All posts by David Ude

Blame Where Blame is Due

2 Kings 6:24-33 – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2+Kings+6%3A24-33&version=ESV

Those have to be some of the most sickening words in all of scripture. That a mother would boil her baby to eat it to survive a famine is something so horrifying…it’s beyond words. Imagine that was you and your child. What could possess someone to do something so heinous? That was a question which the king of Israel didn’t sufficiently ponder. He was outraged and disgusted by what happened but he blamed God and God’s prophet Elisha! He claimed it was God’s fault for allowing such a famine to happen. As kids say – when you point the finger at someone else, three fingers are pointing back at you!

The king showed his unbelief here. He put the blame in the wrong place. He should have blamed many things – his own sinful, unbelieving heart, continually rejecting a God who was so patient with him; the horrible selfish disgusting actions of those women; the terrible, destructive malice of the Syrians. All these, the sins of man, were properly to blame. But God? God is never to blame for the evils that men do. He may allow them but that does not mean He approves and the only way for Him to stop such evil altogether would be to destroy this whole sinful, blame-worthy world. No, God is not to blame for our sins or their consequences.

Nevertheless, he did take the blame. That’s what Jesus was doing on the cross. He paid the penalty deserved for all sins – for a mother who ate her baby, for a king who rebelled against God, for the murdering Syrians. He paid the price for you no matter what you have done. He did it willingly and lovingly because He didn’t want to destroy the world. He wanted to recreate it – a new heavens and a new earth for you to live in in righteousness and holiness. People in this world including us at times will continue to blame God for the way things are. They will continue to say “Why God? Why would you allow this?” But that’s the wrong question. The right question is “Why God? How could you be so loving, so gracious as to take my place, to take my blame? Why did I ever do to deserve it?” The answer is nothing. The answer is love. Place the blame for sin and death where it belongs – on mankind. Place the credit for God’s love where it belongs – on Jesus and praise Him for it. Thanks to Him, you have forever to do just that.

Hymn – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aowdjLeaCYs

In Christ
Pastor Ude

Those Who Are With Us Are More Than Those Who Are With Them

2 Kings 6:8-23 – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2+Kings+6%3A8-23&version=ESV

Usually numbers win out. In a war, it’s usually the side with more soldiers, more weapons, more money that wins. The civil war is a good example of that. The Union certainly didn’t have the better generals…they still won. It’s the same in baseball. That’s why everyone hates the Yankees (and now the Dodgers). They get the best free agents because they have the most money!

This might seem like a depressing thought for the Christian. If we were to look around us and count up all those who are with us verse those who are against us, what would we find? Even if we were to include all nominal Christians, we would still be woefully outnumbered. And you can’t even include all nominal Christians for many Christians are teaching things directly contrary to the Sciptures. Whether they mean to be or not, such are attacking Jesus’ Word and pose a danger to your faith. Then there are those who openly attack the gospel message – humanists, atheists, idolators – they may not be trying to harm you physically but their words are deadly to your soul. Then there is Satan and all his evil angels. Then there is the enemy on the inside – your own sinful nature.

With all these enemies surrounding us, what chance do we have? They have the numbers, they have the resources, they seem to be winning. But those who are with us are more than those who are with them. Even if we can’t see it, God never leaves us alone. Whatever is happening around us, whatever enemies we face, the Lord of Armies is our God and His angelic hosts surround us. That means that nothing happens to us that God does not allow. And if God has allowed it then we know that it is for our eternal well-being. He proved that when He who had the power to call 12 legions of angels down from the skies to reign fiery destruction on those who were falsely accusing and abusing him…didn’t. He suffered alone, enemies everywhere – every man turned against Him and even God attacking Him, punishing Him for all the sinners’ sins – for yours and mine. Seeing that, let our eyes be opened to see that He is with us because He has forgiven us. He will not leave us to the wolves. In Jesus, those who are with us are more than those who are with them.

