Prepare Yourself

Growing with God: A daily devotional with Tonia Slimm.

1 Kings 20:22 (NIV)
Afterward, the prophet came to the king of Israel and said, “Strengthen your position and see what must be done, because next spring the king of Aram will attack you again.”

1 Kings 20:22 (MSG)
Sometime later the prophet came to the king of Israel and said, “On the alert now—build up your army, assess your capabilities, and see what has to be done. Before the year is out, the king of Aram will be back in force.”
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“Then the prophet approached the king of Israel and said to him, “Go, strengthen yourself and observe and see what you have to do; for at the first of next year the king of Aram (Syria) will come up against you.” -AMPLIFIED

Yesterday we left Ahab winning a great victory over the king of Aram, Ben-Hadad. Scripture tells us this about the battle:
“The commandos poured out of the city with the full army behind them. They hit hard in hand-to-hand combat. The Arameans scattered from the field, with Israel hard on their heels. But Ben-Hadad king of Aram got away on horseback, along with his cavalry. The king of Israel cut down both horses and chariots—an enormous defeat for Aram.” -1 Kings 20:19-21 (MSG)

Immediately following the battle we find the prophet who had boldly approached Ahab in the first place approaching him once again. Once again we find the prophet bringing another message from God.  This message was a warning against any self-confidence Ahab may have been feeling after the victory. It was an announcement that Ben-Hadad would be back and in a round-about way an admonishment that Ahab needed to turn to God. The message was this:
“Go, and keep yourself fit because at the end of the year, Aram’s king is going to come back and wage war against you. Prepare for what is to come.” -(VOICE)

The message was basically “PREPARE YOURSELF”! Go, while you can, and get yourself ready for what lies ahead. By the time spring is here Ben-Hadad will be back for revenge and you must be ready. Go seek God’s face and strengthen yourself.

“Consider what is necessary for thee to do by way of preparation, and take care that nothing be wanting to oppose the designs of the Syrians against thee, who will certainly return and renew the fight next year. The enemies of the children of God are restless in their malice, and though they may take some breathing-time for themselves, they are still breathing out slaughter against the church: it therefore concerns always to expect our spiritual enemies, and to mark and see what we do.” -Joseph Benson’s Commentary

Meanwhile, we find Ben-Hadad and his advisers having a conference of their own. Scripture tells us that they were trying to pinpoint the reason that they had lost so badly.
“When we fought them in the mountains, they won because their gods are the mountain gods. But if we fight them on flat land, then we are sure to win. Therefore evacuate the royal leaders, place all the civilian military leaders in place of the ineffectual royalty, and assemble an army exactly like the one you lost. Replace every lost horse with a new horse and every lost chariot with a new chariot. We will battle on flat land, and we are sure to win because we will be stronger than they will be.” -1 Kings 20:23-25a (VOICE)

Foolishly Ben-Hadad’s advisers thought they had the situation all figured out. They thought they could nail the Creator of the Universe down and conquer Him and his people. Boy, were they in for a rude awakening. We are told that, “Ben-hadad listened to his servants and did everything they said to do, dismissing the royal leaders and rebuilding the army.” -1 Kings 20:25b (VOICE)

During this time period Ahab was supposed to be preparing himself and the people of Israel for Ben-Hadad’s soon return in the spring. We are not sure how seriously Ahab took the prophet’s warning; Scripture does not tell us.

The Bible has much to say about the need for us to be prepared for various situations. We need to be prepared for Christ’s soon return, to face temptation, to ready for whatever God brings are way.

* “But be on your guard. Don’t let the sharp edge of your expectation get dulled by parties and drinking and shopping. Otherwise, that Day is going to take you by complete surprise, spring on you suddenly like a trap, for it’s going to come on everyone, everywhere, at once. So, whatever you do, don’t go to sleep at the switch. Pray constantly that you will have the strength and wits to make it through everything that’s coming and end up on your feet before the Son of Man.” -Luke 21:34-36 (MSG)

* “The Son of Man’s Arrival will be like that: Two men will be working in the field—one will be taken, one left behind; two women will be grinding at the mill—one will be taken, one left behind. So stay awake, alert. You have no idea what day your Master will show up. But you do know this: You know that if the homeowner had known what time of night the burglar would arrive, he would have been there with his dogs to prevent the break-in. Be vigilant just like that. You have no idea when the Son of Man is going to show up.” -Matthew 24:39-44 (MSG)

* “So roll up your sleeves, put your mind in gear, be totally ready to receive the gift that’s coming when Jesus arrives. Don’t lazily slip back into those old grooves of evil, doing just what you feel like doing. You didn’t know any better then; you do now. As obedient children, let yourselves be pulled into a way of life shaped by God’s life, a life energetic and blazing with holiness. God said, “I am holy; you be holy.” -1 Peter 1:13-16 (MSG)

The question we must ask ourselves is, am I prepared for whatever comes my way?

