Tuesday, June 26, 2012

June 26, 2012 … Listen for God’s Still, Small Voice

Passage of the Day: Reference of Today’s Chronological Bible Study: 1st Kings, Chapter 17-19 [NIV] To study these chapters, go to this link -

Highlight Passage: 1st Kings 17: 1; 13-14; 22-24 :[NIV] … 1 Now Elijah the Tishbite, from Tishbet 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." … 13 Elijah said to her, "Don't be afraid. Go home and do as you have said. But first make a small loaf of bread for me from what you have and bring it to me, and then make something for yourself and your son.14 For 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.'" … 22 The Lord heard Elijah's cry, and the boy's life returned to him, and he lived.23 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!" 24 Then the woman said to Elijah, "Now I know that you are a man of God and that the word of the Lord from your mouth is the truth." 
Highlight Passage #2: 1st Kings 18: 36-39 :[NIV] … 36 At the time of sacrifice, the prophet Elijah stepped forward and prayed: "Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command.37 Answer me, Lord, answer me, so these people will know that you, Lord, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again." 38 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. … 39 When all the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried, "The Lord—he is God! The Lord—he is God!"
Highlight Passage #3: 1st Kings 19: 1-4; 11-12; 18-19; 21:[NIV] … 1 Now Ahab told Jezebel everything Elijah had done and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. 2 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." … 3 Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, 4 while he himself went a day's journey into the wilderness. He came to a broom bush, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. "I have had enough, Lord," he said. "Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors." … 11 The Lord said, "Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by." … Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 12 After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. … [And God told Elijah] 18 “Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel—all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and whose mouths have not kissed him." … 19 So Elijah went from there and found Elisha son of Shaphat. … 21 So Elisha left him and went back. He took his yoke of oxen and slaughtered them. He burned the plowing equipment to cook the meat and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he set out to follow Elijah and became his servant.

My Journal for Today: Another big gulp from God’s pool of wisdom in His word. And today’s reading plan, in Chapters 17-19 of 1st Kings gives the historical account of the Prophet Elijah and even a brief introduction to his mentee, Elisha. And this character story is a rich one to learn a lot about our relationship with God. But in Elijah’s story we might have a tendency to be a bit overwhelmed by the way-big miracles and lose sight of God’s still, small voice … which can be a big part of our relationship with God and not just part of Elijah’s story.

The overriding lesson of these chapters, at least for me from the account of Elijah’s life, is the on-going and deepening relationship of faith that Elijah had with God. It’s very easy to be awed by all that Elijah did as God’s anointed prophet, … events such as Elijah bringing a child back from the dead in Chapter 17 or calling rain and fire down from heaven in Chapter 18 or Elijah interacting with God in Chapters 19 on the same mountain which Moses had received God’s word.

 But with all of those wondrous events and God’s calling out Elijah as His prophet to a rebellious and wayward people, we should not lose sight of many of the very human parts of Elijah’s story with which any of us can identify. … For example, there was the time (from 1st Kings 19: 3-4) when Elijah, being pursued by the wicked queen Jezebel, that Elijah became so fatigued and wracked by despair that he actually prayed to God to die; but God had other things in his will for Elijah; and aren’t we glad that God will answer our prayers with what we need and not necessarily what we want or feel?

And then, there was the time (also in 1st Kings 19, verses 11-12) that Elijah was having trouble hearing God with all the clamor of the disbelieving world around him; and God gave the Prophet a listening lesson. And here we learn to listen for and even watch for the messages of God in the quiet, small things of life, where God may be speaking big messages in a quieting, small voice. That’s why Jesus so often went off to quiet places in the mornings to be with His Father; and it’s why we should have a quiet place to end or start each day where we might be able to listen for God’s still, small voice speaking His mind and His will for our lives. Do you have such a place in your life and in your regular, preferably daily, relationship with God, … a place where you, as where I’m writing this, can get alone and not be interrupted or confused by all the noise of the world? I hope you do; because I so covet the solitude of each morning where I can be here with my God and quietly listen for His still, small voice.

Finally, we see how God, at the end of Chapter 19 of 1st Kings, shows Elijah that he’s not alone, where the Prophet had felt so alone in his calling from God. God showed Elijah that He, the Lord, would always protect a remnant of the faithful; and He would even provide the Prophet with a disciple, who was to be Elisha, to come along side Elijah as he was to speak truth to God’s rebellious people and to confront the idolatrous world. It’s easy these days to think that we’re totally engulfed and overwhelmed by an pleasure-seeking, idol-worshiping world, isn’t it? But God will always watch over and hold out protection for those who truly love Him and are THE CALLED according to His purpose; and if you seek out an Elisha to your being an Elijah … or maybe a Timothy or a Barnabas to your being a Paul, … God will send you someone to walk through the minefields of life together.

Do you have an Elisha in your life if you are a leader in God’s kingdom? Do you have a Paul if you are a growing disciple, like Timothy? Do you have a Barnabas if you need encouragement as a follower of Christ? It’s a powerful lesson to learn from this story of Elijah today. We all need what I call “power-partners” in this life of discipleship; because finding them and holding on to them gives God a relational vessel to keep us going when we feel weak … to encourage us when we feel discouraged … and to have our backs in the battles of life. I pray that if you are an Elisha that you find an Elijah; and if you are an Elijah, I pray that you are led to an Elisha to walk with you in the trials of life.

My Prayer Today: … Lord, I’m so grateful for the Elishas and the Elijahs in my life. Amen

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