Wednesday, January 31, 2024

A Study of the Miraculous Part 5 Limiting God


Psalms 78:41  Yes, again and again they tempted God, And limited the Holy One of Israel.

The focus of this series is the fact that a woman in dire need received a miracle from God. A miracle is anything that cannot be explained or obtained by natural means. The Bible talks about signs and wonders. A sign is something we see that points to God and a wonder is anything that makes you wonder how it happened.

The woman we are reading about in 2 Kings 4 received a miracle which ended up being much more than she asked for and even more than she needed.

·        Miracles begin with a need.

·        Men cannot perform miracles, only God can do miracles.

·        God often meets a need or gives a blessing beyond human comprehension.

·        These divine interventions are called signs, wonders, and miracles.

·        Unbelievers try to explain miracles away with foolish nonsense, but Believers know the signs that point directly to God.

·        Every good gift and every perfect gift comes down from the Father above. (James 1:17)

The woman in 2 Kings 4 received a miracle because she took her need to God and did what He said through the prophet Elisha. If she had not been willing to trust the Word of the Lord and do what He said, she would not have received her miracle. People aren’t often aware just how much they limit God working in and through their lives.

God wants to be involved in your life. He is a loving Father who wants to hear your need. Jesus said, “ask and receive that your joy might be full.” (John 16:24) James encourages us to ask in faith, knowing God wants to be included in our daily lives.

There are a few things which limit God.

Of course the big one is sin. Jeremiah 5:25  Your iniquities have turned these things away, And your sins have withheld good from you.

·        Sin limits God.

·        All that God could do and would do can be limited by sin.

Matthew 13:58  Now He did not do many mighty works there because of their unbelief. (Mark 6:5)

·        Unbelief limits God.

2 Kings 13

18  Then he said, “Take the arrows”; so he took them. And he said to the king of Israel, “Strike the ground”; so he struck three times, and stopped.

19  And the man of God was angry with him, and said, “You should have struck five or six times; then you would have struck Syria till you had destroyed it! But now you will strike Syria only three times.”

·        Vision limits God.

Luke 18

22  Now when Jesus heard these things, he said unto him, Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me.

23  And when he heard this, he was very sorrowful: for he was very rich.

·        Refusing to follow directions limits God.

Matthew 22:14  “For many are called, but few are chosen.”

·        Being unprepared limits God.

The woman in 2 Kings 4 was not in sin; she believed the word of God spoken to her by the prophet; she followed the directions she was given, step by step; she also worked hard and was prepared.

The one thing she could have done better was to have a bigger vision. To see God able to do exceedingly, abundantly, above all she could think or ask. (Ephesians 3:20) Not only able, but willing! “According to the power that is at work in us.”

2 Kings 4 NKJV

1 ¶  A certain woman of the wives of the sons of the prophets cried out to Elisha, saying, “Your servant my husband is dead, and you know that your servant feared the LORD. And the creditor is coming to take my two sons to be his slaves.”

2  So Elisha said to her, “What shall I do for you? Tell me, what do you have in the house?” And she said, “Your maidservant has nothing in the house but a jar of oil.”

3  Then he said, “Go, borrow vessels from everywhere, from all your neighbors — empty vessels; do not gather just a few.

4  “And when you have come in, you shall shut the door behind you and your sons; then pour it into all those vessels, and set aside the full ones.”

5  So she went from him and shut the door behind her and her sons, who brought the vessels to her; and she poured it out.

6  Now it came to pass, when the vessels were full, that she said to her son, “Bring me another vessel.” And he said to her, “There is not another vessel.” So the oil ceased.

So, the oil ceased.

Why did the oil stop? Because all the vessels were full. Full vessels limit God.

I heard a story once about a preacher who read the account of the Good Samaritan each Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday night for 6 weeks in a row. The passage is about being a good neighbor. He didn’t preach but only read Luke 10:30-37 and then dismissed the congregation. Verse 37 concludes with Jesus saying, “Go thou and do likewise.”

