Truth in Palmyra

By Wally Fry



Daily Devotion-September 2, 2015-The Elijah Factor Or How 1 Man Made a Difference-Elijah You Trouble Maker!

1 Kings 18:16-18

So Obadiah went to meet Ahab, and told him: and Ahab went to meet Elijah. And it came to pass, when Ahab saw Elijah, that Ahab said unto him, Art thou he that troubleth Israel? And he answered, I have not troubled Israel; but thou, and thy father’s house, in that ye have forsaken the commandments of the LORD, and thou hast followed Baalim.

Read all of 1 Kings 18 here

God knew, Elijah knew, and we all know reading today just why Ahab’s Kingdom was in such trouble. We know the cause of the judgment and drought was the sin of Ahab and Jezebel and the people’s willingness to follow happily along into that sin. Even Ahab knew in his heart of hearts exactly where the problem lay. He had to have understood how God’s Covenant with the people and His promises for blessings upon them was a conditional one; God’s blessings were promised in return for their obedience. No obedience meant no blessings; in fact lack obedience meant the withholding of blessings and judgment.

But, nonetheless, it is interesting how Ahab reacted upon meeting Elijah after these three long years; Art thou he that troubleth Israel? He might as well said; “Well, here you are, the guy that caused all of this trouble!” It is simply a case of the person who does not like the message blaming the messenger for it. This is not unusual at all, as the messengers of God have often been accused of being trouble makers, and even the cause of troubles facing those who are in trouble. Our Lord Jesus and the Apostle Paul knew much of this, being accused of causing trouble themselves:

Luke 23:5 And they were the more fierce, saying, He stirreth up the people, teaching throughout all Jewry, beginning from Galilee to this place.

Acts 16:20 And brought them to the magistrates, saying, These men, being Jews, do exceedingly trouble our city,

Acts 17:6 And when they found them not, they drew Jason and certain brethren unto the rulers of the city, crying, These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also;

Note Elijah’s response. Quickly and with no hedging whatsoever, the Prophet quickly pointed the finger in the other direction. He quickly established that this issue was between God and Ahab, not between Elijah and Ahab. It was the sin and disobedience of the people which had brought judgment on the people, not the messenger.

So, what’s new today? Nothing! In fact, this is simply what we see all of the time, even today; any one who actually has the audacity to stand and boldly proclaim the Gospel message will be vilified and blamed. The focus becomes the messenger rather than the message. Nothing has changed, and today resembles nothing but a clone of that day.

How do we deal with this? Elijah has taught us how, we need only read the story.

Elijah did what he was called to do. Even when it can’t have been pleasant, Elijah complied. Anyone ever live alone in the desert for a year?

Elijah was willing to show compassion and minister to whoever he was called to serve. Two years with a Gentile widow, in enemy territory? Who are we willing to reach out to?

Finally, Elijah never backed down. When accused of being the cause of trouble, Elijah properly focused on his message and not himself. He could have said, “Oh King, why are you picking on me?” but, he did not. He forgot himself and what was happening and put the message from God right back on the table.

Do we want revival in ourselves, our families, our churches, and our nation? We must do what God calls us to do, serve who He directs us to serve, and ultimately make a bold stand with the message of the Gospel.

Let’s Talk Revival!!! Part 7

This week, we will close out our recap on the series on Revival and the Seven Churches of Asia with our devotionals on the churches at Smyrna and Philadelphia, the two churches that seemed to be revived and thriving. As last weeks was rather short, this one will be somewhat longer.

Read all of Revelation Chapter 2 here

The Church at Smyrna

Revelation 2:8-10

And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive; I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan. Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.

Smyrna, a Church Under Fire

Note right away the very short nature of this particular letter. Jesus had nothing bad to say about this church. He merely had some commendation to pass along to Smyrna, as well as a warning later in the letter. He had a warning, not an admonition. In fact, only Smyrna and Philadelphia escaped without any words of critique from our Lord.

During the course of study, I read several commentators who referred to Smyrna as the “suffering church,” because apparently things were not easy for them. It seems the church at Smyrna faced trouble from two directions.

It needs to be noted that the city of Smyrna was somewhat of a leading center for the Roman practice of Emperor worship, with the Emperor of the day being Domitian. Of course, the Christian community was more than willing to obey and support the civil laws and government of the time. On the other hand, they were unwilling to extend worship to the Roman Emperor and offer sacrifices to him.

