I Kings 18 Part –A Great Rain

God never promises to make it easy.  He simply promises to follow through  on His promises.  Now that the heart of the people had left the false God Baal, God was ready to end the drought.  One thing still remained–Elijah had to release the rain.  So, from the same Mount Carmel, Elijah began to pray. He sent his servant out seven times to see if God answered; and then, on the 7th time a tiny cloud appeared.  Elijah knew that tiny cloud meant big things were ahead.  So, Elijah warned the king and then took off and met Ahab at the gates of Jezreel.  The author pens la perfect quote–“And there was a great rain!”  What a reminder that God does not do just OK!
 
God appreciates righteousness.  He also rewards tenacity.  Like Elijah, sometimes we have to keep praying to unleash God’s power.  It may seem like God is not listening, but–sometimes God needs our patience to fully complete His plan for our lives.  Additionally, what starts out to be “a small cloud” can easily turn into a “great rain” if we will simply wait on the Lord.  We can never lose hope nor admit defeat. We have read the end of the book, and yes, we win!!! Pray without ceasing. Wait upon our Lord to complete HIS plan for our lives.  If we can do that, history tells us that we can expect “A Great Rain”!!!
 
God Bless You

 And Elijah said to Ahab, “Go up, eat and drink, for there is a sound of the rushing of rain.” 42 So Ahab went up to eat and to drink. And Elijah went up to the top of Mount Carmel. And he bowed himself down on the earth and put his face between his knees. 43 And he said to his servant, “Go up now, look toward the sea.” And he went up and looked and said, “There is nothing.” And he said, “Go again,” seven times. 44 And at the seventh time he said, “Behold, a little cloud like a man’s hand is rising from the sea.” And he said, “Go up, say to Ahab, ‘Prepare your chariot and go down, lest the rain stop you.’” 45 And in a little while the heavens grew black with clouds and wind, and there was a great rain. And Ahab rode and went to Jezreel. 46 And the hand of the Lord was on Elijah, and he gathered up his garment and ran before Ahab to the entrance of Jezreel.

1 Kings 18 Part 3–I Think That Settles That!

This is one of God’s great and defining moments in the story of Israel.  Ahab the king vs Elijah the Prophet. The irritant to Elijah was that Ahab was God’s anointed leader. So, since the king would not acknowledge his allegiance to God, Elijah simply said FINE! lets let the “Gods” duke it out. Baal Prophets, you guys set up a sacrifice and I will set up a sacrifice.  Whichever God takes the sacrifice that is set before Him we will all agree is God! The people of Israel thought that was great! The Baal prophets, not so much. Oh sure, they went through the motions; built a nice alter set out a nice sacrifice.  They prayed and cried and danced and cut themselves–all to no avail. 
 
So then, Elijah had the people dig a trench, set up an alter, put the sacrifice on it and wood under it. Drench the sacrifice with so much water that it filled the trench around the alter. Then with very little fanfare, Elijah stood alone, faced the people, the king, the 450 Baal prophets, and priests.  Elijah prayed for the Lord to show Himself as God. So, God immediately sent a fire that consumed the sacrifice, the alter and the water in the trench. It was probably astounding. Needless to say, the game was over.  The false prophets and priests killed and Elijah vindicated–but, not Elijah–God was vindicated.
 
Bottom Line is that God is God. The world has set up all sorts of idols to remain independent of the Lord. Money, Power, Lust, Selfishness, Anger, Jealousy each take their place at the alter of men’s lives; and men pray, dance, cry and sacrifice their lives, families and all they hold dear; simply to affirm their devotion to their “GODS”. Sadly, their is no response–simply because they are false gods.
 
Then, we who know our Lord rise, pray, and watch the Lord God Almighty do amazing and powerful things. He changes lives, heals, provides, sustains, and brings to the forefront endless numbers of affirmations that He is the one and only true God. Ballgame over.  Objectively, their is no doubt that God is God. His wonders never cease. All that remains, is our need to take a knee and acknowledge His lordship in our own personal lives.
 
