You are Not Alone

1 Kings 17-19

1 Kings 19 14 NIV sgl

Don’t you love Elijah!  The showdown at Mount Carmel is one of my all-time favorite Old Testament stories!  Elijah makes a bold, strong, fast, quick-witted hero for the LORD.  We love to see how he repeatedly stands firmly for God and how God takes care of him, over and over again.  Even though his king (Ahab), his queen (Jezebel) and his nation (Israel) are making some really bad decisions following a man-made god (Baal), Elijah doesn’t back down and his deep faith in God allows him to display God’s power in amazing and miraculous ways.  He prays and God holds back the rain for 3 and a half years. During the drought he is fed by ravens.  (Don’t worry, there are no sanitation problems when God provides the birds to bring you your daily breakfast and supper). He is the first person recorded in Scripture through which God raises the dead!  Never-before seen miracles – at the hand of Elijah!  He prays and God sends fire from heaven to burn up the absolutely drenched sacrifice, wood, stones and soil.  With God’s power he outruns Ahab’s chariot – I bet that was fun to do.  Can you imagine the face and heart of Ahab who had just been bested on Mount Carmel by his enemy Elijah, and then here comes Elijah running past his royal chariot that is trying to outrun the storm clouds that Elijah predicted?  Triple whammy!  It is like Elijah is untouchable!   A super-human spokesman and miracle maker for God.

But no, he was not super-human.  In case anyone was wondering, James sets the record straight many years later in the New Testament that, “Elijah was a man just like us.  He prayed earnestly…”  (James 5:17).  He was a regular man like us.  But he sure knew how to pray!

But being a regular man like us, he grew tired, too.  And fearful sometimes as well.  Ministry can be exciting and exhilarating.  And, tiring and scary.  Sometimes the results aren’t quite what you were hoping for.  Instead of a dramatic conversion – now the ones you were trying to convince of God’s majesty are trying to hunt you down to destroy you!

When Elijah hears that Jezebel has vowed to take his life he is so ready to give up.  Maybe you have been there too, sitting under a broom tree telling God you are done.  But God provides for him again and sustains his long journey (40 days) to a safer (and holy) spot and then reveals himself in a gentle whisper.  Elijah knows he has had a special, one-of-a kind moment with God.  God asks, “What are you doing here, Elijah” (1 Kings 19:13).  Elijah answers, saying he has done so much for God, but the people still won’t listen, and now he is the only one left who speaks for God and they are trying to kill him, too.  It is a little bit of a pity party perhaps – that’s where we go when we are tired and worn out and fearful for the future.

God could be angry.  After all that God has done for Elijah, how dare he mope?  But God doesn’t respond with anger and condemnation; instead, the loving, compassionate, faithful God gives Elijah specific action steps as well as correction.   He says – “Go Back”.  You have had your 40 day sabbatical – you have encountered me in a gentle whisper – I have provided for you – now return, your work isn’t done.

God knows the world is broken and rough and a difficult place to speak for God.  But He says don’t give up.  Keep at it.  He still has more people for you to influence – more people for you to anoint with God’s words and purpose.  The evil king (Satan) may not be brought down in your lifetime.  That’s okay, God will still take care of him, God’s rule will prevail, and He is lining up the people (including His Son the Messiah) and the events to bring it to be.  In the meantime, it is still your job to pass along the good news and the words and power of the Almighty.  And in this way the faithful chain continues through the generations – each one doing their part to proclaim the greatness of our Heavenly Father and prepare the way for His ultimate Kingdom rule.

And, no, Elijah – you are not alone.  Yes, you felt alone.  But you were never alone.  We know that Obadiah (a God-believer in charge of Ahab’s palace) had risked his life by saving the lives of 100 prophets of God in caves (1 Kings 18:2-4).  And God himself corrects Elijah by telling him He had personally reserved 7,000 in Israel who had not worshipped Baal.  It was far from a majority – you don’t need to be a majority to continue speaking God’s word.  But know that you are not a lonely army of one.  God sees you – and He sees all those He has given the most important task of speaking for Him.  Don’t bend your knee to evil.  Don’t give up.  God sees and provides.  Keep speaking for Him.

Marcia Railton

 

Today’s Bible passage can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+Kings+17-19&version=NIV

Tomorrow’s reading will be 1 Kings 20-21 as we continue the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

Jesus is Greater than . . .

Matthew 17

matthew 17 5

In Matthew 17:1-9, Jesus takes his closest disciples, Peter, James, and John, up to a mountain privately. During this time, God was about to do something that they would never forget. As they stood talking to each other and to Jesus, all of a sudden Jesus’ appearance changed and started shining like the sun! If that wasn’t enough, the disciples saw Moses and Elijah standing there talking with Jesus! What in the world is going on, they must have been saying.

