VIDEO Elijah: Uncouth and obedient to God

Lessons from life of extraordinary prophet

by Greg Laurie

As one of our anthems, my generation sang “Forever Young.” We celebrated youth, and it’s been hard for us to let go of it. Yet our generation, the baby boomers, are aging.

Some of us have entered retirement, and most of us are in denial. We cannot stop the inevitable marching of time. So we should think about what we are leaving behind. What kind of legacy will we leave for the next generation?

In the Old Testament we find the story of Elijah, a great prophet who thought about this very thing. With a message from God, he burst onto the pages of biblical history seemingly out of nowhere. And his departure was as dramatic as his entrance.

Elijah was an uncouth kind of fellow. He spent a lot of time in Israel’s outback, if you will. But one day he arrived at the court of King Ahab and Queen Jezebel with a pronouncement: “As the Lord God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, except at my word” (1 Kings 17:1 NKJV). Then he turned around and walked out.

Afterward there was a drought for three years, exactly as God had said there would be. Then Elijah reemerged on the scene and challenged the prophets of Baal to a duel on Mount Carmel. God won that challenge by sending a stream of fire on the sacrifice Elijah had prepared. Then the prophets of Baal were destroyed.

You would have thought a miracle like that would have convinced Ahab and Jezebel to believe in the Lord God. But they did not believe. Jezebel became even more hardened in her sin and ultimately reaped the consequences of it. King Ahab died as well, defeated on the battlefield, manipulating to the very end. When it was all said and done, Elijah was vindicated.

I believe the reason Elijah was so bold was because he knew God. Notice he had said to King Ahab, “As the Lord God lives, before whom I stand …” (emphasis added). Elijah was cognizant of the fact that wherever he went, he stood consciously in the presence of God. This awareness of God’s presence gave Elijah the courage to stand his ground.

Elijah also was a man of prayer. The Bible tells us that “Elijah was as human as we are, and yet when he prayed earnestly that no rain would fall, none fell for three and a half years!” (James 5:17 NLT). It was Elijah’s prayer in private that was the source of his power in public.

And notice the Scriptures say that he prayed earnestly. After he called on the Lord to send fire down on Mount Carmel, he then prayed for the Lord to bring an end to the drought. He prayed earnestly, with desperation.

Six times he sent his servant to look toward the sea for any clouds. Finally, on the seventh try, the servant reported to Elijah there was one tiny cloud. However, it was so small that it was about the size of a man’s hand.

It was all the encouragement Elijah needed. He essentially told King Ahab, “You’d better get in your chariot and beat a quick path to the palace, because there’s a storm coming.” And sure enough, the rain came.

That’s the interesting thing about prayer. Sometimes we’ll pray for something and won’t see an answer. We will pray again, and there’s still no answer … seemingly. We will pray again. Nothing. Then one day out of nowhere, there’s a breakthrough. Be encouraged by that. And keep praying. Don’t give up.

In addition to being a man of prayer, Elijah was a man of faith and obedience. After his bold pronouncement to King Ahab, God told him to just go and hang out – to fade into obscurity. And to Elijah’s credit, he did.

The victory on Mount Carmel took place three and a half years after Elijah’s pronouncement that a drought was coming. He went and stayed by a little brook, which he drank from, and ravens brought food to him every day.

Yet Elijah had his low moments, too. He spent time with a widow and her son, depending on them for his sustenance. It was very humbling for someone like Elijah. But he was obedient to God.

And after his contest with the prophets of Baal, you would have thought Elijah would have been fearless, unstoppable. But when Queen Jezebel heard that the prophets of Baal were dead, she sent a message to Elijah, saying, “May the gods strike me and even kill me if by this time tomorrow I have not killed you just as you killed them” (1 Kings 19:2 NLT).

Ironically, Elijah ran for cover. He was so despondent, in fact, that he told God he was ready to die. I have found that low lows often come after high highs. We are just human. We shouldn’t attach too much significance to these things.

Elijah had been a faithful representative of God. He had done the work God called him to do. Then it was time for him to leave, so he wanted to invest in the life of another. In the same way, we should be investing in the lives of others.

No man is an island, as it’s been said. What we do affects others. And maybe the reason we are reluctant to invest in others is because we’re aware that we are not what we ought to be.