After 6 weeks the deacons got together and called the pastor aside for a meeting. They told him that the congregation was wanting to hear more of the Bible than just one passage. The preacher assured the deacons that just as soon as they and the congregation learned this lesson, he would move on to the next one.

The secret to continuing your miracle is to keep pouring out and to never sit down full and in need of nothing.

Jesus dictated the Book of Revelation to John. In the opening chapters John records Jesus speaking to the Churches. The last Church to be addressed was the Church of Laodicea. Many scholars believe this is a specific message to the last days Church … the Church in our day. Listen to what the Church says and how Jesus replies.

Revelation 3 NKJV

17  “Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’  — and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked — 

19  “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent.

Let’s not get so full or feel so full that we imagine we have need of nothing. Apathy is an attitude the Believer cannot afford. If you are blessed, you are blessed because of the Lord. Be thankful and remain zealous for the things of God

When we lose our hunger for the work to which God called us, we have become too comfortable. Like the young rich ruler who went away sorrowful because he was doing ok. He failed to recognize why he had been so blessed. He was blessed to be a blessing, not to be a ruler, but to be a servant.

If you have lost your zeal for the lost or for the work of the Lord, consider yourself rebuked and repent. Pour yourself out and you won’t feel so full.

How can you pour yourself out?

Work, service, giving, loving, helping, feeding, visiting, praying, being a good neighbor, witnessing, bringing others to Church. When you stop lifting an empty vessel to God, the miracle you have had will stop.

Don’t limit the Holy One of Israel … Don’t stop!

Saturday, January 27, 2024

Dust and Ashes


One day when Abraham was 99 years old, he was sitting in the door of his tent near Hebron, it was the hottest part of the afternoon. Abraham saw what appeared to be three men approaching. He got up, went out to meet them and invited them to turn aside and refresh themselves. Later he realized one of the men was the Lord and the other two were angels.

They were on their way to the city of Sodom. The Lord wanted to see for Himself if the city was as wicked and evil as it appeared. If so, He planned to destroy the city and its inhabitants. When the Lord informed Abraham of His intent, Abraham began to question the Lord.

Genesis 18 NKJV

23 ¶  And Abraham came near and said, “Would You also destroy the righteous with the wicked?

24  “Suppose there were fifty righteous within the city; would You also destroy the place and not spare it for the fifty righteous that were in it?

25  “Far be it from You to do such a thing as this, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous should be as the wicked; far be it from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?”

26  So the LORD said, “If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare all the place for their sakes.”

27  Then Abraham answered and said, “Indeed now, I who am but dust and ashes have taken it upon myself to speak to the Lord:

28  “Suppose there were five less than the fifty righteous; would You destroy all of the city for lack of five?” So He said, “If I find there forty-five, I will not destroy it.”

29  And he spoke to Him yet again and said, “Suppose there should be forty found there?” So He said, “I will not do it for the sake of forty.”

30  Then he said, “Let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak: Suppose thirty should be found there?” So He said, “I will not do it if I find thirty there.”

31  And he said, “Indeed now, I have taken it upon myself to speak to the Lord: Suppose twenty should be found there?” So He said, “I will not destroy it for the sake of twenty.”

32  Then he said, “Let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak but once more: Suppose ten should be found there?” And He said, “I will not destroy it for the sake of ten.”

I want to encourage you to read the whole account in Genesis 18 & 19. However, because we are but dust and ashes and have a limited amount of time, allow me to clef note you on the rest of the story.

The two angels went on ahead and entered the city of Sodom near sundown. As fortune would have it, Abraham’s nephew Lot, who lived in Sodom with his wife and 2 daughters, happened to meet the angels at the gate and invited them to lodge with him for the evening.

Through a series of events the angels witnessed just how wicked the men of the city of Sodom were and if they had not stepped in and blinded the mob, no telling what would have happened. It reads so much better than I can tell it.

