God Allows us to be Human

There’s a world of difference between 1 Kings 18 and 1 Kings 19. In the first, Elijah preaches ‘a belter’ of a sermon and sees his prayer of faith miraculously answered. In the second Elijah runs for his life from a woman and cries out to God to strike him dead. One minute he’s courageous, and the next he’s a coward. One minute he’s fearless in the face of adversity, and in the next he’s so fearful he flees from it. It’s hard to believe it’s the same man. But we can’t deny that even ‘heroes’ of the faith aren’t immune to the ‘spiritual blues’. Even Elijah wasn’t immune to spiritual fatigue. Spiritual depression has a habit of following right behind a spiritual high so I think we should own up to the fact that if we were standing in his shoes we’d have been running as well!

The world in which Elijah lived in was a struggle. Ahab was on the throne of Israel at the time. We’re told in 1 Kings 16:30 (NKJV) that he “did evil in the sight of the LORD, more than all who were before him.” King Ahab was married to Jezebel. She was the one who was responsible for bringing Baal worship into Israel. She was the power behind the throne. This couple were not to be crossed, but that’s exactly what Elijah chose to do. Elijah decided to take the two of them head-on. He challenged Ahab to a competition to see whose god was the one and true God. And so the rivalry began…

Elijah dared Ahab to meet him on Mount Carmel along with the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal and the four hundred prophets of Asherah. Ahab agreed and the children of Israel met on the mountain for the ‘face-off‘ between Baal and Jehovah. Thousands came to watch the competition. The king stood on one side with his false prophets while Elijah stood on the other side, backed by God Himself. There hadn’t been a single drop of rain since Elijah prayed three and a half years previous for the heavens to shut their storehouses. So the challenge was to see which God would grant their request for rain. The one rule was that there was to be no fire, as the one and true God would answer their request in fire. Even if there was an ounce of doubt, not a single drop of rain would have fallen that day.

Two bulls were chosen and the false prophets took their pick, preparing their offering for the altar. When they were as ready as they would ever have been, they called on the name of Baal. They cried out to their god from noon until night. However there was nothing to show for their song and dance, and their prayers went unanswered. Elijah didn’t hold back on what he thought:- “cry aloud, for he is a god; either he is meditating, or he is busy, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is sleeping and must be awakened” (1 Kings 18:27 NKJV). Where did they go wrong? They cried for help, instead of Hope.

After the false prophets’ failure, it was Elijah’s turn to step up to the challenge. The first thing he did was repair the altar of the Lord that lay in ruins. He then made a trench and had it filled with water three times until it was full. His faith could be measured by the bucket-load! What happened next was nothing short of a miracle. Elijah let his request be known, “O Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, prove today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant. Prove that I have done all this at your command. O Lord, answer me! Answer me so these people will know that you, O Lord, are God and that you have brought them back to yourself” (1 Kings 36-37 NLT). Immediately, fire fell. The altar and everything around it was consumed with flames. As soon as the children of Israel saw this they fell on their faces, crying out “The LORD -he is God! The LORD -he is God!” (1 Kings 18:39 NIV). Elijah proved that the ordinary can accomplish the unimaginable if only they ask God. We should never underestimate the ordinary because God loves to use them for His glory.

Things were about to take a turn for Elijah. As the false-prophets had been conquered they were seized, and slaughtered. It goes without saying that Elijah not only embarrassed king Ahab, but he angered Jezebel. It was then that she issued a death threat. She wanted Elijah dead. The message that Elijah was brought was “so let the gods do to me, and more also, if I make not your life as the life of one of them by this time tomorrow” (1 Kings 19:2 Amplified). Jezebel meant business. She meant murder. Elijah ran for his life. He ran as fast and as far as his legs could carry him. Flat on his face under a broom tree he asked God to take his life. What a difference a day makes!

What I love about Elijah is that he was a man just like us. There’s a man-made myth that Elijah was an extraordinary man, when in fact he was nothing more than ordinary. Here’s what the Amplified Version has to say about Elijah. He “was a human being with a nature such as we have [with feelings, affections, and a constitution like ours]” (James 5:17). Never forget this- God allows us to be human. We don’t always have to be the hero.

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Don’t Hold your Tongue

Every Christian has a Divine Call on their lives. Every Christian is called to ‘preach’, to persuade. Whether or not you’re in ‘full-time ministry’ you should be a full-time Christian. The Greek word for preach means to ‘proclaim, herald, announce”. There’s no mention of a pulpit, or an ordination service. Jesus didn’t ask us all to deliver sermons or speak at open-air services. But He expects us to share the Gospel Message with those around us. Whether this is through kind words, dropping a thought into someone’s head, or serving someone with your hands.