Not only was the church at Smyrna being persecuted at the hands of the Roman government itself, but they faced it as a result of the actions of the local Jewish community, which was quite large. At the time, the Jews enjoyed the protection of the Roman government, and they were not required to participate in worship or sacrifices to the Emperor. They were, however, very quick to hurl accusations at the Christian community. Jesus said, I know the blasphemy of them, indicating that He well knew the lies the local Jews were spreading about the Christians. Because they seemed to have conspired and planned out these lies in an intentional effort to erase the local Christians, Jesus referred to these Jews as the synagogue of Satan! The lies were many, ranging from cannibalism, to immorality, and oddly enough they were even accused of being atheists for not believing in the assortment of Roman Gods

The important part here is to understand why this church was undergoing persecution. Obviously, they were doing the right things; they were putting themselves out in the world clearly and definitively as what they were, and that was Christians. They were different than the world around them. As throughout the history of the church, anytime Christians do what they should and live as they should, persecution and troubles arise.

If the life our our churches is trouble free and easy, with no one questioning us or rising in opposition to us? We might be in need of revival.

A Warning for Smyrna

We have seen  that this church has already suffered substantially for their faith; in fact, they had gotten a double dose of persecution. They were being persecuted by the Roman government for staying true to the Faith, as well as some claiming to be among God’s chosen people, the Jews. Life had not been easy thus far for the church at Smyrna.

Jesus did not have an admonition, or negative words for this church; He did, however have a very solemn and honest warning. Unfortunately, more and possibly worse was to come.

What is coming? Well, more tribulation is coming. Our passage teaches us that some will be jailed, and tried, possibly for exercising their faith. Let’s talk quickly about this period of ten days . Some assign very symbolic meaning to this in terms of it representing perhaps ten phases of persecution under the Romans yet to come; some say it could represent some undermined amount of time, perhaps even ten years; others say it literally means ten days.  There is some credence to the idea that in other places, ten days was simply a “short time.”, signifying that this persecution would be intense yet short lived. Who knows, really?

We can absolutely conclude, however, that more was coming for these believers.  God has told them it is coming; but more importantly, He has basically told them, “Do not be afraid!” They need not fear this upcoming persecution, because what awaits them in Heaven with their Savior someday is far more wonderful than anything they face here could be bad. They will receive “The crown of life.” Note the similar reference to this crown in James 1:12. Just a quick note; there is nothing in this passage which would cause us to teach that the Crown of Life represents a gift of Salvation. In other words, this church is not being taught that if they persevere through the trials they would be rewarded with eternal life. This gift is only for those who have accepted God’s gracious gift of salvation, and will then be rewarded for their perseverance, which they are capable of because of the power of the Holy Spirit in their lives.

What’s the application for our discussion on revival here anyway? Seems an odd connection, really. Here is what I saw.

If we do what we are supposed to be doing in our world and our communities, we will suffer. If we are living live on easy street, then we may need reviving.

If we do what we are supposed to do, then God will take are of us, protect us, and ultimately reward us.

So. let’s get busy. God told Smyrna they could handle it, and He is telling us that as well.

Read all of Revelation Chapter 3 here

The Church at Philadelphia

Philadelphia, A Revived Church

Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love. Everybody knows that, right? The name literally means “love of the brethren,” and is simply two Greek root words combined. It comes from the word pheleo, “to love” and adelphos, “brother.” The city has borne several names throughout history, but we know it as Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love, much like it’s namesake right here in the United States.  Just a small tidbit of history here might be fun to note; the name of the city actually never had any roots in The Bible whatsoever. It actually comes from the story of King Attalus II whose brother, Eumemes was the King of nearby Pergamum. The love and loyalty Attalus had for his brother was so great and well known that the city was named in honor of that great love. Not necessarily relevant to our discussion, but very interesting nonetheless.

Our Lord Jesus Christ, much like the church at Smyrna, had no negative words to say to the believers in Philadelphia whatsoever. I have read of this church being referred to as “The Faithful Church,” and “The Revived Church.” Just because it seems to fit, we are going to consider Philadelphia as The Revived Church.

I think we will spend some time discussing the many things this church was doing right over the course of the next few days. Ironically, the little we know about the church in Philadelphia comes from only this very short passage in God’s Word;, yet the words of praise Jesus had for this church could fill a book if expanded on fully. So, for the next few days, we will do a little filling.

Who’s In Charge Here?

