Category: Nature


Known

I am, the rose
blooming in splendor,
shaken by the breeze,
looking up to heaven,
smaller than the trees.
Stop, and take a whiff,
a gander, if you please.
I will still be,
the rose-
loved,
by the bees.

Scripture

1 Kings 19:3-5 (NIV)

3 Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, 4 while he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness. He came to a broom bush, sat down under it, and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.”

Observation

We all need encouragement sometimes. It doesn’t matter how long we’ve walked with the Lord or what He’s done in and through us, we need an encouraging word. Let’s look at the case of Elijah the Tishbite.

Elijah had such a strong anointing that he was able to stop it from raining by his word (1 Kings 17:1). His faith was so great that he did what God told him to do without question. When God told him to hide in the Kerith Ravine and that ravens were going to supply him with food, he believed God and went and hid at the Ravine. Ravens brought Elijah food every morning and evening (1 Kings 17:2-6). When the brook that was supplying him water dried up, the Lord told him to go to Zarephath, to a widow there, who the Lord had directed to supply Elijah with food (1 Kings 17:7-9). and Elijah went! (1 Kings 17:10)

You might be thinking to yourself that a man who had gone, at the direction of the Lord, to live at a brook and be fed by the birds, surely would go someplace else and let a human supply his needs, right? Well, the land of Zarephath, in the region of Sidon was a place of gentiles. Anyone who isn’t Jewish is a Gentile. In Elijah’s time, God had been very clear that His chosen people, The Israelites, were not only to not associate with gentiles, because they worshiped other gods and would corrupt the Jews with their practices. Furthermore, each day, a Jewish rabbi, such as Elijah, would wake up and pray, “Thank you God that I was not born a slave, a Gentile, or a woman. I can’t imagine what went through Elijah’s mind at the time. All that we know from the text is that Elijah did exactly what God told him to do (1 Kings 17:10). Elijah was the first missionary sent to a foreign people. That took faith.

When the widow’s son died, Elijah did something else in faith that had never been done before in the Bible. He prayed and asked God to bring the woman’s son back to life (1 Kings 17:20-23). It might not seem like a big deal to us today. We know that God heals the sick and raises the dead. A large part of our faith is based on what know God has done in the past. It’s one way we get encouragement. I can say, “I may sick, right now, but God has healed me before, He can do it again.” It’s one reason that Zechariah, John the Baptist’s father, was made mute by the angel Gabriel when he asked the angel, “How can I be sure of this?” (Luke 1:18-20) Zechariah knew of his forefather Abraham and how he was an old man with a wife who, in the natural, couldn’t bear children and yet, because of the promise of God, they had Isaac. And there were many other cases afterward of God bringing healing to barren couples. Zechariah doubted. Elijah, however, believed that God could do anything so he asked for the widow’s son’s life to be restored and God did it.

There’s no doubt that Elijah had a rock-solid faith in God. By the time we see Elijah here, afraid and running for his life, he had seen God do so much. However, Jezebel, King Ahab’s wife, told him that she was going to kill him so he ran in fear. (1 Kings 19:2-3). We can see that Elijah was a man of great faith. I believe that Elijah also had humility. We know that God opposes the proud but shows grace to the humble (James 4:6). In his prayer to the Lord, “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors” (1 Kings 19:4 NIV), I see the force of humility at work. Elijah knew, just as we know, that the things that God had him do had never been done before. The greatest prophet before Elijah had been Moses. I can see Elijah hoping that God would use him like Moses and then, when he became afraid and ran, thinking that he “was no better than his ancestors” who had rejected the covenant and torn down God’s altars. This experience, of running away in fear, would have been even more humbling to Elijah if he had wanted to be the next Moses. Regardless of whether or not Elijah desired to be the next Moses, he couldn’t have done what God had asked him to do without humility.

God encourages Elijah in three ways.

