Tag Archives: Elijah

An Elijah Moment

As I stood on top of Mount Carmel looking across the valley, I remembered the story of Elijah. The land hadn’t seen rain in three years. The now fertile valley was dry and bare. King Ahab was looking for grass to save his horses from dying of starvation. Elijah, whom the king wanted dead, told him to gather all the prophets of Baal and to meet him on top of Mount Carmel. The prophets of Baal made an altar and so did Elijah. They were to pray and ask for fire to ignite the altar. The god who answered would be the real god. After the prophets of Baal had prayed all day with no fire, Elijah poured water on his altar three times then called down fire from Heaven. It consumed the altar from top to bottom drying up all the water as well.

In 1 Kings 18:21 Elijah addressed them, “How much longer will you waver, hobbling between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him! But if Baal is God, then follow him!” (NLT) When I read that, I can’t help but internalize it. Our lives are a constant battle between our flesh and our spirit. We waver between wanted to give into the desires of the flesh and doing what God requires. As long as we go between them, we are miserable as Paul described in Romans 7. According to James 1:8, it also makes us unstable in all our ways. That’s not the way that God wants us to live. In order to live that way, we need to have an Elijah moment in our lives where we force ourselves to choose the way God wants us to live.

Colossians 3:5 says, “So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual immorality, impurity, lust, and evil desires. Don’t be greedy, for a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world.” We need to put to death the things that we have put before God. Verse 10 tells us, “Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him.” We all have this choice to make. Either we will continue to live unstable, idolatrous lives or we will put on the new nature that’s been given to us. It starts with calling down fire from Heaven into our lives consuming the things that are not of God. It’s a continuous process, but it starts with an Elijah moment.

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Getting God’s Attention

From my earliest childhood, I remember hearing the story of Elijah and the prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel from I Kings 18. If you’re unfamiliar with it, Elijah was the sole prophet of God in the land, and the people were following false gods. He called out the prophets of Baal and challenged them to a public duel on top of the mountain. They each prepared a sacrifice and would pray to their god to see whose was real. The god who was real would answer by fire and burn the sacrifice up.

The prophets of Baal prayed hard for fire. When there was no answer, they started jumping around and stomping as they prayed. When there still wasn’t an answer, they prayed louder and then began to cut themselves to get their god’s attention. Verse 29 sums it up, “This went on until well past noon. They used every religious trick and strategy they knew to make something happen on the altar, but nothing happened—not so much as a whisper, not a flicker of response” (MSG). For hours they tried to earn their god’s attention and failed.

I always thought very poorly of those prophets and even laughed at the way Elijah mocked them. But now I wonder if we are any different than they were. We may serve the God who won that duel, but we have resorted to their tactics to get His attention. We seem to believe that there is something you and I can do to earn His favor or to get an answer to prayer. We pray loudly, we stomp, we circle and even put ourselves in danger to test God to get Him to answer. But God isn’t looking for that from us.

What He’s looking for is found in verse 37. In Elijah’s prayer, he said, “Answer me, Lord, answer me, so that this people will know that you, the Lord, are God, and that you are bringing them back to yourself” (GNB). The prayers God responds to are ones that bring Him glory and allow Him to do the work. They have nothing to do with bringing attention to ourselves. Religion is all about working to get a god’s attention to come to us, but Christianity is about letting God draw us to Him. It’s not about what we do; it’s about what He does.


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The Mom Who Was MVP

This week Kevin Durant, of the NBA’s Oklahoma Thunder, won the league MVP. In his 25 minute speech, he thanked coaches and other players by name and told how they has helped him. The room was captivated. Then, through tears, he turned to his mom and thanked her. He told how she was a single mom raising two boys. He told how they had to move from apartment to apartment sometimes with no furniture or beds. He told how she did what it took to make ends meet and even kept him off the streets. He then looked at her, with tears in his eyes, and said, “You’re the real MVP.”

I don’t know why, but listening to his speech reminded me of the widow woman in I Kings 17 that Elijah approached. He had been camping out by a brook and ravens had been bringing him food. Because of the drought, the brook dried up. God told him to go to a nearby town and that a widow would feed him. As he traveled he became both thirsty and hungry. He had worked up quite an appetite by the time he arrived at the town. As he walked up to the city gate, he saw a widow gathering sticks. He called out to her to bring him a drink. As she turned to get the water jug, he added, “And bring me some bread too.”

