Elijah

Through Eyes of Faith – Avoiding Isolation

Yesterday I mentioned a story in 2 Kings 6 about the prophet Elisha and the attempt by the king of Aram to capture him.  The servant saw the army and wondered what they were going to do to stay alive.  Elisha encouraged his servant to not be afraid, but he also prayed for him.  He helped to connect the dots between what God was doing and his life.  “God help him see it” God answered the prayer and he saw.

Don't wander off!

Don’t wander off!

Isolation is no friend to someone walking in faith because we are easily shaken on our own.  A life of faith is not something we just do on our own, nor should it be.  We live it out with each other.  We grow together.  What a privilege to be able to help someone see what God is doing in the midst of crisis and to receive the same ourselves!  It is awesome to be able to look at our brother and sister in Christ and say – “Keep your eyes on Jesus. Let’s do this together.”

How can you encourage someone to keep their eyes on Jesus, not in some cliché way like — “it will be okay”, but in a real way?  How can you help someone in a way that doesn’t diminish the junk they find themselves swimming in, but instead helps them look up out of it to the Lord who walks with them through it.  We need to pray with each other that God would open our eyes to whatever He has for us in any circumstance and to give us the faith needed for anything that might happen.

It is at this point that we are no longer paralyzed by the fear of the unknown, but are empowered by faith in the risen Savior.  This changes how we live! Elisha acts on what his eyes of faith tell him and he prays that God would strike them with blindness in verse 18 and God does it.

It would appear that the servant takes a deep breath and calms down also.  He has now seen that God is up to something big and he rests in it.   Do you rest in Him?  Do you find ways to stop, in the confidence of God’s Word and the ministry of His Spirit to rest in Him?  Do you apply that which we confess with our mouth about Jesus being the Lord?  That means giving up the desire to have it all perfectly arranged before stepping out in faith.  That means coming before the throne of God with open hands and knowing that the assurance we have for each day does not come from a paycheck or a career, but a relationship with Jesus Christ.

We need to be connected with each other.  We do know is that we will accomplish more walking in faith together than we will when we try to do it alone.

 

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Through the Eyes of Faith – Finding Calm in Chaos

In 2 Kings 6 there is a story about the prophet Elisha and the attempt by the king of Aram to capture him.  Early in the morning Elisha’s servant wakes up and looks out to find that a superior military force surrounded them while they slept. This terrified him as he could see the dangers, but he had no concept that there could be deliverance from it   He wondered to Elisha, “What should we do?”

Truthfully, we relate pretty well to this servant.  We worship together on Sundays and declare great truths about God together only to be discouraged by the chaos we find ourselves in on Monday.  How do we apply faith to daily life?

“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” – Hebrews 12:2

IMAG0138I remember when I would take my children swimming when they were babies. They would be absolutely calm and happy if I held them so that they could see me.  They would laugh, splash in the water, and even let me toss them in the air.   But the minute I spun them around in the water, and they could not see me any longer, they got tense and started to cry.  My hands never left their bodies and I never came close to letting them drown, but they lost sight of me and panicked at the sight of the mass of water around them.   While this seems funny to us, we just as easily do that when the circumstances of life overwhelm and we take our eyes off our Jesus.

 Life through eyes of faith is life fixed on Jesus Christ; we are called to look to Him in all things.  In Christ we receive the ability to stand firm no matter what circumstances come our way and gain confidence to take faith-filled risks.  There is a calm that comes upon us as we decide to keep looking to Jesus Christ and not to the circumstances around us.

Elisha tells his servant, “Do not fear! Those who are for us are greater than those who are against us.”  It took eyes of faith to see that.  It took assurance that there was greater power and purpose than what could be physically understood.

