Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Speaking for God? Elijah.

Maybe you know people like this...they routinely say things like "God told me..." or "The Lord says...".

Sometimes it seems to fit. Other times it seems out of context. Especially when they say things about me, I want to be sure. I want to listen to the Spirit, but I don't believe that everyone who says they speak for God actually does speak for God. As the scripture says, we must "Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world." (1 John 4:1)

One man who was apparently 'legit' in this was Elijah. The first time we hear of him in 1 Kings is in ch. 17, v. 1. He is introduced, and says "As the LORD, the God of Israel, lives, whom I serve, there will neither be dew nor rain in the next few years except at my word." (1 Kings 17:1)

That's pretty bold! He's either going to be right, or wrong. There will not be any 'sort of' about that. This unambiguous language would not have been welcome to new king Ahab and hsi evil queen, Jezebel. These were evil people, who were systematically establishing the worship of a false god, Baal, in Israel, as well as promoting Asherah, a false religion.

God does not take kindly to rivals. He does not want us to be 'politically correct', if that means that we assume that all religions are the same. The bumper stickers I see with various symbols of various faiths that spell out the word "Coexist"...I don't believe God is quite as 'comfortable' with those as we are! In fact, if those stickers are meant to convey that 'all religions are equal', or 'all religions are the same', I believe that He would want us to be just as much against them as Elijah was against the prophets (and promoters) of Baal and Asherah worship!

It's one thing to be tolerant in a diverse society--I think that's good. But it should never confuse us to the point that we forget: The LORD--HE is God!

I find it interesting that, just before Elijah speaks this pronouncement, the Scripture doesn't follow the typical format saying "The Word of the Lord came to Elijah...". It does not tell us, specifically, that the Lord TOLD HIM to say that. Could He have, and it not be recorded? Yes, but that wouldn not be consistent with the pattern followed elsewhere in this book.

Is it POSSIBLE that Elijah pronounced the drought on his own? Is it possible that he saw so much of what Ahab and Jezebel were doing, and he was so close to, and passionate about God that he just 'had to' say something? Is it possible that his zeal for God compelled him to speak this kind of 'sentence' against Ahab and Jezebel, even though God had not told him to do so?

Yes, I believe it is. I believe the Holy Spirit was within Elijah, who apparently served the Lord already (v. 1), and moved him in this direction, even without 'telling him' to say it.

Here is the amazing thing: God backed it up!

God did not let it rain in the land for 3 years--just as Elijah said!

Apparenlty God was interested in backing up the message and mission of Elijah.

Does this mean that we can all go out and 'pronounce' things, assuming God will back us up? No!

To say something on behalf of God is a humbling experience. We want to be sure that we're not 'tossing God's name around' loosely (that is, by the way, the reason that false prophets--those who said something like 'Thus says the Lord...', and made a prediciton, only to have it not come true--were stoned to death.) It was a fearful thing to speak for God. You'd better make sure!

Yet, God DOES give the gift of prophecy to some people in the Church (Eph. 4), so we apparently can hear from God, and speak His words out in some cases.

I want God to speak to me; I want God to speak through me...but I do NOT want to take this lightly, or to throw God's name around flippantly.

If God moves me to say something, I will say it. If I am walking very closely to Him (as apparently Elijah was), I will hear His voice clearly. Then I will have the courage to speak it out and let Him take care of the rest.

May we all have the same closeness to God...and the same zeal...that Elijah did!

May we be so disturbed by evil--especially the worship of false gods--that we can't just accept the spirit of this world.

May we be God's servants, whatever personal cost necessary.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Sing 'till the earth shakes!

I like to sing in church.

There. I said it. I like singing.

I did NOT claim to sing very well, though.

Yet, not even I, on my worst day, could make the earth quake with my singing.

Paul and Silas did, though!

Paul and Silas had just delivered a demon-possessed girl (who happened to be making her 'masters' a lot of money), but the masters turned on them and brought them to the city officials...

Acts 16: 20-24.
"And when they had brought them before the magistrates, they declared, These fellows are Jews and they are throwing our city into great confusion.

They encourage the practice of customs which it is unlawful for us Romans to accept or observe!

The crowd [also] joined in the attack upon them, and the rulers tore the clothes off of them and commanded that they be beaten with rods.

And when they had struck them with many blows, they threw them into prison, charging the jailer to keep them safely.

He, having received [so strict a] charge, put them into the inner prison (the dungeon) and fastened their feet in the stocks."

No trail, no lawyer, no nothing...just stripped, beaten, and thrown into the 'inner prison'--essentially, the dungeon.

A bad day, to be sure! So where's the singing?
Look at the very next verse:

"But about midnight, as Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the [other] prisoners were listening to them..." (Acts 16:25)

After all this--public humiliation, severe beating, thrown into a dungeon, hands and feet midnight they were SINGING!

How can that be?
How can they rise above their circumstances like that?
Sometimes if we get a hangnail, we can't do anything but complain! Yet, here they were, singing. "And the other prisoners were 'listening to them'.

I'll bet!
Probably at first, they tried to shut them up, but as Paul and Silas kept singing, gaining strength and volume, the prisoners had to be stricken with the circumstances of Paul and Silas, and wondered the same thing we would "How can they be singing?"

What happened next?

"Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the very foundations of the prison were shaken; and at once all the doors were opened and everyone's shackles were unfastened." (Acts 16:26)

Their singing made the earth quake!

True, it probably had everything to do with the God they were singing to, and not the tonal quality of their singing, but...

God went on to deliver them, to bring the jailer and his family to faith in Jesus, at which time they were baptized and became part of the new church in Philippi....and only the Lord knows how the other prisoners responded in the long run (we do know that, even though their chains fell off and they had the opportunity to escape, Paul and Silas had made such an impression that NONE had fled!).

But the point is this: Paul and Silas had such a close connection with the Lord, that--even amidst these terrible, unjust, unfair circumstances, they were singing!

There is strength in singing to the Lord in spite of your circumstances.

Keep singing! Keep walking in the victory and positivity that the Lord gives. Who knows? Maybe you will make the earth quake!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Advising God (With video)

I am wise.
I know all things.
I can see the end from the beginning.
I know how circumtances should work together.

...or at least, this is the way I act sometimes!

There are many times that I 'Advise' God as to what should be...
"Lord, make this happen..."; "Lord, make him do that...";
Very often it would work out in my favor--if God took my advise.

But I am NOT God.
I do NOT know all things.
I can only see the here and now.
...and I can't possibly know how all circumstances will work together.

There is one ONE who can...

"33 Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
How unsearchable his judgments,
and his paths beyond tracing out!

34 “Who has known the mind of the Lord?
Or who has been his counselor?”

35 “Who has ever given to God,
that God should repay them?”

36 For from him and through him and to him are all things.
To him be the glory forever! Amen." (Romans 11:33-36)

Rather than 'advising' God, I must submit to Him.
Rather than telling Him what to do, I must take the time to learn from Him, hear His voice, and follow His leading.

I know that His is the best way.

Now, if I could just live it out!

Lord, I love you and know that you are Wise, powerful, and sovereign over the circumstances in my life. Help me to trust you. Help me to submit my will, my desires, and my future to you. Help me to learn to listen to the Holy Spirit's voice and follow in faith. Help me to learn to 'release' the circumstances and the outcome to You--in faith! Help me Trust in You alone!