  1. He meets him where he’s at, in the wilderness. Previously, God had always told Elijah to go here or there and Elijah went. In this time, when Elijah was exhausted and at the end of his rope, the Lord sends an angel to feed him to give him the strength to continue.
  2. God reminds Elijah of what He has done and how Elijah has served Him. The Lord asks Elijah twice, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” (1 Kings 19:9,13). God does nothing without a reason. We know that God knows all things and so did Elijah. Therefore, when God asked him, “What are you doing here?” I believe the question is a means of bringing remembrance to Elijah of what the Lord had done and who He did it through. I’m reminded of Jesus asking Peter if he loved Him in the book of John (21:15-19).
  3. The presence of the Lord comes to Elijah. Whenever Elijah had previously heard from the Lord it is described as “The word of the Lord, The Lord said, etc.” However, after the wind, earthquake, and fire there is a gentle whisper and it is a voice that asks Elijah, “What are you doing here?” (1 Kings 19:11-13)

God speaks to us in many ways. He wants us to be encouraged. He doesn’t want us to give up. God could have taken Elijah when he asked to die. Even though Elijah had given up on himself, God didn’t give up on him. He still had work that only Elijah could do. Allow me to encourage you today. God sees you. He knows that you’re tired. He knows that you are walking through this dark world, but you are not alone. He wants you to be refreshed. He has a job for you to do. Otherwise, He’d bring you Home, but right now. Just stop, sit for a moment and listen to his gentle whisper, “I love you, I am with you. I will never leave you nor forsake you. You are mine and I am yours.”

Do you know God? He loves you. He wants you to know Him. He already knows you and He would rather die than not have you in His family. Jesus died for your sins and mine so that we could be free of guilt, be freed from death, and live eternally with Him.

Pray this prayer with me to accept the gift of salvation today:

Dear Lord Jesus, I know that I am a sinner, and I ask for Your forgiveness. I believe You died for my sins and rose from the dead. I turn from my sins and invite You to come into my heart and life. I want to trust and follow You as my Lord and Savior. Amen.

If you prayed that prayer then congratulations! You are on the first step of a brand new life. Allow me to be the first to welcome you to my family, the family of God. There are abundant resources available online for new Christians. You can visit here for more information on what to do next. You can also leave me a comment and I’ll do my best to help you on the next step of this incredible journey.

Scripture

Ephesians 6:12 (NIV)

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

Observation

Did you know that there are at least 21 different words to describe the wind in various places of the world? The wind can erode mountains and topple buildings. We hear its sound and we can feel it on our bodies. The wind is important to our ecosystem. It can carry seeds from one place to another (anemochory). We respect the wind. Its power and its force, but we can’t see it. We know that it’s real because we can see, we can feel and we can hear its effects.

Do we rail against it? Wage war against it? Are there wanted posters for it? Of course not. I’d say that most of us just live with it and let it do whatever it wants to do. We work around it in our lives. We build shelters to protect us from it. For the most part, we treat evil the same way as we do the wind. We build prisons, hire police, create laws, and wage war against the physical forces of evil.

We treat the symptoms of evil with carnal weapons when evil can only be fought and defeated by spiritual means. We wage war against flesh and blood. We see the effects of fighting evil with carnal weapons and we think we are winning by the body count it brings. How’s that working for us? 150 million to 1 billion estimated lives lost throughout the wars in human history with at least 108 million people killed in wars in the twentieth century.

Since evil is a spiritual force, like the wind is a nature force, we can only fight evil through spiritual means. How do we fight spiritual forces? Do we pray against them? No, we pray for people. We pray that God’s will be done. We lift prayers to God and let Him fight the battles for us knowing that only He can win the day.

Scripture

Ecclesiastes 7:10,13-14 (NIV)

10 Do not say, “Why were the old days better than these?”
For it is not wise to ask such questions.

13 Consider what God has done:
Who can straighten
what he has made crooked?

14 When times are good, be happy;
but when times are bad, consider this:
God has made the one
as well as the other.
Therefore, no one can discover
anything about their future.

