One More Look at Elijah

Last week, when I shared thoughts from Forgotten God by Francis Chan. I left out one of the most powerful quotes in the book, particularly appropriate for those of you who read last year’s essays about the miracles of Elijah and Elisha.

“My favorite verse is quite possibly James 5:17, which reads, ‘Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently.’ Don’t keep yourself from praying desperately and courageously for the Spirit to work in your life simply because you are not the prophet Elijah. As this verse says, Elijah was a human being with a nature like ours. He was just like us. The key thing about him? He prayed fervently.”

Have you ever said, “There’s nothing I can do but pray?” That only feels like a helpless position when we forget that prayer is powerful, that everything else we do to help in any situation is actually secondary to our prayers.

Of course, powerful prayers don’t promise us a yes from God every time. As Francis Chan said, “There is a huge difference between believing what God has promised and praying for things you’d like to be true…Do you trust God that when He says no or “not in this way” to you, you still believe He is good and doing what is best?”

Now in my grandparenting years, I’m often put in the position of having to say no—to climbing on the furniture or eating too much ice cream or going out in the cold without a sweater. I marvel at how toddlers can insist that they know better—until I realize that sometimes I do that to God.

The possibility of a “no” answer should never keep us from praying big prayers. Why wouldn’t we ask? My grandchildren will ask me for anything they want, even though they know by now that I won’t always grant their request. We can trust God to give us the right answer every time. Friends, let’s make this the year of asking and accepting, of looking for miraculous answers and praising God in everything he does. Elijah had nothing on us. Rather, just like us, he had God.

Forgotten God

 

Steve makes a book report of sorts for every book he reads. Before he files it away, he sets it on my nightstand. That way, even if I don’t take time to read the whole volume, I benefit from his highlights. Most of the words Steve captures for me are quotes, since who’s going to make the point better than the author himself? So, today, I want to share a few of my notes and quotes from Forgotten God by Francis Chan with Danae Yankoski.[i]  Anything in italics is my take on what they had to say.

“God is not just one thing we add to the mix called life. He wants an invitation from us to permeate everything and every part of us.”  In this world of distraction, with our Enemy always doing his best to get our eyes off Christ, it’s so easy to partition life into that which God is allowed to permeate and that which we will keep to ourselves. What a mistake!

“When it comes down to it, many of us do not really want to be led by the Holy Spirit. Or, more fundamentally, many of us don’t want to be led by anyone other than ourselves.” Ouch! While that’s often true, it’s also senseless. Why wouldn’t we want the Creator of the Universe to be, always, leading us?

“We often choose to face life’s issues and circumstances in exactly the same way as someone without the Spirit of God. We worry, strive, and grieve no differently than unbelievers… Consciously or not, we essentially say to God, “I know You raised Christ from the dead; but the fact is my problems are just too much for You, and I need to deal with them by myself.” We may not say those words with our minds and hearts, but we do say them with our actions and our responses to crisis. Sometimes, when life doesn’t go as planned, I suffer a bit of panic or worry before I remember, “Oh, yeah, I guess God is in control of this as well.” Then I let go and peace returns, while I chide myself for not taking hold of that peace right away.

May this be the year you ask God to permeate your whole life, letting Him lead you day by day, and trusting him right away in every circumstance. That’s the best—really the only—way to have a Happy New Year! 

Photo by RODNAE Productions on Pexels.com


[i] Chan, Francis, and Danae Yankoski. Forgotten God: Reversing Our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit. David C. Cook, 2015.

Happy Almost New Year

The year that’s ending cwasn’t as “normal” or as trouble free as we all hoped it would be.

How did you keep your peace? Or, if you didn’t, is there something you will do differently in the coming year? Please share your thoughts in the comments section.

My prayer for you as 2022 begins is from Romans 15:13…

May the God of love fill you with all hope and peace as you trust in Him.