In Christ
Pastor Ude

Consider, Do, and Trust

2 Kings 6:1-7 – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2+Kings+6%3A1-7&version=ESV

Ah, the good old days! When all you had to do to make a new building was borrow a few axes, cut down a few trees and stack them together! I suppose those were also the days of no electricity…no bathrooms…no air conditioning!

Things were certainly easier but there is something important to be learned here. These sons of the prophets recognized a need that they had – their building was too small! It was a practical need but a need nonetheless. They developed a plan to build. They brought it to Elisha and he gave his blessing. The “tragedy” that befell the man who lost the axe-head was obviously a pretty minor one. Things go wrong all the time in building projects. But the man was upset because he had borrowed the axe and did not want to lose it! Elisha, by God’s power and grace helped.

And so we He will help us. We too at Living Hope have determined a need – our building is too small! We are right now in the process of determining how best to address this. Let us trust that once we have considered and prayed and decided, God will bless us. We don’t know how that will be but we know that He will. He cared enough about a small thing like returning a borrowed axe and we know he cares about us and all we do in service to Him for He died for us and has called us to use our time, our talents, our resources to spread that news to all – He cares and He will bless. So, with renewed energy, let’s do the work He has given us to do and trust Him to bless it!

In Christ
Pastor Ude

Singleminded

2 Kings 5:15-27 – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2+Kings+5%3A15-27&version=ESV

Being single-minded is usually a good thing. Focusing all your energy, all your work, all your thinking capacity on one thing can yield wonderful results. However, single-mindedness in itself is a neutral thing. It is only good if it is applied to a good goal. When applied to what is not good, it shows what a great capacity man has for evil.

What Gehazi did in our text, may not be considered evil by most. Wrong, yes. Deceitful and greedy, yes. But not evil. However, as Paul reminds us “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” Such was the case for Gehazi. He was single-minded in a bad way – that’s what greed is, when we focus all our considerable, God given energies on getting more for me. When we do that, we have a very considerable ability to hurt others and destroy ourselves.

But Christ is His mercy has forgiven our greed by His own single-mindedness. He came to earth with one purpose and focused all His powers and will, both divine and human, on going to calvary to pay for the sins of the world. And this, His love, gives birth to our own. His love can give us a better kind of single-mindedness – that shown by Elisha and Naaman. While Gehazi was drooling over this world’s goods, they were seeking first the kingdom of God. Let this be our single-minded pursuit every day and when we get distracted by greed, may Christ’s warning law and forgiving love bring us back.

In Christ,
Pastor Ude

How Can Water Do Such Great Things?

2 Kings 5:6-14 – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2+Kings+5%3A6-14&version=ESV

900 years. Not for about 900 years after the events of this chapter, would John the Baptist come into the wilderness of Judea proclaiming the Kingdom of God and baptizing people “for the remission of sins.” What Elisha does to Naaman is not Baptism but there are some striking similarities.

Naaman was dirty, so to speak – he was sick. Leprosy was a terrible wasting sickness that claimed the lives of many people. There was no cure. Naaman’s prognosis was bleak. We too are dirty, covered by a terrible wasting sickness – sin, those selfish, foolish things that you and I do every day. Those are not just mistakes. They are sins. Since which lead, inevitably, to death. There is no cure in this world. There is nothing that you can do. It will certainly result in eternal death.

But God has a cure. Elisha told Naaman to wash in the Jordan. Naaman was offended. It seemed like a foolish request. Why didn’t he just speak the word and heal Naaman? Couldn’t God have done that? Obviously he could have. He didn’t. And it wasn’t the water itself that healed Naaman’s leprosy, it was the promise of God in the water.

