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Archive for September, 2010

And when His disciples James and John saw this, they said, “Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, just as Elijah did?” But He turned and rebuked them, and said, “You do not know what manner of spirit you are of. For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them.” And they went to another village…Luke 9:54-56

A True Sign

How do you know if you’re a man or woman of God? Disciples James and John apparently thought it was in possessing the ability to call down fire from Heaven in order to consume souls. It would appear that they had taken an Old Testament verse out of context.

So Elijah answered and said to the captain of fifty, “If I am a man of God, then let fire come down from heaven and consume you and your fifty men.” And fire came down from heaven and consumed him and his fifty.
2 Kings 2:10

The truth of the matter is that contextually, James and John were partially correct, bearing in mind the figurative and literal applications. The reality is that being able to call down a consuming fire from the Heavenly realm is a sign that a person is a man or woman of God. James and John, the ‘Sons of Thunder’ had erred in their application—they were hell-bent on annihilation while Jesus was Heaven-bent towards salvation.

“Is not My word like a fire?” says the Lord, “And like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces? Jeremiah 23:29

Godly men and women always have the ability to call down consuming fire, as long as it is directed to consume a person’s spirit; not his soul. God’s word is that fire! The Christian is commanded to operate in such a method that will win souls to Christ, not condemn them to a spiritual death. Therefore, it is a sign that you are a man or woman of God if you function in this manner—you have been empowered by the Holy Spirit to call down such fire from Heaven!

A Warning

He performs great signs, so that he even makes fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men. Revelation 13:13

There will come on the scene one who also will be able to call down fire. I am of course referring to the Antichrist. I for one do not believe I will be on the scene when Antichrist makes his earthly appearance, but nevertheless, he will possess this grand ability. Now I don’t want to end on a somber note, but rather use the point to emphasize that our propensity must always be towards saving souls and satan’s function and goal will always be the exact opposite–destruction. Make no mistake about it, antichrists (note: little ‘a’) are on the scene as you read this. Anyone who operates with a mindset to condemn and destroy is drawing upon the spirit of antichrist—that was the case with James and John.

Suffice it to say, if you are not a born again believer and find yourself trying to survive in Tribulationary times, do not be deceived by the great signs you might see. Jesus Christ is the only way!

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And Elijah said to her, “Do not fear; go and do as you have said, but make me a small cake from it first, and bring it to me; and afterward make some for yourself and your son. For thus says the Lord God of Israel: ‘The bin of flour shall not be used up, nor shall the jar of oil run dry, until the day the Lord sends rain on the earth.’ ” 1 Kings 17:13-14

Elijah the prophet was sent by God to a gentile land to be cared for by a gentile woman. Upon his arrival he discovered that the woman who God said would care for him was unable to care for herself; she and her child were in fact starving to death. Elijah, having taken this all in, incredibly asks the woman for some food. Some might say Elijah was being incredulously selfish, but I submit that we should see him as being extraordinarily faithful. Lesson one from the story is that extraordinarily faithful people are typically prone towards bolstering others in their faith.

Emboldened in and by the Lord, Elijah encouraged the woman that the time had arrived for her to take a leap of faith; for he saw (and she knew) she was at the bottom of her barrel. For many Christians (not all), it was in this dark and desperate place they first recognized their Savior. In that place we discovered that Jesus will not forcibly take our hand, but rather we must grasp the hand extended to us. In our story, the starving woman, in a leap-of-faith moment, would take the outstretched arm of the Lord—by faith she would give all that she had to Elijah.

But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Matthew 6:33

Seeing is Believing

‘Seeing is believing,’ is the mantra of the faithless. The world is filled with would-be bighearted and compassionate people who proclaim their willingness to open their hands to those in need as soon as the Lord abundantly blesses them. These same folks would have likely proposed to Elijah, “Dude, I’ll give you all you want, just have your God first fill up my barrel.” That’s not how God operates.