How about asking God to help you be the person he has called you to be? Maybe you aren’t ready for huge things, but you are ready for something. God is not looking for ability as much as he is looking for availability.

We don’t know when this life of ours will come to an end. That is up to God. So let’s make our lives count until then.

Leave a legacy. Live a godly life.

 

 

https://www.wnd.com/2019/07/elijah-uncouth-and-obedient-to-god/


Testament – The Bible in Animation – Elijah


Elijah-How One Man Made a Difference

2 Kings 2

The end of Elijah’s ministry is approaching, and it is soon time for him to be taken away by the Lord to Heaven. A reading of the text reveals that this was not a surprise to any of the people described as taking part. Evidently Elijah, Elisha and the company of 50 prophets who accompanied them all seemed to know that the departure of Elijah was coming soon.

The story itself is short and to the point. After some back and forth, between Elijah and Elisha, Elijah miraculously parted the waters and he and Elisha crossed on dry land. After one more exchange between the two, a fiery chariot appeared and…Elijah was taken up in a whirlwind.

It’s that final exchange we are going to talk about briefly today. Here it is: “And it came to pass, when they were gone over, that Elijah said unto Elisha, Ask what I shall do for thee, before I be taken away from thee. And Elisha said, I pray thee, let a double portion of thy spirit be upon me.” 2 Kings 2:9

Some questions are important; this one was. When Elisha witnessed the miracle of the parting waters of the River Jordan, he knew God’s power was in play; he could have asked for anything. What did he ask for anyway? He wasn’t asking for twice the miracle performing power of his mentor, although he certainly did far more miracles than Elijah had done. He certainly wasn’t asking for twice as much of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is not some force that is given in increments; we get all of Him or have none of Him. Rather than try to force my own words into this answer, I will just share that John McArthur had to say because I think he said it perfectly.

“In Israel, the firstborn son inherited a double share of his father’s possessions and with it the right of succession (Deut. 21:17). “A double portion of your spirit” was not merely Elisha’s request to succeed Elijah in his prophetic ministry, since the Lord had already revealed this succession in 1 Kin. 19:16–21. Nor was it Elisha’s desire for ministry superior to Elijah’s, though Elisha did, in fact, do twice as many recorded miracles as Elijah. Apparently, Elisha was asking to succeed Elijah in the prophetic office, as God had promised, with spiritual power beyond his own capabilities to meet the responsibilities of his position as Elijah’s successor. He desired that Elijah’s mighty power might continue to live through him.”

This was much wisdom from Elisha, and no doubt this was a test to see what he would ask for. What do we want? Do we want a powerful ministry that spotlights us and makes us look like heroes? Or do we want great things, beyond our capabilities, that will showcase the greatness of God?

https://truthinpalmyra.wordpress.com/2019/07/04/elijah-how-one-man-made-a-difference-part-19/

How Road Trips Teach Me to Trust Jesus

As I approach this season of pilgrimage, Scripture offers me a theology of travel.
COURTNEY ELLIS

How Road Trips Teach Me to Trust Jesus

My husband, Daryl, experiences more wanderlust than I do. He grew up in Southern California, traveling across the valley for high school basketball games, taking class field trips up the coastline, and loading up the church van for missions to Tijuana. On our family Sabbath, it’s Daryl who takes us out on the roads of Orange County. When I ask where we’re headed, he smiles and nearly always says, “I’m not sure. Let’s just have an adventure.”

In particular, our trips to visit extended family bring out the differences in our travel methods. I plan ahead while Daryl enjoys serendipity; I prepare for every eventuality while he prefers to throw a few diapers and a bag of tortilla chips in the car and hope for the best. But since my husband’s side of the family lives in Los Angeles—a thriving metropolis with all manner of convenience stores and restaurants—I’m learning to hang loose on these local treks.

As these drives to LA become more common, God is faithfully teaching me that my rigid, planned-up-to-the-minute travel method isn’t always the best one. In fact, the biblical model for following Jesus is much more Spirit-led than plotted in advance. It isn’t that preparation isn’t necessary or helpful, it’s that openness to the Spirit of God is more important still. “The wind blows where it wills,” Jesus tells Nicodemus in John’s gospel.

