Tag Archives: Christianity

Floating Ax Head

For a while now, I’ve been thinking about one of the miracles that’s recorded in II Kings chapter 6:1-7. It seems that there was a person who was cutting a tree down and the ax head come off of it’s handle and fell into the water and sank out of sight. My first thought is what’s up with the ax head? Second thought is why is it included in the scriptures? Could the ax head be that important? So I started digging to see what I could find.

It seems that Elisha was with what was referred to as the sons of the prophets. They were staying there for the purpose of learning about God and God’s ways from Elisha. They were the students and Elisha was their master or teacher. The number of the students had increased and the place where they were staying had become cramped, too small. So they sought his advice and asked his permission to go to the valley of Jordan and cut some trees to use to build a bigger place for them to stay in. He said to go and he went with them. Then the tree cutting started.

Suddenly one of the men had a problem with his ax. The handle broke and the ax head went into the water and sank out of sight. To make things worse, it was an axe that he had borrowed. That meant that he would have to replace it. (Exodus 22:14) He then called out to Elisha and said master it is gone. Elisha asked where did it fall in and they showed him the spot where it fell. He cut a stick and threw it in where the axe head had gone under and the ax head floated back to the top.

I can see the scene now. Just as he took a big swing back with the ax, the head came off and found the river. His heart probably sank quicker than the ax head as he realized that it was going to cost him to replace it. I’ve been there and done that. Borrow a tool and then it breaks. That puts you in a bad position. Some commentary I read pointed out that this was a picture of what Christ does for us. We owed a sin debt that we couldn’t pay and he paid it for us on the cross. Another I read made the point that when we fail and fall into the mud of this world, God is very capable of lifting us up out of the mud of our failure and restoring us. I like both those thoughts.

But the application that I like draws a comparision for us when we are working with God and problems arise. Sometimes when we are being faithful and we’re working and we’re learning about God, things will go wrong without any warning or without any real cause. We’re trying our best to be what it is that we’re supposed to be and then the enemy throws something at us trying to distract us or trying to slow us down, we can be assured that God is still there and that He will help us. The reason the ax head went down in the river is because it was heavier than the water. That being the case, gravity took over and down it went. But when the man of God acted with faith that God would help, he suspended the law of gravity and made the ax head float. For me, reading about this ax head reminds me that He is in charge of everything, even making iron float which we all know is impossible.

 Not one concern of ours is small,
If we belong to him;
To teach us this, the Lord of all,
Once made the iron swim.

from the borrowed axe by John newton

The verse above is from a song by John Newton. Here’s a link to the rest of the verses.

I hope you have been encouraged in some small way with this post. Have a great day and know that God loves you!

Keep Growing

In 2 Peter 3:18, we are told to”grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ”.

When we first come to Christ, all that we really know is that we are sinners in need of a Savior. I was raised in church and sat through tons of sermons that I heard but they didn’t really mean that much to me. But then one day, God revealed to me my lost condition and what I needed to do. Suddenly, all those sermons became personal. I knew that I was lost, I knew that Jesus was the only hope I had and I knew that I must respond to the gospel that I had heard all my life.

After my prayer asking God to forgive me, I then knew that I was forgiven. I still remember the sense of relief that seemed to flood my soul. I went from feeling condemned to feeling completely forgiven in an instant. I couldn’t explain it, but I felt it.

The next part for me was to do what Peter said when he told us to grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. But, instead of growing in my faith, I was content to be saved. Seems like there are lots of people who do this. For me it was a very foolish attitude to have and one that later would allow me to make several mistakes in my life.

I’ve often said that I was taught lots of stuff about how to get along in life. Seems that everyone had good advice on where to work, what kind of job to try for, the vocational school was good for me and all sorts of things. But as it turned out, I didn’t seem to get much about dealing with the bigger more difficult problems in life. Specifically how to deal with the death of family members. From 1976 until 1989 I went through the loss of our first son and also my first and second wife. One wife died of cancer and the other wife to a car wreck. And this was something that I was not ready for and during those years I made lots of bad decisions and did some things that I now wish I hadn’t. I’m not making excuses, it was my fault for not growing in grace and knowledge. If I could do life over, I would make getting closer to God the priority that it should be.

I had so much to do. I was young and just graduated high school, got married and was making my way through life. We worked a lot of overtime at the factory where I worked and if I got a day off and went to church, I usually had to fight to stay awake. I would read and study later. When I got time.

If you can relate to any of this, let me encourage you to take some time to spend reading and meditating on God’s word. I let what I was going through in my life define my view of God. Because I couldn’t understand why I was going through tough times, I ended up with a skewed view of God. I spent a lot of time wondering what God had against me that he was causing me such pain. And that had some bad results.