The end of this story for our purposes today concludes with the angels finding only one righteous man. There were not 10 righteous in the city, there was only one! So the angels, who looked like men, were determined to save Lot from the destruction which the city and its inhabitants well deserved. They also gave Lot instructions, time, and the opportunity to invite his family and their friends to be saved as well. 

Lot warned those he cared for but was unsuccessful in convincing them. The next morning, just as the sun was rising, Lot was lingering …

Genesis 19:16  And while he lingered, the men took hold of his hand, his wife’s hand, and the hands of his two daughters, the LORD being merciful to him, and they brought him out and set him outside the city.

They told Lot to take his family to a certain place and said:

Genesis 19: 22  “Hurry, escape there. For I cannot do anything until you arrive there.” …

As soon as Lot and his family were safely inside the protected city …

Genesis 19

24 ¶  Then the LORD rained brimstone and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah, from the LORD out of the heavens.

25  So He overthrew those cities, all the plain, all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground.

What was so special about Abraham that Abraham could barter with God?

Abraham had a covenant with God. Covenant is powerful. This gave Abraham audience with God and God respected Abraham’s requests.

Like most every other accounts in the Bible, This account is a picture of a future spiritual event. Specifically the destruction of this wicked world in which we live. In the current unfolding story of the world and the impending judgment of God, which is already on His calendar, Jesus is Abraham, we are Lot, and the world is Sodom and Gomorrah.

God has a covenant with Jesus. It is not a covenant sealed by the blood of bulls and goats but rather a covenant sealed by the blood of Christ.

We are but dust and ashes in God’s sight however, we have been invited and included in the great salvation. Noah invited his family, friends and neighbors; Lot invited his family and others as well; and so can you. We have been instructed by Jesus to go into the highways and byways and encourage others to come and be saved.

Since God agreed to not destroy the city of Sodom for the sake of 10 righteous people living in the city, how many righteous people do you think it would take for Him to not destroy the world? I have the answer and it is one of the plain truths we learn from the story we have heard this morning.

In fact, just like Abraham said: “Far be it from You, Lord, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous should be as the wicked.” “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?”

God will not destroy the righteous with the wicked … not even one!

God did not allow even one person who was right with Him to die in the flood of Noah’s day. Neither did God leave even one righteous person to die with the wicked when He judged the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah.

And God will not judge the earth until every single one of His children are safe and secure in heaven.

I believe the account of Lot and his family being saved and taken out of the city of Sodom by angels on assignment is a picture of the imminent return of Jesus and the coming Rapture of the Church. We who have heard from the Lord have been given time and opportunity, like Noah and Lot, to invite others to be saved before God unleashes His wrath upon this world.

Judgment day is coming but God will not allow even one of His children to suffer His wrath. I believe Abraham could have bargained with God to not allow even one righteous person to be destroyed with the wicked. But he didn’t really need to. This was God’s intent all along.

Abraham didn’t ask God for anything God wasn’t already planning to do. This is why it is so easy for God to say yes to your prayers. If you’re right with God, He is the One who put those desires in your heart.

What is on your heart today?

·        Are you right with God?

o   Righteousness is what you are given when you get saved.

o   It is a gift from God … A gift of grace, not works.

o   Are you born again?

·        Is there anyone else you want to invite?

o   Pray for them.

o   Asked God to show you the best time and the opportunity to invite them to Jesus, to Church, and to heaven.

o   And even though we are but dust and ashes, we are the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:21)

o   Expect a miracle! The effectual fervent prayers … (James 5:16)

·        God is the One who has put these desires in your heart.

o   You are only asking Him to do what He has already planned to do.