God Bless You

 

So Ahab sent to all the people of Israel and gathered the prophets together at Mount Carmel. 21 And Elijah came near to all the people and said, “How long will you go limping between two different opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him.” And the people did not answer him a word. 22 Then Elijah said to the people, “I, even I only, am left a prophet of the Lord, but Baal’s prophets are 450 men. 23 Let two bulls be given to us, and let them choose one bull for themselves and cut it in pieces and lay it on the wood, but put no fire to it. And I will prepare the other bull and lay it on the wood and put no fire to it. 24 And you call upon the name of your god, and I will call upon the name of the Lord, and the God who answers by fire, he is God.” And all the people answered, “It is well spoken.” 25 Then Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, “Choose for yourselves one bull and prepare it first, for you are many, and call upon the name of your god, but put no fire to it.” 26 And they took the bull that was given them, and they prepared it and called upon the name of Baal from morning until noon, saying, “O Baal, answer us!” But there was no voice, and no one answered. And they limped around the altar that they had made. 27 And at noon Elijah mocked them, saying, “Cry aloud, for he is a god. Either he is musing, or he is relieving himself, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is asleep and must be awakened.” 28 And they cried aloud and cut themselves after their custom with swords and lances, until the blood gushed out upon them. 29 And as midday passed, they raved on until the time of the offering of the oblation, but there was no voice. No one answered; no one paid attention.30 Then Elijah said to all the people, “Come near to me.” And all the people came near to him. And he repaired the altar of the Lord that had been thrown down. 31 Elijah took twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, to whom the word of the Lord came, saying, “Israel shall be your name,” 32 and with the stones he built an altar in the name of the Lord. And he made a trench about the altar, as great as would contain two seahs[a] of seed. 33 And he put the wood in order and cut the bull in pieces and laid it on the wood. And he said, “Fill four jars with water and pour it on the burnt offering and on the wood.” 34 And he said, “Do it a second time.” And they did it a second time. And he said, “Do it a third time.” And they did it a third time. 35 And the water ran around the altar and filled the trench also with water.

36 And at the time of the offering of the oblation, Elijah the prophet came near and said, “O Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that you are God in Israel, and that I am your servant, and that I have done all these things at your word. 37 Answer me, O Lord, answer me, that this people may know that you, O Lord, are God, and that you have turned their hearts back.” 38 Then the fire of the Lord fell and consumed the burnt offering and the wood and the stones and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. 39 And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces and said, “The Lord, he is God; the Lord, he is God.” 40 And Elijah said to them, “Seize the prophets of Baal; let not one of them escape.” And they seized them. And Elijah brought them down to the brook Kishon and slaughtered them there.

1 Kings 16/17 Part 1–Elijah the Amazing Prophet

The story of Elijah is as much a testement to God’s patience with Israel, as it is the Lord choosing an amazing prophet.  Elijah was called by God to confront the most evil king in all Israel. Ahab was known to be more evil than all the kings before him. He did anything to be independent of  God, Ahab was worshipping the God’s of Jeroboam, and He then married Jezebeel, a very prominant Baal worshipper. He set up Asheraah poles and Baal worship sites.  Ahab also allowed the rebuilding of Jericho.  God decided enough was enough. God sent Elijah to make his position clear.  Elijah told Ahab, God is done…No rain or moisture until Elijah says otherwise–otherwwise means when you turn the nation back toward the God of your fathers..  What Ahab had to face was that God will be God no matter what Ahab wanted. 
 
Elijah had a difficult job–he had to face God’s annointed and make clear God had had enough.  This was not an invitation to an easy life, nor was it an indcation that God would turn a blind eye to the sin of His chosen people.  Sadly, the people followed the leadership of their king. Ahab’s push toward Baal dragged the nation with him.  So God was faced with decision to save his people or allow them to destroy themselves.  He chose to let them be.  So God stopped His provision and protection .  He implemented a drought that would continue until Elijah ended it.  God was confdident that Elijah would remain faithful, no matter what.
 
That is who we need to be.  The person God can look to to remain faithful no matter what.  It requires faith; it requires seeking  the Lord daily through prayer and spending time with God.  It also requires a desire to make God the Lord of your life not just your token God.  Elijah was in the journey no matter what–from there, God would use Elijah to reclaim His people.  Help me Lord, to have the heart and desire to follow like Elijah.
 
