Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Who is Elijah? A man whom God Trained

Who is Elijah?
A man whom God Trained

                What are you preparing or training for? This is a question
for life and of faith. But are you willing to answer it?
                After Elijah spoke with Ahab about the trouble to come, Elijah renewed his willingness to obey God. Elijah is ordered to go out of the normal realm of life and into the wilderness. There he shall drink from the brook and the ravens will feed him. (I Kings 17:2-4)
                Gilead was east of the Jordan River so God was sending him back home to a brook that carries water only the winter rains. And Elijah had told the king that there would be a 3 year drought so why would God send him there. This area however is in the wilderness where life is hard and it is harder even to learn.
                Elijah is also told to get away and hide. Was he safe from King Ahab and                Queen Jezebel?
                Elijah soon left via a route given to him by God. How much pressure was he under not even knowing whether Ahab’s men might be hunting him down. He traveled 15-20 miles through barren land to get to where God had wanted him to go. Elijah had much to learn and in solitude he would have many moments for learning and reflection.
                Elijah obeyed God’s word, believed God’s promise and went to the Wadi Cherith (brook) God would therefore fulfil his promise to meet his physical needs. Elijah trusted and obeyed God.
                One can only imagine what Elijah was thinking? Would the birds show up with food? Where would he sit, sleep, and what would God teach him? He was alone in the desert yet God had assured him of care and provision.
                God did provide food- bread and meat in the morning and evening by the ravens.
                Ravens—would never relinquish their food naturally; yet they give Elijah food;
-are scavengers and considered unclean (Lev.11:13-19) they eat carrion and Elijah trusted God for the food
                Bread and meat twice a day—more than the manna and quail in the wilderness
Water from the brook where other streams had dried up; was also dependent upon rain to continue during the 3 year drought—yet Elijah trusted God to provide.

Elijah’s training—what did he do while he waited for food to come? He prayed, pined, remembered, tried to survive,-- yet in all of it he learned more and more each day trusting God.

What did Elijah think and feel when he saw that the brook had dried up? God then told him to go to Zarephath (Ikings 17:7-10)
·         would he have panicked—he knew where the Jordan River was- he could have left
·         did he want to give up and died
·         did he want to reverse God’s judgment as he was so personally affected

He needed to learn that:
God knew all along that the brook would dry up
God’s care was not hampered when the brook dried up
God was still in control even when the brook dried up
God would tell him his next steps—v. 9 to Zarephath
Zarephath—was 80-90 miles northwest of Cherith in Gentile land
-was in the heart of the land dominated by Baal worship
-homeland of Queen Jezebel, priestess of Baal, the god Elijah had challenged
-Queen Jezebel- wife of King Ahab

Yet God told him that:
A widow would care for him—a poor woman, vulnerable and unprotected, no food—was this an upgrade?  He was also going into hostile territory so he could find someone who would have no means for taking care of him.--- God is training Elijah to walk by faith, not sight

What lessons can we learn from Elijah’s experience at the brook?
What does suffering involve? Do all people suffer in some way? Even believers?
How ready are you for this kind of training? Would you fully trust God as Elijah did?
God is still teaching you as you continue to minister to others. Are you willing to go and do where he leads you?

God we thank you for Elijah’s story of faithful service. We thank you also that God truly loves us and will not lead us into situations and leave us alone. He was with Elijah and as he trained him for more work he was tested. We too are tested as we continue to discern what it is you would have us do. Help us o God to understand and to act in faith. We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Resource: Bill Crowder, Trusting God in Hard Times Lessons from the Life of Elijah Discovery Series, 2016

Monday, 26 September 2016

Who is Elijah? A man who is Courageous

Who is Elijah?
A man who is Courageous

                During the time of Elijah, Ahab was king and under
his direction, Israel had fallen into Baal worship. Ahab build a temple to Baal in Samaria and had set up an Asherah pole which was an object associated with pagan worship. Ahab worshiped before false gods and so when Elijah stated, ”As the Lord God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, except at my word, ” Elijah was very courageous. Israel depended upon the agricultural industry to sustain them. Baal was considered the fertility god- or rainmaker god. God was then going to demonstrate to the people to whom they should trust.
It is then Elijah who steps in to the palace of King Ahab and tells him what is going to happen. Ahab was evil- more than all who were before him (I Kings 16:30) He copied and multiplied the sinful practices of the first king Jeroboam. Ahab also introduced Baal worship and raised it to the same level of importance as God.
Idol worship was not only something that occurred in the past. Idolatry is putting something else, anything else in the place of God and this occurs today if we consider the following gods:
Humanistic- people- sports stars, musicians, leaders
Materialistic- money and what it buys
Sensual- no fornicator, unclean person, no covetous man
Relational- Jesus first—then parents, children   (Mt10:37)