• Paul was writing to people in Ephesus who knew a thing or two about armor (training facility; Paul chained to a Roman guard)
• There is a spiritual battle happening around us
• Therefore we must be prepared for battle
• We do this by putting on the whole armor of God
• The armor of God allows us to stand firm against the attack of the devil
• We cannot wait until the battle commences before we arm ourselves
• Our battle is not against people, but against demonic forces at work
• We must put on the whole armor of God to resist the enemys trap
• Belt of truth: Truth is absolute and it does not change. The devil wants to change what you believe to be true. Therefore we must know the truth so that we can be free from deception. We must engage, confess, and stand on Gods Word so that we can know the truth and believe it.
• Breastplate of Righteousness: Righteousness is the standard in which we please God. It is living rightly. Righteousness is meant to protect our heart from allowing the devil access into our life. Sin opens the door for the enemy to have a legal right into our life. Only true righteousness will guard us from the enemy. We received the righteousness of Christ at salvation, however we have a part to play as well. We must also walk out righteousness in our own life.
• Shoes of the Gospel of Peace: Peace is calmness of soul in the midst of difficult circumstances. Through Christ, there is a peace available that despite our circumstances, we can be free stress and worry. This peace is found in the Gospel. Because we have peace with God, we have access to the peace of God. If we want to receive this peace then we have to go to the God of peace to claim it.
• Shield of Faith: Faith is our main line of defense against the attack of the enemy. If he wants to get through to you then he must get through your faith. Faith is not based on our feelings or what we see happening around us. Faith is simply acting on Gods Word. If we know what Gods Word says about a matter, then we can act on it. If we continually act on Gods Word, then we are walking by faith. Our faith walk is not meant to be done alone. Link your faith up with others so that your faith can be strengthened in your time of need and strengthen others as well.
• Helmet of Salvation: While our spirit is saved when we receive Christ, our mind is not. Therefore, we must put on salvation like a helmet so that our minds can be saved. The devil wants to attack our thinking. If he can control our thinking then he can control our life. Therefore our minds must be transformed through the Word of God. Without renewing our mind in the Word, we can only expect to conform to the world around us and be controlled by the devil. We must allow our minds to be saved and sanctified through the Word of God.
• Sword of the Spirit: The Word of God is the one offensive weapon in our spiritual armor. The Word of God is living and active and ready to be used. It has Gods authority to accomplish what it was sent out to do. When the enemy attacks our life, we must declare the Word of God over our situation and over our lives. In the name of Jesus, we can command the devil to flee and He has to live under the authority of Christ. Let us read the Word, meditate on the Word, and declare it over our life.


That brings us to the final piece of the armor. Actually, this last item is not listed as an official piece of the armor. However, it is listed as the final piece to a puzzle. So, what is it?


Ephesians 6:18 - Praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints."


Along with equipping themselves with armor and being well trained with their weapon, communication was just as important to the Roman soldier when it came to their success in battle. Overall, communication was one of the biggest reasons for the success of the Roman military. The commanders primarily would communicate the plan before the battle. However, there were times a commander needed to get a message to their officers during battle. In doing so, they would use an assortment of methods like a bonfire system, flag system, a torch system, etc. Whichever method they used, they made sure to get the message to the their commanding officers. 


As Christians, communication is just as important to us as it was to those Roman soldiers. We too must stay in communication with our commander as we well. We do so through prayer. Prayer is vitally important in a spiritual battle against a spiritual enemy. Without prayer, we lose the strength necessary to stand strong against the attacks of the enemy. Prayer allows us to tap into the power of the Spirit for our life. We are weak in a spiritual battle; therefore we need spiritual power! That power comes from God and is accessed through prayer. In order to stand strong against the enemy, we must be on our knees in prayer. 


In order to stand strong against the attack of the evil one, Paul says to equip ourselves with the armor of God. Along with putting on the armor, he charges us to pray. Now we can easily read over this and miss what Paul is saying here. He says that in order to stand firm against the devil and his demonic forces, we must 1.) put on the armor of God, and 2.) pray. We have to have the armor, but we also have to have prayer. 


So why pray? 