God Bless You

 In the thirty-eighth year of Asa king of Judah, Ahab son of Omri became king of Israel, and he reigned in Samaria over Israel twenty-two years. 30 Ahab son of Omri did more evil in the eyes of the Lord than any of those before him. 31 He not only considered it trivial to commit the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, but he also married Jezebel daughter of Ethbaal king of the Sidonians, and began to serve Baal and worship him. 32 He set up an altar for Baal in the temple of Baal that he built in Samaria. 33 Ahab also made an Asherah pole and did more to arouse the anger of the Lord, the God of Israel, than did all the kings of Israel before him.

34 In Ahab’s time, Hiel of Bethel rebuilt Jericho. He laid its foundations at the cost of his firstborn son Abiram, and he set up its gates at the cost of his youngest son Segub, in accordance with the word of the Lord spoken by Joshua son of Nun.

Now Elijah the Tishbite, from Tishbe[a] in Gilead, said to Ahab, “As the Lord, the God of Israel, lives, whom I serve, there will be neither dew nor rain in the next few years except at my word.”

Elijah Fed by Ravens

Then the word of the Lord came to Elijah: “Leave here, turn eastward and hide in the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan. You will drink from the brook, and I have directed the ravens to supply you with food there.”

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 meat in the evening, and he drank from the brook.

Esther 2 Part 1–Preparing to be Queen

It was no small task to become queen in Xerxes harem. After Xerxes settled down, the leadership searched accross the kingdom and brought several virgins to audition for queen.  To be selected to audition was an amazing honor. The preparation  to appear before the king took a  year. The ladies selected had to not only find favor with the King, but, she had to find favor with those that guarded and prepared the ladies.  Esther did that very well.  Not only was she beautiful, but she had a great heart and won favor with all whom she came in contact.  She was an orhan raised by her uncle.  On paper she would not have been the pick for a king.  An orphaned exile from Israel…But, God had a better plan.
 
God chooses and uses those He has prepared for service.  It is rarely the ones that the world would pick.  Truth be told, God picks the right person because he sees within and without.  If we will prepare our lives for service–seek Him, read God’s word and pray. Then at just the right time God can use us to accomplish His plan for our lives and often the lives of others. Few would expect that a year of spa days would be the training for saving a nation. In Esther’s life. that was God’s plan.    She was faithul to follow the plan and that would in time change the world. It needs to be our goal to be humble, faithful and ready to go where He leads us.
 
God Bless You

 Later when King Xerxes’ fury had subsided, he remembered Vashti and what she had done and what he had decreed about her. Then the king’s personal attendants proposed, “Let a search be made for beaunot only find favor with the Kingtiful young virgins for the king. Let the king appoint commissioners in every province of his realm to bring all these beautiful young women into the harem at the citadel of Susa. Let them be placed under the care of Hegai, the king’s eunuch, who is in charge of the women; and let beauty treatments be given to them. Then let the young woman who pleases the king be queen instead of Vashti.” This advice appealed to the king, and he followed it.

Now there was in the citadel of Susa a Jew of the tribe of Benjamin, named Mordecai son of Jair, the son of Shimei, the son of Kish, who had been carried into exile from Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, among those taken captive with Jehoiachin[a] king of Judah. Mordecai had a cousin named Hadassah, whom he had brought up because she had neither father nor mother. This young woman, who was also known as Esther, had a lovely figure and was beautiful. Mordecai had taken her as his own daughter when her father and mother died.

When the king’s order and edict had been proclaimed, many young women were brought to the citadel of Susa and put under the care of Hegai. Esther also was taken to the king’s palace and entrusted to Hegai, who had charge of the harem. She pleased him and won his favor. Immediately he provided her with her beauty treatments and special food. He assigned to her seven female attendants selected from the king’s palace and moved her and her attendants into the best place in the harem.

10 Esther had not revealed her nationality and family background, because Mordecai had forbidden her to do so. 11 Every day he walked back and forth near the courtyard of the harem to find out how Esther was and what was happening to her.