What keeps a church in a revived state? That almost sounds like an oxymoron I know, as the stay in a revived state implies that one never needed reviving, but it’s the best way I could think of to ask it! But as much as anything, focus on one thing might be just the thing which keeps us in the state our Lord wishes us to be in. The state of being, not necessarily “re” vived, but simply alive and well in the first place.

This might be a little stretch with the text we are talking about, but I don’t really think so. It has to to with our focus, and our text clearly explains some things about what our focus as a church should be, and why. So, the title question remains: Who is in charge here?

Jesus Himself proclaimed Himself, when delivering these letters to the churches, and specifically the one we are addressing, to be holy. Who is holy? Well, only God is holy. One could construe this as Jesus stating quite clearly that He is also God. Being God certainly provides some credentials, some bona fides, if you will, as to His authority over the church He is addressing. He referred to Himself as he that is true. He is pointing out that He, and not any of the pantheon of false gods worshiped at the time this letter was written, is the one and True God of the universe. Again, impressive credentials for one establishing His authority over the church being addressed. He possesses the key of David. In this context, possession of a key clearly establishes authority. It is no accident that those in charge of some establishments are referred to as “key carriers.” Along with keys come authority; this is ultimate authority in fact. Authority for what? We may ask. Perhaps the door to the Kingdom? No one can enter the Kingdom unless the door is opened by Jesus Himself, and no one can be shut out from the Kingdom except by Jesus Christ Himself. Again, powerful credentials!

Colossians 1:17,18 And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.

So who, or what, is the head our our churches? If it’s anything other than Jesus Christ who possesses the ultimate authority which was handed to Him by God the Father, we might be in need of revival.

A Faithful Church

We are still talking about the church at Philadelphia today. As we have talked about over the last couple of days, this church was already revived, or had never had need for revival in the first place. I have also heard Philadelphia referred to as the faithful church.

First things first. Jesus Christ knows the works of our churches. We may have the most beautiful building, the biggest flashiest auditorium, and the most people; however, Jesus Christ knows the real story behind the scenes so to speak. He knew that with this church, and we know that because He told them in the letter He sent them. He knows our churches as well.

This church had only a little strength. This was in no way anything negative being said about this church. In fact, when we read on we see that this reference to their apparent lack of strength was in fact a great compliment regarding the reality of their actual great strength!

We don’t really know exactly what the problem was which caused Jesus to refer to them as having only a little strength, but we all know some things which might cause us to  think that about a church we know, or even our own church. Perhaps it was small unimpressive numbers of members; perhaps they did not have a great place or fancy home to meet in; perhaps their members came from the poorer, most unfortunate sections of town. We don’t know exactly what the issue was, but we do know that, on the surface, they may have appeared to not be very strong.

We all know God had some things to say about our position of strength in Him when we ourselves are weak as we all know how Paul concluded his noted writing on his thorn in the flesh, and the conclusion he reached:

2 Corinthians 12:10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.

So, while this church was perhaps poor, small, and weak on the outside, according to our Lord, their works were strong and powerful. What was happening here? Well, later in the passage some specifics are talked about, but some we can assume. What can we assume? Certainly people were being saved, lives transformed, and the Gospel was being preached!

Are we in a place serving which seems small and of little note? Don’t be discouraged, as later we will see that Jesus made some wonderful promises to this church; these are promises he has in fact made to all of his churches which remain faithful and true to His Word and in His works.

God’s Promises to a Faithful Church

Yesterday we talked about how this church at Philadelphia may have seemed small and weak by the standards of the world around them, but how the truth was that Jesus considered them to be of great strength. Over the next day or several, we are going to talk about some of the promises God has made this church because of their faithfulness.

The first thing we see guaranteed to this church is that Jesus has set an open door before them, and no man can shut it. Previously we talked about Jesus as the one with the keys, and the fact that the keys clearly symbolize authority.

What is the open door set before this church that no man can shut? Well, there are a couple of possibilities we can see here, I think. It seems that at least on the surface, that what we see is the guarantee of security in the grace of God through Jesus Christ to the saved believers in this church.  In other words, because of their status as redeemed of God, their salvation and entrance forever into the Kingdom of Heaven is promised and secure.

There is also something deeper here, having to do with things of importance right here on, this earth, in this life. Has anybody ever prayed for God to “open a door?” I think most have, it is common for many to ask The Lord to open one door and shut another, as a way to share with us what His will in a particular situation is.

