The Whisper of God

And the word of the LORD came to him: “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

He replied, “I have been very zealous for the LORD God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, broken down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”

The LORD said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.” Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. 1 Kings 19:9-13

There are so many rich passages relating to Elijah. Again, this is one we’ve learned as kids. He wasn’t in the wind, the earthquake, or the fire. But He was in the still whisper. This could have been written today. To hear a whisper you have to be quiet. You have to be still and listen.

A few weeks ago I asked this question in an online poll: “are you at peace?” From previous polls I found that most of my respondents were Believers. More than 60% said no. How is that possible? Forget anything else but that question, “are you at peace?” Can you quiet your heart for a few minutes each day? Do you get rejuvenated just by sitting in God’s presence each day?

You might be able to see and hear God in the winds, earthquake, and fire, but probably you’ll hear the whisper of God first.

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Should We Expect Less?

When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, while he himself went a day’s journey into the desert. He came to a broom tree, 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.” Then he lay down under the tree and fell asleep. All at once an angel touched him and said, “Get up and eat.” He looked around, and there by his head was a cake of bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water. He ate and drank and then lay down again. 1 Kings 19:3-6

The Lord knew what Elijah needed and provided for him.

Should we expect any less in our lives?

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Be On Your Guard

Now Ahab told Jezebel everything Elijah had done and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. So Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah to say, “May the gods deal with me, be it ever so severely, if by this time tomorrow I do not make your life like that of one of them.” Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. 1 Kings 19:1-3

What a sad sad passage of Scripture. Elijah had just scored a major victory in his dealings with Ahab and the prophets of Baal. He called fire from heaven and it consumed the water-soaked altar. But when Ahab went to see his wife Jezebel, Elijah went to pieces. He folded. He caved.

Great spiritual victories are often followed by very deep darkness in many Believers’ lives. You can even see this pattern in the lives of some of the Disciples. Take Peter for example. Great ministry with Jesus going from town to town, but when the time came, he denied his Lord.

The takeaway from this is that we need to be very careful when we have those major spiritual victories. Satan is right there to snatch it from us, especially if we have gloated in it and forgotten to give God the glory. Even so, we must be on our guard.

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Be Kind, Be Gentle

Then the fire of the LORD fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench.

When all the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried, “The LORD -he is God! The LORD -he is God!”

Then Elijah commanded them, “Seize the prophets of Baal. Don’t let anyone get away!” They seized them, and Elijah had them brought down to the Kishon Valley and slaughtered there. 1 Kings 18:38-40

In a crowd of people there will always be the skeptics, cynics, and the doubters. All will be in various stages of skepticism, cynicis, and doubt. We don’t always know what will put them “over the top.” Obviously, Elijah calling down fire on the altar got their attention, especially after Elikjah had doused the altar and the trench with loads of water. Seeing the prophets of Baal and Asherah must have jarred their senses.

You never know where people are in their journey through life. It’s easy to judge based on behaviors and the things people say. It’s easy to “pigeonhole” someone because of what they say and do, but God may very well be working on them. God may be on the verge of moving incredibly in their lives. And He may want to use you to do it!

Be kind; be gentle. Don’t criticize until you’ve walked a mile or two in their shoes. After all, we’d want them to do the same for us, wouldn’t we?

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Tweet Prayers

At the time of sacrifice, the prophet Elijah stepped forward and prayed: “O LORD, God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command. Answer me, O LORD, answer me, so these people will know that you, O LORD, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again.” 1 Kings 18:36-37

Elijah had people douse his altar with water three times. He dug a mini moat around the sacrifice, and then he prayed a 20-second prayer. Twenty seconds. The prophets of Baal and Asherah spent the equivalent of at least 5000 man-hours praying for their god to consume the sacrifice. God’s response must have startled the prophets and the people. They probably expected loud, long, and eloquent prayers.

The story goes that a farmer entered a prayer meeting, and all the attendees were complaining about the heat and the lack of water for their crops. The man bowed his head, then said, “Lord, sure is hot.” The rains came soon after. Whether it actually happened is irrelevant, but the point is taken: you don’t need long and flowery prayers for God to answer.

Starting today, pray what I call “Tweet Prayers.” Twitter, is based on the question: what are you doing now. You have 140 characters to respond. The paragraph up to the last period was 145 characters. Tweet prayers are quick, to the point and helps us to keep our focus on the important thing in life.

Your prayers don’t need to be long, though they can be. If you pass an accident, offer a tweet prayer for the drivers involved. Someone you haven’t seen in ages pops up on your “radar” screen, pray a tweet prayer for that person right then and there. As your children go off to school, pray tweet prayers throughout the day.

We probably already pray tweet prayers but now they have a name.

