As I finished reading the book of James, I came across the following verse in chapter 5. “Elijah was as human as we are, and yet when he prayed earnestly that no rain would fall, none fell for three and half years! Then, when he prayed again, the sky sent down rain and the earth began to yield crops.” It made me want to study Elijah more closely. I want my prayers to be that powerful. So, I have been reading 1 Kings 17-19 over and over the past week.
There is so much in these three chapters. I know there are only three chapters, yet those three chapters cover a time span of at least three and a half years, because the drought lasted that long.
There are so many neat and miraculous stories in those few chapters. God sends Elijah away so he is protected from Jezebel. He sends him to a brook where he has a water source, and God sends ravens to feed him meat and bread. Daily birds come and bring him food. He stays there until the brook dries up.
Then God sends him to a widow, who is getting ready to make a loaf of bread from the last of the oil and flour she has. Her and her son are going to eat a last meal and then die. Instead, Elijah stays with this widow, and every day there is always enough flour and oil in the jars to support Elijah, the widow, and her family.
While Elijah stays with them the widow’s son becomes ill and dies. Elijah the prophet of God is able through the power of God to bring the boy back to life. Raising someone from the dead, one of the most miraculous miracles there are.
Next comes the contest at Mt Carmel, between Elijah and Jezebels prophets. Their gods against Elijah’s God. A contest involving calling down fire from heaven. I won’t give it away and tell you who wins but trust me it is worth reading. Look it up 1 Kings chapter 18.
Then in chapter 19 is one of my favorite passages. The part where the Lord speaks to Elijah. But God was not in the wind, or the earthquake, or the fire. God was in the gentle whisper. So often I look for God in the big and the bold, yet I know he comes in the whisper. When he whispers, I have to listen intently to hear.
In the middle of all these great and wonderful things happening, is the following verse 18:66, and God’s sense of humor comes through, the reminder to keep it light. That I serve a God who says don’t forget to smile. Because verse 66 says “Then the Lord gave special strength to Elijah. He tucked his cloak into his belt and ran ahead of Ahab’s chariot, all the way to the entrance of Jezrel.
God has done all these amazing things through Elijah, then he gives him the super natural strength to outrun Ahab’s chariot. I get this picture of Ahab in his chariot, with the fastest horse, and he is smacking the horse to go and Elijah just goes jogging past him. If it were a movie the theme from chariots of fire would be playing in the background. I hear Ahab saying, man that little prophet man sure can run.
I serve a God who is full of strength and power and miracles. Yet I feel he is a God who says don’t forget to smile and learn to enjoy life.
God may I see the miracles, hear you in the soft whisper, and always find the joy, in the funny things in life.
Sometimes in the mornings, before I get to work, I get calls from drivers or some of our customers, while I am still at home. There are times when I get those calls and I am just getting out of the shower. One morning this week when I took a call, I had this fear, what would happen if I accidentally answered one of those calls as a FaceTime. How embarassing could that be?
When we FaceTime, we become aware of things that are in the background of our screen, of our lives. We become aware of how messy our house is. We are more aware of what we are wearing when we answer the phone, what we look like, maybe what we are watching on the TV behind us.
It gives the person on the other end of the call a glance into our private life.
So, I thought, what if God were to FaceTime me? Would there be anything behind me I need to shield from his vision? Would I be moving the phone to conceal anything? Would I need to clean up anything before I answered? Would there be anything embarassing in the background? Would I be rushing around to “hide” anything?
As I thought about that, it hit me, God FaceTime’s us constantly all the time. He is after all, omnipresent. He sees everything, that we might try to hide from the screen. I wasn’t feeling too bad about myself when I thought about that, because there wasn’t anything that I thought I would need to hide, or put away, or conceal in my house. (As if I could).
But then I thought about the other ommi word, omniscient. Then I began to be convicted. The fact that God knows everything. God also FaceTimes our thoughts, and heart everyday. I became less confident about that.