The motherly instinct kicked in now. She didn’t mind getting this stranger water. There was plenty of it, but the bread was a different story. She let him know that she barely had enough for one meal. She was going to feed it to her son and then they were going to die of starvation. Her son must have been pretty young. He wasn’t out gathering sticks for her. She was gathering the sticks, she was going to build the fire, she was going to cook and she was going to share it with him. I’m sure she had played out their death a thousand times. This last bit of bread represented hope. It represented one more day of life and now this stranger was asking for it.

Being the good mom she was, she explained why she couldn’t give up their last meal. But Elijah spoke to her and gave her a promise from God. He told her not to be afraid and that God would cause there to be flour and oil in her jars until the rains came and crops were produced. She had to make a choice. Was this man really from God? Were his words really what God said? What if I give our last meal to him and God doesn’t come through? I’m sure there were lots of doubts and scenarios going through her mind. In the end, she went for the long term solution versus the short term gain. She gave up everything for her son in order to trust God to help them live.

So many moms out there are faced with life and death decisions like this widow. They choose not to eat so their kids can. They don’t know where the next meal will come from. They work, but it seems like it’s not enough. The widow showed that if we continue to work, but also do all that God asks, He will provide. He will make a way where there seems to be no way. I know several people who have been to this desperate point. They trusted God and miraculously groceries showed up on their door step, someone paid for their groceries at the store, or money came in from seemingly no where. Moms who trust God when there seems to be no way are the real MVP’s of this life.

Once I was young, and now I am old. Yet I have never seen the godly abandoned or their children begging for bread. (Psalms 37:25 NLT)


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The Widow’s Prayer

I’ve always been fascinated with the story of Elijah in I Kings 17. After he prophesied there would be a drought, God said, “Get out of here, and fast. Head east and hide out at Kerith Ravine on the other side of the Jordan River. You can drink fresh water from the brook; I’ve commanded the ravens to feed you.” It wasn’t long though before the brook dried up because of the drought. Then God told him to go to a certain city and live there. He told him that he had instructed a widow woman to feed him.

My question has always been, “Why did God allow the brook to dry up?” After all, he went to the place of God’s provision. Why did he have to leave that place? He was where he was supposed to be. Then I looked at the story from the other side. Think about the widow. She knew she was about to run out of flour and oil. She knew there was nothing more she could do. She knew that when her flour ran out, she and her son would die. Knowing that, I can imagine her calling out to God in desperation for help. I can hear her crying each night wondering when God would answer her prayers.

Then, one day, God speaks to her. He said, “I’m going to send a prophet to you. Prepare him a meal and you will get your answer.” As each day passed, she looked for the prophet. Each day that passed without his arrival the flour and oil went down. Finally she was down to her last bit of flour and oil. Death was around the corner. She had quit looking for the prophet and was looking for sticks to burn in order to prepare her last meal. As she was scouring the ground for firewood, a voice came from behind her, “Please, would you bring me a little water in a jug?” She barely looked up and nodded. As she headed to the well, he called out, “And while you’re at it, would you bring me something to eat?”

I’m sure her eyes lit up and she whipped around. “Could this be the prophet,” she thought. Only one way to find out. “I have a handful of flour in a jar and a little oil in a bottle; you found me scratching together just enough firewood to make a last meal for my sin and me. After we eat it, we’ll die,” she said. Any stranger would let her eat her last meal, but the prophet would still ask for it. She had to make sure so she could be obedient if it was him. Elijah told her not to worry. He said, “Make a small biscuit for me and bring it back here. Then go and make a meal from what’s left.” The oil and flour didn’t empty until the drought was over.

We rarely know why God moves us from a place of provision or causes the brook of blessings to dry up. In this case, I believe it was to answer the widow’s prayer. God needed Elijah to move so he cut off his source. For the widow, she had to wait until she was down to her last meal. She was then asked to give it up in order to be blessed. Both had to trust God. Both had to be obedient or both would have died. God asked both to give up what they had for the other. What has God asked you to give up? It may be all you have, but it will be the gateway to miracles. Where is God trying to move you to? You may not understand now, but your obedience will lead you to another place of provision. Obedience is always required before the blessing.