My Prayer:
Lord, you have called me to be ready, vigilant and prepared for whatever comes my way. I have no clue what tomorrow may bring; hence why I need to be prepared at all times. Help me to be obedient to do your bidding. When you make your return I want to be ready. When I am faced with temptation I want to be strong. When you bring a new situation in my life I want to meet it knowing that I am prepared and ready; with you by my side. Lord, prepare me I pray.

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When God Speaks You Better Be Listening

Growing with God: A daily devotional with Tonia Slimm.

1 Kings 20:13 (NIV)
Meanwhile a prophet came to Ahab king of Israel and announced, “This is what the Lord says: ‘Do you see this vast army? I will give it into your hand today, and then you will know that I am the Lord.’”

1 Kings 20:13 (MSG)
Just then a lone prophet approached Ahab king of Israel and said, “God’s word: Have you taken a good look at this mob? Well, look again—I’m turning it over to you this very day. And you’ll know, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that I am God.”
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“Then a prophet approached Ahab king of Israel and said, “Thus says the Lord: ‘Have you seen all this great army? Behold, I will hand them over to you, and you shall know [without any doubt] that I am the Lord.’” -AMPLIFIED

We are not told who this bold prophet was who came to Ahab the king to deliver a Word from the Lord. Some think it was Micaiah, the son of Imlah, who is later mentioned in 1 Kings 22:8. He could have also been one of those who had been hidden in the caves by Obadiah.

Scripture does not tell us who he was, but we can see that he came to Ahab with great boldness to deliver this message:
“This is the Eternal’s message: “Have you laid eyes upon the great army that has risen up against you? They look like an impossible opponent, but observe what is about to take place. I am going to give you victory over them on this day. Then you will know that I am the Eternal One.” -(VOICE)

This was a message straight from God; delivered by Jehovah’s own servant. Yet when Ahab hears the message his response was anything but accepting or trusting. His response was one of total disbelief, “What? Where? How? It is impossible!”
” I can’t comprehend how such a victory could occur. Their army is massive. How is this going to happen?” -1 Kings 20:14 (VOICE)

The bold prophet once again gives him God’s answer. “This is the Eternal’s message: “The young officers of the provincial leaders will do it for you.” -1 Kings 20:14 (VOICE)

Still unconvinced we find Ahab stuttering and stammering around. “Who is going to begin the fight and lead us into battle?” -1 Kings 20:14 (VOICE)

The young prophet looked at the king with a perceptive, knowing look and delivers God’s final word at this point to Ahab, “You are.” -1 Kings 20:14 (VOICE)

It is time for Ahab to put on his BIG BOY pants and be the king that he had been placed in authority to be. We find Scripture telling us how very small the army of Israel had become. Those glory days of mighty Israel were long gone. Not many were willing to fight for Ahab’s honor it appeared. “Ahab looked over the commandos of the regional chiefs; he counted 232. Then he assessed the available troops—7,000.” -1 Kings 20:15 (MSG)

Taking his ragtag group we find Ahab setting out about noon on this particular day to go confront Ben-Hadad. Where was Ben-Hadad? Once again we will find him with his 32 allied kings getting drunk inside their tents. They were so confident that they had this in the bag that they were celebrating their glorious victory before they had even done battle.

Ahab’s regional chiefs who made up his vanguard proceeded first. As they approached Ben-Hadad’s camp word was brought to Ben-Hadad that a group was approaching from Samaria. In his drunken stupor, thinking nothing was wrong, so confident of his own victory, he ordered his men to bring the approaching group to him alive. Look at what his response to the news was, “I don’t care whether they come in peace or with motives of war. Take them all as captives, and keep them alive!” -1 Kings 20:18 (VOICE)

This is how God’s victory came about on this particular day and it would not have happened if Ahab did not listen and obey:
“The commandos poured out of the city with the full army behind them. They hit hard in hand-to-hand combat. The Arameans scattered from the field, with Israel hard on their heels. But Ben-Hadad king of Aram got away on horseback, along with his cavalry. The king of Israel cut down both horses and chariots—an enormous defeat for Aram.” -1 Kings 20:19-21 (MSG)

If Ahab had refused to listen to the bold prophet, if he had chosen at any point to disobey God’s directive he would have been overturned and basically wrecked. Now mind you, this king still did not believe in or follow God, but he at least had the intelligence to do as he had been told to do by God.

We will continue on with Ahab’s story in the coming days. We will find that he never committed himself to the One, True God. We will also find that because of his continued disobedience to God he paid for it with his life.