Paul’s journeys were continually interrupted by storms, bandits, imprisonments, and mobs, and once, when he made it all the way to the outskirts of the province of Asia, the Spirit of God turned him away at the last minute. Perhaps that’s why when God speaks to individuals in Scripture, his first call is often for them to step out in faith, to follow a new and previously unsought path. Much of the time God doesn’t even give the destination. The command is simple (and, if you’re a homebody like me, perhaps a little unsettling): “Go,” he says. “Go.”

God uses this word with Abraham, Moses, and Elijah. “Go,” he says to Jonah. Simeon is “moved by the Spirit” to go to the temple, where he welcomes and blesses the infant Jesus. “Get up,” an angel says to Joseph in a dream, warning him to flee from King Herod’s murderous rage and go to Egypt.

As pilgrim people, we, too, are called to travel with our eyes open to the work of the Lord in the world around us. As N. T. Wright puts it, “A pilgrim is someone who goes on a journey in the hope of encountering God or meeting him in a new way.” Whether we fly across the country or simply drive an hour to visit a friend, travel provides us with a unique opportunity to experience God anew by approaching our journey not just as travelers but pilgrims—people on the lookout for God at work and opportunities to join him.

Jesus was the ultimate pilgrim, after all, leaving his heavenly climes to not only visit with but live among humanity. He faced all the usual obstacles to comfort that plague us when we travel—difficulty in finding food and shelter, misreading the vibe of a particular place, and having to rely on the hospitality and grace of strangers, family, and friends. “Foxes have dens,” Jesus said, “and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”

Jesus leans into this discomfort, telling his disciples to “take nothing for the journey.” He invites us to do likewise. (Though, to be fair, none of the disciples was toting a two-year-old. Surely then even Jesus would have advised bringing an extra snack or two.) Away from our usual environment, at the mercy of the road or the airlines or the weather or the host home, we are given the opportunity to see the world with new eyes: to receive welcome, to develop compassion, to grow in faith and trust that God will care for us throughout the journey and see us safely home at its end.

In my upcoming summer travels, I want to practice Christlike pilgrimage, watching for God as our family journeys, looking for opportunities to love those in my path with the love of Christ, and doing my best to accept discomfort and even disaster as means of discipleship and grace.

I also need to seek ways to slow down and listen—something that doesn’t come naturally to me. One of the lessons God offers to us in travel is to find peace amid the storm, to leave behind the intensity of our work lives and schedules and family pandemonium and settle into the quieter days of travel. As Carlo Carretto puts it, “That is the truth we must learn through faith: to wait on God. And this attitude of mind is not easy. This ‘waiting,’ this ‘not making plans,’ this ‘searching the heavens,’ this ‘being silent’ is one of the most important things we have to learn.”

This insight comes home to me every time I visit my parents in the northern woods of Wisconsin, where I’m cut off from the busyness of my normal life. My parents’ internet is spotty; my cellphone works only intermittently; the last time I heard a siren of any kind was at the town Fourth of July parade half a decade ago.

Back home, Daryl and I often fall asleep watching The West Wing or The Office in an effort to still our ping-ponging thoughts. Here, however, any digital streaming takes literal hours to download, so we simply don’t. At night we open the windows to hear the oak and maple leaves blow in the wind, falling asleep with books on our chests. When we spend these days in the quiet of the northern forests, it’s as if Jesus stands at the helm of our proverbial boats during the storm of the usual daily grind—ministry, school, appointments, errands, household chores—and says, “Peace. Be still.”

In these pilgrimage moments, I’m ever so slowly learning to listen. I’m learning, too, that the journey, provision, and destination all belong to God.

Courtney Ellis is a pastor and speaker and the author, most recently, of Almost Holy Mama: Life-Giving Spiritual Practices for Weary Parents (June 2019, Rose Publishing). She lives in Southern California with her husband, Daryl, and their three kids. Find her on TwitterFacebook, or her blog.

This essay was adapted from Almost Holy Mama by Courtney Ellis. Copyright (c) 2019 by Courtney Ellis. Published by Rose Publishing, Peabody, MA. hendricksonrose.com

 

Original here

Hills and Valleys

Psalm 22:1- My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning?