1. The Word of God says so
• Philippians 4:6 - Dont worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.
• Colossians 4:2 - Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.
• 1 Thessalonians 5:17 - Pray without ceasing
• Jeremiah 33:3 - Call to me and I will answer you…”
• Jeremiah 29:12 - Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you.
• Romans 12:12 - Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you.
2. Spiritual strength for a spiritual battle
Ephesians begins by informing us that our blessings our found in the spiritual realm. It ends by reminding us that we have an enemy in the spiritual realm. The enemy is launching attacks on our life every single day. Why? Because we are in a spiritual battle. In order to be prepared for this battle, we must equip ourselves with spiritual armor AND spiritual strength. That spiritual strength comes from God. Prayer requires us to be reliant and dependent on Him. 
3. Jesus prayed
• Mark 1:35 - In the early morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, and went away to a secluded place, and was praying there.
• Matthew 14:23 - After He had sent the crowds away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray; and when it was evening, He was there alone.
• Mark 6:46 - After bidding them farewell, He left for the mountain to pray.
• Luke 5:16 - But Jesus Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray.


So how should we pray?


At All Times

Kairos = Measure of time; fixed time; opportune time; the right time.


Paul says to pray at all times. That means, when things are difficult, pray. When things are good, pray. When times are easy, pray. When times are hard, pray. When you are in public, pray. When you are in private, pray. When you are at church, pray.


No matter what time we find ourselves in, it is a good time to call on the name of the Lord.



Worship - Praising God for who He is

Thanksgiving - Giving thanks to God

Confession - Confess our sins to God for forgiveness

Supplication - Praying for yourself; Making your requests known to God

Intercession - Praying for others in need

Prophecy - Declare the truth


All Perseverance

There are times when we need to persevere through prayer. That is to keep praying and not giving up. Let us not be deceived into believing that we dont need to pray; that we can do it on our own. No! Pray and keep praying because we need God! 


Perseverance is one of the most valuable attributes we can develop in life. However, many times it is only developed in our own personal work ethic. It is good to have, however, there is another level of perseverance that is available for us to develop. It is the ability to persevere in waiting on the Lord. To keep doing what we are doing, to keep praying as we wait on God to come through. 


We are taught to not rely on someone else. However, God is not just someone else. We can wait on God. We can trust in Him. 


All the Saints

As we pray for ourselves, let us remember to pray for other believers as well. While God does see you individually, He also sees you as a part of the body of Christ. Let us not get stuck in our own world, but let us consider what God wants us to pray for as well. Let us pray for those who are in need.


In battle, a Roman soldier who only looked out for himself was not fit to be a part of the military. He was not fighting for himself, he was fighting for his brothers. He was fighting for his nation.


In the Spirit

Pneuma = Gods power; influence of the spirit


Romans 8:26 - The Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.


*Praying under the influence

Matthew 26:41. - The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.


Let us have an attitude of prayer. One whose meditation of the heart is pleasing to the Lord. (Psalm 19:14)


It is important to remember that we are called to live in the spirit. We are called to:

⁃ Walk in the spirit
⁃ Worship in spirit
⁃ Kill the flesh in the spirit
⁃ Give thanks in the spirit
⁃ Restore the wayward brother in the spirit
⁃ Etc. 


Therefore, we are called to live out our Christian life in the spirit. If we are living in the spirit, then we will be praying in the spirit. We will be prompted by the Holy Spirit to pray. It is allowing Him to guide our prayer life. 


Ephesians 6:18 encourages us to pray:

At all times
With all prayer
With all perseverance
For all the saints
In the Spirit


In other words, God wants us to develop a prayer life. Gods desire is to grow our prayer life. We need God and God needs more people praying.




4. Realize that you need God
You are in a spiritual battle. You need spiritual strength.
Dont believe the lie that you dont need to pray.
5. Go to God in prayer
There is nothing you can do about yesterday. But you can begin today.
• Pray at all times
• Pray in all forms
• Dont give up
• Pray for others in need
6. Jesus prayed
Allow the Holy Spirit to lead and guide you in prayer.
The Spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.