Unbelievers cry foul not realizing that God is determined to make us men and women of faith. To that end; to be strong in faith, one must exercise the faith they have been given. Our Father works with empty and willing vessels. Anyone can give from their surplus, but only the faithful are able to give sacrificially. Each and every time this occurs, God gets the honor and the glory, and we grow stronger in our faith.

One Small Step For…God

And it shall come to pass, as soon as the soles of the feet of the priests who bear the ark of the Lord, the Lord of all the earth, shall rest in the waters of the Jordan, that the waters of the Jordan shall be cut off, the waters that come down from upstream, and they shall stand as a heap.” Joshua 3:13

Can you picture the scene? The Ark of the Covenant, the most precious item of the Tabernacle of the Lord, the place where God Himself spoke to the people, was about to cross the Jordan River. God essentially says to the priests carrying the Ark, “Step into the raging waters, then I’ll part them so you can cross over.”

Surely some must have thought the Ark was too valuable to risk taking such a chance. These priests however knew that theirs was not a God of fate, but a God of faithfulness and in order to receive the promise they must move in the faith they had been given. God came through for them and He will come through for us!

Do you find yourself at the bottom of the barrel or are you at some other place where the Lord is calling you to step out in faith? Then go to the Lord and prayer, seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these the Lord has promised shall be added to you. God is faithful and true to His word.


These ramblings are typically (but not always) a byproduct inspired by God through my personal Bible study at SearchLight with Pastor Jon Courson

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So he went and did according to the word of the Lord, for he went and stayed by the Brook Cherith, which flows into the Jordan. The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning, and bread and meat in the evening; and he drank from the brook. And it happened after a while that the brook dried up, because there had been no rain in the land. 1 Kings 17:5-7

It’s a common teaching in today’s church that if a ministry is drying up that it is a sign from the Lord to move on. There was a time I would have unconditionally believed that. However, if that were the case, as the Brook Cherith slowed to a trickle, Elijah might have uttered, “Oh well, I guess the Lord isn’t in this thing anymore, I better get going.” But that is not what Elijah did.

Then the word of the Lord came to him, saying, “Arise, go to Zarephath… 17:8-9

Elijah went to the brook because the Lord commanded him to and he didn’t leave, despite the parched conditions, until the Lord told him to. What’s the Lord told you to do and more importantly, has He rescinded the directive? Is it the ministry that’s bone-dry, or your faith?

Is God Still With Me?

How will you know if God is still in the thing He brought you to? How did Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego know? They knew because like Elijah, they were at peace in their hostile environment; they weren’t burned-out, nor were they freaking out. They were able to rest in the words that they heard.

…And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7

I recently had an experience hosting a golf tournament to raise money for a Christian ministry; an event that I truly felt led by the Lord to undertake. I found the work associated with it to be unproblematic, but I did struggle with the lack of a response—many had said they would play, but few were actually signing up. I thought and shared with others, including my pastor, ‘is this thing drying up?’ and a few people suggested that I throw in the towel. I didn’t because I believed God led me to it and I hadn’t heard from Him to abandon the cause.

Long story short, the golf event was successful and I believe that the Lord allowed it to progress the way it did (at least in part) to reveal and teach me the lesson that is being conveyed here in 1 Kings 17—if God brings you to a thing, He will be faithful to bring you through it. Moving on is not an option until God says so.

And when Jesus saw great multitudes about Him, He gave a command to depart to the other side…Now when He got into a boat, His disciples followed Him. And suddenly a great tempest arose on the sea, so that the boat was covered with the waves. But He was asleep. Then His disciples came to Him and awoke Him, saying, “Lord, save us! We are perishing!” But He said to them, “Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?” Then He arose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. Matthew 8:18, 23-26

Don’t Forget the Word That You Heard

Why were the disciples fearful? Because they forgot. They had forgotten what Jesus had said to them at the start; that He had given the command to depart to the other side. Didn’t they know if Jesus said that they’re going over to the other side, that’s exactly where they’re going to end up? Don’t we know? Let us endeavor to stay in the boat God has placed us until He tells us to abandon the ship.


