The Elijah Effect

The Lord is on my side; I will not fear: what can man do unto me?  (Psalm 118:6)

It is interesting how when I study the bible the passages that jump out at me at different times in my life.    I'm still in 1 Kings and am seeing a little more of Elijah, but I'm intrigued by Obadiah instead - or rather Obadiah's reaction to Elijah.

Elijah's presence had an interesting effect on people.  I wonder what it was about his presence or his reputation at this early mention of him that made people afraid.  I think it must have been his known closeness to God combined with the self-consciousness of the individuals he came into contact with that caused all of the fear.  Remember the widow in my last post from 1 Kings 17?  She was afraid that Elijah came to bring God's judgment on her sin.  In 1 Kings 18, Obadiah, the governor of the house of Ahab and a man who feared God, we are seeing the same thing - fear.

Remember, Elijah had been hiding and King Ahab just wasn't a very nice guy.  Ahab's wife, Jezebel, was a nasty individual in her own right, and Obadiah feared the Lord.  Apparently, Obadiah had saved a hundred of God's prophets from being slain by Jezebel by hiding them in a cave.  Give Obadiah credit at least for not being afraid to do the right thing.  However, this time, I think Obadiah was afraid that his deeds might catch up to him.  The bottom line: Elijah wanted Obadiah to tell Ahab that he was back in town and Obadiah was afraid to deliver the news for fear that Elijah wouldn't show up.  Here are Obadiah's words to Elijah:

1 Kings 18:11 And now you say, ‘Go, tell your master, “Elijah is here”’! 12 And it shall come to pass, as soon as I am gone from you, that the Spirit of the LORD will carry you to a place I do not know; so when I go and tell Ahab, and he cannot find you, he will kill me. But I your servant have feared the LORD from my youth. 13 Was it not reported to my lord what I did when Jezebel killed the prophets of the LORD, how I hid one hundred men of the LORD’s prophets, fifty to a cave, and fed them with bread and water?

Sounds like Obadiah is pretty scared.  He had not yet memorized Psalm 118:6 (see above).  Okay, even the best of us forget our memorized bible verses from time to time.  The point I"m trying to make is that no matter what situation we are going through, if we as Christians fear God and are obedient to His word to the best of our ability, we will be protected by Him.  We don't have to fear what "man" can do to us.  But should we forget our bible verse as Obadiah temporarily did, we can always pick ourselves up and start anew at any time.

To think about:

1) Who am I living my life for?  Another person or God?

2) Is there anything in my life that I'm not doing or doing because I'm afraid of what someone else will think?

What Do You Trust In?

These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.  Acts 17:11

I suppose an alternate title to this post could be "Are you gullible?"   So often, especially in today's times, we are advised or instructed to do things that may or may not line up with what God really intends for our lives.  Have you ever been in a situation where you were told or read something that you thought "just couldn't be right?"  Did you check it out with what the bible says to see whether or not it was true or trustworthy? 

Admittedly, I don't always check out every bible reference in a book or blog to make sure that what the teacher is saying is true.   I do though, know enough about the bible to know when something is way out of wack.  However, any of us can be misled if we allow ourselves to become complacent.  Just look at the "man of God" in 1 Kings 13.    This man was a prophet and was known for his testimony - yet, he still disobeyed God and met an untimely demise after he was deceived.    First, he did a little truth-telling to King Jeroboam based on what God had told him.  when King J asked him in for dinner, the man of God said:

...If you were to give me half your house, I would not go in with you; nor would I eat bread nor drink water in this place.  For so it was commanded me by the word of the LORD, saying, 'You shall not eat bread, nor drink water, nor return by the same way you came.' (1 Kings 13:8-9 NKJV)

Now there's some conviction and obedience, huh?  So good, so far. But an old prophet found out about the man of God's deeds, tracked him down and asked him to eat bread with him.  The man of God's answer was still the same.  "No, God told me not to". (my paraphrase).  So what happened then?  Take a look from 1 Kings 13:18-22.

18 He said to him, "I too am a prophet as you are, and an angel spoke to me by the word of the LORD, saying, 'Bring him back with you to your house, that he may eat bread and drink water,'" (He was lying to him.)

19 So he went back with him , and ate bread in his house, and drank water.

20 Now it happened, as they sat at the table, that the word of the LORD came to the prophet who had brought him back; 21 and he cried out to the man of God who came from Judah, saying, "Thus says the LORD: 'Because you have disobeyed the word of the LORD, and have not kept the commandment which the LORD your God commanded you, 22 but you came back, ate bread, and drank water in the place of which the LORD said to you, "Eat no bread and drink no water," your corpse shall not come to the tomb of your fathers.'"

