2 Kings 5

When Elisha asked for double the spirit Elijah had, God really answered.

This part of Kings is absolute gold for finding out the character of God.

Here, God cures a leper. The mode of cure is washing, the water of the Jordan washes away the corruption of the flesh, a physical metaphor for sin being washed away.

The recipient is a military commander from a neighbouring country. He heard of Elisha because his wife was a captive from Israel taken in battle.

God’s healing is for all the world, for enemies.

Elisha refuses payment. Namaan who was cured knows the event is theological and recognises that he has found the one true God, who he promises to worship the rest of his life. God is above all other Gods and more valuable than any wealth.

He is very candid and asks forgiveness for times he anticipates helping his king in religious rituals for another God, and Elisha accepts it. It’s about what is in the heart.

This candor is contrasted with the dishonesty of Elisha’s servant who tells a lie to in fact get some payment from Namaan, and gets leprosy. A life devoted to materialism above God will corrupt your soul and destroy you, and you can’t lie to God about it.

Worst mass shooting ever in the US today.

Minds become unhinged, and this shooter had a cultural response to becoming possessed by evil that is all too familiar in the US.

As society grapples with this reality, layers of more complex evil, hypocrisy motivated by greed and power will interpret the event various ways. Fingers will be pointed, self serving spin will be exaggerated.

Here I read of the powerful simplicity of that washing in the river, the sure love of God that pares away all the dishonest layers. Glad I’ve found the true God today, its all we have.

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1 Kings 9

After the temple dedication, God appears to Solomon. It’s the second time, and he tells him he heard his consecration plea and his name, heart and eyes will be in the temple for all time. 

Then he tells Solomon to remain monotheistic, success or disaster hangs on that.

The rest of the chapter is pragmatic. Solomons relationship with Hiram, the king to the north who supplied all the good and cedar, cold when Solomon gives him poor quality land as payment. They enslaved rather than destroyed many Canaanites, contrary to God’s command. He builds a sea fleet. Again, this slight sense of it being a bit off.

Deuteronomy 15

There need be no poor/you will always have poor.

The lord loves us and provides enough for mankind. Society will always have inequality, but we are to actively minimise it. 

Here are the rules by which all debts were to be cancelled every 7 years. God wanted all his people to do well, not a stratified society.

Beyond that, they are told to live by the spirit of being an open-handed and generous society. So to exploit the rules by being less generous because you know the 7th year approaches is a sin. 

And servants are to be allowed the choice to be free. They are all descended from slaves, their society cannot support involuntary slavery. Think how that must have affected the life of servants every day, knowing that they could be free after 7 years.

God’s vision of society is just and generous. We were all slaves. All we have comes from him, we aren’t to hoard it or lord it.

Luke 13

Such a strong theme of the urgency of our time here on earth. We are here to bear  fruit. Jesus must be God because who else would compare people to a tree that should be cut down or left another year?

Another humiliation for the Pharisees. But it is richly deserved. Jesus is healing. HEALING. And all they can see is that he is doing it on the Sabbath. They say they serve god more than anyone. But when they meet him, all they see is a threat to their position.

Jesus may have been 30 but he’s reminding us to live like teenagers. Do things from simple faith and a desire to do what’s good. Don’t think about the consequences.

Why is it that as we get older we live less and less with a sense of the shortness and urgency of our days, and more constrained by the cruft of our years. The young irresponsible attitude of living like there is no tomorrow is a literally the correct view from Jesus’ perspective. After all, he is eternal. He wants us to live like Roman candles, like flairs that burn with grace and die. No point staying unlit.

The mustard seed parable… Kingdom of God is pure potential, like a tiny seed that turns into a whole ecosystem. Kingdom of God is an activating agent… The live yeast that turns ordinary paste like flour and water into bread. He’s sort of saying it’s not a place, it’s an idea powerful enough to turn into the most concrete thing, more than earth. Powerfully transformative. You’d think from our teaching in churches that pounds and pounds of yeast was required, but a little heaven for a very long way.

Luke 12

We all have spiritual work to do. Mine is ministry to the kids. To our friends. The people at church. In thinking about using my music for spiritual work, after reading nick cave say that all music is spiritual.

Jesus is positively bipolar to highlight the importance of our spiritual work in this chapter.  Don’t worry at all about the material things of life. You won’t add an hour to your life by worrying. Lovely! Hard!

Be very very aware of being watchful for the return of the master. If you have been given much, much is expected of you. The rich fool dies while plotting his earthly treasure. So many strong messages about bad priorities.

Death is nothing to fear compared to the one who can throw you into hell. Nothing you hide will stay hidden… Your darkest hypocrisy will be shouted from the roof tops. Death is a big theme here. Very aware of the allotted time on earth and the expectation to use it well. It’s so short!

Or time on earth will involve division not peace.  The “do not worry” stands out in a chapter of lots of things pointing out what an utter disaster is trusting in your own strength and not taking god seriously.

Jesus demands absolute faith, you’ve really got to throw your lot totally with him.

In a week where I am swallowed up by my failure to cope with the practicalities of life this is overwhelming. It feels like I don’t have the luxury of choice. I am not pleasing God or Mammon. I am a total failure.  All I can do is pray.  For clarity, for sense. We should downscale. Project downscale.