God Provides

Read 1 Kings 19:3-9a

Embarking on a journey requires planning and preparation. Packing all that you need while you are away must be thought out, taking into account weather, planned activities, and the amount of space for items, lest you forget something. Lately, if I am driving a long distance for my journey, I try to plan some snacks to have in the car to help me stay energized. When you have to make a trip in haste, you do not have time for  all this planning and preparation. The passage for today is one of those unplanned and hasty trips.

Elijah, a prophet of God, has been in a tussling match with King Ahab’s wife, Jezebel. He has been holding Ahab accountable for the sins which he and Jezebel continue to commit. Elijah has just defeated the prophets of Jezebel’s religion. When Jezebel learns of this defeat through her husband, she declares that she will have Elijah killed. Since  she has already had other prophets  of God assassinated, Elijah has little doubt that this would be his fate as well so he flees. In his hasty flight, Elijah has no time to prepare. He has no plans for lodging, no plans for food on the journey, and no idea what he would do next. He just leaves as quickly as possible. God, however, does have a plan for Elizak and provides all the prophet’s needs in food, shelter, and rest.

There are times when we are required to act quickly and without an opportunity to plan everything out. God may be calling us into action immediately, or we may feel threatened so we act upon our fear. Either way, we have a Lord who never abandons us. God will provide for our immediate needs. Trusting in the provisions of God, we are able to make whatever journey may be necessary.

The Ask

Read 1 Kings 3:5-15

Getting the opportunity to wish for absolutely anything with the certainty it will be granted sounds phenomenal. We have all heard the story of Aladdin and the magic lamp. Each of us has desired to be Aladdin who is given the three wishes by the genie in the lamp. Some of us grew up watching the original, or syndicated reruns, of the television show, Bewitched, and wished we had the powers of Samantha. With just a twitch of our nose, we could have anything we desired. Oh, what it might be like to have anything we wanted.

Today we read about King Solomon, the son of David. Like his father, Solomon was not perfect. Right before the passage for today, we find out that Solomon is still worshiping at the high places of his Egyptian wife’s religion. Yet, like David, Solomon hos found favor with God. So God asks Solomon what it is that God could grant for him. Solomon asks for the wisdom to govern the Hebrew people who God  has entrusted to him. Solomon’s request is as much for the Hebrew people as it is for himself. Because of this unselfish request, God gives Solomon the wisdom, as well as, all the benefits for himself which Solomon did not request.

This story has a lesson for us in it. When we come before God with our requests, we should ask ourselves the focus of our request. Are we seeking things which will only be a benefit for us? Do the petitions we make to the Lord serve others as well? This story seems to indicate that the Lord ispleased when we ask for that which will benefit others. In so doing, we may discover that we receive not only what we ask for but the positive aspects which we did not request.

In A Whisper

Read 1 Kings 19:9b-13a

Being heard in the midst of a loud crowd or in a spacious environment can create a challenge for a leader or speaker. In order to overcome this challenge, one might amplify one’s voice by utilizing a megaphone or a microphone, amp and speakers. Another method which has been suggested appears to go contrary to the intended goal…use a quiet voice. This method is akin to the idea of reverse psychology. If individuals in a group see the persons peaking by observing the movement of the mouth, they will quiet themselves and often those  around them because they are curious. They want to hear what is being said since it may have some impact on them. They do not want to miss out.

In the reading from1 Kings today, God seems to employ such a tactic with Elijah. God desires to have Elijah’s full attention. Instead of being known in a loud and shattering way such as using a mighty wind, an earthquake or a large fire, God chooses a whisper. This clearly gets Elijah’s attention and Elijah listens intently to God. This is the response which God sought.

There are times when we have a strong desire to hear God. It may be during a time of great fear and stress as Elijah was experiencing. Maybe we are considering a life transition. Whatever the circumstance, we hunger to hear a message from God. Since we know God to be all-powerful, our expectation is that God will show up in some boisterous and dramatic way. We get frustrated when this does not happen and may conclude that God really does not care. However, from Elijah we learn that often God chooses the quiet and gentle way in order to truly get our attention so the message will be heard.

If you are seeking God’s presence and message, maybe you need to stop looking for a loud thunderbolt and instead pay attention to the gentle whispers in your life.

Role Model

Read 1 Kings 3:1-15

Role models play a valuable role in life. By observing positive behaviors and attitudes in others, individuals can improve choices made in life. These role models may be teachers, mentors, neighbors, family members and/or community members. We might know them personally or only be able to observe them from a distance. Learning from their lives, we are able to be shaped and guided as we journey through our own lives. Choosing our role models is a very important decision because it can influence the direction our life takes into the future.

In the Bible, we observe a large variety of role models. One of the purposes of the Scriptures is to share stories of the people of God so that there is an availability of role models for us in our life and faith journeys. The passage from 1 Kings presents Solomon as a role model. Solomon has recently become the king of Israel, succeeding his father David. This story is a vision in which Solomon is asked by God what God may be able to give Solomon. The vision may create in our minds the image of a genie in a lamp giving the lamp’s new owner three wishes. Faced with the opportunity to request anything, Solomon begins by humbling himself before God and expressing gratitude to God. The one request which Solomon makes is for wisdom to rightly govern God’s people. Because of the attitude of and the request made by Solomon, God indicates that wisdom will be given and promises a long, wealthy and honored life for Solomon if Solomon follows God.

Whether you have been placed in a leadership role or are facing everyday decisions of life, what Solomon models in this story can serve you well. There is benefit to humbling one’s self in the face of opportunity. Realizing the great fortunes of life which has allowed the opportunity to be presented is a great starting point. Acknowledging the limitations of knowledge and skills reminds the person that no one achieves alone. Then seeking the wisdom to choose and act in a way which not only benefits self but others aligns a person to live in an beneficial manner. This follows the example of Christ as well as Solomon.

What Is Needed

Read 1 Kings 19:1-9

Life can have moments of great discouragement. There can be times when a person perceives a great deal of effort is being exerted but little progress seems to be obtained. Some describe this as “beating my head against a wall.” The idea of giving up comes into the person’s mind. It may appear that there is no chance of success. The discouragement seems to take over a person’s thinking and will. Then a surprising and unexpected change occurs. A new energy emerges in the person. There is a renewed vigor to continue and move forward. A lot of effort may still be required yet a feeling of hope returns.

Elijah faced a great time of discouragement. He had been holding Ahab accountable as God instructed but Ahab was listening to the counsel of Jezebel, his wife, instead. Jezebel greatly disliked Elijah because he was a threat to her and her following of Baal. Elijah had defeated the prophets of Baal and they were killed in the process. This angered Jezebel and she vowed to kill Elijah. Elijah fled in fear to the wilderness outside Beersheba. He is extremely discouraged and ready to quit. He even asks God to end his life before falling asleep. When Elijah is awakened, he finds food and drink provided to renew his energy. After falling asleep and waking a second time, he was encouraged to eat and drink more because the journey ahead would be long. Elijah was renewed and re-energized enough to travel to Horeb where he found shelter and rest.

Our journey can be a long one. We can become weary and discouraged. The idea of giving up can dominate our thoughts. During such a period, we would do well to remember Elijah’s story. When Elijah reached the point that he thought it would be better to die instead of continue, God provided what would be necessary for the journey to continue. God will always do the same for us. A certain person, a specific resource, a special message will arrive to join us on the journey. We will be fed, renewed and encouraged so with a new vigor we can journey on. When God perceives we have completed our journey, then rest will come and we will find blessing.