Today though, we need to understand the importance of listening to and obeying the voice of God. The Apostle Paul warned the Ephesians of what firmly grasping what the will of the Lord was. Paul said:
“Therefore see that you walk carefully [living life with honor, purpose, and courage; shunning those who tolerate and enable evil], not as the unwise, but as wise [sensible, intelligent, discerning people], making the very most of your time [on earth, recognizing and taking advantage of each opportunity and using it with wisdom and diligence], because the days are [filled with] evil. Therefore do not be foolish and thoughtless, but understand and firmly grasp what the will of the Lord is.” -Ephesians 5:15-17 (AMP)

James the brother of Jesus warned us that life is but a vapor and we need to be obedient now; for no one knows what tomorrow may hold.
“Come now [and pay attention to this], you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and carry on our business and make a profit.” Yet you do not know [the least thing] about what may happen in your life tomorrow. [What is secure in your life?] You are merely a vapor [like a puff of smoke or a wisp of steam from a cooking pot] that is visible for a little while and then vanishes [into thin air].” -James 4:13-14 (AMP)

When God speaks you better be listening!

My Prayer:
Father, help me to keep my ears in tune with you. When you speak I want to be listening. I understand the need for obedience to you; for you are the All-Knowing One. You see everything from beginning to end; there are no surprises for you. I know that if I  trust you to be my Guide than you will never lead me wrong. Here I am Lord; I will listen and obey.

Threatened

Growing with God: A daily devotional with Tonia Slimm.

1 Kings 20:1-3(NIV)
Now Ben-Hadad king of Aram mustered his entire army. Accompanied by thirty-two kings with their horses and chariots, he went up and besieged Samaria and attacked it. He sent messengers into the city to Ahab king of Israel, saying, “This is what Ben-Hadad says: ‘Your silver and gold are mine, and the best of your wives and children are mine.’”

1 Kings 20:1-3 (MSG)
At about this same time Ben-Hadad king of Aram mustered his troops. He recruited in addition thirty-two local sheiks, all outfitted with horses and chariots. He set out in force and surrounded Samaria, ready to make war. He sent an envoy into the city to set his terms before Ahab king of Israel: “Ben-Hadad lays claim to your silver and gold, and to the pick of your wives and sons.”
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“Ben-hadad king of Aram (Syria) gathered all his army together; thirty-two kings were [allied] with him, with horses and chariots. And he went up and besieged Samaria [Israel’s capital], and fought against it. Then he sent messengers to the city to Ahab king of Israel; and he said to him, “Thus says Ben-hadad: ‘Your silver and your gold are mine; your wives and your children, even the fairest, also are mine [as conditions of peace].’” -AMPLIFIED

Chapter 20 of 1 Kings swings away from Elijah and Elisha’s story; it addresses instead God’s dealings with Ahab and Ben-Hadad. We will be looking at how Ahab deals with being threatened.

We find Ben-Hadad gathering his troops, along with 32 kings allied with him, his horses, chariots and setting out in force against Samaria. Remember, Samaria was Israel’s capital and Ahab was king at this point in time. Ben-Hadad laid siege to the city. This siege must have lasted for a time; for I am sure that Ahab would not have given up quickly.

Finally, at some point we find Ben-Hadad sending in messengers with this message, “All of your treasures—your silver and your gold—belong to me. Your finest wives and healthiest children belong to me as well.” -(VOICE)

Strangely enough Ahab agrees without missing a beat. It may be that he thought by humbly agreeing to Ben-Hadad’s terms he could soften this conquering king and get better conditions. Sadly things did not work out quite the way that Ahab hoped. We find Ben-Hadad’s messengers returning with another message:
“On second thought, I want it all—your silver and gold and all your wives and sons. Hand them over—the whole works. I’ll give you twenty-four hours; then my servants will arrive to search your palace and the houses of your officials and loot them; anything that strikes their fancy, they’ll take.” -1 Kings 20:5-6 (MSG)

This was not what Ahab had expected. He gathered up all the elders of Israel and explained the situation to them. He said, “I need your help figuring out what to do. King Ben-hadad is causing me BIG problems. He is demanding that I hand over the my best of everything to him. That would include my finest wives, healthiest children and all my silver and gold. What should I do?”

The elders were unanimous in their counsel. They all agreed, “Don’t cave in to him. Don’t give an inch.” -1 Kings 20:8 (MSG)

We need to understand that God was orchestrating everything that was happening. Weak and cowardly Ahab, who never could stand on his own had submitted to Ben-Hadad’s humiliating demands the first time. We find the second time, with counsel from his elders he was not so quick to do so. We also find that Ben-Hadad was determined to provoke Ahab to warfare regardless. Ultimately, we need to realize that God was allowing these two kings to confront each other in order to bring about His perfect will.