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These ramblings are typically (but not always) a byproduct inspired by God through my personal Bible study at SearchLight with Pastor Jon Courson

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So it was, after he had eaten bread and after he had drunk, that he saddled the donkey for him, the prophet whom he had brought back. When he was gone, a lion met him on the road and killed him. And his corpse was thrown on the road, and the donkey stood by it. The lion also stood by the corpse. 1 Kings 13:23-24

What’s Going On?

There was an unnamed man of a God; a prophet who was sent to King Jeroboam to deliver a message. King Jeroboam was not pleased with the word that he heard and with a pointed finger he directed his guards to seize the man of God. Incredibly, the King’s hand withered right there on the spot. A distraught Jeroboam pleaded with the man to pray for restoration. The man did and God restored his hand. In gratitude, Jeroboam invited the man home to dine with him. The offer was declined.

“If you were to give me half your house, I would not go in with you; nor would I eat bread nor drink water in this place. For so it was commanded me by the word of the Lord, saying, ‘You shall not eat bread, nor drink water, nor return by the same way you came.’ ” 1 Kings 13:8-9

So, the man of God begins his journey home when an old prophet gets wind of what happened and sets out to find him. He discovers him on the road and like Jeroboam, invites him home to eat. Innocent enough we might think, but the man refuses the invitation citing the same reason as before.

For I have been told by the word of the Lord, ‘You shall not eat bread nor drink water there, nor return by going the way you came.’ “1 Kings 13:17

For whatever the reason (we’re not given a biblical explanation), the old prophet lies to the man….

“I too am a prophet as you are, and an angel spoke to me by the word of the Lord, saying, ‘Bring him back with you to your house, that he may eat bread and drink water.’ ” 1 Kings 13:18

The man of God is swayed by this old prophet and goes to his home to eat. As the meal is finished, the events turn ugly. The old prophet now makes this proclamation:

“Thus says the Lord: ‘Because you have disobeyed the word of the Lord, and have not kept the commandment which the Lord your God commanded you, but you came back, ate bread, and drank water in the place of which the Lord said to you, “Eat no bread and drink no water,” your corpse shall not come to the tomb of your fathers.’ “1 Kings 13:21-22

So the man of God leaves and is killed by a lion.

Are You a Man of God?

Without a doubt this is a bizarre story. However it is recorded in the Bible for a purpose. There is a lesson revealed in the conduct of the unnamed man of God and it’s important to us, because as men and women of God, we are similarly vulnerable. The man knew the word of God and he allowed himself to be swayed by someone he respected or deemed to be unthreatening. The Apostle Paul in his letter to the Galatians reminds us that if anyone at all, Christian or otherwise, preaches any other Gospel then the one we received, that person (or angel) shall be accursed; the implication being that we should avoid them. Why would Paul share such a thing? Because he knew it would happen over and over again.

Peter counsels us in 1 Peter 5:8 to, ‘Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.’ I can’t help but think that Peter was familiar with the story in 1 Kings 13. King David gives us this admonition:

The works of the Lord are great, Studied by all who have pleasure in them. His work is honorable and glorious, And His righteousness endures forever. He has made His wonderful works to be remembered… Psalms 111:2-4

The Psalmist tells us the works of God are great and that we should study them. Given the fact that there are false christs, false prophets, ignorant Christians, and roaring lions who seek to devour us, it is good advice to be well versed in God’s word. How else are we to know when we are being misinformed, misled, or lied to?

For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe. 1 Thessalonians 2:13


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These ramblings are typically (but not always) a byproduct inspired by God through personal Bible study at SearchLight with Pastor Jon Courson

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And it came to pass, when Solomon had finished building the house of the Lord and the king’s house, and all Solomon’s desire which he wanted to do, that the Lord appeared to Solomon the second time, as He had appeared to him at Gibeon. 1 Kings 9:1-2

This is incredible, isn’t it? God appears to Solomon yet again! Man oh man, he is so blessed; it’s no wonder that Solomon in these early days was so amazingly dedicated to the Lord. But wait; do the math—it’s been twenty years since the last time Solomon and the Lord had such an encounter. It’s our tendency occasionally to lose track of the biblical time line, inclined to read the Bible with a consecutive mindset; that events occur one right after the other. Well that isn’t always the case.