So, then, what might be the door that is being opened here? The door for additional and greater service to Him of course! I have heard it said that the biggest thing we can offer God is not our ability, but our availability. Many of us dream of doing what we would call “great things” for God, and He certainly gives some the chance for that. But perhaps He also wants us to show we are willing are willing to do the small things.

Are you in a church that seems small and without much strength or power? Does it get discouraging because other churches seem more vibrant and growing? Do you dream of God doing great things in the local assembly you are part of? Perhaps He has great things planned for you, but also perhaps He just wants to see us become willing to tackle the small stuff too.

God’s Promise for Protection

As I said earlier, we are going to spend a little time talking about this church in Philadelphia. Because not only are we talking about what our churches are doing wrong these days, but when we can we will find good examples to follow as well. Philadelphia certainly provides a good example which we could all be following. They were a likely small, poor church, and yet had remained faithful and true to God’s Word and God’s work. In effect, they were  a church in revival. Because of this, God had made them some promises; He makes those same promises to us today.

Again, we see this reference to those which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie;. Obviously this church, like Smyrna, was facing a similar tribulation in that they were being persecuted by those who themselves were claiming to be children of God. Again we see this reference to the Synagogue of Satan. Who were these people? I’d love to hear some views on this, as there are a couple of ways we could look at this. One thought I found that I rather liked was the idea that because of their rejection of Jesus, that He Himself regarded them as no longer being true Israel. One commenter from earlier made the point that maybe they weren’t really Jews at all, but trouble making out of towners  basically come to give the Christians grief. Interesting discussion if anybody wants to have it.

Regardless of who was causing the trouble, the point really is that somebody was. This church was doing the right things and not having and easy time of it as a result. God’s promise was a long term proposition; note that He did not promise them relief from their troubles, nor did he offer them protection in the sense that we would consider it. His promise was in the future, and it was of an eternal nature. Some day, God Himself will deal with people like that, and then all will know why; all will come to know those who stay true are being rewarded, and those who do not, or reject him, will be dealt with also.

God’s word has quite a lot to say about how He will deal with the enemies of His churches, and many involve footstools. Let’s take a look.

Psalm 110:1 (A Psalm of David.) The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.

That particular passage obviously means something, because it was given much mileage later in Scripture. I would venture to say it’s repeated use would be a clue this is a promise for us today.

Matthew 22:44 The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool?

Mark 12:36 For David himself said by the Holy Ghost, The LORD said to my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool.

Luke 20:42,43 And David himself saith in the book of Psalms, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, Till I make thine enemies thy footstool.

Acts 2:24 For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand,

Then, of course, we see the same promise repeated to this faithful church in Philadelphia. God’s promises to us are sure, and this one seems extra sure as God seems to have offered the assurance of repeating it, as if to say, “Got that?”

If we do the right things, we won’t be treated right. If we preach God’s Word as it is written, and do God’s work as it is commanded, we won’t have it easy. The Jews in question were just an example to us; ours will be different. The point is, if we do as we should, we will get grief from somewhere. There are two ways to avoid this:

Don’t preach God’s Word

Don’t do God’s work

But, if we do what we should, troubles will come. God, however has promised us protection from that. He guarantees it.

More Promises From God

We have been talking about the church at Philadelphia, who we have referred to as the faithful church, or the revived church. As we have covered, Jesus had nothing but words of praise and commendation for this assembly of believers. We have been using them as an example of what a church in a living, vibrant state looks like. This is what our churches should look like.

God has made some promises to this church, and we are working our way through them. These folks have been faithful with a little, and now God is blessing then with a lot.  He has promised them additional opportunities to serve, and protection for them if they do that. Now we see a promise to protect them from the hour of temptation.

Well here, we go, because this is a controversy just waiting to happen. Fortunately, we aren’t going to have it!  It seem fairly clear that what is being referred to here is not just some local pot of trouble that these people will find themselves in, but a larger spot of trouble, involving more than just them. We see this because this is referred to as the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth. Here, we are seeing a trouble which will seemingly affect everyone. So, what exactly is coming?

Therein lies the controversy. It’s possible this could be referring to some coming systematic persecution by the Romans; in that day that would have certainly fit how “the world” was considered. It could also be something much bigger, involving literally the entire world, What we may be seeing here is the idea that the believers, and others, will escape the wrath of the coming Great Tribulation prophesied in Daniel. In other words, many see this as evidence of a pre tribulational rapture of the church. Others see this as evidence that, even though they think the church will be present during the Great Tribulation, that she will be protected and preserved during it.

