The Man Who Never Got to Die

Heron Channelside (5)

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Job scraped his skin with a piece of broken pottery as he sat among the ashes. His wife said to him, “Are you still trying to maintain your integrity? Curse God and die.” But Job replied, “You talk like a foolish woman. Job 2:8-10 NLT

Like Job’s wife, many have been pushed to the breaking point, to where they see death as the only way out. Fortunately Job realized how foolish this is. Sometimes when we focus on our problems they become bigger than the solution. For example the Sun is infinitely larger than a coin. But if you hold the tiny coin close enough to your eye it will block out the huge sun, only because the coin is closer to your eye than the sun. Sometimes our problems are closer to our minds than God is, and so the tiny problems seem bigger than they really are. This leads some to foolish thinking, and illogical solutions, such as suicide.

It can happen to anyone. After boldly standing for the right, Elijah had a meltdown while running from the queen.

He sat down under a solitary broom tree and prayed that he might die.1 Kings 19:4 NLT

Elijah was short sighted and could only find one solution-death. His problem was like a tiny little coin so close to his eyes that it seemed larger than the sun. This caused him to act and pray foolishly. Look at what happened next.

Then he lay down and slept under the broom tree. 1 Kings 19:5 NLT

Elijah was stressed and just needed some rest. When we get tired our emotions get the best of us, and we start thinking foolishly, just like Elijah and Job’s wife. Thank God for the Sabbath rest!

God often uses three different ways to answer prayer. He may say “yes,” “no,” or “wait a while.” In his nearsighted desperation Elijah asked to die. God did not grant this request when it was given, or later. God said “No!” Elijah asked to die, and is one of only two people to never get to die! God had a better idea than death. Instead he took Elijah to heaven in a chariot of fire (2 Kings 2:11). God had a solution Elijah had could never dream up! In our desperate times God is not confined to our shortsighted solutions.

When we, like Job’s wife and Elijah, feel like giving up, let’s remember that the Son is so much bigger than the little problems before our eyes, just like the sun is so much bigger than the little coin we hold before our eyes. Thoughts of giving up and dying are foolish thoughts. Both Job and Elijah saw brighter days, and so will we, when we let God answer our prayers according to His infinite love and wisdom, instead of taking matters into our own foolish hands.

You may study this week’s SS lesson here.

Garments of Grace; Elijah and Elisha’s Mantle

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

This week’s SS lesson, (download the SS app here) dwells on one of the low points of Elijah’s life when he was discouraged and actually asked to die! (1 Kings 19:4). Kewl thing is, God did not grant Elijah’s request. Instead of giving Elijah what he asked for, God takes him to heaven in a chariot. Elijah, who asked to die, is one of only three men who have ever left this world without ever having to die first! I am glad God deals with us in the same way, often giving us something much better than what we are asking for ourselves. While Elijah’s prayer  was indeed foolish, let’s not be too critical. Consider what he was up against.

 And it came to pass, when Ahab saw Elijah, that Ahab said unto him, [Art] thou he that troubleth Israel?  And he answered, I have not troubled Israel; but thou, and thy father’s house, in that ye have forsaken the commandments of the LORD, and thou hast followed Baalim. 1 Kings 18: 17-18

“In every generation God has sent His servants to rebuke sin, both in the world and in the church. But the people desire smooth things spoken to them, and the pure, unvarnished truth is not acceptable. Many reformers, in entering upon their work, determined to exercise great prudence in attacking the sins of the church and the nation. They hoped, by the example of a pure Christian life, to lead the people back to the doctrines of the Bible. But the Spirit of God came upon them as it came upon Elijah, moving him to rebuke the sins of a wicked king and an apostate people; they could not refrain from preaching the plain utterances of the Bible– doctrines which they had been reluctant to present. They were impelled to zealously declare the truth and the danger which threatened souls. The words which the Lord gave them they uttered, fearless of consequences, and the people were compelled to hear the warning. 