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Why Are You Running Away?

I was reading in I Kings 17-19 about Elijah the prophet. In one chapter, he prays and God sends a drought that last for years. In another part, God uses ravens to bring him food each day. Then a widow woman gives up her final meal to feed him. She is rewarded with the resurrection of her son when he died and unending flour and oil. Elijah then challenges the prophets of the god Baal to a showdown. After proving that his God was real and Baal wasn’t, he had them killed. He then prayed to end the drought and it rained again. When he got back to town Jezebel threatened to kill him and he ran away.

He went on a 40 day journey to the mountain of God. When he got there, he crawled into a cave and fell asleep. In verse 9 of I Kings 19, God said, “So Elijah, what are you doing here?” His response was that he had been doing everything he could for God, the people of Israel had abandoned God and they wanted to kill him because he was the only prophet left. I don’t think that was the answer God was looking for. Every other time that he had been in trouble, God had met him where he was and provided for him. Why was this time different?

Instead of waiting to hear where God wanted him to go, as had been how things went in previous chapters, Elijah set out on his own to find God. He left where God had him and asked him to go. I didn’t read where God told him to run from Jezebel. He just did it out of human emotion. So when he arrived at the mountain of God, He wanted to know why he was there and not where He had told him to be. Why do any of us leave the place God has us just because things aren’t happening the way we thought the should? Why do we run from difficult circumstances to where we think God is instead of facing them head on in the place we’re called?

That reminds me of Job’s response to his wife when everything bad was happening to him. He was where God had him and lost everything he owned and his children. Soon after that, he lost his health. His wife told him to just curse God and die. Instead of running away from the problems that were going on in his life and cursing God, he asked her a question. In Job 2:10, he said, “We take the good days from God – why not the bad?” We are quick to accept good days from God, but when things stop going our way, we start questioning his judgement or run away. We try to find the place where we know God is hoping to find shelter and rest. We aren’t always prepared for God to ask, “Why are you here?”

God sent Elijah back to Israel with instructions on what to do next. He didn’t let him camp out in that cave until Jezebel died or things blew over. God knows it’s easy to trust him on the good days and when things are going as planned. It’s when they aren’t so good or not going as planned that we really learn what trust is and our faith grows. I’d rather stay where God had me and face difficult times than to have to answer the difficult question of, “Why are you here and not where I had you?” I’d rather stay where He has me and let Him provide during the droughts of life. I want to be thankful for the good days and accepting of the bad.


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Burning the Plows


Lately I haven’t been able to stop thinking about Elisha’s calling in I Kings 19. The Lord spoke to Elijah to anoint him as his successor. When he arrived to anoint him, he found Elisha in a field plowing. He was doing his daily duties when the prophet of God walked up to him. The Bible doesn’t show that Elijah said anything. He simply walked up to him, put his cloak on him and walked away.

I don’t know if they ever met or if Elisha knew it was Elijah, but something in him knew this was a significant moment in time. He ran after Elijah and said he would follow him, but wanted to say goodbye to his mom and dad. He then broke the yoke and plow to use for firewood, slaughtered the oxen he was using and cooked a feast for his family. After that, he followed Elijah everywhere.

It’s got me wondering how many times has God tried to approach me in my daily life to call me to do something. Elisha wasn’t looking for God to call him to leave his family. He was minding his own business doing what fed his family when God called him. What if he had said, “Let me finish this field before I follow you,”? What if he had said, “I can’t leave right now. I’m doing something important”?

Are we too busy doing “important” things that we miss God’s daily calls to us? Are we so tied up doing what doesn’t make a difference for eternity that we can’t stop and do what will? I know we have to make a living, but do we take time throughout the day to shine our light so we can lead others to Christ? Ultimately what matters is what we do for Christ. Our bank accounts, our retirement fund and jobs are temporary. What’s done for the Kingdom is what will last.

What changes do we need to make in our lives today to change our focus from our earthly retirement to our heavenly retirement? When God asks us to do something that matters for eternity, will we be willing to do it? I hope I am. I want to be ready and willing to burn my plows when God calls. I don’t want to be the one who keeps plowing when He calls. I want to be willing to follow when and where He leads.

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