So, again, readers feel free to come on board and talk about this, but as always be nice. This is one of those things we can diverge on and nobody is a heretic okay? Just for the record, I am a pre tribulational rapture kind of fellow.

But the point is not a debate about the end times; the point is God’s promises. Earlier we saw God had promised to protect this church from the local issues they were facing. This promise just expands on that. As a reward for their faithful keeping of God’s Word and performance of God’s work, this church will also be protected from much larger things.

We will be also. Got that? In our churches we need to stop fearing the world around us. God’s Word and God’s work has not changed; it is us who has changed. One of the main reasons we have changed is fear of the world and desire to fit in that world. We need to stop that, as God has clearly promised that if we do the right things, He will protect us.

Daily Devotion-August 27, 2015-The Elijah Factor or How 1 Man Made a Difference-All For The Glory of God

1 Kings 1:17,18

And it came to pass after these things, that the son of the woman, the mistress of the house, fell sick; and his sickness was so sore, that there was no breath left in him. And she said unto Elijah, What have I to do with thee, O thou man of God? art thou come unto me to call my sin to remembrance, and to slay my son?

As we covered yesterday, this event must have been quite a shock for both Elijah and the widow woman he was living with during this time. Here they were, contently being provided for by God in a very direct way, and suddenly for no apparent reason her son dies. Reams of commentary has been written about the whys of this, and reams have been written about the meaning of it. More have been written about the woman’s reaction to her son’s death.

Was she saved? Was her statement about her sin conviction? So on and so forth it goes. Yesterday, I got a great comment from another blogger that provides an explanation for this event that I really liked. Ben over at Another Red Letter Day had the following to say:

Sometimes we ask why things happened, rather than looking at what God can do in our circumstances. Our Lord who makes all things work together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purposes told the disciples they were asking the wrong question in John 9. I love how the Message Bible puts it:
Jesus said, “You’re asking the wrong question. You’re looking for someone to blame. There is no such cause-effect here. Look instead for what God can do. John 9:3-4
Jesus ignores the cause and works the work of God to bring Glory to Him. Perhaps the same principal is at work here. It may not have been anything the woman did, or needed, that brought this tragedy into her life, but the circumstance created a place for God to bring glory to Himself, through a man willing to pray. Elijah was a man, made of the same stuff we’re made of, but he knew the power of prayer (according to James.)

Good stuff huh? Sometimes the things that happen to us really aren’t about us in the first place. Maybe they are there for the sole and only purpose of allowing God to show his great mercy and grace and bring glory to Himself.

We’ve been talking about revival, and I think this illustrates the point. Revival is not about us, our building, or our activities. It’s not even about how many souls might come to Christ. Being truly revived is about remembering just why we are here, why we exist, and what our purpose is as individuals, families, and churches. We are here to bring glory to God by allowing Him to work His purposes in our lives.

If we think we exist for anything else, we might need revival.

Daily Devotion-The Elijah Factor or How 1 Man Made a Difference-Revival Takes Patience

1 Kings 17:17,18

And it came to pass after these things, that the son of the woman, the mistress of the house, fell sick; and his sickness was so sore, that there was no breath left in him. And she said unto Elijah, What have I to do with thee, O thou man of God? art thou come unto me to call my sin to remembrance, and to slay my son?

As we said in yesterday’s devotional, this seems an odd turn of events in the life of Elijah and this widow woman. For some time, perhaps substantial time, they have been contentedly living on the bounty of flour and oil provided daily by The Lord. Now, tragically her son had gotten sick and died. There was no breath left in him.

Why would God allow this to happen? Why, if He did, would He actually cause this to happen? That is a good question! First, we need to note that with God, there are no accidents. He either causes or allows all things, He is in control of His creation. So, we can’t deny God’s involvement in this unfortunate situation and write it off as merely happenstance. So, why?

Well, really we can only theorize, so I offer you mine. Remember, we aren’t really positive at what point this woman became a true believer in The Lord. It seems certain that when Elijah finished his business with her that she was, but perhaps she was not yet at this point. Tomorrow, perhaps we will look at some things that might indicate the purpose of this trial was to bring her completely and fully to God, but today I want to take another brief direction.