Nehemiah 7–God’s Word is Priceless

Once everything was completed on the rebuilding of the walls around Jerusalem,The attention was turned to the word of God.  All the remnant gaathered  at the temple and Ezra read the word of God.  They considered what they heard and took it to heart.  They had experienced trials, they experienced indignity they lost all national pride. So now as they were beginning to see things change, they refocused  on the Lord and  His word.  As the word sank in, the people’s hearts were restored.  
 
In our lives, we experience life in a big way. as we do that it is easy to lose focus on the Lord and His word. When we lose that focus, it grows desparate, hopeless and lonely.  God is faithful, in the midst of the difficulty, He shows us he is still in charge and loves us.  When we grasp that, ten we can focus back on God and His leading.  When we grasp that, then God can do the work in our lives . Like the people that returned to Israel We need to return to the word and allow it to pour over us.  When it does, it will return us to a place of pride in our walk with God that will affect all that we do and those that we know.  That is why it says in the word that God’s word is a two-edged sword. It is a weapon against our enemy and food for our soul.
 
God Bless You

And all the people gathered themselves together as one man into the street that was before the water gate; and they spake unto Ezra the scribe to bring the book of the law of Moses, which the Lord had commanded to Israel.

And Ezra the priest brought the law before the congregation both of men and women, and all that could hear with understanding, upon the first day of the seventh month.

And he read therein before the street that was before the water gate from the morning until midday, before the men and the women, and those that could understand; and the ears of all the people were attentive unto the book of the law.

And Ezra the scribe stood upon a pulpit of wood, which they had made for the purpose; and beside him stood Mattithiah, and Shema, and Anaiah, and Urijah, and Hilkiah, and Maaseiah, on his right hand; and on his left hand, Pedaiah, and Mishael, and Malchiah, and Hashum, and Hashbadana, Zechariah, and Meshullam.

And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people; (for he was above all the people;) and when he opened it, all the people stood up:

And Ezra blessed the Lord, the great God. And all the people answered, Amen, Amen, with lifting up their hands: and they bowed their heads, and worshipped the Lord with their faces to the ground.

Also Jeshua, and Bani, and Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodijah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, Pelaiah, and the Levites, caused the people to understand the law: and the people stood in their place.

So they read in the book in the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading.

And Nehemiah, which is the Tirshatha, and Ezra the priest the scribe, and the Levites that taught the people, said unto all the people, This day is holy unto the Lord your God; mourn not, nor weep. For all the people wept, when they heard the words of the law.

10 Then he said unto them, Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for this day is holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the Lord is your strength.

Nehemiah 3 Part 2–Phoenix Rising

As one reads  the third chapter of Nehemiah, there is a sense of building more than walls, building momentum.  Nehemiah’s trip was born out of saddness and fear for the once great people that were God’s chosen.  It was also a sense of defeat to realize that nothing had really changed in the generation that passed. The people of Israel still lived as exiles.  they rebuilt their homes and started tending the land; but as it realted to the city of David–nothing happened.  
 
But then it did. Families and clans literally poured out of the woodwork and began building sections of the wall and then more and more parts of the walls appeared finally gates were constructed and decorations forming on the gates. Then the city that had been in shambles rose like a Phoenix from the ashes!  The job was not easy and clearly it was far from finished–BUT–the community was once again engaged and the national pride was on the rise.
 
Revival is like that. Once a committed group of faithful folks lock arms and begin the difficult talk of starting again; a flame begins to grow. As more join in and fan the flame then revival ignites. Once ignited, families are restored, hearts come back to life and a nation is committed to a selfless and humble path leading to greatness.  We have to begin the work of revival–PRAYER, STUDY and FELLOWSHIP. Then we will see momentum grow and like Israel our nation will rise out of the ashes. If we will do the work, we will see momentum like never before! Let’s lock arms and begin!!!
 
God Bless You

Hanun and the inhabitants of Zanoah repaired the Valley Gate. They rebuilt it and set its doors, its bolts, and its bars, and repaired a thousand cubits[e] of the wall, as far as the Dung Gate.

14 Malchijah the son of Rechab, ruler of the district of Beth-haccherem, repaired the Dung Gate. He rebuilt it and set its doors, its bolts, and its bars.

