful with it.  That takes some serious guts.  It takes recognizing that God can redeem just about anything.  Now I know that a public toilet isn’t really all that spiritual, but it is necessary and highly practical. It served the needs of the people.  He took something useless and with God, made it useful.

My whole point in this is that with God, there is nothing and no one unredeemable.  God can take the things of this world and turn them for His glory.  He will take the resources of the wicked and use them to build His kingdom.  He will take people like Saul (Paul) and radically transform his life, his calling, his mission.  And he can transform me, too.  He can take my garbage, my wickedness, my foolishness, and make me into a man who advances His kingdom.  I have this hope today, that neither you nor I are beyond God’s reach.  We are not too far gone to be redeemed.  Have hope today and turn your heart toward the One who redeems.

Crazy driver, smart guy

2 Kings 9:20-22 20 Again the watchman reported, “He reached them but hasn’t started back. Also, the driving is like that of Jehu son of Nimshi — he drives like a madman.” 21 “Harness! ” Joram shouted, and they harnessed his chariot. Then Joram king of Israel and Ahaziah king of Judah set out, each in his own chariot, and met Jehu at the plot of land of Naboth the Jezreelite. 22 When Joram saw Jehu he asked, “Do you come in peace, Jehu? ” He answered, “What peace can there be as long as there is so much prostitution and witchcraft from your mother Jezebel? ” 

Apparently Jehu was a crazy driver.  The watchman on the wall could tell who he was from far away because he was driving like a madman.  Do you know anyone like that?  They think they are in an action movie and must evade the bad guys or something.  They go weaving in and out of traffic and it gains them a total of 10 seconds on their commute.  This is the kind of stuff that causes car accidents.  Hmmm… I wonder if Jehu ever caused a chariot accident.  Or maybe he was the suspect in the 8-camel pile up.   I digress.

Even though Jehu was a crazy driver, he was actually a pretty smart guy.  He had some things figured out about the nature of God.   You see, people kept coming to meet him on the road asking if he was coming in peace.  His answer to the final guy was actually quite clever: “how can there be any peace with all this prostitution and witchcraft going on?”  That’s a really good question.  How can there be peace when sin is rampant?  How can there be serenity when evil is having it’s way?

How can we have peace if we are not at peace with God?  That’s the million dollar question.  And the answer is that we really can’t.  Sin keeps us ashamed, guilty, opposed to God, stuck, and burdened.  Those are certainly not descriptors of peace.   Peace happens when we get right.  It happens when we repent.  It happens when we take our whole burden and place it at the feet of Jesus.  Do you have peace today?  Are the conditions right in your life for it to even exist?

That’s some good timing

2 Kings 8:1-6 1 Elisha said to the woman whose son he had restored to life, “Get ready, you and your household, and go and live as a foreigner wherever you can. For the LORD has announced a seven-year famine, and it has already come to the land.” 2 So the woman got ready and did what the man of God said. She and her household lived as foreigners in the land of the Philistines for seven years.3 When the woman returned from the land of the Philistines at the end of seven years, she went to appeal to the king for her house and field.

4 The king had been speaking to Gehazi, the attendant of the man of God, saying, “Tell me all the great things Elisha has done.” 5 While he was telling the king how Elisha restored the dead son to life, the woman whose son he had restored to life came to appeal to the king for her house and field. So Gehazi said, “My lord the king, this is the woman and this is the son Elisha restored to life.” 6 When the king asked the woman, she told him the story. So the king appointed a court official for her, saying, “Restore all that was hers, along with all the income from the field from the day she left the country until now.”

You know that awkward moment when you are talking about someone and they are standing behind you?  One of my favorite examples of this is from the movie, “Liar, Liar” starring Jim Carrey.  He is talking about his boss when she walks up behind him.  Or how about in “Kung Fu Panda” when Po is imitating Master Shifu?  Everyone else in the room gets that horrified look on their face while the person is making a fool of themselves.  That’s some bad timing!

On the other hand, sometimes we have really good timing.  Maybe it’s when we hit the checkout line just when there are no people waiting in line.  Or maybe we show up to  Costco on sample day.  Good timing feels like someone is watching out for us.  It can change your whole day.  This lady in 2 Kings 8 had some amazing timing!  Just as the king was hearing about how Elisha had raised her son from the dead, she entered the room.  The king was marveling at God’s greatness and moved by the story, so he restored all her land and her income back to her.  It was like winning the lottery.  She left the king with more than she was asking for.