I think we are comfortable that one reason Elijah was in this home was to minister to and teach this woman. We probably also agree that one way God teaches us is through trials. In other words, we are tested and taught by fire sometimes. Maybe by this point, the woman was a believer, but simply needed more development in her journey to spiritual maturity. She had certainly had proof that God would provide her physical needs, as the flour and oil continued to be refilled daily. Is is possible that she had become complacent with her daily needs being provided? Is it possible she considered herself safe from and immune to the trials and troubles facing those around her? After all, she had the prophet living with her. I welcome thoughts on this, by the way.

Perhaps what was needed her was another reminder of just how God is involved in our lives, and how He will take care of us in the ways that are in accordance with His will and our best needs. Perhaps the death of her son was needed to remind both Elijah and this woman of that simple and true fact.

So, what’s this got to do with revival in our hearts, families, and churches? Well, we have pointed out several times that revival is NOT just an event we do. This certainly proves that. Elijah has spent substantial time ministering to just one woman and her son. It seems it may have taken time, perhaps as long as two years, to lead this woman to solid faith in God. Want revival? It man take patience and hard work!

Daily Devotion-August 25, 2015-The Elijah Factor or How 1 Man Made a Difference-Things Get Tougher

1 Kings 17:17,18

And it came to pass after these things, that the son of the woman, the mistress of the house, fell sick; and his sickness was so sore, that there was no breath left in him. And she said unto Elijah, What have I to do with thee, O thou man of God? art thou come unto me to call my sin to remembrance, and to slay my son?

 This may very be a real “Say what?” moment. Things have been tough on both Elijah the Prophet and the widow woman he has been living with. Elijah has spent a year camped out by a brook, alone save for a providing bird. The woman had been living alone with her son, watching the land grow dry and her food run out. Then Elijah had come along and things may have seemed to be looking up.

The woman’s son became very sick, and he died. Here they were, being quite handily provided for by God, and He allows her son to die. What in the world could be going on here?

Previously we talked about what was going on in this house for perhaps as long as two years with Elijah and the widow woman. This woman was a gentile, and there is much thought that she was not a believer in God when she first encountered the Prophet Elijah. We know, since we know the end of the story, that God has big plans for Elijah. We know, because we know the end of the story, of the big contest between Elijah and the prophets of Baal which is coming soon. Elijah likely had no clue what was in his future. He was just a man doing what God was telling him to do.

In this case, all Elijah was doing was ministering to on woman, perhaps a woman who did not yet know The Lord. Over the next day or two, we are going to look very specifically at the death and bringing back to life of the boy, but before we do it seems there may be a lesson here.

God may have big plans for us, or He may not. He may have a showdown with the enemy in our future, or He may not. There are a couple of lessons here. First, perhaps God wanted to see how willing Elijah was to witness and minister to the seemingly most insignificant of souls before giving him additional challenges to face. Perhaps God’s only work in this house was to see the woman come to repentance and faith, and Elijah was the chosen tool.

How about us? Are we so concerned about the “big” plans God has for us that we forget the small plans count also? Are we wanting to get revived by a big hoopla in our church buildings with crowds, preaching, and music or are we willing to work the details of God’s plan person by person as Elijah did here? If we are only living for the big, high visibility plans, and don’t have time or inclination for the seemingly small plans, we may need reviving.

Daily Devotion-August 24, 2015-The Elijah Factor or How 1 Man Made a Difference-The Flour and Oil Stays Full

1 Kings 17:13-16

And Elijah said unto her, Fear not; go and do as thou hast said: but make me thereof a little cake first, and bring it unto me, and after make for thee and for thy son. For thus saith the LORD God of Israel, The barrel of meal shall not waste, neither shall the cruse of oil fail, until the day that the LORD sendeth rain upon the earth. And she went and did according to the saying of Elijah: and she, and he, and her house, did eat many days. And the barrel of meal wasted not, neither did the cruse of oil fail, according to the word of the LORD, which he spake by Elijah.

Remember where we were from our previous devotional. Elijah’s brook had dried up and his raven had flown away. Elijah has spent some substantial time camped out alone beside that brook, and was now a graduate of, as one writer said, the B.B.I, or Brook Bible Institute.

What was meant by that was something we have talked about several times during the course of this study of the prophet Elijah. God had big plans for this man, and these things happening to him were no more than his training ground for the final act of God’s great play here. Elijah is now ready to move in to higher level studies as God hones and grooms him for his ultimate mission.

