Psalm 139:8-16; 2 Kings 4:38-5:14; Acts 1:1-14

Psalm 139:8-16: The psalmist soars through all creation reminding us that God is everywhere in the universe. God is marvelously inescapable: “If I soar to the heavens, You are there, if I bed down in Sheol—there You are.” (8) Whether in the east at the dawn or to the farthest ends of the seas, “there, too, Your hand leads me,/ and Your right hand seizes me.” (10) Notice that God is intertwined with our very being. The psalmist is not just observing God as creator, he is experiencing God as creator.

As we are reminded frequently in the Gospels, God is light, even in the darkest night: “Darkness itself will not darken for You, / and the night will light up like the day, / the dark and the light will be one.” What a promise to remember when we are traveling though dark and difficult times! God will help us not to notice the night.

From the grandeur of the nighttime sky, the psalmist dives down to the molecular, the very DNA of our being in that most famous line: “For You created my innermost parts, / wove me in my mother’s womb.” (13) Again, it’s all about our connectedness with God. How can we escape God if He is so intimately involved with our very creation, “when [we were] made in a secret place,/ knitted in the utmost depths?” (16) These verses are also a reminder that when God seems very far away perhaps we have not looked closely enough into our very being.

2 Kings 4:38-5:14: These chapters catalog Elisha’s miracles. Unlike his predecessor Elijah, who focused on thinks like bringing fire down form heaven to consume the Baal priests, Elisha’s miracles are refreshingly domestic. He provides an endless supply of oil to the widow; he returns the favor of hospitality of the wealthy woman by healing son of the Shunammite woman. He purifies a pot of stew, and in a remarkable precursor of Jesus’ feeding of the 5000, he feeds 100 men.

It’s the healing of Naaman for which he is most famous. “A great man and in high favor with his master, because by him the Lord had given victory to Aram,” Naaman suffers the most humiliating of all diseases in that time, leprosy, proof that disease is no respecter of status. The king of Aram sends Naaman to the King of Israel, who tears his clothes and complains that the king of Aram is trying to “pick a quarrel with me.”

Here’s a clear message relevant to our time that just because someone has great political power or someone has great wealth, wealth and power are not necessarily where we should look for healing or succor.

Instead, Elisha hears of Naaman and sends a message that the commander should simply wash himself seven times in the Jordan. Naaman is not pleased, noting that there are lots of alternative rivers more preferable to him, saying “Could I not wash in them, and be clean?” He turned and went away in a rage.” His more sensible servants say, “if the prophet had commanded you to do something difficult, would you not have done it?” (5:13). Naaman, accepting their logic, does so and he becomes clean.

There are numerous lessons here. First, God’s healing power is extended beyond the Jews to all people. Second, we tend to look first to money and prestige for healing, when all we have to do is look to God. Third, as Naaman resisted being baptized because it was too easy and direct, so we, too, look for our  own complicated way to salvation when God’s simple act of baptism is all we need.

Acts 1:1-14: Luke opens volume two of his writings–this one about the birth of the Church–with another introduction to our beloved Theophilus, telling him that this book will be about the ministry of the Holy Spirit using jesus’ own words: “for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” (5).

Jesus then departs up to heaven. To underscore the transition from the “Acts of Jesus” to the “Acts of the Church” two angels ask, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up toward heaven?” In other words, our focus must be here on earth because our work is here on earth. Jesus will come back, but in the meantime there is much to do right here.

This is the practical side of the church. Sometimes we’d like to stand around looking toward heaven with soaring theology and beautiful music and gorgeous cathedrals. But the nitty gritty work of the Church here on earth, ministering to the lost, the lonely, the prisoners, and the sick is an equally crucial aspect of what the Church is all about.

And before any of that work begins, and even before the Holy Spirit arrives, we can follow the example of the disciples, devoting ourselves to prayer.

Speak Your Mind