What we cannot ignore is the fact that God orchestrated this event.  She lived in the land of the Philistines for 7 years and it was on this day that the king first heard her story.  It was on this occasion that she entered his presence and asked for his grace.  The world believes in chance or coincidence; I believe in divine appointments.  God cared for her so much that He arranged the timing of this meeting in such a way that she would be given much.  And I believe God had this in mind 7 years prior when she left.  He knows us, He loves us, and He has our life in His hands… down to the minute.  Little did she know that God had planned in advance.  In the words of 1 Corinthians 2:9, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.”

Do you doubt God?

2 Kings 7:17-20  17 The king had appointed the captain, his right-hand man, to be in charge of the gate, but the people trampled him in the gateway. He died, just as the man of God had predicted when the king came to him. 18 When the man of God had said to the king, “About this time tomorrow 12 quarts of barley will sell for a shekel and six quarts of fine meal will sell for a shekel at the gate of Samaria,” 19 this captain had answered the man of God, “Look, even if the LORD were to make windows in heaven, could this really happen? ” Elisha had said, “You will in fact see it with your own eyes, but you won’t eat any of it.” 20 This is what happened to him: the people trampled him in the gateway, and he died. 

There once was a man who scoffed at God’s word;  he thought that the prophesy was just too absurd.  But God delivered on what Elisha had said; and this mocker of God was trampled and dead.

Doubting God has been an epidemic since times like these.  It’s often because we filter God’s promises through our perception of reality.  His word seems impossible in our hearts and we get discouraged.  Yes, we lose courage and stop trusting in Him.  Therein lies a problem: God’s word is not dependent on our feelings.  He isn’t limited by what we think He can do.  Yet so many of us can see God do 9 miraculous things and still not trust Him for miracle number 10.

Why is that?  After all, His power and His resources are limitless.  He is the creator of the universe, the Father of all creation.  And somehow, sometimes, we just don’t think He has what it takes.  So why do we doubt God’s power?  Why do we doubt Him at all?   This question likely does not have a universal answer.  Instead the reasons are widely varied and can only be discovered by each one of us looking to the inside and asking God to reveal truth.  It’s something we need to wrestle with and unlock if we are going to have the faith of Abraham, the resolve of Job, and the tenacity of Paul.  Spend some time in prayer today and ask Him: why do I doubt You, Lord?  Let Him dig out those roots of unbelief and give you peace, joy, and fresh hope in who He is!

Outnumbered

2 Kings 6:15-16   15 When the servant of the man of God got up early and went out, he discovered an army with horses and chariots surrounding the city. So he asked Elisha, “Oh, my master, what are we to do? ” 16 Elisha said, “Don’t be afraid, for those who are with us outnumber those who are with them.” 

Do you ever feel outnumbered?  Do you feel like there is more going wrong than going right?  Elisha found himself in a situation where the king of Aram sent a large army to come and capture him.  His servant came to him and let him know that they were doomed.  There was no way out of this one, the servant thought.  But Elisha saw something that his servant didn’t.

 

This reminds a little of the old western movies where some lawless cowboys think they can take on anybody no matter what.  The setting is out in the wilderness somewhere, lots of sandy ground, with mountains all around.  Out of nowhere hundreds of Indian warriors appear at the top of the hills, some with spears, others riding horses.  Just when these guys thought they could not be stopped, a bigger army showed up.  Whenever my wife and I drive over to eastern Washington, we can almost envision the Indians taking their places at the top of the hills.

Elisha saw something even better – warrior angels.  He prayed and asked the Lord to show his servant what he was seeing.  Can you imagine having that kind of faith and that kind of spiritual vision that you actually see the armies of heaven standing by on your behalf?  Here’s the reality: they are there waiting to fight for you.  Not only is the One in you greater than he who is in the world; the One in you has reinforcement armies to back you up.  Did you know that you can ask God to send his angels to protect you, guard you, and fight for you? You can – and I have even know people (myself included) who have seen them.

When Paul tells us that our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against spiritual forces, this is the kind of stuff he is talking about.  You can be sure that the armies of heaven are greater than the plans of the evil one.  So run to His protection.  Ask Him to open your eyes and see that He is fighting on your behalf.  Elisha was delivered from his trouble and you can be too.  Who’s outnumbered now?