It seems to me that our Christian culture has made it a sin to despair, to question God, to be just downright sad. However, the Bible is filled with mighty men of God who struggled with God, who questioned God, sought their own way, or just had down days. I don’t feel like Christianity should promote despair, but I also don’t think that it should try to make it seem like everything is awesome, every day of the week. This is an unrealistic goal which can cause us to be frustrated when we cannot achieve it, or to ignore these thoughts and push them away without dealing with them directly.

Now before we continue, I am not talking in this post about clinical depression that needs treatment from a licensed clinical psychiatrist, which I am not. Depression is a real struggle for many and I will not claim to have all the answers to it.

Let’s look in the Bible where men of God questioned God and their circumstances:

• John the Baptist was in prison and questioned if Jesus was the Messiah even after proclaiming it at Jesus’ baptism (Matthew 11:2-3)

• Habakkuk 1:2- O Lord, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not hear? Or cry to you “Violence!” and you will not save?

• Moses was frustrated with God and the Israelites many times. In Numbers 11:11 he said to the Lord, “Why are you treating me, your servant, so harshly? Have mercy on me! What did I do to deserve the burden of all these people?

• Many of David’s psalms were filled with sadness and discouragement including Psalm 22

• In Psalms 73, Asaph questioned God about the prosperity of the wicked

• After the defeat of the prophets of Baal, Elijah suffered from despair, even wishing to die. In 1 Kings 19:4 he said “I have had enough Lord, take my life, for I am no better than my ancestors who have already died.”

• Jonah rebelled against God, but after the successful saving of Nineveh, Jonah became bitter telling God “Now, Lord, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live.” Jonah 4:3

Now it’s easy as Christians to quote the Bible where it says “the joy of the Lord is our strength” and “rejoice in the Lord always”. I’m not saying that these are not good goals, but as fallible humans we need to understand that we will have good and bad days, we will have strong faith mixed with weak faith, we will question God and we will be without any doubt. There are high and low points in our “climb up the mountain” as Christians. Just read Pilgrim’s Progress…

Martin Luther, the great reformer, struggled with doubt. It’s one of the key drivers of him questioning the church at the time to lead the reformation. At one point his doubt led to such great a depression that he wrote, “For more than a week I was close to the gates of death and hell. I trembled in all my members. Christ was wholly lost. I was shaken by desperation and blasphemy of God.”

What is our end goal when we despair? If we question God or have sadness what do we do? We do not live in that state, we use it to propel us forward and out of it. We seek help, read the Bible, pray to God, and ultimately stand firm in our faith in who God is. It is important to not go through this alone, we need to find fellow believers we can be accountable with and who we can call up when we are struggling.

Feel free to read my previous post on “Wrestling with God.” God is a big God and He can handle our doubts, worries, anxieties, fears, and sadness. If we give them over to God, He can handle them where we, in our own strength, cannot. Once we rest in God’s sovereignty, we can realize that we do not have all the answers, and that is ok.

Back to Psalm 73, it is my favorite Psalm. The first half is the authors frustration’s with the wicked, but by the end it brings him to a place of confidence in God and His ultimate plan. How he may not understand everything fully, but his ultimate trust is in God.

23  Yet I am always with you;
you hold me by my right hand.
24  You guide me with your counsel,
and afterward you will take me into glory.
25  Whom have I in heaven but you?
And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
26  My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever.
27  Those who are far from you will perish;
you destroy all who are unfaithful to you.
28  But as for me, it is good to be near God.
I have made the Sovereign LORD my refuge;
I will tell of all your deeds.

May the same be said of us, that we can use our dark times to help illuminate God and His power, that we can rest in the fact that He has everything under control. Our doubts and fears are not sinful in and of themselves, we should not feel unworthy for having them. But after we push through, get everything out in the open, and fall back on God’s sovereignty, we can get back to pursuing God. We can then truly claim that “The Joy of the Lord is my Strength” (Nehemiah 8:10)

Discerning Reflection: What do I do when I am sad, when I question God? Do I pray and turn to Him or do I turn away from Him? Do I feel shame for having those thoughts? How can I quickly turn around from these thoughts and who do I need to be accountable with to help me?

Prayer: Lord help me seek after you in the good and the bad times, help me understand that I will have high and low points and to not despair but to trust that you have everything under control.

Hills and Valleys

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