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Peaks and Valleys

At noon Elijah began to taunt them. “Shout louder!” he said. “Surely he is a god! Perhaps he is deep in thought, or busy, or traveling. Maybe he is sleeping and must be awakened.” So they shouted louder and slashed themselves with swords and spears, as was their custom, until their blood flowed. Midday passed, and they continued their frantic prophesying until the time for the evening sacrifice. But there was no response, no one answered, no one paid attention. 1 Kings 18 27-29

It’s rare to see a prophet of God in the Bible having fun. He had challenged them, and they were failing miserably. You have to know that there were a lot of prophets of Baal who were getting more and more frustrated as the daylight hours faded. They were now bleeding for their god. More than anything, I like Elijah’s confidence in his ability to call on the name of the Lord. It was quickly becoming Show Time for Elijah. In the vernacular, he would have to “put up or shut up.”

I find that confidence, in general, comes and goes. In the next chapter, Elijah cowers and runs for his life. We’re not supposed to compare ourselves to these men of God, but we do. Many times you’ll hear about the boldness that Elijah had when he called down fire, but that’s not the full story. Elijah, like us, experienced peaks and valleys, times when the world was for him and the world was against him. We wish we were more consistent, but we’re not. Actually, that’s comforting to me because if these great men of God had their ups and downs, it’s a pretty safe bet that we’ll also have those ups and downs too. Does that mean we shouldn’t “go for God” with everything we have? Absolutely, we should. But if we fail, we shouldn’t beat ourselves up over it and let that be the hallmark of our faith. We should, however, repent if needed, get back up and do it all over again.

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The Battles

Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, “Choose one of the bulls and prepare it first, since there are so many of you. Call on the name of your god, but do not light the fire.” So they took the bull given them and prepared it.
Then they called on the name of Baal from morning till noon. “O Baal, answer us!” they shouted. But there was no response; no one answered. And they danced around the altar they had made.
1 Kings 18:25-26

Again, we see that Elijah seems to be having a blast at giving these so-called prophets of Baal and Asherah directions. In the verses following, we’ll see him mocking them. There were 850 of them all doing this. What a sight it might have been. At any time, though, these men could have turned on Elijah and torn him apart with their bare hands, but they chose the way they knew: to pray to a god who wasn’t there, begging him to ignite their altar.

All around us is an enemy who wants to destroy us. If we knew how many times God has protected us, we would be rejoicing daily. If you are doing the work of God, you will be severely tested and tried. You will be mocked and laughed at. Your beliefs and faith will be tested, and often at the hands of fellow Christians.

But, I’m happy to tell you that “He who is in us is greater than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4). We don’t see the unseen world. We would probably be astounded if we did. Even though we don’t see the invisible spirit world, it exists. Battles are raging even as you read this. The battles are won daily, hourly, and minute by minute. But the battles can be won.

Continue to seek more of God. Continue to seek His face.

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The Spirit Will Prompt

Then Elijah said to them, “I am the only one of the LORD’s prophets left, but Baal has four hundred and fifty prophets. Get two bulls for us. Let them choose one for themselves, and let them cut it into pieces and put it on the wood but not set fire to it. I will prepare the other bull and put it on the wood but not set fire to it. Then you call on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of the LORD. The god who answers by fire—he is God.”  Then all the people said, “What you say is good.” 1 Kings 18:22-24

Sunday School teachers young and old love this passage of Scripture. Elijah is displaying the boldness that we all feel at times (but rarely act upon). In fact, as we can see, Elijah does not lack in confidence. He is ready to take on the world quite literally. If he had been wrong, then he would be humiliated and laughed at. Think of the challenge: call on your god. Whichever God answers by fire wins. Thousands of years removed from Elijah, we can speculate about what we would do. Why most certainly, we would have done the same as Elijah. We would have been as bold.

Or would we?

Opportunities come our way every single day. Many are small and insignificant; a few are large. Someone is blaspheming the Lord, what do you do? Someone is telling you that the Bible is mythical, what will you say? You are being watched and tested whether you know it or not.

There are times when you will be compelled to speak up. But if you don’t, it certainly doesn’t make you a lesser Believer. You will know when the time comes. You will know very clearly. And when you do, the Holy Spirit will be there prompting you with the very words you need to say.

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Silence

So Ahab sent word throughout all Israel and assembled the prophets on Mount Carmel. Elijah went before the people and said, “How long will you waver between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.” But the people said nothing. 1 Kings 18:20-21

Onlookers. Gapers. Rubberneckers. The masses. We’ve all been them, seen them, and silently scolded them. They are the people passing a roadside wreck and slow down to see the carnage and the condition of the “other guy.” We’ve done it too.

In today’s devotional, Elijah has just challenged the people of Israel to follow God or Baal, but they said nothing. Ahab had summoned them all to come and observe. They weren’t sure what to expect since the prophets of Baal and Asherah were also called to Mount Carmel. We know that they’re able to speak because a few verses later they said, “what you say is good.” But now when they had a choice, the people said nothing. Perhaps these people wanted to see the carnage and wreckage that would take place. Nobody spoke up. In a crowd of many many people, there was bound to be someone who would speak up. Nothing.

Sometimes when you speak to people about spiritual things, they will remain silent. Don’t misinterpet the silence because the people could just be onlookers, observers, confused, troubled. Their silence is often misinterpreted as approval or disapproval (because they didn’t speak up), but that could be far from the case. People need time to process what they are seeing and hearing.

Often silence just means silence.

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