‘Wishing You a Wonderful Christmas

grayscale photo of crown in bassinet

How are you keeping “Christ in Christmas” this year? It’s a catchy phrase, yes, but also quite the challenge sometimes. Do you have a practice or tradition that moves you beyond the glitter and the gifts? I hope you’ll take part in this week’s post by telling me in the comments section what you do.

I’ll start: I began collecting nativity sets when my kids were small, and spread them throughout the house each Christmas season, hiding some of them so that youngsters can go on a “Jesus hunt” each year.

And you?

photo credit: pro church media via Unsplash.com

Chocolate or… By Beth Smith (my mom!!)

I’m partial to chocolate. Not fancy stuff. Just the good ol’ grocery store variety. But I want to love God’s Word more than chocolate, to “eat” it more often than anything else.

Here’s how I want to feel about God’s Word.

  • I have esteemed and treasured the words of His mouth more than my necessary food” (Job 23:12 AMP).
  •  “How sweet are Your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” (Psalm 119:103 AMP).

Why is it so hard to make God’s Word a priority in our daily lives?

  •  We decide, “Yes, I’m going to read the Bible. I’m setting aside a special time for study.” The time comes, and we’re ready. Then the phone rings, a neighbor drops in, maybe the toilet overflows… I think that’s the Devil, the one C.S. Lewis called ‘ol Slewfoot.
  • We read the Word, and we remember what we read. Then a problem comes up, or we argue with our spouse. Whatever we read that very morning flies out of our minds, anger or worry taking its place. That’s our sinful self getting in the way, or maybe ‘ol Slewfoot again.

We could all come up with plenty of examples, times when “eating the Word” can be a struggle. Being a Christian isn’t for sissies! It’s a battle. It’s a good fight of faith. We need to recognize the tricks of the Devil, to know our own weaknesses, and to be prepared to defeat them. We can triumph over them, because God is always faithful to make a way for us. And why should we bother?

  •  “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” (Matthew 4:4).
  • If you live in me and My words remain in you and continue to live in your hearts, ask whatever you will and it will be done for you” (John 15:7 AMP).
  •  “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope” (Romans 15:4).
  • “The word of God is alive and powerful.” (Hebrews 4:12 NLT).

What we eat physically matters, but eating God’s Word matters so much more. The Word is God’s power for us. We can’t treat the Bible like snack food—a quick bite here, a quick bite there. Reading the Bible without meditating on what we’ve read is like eating without chewing.

Some people say you are what you eat. That’s good news if we’re on a steady diet of the Word of God. Look back at the verses I’ve just listed. Think on them. Meditate. Let’s let the Holy Spirit use them in our lives.

Kids Sing Praise

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

(If you were busy preparing a feast last week and missed the last recounting of miracles from 2 Kings, you can find it here.)

This is a perfect time of year to give thanks for our Awesome God, not just because of what he gives us and does for us, but because of who he is. I find that music is a great help to me as I seek to fill more of my time with thankfulness and praise. I’ve been playing kids’ worship songs for my grandchildren lately, but find that the lyrics are a spiritual powerhouse for adults as well. I guess that’s no surprise, since the Bible makes plenty of references to childlike faith. As I’ve mentioned before, copyright rules prevent me from typing up full lyrics. In the case of these simple tunes, though, the titles alone may lead you into worship. Here are a dozen of my favorites:

1.         Seek Ye First the Kingdom of God

2.         Climb Up Sunshine Mountain

3.         Stand for What You Believe In (Yes, I like the Veggie Tales version.)

4.         You Are My All in All

5.         I Am a Promise, I Am a Possibility

6.         Every Move I Make, I Make in You, Jesus

7.         I’ve Got the Joy, Joy, Joy, Joy Down in My Heart

8.         You Are Lord of Creation and Lord of My Life

9.         This Little Light of Mine, I’m Gonna Let It Shine

10.      I’ve God Peace Like a River

11.      In My Father’s House Are Many Mansion

12.      My God Is So Great, So Strong and So Mighty

There you have it. And if you’d like to give a listen, check out Pandora’s Cedarmont Kids station! Happy December to you all!