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.

Remembering

clear glass cruet bottle

Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always. Remember the wonders he has done” (1 Chronicles 16:11-12).

Those two bits of instruction go together, don’t they? It’s so much easier to rely on the Lord’s strength when we remember all he has done. So, here’s more to remember, condensed from 1 and 2 Kings.

Flowing Water

Elisha said, “You will see neither wind nor rain, yet this valley will be filled with water, and you, your cattle and your other animals will drink.” The next morning, there it was—water flowing.

More Olive Oil

A widow told Elisha, “My husband is dead, and now his creditor is coming to take my two boys as his slaves. I have nothing at all, except a small jar of olive oil.”

Elisha said, “Go around and ask all your neighbors for empty jars. Pour oil into all the jars.” They brought the jars to her and she kept pouring. When all the jars were full, the oil stopped flowing.

The man of God said, “Go, sell the oil and pay your debts. You and your sons can live on what is left.”

More Resurrection

Gehazi said (regarding a woman who had shown hospitality to Elisha), “She has no son, and her husband is old.”

Then Elisha said, “About this time next year, you will hold a son in your arms.” The next year about that same time she gave birth to a son, just as Elisha had told her.

The child grew, and one day he said to his father, “My head! My head!”After the servant carried him to his mother, the boy sat on her lap until noon, and then he died. She went up and laid him on the bed of the man of God, then shut the door and went out.

When Elisha reached the house, there was the boy lying dead on his couch.  He went in and prayed to the Lord. The boy sneezed seven times and opened his eyes.

Deadly Stew

Elisha said to his servant, “Put on the large pot and cook some stew for these prophets.” One of them went out into the fields to gather herbs and found a wild vine and picked as many of its gourds as his garment could hold, unaware that they were poisonous. When he returned, he cut them up into the pot of stew.

As they began to eat it, they cried out, “Man of God, there is death in the pot!” And they could not eat it.

Elisha said, “Get some flour.” He put it into the pot and said, “Serve it to the people to eat.” And there was nothing harmful in the pot.

photo by Roberta Sorge via Unsplas.com

Amazing Acts

close view of bonfire

I’m still recounting, in abbreviated terms, the miracles of 1 and 2 Kings. Remember, all the italicized words are straight from the Bible. Let’s dig in!

Spectacular Sacrifice (Elijah on Mount Carmel)

Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, “Choose one of the bulls and prepare it first. Call on the name of your god, but do not light the fire.” They called on the name of Baal from morning till noon. But there was no response, no one answered, no one paid attention.

Elijah built an altar in the name of the Lord, and cut the bull into pieces and laid it on the wood. Then he said to them (3 times), “Fill four large jars with water and pour it on the offering and on the wood.” Then the fire of the Lord fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench.

Faster than a Speeding Chariot

Elijah said, “Go and tell Ahab, ‘Hitch up your chariot and go down before the rain stops you.’” Ahab rode off to Jezreel. The power of the Lord came on Elijah and, tucking his cloak into his belt, he ran ahead of Ahab all the way to Jezreel.

Superfood

The angel of the Lord touched him and said, “Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you.”So he got up and ate and drank. Strengthened by that food, he traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God. 

Passing of the Gavel (Dry Ground and a Chariot of Fire)

Elijah and Elisha had stopped at the Jordan. Elijah took his cloak, rolled it up and struck the water with it. The water divided to the right and to the left, and the two of them crossed over on dry ground.

As they were walking along and talking together, suddenly a chariot of fire and horses of fire appeared and separated the two of them, and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind. 

Elisha then picked up Elijah’s cloak that had fallen from him and went back and stood on the bank of the Jordan. He took the cloak that had fallen from Elijah and struck the water with it. “Where now is the Lord, the God of Elijah?” he asked. When he struck the water, it divided to the right and to the left, and he crossed over.

Clean Water

The people of the city said to Elisha, “Look, the water is bad and the land is unproductive.”

“Bring me a new bowl,” he said, “and put salt in it.”

Then he went out to the spring and threw the salt into it, saying, “This is what the Lord says: ‘I have healed this water. Never again will it cause death or make the land unproductive.’” And the water has remained pure to this day.

Photo by Nathan Lindahl via Unsplash.com

Our God Is an Awesome God

raven face in shallow focus lens

Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name; make known among the nations what he has done. Sing to him, sing praise to him; tell of all his wonderful acts” (1 Chronicles 16: 8-9).

This month, I’m going to “proclaim his name” by giving you a condensed version of the miracles God performed through Elijah and Elisha. All the italicized words you’ll read are straight from the New International Version of 1 Kings 17 through 2 Kings 6. You may be thinking, “Oh, I’ve heard all this before.” Bear with me. Let these true stories settle into your mind and your spirit. Remember, and be encouraged!

Prophecy and provision (Drought, Ravens, and Endless Oil)

Now Elijah the Tishbite, from Tishbe in Gilead, said to Ahab, “As the Lord, the God of Israel, lives, whom I serve, there will be neither dew nor rain in the next few years except at my word.” Then Elijah did what the Lord had told him. He went to the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan, and stayed there. The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning and bread and meat in the evening, and he drank from the brook.

Elijah came upon a widow who was almost out of food and told her, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the Lord sends rain on the land.’”

She went away and did as Elijah had told her. So there was food every day for Elijah and for the woman and her family.  For the jar of flour was not used up and the jug of oil did not run dry, in keeping with the word of the Lord spoken by Elijah.

Resurrection

The son of a woman became ill. He grew worse and worse, and finally stopped breathing. The Lord heard Elijah’s cry, and the boy’s life returned to him, and he lived. Elijah picked up the child and carried him down from the room into the house. He gave him to his mother and said, “Look, your son is alive!”

Why review all this?

God asks us to Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice” (1 Chronicles 16:10). I hope you will rejoice with me this week over the strength and loving power of the One we serve. And “tune in” next week for more!

Photo by Peter Lloyd via Unsplash.com

What’s on Your Plate?

Raise your hand if you’ve:

  • Already read the book of Colossians several times.
  • ‘Done a Bible study on it?
  • Heard countless sermons where the text is taken from that popular letter of Paul’s?

Then join me in being somewhat astonished that there’s always something new to learn there. Here’s what I read today:

“Tell Archippus: ‘See to it that you complete the work you have received in the Lord.’” (Colossians 4:7).

Now, I’m just guessing here, but since Paul saw fit to include that line in his letter, maybe Archippus was tempted to quit. Quit what? Who knows? But whatever it was, it was a task the Lord had given him, and one he was meant to complete. And, evidently, he needed a bit of solid encouragement and direction to do just that.

The work you have received from the Lord. What work have you received from the Lord? Ah, yes, we all take on tasks we shouldn’t, maybe out of pride or greed or simple American ambition-on-steroids. That’s a lesson for another day. I’m talking about work you know in your heart the Lord wants you to do. It might be a life’s work. It might be an afternoon’s calling. Some versions of Colossians 4:17 use the word “ministry” instead of “work” to describe what Archippus needs to keep doing. I believe all work the Lord calls us to do, whether lofty or lowly, is really our ministry. So, no matter what the task might be, don’t quit!

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