Churches no longer believe that they have to answer this call, choosing to sit comfortably in their pews instead of taking to the streets. Churches have grown cold and insular, keeping within their four walls. This runs contrary to the Gospel. Jesus doesn’t want us to keep ourselves to ourselves. He doesn’t want us to sit on our hands, hold back our hearts, or keep our mouths shut and our ears blocked. Jesus wants people to be persuaded to make peace with Him through watching on as we live our lives.

2 Corinthians 5:11 pleads with us to persuade others to follow Christ. The Message tells us to “work urgently with everyone we meet to get them ready to face God” (2 Corinthians 5:11 MSG). Paul goes on to explain that “if I acted crazy, I did it for God; if I acted overly serious, I did it for you. Christ’s love has moved me to such extremes. His love has the first and last word in everything we do” (2 Corinthians 5:12-14 MSG). Do whatever it takes to tell others the Good News that Jesus lives, and loves. Don’t hold your tongue.

Persuading men; this is our call, this is our commission. Burning hearts, determined minds, and eager feet, that’s what we’re meant to have. We’re meant to be carried away in our love and passion for the Lord. This responsibility of sharing the Living Gospel falls on our heads and is found in our hands. We can’t take a rest, sitting back in our armchairs with our feet up knowing that there are people within reach who are walking the opposite way. Crossing their paths and pleading with them to make peace with God at the cross is our mission in life.

Hold this thought, as Christ’s personal representatives He’s authorised us to speak in His name and on His behalf. As His reps we’re to translate what He’s saying into the language of the people. We have to realise the weight of this. God has empowered us as His messengers, sending us out on a special mission. 2 Corinthians 5:20 (Amplified Version) outlines our work role; we’re called to be Christ’s ambassadors. Paul’s words are as follows, “we are Christ’s ambassadors, God making His appeal as it were through us. We [as Christ’s personal representatives] beg you for His sake to lay hold of the divine favour [now offered you] and be reconciled to God.”

The Greek translation for ambassador is ‘on Christ’s behalf’. Jesus has appointed us to take His place on earth. We’re to be His voice box, allowing Jesus to speak through us, amplifying the message for all to hear. Being an ambassador can be used as a vehicle for the Gospel. We’re meant to drive this Message home, persuading others to join the ranks.

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Uncensored and Exposed

We shouldn’t let obstacles stand in our way. We shouldn’t let anything stop us from serving God. We shouldn’t slam on the brakes and refuse to budge just because we don’t feel up to the challenge. God loves to use those who prove to be a challenge. Never forget that obstacles are opportunities to trust. Trust that He can use you, if only you will let Him.

Our God goes by many different titles, one of them would be ‘the God of the impossible’. We all know this verse, so why don’t we accept it and apply it to our lives- “Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God”” (Mark 10:27 NIV). The Message echoes this, “”No chance at all if you think you can pull it off by yourself. Every chance in the world if you let God do it”” (Mark 10:27). Don’t allow ‘impossibilities’ to plague you, God believes in you so you should have a little faith in yourself too.

1 Corinthians 1:26-28 (MSG) makes it clear as day why God chooses to use ’losers’- “I don’t see many of “the brightest and the best” among you… Isn’t it obvious that God deliberately chose men and women that the culture overlooks and exploits and abuses, chose these “nobodies” to expose the hollow pretensions of the “somebodies”?” We learn from these verses that God CAN use anyone, including you. But, there’s one condition on this: a willingness, a readiness, to serve.

Just think, who are our ‘heroes of the faith’? I’m not talking about men and women we’ve stood on pedestals while we’ve shined their halos and airbrushed over their flaws. I’m talking about the men and women who were called by God, there’s no question about that, but weren’t all that different from ourselves. Who were they? Naked and exposed, stripped down to reveal their true selves. That’s what I’m talking about, warts and all, first thing in the morning on a bad hair day. Who were they? They were losers, just like us.

There’s a list that’s as long as creation itself, that records loser after loser after loser who God chose to use. ‘Giants of the Faith’ probably never felt that they were worthy of the title, and I’m sure that crowds of people agreed with them. I’m sure they were labelled as being totally and utterly useless. But, praise God He doesn’t like sticking labels on people. It’s true that we aren’t good enough, on our own! But when we invite God in it’s a different story entirely. A story with an entirely different ending.

Just think, Jonah ran from God as fast as his legs could carry him. Thomas doubted beyond belief. David went down in history for committing adultery. Peter ran hot and cold. Elijah suffered from manic depression if you ask me. And we all know what Rahab’s job description was. This is who these men and women are, uncensored.

You don’t have to be something ‘extra special’ to be used by God. These ‘heroes’ and ‘heroines’ of the faith are proof of this. And because God was able to use them there’s no question about Him being able to use you. But the one thing that’s stopping Him, is you. The one thing that can come between you and God is your unwillingness to accept that He can, and will, use you.

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