One of the things God wants to teach us as he prepares us for our missions in life is that He is trustworthy and can be counted on; God wants us to understand that, when He asks us to obey, He will not leave us hanging, unprepared, and without resources.

Earlier we saw how, when Elijah asked the widow woman to provide him food and water, she had pointed out that she and her son were just about to eat the last meal they had. Her plan after that was to simply await their deaths. Elijah’s response?:

“Look, go ahead and give me what I need. You have this promise from God, that this won’t be your last meal. In fact, your barrel of flour and pitcher of oil will not go empty again as long as I live in your house, and until God finally restores rain to this country.”

She trusted. Elijah trusted. God provided. Think about this. If Elijah was by the brook for something approaching a year, and the drought lasted three years, then Elijah and that woman lived on nothing but the provision of God for two years!

What can we learn here relevant to reviving us as servants of God, and seeing Revival in our families and churches?

God has a mission for each of us. It may be a difficult, challenging mission for which we feel totally unequipped. God will equip us. He does not, however, necessarily just hand us the stamina and ability to accomplish this mission. Sometimes we have to learn these things, and sometimes the lesson may seem painful.

If God calls us for a mission, and we accept and obey, He will provide for us what we need in order to be taken care of. It may not be the things we would have preferred, but it will be sufficient for our needs.

If God says it, it will happen. It may not be on our schedule, or in accordance with the way we would have done it, but it will happen.

A final note. This may be simply my personal spin on this, but it struck me as relevant. Elijah was there in that house, several meals a day, for possibly as long as two years. During that time, the flour and oil would deplete, then it would fill up. It would deplete, and it would fill up. It, however, never went dry. What do you think Elijah, the widow, and her son did all day? They were probably NOT watching TV. Is it possible they spent their time in worship, prayer, study and fellowship with one another? If we spent more of our time in worship, prayer, study and fellowship with one another perhaps, like the flour and oil, we would never become empty but be constantly refilled by the Holy Spirit. Perhaps we would become REVIVED!

Daily Devotion-August 21, 2015-The Elijah Factor or How 1 Man Made a Difference-God’s Timing Is Perfect

1 Kings 17:12-14

And she said, As the LORD thy God liveth, I have not a cake, but an handful of meal in a barrel, and a little oil in a cruse: and, behold, I am gathering two sticks, that I may go in and dress it for me and my son, that we may eat it, and die.And Elijah said unto her, Fear not; go and do as thou hast said: but make me thereof a little cake first, and bring it unto me, and after make for thee and for thy son. For thus saith the LORD God of Israel, The barrel of meal shall not waste, neither shall the cruse of oil fail, until the day that the LORD sendeth rain upon the earth.

How dire were the circumstances faced by the widow woman in our story? Just read above, and the situation seems abundantly clear. Elijah had trooped into town, encountered the widow woman, and asked her to prepare something for him to eat and drink.

Her initial reaction was very telling. We can see here that she did not have the resources to do what Elijah asked. In fact, she was gathering sticks for a fire to prepare what she suspected would be her last meal for her and her son. Their last meal. She had nothing left other than a little flour and oil to make one last cake for the two of them. Can you imagine if you only had a biscuit left to eat, with no hope of there ever being another? Starvation is not a good way to die, and that is what she and her son were facing, and she knew and understood that. Her situation was hopeless. Then, this man pops up and says basically, “Hey, fix me supper please!”

A question seems to arise here. Was this woman a believer in the on True God? We really don’t know, to tell the truth. It seems likely that in that moment we was not. She said to Elijah, the Lord thy God. Maybe He was her God at this point, maybe not. We will see later, however, that she trusted what the Prophet told her and did as he asked.

Back in verse 9 of our chapter, we had learned that God had communicated with the woman; Elijah’s showing up was not a surprise to her at all. God told Elijah that he had already commanded a woman to take care of Him after his brook dried up.

I find the woman’s response interesting. If she did believe in God, then she is a great example of obedience even in the face of simply awful circumstances. Who, after all, was this man telling her that things would be okay?

If she was NOT a believer, then her response is even more interesting. A God she perhaps did not even believe in communicated with her. We don’t know how that communication happened, just that it did. The important part is that she responded. She had no proof of the validity of God, just the fact that she apparently understood of His existence. On that meager knowledge, we see her stepping out in faith initially. More importantly, later we will see how that, in response to her initial faith, that God continued to prove Himself to her.

