Jun 25, 2019
Join us as we explore God's ancient wisdom and apply it to our modern lives. His word is as current and relevant today as it was when he inspired its authors more than two and a half millennia ago. The websites where you can reach us are alittlewalkwithgod.com, richardagee.com, or saf.church.
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Thanks for joining me today for "A Little Walk with God." I'm your host Richard Agee.
If you didn’t grow up in the church, you might not know much about the prophet Elijah. There are some pretty interesting stories about him and his exploits in the Old Testament. He did some things that would make Harry Houdini, David Blaine, and David Copperfield look like kindergarten magician wannabes. But one of his most famous exploits is found in 1 Kings 19. It tells of his confrontation with Jezebel’s prophets of Baal. He faced off against 450 of them and set the conditions for the contest. Both teams would set up a sacrifice and the god who answered by fire would be the God the Israelites served.
The Baal prophets and priests danced and prayed and cried and screamed and cut themselves, but no fire fell. Then at the time of the evening sacrifice it was Elijah’s turn. He built the altar, killed the bull, placed the wood and the sacrifice on the altar, then did what everyone thought was really stupid. He poured twelve barrels of water over the whole thing until everything was drenched and even the trench around the altar was full of water.
Elijah then prayed a simple prayer. God, show these people who you are, consume this sacrifice with fire. Fire fell from heaven and suddenly the sacrifice was burned to a crisp, the wood was gone, the stones of the altar were burned up, and the water in the trench was boiled away. There was nothing left of the sacrifice but a smoking pile of dirt where everything had been.
“So who will you serve? Who is God? Don’t let any of those false prophets escape!” Were the next words from Elijah.
So God did this miraculous thing for Elijah. He showed him time and again how powerful he was and how he would protect him. But right after this a strange thing happens. Elijah hears that Jezebel is unhappy that Elijah bested her priests and prophets and put a price on his head. And what does Elijah do? He shakes in his boots and runs away to hide.
God just showed his incredible power. God just demonstrated how he would answer Elijah’s prayer in time of need. God just got Elijah out of a spot that would surely have meant his death if his opponents had been successful. But now the queen says she’s out to get him and he is afraid she might. Elijah doesn’t trust God to take care of him. He doesn’t think God is bigger than this wicked queen. A pretty amazing story isn’t it.
We can look at Elijah and laugh at him. What an idiot! Why can’t you see that God is bigger than your problem? Why can’t you see that God is going to take care of you? Why can’t you see the connection between what he has done for you in the past and what he will likely do for you in the future? Well…
Maybe we should look in the mirror before we start throwing rocks at the poor fugitive.
I have to admit, God has done some really cool things in my life. He has taken me through some pretty rough times and gotten me out to the other end better than I could ever imagine. I would like to think I would use all that experience and tell you I never worry about anything. I’d like to tell you I always act like God has everything under control and I’m absolutely confident the outcome will be exactly right. I’d like to tell you to watch me and you’ll see a perfect example of perfect faith in the God who specializes in miracles. But I can’t.
I’m broken and flawed and sometimes forget all those things God has done in the past. I sometimes forget he is in the miracle working business. I know it in my head, but my actions show that my faith isn’t perfect. I still want to trust me more than God sometimes. Every now and then, just like Elijah, I find myself fearing the future I think is around the corner instead of keeping my eyes lifted up and focused on him. I end up running into the wilderness thirsty, hungry, exhausted, looking for an escape from something that really isn’t there, but I’m afraid it might be.
Have you ever experienced that? It’s the place too many of us find ourselves and don’t know how to get out of it. We, like Elijah, let ourselves get into the mullygrubs over stuff that God has already fixed if we would just stop and listen to him. Take a look at the rest of the story.
Elijah fell asleep under a broom tree, exhausted. An angel woke him up and told him to eat some food and drink some water from the little brook by him. Then he slept some more. The angel woke him a second time and told him to eat and drink. Then Elijah got smart and went to the mountainside to find God. There Elijah learned a powerful lesson about finding God. He wasn’t in the thunder and lightning. He wasn’t in the tornado like wind. He came as a whisper in the gentle breeze and assured Elijah he had his back. He let Elijah know he wasn’t alone in the world or even in his little piece of the world. Elijah thought he was fighting all the battles by himself against this wicked royal couple. Has wrong. Hundreds were hidden away ready to help Elijah in the cause of ousting this corrupt monarchy. God had plans for Ahab and Jezebel. Elijah would be a part of that plan, but God would be a bigger part. He would exact his vengeance so that all would remember it was God who took care of the wicked team.