I waited patiently for the Lord; And He inclined to me, And heard my cry. Psalms 40:1

The reality is that the Bible is abounding with instances of godly men and women waiting on the Lord. Abraham waited, Noah waited, Joseph waited; the list goes on and on. In these occurrences we take notice of how these people abided in their faith and glean from their example. But more importantly we should observe that their confidence in the Lord was not dependant upon regular miraculous incidents. We’re reminded that Promise-Land-bound Israel witnessed more signs and wonders then any other people group on the planet, but yet in one generation’s time, only two men came to believe. The lesson: miracles don’t draw people to faith, God does and people who come to rely upon miracles to walk-in-their-faith are characteristically found dead-in-their-tracks.

There are those who rebel against the light; They do not know its ways Nor abide in its paths. Job 24:13

What do I do? In spiritually dry periods, do I go to His well; in darkness do I seek His illumination; in loneliness do I yearn for His touch, or is it the miraculous signs I crave? The fact of the matter is that God is satisfied when we walk by faith abiding in the shadow of His wings. It was Jesus who said, ‘Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed (John 20:29b). The implication is that those who walk by faith alone are more blessed than those who require persistent confirmation and miraculous coddling. Walk by faith and be abundantly blessed!


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These ramblings are typically (but not always) a byproduct inspired by God through personal Bible study at SearchLight with Pastor Jon Courson

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And so it was, when Solomon had finished praying all this prayer and supplication to the Lord, that he arose from before the altar of the Lord, from kneeling on his knees with his hands spread up to heaven. Then he stood and blessed all the assembly of Israel with a loud voice, saying: “Blessed be the Lord, who has given rest to His people Israel, according to all that He promised. 1 Kings 8:54-56

Thank you Father, you’re timing is perfectly magnificent. These past few weeks You have been doing a wonderful thing in me. One particular joy [to me] is that as I’m growing spiritually, I am not feeling the pangs I normally encounter. All that is to say that my personal Bible study is marvelously in line with how You have been moving me and I do not for one moment believe it is coincidence. In light of that, today’s focus revolves around the subject of blessings; not receiving them, but bestowing them on others.

Bestowing the Blessing

Sharing a blessing is simply conferring happiness and prosperity upon another. While there is a prescribed order and method that I want to examine, the Christian should rest comfortably that he or she has the God-given authority to pronounce blessings. How do we know this? We know this because Holy Scripture reminds us:

(We are) a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 2:5b

Having been given the right to bless one another, we should come to recognize the privilege and responsibility associated with it. As we read the 1 Kings passage we note that Solomon had prepared himself through sacrificial prayer. Why is that important? Prayer prepares us to bless; in continual prayer we come to discern God’s will so our blessings will not be arbitrary or spiritually illogical. Furthermore, God, through prayer, provides power. In other words, prayer puts us in a position to be empowered by God. We see the ‘formula’ repeated time and time again in the Bible; we must go in before we can go out.

And Moses said to Aaron, “Go to the altar, offer your sin offering and your burnt offering, and make atonement for yourself and for the people. Offer the offering of the people, and make atonement for them, as the Lord commanded.” …Then Aaron lifted his hand toward the people, blessed them, and came down from offering the sin offering, the burnt offering, and peace offerings. Leviticus 9:7 + 22

The altar always speaks of sacrifice and believers acknowledge that there is an expenditure one makes when we come before the Lord in prayer. Have you ever noticed that practically every single person you bless, regardless if they are saved or not, always say, “Thank you?” The reason is, whether they’re conscious of it or not, that they perceive there was a cost involved, a cost that included more than just your time. Sadly for some, it is that cost-factor that keeps them from praying and pronouncing blessing. Prayer time can be draining, challenging, and strenuous, but for the prayer-warrior and the blessing-giver these are seen as privileged opportunities to serve God and viewed as a very reasonable sacrifice.

What’s Our Motivation?