Observation

There is only one way to God, in Heaven. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6 NIV). However, there are many paths that people take in their journey to knowing Him. No two people can walk the same path. God made every one of us a unique being with a mission in life that only we can do. You are a new thing. While Ecclesiastes often laments that there are “no new things under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9), I believe that this has more to do with the notion that everything seems to follow the same patterns in life. Everyone is born and everyone dies. In between people do things that are righteous and people do things that are not righteous.

When we look to the “good old days” and long for them again we are thinking that we know, in the present, what is better for us than what God has for us. It’s easy to look back on pleasant times and believe that they were better. Often, we rarely remember events as they were. We are likely to remember very negative events or very positive events while forgetting all of the smaller positive and negative moments of those days. I am reminded of a time when I was skiing in Banff, Canada. I wrote about it here 30 years later. So many years and I still remember the day. It was the first time I ever saw a rainbow touch the ground. I can still see it right now. However, I know that during that same time I was going through a lot in my life that I wouldn’t want to go through again.

When I’m going somewhere I usually want to get there right away, unless I’ve purposely planned to take a long winding trip. Otherwise, please give me a straight path to my destination. When I first became a Christian my life looked like a mess. The first Bible verses that I grabbed onto and chanted like a mantra to myself were Proverbs 3:5-6; “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight” (NIV). Holding onto these verses, God got me through those times. When I stop and consider what God has done in my life. The twists and turns that I have traveled with Jesus by my side. I can only weep with thanksgiving.

If you’ve ever walked or driven up a mountainside then you know that the road on that mountain twists and turns to minimize the effort on the vehicle or body traveling to the top. You can try and drive straight up, if there’s a way, or even try walking straight up the mountain. However, the vehicle will start to slide to the right or the left and you will crash. If you’re on foot then you will tire out far more quickly and you’re more likely to fall. Traveling on mountain roads is dangerous. Just check out all of these tips to help you on a mountainous drive. There are 15 different points for consideration! Every point can be linked and measured with how we are to travel in our lives to the mountain of God. And now, I’m going to do that with each point… Another time, perhaps.

We know that on the righteous path that God has for us that He doesn’t want us to turn away to the left or the right from Him. If God, therefore, has given us the best path for our lives, full of twists and turns, but always going straight to Him, why would we want to try and make it straight?

God gives us good times and He allows us to go through bad times. If we accept the good from Him and rejoice then why do we weep and wail so much over the bad times? If we know that God works out all things for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28 NIV) then we should rejoice in all times. Right? The key to this and every issue we face is our perspective. I know I’ve said it before but it needs to be said again until we get it. When we have the eternal perspective of God then we can endure all things through Christ Jesus who gives us strength (Philippians 4:13). When we realize that our pain and turmoil today, is momentary in the scheme of everything that God is doing in and through us then we can take joy, and rejoice, in what we know He is doing. This is faith. This is bearing our cross each day. This is walking in Jesus’ footsteps, the One who has walked before us and is carrying us into the wonderful light of God.

Would you like to be saved from the fear of death? Knowing that when you die you will be in an eternity filled with love, joy, and peace where there is no longer pain and suffering? Would you like to walk free of guilt today? To have your sins forgiven by the grace of God and to know true peace, here and now?

Pray this prayer with me to accept the gift of salvation today:

Dear Lord Jesus, I know that I am a sinner, and I ask for Your forgiveness. I believe You died for my sins and rose from the dead. I turn from my sins and invite You to come into my heart and life. I want to trust and follow You as my Lord and Savior. Amen.

If you prayed that prayer then congratulations! You are on the first step of a brand new life. Allow me to be the first to welcome you to my family, the family of God. There are abundant resources available online for new Christians. You can visit here for more information on what to do next. You can also leave me a comment and I’ll do my best to help you on the next step of this incredible journey.