The same is true of Baptism. Paul calls baptism a “washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit.” Peter says “Baptism now saves you…it saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” Romans tells us that we were “buried with Christ through baptism into death.” And Jesus says in Matthew 28 that the church should make disciples by baptizing them and teaching them. God’s promise is clear. In the waters of baptism, the remission of sins in Christ’s blood is given. Do we find this offensive? Like Naaman, do we suppose that God is above such earthly means? Do we doubt because it looks so…normal. It’s just water. How can water do such great things? Remember Martin Luther’s explanation here: “The water doesn’t actually do anything by itself. The power is in God’s Word, which is in and with the water, and in faith which trusts this Word of God in the water. Without the Word of God it is just plain water, and there is no baptism. But with the Word of God it really is a baptism; that is, a gracious water of life and washing of rebirth through the Holy Spirit.”

After 900 years, after 2900 years, God doesn’t really do things any differently. His powerful word is given to us in humble ways just as it was to Naaman. Yet it accomplishes wonderful things. We are given life, forgiveness and healing in Jesus’ name. Baptism doesn’t cure leprosy, it does something much greater, it cures sin by bringing us Jesus’ own righteousness and forgiveness. It is a great word that has been spoken to us.

In Christ
Pastor Ude

Little Girl, Big Love

2 Kings 5:1-5 – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2+Kings+5%3A1-5&version=ESV

Imagine if it were you, when you were a child – taken away from your family who were probably killed, sold as a slave in a foreign land to a people with a foreign god. You are helpless and alone. How many revenge movies have you seen that start this way? The child grows up and fights and overthrows the captors bringing sweet recompense.

That’s not this story. A little girl, taken away from home and country takes a very different, much harder road – she clearly forgives and loves her master. She hears that he is sick and knows how to help him – she tells him about the true God and His true prophet Elisha. She, though a slave, though so small, does a big thing, the biggest of things, the most loving thing she could do. Where does that come from? Where does one get such a big love? Only Jesus. Only His love. A love wider, higher and deeper than all things, a love which forgives us and speaks to us words of eternal life. That love was in this little girl’s heart. There’s nothing small about that love.

So what about you? Do you feel to small to do big things? Do you feel like taking revenge on those who have wronged you? Do you want to rise up and make yourself large and your enemies small. Do something harder, do something larger – forgive, love and tell the love of Jesus. Tell them about the true God and His True Word. There’s nothing bigger than that.

In Christ
Pastor Ude

Making Stew From Poisoned Gourds

2 Kings 4:38-44 – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2+Kings+4%3A38-44&version=ESV

You’re undoubtedly far more familiar with the phrase “making lemons from lemonade.” But, excepting the miraculous part, this is kind of the same thing. A poisoned gourd stew is in fact much worse than lemons. One is sour…one can kill you. And while the phrase “make lemonade” refers to how we can turn difficult situations into positive outcomes, it was God’s miraculous power that changed a stew of death into a good stew!
It was the same with the bread. They didn’t have enough. Elisha said, “Just eat it. There will be enough.” And there was. For, as Jesus quoted, “Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.”
God’s miraculous word is able to do much more than make a good stew or miraculously provide bread. Those miracles are dim reflections of the wondrous providence He gives in Jesus our Savior who turned our death into life, our lack into abundance, our sorrow into joy and our condemnation into reconciliation. He didn’t turn lemons into lemonade, He turned sinners into saints by His blood – a much greater miracle for sure!

In Christ
Pastor Ude

All is Well

2 Kings 4:8-37 – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2+Kings+4%3A8-37&version=ESV

Have you ever given the the common question (“how are you doing?”) it’s common answer (“good”), all the while thinking that it was not “good”? And I don’t just mean that “good” is not really a correct response to that question (Superman does good, you are doing well). We let those words fall out of our mouths without really giving them a second thought most of the time. “I’m well,” “All is well.” Do we mean what we say?

The Shunammite woman did. And when she gave that answer to Gehazi, it was just after her son had died. She didn’t tell her husband. She didn’t tell Gehazi. She said “All is well” because it was. She was confident that God would raise him up. After all, as she told Elisha – she hadn’t asked for this. This was his blessing to her, one so great she dared not even desire it lest it not be given to her. For her, all really was well because she trusted that God would be faithful. And he was. Through Elisha, God raised her son.

