Sermon Question

canstockphoto5414832I got this question after the sermon “God’s Rescue Plan” on the history of the city of Jericho.  In Joshua 6, the city was cursed because of sin, but the story actually shows not just judgment but a recurring picture of God’s plan for salvation and rescue through Jesus.

 

 

Q:  When talking about how Elijah’s ultimate successor was Jesus, you referenced the end of Malachi and how Elijah would return preparing the way for Jesus, and how Elijah returned in the form of John the Baptist.  I’d never heard this before. Could you explain for me where this comes from, or at least where to go so I can learn more about this connection?

A:  The Elijah prophecy is from the last verses of the Old Testament — Malachi 4:5-6, “See, I will send the prophet Elijah to you before that great and dreadful day of the LORD comes.  He will turn the hearts of parents to their children, and the hearts of the children to their parents; or else I will come and strike the land with total destruction.”

This prophecy finds its fulfillment in the coming of John the Baptist according to Matthew 17:11-13, “Jesus replied, ‘To be sure, Elijah comes and will restore all things.  But I tell you, Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him, but have done to him everything they wished.  In the same way the Son of Man is going to suffer at their hands.’ Then the disciples understood that he was talking to them about John the Baptist.”

You can also see Luke 1:17, “And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous — to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”

Blessings,

Jim

Meditating on Scripture

monkimage.php

In the sermon today, we heard an important reminder from Joshua 1:8 —

Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it.  Then you will be prosperous and successful.

I gave several suggestions to help you meditate on scripture that I’ve listed again here:

  • Listen to a sermon.  Send time listening to God’s word being taught and discuss it with your family or small group.
  • Post scripture.  Write scripture on cards and place them in places where you spend a lot of time during the day so that you are reminded of scripture throughout the day.  Post them in your car, by the kitchen sink, at your desk, in your wallet.
  • Talk about scripture.  When you are with family or friends, enjoying a meal or on a walk, read a verse of scripture.  Take turns reflecting on the verse together.
  • Listen to scripture.  There are lots of great ways to listen to scripture.  You can listen to verses being dramatically read at a number of online sites including Bible Gateway.  Listen to songs with the words taken directly from scripture from groups such as Seeds Family Worship, Sons of Korah (Psalms) and Forever Grateful Music.  Another great site with musical and visual art to help people meditate on scripture is The Verses Project.  Calvary Kids has put the book of James to music and teaches through a chapter each year on Wednesday nights. It’s a great way to learn scripture along with your kids.
  • Select scripture randomly.  If you don’t know where to start, let God direct you. Choose a random number between 1 and 66 (or use an online site) and read the book of the bible that corresponds to that number.  For example, 15 would be the book of Ezra.  Ask the question, “Why would God have chosen this passage for me today?”
  • Discuss scripture.  Ask your family, friends or small group these questions, “If you were to hang a scripture verse on the outside of your door for everyone who passes by to see, what scripture verse would you want to hang up and why?”  “If you were going to hang a Bible verse on the front door facing inside so you would read it before you left the house, what would that scripture verse be and why?”
  • Memorize scripture.  Don’t outgrow the power of memorizing scripture.  Our verses for this series, Joshua 1:8-9, were some of the first verses I memorized as an adult. It’s a great place to start.  Try memorizing a verse every day for a week and see what happens.

Meditating on scripture — it’s challenging, but it’s simple.

Blessings,

Jim

Elisabeth Elliott Tribute

Margaret Ashmore Drawing of Elisabeth Elliot

Elisabeth Elliott, pioneer missionary and Christian author, entered the presence of Jesus on Sunday, June 14, 2015, after a long battle with dementia.   A prolific author, her most famous book, Through Gates of Splendor, told the story of five missionaries (including her first husband Jim Elliott) who died while trying to reach the Auca people in Ecuador.  Splendor had a significant impact on me as a young adult as I encountered men and women in the pages of the book who were willing to give all in the service of Christ. And, not only did they give all but they considered their sacrifice worth it in the service of their Savior.  Jim Elliott famously wrote in his journal, 

He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep

to gain that which he cannot lose.

The day of her death, I just happened to re-read These Strange Ashes, the book detailing the first year of her life as a single missionary woman in the jungles of Ecuador and the faith lessons that she learned.  Each lesson ultimately centered on the the sovereignty and goodness of God — in other words, how she learned to submit to the assignment given to her by God.  But, she wrote about submission to God’s will with a full understanding of the cost.  She wrote,

To be a follower of the Crucified means, sooner or later, a personal encounter with the cross. And the cross always entails loss. The great symbol of Christianity means sacrifice and no one who calls himself a Christian can evade this stark fact.

I had the opportunity to meet her, but I only really knew her through her many books and articles.  Through those vehicles, she was a teacher and an encourager.  More often, she was one who rebuked me as she asked the Lord to “deliver us from our sad, sweet, stinking selves!”

She ends the most recent epilogue of Through Gates of Splendor with these words that are a fitting match to the current sermon series:

We are not always sure where the horizon is.  We would not know which end is up were it not for the shimmering pathway of light falling on the white sea.  The One who laid earth’s foundations and settled its dimensions knows where the lines are drawn.  He gives all the light we need for trust and obedience.

Christianity Today has an excellent summary of her life here, with a lot of links if you want to learn more about her extraordinary life.

All is well,

Lisa

(picture from elisabethelliott.org)