Today: Psalms 78:9-16; Acts 17:1-21; 1 Kings 16:8-34; 1 Kings 17; 1 Kings 18:1-15
“The children of Ephraim, being armed and carrying bows, turned back in the day of battle. They did not keep the covenant of God; they refused to walk in His law, and forgot His works.” Psalm 78:9-11
Have we also forgotten God’s works? Do we remember “His wonders” and all the “marvelous things He did?” (v.11-12) Or are we also refusing to walk in His law, turning back in the day of battle like the children of Ephraim? Because we ARE “in the day of battle” whether we realize it or not. It is a spiritual battle between God and Satan, between good and evil, children of light and forces of darkness. This battle has always raged around us although so many of us have been asleep to it. But now as it is ramping up, many of us are waking and realize that we are standing naked in the middle of the battlefield with no armor or weapons. God has provided us with our needed armor, our shield, and sword. It is up to us to pick up those pieces, get our souls right with God (helmet of salvation, breastplate of righteousness), spend our time in prayer warfare (shield of faith), read and learn the Scriptures (loins girded with truth, sword of the spirit, feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace). God will do the rest. But it is up to us to pick up our armor and our weapons and learn how to use them. Don’t let the enemy find you naked on the battlefield!
God continued to allow persecution, and even martyrdom of the early Christians. Paul and Silas had to keep moving to stay safe. As a result, the gospel message was quickly dispersed to city after city as they traveled. Satan was surely instigating the persecutions but God allowed it. Throughout history, God has often used Satan’s plans for His own purposes. It may seem that the devil wields much power on this earth, and he does control the hearts and minds of many people. But do not doubt that God is ultimately in control. As the world heats up again, and persecution is rearing it wicked head in new places around the globe, God can and WILL use it to further His kingdom.
We don’t WANT persecution. But in this cursed world it is sadly inevitable. God allows it for reasons we do and do not understand. God has already won the war. But we still must run out the clock, and finish our time in this physical life. Some of us will pay heavy prices for following Christ. But our eternity in glory is secure. And we follow the Almighty King of Kings, who will go before us and give us strength, courage and wisdom.
1 Kings 16-18
Israel continued to descend into chaos and debauchery under evil king after evil king. Enter Elijah! Elijah is one of my favorite prophets. I just love these crazy prophet characters that God kept raising up to speak His messages to the rulers.
Elijah was led by “the word of the LORD.” He first declared to the evil king Ahab (married to the even more wicked queen Jezebel) that God was bringing a drought. Then “the word of the LORD” instructed Elijah to hide by the Brook Cherith where “ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning, and bread and meat in the evening; and he drank from the brook.” (v.16:6) God later allowed the brook to dry up and instructed Elijah to go to Zarepath where he ministered to a widow and her son.
Notice how God orchestrated events to care for Elijah and also for the widow and her son. Elijah listened and obeyed God’s instruction. The widow also listened “and did according to the word of Elijah.” (v.17:15) When we listen and follow God’s instructions, He is more than able to provide for us according to His perfect plan.
Then the widow’s son got sick and died. This seems so harsh of God to allow after the poor widow had so selflessly cared for Elijah. But God had a plan. Her son came back to life when Elijah prayed for him. This was a Lazarus moment… a tragic situation that God allowed in order to demonstrate His glory. How long did that poor widow lament as her son wasted away? How great was her joy when Elijah handed him back to her alive? We may not understand God’s reasons when we are walking through a valley of difficulty. But if we listen to Him and follow Him, we can KNOW that we are within His perfect plan.