Archive | February 2014

Elijah – from the Pinnacle of Success to the Depths of Despair

Elijah is at the pinnacle of his career. He has just defeated 450 prophets of Baal and 400 prophets of the Asherah (I Kings 18:19). He has rebuilt the altar of Yahweh and seen God’s fire come down and engulf and consume an ox drenched in over 120 gallons of water.  He has preached to the people of Israel and watched them progress from saying nothing (I Kings 18:21), to “the contest is a good idea” (18:24) to “Yahweh is God! Yahweh is God!” (18:39). He’s cleaned out idolatry (18:40). He’s prayed the drought-ending rain in (18:42-45) and outrun the king’s chariot over 25 miles.  He’s on top of the world, floating on air.

Then a pagan queen named Jezebel threatens him and pops his balloon.  He runs for his life 985 miles (19:3). He leaves his servant behind so he won’t interfere with his downward spiral. He goes into the desert and plops himself down under a broom tree and asks God to sweep his life away (19:4). Elijah tells God he’s not better than his fathers (19:4), going from “I alone am left” to I’m just like every other idol-worshipping Israelite – from one extreme to the other.

An angel ministers to him (19:5-7), but it has no effect on his attitude. He travels forty days and nights in strength (19:8), but it has no effect on his attitude. At the mountain of God, God asks him what he’s doing there. Instead of replying “obeying/serving You”, he lists his accomplishments, states he alone is left (forgetting the 100 hidden by Obadiah), and that they are seeking his life (“they” are a pagan queen). Since the angel and God’s provision had no effect, God Himself passes by trying to show Elijah that it’s not in strong winds, earthquakes or fire that God is found.  God isn’t power, but a gentle blowing.  And in the gentle blowing, God asks Elijah the same question and Elijah gives the same answer.

Elijah is stuck in Himself, in depression and self-pity, so God takes His ministry and passes it on to another (19:16).  We have to focus on God and not ourselves, or the same may happen to us.  We must instead ask, “What would You have me do next?”

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Elijah & Ahab – The Drought Ends

(I Kings 18:41-46)

For three and a half years there had been a drought in Israel.  Elijah tells Ahab, “It sounds like a heavy rain”.  In the midst of heat, insects buzzing, cattle bawling and horses whinnying, Elijah hears the sound of a heavy rain!

Elijah goes to the top of the mountain to pray for the rain he’s already heard.  Seven times Elijah sends his servant to look towards the sea, and six times the servant reports there is nothing.  The seventh time, there is “a little cloud like a man’s hand” and Elijah sends the servant out to warn Ahab.

Elijah was so certain God was going to answer his prayer, he heard the rain before he prayed!  He knew what God wanted done, and he knew God would do it and he had no doubts about the outcome.  We wonder why our prayers appear to go unanswered.  Probably the main reason is that we have no clue what God wants because we’ve never put His agenda ahead of our own. 

Elijah goes to the top of the mountain to pray.  He gets away from the people and the pressure of the situation he’s been dealing with and goes to a quiet, special place where he can meet with God.  Jesus did the same thing – He would go up the mountain alone to pray.  We need to create a special, secluded, quiet place to meet with God. 

Elijah is persistent in his prayers.  He sends his servant out to check for the rain cloud seven times and six times it appears God has not answered, has said no, perhaps isn’t even listening.  But Elijah doesn’t give up and neither should we. 

The seventh time, there is a “little cloud”.  That’s enough for Elijah and he sends his servant to tell Ahab to get home before the storm.  It wouldn’t have been enough of an answer for me – I would have waited to make sure the cloud grew bigger – especially when dealing with mean and cruel Ahab!  Never ignore or despise the small answers.  Never give up.  God answers every prayer with His best at the best time.