When someone cuts me off in traffic, God hears that name that I call them even though I don’t say it outloud. When someone doesn’t live up to my expectation, God knows I judge them, or write them off. I cancel out giving them a second chance, when on the outside I smile and say, it’s OK, God knows. When I am angry with someone and smile that fake smile, but on the inside I am thinking bad thoughts about them, God knows. When someone gets something I wish I had, and I smile and say congratulations but on the inside my jelousy runs green, God knows? When Brett does something that annoys me, and I lie and say, no I am not upset, Brett and God both know.
God FaceTimes my life, my thoughts, and my heart all day long. How do I measure up? Somedays OK, somedays not so well. Lucky for me there is a third omni word, omnipotent. Omnipotent means, unlimited power, able to do anything.
God is able to do anything. He is able to forgive those days I don’t do so well. He has the power to help me improve in those areas, that I constantly fail in. He is able to love me when I think I have messed it up to bad to be loveable. I am thankful I serve a God who is omnipotent, who has the power to overcome, fix, and heal anything.
Luke 1:37 “For Nothing will be impossible with God.””
This morning I got woke up by a work call before the alarm went off. I answered it, then rolled over hoping to go back to sleep. I am not a morning person and don’t like getting up before I have to. Then I received a work text, still before the alarm went off. I had to make a call to answer this one, so I just went ahead and got up.
I did my reading, actually had a really good morning read. I was still ahead of schdule so decided to get ready for work and go in a little early. Bella was coming to work today anyway, and that would give me time to get payroll done before her Mommy dropped her off.
As I was driving to work, I noticed this woman walking the streets of the small town I live in. I had noticed this woman three or four times this week. I have a feeling this woman has been walking our streets for awhile, and I have just never noticed her. She has just been a fixture of our downtown that I ignored. Shame on me.
As I drove by, I had that sense that I needed to stop and give her some money. (This is not a look at me blog post, quite the contrary. And I am not someone who stops and hands out money very often. Sad to say I tend to be more judgemental than giving in those situations). At first I just drove on by. As I approached the next street I had that nudge that said you can turn around. I kept going. I was already beating myself up for not listening and responding right away. That small voice said, “It is never too late to be obedient.” I turned at the next street and headed back the way she was.
By the time I got back there I didn’t see her. I was stopped at a light and noticed her in a bank parking lot to the left of me, but there was a car behind me so I couldnt back up. I waited for the light to turn, afraid I would miss her. she had already started down the street again by the time the light changed. I was finally able to turn into a street right before her, she was on a corner.
I parked and jumped out, walked over to her and said, “I don’t know your story, but I have seen you walking all week, and think it might not be going so well.” I gave her some money and told her to buy herself breakfast. She said she already had breakfast. I told her to keep it for something else that she might need.
She started telling me this story about how she had run into some trouble, and had an insurance claim coming in, and the money should be wired to that bank today. I hope that is the case, but I think that as women, no matter what our status or situation, we try and make things appear better than they really are.
I listened to her a few minutes then said I had to get going. I got back in my car and headed to work. I realized after I left that I should have prayed with her, but I forgot. I did pray for her on the rest of my short drive to work. I prayed that God would protect her, and provide for her needs.
I don’t know if God got me up early today to meet a need for that woman or not. I do know God used that woman this morning to teach me a lesson about obedience, that it is never TOO late to be obedient.
2 John 1:6 ” Love means doing what God has commanded us, and he has commanded us to love one another, just as you heard from the beginning.”
God may I get better about noticing those around me, those who blend in and become part of the fixtures. May I get better about being obedient quicker.
Weekends mess up my quiet time, time spent in the mornings with God. Isn’t that ironic, that Sunday should mess up my quiet time? But they do, during the week I am more in a routine and get up and spend time reading, praying, or just listening. Saturday and Sundays I get up and don’t immediately go to it. I feel like I have the whole day and it gets away from me.
