Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“God, even our own God, will bless us.”
“Learn the Divine skill of making God all things to thee. He can supply thee with ALL; or, better still, He can be to thee instead of ALL. Let me urge thee, then, to make use of thy God. Make use of Him in prayer; go to Him often, tell Him ALL thy wants…If some dark providence has beclouded thee, use thy God as a ‘sun’; if some strong enemy has beset thee, find in Jehovah a ‘shield’; for He is a sun and a shield to His people. If thou hast lost thy way in the mazes of life, use Him as a ‘guide’; for He will direct thee. Whatever thou art, and wherever thou art, remember God is just what thou wantest, and just where thou wantest and that He can do all thou wantest!” - Charles H. Spurgeon
“O little heart of mine!
Shall pain or sorrow make thee moan,
When all this God is all for thee—
A Father all thine own!”
Today’s Study Text:
“Elijah the Tishbite…said to Ahab, ‘As the Lord, the God of Israel, lives, before Whom I stand.”
1 Kings 17: 1
“I Stand Before A God Who Is Alive”
“Doesn’t it put iron in your bones and steel in your guts to see that, whatever threat arises, with Yahweh the defense is always ready.”
If I had lived in Israel during the rule of King Ahab, would I have ever wondered what God was doing?
When I face trouble and sorrow in my own life, do I ever ask God, “Where are you and why aren’t you helping me?”
“When we are defeated and God does not speak; He is leading us to the end of ourselves and to a complete confidence in Him.”
Changed Into His Image
“When God speaks, things happen because the words of God aren’t just as good as His deeds, they are His deeds.”
Over the past weeks, as I’ve studied about Elijah and the time in history when he lived, I asked myself this question: “If you lived in Bethel, during the reign of Jeroboam until the wicked Ahab took the throne, what would you have thought God was doing?” I chose the city of Bethel because this was an area that was considered the highmark of the historical spirituality in the country of Israel at that time. The name of the city alone should give us an idea of the sacred view of this city for the word “Bethel” is identified as “the house of God.”
When called of God to leave his familiar surroundings and journey to an unknown country where God was leading him, Genesis 12: 6-8 tells us that Abraham stopped near Bethel where he built an altar to Jehovah. Then years later, we find Jacob, after fleeing the wrath of his brother Esau, whom he cheated out of the family birthright, receiving solace at Bethel where God, in merciful, kindness, came to him in a dream during the night, to reaffirm to Jacob that He was his God -- his Father. When Jacob arose in the morning, he took the stone that he had used for “his pillows and set it up for a pillar, and poured oil upon the top of it” (Genesis 28: 11-18, K.J.V.).
With this background, where Jacob referred to Bethel as a “sanctuary place,” it is no wonder that when evil attacked the good during the rulership of Jeroboam, it was the choice of this rebellious king, to make Bethel one of his false worship centers by placing a golden calf in the city to divert the spiritual attention of his subjects from Jerusalem in the southern kingdom.
As I thought about the idea of living in Bethel during the forty plus years of idolatry, from Jeroboam to Ahab, I considered what it would have been like to be a follower of God in such a God-forsaken time. I wondered how I would have responded if someone had confronted me with the question, “Well, Dorothy, where is this God of yours right now?” Psalm 79 is a perfect example of the frustration Asaph felt for the wicked situation he witnessed: “How long, Lord?...pour out Thy wrath upon the heathen that have not known Thee…for they have devoured Jacob, and laid waste his dwelling place” (Psalm 79: 5-7, K.J.V.). And in Psalm 94: 3, David gives God a piece of his mind when he asks: “ Lord, how long shall the wicked, how long shall the wicked triumph?”
When evil seems to sprout like well watered weeds, it has not been uncommon for God’s devoted children to scratch their heads and wonder aloud, “Where is God? Does He notice what’s going on? Is He even alive?”
It is this great question, “Is God alive?” which for all time, has led to conjecture by God’s foes and strong defense by His friends. As Blaise Pascal so correctly noted, “The evidence of God’s existence and His gift is more than compelling, but those who insist that they have no need of Him or it will always find ways to discount the offer.” It is this exact thinking that brings us to focus on the “out-of-the-blue” appearance of Elijah -- for if you or I had chosen to doubt God’s existence during a time of great evil in the land, Elijah’s entrance out of nowhere would have done a huge amount to convince me that my God was alive and well. Or as the great English author Emily Bronte exclaimed, “O God within my breast. Almighty! Ever-present Deity!” Yes -- God was and is alive!
The words spoken by Elijah, when he walked unattended and unnoticed into the throne room of King Ahab, carry the emotion of one who spoke about a known God. A majestic God, whose rulership was undeniable. And so Elijah boldly pronounced, in the face of earthly power, “Surely God lives, the God of Israel before whom I stand in obedient service.” I have to tell you, these words give me goosebumps when I read them. No hesitation. No equivocation. Elijah, we are told, was an individual who long before he was called of God, knew God. He didn’t have a wishy-washy relationship based on whether God would do what he wanted him to do. Elijah knew God in the way Jim Elliot so beautifully expresses: “Oh, the fullness, pleasure, sheer excitement of knowing God on Earth!” It was on behalf of the God of heaven and earth, whose call to obedience Elijah unquestionably heeded, that moved God’s prophet to courageously defend, despite the threat of death.
“Yes! My God is alive! Yes! My God rules. And yes! I stand before Him, not you, King Ahab!” Oh that we would, even in the most dark moments of our life; even during those times when our Father is silent; and when from all outward appearance it looks as though God is not at work, remember that our God lives.
Ronald Wallace so aptly describes the situation Elijah faced when he confronted Ahab: “Elijah’s appearance, so suddenly, reminds us that we need not despair when we see great movements of evil achieving spectacular success on this earth, for we may be sure that God, in unexpected places, has already secretly prepared His counter-movement…the situation is never hopeless where God is concerned. Whenever evil flourishes, for at the height of the triumph of evil God will be there, ready, with His man (or woman) and His movement and His plans to ensure that His own cause will never fail.”
“I know of nothing which so quiets and enlivens my own spiritual life as the knowledge that ‘God knows what He is doing with me!’”
“God, this word we call You by is almost dead and meaningless, transient and empty like all the words men use. We ask You to renew its force and meaning, to make it once again a name that brings Your promise to us. Make it a living word which tells us that You will be for us as You have always been -- trustworthy and hidden and very close to us, Our God, now and ever.”
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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For more from Dorothy, please visit transformationgarden.com.