So what do we learn from Elijah? We can trust God when the going gets tough. He didn’t take Elijah out of the situation. Jezebel still had a bounty out for his head. Jezebel still wanted the prophet dead. Elijah still lived in the wilderness instead of a palace, but God took care of his needs. I’m sure he would have enjoyed a more comfortable bed or a warmer place to sleep every once in a while, but God took care of his needs. And that’s the point.
The second thing we learn from Elijah’s encounter is that too often we look for the grandiose, the loud and boisterous, the spectacular, to figure out where God might be. But more often than not, he is waiting for us to quiet ourselves so we can hear his gentle voice. It’s a technique my father taught me a long time ago and I’ve used it often as a leader in the military, as a pastor, and as a father myself. If you really want someone to pay attention to what you have to say, you don’t scream at them. That only elicits a fight or flight response built into the primal survival instinct in our brain. No, if you want someone to pay attention to you, you get quiet. Make them strain their ears just a little to understand you. It forces the brain to put the sounds together and comprehend what the words mean.
God does that for us. He doesn’t scream at us. He speaks to us in a gentle whisper. He wants our attention, not our fear. He wants us to tremble in awe when he speaks, not because of the noise, but because we recognize he is God and choose to speak to sinners in such a calm and gentle manner.
It’s beyond belief. It’s past just mercy. It’s grace. It’s God extending his love to us in such an extraordinary way that it’s hard to even imagine that he would stoop so low as to give us attention in the first place, let alone speak to us and care about us. But that is who he is. He wants so desperately to have an intimate relationship with us that he wrapped himself in human flesh and lived with us for more than thirty years on this filthy, sinful planet. He showed us love. Even when we killed him, he loved us and proved his loved for us through that execution and the forgiveness he offers even through his death and resurrection.
So why do we have such a hard time believing God will take care of us? Why do we have trouble thinking we know better than he does about what we need and how best to figure out the next steps to take in our lives? Why are we so sure we have the answers to life’s questions? Sometimes I think God made us too smart. Sometimes I think we might be better off if we couldn’t think and just went about life the way the dumb animals do, operating on pure survival instinct. But then we would no longer be considered God’s highest creation, would we? Instead, we need to stop and use the grey matter God put between our ears and get our head and heart to work together to understand who God is and who we are in relation to him. He is the creator. It isn’t hard to understand that everything had to come from something in the beginning. There must have been a starting point. But if you go back far enough, it starts with nothing, just as Genesis says. Some will tell you it started with a big bang. Okay, where did the Big Bang come from? If there was nothing there, how did the bang happen? The answer is God. He spoke and bang, the beginning. There was light and dark, the first day.
And from that very first word from his consciousness, his design was to create us to have an intimate relationship with him. He wanted a higher created being to worship him. His God. We are not. We get that confused because we listened to the voice of that deceiver, Satan in the Garden of Eden the first time. And ever since Adam and Eve allowed themselves to be lured by the lies, we have also fallen prey to Satan’s schemes. We believe we can be as wise as God. We believe we can rule the universe.
We can’t. We can’t rule the universe or our tiny little planet or even ourselves most of the time. We have so little control over most everything around us, but we believe the lie that we are in control. The truth is I have almost no control over anything. I can control me sometimes, but that’s it. And most of me, I can’t control. I can only hold my breath a few seconds before my brain says breath and I can’t help but suck in air. I can’t stop my heart by just wishing it. I can’t make my eyes stop blinking. So much of me, I don’t even control. And try to control someone else? Forget it. Control the world around me? Try to grab a tornado by the tail or stop a volcano from blowing its top. Right!
But God can do any or all of those things with a word. He is God. He knows us. He made us. He loves us. Because God is who he is, Elijah learned to trust him. Did he slip up at times? Sure. The story we heard today shows us he did. We can learn to trust him, too. Will we slip us at times? Sure. But we can trust him because he is God. Give yourself to him and watch what he can do.
You can find me at richardagee.com. I also invite you to join us at San Antonio First Church of the Nazarene on West Avenue in San Antonio to hear more Bible based teaching. You can find out more about my church at SAF.church. Thanks for listening. If you enjoyed it, tell a friend. If you didn't, send me an email and let me know how better to reach out to those around you. Until next week, may God richly bless you as you venture into His story each day.