We find weak, frightened Ahab sending another message to Ben-Hadad. “Tell my distinguished lord, ‘I agreed to the terms you delivered the first time, but this I can’t do—this I won’t do!’” -1 Kings 20:9 (MSG)

So the emissaries went back to Ben-Hadad . He was not happy to receive this message at all and things began to get very stressful; especially for those poor messengers. Ben-Hadad sent them back with this message, ““May the gods do their worst to me, and then worse again, if there’ll be anything left of Samaria but rubble.” -2 Kings 10:10 (MSG)

Ahab countered with basically a verbal slap in the face. “Tell him, ‘A man who puts on [his armor to go to battle] should not boast like the man who takes it off [after the battle has been won].’” -1 Kings 20:11 (AMP)

Now, Be-Hadad received this message while he was in a state of drunkenness. He was in fact drinking with other 32 kings that were allied with him in one of their temporary shelters outside the walls of Samaria. When he received the news it moved him to anger very quickly. (Remember, he was extremely drunk.) He gave directions to his army to prepare to attack. In his mind enough was enough. So his army prepared to do battle against the city.

This was a test for Ahab. God had given him opportunity once again to reconcile and make things right with Him. Yet, we find that Ahab sorely fails once again. Not once did he even consider calling on God for help. Every time that Ahab is faced with a situation that he cannot handle he turns to someone else other than God; Jezebel, the leaders, and his idols.

In this time that Ahab was being threatened you would have thought that he would have welcomed God’s help. Once again this was not the case. He had rejected God thoroughly. (Helps us understand why Elijah was so frustrated with him.)

What does the Bible say we should do when we feel threatened?

* Run to God: “From the end of the earth I call to You, when my heart is overwhelmed and weak; lead me to the rock that is higher than I [a rock that is too high to reach without Your help]. For You have been a shelter and a refuge for me, strong tower against the enemy.” -Psalm 61:2-3 (AMP)

* Trust God:Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track. Don’t assume that you know it all. Run to God! Run from evil! Your body will glow with health, your very bones will vibrate with life! Honor God with everything you own; give him the first and the best. Your barns will burst, your wine vats will brim over. But don’t, dear friend, resent God’s discipline; don’t sulk under his loving correction. It’s the child he loves that God corrects; a father’s delight is behind all this.” -Proverbs 3:5-12 (MSG)

* Realize that God has a plan for your life: “For I know the plans and thoughts that I have for you,’ says the Lord, ‘plans for peace and well-being and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” -Jeremiah 29:11 (AMP)

We need to start trusting God to help us when we are in situations where we feel threatened.

My Prayer:
Lord, help me to turn to you in those times when I feel unsafe, threatened and unable to cope with what is going on in my life. Other people and things are not what will help me; only you can do that. Forgive me for those times when I have looked for help elsewhere. You are my shelter, my rock, my refuge. I will trust in you, dear Lord.

God’s Calling

Growing with God: A daily devotional with Tonia Slimm.

1 Kings 19:19 (NIV)
So Elijah went from there and found Elisha son of Shaphat. He was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen, and he himself was driving the twelfth pair. Elijah went up to him and threw his cloak around him.

1 Kings 19:19 (MSG)
Elijah went straight out and found Elisha son of Shaphat in a field where there were twelve pairs of yoked oxen at work plowing; Elisha was in charge of the twelfth pair. Elijah went up to him and threw his cloak over him.
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“So Elijah departed from there and found Elisha the son of Shaphat, while he was plowing with twelve pairs of oxen before him, and he with the twelfth. Elijah went over to him and threw his mantle (coat) on him.” -AMPLIFIED

So much has happened to Elijah. We left him yesterday encountering God in a very particular way; experiencing God’s still, small voice on the side of Mount Horeb. God gave Elijah instructions to do three things for Him and then gave him some words of encouragement. Goda said:
“Go back the way you came through the desert to Damascus. When you get there anoint Hazael; make him king over Aram. Then anoint Jehu son of Nimshi; make him king over Israel. Finally, anoint Elisha son of Shaphat from Abel Meholah to succeed you as prophet. Anyone who escapes death by Hazael will be killed by Jehu; and anyone who escapes death by Jehu will be killed by Elisha. Meanwhile, I’m preserving for myself seven thousand souls: the knees that haven’t bowed to the god Baal, the mouths that haven’t kissed his image.” -1 Kings 19:15-18 (MSG)

We find that Elijah wasted no time in carrying out part of God’s instructions. He obediently left that cave which had been a safe-house and shelter for him and set out to find his replacement. Notice that this was the first thing that Elijah chose to do; it gives us the impression that Elijah has had enough. He still has not quieted his heart before God and given up that fear of Jezebel.

We find Elijah going directly to find Elisha the son of Shaphat, who was out in the fields plowing. It is interesting to note that Eliaha was out there with twelve pairs of oxen. His father must have been a very wealthy man to have so many oxen, plus the man-power to drive those oxen.