 

This vision that the disciples saw has many truths within it that are significant for us to know. The first is that they got to see a glimpse of what the Kingdom of God is going to be like. In Daniel 12:2-3, we learn that after the resurrection, the righteous are going to “shine” like the sun and the stars. That is exactly why Jesus appeared to be shining before them; they were seeing a little bit further into the future to what it will be like after the resurrection.

 

Moses and Elijah are significant because they represent the whole Old Covenant; Moses represented the Torah (or Law) and Elijah represented the prophets. Although these were incredible figures in Judaism, when God spoke during this vision, he didn’t address them; he only spoke in favor of Jesus by saying “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy. Listen to him.” (Matt. 17:5 NLT) This vision was making a point: Jesus is greater than both Moses and Elijah, and therefore, greater than the entire Old Covenant!

 

Why should this matter to you? Well, if Jesus is greater than even Moses and Elijah, he is greater than whatever you are facing in your life. Any struggle that you may suffer from, whether it’s at school, work, home, or even within yourself, Jesus is greater. The best part is that he is willing to step into your life and help you, if you are willing to call on him. So, no matter what difficulties you are facing, Jesus is there and is greater; I encourage you today to call for his help. He loves you and wants the best for you; allow him to change your life.

 

-Talon Paul

Time in the Desert

josh1 9

There are several instances of people in the Bible spending time in the desert.

Moses was raised in Pharaoh’s house but he was an Israelite. When he was a young man he killed an Egyptian who was beating one of the Jewish people. Fearing for his life, he fled to Midian, married and became a shepherd. We don’t hear from him again until God appears to him in a burning bush in Exodus 3. Moses went on to become one of the most famous leaders of the Jewish people and led them out of Egypt and to the brink of the Promised Land.

The children of Israel were at the threshold of the Promised Land but they let fear hold them back, and so God made them wander for 40 years in the desert. In Deuteronomy 8:2 “You shall remember all the way which the Lord your God has led you in the wilderness these forty years, that He might humble you, testing you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not.”

Israel became a mighty nation that proclaimed the name of God to all nations on the earth. The prophet Elijah after his encounter where he defeated the prophets of Baal, feared for his life, and ran away, he was fed by an angel, then traveled 40 days and 40 nights, and ended up in a cave in Horeb. The Lord came to him in the cave and asked in 1Kings 19:9b “What are you doing here, Elijah?” This was right before the Lord showed himself to Elijah in the small whisper of wind. Elijah went on to continue being a bold prophet of God to the Israelites.

John the Baptist was in the desert until his appointed time to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ. He preached the gospel of the coming of Jesus to thousands.

Jesus spent his time in the desert when he was going through his temptation. After this, he went on to establish a ministry that would change the world. He became the sacrifice that would save us all from our sins.

In all of these instances, God was with them and so they had no reason to fear. Fear is a natural emotion for humans but when we give in to fear instead of trusting in God, it is a bad thing. My daughter painted this picture for me a few years ago, because she knew that Joshua 1:9 was one of my favorite verses “Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid, do not be discouraged, for the Lord, your God, will be with you wherever you go.”

When we feel like we are in the desert, due to circumstances in our lives, we need to relax and let God give us some rest and then get out of the desert and let God use our lives in an incredible way. In all of these instances, they came out of the desert a better person. All of these people allowed God to use them for what he had planned for their lives. I pray that we all let God use us to fulfill His plans for us. We can always rest in the knowledge of Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Sherry Alcumbrack

Defeated

Elijah

1 Kings 19 14

1 Kings 18:20-24 and 36-40, 1 Kings 19:9-18

When I hear the name “Elijah” my mind fills with highlight moments from his life such as the chariot of fire whisking him away, him egging on the prophets of Baal at Mount Carmel, or him bringing a dead boy back to life. This highlight reel that plays in my mind however doesn’t give the full spectrum of Elijah.

In 1 Kings 18 we see one of these highlight moments. Elijah spent the day with the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel as they tried to prove that Baal was god. Long story short is that the prophets of Baal failed but the one true God showed up. The prophets of Baal ran away but were chased and killed by Elijah and the people of Israel.

What I find fascinating is despite this moment of faith and triumph it says in 1 Kings 19:3 that Elijah was, “afraid and arose and ran for his life” after Jezebel (the wife of the wicked King Ahab) decided that she would have him hunted down and killed since he killed all her prophets of Baal.

Elijah finds himself in the wilderness and reaches a point to where he feels he can’t go on. God sends an angel to him to give him food to help sustain him and he then traveled for forty days and nights to the Mountain of God at Horeb.