Let God’s word define who God is to you. Search the scriptures and spend time seeking and drawing near to God. Life still has a way of bringing problems to me to deal with but I can deal with them better if I allow God to be a part of the solution.

But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.    Hebrews 11:6

Going Home

A few days ago I was reading in the book of Mark. Chapters 6 and 8 to be exact. As I was reading chapter 6 a few things stood out and gave me some things to ask myself. In the very first verse it says that he went out from there and came to his own country and his disciples followed him. What that means is that he left where he was, and he went home. I got to thinking about going home and what that means. When we go home we feel safe and we can be among people who know us, people who love us and people who would back us up even if everybody else in the whole world was against us, we would still find family and friends that we could count on. It didn’t work like that for Jesus because it says in the second verse that when the Sabbath had come he began to teach in the synagogue. And many hearing him were astonished and began asking questions.

 "Where did this man get these things? And what wisdom is this which is given to him, that such mighty works are performed by his hands! Is this not the carpenter, the son of Mary, and brother of James, Joses, Judas, and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?"  So they were offended by him.  Mark 6:2-3

Notice that last line. They were offended by Him. They didn’t stand with Him, they were offended. Instead of being glad that a hometown boy had grown up there and was able to teach the scriptures and perform mighty works, they were questioning His authority to teach. They were also having trouble understanding the mighty works that were performed by His hands. Don’t miss that they seen the mighty works, but all they could do was wonder how it was possible. After all, they knew Him. To them, this was just Jesus, a carpenter. They knew His family and had seen His work as a carpenter. Some may have even watched Him grow as a child into a young man.

In a weird sort of way, they missed who Jesus was (the Messiah) because they thought they knew who Jesus was (the carpenter).

This made me think first about my own attitude towards Jesus. Could it be possible that I’m so comfortable with my knowledge about Jesus that maybe I was missing, or even worse, hindering the works that God wants to do in my life? Over time we can get complacent in our work for God and we even think we can know what God will do in a given situation. We think we know God so well that we can know ahead of time what He’ll do in any situation that comes along in our life. I call this “putting God in a box”. We are comfortable when we do that because God does what we expect. Or we like to think that He does. Like the people in these verses, they were comfortable knowing Jesus as a carpenter, son of Mary, brother of James, Joses, Judas, and Simon and his sisters who were there with them. But they weren’t comfortable with Jesus being more than they knew. It’s like they were keeping Him in a box, one that they could accept. Remember they questioned what wisdom was given to Him that he could perform such mighty works. One reason I believe that they were offended was because they couldn’t easily explain Him. By the way, it’s never a good idea to put God in a box. You can’t easily explain Him or His ways, so the best thing to do is pray, seek to grow closer and to know Him better.

So far, I have found only one way to know Jesus. That’s through the reading and study of God’s word, prayerfully seeking to know Him and not hinder Him as He works in my life. I can’t rely on what I think I know, I must rely on Jesus.

In Philippians chapter 3 verse 8 Paul says that he counts all things that he has gained as loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus his Lord. Then in verse 10 Paul makes the statement ” that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection”. That’s what I want to know. I want to know Jesus in all His glory, power and His righteousness and Holiness.

Thanks for reading and I hope I’ve provided something for you to think about. Have a great day and know that the creator of this universe wants you to visit Him and have a talk. In fact, He died on the cross in your (and my) place just so that could happen.

Where’s your heart?

In the last post I shared how that my understanding of Matthew 6:22-23 had been made clear to me as I was reading a couple of weeks ago.

For this post I’d like to think about the 21st verse. This verse reads easy and it’s one that we usually read quickly and then move on. But it’s really a verse that we should stop and think about what Jesus said.

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. 
Matthew 6:21 NKJV 
https://bible.com/bible/114/mat.6.21.NKJV

At first glance, I thought it was written backwards. Lots of people have suggested that the way to happiness is to follow your heart. We’ve all heard the phrase “to thine own heart be true.” Sometimes when I’ve been trying to make an important decision, I’ve been advised to trust my heart, that it’ll show me the way. So it almost makes sense if it read that where your heart is, there your treasure will be also. You know, follow your heart to wealth, peace, happiness and the good life. But that’s looking at it through earthly eyes. And don’t forget that the scriptures teach us that our heart can’t be trusted. Jeremiah 17:19 tells us that the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked: who can know it? (KJV) Then later in Roman’s, we learn that there is none righteous, none that seek God. If we aren’t careful we end up spending our time trying to live a good life when what we should be aiming at is living a Godly life. So I am sure it’s not written backwards and it’s written just as it should be.