We find that Elijah goes right out to the field, throws his mantle over Elisha and walks away. How do we know that he walked away? By the fact that the next verse tells us that Elisha ran after him. This is what Scripture says, “Elisha deserted the oxen, ran after Elijah, and said, “Please! Let me kiss my father and mother good-bye—then I’ll follow you.” “Go ahead,” said Elijah, “but, mind you, don’t forget what I’ve just done to you.” -1 Kings 19:20 (MSG)

The throwing of the mantle upon Elisha was symbolic of Elijah passing on his office of prophet to Elisha. It was a summoning for Elisha to step up and take Elijah’s place. (No wonder Elijah was so quick to accomplish this part of Gods instructions first.)We find Elisha running after the old prophet, showing a willingness to accept what was in store for him.

Elisha had one request though; he wished to go back and bid his parents good-bye. Various translations convey Elijah’s answer to Elisha’s request differently:

* “Go back,” Elijah replied. “What have I done to you?” -(NIV)
* “Go ahead,” said Elijah, “but, mind you, don’t forget what I’ve just done to you.” -(MSG)
* “Go on back; for what have I done to [stop] you?” -(AMP)
* “Go then. Tell them goodbye. What have I done to you?” -(VOICE)
* “Go on back, but think about what I have done to you.” -(NLT)

We need to understand what is happening here. Notice when Elijah approached Elisha nothing was said. Elijah just took his mantle(cloak) and threw it upon Elisha, turned and walked away. Elisha immediately realized and understood what was happening. To me this means that God must have already been speaking to and dealing with Elisha’s heart about what He had in store.

Elijah gave leave to Elisha to go say his good-bye’s, but he reminded him to not forget what had just happened. “Think about what I have just done.” Elisha realizes that Elijah was questioning his commitment to follow. To prove that he was pledged and bound to his new calling he demonstrated his commitment and devotion to God by sacrificing his means of livelihood. “So Elisha left; he took his yoke of oxen and butchered them. He made a fire with the plow and tackle and then boiled the meat—a true farewell meal for the family. Then he left and followed Elijah, becoming his right-hand man.” -1 Kings 19:21 (MSG)

Now there was no turning back; everything had been given up. This was true commitment. We can grasp the seriousness of Elisha’s decision. He had counted the cost, he had made his choice and now he was pledged to his new calling.

We too need to make that same decision. Will we be committed to God, His calling and His ways or will we continue on with our old ways of this life? Scripture is very insistent on how God wants us to count the cost and live holy lives for Him. God is very uncompromising too.

* “Then Jesus went to work on his disciples. “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self. What kind of deal is it to get everything you want but lose yourself? What could you ever trade your soul for?” -Matthew 16:24-26 (MSG)

* “These words I speak to you are not incidental additions to your life, homeowner improvements to your standard of living. They are foundational words, words to build a life on. If you work these words into your life, you are like a smart carpenter who built his house on solid rock. Rain poured down, the river flooded, a tornado hit—but nothing moved that house. It was fixed to the rock. But if you just use my words in Bible studies and don’t work them into your life, you are like a stupid carpenter who built his house on the sandy beach. When a storm rolled in and the waves came up, it collapsed like a house of cards.” –Matthew 7:24-27 (MSG)

* “So roll up your sleeves, put your mind in gear, be totally ready to receive the gift that’s coming when Jesus arrives. Don’t lazily slip back into those old grooves of evil, doing just what you feel like doing. You didn’t know any better then; you do now. As obedient children, let yourselves be pulled into a way of life shaped by God’s life, a life energetic and blazing with holiness. God said, “I am holy; you be holy.” -1 Peter 1:13-16 (MSG)

Have you heard the voice of God calling you? If so, you need to count the cost. God is a holy God and He expects His people to be a holy people. Let go of the things of this World. Roll up your sleeves, get your mind in gear and be totally committed to what God has in store for you. There should be no turning back for those who have answered the call.

My Prayer:
Lord, help me to remember to what it is that I have been called. This World is not my home; I am but passing through. My desire is to be wholly committed to you and to what it is that you have in store for me. Help me not to become lazy in my walk with you. Help me to listen to your still, small voice calling to me. I want to be found faithful to you, dear Lord.

 

Encountering God

Growing with God: A daily devotional with Tonia Slimm.

1 Kings 19:9 (NIV)
There he went into a cave and spent the night. And the word of the Lord came to him: “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

1 Kings 19:9 (MSG)
When he got there, he crawled into a cave and went to sleep. Then the word of God came to him: “So Elijah, what are you doing here?”
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“There he came to a cave and spent the night in it; and behold, the word of the Lord came to him, and He said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” -AMPLIFIED

The Angel of the Lord had fed, comforted, and strengthened Elijah twice before sending him off on a journey. This journey took forty days and forty nights to travel.  We find that Elijah finally arrived at Mount Horeb, otherwise known as Sinai, the mountain of God.

