12/23/W – True Conviction

2 Kings 13:1-25; Acts 18:23-28; Psalms 146:3-10; Proverbs 30:21-23

OT: “When Elisha became sick with the illness from which he died, King Jehoash of Israel went down and wept over him and said, “My father, my father, the chariots and horsemen of Israel!” Elisha responded, “Get a bow and arrows.” So he got a bow and arrows… Elisha said, “Open the east window.” So he opened it. Elisha said, “Shoot!” So he shot. Then Elisha said, “The Lord’s arrow of victory, yes, the arrow of victory over Aram. You are to strike down the Arameans in Aphek until you have put an end to them.” Then Elisha said, “Take the arrows!” So he took them. Then Elisha said to the king of Israel, “Strike the ground!” So he struck the ground three times and stopped. The man of God was angry with him and said, “You should have struck the ground five or six times. Then you would have struck down Aram until you had put an end to them, but now you will strike down Aram only three times.”” (‭2 Kings‬ ‭13:14-15, 17-19‬ ‭CSB)

When Elisha was near death, King Jehoash of Israel went to visit him and honor his life – but apparently Jehoash wasn’t completely committed to the word of the Lord through Elisha. His visit to Elisha wasn’t born out of conviction. It was probably born more out of duty and respect. When Elisha began giving Jehoash a prophetic picture, Jehoash half-heartedly went along with it… probably thinking that Elisha was just a delirious old man on his death bed. Had Jehoash struck the ground with conviction, God would have used him to lead Israel to a convincing and complete victory over their enemies. But because Jehoash lacked conviction, his fight with the enemy would lack completion. Oh what the Lord is willing to do through men and women who serve and obey Him with true conviction and not half-hearted obligation and lip service.

NT: “Now a Jew named Apollos, a native Alexandrian, an eloquent man who was competent in the use of the Scriptures, arrived in Ephesus. He had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he was speaking and teaching accurately about Jesus, although he knew only John’s baptism. He began to speak boldly in the synagogue. After Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained the way of God to him more accurately. When he wanted to cross over to Achaia, the brothers and sisters wrote to the disciples to welcome him. After he arrived, he was a great help to those who by grace had believed. For he vigorously refuted the Jews in public, demonstrating through the Scriptures that Jesus is the Messiah.” (‭‭Acts‬ ‭18:24-28‬ ‭CSB)

Apollos was a man with conviction who wholeheartedly and convincingly served the Lord to the best of His understanding. When he arrived in Ephesus, he didn’t know about Jesus… he was simply preaching with boldness the message of John the Baptist – a message of repentance from sin and turning to God. Priscilla and Aquila (partners of Paul) took him aside and shared with him the full gospel… that the coming of the Lord that John the Baptist foretold had happened… and that a new way to God, through Christ, had been opened. When Apollos heard the full truth, he defended the full gospel vigorously and convincingly. Oh to be like Apollos: first to be humble enough to welcome correction when needed, and then to be a vigorous and convincing witness for the Lord, convinced and convicted that Jesus is the Messiah.

Psalms: “Happy is the one whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord his God, the Maker of heaven and earth, the sea and everything in them. He remains faithful forever, executing justice for the exploited and giving food to the hungry. The Lord frees prisoners. The Lord opens the eyes of the blind. The Lord raises up those who are oppressed. The Lord loves the righteous. The Lord protects resident aliens and helps the fatherless and the widow, but he frustrates the ways of the wicked. The Lord reigns forever; Zion, your God reigns for all generations. Hallelujah!” (‭‭Psalms‬ ‭146:5-10‬ ‭CSB)

Conviction goes much deeper that just belief… it is far stronger that just mental ascent. So much of what people call faith today is no more than mental ascent… they merely believe in their mind that something is a certain way – but when things get challenging, their mental ascent turns to doubt and fear. Conviction is a deep-down visceral knowing in your heart of hearts that can withstand doubts and challenges. The writer of this psalm had a conviction of who God is. So strong was his conviction, that he said not to put your trust in men, but put your whole trust 100% on the Lord. He knew, that he knew, that he knew that God was the Maker of heaven and earth and that God is faithful forever… that God loves the righteous and frustrates the ways of the wicked. Read through this description of God. Do we truly believe this to be true of Him?  Are we convicted of it? If so, how does God’s character and the things He values line up with our character and values? If we differ from the Lord, true conviction would compel us to change to become more like Him, value the things He values, and do the things He does. That’s where the Holy Spirit comes in. Jesus said that the Holy Spirit would convict us of sin and righteousness. As we are filled with the Holy Spirit, we too will become the people of conviction that God can use mightily.

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