Pay Attention

Pay Attention

Hebrews 2:1-4 (NIV)

We must pay the most careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away. For since the message spoken through angels was binding, and every violation and disobedience received its just punishment, how shall we escape if we ignore so great a salvation? This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him. God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.

 

We must pay the most careful attention to what we have heard so we do not drift away. I am guilty of half-listening and thinking I have the whole-truth. You may do the same thing. Raising five kids demanded multitasking which often required quick evaluation and prioritization of needs based on who expressed themselves most clearly. Our youngest has a knack for drawing the greatest attention the quickest. She is the baby of the family. Always surrounded by her parents and siblings with a crowd of people telling her what to do, when to do it and how to do it, she learned quickly to assert herself within our family structure. But sometimes in the midst of the noise, it is important to note not so much what is said but remains unspoken. We must pay attention.

 

We have two somewhat quiet children. One son and one daughter who for most of their lives have been hidden in the pack. One left for college while there was still a houseful. He is still quiet. What we have discovered about our daughter is now that the crowd has dispersed and only two remain at home, she has come out of her shell. She is very talkative now. Her personality has been revealed in the intimacy of four rather than the chaos of seven. She will fall back in the ranks when everyone is home and doesn’t say quite as much but when she is alone with us – she is very different.

 

This morning, I read the story in 2 Kings 6 about Elisha and the prophets building a new place for the prophets to live and study under his leadership. At first, I didn’t know why God led me to this place just that I was supposed to read about the floating iron ax head. Yawning in the moonlight waiting on the dogs, the Holy Spirit just dropped it in my head. Even after reading the seven verses through two or three times, I couldn’t get the gist of this morning’s conversation so I stopped and asked the Lord to speak to me. I have been asked many times over the last seven years, where I get the content for the blog. How do I know what to write about? Okay, here’s the secret. Are you ready for it? God speaks to people. He is always speaking, we just don’t always listen. Every single day that I get up – I ask Him to tell me something, say anything, and then I wait until He does. It really is that simple. What about the other things in Heaven that we desire on the earth? Could they be just as easy as asking God to come into our lives and change us? What if we looked for every opportunity to see Heaven and earth agree would it make the atmosphere of our life different?

 

2 Kings 6:1-7 (NIV)

The company of the prophets said to Elisha, “Look, the place where we meet with you is too small for us. Let us go to the Jordan, where each of us can get a pole; and let us build a place there for us to meet.” And he said, “Go.” Then one of them said, “Won’t you please come with your servants?” “I will,” Elisha replied. And he went with them. They went to the Jordan and began to cut down trees. As one of them was cutting down a tree, the iron ax head fell into the water. “Oh no, my lord!” he cried out. “It was borrowed!” The man of God asked, “Where did it fall?” When he showed him the place, Elisha cut a stick and threw it there, and made the iron float. “Lift it out,” he said. Then the man reached out his hand and took it.

 

A miracle happened in the midst of an ordinary day. Just men working on a new facility, and right there in the middle of their work – Heaven comes down to earth. How else might one explain an iron ax floating to the surface? After several attempts to discern the significance myself, I turned to good ole Matthew Henry and his useful commentary. My grandmother loved this man’s reflection on the scriptures. What seems like an account of an Old Testament miracle – no frills and chills just the facts opens the door to self-examination today that I did not expect. What if my life is not miraculous because of me? What it I am standing in the way of the unexpected and unexplained intervention of God on my behalf is all my fault? Okay, Lord, now You definitely have my attention.

 

A couple of things that I gleaned about the events of that day from the Matthew Henry Commentary – first, the prophets were hardworking, humble men. In an age were pagan prophets were revered and heavily favored by the government. These men – God’s Men were humble servants of the Most High God. When they expanded beyond the capacity of their dwelling, they went to build a new shelter. This was not a mission trip or ministry event. It was simply to build a housing facility yet they insisted the Man of God go with them. First, thought do I invite the Lord to come with me in everything that I do? Do I desire the companionship of Christ every step of the way even on ordinary days filled with mundane tasks? Am I aware of Him? Do I consult Him? Do I spend time with Him? Do I revere Him? Do I respect the fact that my Savior and Lord is with me always? Good question.

 

The second thing is the prophet. Elisha the prophet was their teacher. He was mentoring these individuals. Two things are noted about Elisha in the commentary. One – “Let no man, especially no minister, think himself too great to stoop to do good, but be tender to all.” And two – “That he was a man of great power; he could make iron to swim, contrary to its nature for the God of nature is not tied up to its laws.” True men (and women) of God are humble and hardworking. They possess a willingness to “stoop” to do good. They are tender to all. Elisha was a man of great power and taught others to act contrary to nature just as he was able to make the iron that day. It is important to pay attention to those who we follow as examples of Christ. Those who lead by example and live among the people are those who are like Christ. They are not caught up in the law but bound by love and commitment living lives of compassion as well we should.