Once Elijah arrived we see him crawling into a cave and collapsing in sleep. In the middle of the night we find God gently calling to him. “Why are you here, Elijah? What is it that you desire?” -(VOICE)

Elijah awakes to God’s calling and begins to pour out all his pent up fear, anger and frustration. With a bad attitude we find Elijah saying, “I’ve been working my heart out for the God-of-the-Angel-Armies,” said Elijah. “The people of Israel have abandoned your covenant, destroyed the places of worship, and murdered your prophets. I’m the only one left, and now they’re trying to kill me.” -1 Kings 19:10 (MSG)

How many of us have felt exactly the way Elijah was feeling at this moment? I am sure many of us. We all go through times when we feel like we are the only one left and we have been working our hearts out, but we see no changes. Elijah had come to the place where he saw himself as the one lone defender of God’s name in all of Israel. Even worse, he felt that Jezebel was winning the fight and she would ultimately murder him. Of course Elijah had fled. Of course he felt miserable.

God then gave Elijah one simple instruction. It was probably the only thing that he could handle at that point in time. God said, “Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord.” -1 Kings 19:11a (AMP)

Elijah obeys.  He goes out to stand out on the side of the mountain; waiting for the presence of God. We then see God moving in some mighty ways. Let us look at what happened:
“A hurricane wind ripped through the mountains and shattered the rocks before God, but God wasn’t to be found in the wind; after the wind an earthquake, but God wasn’t in the earthquake; and after the earthquake fire, but God wasn’t in the fire; and after the fire a gentle and quiet whisper.” -1 Kings 19:11-12 (MSG)

When Elijah heard that still, small voice, that gentle whisper, it moved him. I think it humbled him. We are told that he covered his face with his cloak and moved to the mouth of the cave. He realized that he had encountered the very presence of God and that is a humbling experience. It brought Elijah to the realization of the Mighty, Awesomeness of God; as well as the pettiness of his complaints.

Once again we find God asking, “So Elijah, now tell me, what are you doing here?”

Now we find Elijah humbly, with a much better attitude, explaining to God what has been on his mind. “I’ve been working my heart out for God, the God-of-the-Angel-Armies, because the people of Israel have abandoned your covenant, destroyed your places of worship, and murdered your prophets. I’m the only one left, and now they’re trying to kill me.” -1 Kings 19:14 (MSG)

He was saying the same words, but he was saying them humbly and with a better attitude. God does not have a problem with us sharing what we are feeling, or even letting Him know how we are observing things. What He does have a problem with is us coming to Him with a sense of entitlement and a bad attitude. He is the Creator and we are the created; He owes us nothing and we owe Him everything. Let us never forget that fact.

Now that Elijah has cooled off he was calm enough to hear what God had to say to him. God begins to give him instuctions:
“Travel back the same way you traveled here, but continue north to the desert of Damascus. There, I want you to anoint Hazael as Aram’s king, Jehu (Nimshi’s son) as Israel’s king, and Elisha (Shaphat’s son from Abel-meholah) to replace you as prophet. Jehu will execute anyone who escapes from Hazael, and Elisha will execute all who escape from Jehu. I will keep for Myself the 7,000 Israelites who have not bowed down to Baal or offered him kisses.” -1 Kings 19:15-18 (VOICE)

God gave Elijah three important tasks to accomplish. First, Elijah was to go anoint Hazael as king over Syria. Second, he was to go anoint Jehu as king of Israel. Third, he was then to go anoint Elisha as his own replacement. God then gave him an update on the true state of His followers; syaing, “You are not the only one left serving me. There is in fact 7,000 faithful Israelites who have not bowed their knee to Baal.”

How often have we come to God just as Elijah did? We demand things, expect Him to answer our prayers exactly as we demand, or coming to Him with an attitude. Shame on us! God will move and work in the way that He sees is best. We need to remember also, there are times that God speaks in the whirlwind (Job 38:1) times that His presence is manifested in the earthquake (Exodus 19:18), times that He speaks in the thunder (1 Samuel 2:10) and then there are times that God speaks to us in His still, small voice. Why do we insist on putting God into our neat little box?

My Prayer:
Lord, help me to keep my perspective right. You are God the Creator and I am the created one. I know there is a need for respect and humbleness when I approach you. God, I need you. Lord, I have been one who has put you in that proverbial box; forgive me, please. Be God in my life. Lord, I love you!

Impossible Situations

Growing with God: A daily devotional with Tonia Slimm.

1 Kings 19:1-2 (NIV)
Now Ahab told Jezebel everything Elijah had done and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. So Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah to say, “May the gods deal with me, be it ever so severely, if by this time tomorrow I do not make your life like that of one of them.”