In Kings 19:8-18 Elijah reaches Horeb and God tells him that He is about to pass by. A rock shattering wind blows through but God was not in it. An earthquake shakes the mountain but God was not in it. A fire tore through the mountain but God was not in it. After these powerful forces comes a gentle whisper and Elijah knows that it is God. God listens to Elijah’s fears and feelings of defeat and then explains to him that He has a plan for Elijah and comforts him.

Elijah is a bit different from the other Bible characters we have discussed so far because I wouldn’t go as far as to say that Elijah feeling defeat is a flaw. However, I think we often will see defeat in ourselves and because of it label ourselves as flawed. The beauty is that God had a plan for Elijah just as He does for you and I. He knows that we will have times that we feel completely drained and defeated but He is willing and able to replenish us.

-Lacey Dunn

Where Did He Go? (2 Kings 1-3)

Saturday, November 5

elijah-pic
Melissa New
Texts like II Kings 2 can be a problem for us when we are conversing with our friends or family who are convinced that we will go to heaven when we die. They know that we believe the Bible is the inspired word of God and, therefore, when the Bible states that “the LORD was about to take Elijah up to heaven in a whirlwind” they think this “truth” should be evident to us. It says plainly that Elijah went up to heaven, does it not? The trouble is that when we explain to them that our understanding of the word “heaven” now in modern times is different from the Hebrew word “heaven” as it is used in this Scripture, they sometimes think we are changing the Bible to go along with what we believe. How unfortunate. That verse could very easily have been written in our English language to say, “the LORD was about to take Elijah up into the sky in a whirlwind.”
There are many things that we just don’t know. Like, for instance, where did Elijah go? Where did Enoch go? But those questions don’t really need to be answered. We may be curious, but it really isn’t that important. What is important to know is what happens to us when we die. Our God would not leave this as a mystery. We can take our friends and/or family to Hebrews 11:37…”Some went about wearing skins of sheep and goats, destitute and oppressed and mistreated.” It seems like that verse could very well be speaking of many prophets, including Elijah. The author here says that “they placed their hope in a better life after the resurrection” (11:35) and “none of them received all that God had promised.” (11:39) We can also trust the words of Jesus who said, “No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven–the Son of Man.” (John 3:13) It’s almost as if Jesus were trying to make sure this would be clearly understood.

Dealing with Depression (1 Kings 19-20)

Thursday, November 3

66897-still_small_voice7

Melissa New

An important lesson can be garnered from the life of Elijah in chapter 19 of I Kings. If you haven’t dealt with depression yet, there is a good chance you will at some point. Jesus said, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33) So how do we deal with depression? I believe all the steps are provided for us here…

1. Sleep – Elijah had just been through a pretty significant experience. He challenged the prophets of Baal and God used him in powerful way. On top of that, Elijah then ran mighty fast for about seventeen miles using the “special strength” God gave him! When we are physically drained everything seems worse. And at this point Elijah was ready to die. “Then he lay down and slept under the broom tree.” ( I Kings 19:5)

2. Eat – God knew what Elijah needed. He let Elijah sleep for a bit and then sent an angel with some fresh bread and water. (Food directly from God must taste extra yummy and it was undoubtedly super nutritious too!) Then Elijah slept some more and the angel returned to make sure he ate again so that he would have the strength to keep going.

3. Go to God – The spent and sorrowful prophet headed to Mount Sinai, the mountain of God. He needed some quality time talking to God and he poured out his heart to Him. Elijah was lonely. He felt like he was the only one left who wasn’t worshipping Baal. God, in a gentle whisper, told Elijah that it was time to anoint a new king in Israel and a new prophet to replace himself.

4. Remember you aren’t alone – Elijah wasn’t alone. There was a very good man in Abel-meholah that would become like a son to Elijah. There were “7,000 others in Israel who had never bowed down to Baal or kissed him!” And whatever trials we may face as Christians, we can be assured that we aren’t alone either.

From Bad to Worse (I Kings 16-18)

Wednesday, November 2

1-kings-18-2-best
Melissa New
Israel has already had several bad kings, but now we have Ahab, a man “who did more to provoke the anger of the LORD, the God of Israel, than any of the other kings of Israel before him.” (I Kings 16:33) It’s interesting that when there is great evil going on God provides an example of righteousness. Elijah’s first encounter with King Ahab is to tell him that the God who lives will be making sure there is a lack of dew and rainfall for years. Our God does nothing without reason.
King Ahab and Queen Jezebel were leading the Israelites into worshipping Baal. It’s important to note that Baal was supposed to be a fertility god. Baal was thought to keep the land producing crops and the people producing children. And so Elijah is sent to show Ahab and the people that the living God of Israel provides the water. The mention of the widow from Zarephath, another Baal-worshipping town, is insightful too. When the widow’s son dies, Elijah prays to the living God and “the life of the child returned!” Now who is the God of fertility? Who causes the crops to grow and the children to live?