Elijah courageously shares his message that there would be 3 years of drought and then is gone from King Ahab’s palace.   Then to find out more about Elijah we turn to James 5 where Elijah is proclaimed as ‘a man just like us.’ Elijah was righteous but when he prayed he confessed his sin and been forgiven. He was in good standing with God. He also prayed earnestly for the rain  to be withheld and it was, for 3 years. He prayed specifically that there would be no dew or rain and the drought followed in order that the people would come to know God. Elijah prayed.
Elijah understood the power of prayer and he practised it. How well/ often do you pray?
Do you think that your effectiveness for God is dependent on your talents or position? Or are you dependent on God Himself?
Do we see the true God as the one and only object of our worship? Or are yoru hearts and minds clouded by other gods?
Are you living in the reality of the resource of prayer through which God can do amazing things?

Wonderful God we thank you for the courage that Elijah had as he stood in the palace and proclaimed that there would be no rain until changes came to the people. Changes that involved serving and following you. O how we could ask this today and have the people to turn you! We have the courage to ask but are we willing to share our story of faith and bring others into the knowledge of your love in Jesus? Help us O God to be courageous in all that we say and do. We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Resource: Bill Crowder, Trusting God in Hard Times Lessons from the Life of Elijah Discovery Series, 2016

Who is Elijah? A man who Trusts God I Kings 17

Who is Elijah?
A man who Trusts God  I Kings 17

                September has come with all of its busyness as this academic
year begins. The Back to School sales will soon end and then we will start the fall clearance even though in this area we are finally at a reasonable, seasonable temperature. We still have the desire to wear shorts as we get ready to pick apples from the orchards.
                We begin the early fall season with a look at the prophet Elijah. Just how much do we know about this man who trusted God, and who is mentioned a great deal in the New Testament and even appears in the story of the Transfiguration of Jesus with James, John and Moses! Just who is this man who appears to be so much like us that we often forget he was on that high mountain. James lived in that era and reminded his readers that Elijah was just a man with a nature like ours. This meant that Elijah had the same weaknesses and failures that tell the story of our lives. And prayer worked for him just as prayer works for us.
                Many people in Jesus’ day thought Elijah would soon return to the people as the prophet Malachi indicated. “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.” (Malachi 4:5-6)  It must be remembered that the day of Christ’s return was thought to be imminent.
                Some people though that John the Baptist was Elijah when Jesus asked his disciples about who he was. Elijah’s name was known by many people in Jesus’ day because he had engaged in so many amazing events in his own time. People could relate to him because he had experienced discouragement, fear, doubt just like we do. Elijah was human and shared his frailty, his spiritual dependence upon God and his great need for prayer as he walked with God.
                Who is Elijah? I Kings 17:1 states—Elijah the Tishbite of the inhabitants of Gilead seems to just show up. There is some discussion about where he came from or even whether he lived as a wanderer. His background is somewhat of a mystery including his name which means “Jehovah is God’ is a testament of his life. Elijah and his protégé Elisha shared in what appeared to be supernatural events because at some point Elijah though he was the only person who still believe in the God of Israel. And it is then that God showed Himself as to who he was and that God was in control. God then uses Elijah an ordinary man to intervene in a time of ungodliness and Baal worship.
Are you ‘an ordinary man/woman?  Do you feel ordinary when you serve Christ or are you just being faithful to God in doing the tasks which need to be done? What about Elijah? Was he an ordinary man with a special task?

Loving God, as we learn about Elijah from both the OT and NT we pray that we will witness in him that he was an ordinary person called by God to serve and share his faith. We pray that you would help us to discern our calling and show us what to do for the sake of Jesus and his church. Be with us we pray always and forever. Amen.

Resource: Bill Crowder, Trusting God in Hard Times Lessons from the Life of Elijah Discovery Series, 2016