1 Kings 19:1-2 (MSG)
Ahab reported to Jezebel everything that Elijah had done, including the massacre of the prophets. Jezebel immediately sent a messenger to Elijah with her threat: “The gods will get you for this and I’ll get even with you! By this time tomorrow you’ll be as dead as any one of those prophets.”
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“Now Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and how he had killed all the prophets [of Baal] with the sword. Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, “So may the gods do to me, and even more, if by this time tomorrow I do not make your life like the life of one of them.” -AMPLIFIED

How many of us have felt like we have been put in impossible situations before? Elijah was at that point at this time. We left him yesterday running in front of Ahab’s chariot on the way to Jezreel. We know that Israel had a change of heart. Elijah seemed to think that Ahab had also had a change of heart as well, but this was not the case.

We find Ahab running home to Jezebel to basically tattle on Elijah and what he had done. (We can see who truly was running this kingdom.) “When Ahab arrived in Jezreel, he told Jezebel about everything that had taken place. He told her how Elijah had executed all the prophets of Baal with a sword, and she became furious.” -(VOICE)

In a fit of rage Jezebel sent a message to Elijah. The message was this:
“May the gods kill me and worse, if I haven’t killed you the way you killed their priests by this time tomorrow. Your end is near, Elijah.” -(VOICE)

Elijah was faced with an impossible situation. We find this great prophet of God who had just been used in an amazing way, who prayed and fire fell from Heaven, completely freaking out. Where was the boldness that he had just had earlier when facing all of Israel and those false prophets? Gone!

Something that we need to remember though is at this point in time Elijah was face-to-face with the root of evil itself. This woman was right-hand to the Devil himself. We find Elijah petrified. Scripture tells us this:
“Terrified, Elijah quickly ran for his life. He traveled the length of Israel in one day and finally arrived at Beersheba, the southern point of God’s territory, which is in Judah. When he arrived, he instructed his servant to remain there while he sought solitude. He journeyed into the desert for one day and then decided to rest beneath the limbs of a broom tree. There he prayed that his life would be over quickly and that he would die there beneath the tree.” -1 Kings 19:3-4a (VOICE)

In fact, Elijah fell into a deep, deep depression and was having himself a pity party there on the back-side of the desert under the broom tree. Listen to what he cried out to God before he passed out under the broom tree. “I’m finished, Eternal One. Please end my life here and now, even though I have failed, and I am no better than my ancestors.” -1 Kings 19:4b (VOICE)

In response to Elijah’s prayer God sent a ministering angel to care for him. The angel came, shook him out of his sleep and told him to get up and eat. To Elijah’s surprise there by his head was a loaf of bread baking on some coals and a jug of water. He ate what had been provided for him and rolled over to fall back asleep.

We are not told how much time had passed, but at some point the angel once more came, woke Elijah, fed him and then informed him that he had a long journey ahead of him. Elijah ate and drank his fill and then set off on this journey that the angel had told him about. That meal must have been the original “Wonder Bread”, for we are told that Elijah was so nourished from that meal that he was able to walk for forty days and forty nights sustained from that meal.

What does one do when faced with impossible situations? And what about those situations that involve the epitome of evil? We need to remember that this life involves a battle constantly between good and evil. We may not be able to see it, but it is raging. There is an enemy of our soul that desires to destroy us; as well as everything that is good, lovely and has to do with God. He hates the children of God and he wants to put us into impossible situations.

We need to remember a few things though.

1.) He is a liar. “When he speaks a falsehood, he speaks what is natural to him, for he is a liar [himself] and the father of lies and of all that is false.” -John 8:44b (AMP)

2.) He is a deceiver. “Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.” -2 Corinthians 11:14 (AMP)

3.) He is a thief. “The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I (JESUS) came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance [to the full, till it overflows].” -John 10:10 (AMP)

4.) He is the official loser. “And the beast was seized and overpowered, and with him the false prophet who in his presence had worked wonders and performed miracles by which he led astray those who had accepted or permitted to be placed upon them the stamp (mark) of the beast and those who paid homage and gave divine honors to his statue. Both of them were hurled alive into the fiery lake that burns and blazes with brimstone.” -Revelation 19:20 (AMP)

So what can you do in those impossible situations?

1.) “Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes” Ephesians 6:11

2.) “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith.” 1 Peter 5:8-9

3.) “Submit yourselves to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” James 4:7

4.) “Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.” 1 Timothy 6:12

Remember this promise as well:
“No weapon that is formed against you will succeed; and every tongue that rises against you in judgment you will condemn. This [peace, righteousness, security, and triumph over opposition] is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and this is their vindication from Me,” says the Lord.” -Isaiah 54:17 (AMP)

Nothing is impossible with God!

My Prayer:
Lord, help me to have the strength of mind and body to stand up to that deceiver and not listen to his filthy lies. Greater are you that is within me, Lord, than he that is in the world. I submit to you and your ways. I will trust that you will always be with me and I will not have to face that loser alone. Remind me often that you are the Victor, dear Lord, and I have nothing to fear. I will not allow that thief to steal my peace and joy. Lord, you are the One that needs to be in charge; so I am following you.

