Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“You have also given me the shield of Your salvation, and Your right has held me up; Your gentleness has made me great…For you have girded me with strength for the battle.”
Psalm 18: 35, 39
“We never have more than we can bear.
The present hour we are always able to endure.
As in our days, so is our strength. If the trials of many years were gathered into one,
they would overwhelm us…but all is so wisely measured to our strength that the bruised reed is never broken.”
H. E. Manning
Today’s Study Text:
“And behold, there came a voice to him and said, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’…And the Lord said to him, ‘Go, return on your way to the Wilderness of Damascus; and when you arrive, anoint Hazael to be king over Syria. And anoint Jehu son of Nimshi to be king over Israel, and anoint Elisha son of Shaphat of Abel-Meholah to be prophet in your place.”
1 Kings 19: 13,15,16
“I Have a Lot For You To Do”
“From brokenness to mission is the human pattern.”
R. C. Sproul
What do I think is the purpose of my life?
In what ways am I fulfilling the calling and purpose God has given me?
“The prospect of making a difference for God gives an edge of excitement to even the most ordinary experience.”
W. Phillip Keller
“The purpose of our life is to receive the gift of the Savior and offer all we have and are to Him.”
Lloyd John Ogilvie
Standing high on the Mount of God, Elijah heard God’s voice. And for the second time, God asked the same question, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” When God asked this question earlier, Elijah was worn out from a journey that sapped his strength. But now, God wanted Elijah, to really think about what he was doing. God doesn’t repeat Himself in Scripture, it seems, unless He is trying to make a point or clearly bring something to our attention.
Thus, He asked Elijah again to contemplate the reason he was sitting high up on Horeb.
What did Elijah tell God? Interestingly, he began with the same scenario he had given God before, “I am the only one that’s left.” At this point, God could have told Elijah he was wrong. He could have flatly contradicted Elijah’s statement. God could have challenged Elijah and told him to stop his whining. But God didn’t take any of these routes. Instead, He said two very important words, “Go, return.” In other words, “Get back to work, Elijah. Return to the place where you were working before. Your job isn’t done yet. I have a lot more work for you to do.”
What an important statement this is for you and me. “Go, return.” You might be thinking to yourself, “Why is this so important?”
It is because you and I frequently find ourselves hitting a brick wall in our own lives. And the wall is named Jezebel.
Sometimes we think these Bible stories have little application to our lives in the 21st century. We don’t see God raining fire down from heaven, consuming an altar. We don’t hear the flapping wings of ravens bringing us food when we run out. Nor have I lived in a widow’s home and raised her son from the dead. However, please don’t, for a minute, think that the God of Elijah isn’t the same God of Dorothy or of you. Our God is the same today and always. Whatever the need is in your life today, which will answer the calling God has on your life and fulfill the purpose He has for you, He’s more than capable of accomplishing.
And so, after Elijah again reminded God of all he had done to promote the God of heaven and earth, God let Elijah know. “I have heard you. But I also remember when you wanted to give up and die. However, Elijah, My “To Do” list for you is quite long. I have a lot more that needs to be done. So get going. Return from where you came. Let’s get busy! There’s work to do!”
No Jezebel would thwart God’s purpose. Elijah didn’t need to worry about Jezebel’s threats. He didn’t have to feel he was all alone. For as Dave Earley reminds us. “There is no reason to feel insignificant or that life is without meaning. You were made on purpose, with purpose.” Just like Elijah!
I’ll even go this far in my review of Elijah’s work to say that after conversation with God, and his return to Israel, the impact of his work and the impact of his life really took off. God had him anoint the king of Syria, anoint the king of Israel and most importantly anoint his successor, Elisha. And it was the nearly ten year apprenticeship, having Elisha working side-by-side with him, establishing schools of the prophets throughout Israel, that made a lasting difference in the spiritual life of God’s children.
Here’s the bottom line regarding the life of Elijah from Horeb to heaven -- this ten year time-frame proved to be one of the most effective in Elijah’s life. Yet, what we too frequently focus on in Elijah’s life is one day on Mt. Carmel and the battle with the prophets of Baal. However, we would be a lot more inspired in our own lives if we chose to reflect on the tasks God gave Elijah to do nearer the end of his life -- tasks that proved to undergird the spiritual lives of God’s children down through time.
As I reflected on this portion of Elijah’s life, I thought about a practical, real-life example I’ve been blessed to have in my own life. A couple named Ken and Dottie Phillips. As a young couple, newly married, God called them to join with the worldwide ministry of World Vision. Ken and Dottie went to South Korea where they established 145 orphanages. Let me be clear, they didn’t just take over the work at orphanages. No! Ken found the land. Oversaw the building projects. It was a ground-up operation this team undertook. Right in the middle of their work, they received a devastating phone call. Ken’s father, also a minister, had dropped dead of a massive heart attack.
Even in the face of this tragedy, Ken and Dottie stayed on the frontline for God. Not just ten or twenty years. No! For fifty-five plus years. But here’s the real lesson I learned from these two heavenly treasures! Several years ago, when one might think it was time to relax and wind down, and I know a lot of people who would have, they ran into a Jezebel. It wasn’t a female Jezebel like the one who attacked Elijah. It was a male individual who had the same characteristics of Jezebel. Someone who was deceitful and devious. I watched as some very unfair treachery was undertaken. But rather than retaliate or run to a cave and hide, Ken and Dottie were called by God to establish a new ministry.
Here’s the thing. They have raised six phenomenal children. And so they developed a ministry called The Hunger Solution that feeds children and families in need. But there’s more. They send a daily devotional around the world especially targeted to families to encourage them in their challenges with keeping God at the center of family life. And I just have a little feeling, that while all the work Ken and Dottie have done through the years has blessed so many people, it is the work with families that God has prepared them for during the past fifty years. Now, all they have learned, all the experiences they have gained are being shared around the world via the internet, with pastors, lay evangelists and moms and dads whom they may never meet personally, but are helping, one family at a time.
I share this real life example with you because right now you may feel, like Elijah, stuck on a mountaintop all alone. You may dislike what you call a dead-end job. You may think you aren’t going anywhere. And you can’t make out God’s purpose or plan for your life.
It’s not easy feeling as though you are stuck in a rut with your tires spinning and mud flying around.
Hold on! Don’t give up. For God’s preparing you to fulfill the purpose He has for you. I want to share the words of Father Andrew who noted: “There are often great opportunities in the little things of life. An ordinary life may be quite extraordinary…beneath the conventional clothes of the local tailor, and the daily progress along the pavement of the same dull streets, is going on all the while the spiritual movement of a soul…Little lives bring great opportunities for a great love, and have been the steps of a heavenly ladder to the greatest of lives.”
“Go, return!” This is God’s word to you! He has a purpose for you. And He is calling you to accept the work He has for you to do.
“We exist to exhibit God, to display His glory. We serve as canvases for His brush stroke, papers for His pen, soil for His seeds, glimpses of His image.”
“Lord Jesus Christ, the Way by which we travel; show me Thyself, the Truth that we must walk in; and be in me the Life that lifts up to God, our journey’s ending.”
Frederick B. Mac Nutt
“Because this is my work, O Lord,
It must be Thine;
Because it is a human task
It is divine.
Take me, and brand me with Thy cross,
Thy slave’s proud sign.”
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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