     Thus the message of the third angel will be proclaimed. As the time comes for it to be given with greatest power, the Lord will work through humble instruments, leading the minds of those who consecrate themselves to His service. The laborers will be qualified rather by the unction of His Spirit than by the training of literary institutions. Men of faith and prayer will be constrained to go forth with holy zeal, declaring the words which God gives them. The sins of Babylon will be laid open. The fearful results of enforcing the observances of the church by civil authority, the inroads of spiritualism, the stealthy but rapid progress of the papal power–all will be unmasked. By these solemn warnings the people will be stirred. Thousands upon thousands will listen who have never heard words like these. In amazement they

  hear the testimony that Babylon is the church, fallen because of her errors and sins, because of her rejection of the truth sent to her from heaven. As the people go to their former teachers with the eager inquiry, Are these things so? the ministers present fables, prophesy smooth things, to soothe their fears and quiet the awakened conscience. But since many refuse to be satisfied with the mere authority of men and demand a plain “Thus saith the Lord,” the popular ministry, like the Pharisees of old, filled with anger as their authority is questioned, will denounce the message as of Satan and stir up the sin-loving multitudes to revile and persecute those who proclaim it. 

     As the controversy extends into new fields and the minds of the people are called to God’s downtrodden law, Satan is astir. The power attending the message will only madden those who oppose it. The clergy will put forth almost superhuman efforts to shut away the light lest it should shine upon their flocks. By every means at their command they will endeavor to suppress the discussion of these vital questions. The church appeals to the strong arm of civil power, and, in this work, papists and Protestants unite. As the movement for Sunday enforcement becomes more bold and decided, the law will be invoked against commandment keepers. They will be threatened with fines and imprisonment, and some will be offered positions of influence, and other rewards and advantages, as inducements to renounce their faith. But their steadfast answer is: “Show us from the word of God our error”–the same plea that was made by Luther under similar circumstances. Those who are arraigned before the courts make a strong vindication of the truth, and some who hear them are led to take their stand to keep all the commandments of God. Thus light will be brought  before thousands who otherwise would know nothing of these truths.”   —- Great Controversy pages 606- 607

Mark 9; Recognizing Our Loved Ones in Heaven

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Mark  9:1 And he said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That there be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death, till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power. 

 9:2         And after six days Jesus taketh [with him] Peter, and James, and John, and leadeth them up into an high mountain apart by themselves: and he was transfigured before them. 

 9:3         And his raiment became shining, exceeding white as snow; so as no fuller on earth can white them. 

 9:4         And there appeared unto them Elias with Moses: and they were talking with Jesus. 

 9:5         And Peter answered and said to Jesus, Master, it is good for us to be here: and let us make three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias. 

 9:6         For he wist not what to say; for they were sore afraid. 

 9:7         And there was a cloud that overshadowed them: and a voice came out of the cloud, saying, This is my beloved Son: hear him. 

Jesus promises that some would see the kingdom before they died. At the transfiguration, they saw the kingdom of God and the Son of man as also the Son of God. But in this story I see something else too. While studying with people, many ask me if we will recognize our loved ones in heaven. I assure them they will. The disciples recognized Jesus after the resurrection and we will recognize each other after the resurrection. However, I believe we will also recognize people we have not even met yet! Why do I say that? Well, I may be reading too much into it I don’t know, but I notice in this story that right away Peter recognizes Moses and Elijah. Moses was resurrected after his death according to Jude. Elijah was taken up in a fiery chariot without ever seeing death, according to 2nd Kings 2. Peter never knew Moses and Elijah by sight as they lived hundreds of years before him, but now in the transfiguration, in Jesus’ Kingdom, Peter recognizes two people he had never even met. So I say, yes we will recognize our loved ones and those we have never met before.

Mark 3; Is it a Sin to be Angry?

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area

And he entered again into the synagogue; and there was a man there which had a withered hand. And they watched him, whether he would heal him on the sabbath day; that they might accuse him. And he saith unto the man which had the withered hand, Stand forth. And he saith unto them, Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath days, or to do evil? to save life, or to kill? But they held their peace. And when he had looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts, he saith unto the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched [it] out: and his hand was restored whole as the other.  Mark 3:1-5

This passage says that Jesus looked on them with anger. Why do people say it is a sin to be angry? I have found nowhere in the Bible where it says such a thing. Anger has its place. Ephesians 4: tells us we can be angry and not sin. We can even get angry at God sometimes and He does not hold it against us. In 1 Kings 19 Elijah gets so frustrated with God that he wants to die. God just thought Elijah was in a bad mood and needed rest, so he had him sleep under a juniper tree and then sent an angel to feed him when he woke up. In Jonah 4 Jonah gets mad at God but it didn’t bother God. I’m glad that we serve a God who understands when we get angry.