The Sound of Falling Rain

 

Growing with God: A daily devotional with Tonia Slimm.

1 Kings 18:41 (NIV)
And Elijah said to Ahab, “Go, eat and drink, for there is the sound of a heavy rain.”

1 Kings 18:41 (MSG)
Elijah said to Ahab, “Up on your feet! Eat and drink—celebrate! Rain is on the way; I hear it coming.”
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“Now Elijah said to Ahab, “Go up, eat and drink, for there is the sound of the roar of an abundance of rain.” -AMPLIFIED

Ahab was there to observe all that had happened with the fire falling from Heaven from God, to the slaughter of the prophets of Baal. He was an eyewitness to the Mighty Hand of God. It appears that there may have been some sort of reconciliation between Ahab and Elijah. Appearances are not always what they seem to be though.

We now find Elijah instructing Ahab to get up, go eat and drink. Why? Because there was the sound of heavy rain coming. God’s answer for the three years of no rain was now on the way. Elijah told Ahab, “I hear a heavy rain coming.” (No one else could hear what he was hearing though.)

What did Ahab do? After seeing what God had done; of course he obeyed. He would have been a fool to do otherwise. He went down to camp to have something to eat and drink. Remember, it had been an extremely long stressful day.

Meanwhile we find Elijah climbing to the top of Mount Carmel, bowing with his face between his knees down to the ground and he began to pray. He called to his servant, “On your feet now! Look toward the sea.”

The servant headed out to take a look; to see what he could see. Coming back he reported back to Elijah, “I do not see a thing.”

Elijah told him to, “Keep looking!” Elijah continued to pray. Seven times this same scenario happened. Seven times Elijah sent the servant back for another look. On the seventh trip the servant finally came running back with some news. “Oh yes, a cloud! But very small, no bigger than someone’s hand, rising out of the sea.” -1 Kings 18:44a (NIV)

This was exactly what they had been waiting for! We have no clue how long this process took; Scripture does not tell us. When they finally had a sign though, a glimmer of hope, Elijah instructed his servant to quickly go tell Ahab. He instructed him to deliver this message, “Tell Ahab, ‘Saddle up and get down from the mountain before the rain stops you.’” -1 Kings 18:44b (MSG)

Now things were really happening. The sky began to fill with huge, dark clouds, the winds were rolling in growing wild, and then the rains began to fall. Ahab hightailed it in his chariot back to Jezreel.

What we are told next in Scripture is something miraculous. God empowered Elijah with supernatural strength. Scripture tells us, “God strengthened Elijah mightily. Pulling up his robe and tying it around his waist, Elijah ran in front of Ahab’s chariot until they reached Jezreel.” -1 Kings 18:46 (MSG)

Jesreel was approximately 15 miles away. Remember, this has been a long stressful day. Yet we find Elijah being empowered by God with enough strength to run all the way to Jezreel before the chariot of Ahab.

One may wonder why Elijah wished to accompany Ahab to Jezreel? Some theologians think that he was wanting to pay honor to Ahab. Elijah was thinking that Ahab had finally had a change of heart and was now going to follow the One, True God. We will find in the coming chapter that this was NOT the case. Ahab was actually on his way to report back to his wicked wife Jezebel.

Ahab may not have had a change of heart, but the people of Israel had. The people of Israel had renewed their allegiance to Jehovah. Now God, the Creator and Controller of the Universe, could once again send the rain to the earth.

Rain is often a symbol of revival or the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. The Bible has much to say about revival and restoration:

* “Pray to the Eternal, asking for rain in the spring; He is the One bringing the storm clouds. He fills them with heavy rain, showers of rain for the plants of the field for everyone.” -Zechariah 10:1 (VOICE)

* “For I will pour out water on him who is thirsty, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour out My Spirit on your offspring and My blessing on your descendants; and they will spring up among the grass like willows by the streams of water.” -Isaiah 44:3-4 (AMP)

* “O God of our salvation, bring us back again—as You did before—and put away Your anger toward us. Will You be mad at us forever? Will You continue to be angry with our children and theirs? Will You not bring us back to life once more so that we, Your people, will find joy and pleasure in You?” -Psalm 34:4-6 (VOICE)

* “Restore us, O Lord God of hosts; cause Your face to shine on us [in favor and approval], and we shall be saved.” -Psalm 80:19 (AMP)

Can you hear the sound of falling rain? It is time for a restoration, a new anointing, a time for the falling of revival rain.

My Prayer:
Lord, bring your people back to you. Fall fresh upon us and incline our hearts to you. So many have wandered far from where they should be. So many have forgotten what it means to be holy as you are holy. Forgive us Lord. Awaken your slumbering children and restore to us the joy of your salvation. Bring us back to life once again that we may do the work that you have called us to do for you.