What motivated Solomon’s blessing? 1 Kings 8:60 tells us, ‘That all the peoples of the earth may know that the Lord is God (and that) there is no other.’ The blessing wasn’t selfish, nor was it selfless; in the long run it was purposed to bring recognition, glory and honor to the only One who could deliver on his words. Did it work; was anyone of the earth drawn by the Holy Spirit to know the Lord? The Queen of Sheba was! In 1 Kings 10:1 we read how this African queen heard of Solomon’s reputation (particularly as it related to the Lord) and how she came to investigate. In her own words Sheba concludes:

Happy are your men and happy are these your servants, who stand continually before you and hear your wisdom! Blessed be the Lord your God, who delighted in you, setting you on the throne of Israel! Because the Lord has loved Israel forever, therefore He made you king, to do justice and righteousness.” 1 Kings 10:8-9

I don’t know about you, but I have never seen more clearly how blessing others is evangelical. I am purposed in my heart to do it more and do it more effectively, with Solomon (and many others) as my example. How about you? Go pronounce a blessing upon someone today, in the name of the Lord and with an expectation that the blessing will come to pass!

It’s my blessing to you that your day is Jesus-filled to the point He overflows upon everyone you encounter.


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Then the priests brought in the ark of the covenant of the Lord to its place, into the inner sanctuary of the temple, to the Most Holy Place, under the wings of the cherubim. 1 Kings 8:6

It had been almost 500 years since the Exodus and Solomon had finished constructing the desire of his father David’s heart, the Temple of the Lord. Its moving day and all the components of the Temple were brought in and put in position and the Ark of the Covenant was placed in the Holy of Holies. Question—‘What’s inside the Ark of the Covenant?’ Follow-up question—‘Are you absolutely sure?’

Nothing was in the ark except the two tablets of stone which Moses put there at Horeb, when the Lord made a covenant with the children of Israel, when they came out of the land of Egypt. 1 Kings 8:9

Okay, Who Stole Aaron’s Rod and the Manna?

While God in His Word does not explain what happened to the staff and manna, we can rest assured that there are reasons why they were missing. Before we delve into the explanation, we would recall why these items were placed in the Ark in the first place. Aaron’s ‘budding’ rod was a miraculous confirmation; a sign to Israel that Moses and Aaron were His intended leaders. The manna on the other hand was a wondrous sign of God’s provision. The Law was a sign of a different category; a tangible road-sign informing every reader of where he is (in sin) and where he needs to go (to the cross of Jesus Christ).

So the question of most importance is not, “Who removed these two items,” or, “where are they,” or “what happened to them,” but rather, “why does only one remain?” The answer is evident; this singular article (two tablets) effectively demonstrates two facts…

…The word of the Lord endures forever. 1 Peter 1:25a

The second fact might not be as obvious. It will serve us well to remember that there is no other people group in world history that witnessed more miraculous signs and wonders than post-Egypt Israel. What impact did all those signs and wonders have upon them? Not much. Out of entire generation of people (a couple million or more), only two, Joshua and Caleb, came to believe. There is an enormous lesson in that.

Are We Done With Miracles?

Heaven forbid! Jesus told His church that there is an order in which these things will occur…

And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” Mark 16:17-18

And He told us why there needs to be an order…

A wicked and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign shall be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.” Matthew 16:4

And there’s the second reason. Generally speaking, we are sign-seekers; we want evidence, we want confirmation, we want corroboration before we commit and handover the reigns to Someone we cannot readily see or touch. There’s a drawback that comes with that kind of attitude and Jesus told us pointedly what it is:

For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. Matthew 24:24

The rod and the manna were removed for our protection! So like me, you might ask why were those signs and wonders placed into the Ark to begin with. I submit to reveal to us that a) they exist, and b) we don’t need them to come to faith, and c) they will follow us as we follow Jesus. We should consider what was said regarding John the Baptist [who] Jesus called the greatest prophet whoever lived…

Then many came to Him and said, “John performed no sign, but all the things that John spoke about this Man were true.” And many believed in Him there. John 10:41-42


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