What is it?

Looking through my journals and email, I found out that I was wishing for a lot of good things to happen. I claimed to be “hoping,” but I did not/could not be confident the desired outcome would happen. That is not what hope is about. Hope is more than wishing. [Want to know more? Click here.]

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Choices


I’ve heard it said, “You can’t serve two masters.” That’s the basic message I found in 1 Kings 18.
The people in the northern tribes comprising Israel during the time of Elijah the prophet thought they could serve both the idol god, Ba’al, and the true God, Jehoveh. While we can’t be too critical of the average person in Israel, we can evaluate the religious leaders – the teachers of religion for the people. King Ahab had built false altars and had encouraged worship at those altars of the idols that Jezebel, his non-Hebrew wife, worshiped.
The false priests Ahab appointed were primarily worshipers of Ba’al, but they tried to appease the people by implying they were worshiping the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Israel) as well. The people followed blindly along, but the leaders and teachers are the ones God penalized.
The chapter tells a story about Elijah calling the people together after a three-year drought in order to have them decide which god they were going to follow. He had the prophets of Ba’al build an altar, put their choice bull on the wood on the altar, and call upon Ba’al. These prophets begged and pleaded with their “god,” with all kinds of shenanigans, to consume the offering. The prophets of Ba’al danced, shouted, and cut themselves from morning until late in the afternoon. Nothing happened. At one point, Elijah mocked them and said that perhaps their god was occupied in the bathroom. They feverishly picked up their attempts to get Ba’al to perform.
Late in the day, Elijah told them that that was enough and called to the people. He called out to the people, “How long are you going to jump back and forth between two positions? If ADONAI is God, follow him; but if it’s Ba’al, follow him!” (Verse 21). So Elijah told the people to look to the altar he had built. He had them pour buckets and buckets full of water all over the offering (the bull the Ba’al worshipers had given him), all over the wood, filling a trench around the altar.
At the time of the evening offering, Elijah simply prayed to God.
“ADONAI, God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel, and that I am your servant, and that I have done all these things at your word. Hear me, ADONAI, hear me, so that this people may know that you, ADONAI, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back to you” (1 Kings 18:36-37, CJB).
God was calling them to repentance. When God’s fire fell upon the offering, it consumed everything, even the stones on which the offering had been laid. There was not a drop of water left anywhere. The people responded by falling on their faces and crying out, “ADONAI is God! ADONAI is God!” (Verse 39).
It’s the same for us today. We can’t worship idols and God at the same time. We have to choose. We can’t have our earthly desires and lusts and self-righteousness and be true worshipers of God. Many times people in Christian circles choose what parts of Scripture they are going to apply to their worship. Many times people in Christian circles listen to the leaders and teachers who construe Scripture to their own agendas. God will hold the leaders accountable, but He will also hold each person accountable to choose what it actually says in His Torah. We have to choose. We can’t say we follow Christ and then stretch Scripture to say what we think it should say or what we want it to say.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Droughts


Elijah pronounced a severe drought from God throughout the northern country of Israel, Sidon, and Tyre as evidence that God was not pleased with their idol worship. The drought rapidly became severe; there wasn’t even the evening or morning dew.
Of course, Elijah was not exempt from the consequences of the drought. God sent him to a wilderness area away from people. Elijah went. He didn’t know how he was going to survive. The drought became a learning experience for Elijah where he learned to trust God for his every need. There was a little stream that didn’t dry up right away. God did a remarkable miracle in ordering the ravens to bring Elijah food fit for human consumption each and every day. Have you ever tried to get a raven to do your bidding? Of course not! We just know they are not readily trained to even care about people. As a matter of fact, they are more likely to snatch seeds from our fields preventing a harvest.
Elijah grew to trust and rely on God in new ways during the drought. I’ve also experienced droughts. I’ve been emotionally isolated, away from people, distant from God, and away from the joy, happiness, love, and care of others (or at least it felt that way to me). During such times, I pleaded with God for the things I thought I needed. I was often wrong and God gave me exactly what I truly needed. Much like Elijah, God used the droughts in my life to deepen my trust in Him. Over time I’ve seen how He’s given me exactly what I needed, and many of the things I wanted. He used the droughts to drive me closer to, and more dependent,d on Him.
God gives another example of how a drought can work to draw us to Him. In Genesis, where I’ve been reading in my daily Quiet Times, an earlier drought is talked about. This drought drove Jacob and his sons to Egypt for their sustenance. They found Joseph, who they assumed was dead after the brothers sold him into slavery, in charge of Egypt’s vast resources. The drought would’ve wiped them out, but that was not God’s plan. He provided for them, by orchestrating the series of events (read Genesis 37-50) that allowed for them to be reunited with Joseph and to survive the drought. As the brothers repented before Joseph, they were also repenting before God, restoring relationships.
I’m thinking I do not want any more droughts. However, I’m also thinking if they drive me to depend more heavily upon the Almighty God for my care and sustenance, I welcome the hardship into my life. I hope I remember to turn to God with my whole heart and learn more deeply the depth, and the breadth of God’s power and love.