Burn the Plow. Roast the Ox.

fire-1568645So Elijah went from there and found Elisha son of Shaphat. He was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen, and he himself was driving the twelfth pair. Elijah went up to him and threw his cloak around him. Elisha then left his oxen and ran after Elijah. “Let me kiss my father and mother goodbye,” he said, “and then I will come with you.”

“Go back,” Elijah replied. “What have I done to you?”

So Elisha left him and went back. He took his yoke of oxen and slaughtered them. He burned the plowing equipment to cook the meat and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he set out to follow Elijah and became his servant.
1 Kings 19:19-21

When we repent and accept Christ as our leader and director then we leave our old life behind. In fact we don’t just turn our back on it, but we are spiritually born, no longer dead in our transgressions, but alive in Christ. From that day forward when we wake up every morning the Holy Spirit within us cries out for Christ, for righteousness. A sign of a true believer is someone who denies the desire of his flesh nature, this is called dying to oneself.

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? Matthew 16:24

You see Christ was made sin on the cross, even though He had not Himself sinned, as a payment for the debt we’ve racked up with our sin before God. However, the transaction is not complete until we offer up that sin in repentance. Burning it like Elisha burned his plow. When we repent and die to ourselves. Then and only then will Christ’s righteousness is imputed upon us to protect us from the wrath of God. We are purchased by the blood of Christ, protected by His righteousness.

The Christian life is one of continual repentance and dying to oneself, not because we lose our salvation every time we go to sleep, but because we have set our hearts and minds to accept Christ as our Rescuer which can only happen when we submit to Him as Lord. Submission means dying to self.

When Elisha was called to serve God he burned His plow, killed His oxen and ate them for a farewell dinner. He got rid of them for good, no turning back. We must burn our plows, our old life must die under the transforming fire of the Holy Spirit. While it is painful to die to ourselves it will not be as painful as it will be to come under the eternal fire of God’s judgement.

But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.” Revelation 21:8

Just like Isaiah cried out in terror when He saw a vision of God’s throne and His mouth was purified with a coal from God’s holy fire, so must our tongues be purified with the fire of the Holy Spirit. If not, our tongues will be scorched and parched for water where there is none.

And in Hades (the realm of the dead), being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far away, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried out and said, Father Abraham, have pity and mercy on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.

But Abraham said, Child, remember that you in your lifetime fully received [what is due you in] comforts and delights, and Lazarus in like manner the discomforts and distresses; but now he is comforted here and you are in anguish. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who want to pass from this to you may not be able, and no one may pass from there to us. Luke 16:23-26

God’s purifying fire consumes all unrighteousness. Will it only be your works consumed on judgement day (1 Cor. 3:10-15) or your whole body?

Christmas Eve

Every Christmas Eve I put out luminarias, just like I grew up doing with my family. It may be a few hundred less and it may not be as spectacular with the street lights going, but I love them. I love the memories, but mostly I love the tradition and what it represents. Lighting the way for Mary and Joseph. Here’s one from last year.

Copyright Naomi Hodawanus

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. John 1:1-5

Something Has to Die

So I’ve just been thinking how you’ll hear “I’m just letting whatever God’s will is be done”, but the person behind that statement is living in blatant sin. I find this statement strange and unsettling. Why? Because there is a difference between choosing to live in sin with indifference towards God, vs living in submission under God’s authority and therefore denying sinful desires. One is called obedience the other is called rebellion. It is not God’s will for us to rebel but to repent.

It is as if we were told by our mom not to hurt our sibling, and then we just slap them up right in front of her and then say “I’m just trusting my mom for her will to be done because she loves me”. It was not her will for you to hurt your brother or sister, and even though she loves you more than life itself, you will suffer the consequences. If you really trusted her you would’ve known that, and feared that, and obeyed. The only thing is we have all done this before God. Blatant or not before men, it is all blatant before Him. The consequence of thumbing our nose at the Author of Life? Death.

But, God loves us in spite of who we are and so He gave His perfect and innocent Son to take our punishment so that if we are sorry and turn from our sin then when God looks at us He will see the blood of Jesus paying the price of our sins, no matter how many or how great. The thing is we must repent, we must be sorry for our sin, we must cry out to God for His help. We cannot keep on thumbing our nose, we cannot keep on living according to the desires of our flesh.

Something has to die, either it will be our soul, or our sinful desires. He has provided Himself for atonement, and He provides His Spirit to strengthen us to obey. Plus that means we get the greatest, most satisfying thing of all, Him. Call out to Him, cry out to Him, we all need Him.