All is well with you too. No matter what storm has overtaken you, no matter what hole you find yourself in. All is well with you because Jesus lives. God raised up His Son as He promised. He gave Him to us to be the answer to all our deepest needs, to forgive us and love us and bring us to Him. He gave Him into death but He didn’t leave Him there. Jesus lives. And because He lives, all is well. You are His. He is yours. He is with you. He cares for you. And nothing can happen to you that is not good for you. So next time someone asks you “how are you?” You can say “I am well” because all is well. Jesus lives.

Prayer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I6NMlFoaESM

In Christ
Pastor Ude

God Provides More

2 Kings 4:1-7 – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2+Kings+4%3A1-7&version=ESV

In chapters 4-8 of 2 kings there are a number of stories about Elisha and the miracles he performed. Each of them teaches us something about our God and His care for us. This first one teaches us that He provides more than we need.

Here was a woman with two sons, her husband (who had been a prophet) was dead. She was in debt. Her creditors were going to come and take her children to sell them as slaves. So she came to Elisha. She hoped God would provide. And boy did he! Once she had gotten as many vessels as she could, God miraculously filled them all with oil. There was so much that she was able to sell it, pay off her debtor and have plenty left over for her and her sons to live on.

We confess in the explanation to the first article of the creed that our Father in heaven “Daily and richly gives me clothing and shoes, food and drink, house and home, wife and children, land, animals and all I need to support this body and life.”

There are certainly times where we it seems like we have been abandoned. There may be long periods where we have very little, or none at all. Still as the psalmist says “I have been young, and now am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his children begging for bread.” God provides. So often too He gives us so much more than we need (which is especially true for us in America!). Why does he do all this? The creed can answer that as well:

“He does all this because He is my good and gracious Father in heaven. Not because of anything I have done to earn or deserve it.” Jesus died to make God your Father. Each meal he provides, each day, each dollar is a sweet reminder of His love to you because of the forgiveness of sins. “For all of this it is my duty to thank, praise, serve and obey Him. This is most certainly true.”

Amen.

Blame and Salt

2 Kings 3 – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2%20Kings%203&version=ESV

So you got into an argument with your mom, or your wife, or your friend. You dug yourself into a hole that you couldn’t get out of and then, in humiliation and anger, you tried to blame it on them. Sound familiar? It certainly was to Jehoram, King of Israel except he did it to God.

It wasn’t that he wanted to go to war against Moab. Obviously God wanted to judge Moab. It was that Jehoram (and apparently not Jehoshaphat either) didn’t bother to ask God what they should do. Then Jehoram foolishly took a “circuitous” route through the desert with a massive number of soldiers and animals. What did he think was going to happen? It was obviously his fault they had run out of water. So he blamed God. He even blamed God right to Elisha’s face.

Here’s where the salt comes in. Elisha said, “As the Lord of hosts lives, before whom I stand, were it not that I have regard for Jehoshaphat the king of Judah, I would neither look at you nor see you.” Jesus said to believers “You are the salt of the earth.” He didn’t mean that we give the world better flavor. He was talking about salt as a preservative. That’s exactly what is being said of Jehoshaphat. If it weren’t for him, God wouldn’t have helped them. If it weren’t for believers in the world, God would destroy the whole thing. But what makes salt salty? Jesus said that salt without it’s saltiness is good for nothing. Jesus makes you salty. Faith in the forgiveness of sins is what sets you apart. That is the reason that God is preserving this world, to bring people to faith in His work for us. That is the reason that He pours out His blessings on this sinful world, because there are believers in it.

Jehoram deserved the blame and the punishment for the hole that he had dug. But for the sake of Jehoshaphat, for the sake of the faith that he had in the one who took the blame for Him, God blessed.

Don’t blame God for your sins. Trust in Jesus for forgiveness – be salty.

In Christ
Pastor Ude