If I read this as it’s written, and then mediate on it as I should, here’s how it goes. First I have to ask what is it that I really treasure? I remember years ago a preacher said that he could look at anyone’s check book and tell you what that person really thought of God. That one hurt some as you realized that he was saying that what you spent your money on would clearly show what was important to you. And not just money but what about your time, your skills or talents? Jesus was saying that whatever you treasure, or whatever is important to you, if you will take the time to look you’ll see that your heart is there also. I’m amazed that we can be physically present in a church service, but in our mind/ heart we can be miles away. Or we can be troubled in our heart and not be where we need to be. That can happen when we read verses like this and just move on without really thinking about what we’ve read.

God has grown me quite a bit during my life. I used to try to live with one foot in heaven and one on this earth. I was saved and on my way to heaven, but I also felt like I had a life to live here, before I went to heaven. Often my church or Christian life would interfere with my earthly life forcing me to make a choice between the heavenly thing or the earthly thing. In reality it was a choice between what God wanted me to do and what I wanted to do. Mostly simple things like a ball game vs Church service, or going to visit the sick vs going for a ride on my motorcycle. Or maybe whether I should tithe or buy more camera equipment. Then God started using verses like this one that would ask “where’s your heart”? What do you treasure most? Earthly things or working for eternal rewards in heaven?

In the end I had to change my treasure so that my heart would be in the right place. That involves being heavenly minded and focused on serving God and others and not myself. And changing my treasure from what I want to what God wants. I’ve been trying to lay up treasures in heaven and not on earth like Jesus advised. I’m not perfect and I can still make bad decisions sometimes but by the grace of God those times are getting farther apart.

Have a great day and know that Jesus treasured us so much that he came to earth, lived a totally sin free life, and died on the cross for our sins.

Good Eye- Bad Eye

The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness!

Matthew 6:22-23 NKJV

Often in our journey through the Bible, we read scriptures that aren’t really clear in what they are saying. We try our best to understand what God is saying but it just doesn’t jump off the page and into your heart. Then one day you will be reading and suddenly it jumps off the page and it clears up lots of questions that you had. That was my experience a couple of weeks ago with the verses above. I was reading a different translation than I normally read and this changed the way I understood these verses.

For a long time if you asked me about the good eye vs the bad eye I would have said something like this. The good eye belongs to someone who is focused on God and is keeping their life focused on God’s word and living a life that is pleasing to God. By living life focused on God their whole body is full of light and this enables them to give God the proper place in their life. They find joy by serving God and serving others. On the other hand, if your eye is bad, you are living a life that is focused on yourself. Not caring about God or the life He wants you to live. This person is mostly interested in their own life and not looking to God for instruction or direction in life. This is completely opposite so this results in their body and life being filled with darkness.

One way to understand scripture is looking at the verses around the one that you are trying to understand. In this case, verses 19-21 deal with the difference between storing up treasures on earth and laying up treasures in heaven. They remind us that earthly treasures can be destroyed over time or even stolen. Heavenly treasures though are not vulnerable to rust or being stolen. Then we are reminded that where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Basically this is a warning about how we use our money. Do we spend it on earthly things or heavenly things? I’ve often said that whenever I give to the church or someone in need, I’ve also made a heavenly deposit that will be stored in heaven to my future rewards.

Then in verse 24, which is after the verses above, we are told that we can not serve two masters because we will hate one and love the other or we will be loyal to the one and despise the other. The verse ends telling us we cannot serve God and mammon, or money.

So there you have it. Nestled between verses that deal with money we find these verses about the good eye and the bad eye. Sometimes this happens to me and I find a verse that seems out of place. That was the case with these as I didn’t really catch the connection between the eyes and money. That is until a couple of weeks ago. I was reading a new to me translation. The Complete Jewish Study Bible. I usually read the New King James Version, but I like to read other translations as they will sometimes help me get a clearer view of what I’m reading. That’s what happened when these verses got really clear to me.

I was reading in Matthew chapter 6 and when I came to the “eye” verses, this translation described the good as generous and the bad as stingy. And suddenly everything fit together perfectly. The eye verses were dealing with money also and they were right where they belonged. I had never thought of generous as “good eye” or stingy as a “bad eye”. According to a side note in the study Bible, this was a Jewish saying that was popular during the time Jesus was on the earth. A rabbi might say , “if a person gives a gift, let him give it with a good eye, ” meaning give it generously. I never got that until I was fortunate enough to read this translation.

I guess now would be a good time to confess that I’m not the sharpest pencil in the box, but with God’s help, I’m still learning. Somehow I had never seen generous or stingy in the verses. But I’m glad that God has shown this to me. It’s so much clearer now than it was. It has made me look at my own giving and question if my giving lives up to what God wants us to do. I want my body and life to be full of light and to be a blessing to God.

In fact I began to think about a biblical definition of generous and it didn’t take long to realize that the gift God gave was the most generous gift of all.

For God so loved the world that He gave His  only begotten Son,  that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.    John 3:16. NKJV