Final note. Why this particular widow woman? Surely there were others in the city. Did God just pick one because He wanted to? Did He pick her because He know her heart was responding to a drawing by Him? Who knows, really, but it is something to think about.

Daily Devotion-August 20,2015-The Elijah Factor or How 1 Man Made a Difference-A Change of Scenery For the Messenger

1 Kings 17:10-12

So he arose and went to Zarephath. And when he came to the gate of the city, behold, the widow woman was there gathering of sticks: and he called to her, and said, Fetch me, I pray thee, a little water in a vessel, that I may drink. And as she was going to fetch it, he called to her, and said, Bring me, I pray thee, a morsel of bread in thine hand. And she said, As the LORD thy God liveth, I have not a cake, but an handful of meal in a barrel, and a little oil in a cruse: and, behold, I am gathering two sticks, that I may go in and dress it for me and my son, that we may eat it, and die.

As we have covered, Elijah’s brook had dried up. The Lord had been taking care of him for possibly as long as a year, and likely as the drought had progressed he had watched his brook slowly dry up.

We covered some how this instruction must have been puzzling to the Prophet. First, he was being sent to be provided for by a widow woman. In the economy of the times, this would have been the most unfortunate of people in the best of times, much less during a nationwide drought. The location where Elijah was being sent is also of note. Zarepath was a Phonecian city about 100 miles from where Elijah had been camped out. This was not an Israelite city, but a Gentile one. It was not actually not that far from Sidon, which was Jezebel’s home town! So, Elijah’s brook was dry, he is being sent to be provided for by the poorest of the poor, and he is being sent into likely a Godless, gentile area. That’s pretty interesting.

Why did God allow the brook to dry up? Why didn’t God just keep the water flowing, and the raven coming? He is God, or course, so He could do these things. Well, as with anything, God has a point and a plan. God was still honing Elijah to be the man He needed him to be, and lessons still needed to be taught. As one writer I read noted, we can become so focused on the fountain that we forget the source. Perhaps this change was to reinforce in Elijah’s mind just who was protecting him and where his sustenance was coming from.

Perhaps in our own lives, as we step out willingly to obey God even when things look too rough, we will encounter situations like this. Perhaps when it seems the rug has been snatched from under us, it is just God making us keep the focus on Him rather than what He gives us.

Final note. He has a calling and a mission for each and every one of us. If we obey and execute, He will take care of us. We may not understand the whys of His method, but if we are performing His work according to His plan, we will be taken care of.

Daily Devotion-August 17, 2015-The Elijah Factor or How 1 Man Made a Difference-God Provides For His Man

1 Kings 17:3-6

Get thee hence, and turn thee eastward, and hide thyself by the brook Cherith, that is before Jordan. And it shall be, that thou shalt drink of the brook; and I have commanded the ravens to feed thee there. So he went and did according unto the word of the LORD: for he went and dwelt by the brook Cherith, that is before Jordan. And the ravens brought him bread and flesh in the morning, and bread and flesh in the evening; and he drank of the brook.

Well, Elijah has made his proclamation of God’s judgment to King Ahab. God had subsequently given Elijah his marching orders so to speak. Elijah was to go to the brook Cherith and simply hide and wait. As we covered in the previous devotion this may have been due to Ahab’s anger at being called on the carpet. It may also have simply been for the sake of waiting itself; Elijah had promised drought, now he just had to wait for God to bring that promise of judgment to bear.

God did provide for Elijah’s need, As we see in the text, God commanded ravens to bring food to Elijah, and Elijah then drank from the brook. It is interesting to see how God provided for His Prophet.

God provided for Elijah emotionally it seems. God could have just dropped manna from Heaven or something like that so that Elijah could eat; instead he had Elijah’s needs provided by a raven. In other words, sustenance was provided by another living creature. I can’t help but think that must have been somewhat of a comfort to Elijah, sitting out there alone by the brook. Elijah was not alone.

God provided completely, in that He provided bread and meat. God provided something resembling a balanced diet for His Prophet.

By using the raven, God showed us that He can use the unworthy to accomplish His works. The raven was considered and unclean bird according to Jewish dietary law; even today we would look at a raven as no more than a common scavenger, hardly what we would pick ourselves to perform this mission. But, God still chose this unworthy vessel to be His chosen way.

Again, what is the point? The point is, Elijah was willing to step out and do what God wanted even when he must have wondered what would happen to him when he did. We see what happened; Elijah stepped out, and God then protected and provided for him. Just as He will us.

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