15 And Shallum the son of Col-hozeh, ruler of the district of Mizpah, repaired the Fountain Gate. He rebuilt it and covered it and set its doors, its bolts, and its bars. And he built the wall of the Pool of Shelah of the king’s garden, as far as the stairs that go down from the city of David.16 After him Nehemiah the son of Azbuk, ruler of half the district of Beth-zur, repaired to a point opposite the tombs of David, as far as the artificial pool, and as far as the house of the mighty men. 17 After him the Levites repaired: Rehum the son of Bani. Next to him Hashabiah, ruler of half the district of Keilah, repaired for his district. 18 After him their brothers repaired: Bavvai the son of Henadad, ruler of half the district of Keilah. 19 Next to him Ezer the son of Jeshua, ruler of Mizpah, repaired another section opposite the ascent to the armory at the buttress.[f] 20 After him Baruch the son of Zabbai repaired[g] another section from the buttress to the door of the house of Eliashib the high priest. 21 After him Meremoth the son of Uriah, son of Hakkoz repaired another section from the door of the house of Eliashib to the end of the house of Eliashib. 22 After him the priests, the men of the surrounding area, repaired. 23 After them Benjamin and Hasshub repaired opposite their house. After them Azariah the son of Maaseiah, son of Ananiah repaired beside his own house. 24 After him Binnui the son of Henadad repaired another section, from the house of Azariah to the buttress and to the corner. 25 Palal the son of Uzai repaired opposite the buttress and the tower projecting from the upper house of the king at the court of the guard. After him Pedaiah the son of Parosh 26 and the temple servants living on Ophel repaired to a point opposite the Water Gate on the east and the projecting tower. 27 After him the Tekoites repaired another section opposite the great projecting tower as far as the wall of Ophel.

28 Above the Horse Gate the priests repaired, each one opposite his own house. 29 After them Zadok the son of Immer repaired opposite his own house. After him Shemaiah the son of Shecaniah, the keeper of the East Gate, repaired. 30 After him Hananiah the son of Shelemiah and Hanun the sixth son of Zalaph repaired another section. After him Meshullam the son of Berechiah repaired opposite his chamber. 31 After him Malchijah, one of the goldsmiths, repaired as far as the house of the temple servants and of the merchants, opposite the Muster Gate,[h] and to the upper chamber of the corner. 32 And between the upper chamber of the corner and the Sheep Gate the goldsmiths and the merchants

I John 3 Part 2–Love–Love for Us and Our Love for Others.

God truly demonstrated His love for us.  He loved us when we were unlovable.  He accepted us when we were unacceptable.  He calls us to love others the same way.  John reiterated his original message from his gospel, For God So loved the world that he gave his only son. He tells the church –this is how we know what love is…Jesus laid his life down for us. He tells the church its response should be similar…the church should lay their lives down for others.  Selfishness gets parked at the curb and believer’s lives are no longer their own.  It is not a mopey life of dower expression and mundane existence. Instead, it is a life full of meaning and purpose where the needs of others supersede the needs of self.  Amazingly, history reminds us that humans are at their best when they set their personal agendas aside.
 
In our lives, we have to choose each day to live for Christ and not for ourselves.  It is a difficult task. Even on Jesus’s birthday, we can lose the focus and become consumed with the consumerism of the holiday and the consumables we feast upon. If we are not careful, our entire life becomes filled with a desire to promote ourselves and obtain all we feel we deserve.  John’s reminder is stark and plain–live a life like Christ. Lay your lives and agendas on the alter and allow Christ dominion over them. When we live like that, we find ourselves full of life and purpose and we enjoy a glimpse of peace and joy like none other. 
 
God Bless You

 For this is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another. 12 Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own actions were evil and his brothers were righteous. 13 Do not be surprised, my brothers and sisters,[b] if the world hates you. 14 We know that we have passed from death to life because we love each other. Anyone who does not love remains in death. 15 Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him.

16 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. 17 If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? 18 Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.

19 This is how we know that we belong to the truth and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence: 20 If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. 21 Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God 22 and receive from him anything we ask, because we keep his commands and do what pleases him. 23 And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. 24 The one who keeps God’s commands lives in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.

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