To make  a long story short, on his way home, the man of God was killed by a lion.   The man of God was deceived by a prophet with a hidden agenda.  What a shame.   The bottom line here is that if God tells you through His word what you are supposed to do or how you are to live, don't let something or someone sway you from the truth that you know.   Likewise, if you are teaching someone truths from the bible, always encourage them to check you out for themselves to ensure what you are teaching is right.  Readers, please do that with what you read on blogs, or books or whatever you hear as teaching.  Please do it with this blog, and please let me know if something I say doesn't line up with the teaching of God's word.  Be like the Bereans Paul wrote about in Acts 17 and you can know what is or isn't "so".

What Are You Building?

I can't even begin to imagine what it was like for King Solomon to take on a project such as building a temple for God.  Can you?  It took 7 years to build that temple (1 Ki 6:38).  It takes me days to reorganize a closet!  :)  So as I came to 1 Kings 6 where we see Solomon's part in the temple building and we are told its dimensions and some of the intricate details of the inside, I am in awe of the whole process.  I wonder what a house made of cedar would smell like.  I wonder lots of things that I won't delve into here.

However there is one thing I noticed in the middle of the chapter that was also intriguing to me.  In the middle of all of the busy details, we see the following passage:

Then the word of the LORD came to Solomon, saying: "Concerning this temple which you are building, if you walk in My statutes, execute My judgments, keep all My commandments, and walk in them, then I will perform My word with you,which I spoke to your father David.  And I will dwell among the children of Israel, and will not forsake my people Israel."  (1 Kings 6:11-13 NKJV)

Think about this for a minute.  We know from previous chapters that it was Solomon's charge to build the temple, but what was God really concerned with?  As always, God was concerned with Solomon's character, not what Solomon was doing.  God made sure that Solomon remembered His promises of continued blessing to the house of David (2 Samuel 7:13), but also reiterated the conditions for the blessings to come.  Interesting.

The same is true for us.  God wants us to fulfill the plans He has for us, but we can't just "do, do, do" to achieve those plans.  It is easy to complete tasks.  It is not so easy to examine our hearts and obey God's instructions for our character.  That is why we must continually, humbly, give our thoughts and lives over to Him on a daily, hourly and minute-by-minute basis, so that He can complete His "building project" in us.

For mulling over:

1) What is my current "building project"?

2) What is my motivation for the "project"?

3) How am I allowing God to work in or on me as I complete the "project"?

Got Wisdom?

James 1:5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. (NKJV)

What is wisdom anyway?  To me, one of the best definitions without going to the dictionary I've heard is that wisdom is knowledge applied.  Knowledge applied.  Now that is easier said than done, huh?  Especially when third parties (i.e. our spouses, children, family & friends, co-workers)  come into play to challenge our emotions, etc.

How do we get wisdom?  How do we gain the understanding and discernment that is of God and that allows us to proceed through our daily lives with confidence and peace?  We get true wisdom from God.  We can gain knowledge through our experiences, but to apply lessons learned from past experiences to current circumstances takes God to change our hearts for a lasting effect to take place.

King Solomon wasn't afraid to ask for wisdom.  When he was just starting out in his kingship, he was a humble man.  Through his humility, he approached God for help.  Hmmm...wouldn't we all be wise to do the same in every circumstance?  Here's what Solomon said:

1 Kings 3:7 And now, O LORD my God, thou hast made thy servant king instead of David my father: and I am but a little child: I know not how to go out or come in.

8And thy servant is in the midst of thy people which thou hast chosen, a great people, that cannot be numbered nor counted for multitude.

9Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people?

10And the speech pleased the LORD, that Solomon had asked this thing.

God was pleased that Solomon asked.  When was the last time you asked for wisdom from God?  The bible says that the beginning of wisdom is the fear of the Lord.   Have you ever thought about why this is so?  I believe the reason is because it takes a humble heart, coming to God in reverant fear of His awesome power, to truly seek God's ways and not our own.  If we truly feared God - what He thought, how He is in control of everything - we would come crawling to Him seeking forgiveness and direction in our lives more often. 

Things to think about:

1) What things in my life am I still insisting on doing my way?

2) Who in my life could I treat with more lovingkindness if I asked God for wisdom in doing so?

3) How am I to proceed down the path of life God has chosen for me?