You Can’t Have It Both Ways

“Elijah stood up in front of all the people and asked them, ‘How long will you try to have it both ways?  If Yahweh is Elohim, follow Him; if Baal is Elohim, follow him.’  The people didn’t say a word.”  I Kings 18:21 (God’s Word/Names of God Bible)

I was struck by the question and knew God wanted me to answer.  I have been trying to have it both ways.  I have been reluctant to leave the past.  I’ve been trying to have my cousins take the place of my parents, and God take the place of my husband, and it doesn’t work that way.  They are different.  You are different.  I am different now. 

I am not the same girl I was in high school or college.  I am not the same woman who left marital life to start over after divorce.  I am different and my needs are different.  Perhaps that’s my problem – trying to find the same family dynamics and the same husband relationship when I no longer need them, when they never fulfilled me anyway.

Perhaps I don’t “need” them at all.  What I truly need is a fully developed relationship with God.  I can’t have what I used to have, but I can have all of God and what He wants to bless me with if only I would give Him all of me.

I can’t have it both ways.

I can’t tell myself nobody loves me and nobody cares while trying to convince myself of God’s love for me.

I can’t believe Satan’s lies and God’s truth at the same time. 

I can’t live in the present while constantly looking back at the past.

We can’t have it both ways.

We can’t love God while keeping a grudge or hating someone. 

We can’t expect God’s forgiveness while holding unforgiveness towards another in our heart. 

We can’t expect God to be generous to us when we’re stingy with Him.

We can’t demand to be treated well when we’re not giving our best to others. 

It’s time to choose which way we want.

Hope – Joy – Peace – Love

Hope!
Hope is.
Hope is knowing Jesus.
Hope is knowing He’s coming.
Hope is knowing He’s coming for us.
 
Joy!
Joy is.
Joy is knowing Jesus.
Joy is knowing He’s coming.
Joy is knowing He’s coming for us.
 
Peace!
Peace is.
Peace is knowing Jesus.
Peace is knowing He’s coming.
Peace is knowing He’s coming for us.
 
Love!
Love is.
Love is knowing Jesus.
Love is knowing He’s coming.
Love is knowing He’s coming for us.
 

The Widow of Zarephath (I Kings 17:8-24)

God tells Elijah to go to a widow in Zarephath to stay during the drought.  She has a handful of flour in a jar and a little oil in a jug (reminds me of a small number of loaves and a few fish…).  She’s sure about how much she has left because she tells Elijah she’s using it to prepare the last meal for herself and her son. 

Elijah tells the widow that until God sends rain on the land, the jar of flour will never be empty and the jug will always contain oil.  We’re told they had food “for a long time”.  A daily miracle (reminds me of manna in the desert…).

When the widow’s son gets sick and dies, God brings him back to life through Elijah (reminds me of Jesus’ miracles of resurrection…).  Elijah returns the boy to his mother, and then she says, “Now I’m convinced that you are a man of God and that the word of God from your mouth is true.”  Unbelievable. There she was – no bread, only a handful of flour and a little oil.  Elijah tells her plainly that the flour and oil would last until God sent the rain again. And they ate for many days, a long time.  Yet, that wasn’t enough proof for her that Elijah was a man of God and his word was true?

Now why didn’t the long time daily miracle of flour in the jar and oil in the jug replenishing convince her?  Why didn’t she believe until her son was brought back to life?  I find it so hard to understand why the daily miracle wasn’t enough to convince her Elijah was a man of God and make her grateful for God’s intervention in her life.  Every day He saved their lives, but she never recognized or appreciated it.  She doesn’t acknowledge God until her son dies – and she acknowledges God by blaming Him for her son’s death!  How dense!

But then, I am just as dense as she is – we all are.  There are so many daily miracles I take for granted like sight and good health, the job that buys my food and pays my mortgage.  The big miracles have an impact for a short time, but the memory fades and I find myself complaining about something I lost or don’t have or never had.  Shame on me.  Shame on us all.

God of Miracles, open my eyes to see what You have done for me.  Open my mind to recognize Your miracles and Your everyday working in my life and circumstances.  Open my mouth in gratitude.  Open my heart in love.  Open my spirit in worship.