Calm in Chaos

Calm in Chaos

Everyday brings new opportunities to fix our gaze on Jesus Christ; He offers Himself to us.  It means to follow Him, even when the odds seem against us and the challenges are overwhelming.   We do well when we remember that there is nothing that can separate us from the love of God.  We gain confidence when we let God’s Word remind us that if God is for us who can be against us.  Our job is to glorify God by walking in obedience to Him, no matter what happens in life, because our life of faith is not built on life circumstance, but on Jesus Christ.

 

 

The way we serve proclaims who we serve. (Part 1)

Are you up for the challenge?

Life seems to come with ongoing challenges. There are the normal, everyday challenges of raising a family.  I know I never know what the next challenge will be or where it will come from with my children, I just know that the challenge will be there. In work, there are unexpected challenges that come up.  We respond to them in the best way we can, but there is always that question as to whether it is the right way.

Our life, if you really think about it, comes down to how we serve in the midst of challenges.  I know that many people will not look at serving God and others as our purpose, but really it is.  The way we serve will determine how our life actually looks.

I find a lot of comfort in reading the story of Elijah in the Old Testament.  Elijah is seen to be a strong man of God because he was one.  Yet, Elijah experienced the same cycles of struggle that we all do.

READY TO ROCK (Obedience) 

Elijah starts off like we all do.  He is ready to storm the gates and tell people what God’s Word is for them.  He goes to Ahab (the king) and tells him that there will not be any rain for the next few years.  Can you imagine that encounter?  “Hello Ahab, just so you know, there will not be any rain or dew until I say.  Ok.  You have a nice day.” I don’t think that is quite how it went.  This was not a popular message, but Elijah willingly did what the Lord told him.  This is seen in the next part of the story as Elijah is fed by birds.

“So he did what the LORD had told him.  He went to the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan and stayed there.  The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning and bread and meet in the evening, and he drank from the brook.”  1 Kings 17:5-6

Elijah’s obedience continues.  I don’t know about you, but if God told me to go sit in a ravine and wait for a bird to bring me food, I might have a few doubts.  We don’t see any of that here.  Elijah is at a place in his life where he just goes for it and God honors that.

The next story is about a widow that Elijah encounters.  She is in a desperate place and prepared to feed her son one last meal and then die.  God provides for her through Elijah and her flour and oil never runs out.  This is all working out nicely as up until this point all is well.  As with everything in life, things change.

UNEXPECTED CRISIS (Now what God?)

After some time, the son of this woman gets sick.  She is obviously upset and immediately points the finger at Elijah.

“What do you have against me, man of God?  Did you come to remind me of m sin and kill my son?” 1 Kings 17:18

Elijah is clearly surprised by this and takes the boy and cries out to the Lord.  Three times he stretches himself over the boy and begs God for life to return to the boy.  God answers his prayed and the boy lives! The woman was joyful and saw in a tangible way that God was at work in Elijah.

Now before we move on from there, let’s place ourselves in this story.  When I started ministry, I was like Elijah.  Wherever God asked me to go, I would go without question.  It was an exciting time with so many unknowns.  Then came our first real crisis in ministry.  The relationship with the church I was at was strained and we ended up having to leave.  This is where being obedience to God comes up against the crisis and a question is asked: “What now God?”

If we follow Elijah’s example, what do we do?  We go to God in prayer and ask Him for a resolution.  It was His Word that led Elijah there, after all.  There must be a plan!

Have you ever considered the way your life has gone?  I don’t mean that you dissect everything that ever happened, but you stop and consider God’s hand in the overall scope of your life.  I think this is significant in the discussion about how we serve.  We serve out of obedience and on our knees.  We serve by looking to God and trusting Him in crisis.

For our family, we are now almost 6 years removed from the crisis event.  God is faithful in everything.  That does not mean you will always be sitting in a ravine being fed by ravens.  Sometimes you will be weeping and asking God to answer your prayers. In both instances the best place to be is in service to God.

That we will continue with tomorrow, as we look at a place of confrontation and conflict, Elijah’s desire to give up and how God met him and strengthened him.