 

“God’s grace can thus raise the stony iron heart which has sunk into the mud of this world, and raise up affections naturally earthly, to things above,” one final thought from Mr. Henry and maybe the most profound. God’s Grace is the miracle maker in our life. Jesus is the Grace of God extended to us. He gave us the Keys to the Kingdom. We have everything we need to bring Heaven to earth. To see miracles, signs and wonders. So why not here? Why not now?

 

Mark 16:15-18 (NIV)

He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.”

 

When our son received chemotherapy, each time I would sit by his side and pray Mark 16:17-18 as it began to makes its way through the tubes into his body. Chemo drugs are highly lethal and deadly. They require special conditions in the pharmacy where produced. Those who handle the bags they are in must where special thick purple gloves. Once ingested if the patient becomes ill one must wear complete protection that no body fluids come in contact with skin, etc. It is toxic. Our son is alive and in remission after five rounds of chemotherapy. He is a documented miracle who has defied medical statistics. I cannot even recount all the horrible side effects that he was promised or horrific aftermath foretold but he didn’t experience hardly any of them. God had His Hand over our son. I give Him all the Glory for his success and survival of the world’s most dreaded disease.

 

Today – I realize that there is more to the story here. The miracle is not the event but what precipitates it. I desire to see people healed of cancer. In fact, I expect it and pursue it wholeheartedly these days as I cry out for revival. The Lord is shedding light on the way. Jesus told us right before He left to, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” Unlimited expression of the message of Christ should be pouring from us. Is it? Let’s keep moving. “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved.” This is a definitive statement and not a point of vacillation. We have been equipped and sent to be a disciple and make disciples of others. Our example is Jesus Christ… and men like Elisha. What if the signs that we seek are hidden in the events of our life not captured in a church service or tent meeting somewhere? What if in sharing the Gospel of Christ that changes hearts and makes irony stony hearts rise from the mud causes an outpouring of desire for communion with Christ. Such a trend elevates faith from the things of this world to the Kingdom of God which in turn will cause Heaven to touch earth. What if the next great revival starts in our ordinary life before it comes to the church? Oh friend, I think we are on to something.

 

Proverbs 27:17-19 (NIV)

As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. The one who guards a fig tree will eat its fruit, and whoever protects their master will be honored. As water reflects the face, so one’s life reflects the heart.

 

A corporate anointing is generated by individual connections to Jesus Christ. Iron sharpens iron so one person sharpens another. Perhaps, it is in our discipleship and the discipleship of others that we will begin to see the next great revival. The Kingdom of God is always about one. It rejoices when “one” lost soul is saved. We must examine ourselves for genuine faith before we have anything of worth to give another. The only thing I have to offer another person is the Gift of Grace that allows us to break free from the bondage of sin and shame floating to the realms of the Heavenlies to experience His Goodness and Greatness in my life. Miracles begin in our heart. They begin at home. We will not see revival until our personal relationships with Jesus become constant companionships that motivate us to disciple others and walk them through the process that the Lord leads us through. He does not leave us, forget about us, get mad at us, demand His Own Way but with Grace and Compassion – the Lord sticks closer than a brother.

 

Elisha went with the prophets to complete an earthly task. Jesus will go when invited, wanted and acknowledged. The prophets wanted the prophet with them. Does our attitude and actions invite holy inhabitation or does our lifestyle and habits grieve the Holy Spirit? Those who guard the Fruit of God’s Spirit will usher His Presence deeper than ever before. The closer Christ comes the greater the evidence of His Existence in our life. Whoever preserves the Lord’s Place in their life will be honored. We must look in the muddy river for the iron ax head that is sinking. In doing so, we see our reflection. What do we see?

 

Matthew 7:21-23 (NIV)

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

 

We must pay attention. We must evaluate our relationship with Christ and give it the attention it deserves. The warning is clear. There are people who think they have a constant connection to the Lord and live in a relationship with Him who will be devastated one day to find out that Jesus doesn’t know them. It will even be some who we looked up to as great preachers and teachers who could deal the gospel but never dealt with their souls. The more I study revival the less I see me. The clearer it becomes that it is the Christ in me in need of full exposure. Until God’s Love is completely radiated in all I say and do, revival will remain a thought not an event. Revival is not so much a corporate event but an individual calling that gathers in one place on Sunday. What if revival is in me but I am not letting it out? I want to change. I must pay attention. For me to live is Jesus Christ. He has done miracle after miracle in my life. How do I continue to see such things until it is a daily event? Well, all I know is that Jesus came calling when I could do nothing. As I decrease, He increases. When I am powerless and weak, His Grace has been more than enough to change the situation and make a miracle happen. So maybe it is in the continual sowing of my life…all of it… day by day… moment by moment… even in the most ordinary of tasks that my stony heart will change and His Glory will fill more of my life.

 

Acts 5:12-16 (NIV)

The apostles performed many signs and wonders among the people. And all the believers used to meet together in Solomon’s Colonnade. No one else dared join them, even though they were highly regarded by the people. Nevertheless, more and more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to their number. As a result, people brought the sick into the streets and laid them on beds and mats so that at least Peter’s shadow might fall on some of them as he passed by. Crowds gathered also from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing their sick and those tormented by impure spirits, and all of them were healed.

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