The thing is when I miss on Saturday and Sundays I have a harder time getting up on Monday mornings, and if I am not careful three or four days go by and I am starting my week out bad. And the thing is, I know what a difference it makes in my life if I take that time each morning to spend with God.
My life runs so much easier when I start my days out with Him. My life runs easier. Does my life run easier because I am spending time with Him or because I feel better about myself? When I am reading and praying am I mentally crossing them off an imaginary list in my head that I don’t even realize exist? So, I feel better about myself and don’t feel guilty?
I don’t really think that is it – when I am reading and praying, then God is at the center of my life and not me. My decisions and actions and responses come from a life less me centered and more outward centered. So, I know he changes me when I spend time with him. I am growing there, but there is an area lacking.
I haven’t reached that point yet that when I miss a few days of reading or praying, that I don’t feel guilty. I want to grow to where when I miss a few days I don’t feel guilty for missing my reading, but that I feel sad because I have missed time with God.
If I look at my phone and see a missed call from Brett, or my kids, or a good friend I feel let down because I missed the call. I don’t feel guilty because I didn’t get to answer it, I feel sad I missed talking with them. I missed what they had to say, what they wanted to tell me.
There is a difference. Being sad I missed it comes from the heart. Feeling guilty I missed it comes from my actions. Feeling sad about missing it is conviction, feeling guilty is condemnation. Conviction comes from God, condemnation comes from Satan.
I have reached a point in my relationship with God that I know spending time with him changes my heart. I still haven’t reached that point yet where missing time with him breaks my heart.
God fill my heart with a deep desire to spend time with you, break the cycle of guilt when I don’t. Let me be lead by conviction and not condemnation.
James 4:7 & 8 “humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Come close to God , and God will come close to you.
In chapter four, James is talking about we can not be friends with the world, and friends with God. We have to choose one or the other. It doesn’t mean shutting ourselves out of the world. If we did that how would they ever know we are different? We can be in the world but not of the world.
I feel like we throw this verse around to people. We throw it out as a life line not attached to anything. If we just say resist the devil and he will flee from you, we aren’t really helping, if we don’t give them tools to go along with it.
What are the tools we need to resist the devil? The things to tie our life line to?
Do you want to be able to resist temptations when they arise? Draw close to God and He will draw close to you. Tie your life line to the one who knows how to make the devil flee.
Things are not always what they seem. It looks like Brett is falling off the back of the boat. The picture is deceiving, Brett is really just getting in the boat. ( thank goodness because no one is paying attention to Brett, all eyes are on Bella’s first boat ride). When we only see one frame of a picture, or only hear part of a story we can be deceived.
Our lives can be that way also. We can deceive people into thinking we have it all together, when we are really falling apart. We can deceive people into thinking our lives are perfect, when in reality they are in shambles. We can deceive people into thinking our finances are in order, when we are really drowning in debt. We can deceive people into thinking we are sober, when we have relapsed. We can deceive people into thinking we are fine, when we are not.
Sometimes we deceive thinking we are protecting others. Sometimes we deceive to protect our pride. Sometimes we deceive because deceiving is easier than opening up. Sometimes we deceive because we just don’t want to bother someone else with our problems, or we feel no one really wants to be bothered. Sometimes we deceive because being honest takes too much. Sometimes we deceive because we have been deceiving so long we don’t know any other way.
Colossians 3:9 ” Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices”
This verse is very clear, that as believers, we are not to lie to each other, we are not to deceive each other. We need to be careful about deceiving each other, even if we feel we are doing the right thing. Who knows what you being honest about a situation, might do in encouraging someone else. You never know who might encourage you in a situation, if they knew what was truly going on in your life.
Just like the picture, things are not always the way they appear. We need to be careful about the life we present, so we don’t fall off the back of the boat while no one is looking.
Thank you to those who are serving and have served in the past. Thank you to you and your families for your sacrifice. Because of your service this sweet girl is free to stand and watch a parade go by, free to fly a flag, and free to dance to the beat of a marching band. THANK YOU!