He didn’t see black clouds on the horizon. He didn’t see a storm brewing over the sea. He didn’t see rain or clouds forming on the mountain. He saw one small cloud, and back to Elijah singing, “I see a small cloud rising,” and that’s all Elijah needed to hear. He said, “Go up, say to Ahab, ‘Prepare your chariot, and go down before the rain stops you.’”
Elijah, however, placed blame where blame belonged, saying, “I have not troubled Israel, but you and your father’s house have, in that you have forsaken the commandments of the Lord and have followed the Baals” (v. 18). The world is trying to blame the church for the world’s problems, but the world has allowed corrupt leaders to propagate corrupt policies that are inviting God’s judgment upon our nation and our world.
Two levels of citizenship are implied: they were citizens of heaven living as lights in the darkness, and without compromising their testimony, they should also be good citizens of their city. Our citizenship is in heaven, and we are an outpost of believers in a fallen world, but while we are in this world, we need to engage our communities in such a way that we make Christ appealing to the lost. Just like millions of people want to come to America, our joy, peace, and love should make others want to become followers of Christ.
Paul knew that if he was faithful to God then there was no way the devil could win this battle. If God chose to let him live, then Paul would live for Christ, and if God chose to take him home to heaven, then he knew that was the ultimate promotion and his faith would end in sight. When we are believers, the devil cannot win. In fact, the devil has already lost because victory was won through the cross and the empty tomb. We still have a few things to wrap up in this dispensation, but the victory has already been won. Whether we live or die, we are the winners and Satan is still defeated.
If we pay attention to what God is doing in our lives, I believe we will discover that God prepares us for what is coming before are even aware it is coming. Often, it is only when we look back that we see and understand that God is always two steps ahead of any problem or challenge that the enemy tried to put in our path.
Have you ever felt like God has more for you than you are currently experiencing, but there seems to be some kind of barrier keeping you from fully achieving your Divine destiny? The Bible tells us that God has plans for our lives. God told Israel, “For I know the plans I have for you … plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jer. 29:11). Likewise, David wrote in Psalm 37:27, “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, and He delights in his way.” In the New Testament, Jesus invites us to follow Him because He has come so that we might have life and that more abundantly (Jn 10:10).
In the case of our text, what Jesus has to say about prayer and faith must be never be isolated from the larger story and used to justify some kind of hyper-faith doctrine, which argues that any of us can have anything we want, any time we want it if we just have enough faith and are willing to speak our miracle into existence. That is not what the Bible teaches, therefore, that cannot be what this passage teaches. With all that, said, look again at our passage.
Paul rejoiced in the faith of Timothy, and he credited both Timothy’s grandmother Lois and his mother Eunice for being influential examples in Timothy’s life. Every mother needs to know how important she is in her child’s life. Though some of you may have grown up without your mother in the home, and you have overcome incredible odds to become the person you are now, it still remains a biblical truth that mothers are God’s gift to children and the primary model for nurture and love.
Notice that Jesus loved this man. Jesus wasn’t trying to punish him, Jesus was offering him “treasure in heaven,” and nothing is worth more than that. The question now is whether this man’s wealth was a blessing or a curse. Everyone else would say, “This man is blessed, look at how much he has!” But as Jesus had already asked back in Mark 8:36, “For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?”
Many churches only want positive confessions and testimonies of all the good things God has done. But sometimes we need to cry from the miry clay because some needs are noisy and ugly, punctuating our programs with opportunities to let the light of Jesus shine through us. Sometimes we try to quietly usher the need out of the sanctuary lest it disrupt our preplanned church service. But these are needs on display—a broken heart, a broken home, a broken spirit, a broken mind—and they must not be ignored.