Thursday, May 1, 2014

When They're Not Listening

Once in awhile, especially when my mind is overloaded, I just need to sit and relax with my thoughts. What I find is during those times my mind almost always turns to wondering why so many refuse to believe in Jesus. Some reasons are obvious, fear of what friends and family might think. Fear of walking into a church and wondering what others may think. Fear of losing the party life. Fear of being called hurtful names. The list is endless. But what bothers me most is the attitude that one does need to worry about what God thinks because He is a God of love that would never hold anyone accountable.These are always the first to scream and curse at God the moment tragedy strikes. It is then they become angry because He did not live up to their imaginary view.

Having a faulty view of God is one of the biggest hindrances to ones salvation. It causes people to imagine that God must live up to what and who they say He is and not what the Scripture reveals Him as. When He doesn't live up to their standards their world crumbles. And the sad thing is, it's more often sooner than later that they find themselves disappointed in their fictitious thinking.

In the Bible (1 Kings 19) we are told the story of a man of God who was frustrated because so few people were believing in the Lord. To him it was evident that the nations political and spiritual leaders had forsaken God and were not willing to listen to a thing he had to say. He had convinced himself that it was useless to continue in service to the Lord and fled into the wilderness in depression. While he sat under a tree the Bible tells us he prayed that he would die, that God would take his life.

When rebellion seems to be all we see around us and the people in the world decide there is no need to acknowledge God we can easily become like Elijah. But the widespread rebellion in the land and the godlessness that prevailed had not discouraged God; He was not ready to bring judgment; and He certainly was not going to answer Elijah's depressing prayer. Personally, I can understand Elijah's discouragement. He is just like us. We too can easily become discouraged when the service we practice in obedience to God seems to come up fruitless. Elijah needed to know that God was not finished with Him yet; neither was He closing the door on bringing the hope of salvation to humanity.

Soon we find that God sends an angel to miraculously provide food for Elijah. After awakening Elijah from sleep he asked him to eat and Elijah then fell back asleep. The angel wakes him again, tells him to eat and drink for he had a hard journey before him. For the next 40 days Elijah miraculously went further into the wilderness till he made it to Horeb, the mountain of God. It was on this mountain that many centuries before Moses, the Hebrew patriarch, had an encounter with God. It was here the Ten Commandments were written by the finger of God. Elijah soon found a cave to hide in on the mountain and he spent the night there. But soon he would learn a lesson all Christians need to learn.

Hearing God
When the world seems to be doing its hardest to persuade the culture to turn from God, it does not mean that God is finished with them. It is especially during these times that we need a reminder that God's love and patience is far greater than ours. He wants to see souls saved. As Elijah slept in that cave the Lord spoke to Him and said, "What are you doing here Elijah?" Elijah's answer clearly tells us where his heart is. He replied,  "I have been very zealous for the LORD God of hosts; for the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left; and they seek to take my life." Under all the words Elijah was saying, "God aren't you going to do something? Maybe an earthquake or maybe call fire down from heaven and consume them." But God would have none of it. He told Elijah to go out to the entrance of the cave. The story follows:

Then He said, "Go out, and stand on the mountain before the LORD." And behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice. 1 Kings 19:11-12 (NKJV)

It was after this that God repeated His earlier question and Elijah responded in the same manner. In the story God revealed Elijah's heart or his thoughts. The wind, the earthquake, and the fire were all things Elijah thought God could bring about in judgment to get the attention of the people. But God instead was in the still small voice, the one that nags you to push on, to never give up, to trust that God knows what He is doing. And that is just what He did as He told Elijah to arise and go back toward Damascus.

Gaining God's Perspective
I am like Elijah far to many times. When I am on my way to church on a bright Sunday morning I often cringe at all those walking the dogs, cutting the grass, jogging, playing in the park, and worse the parents who are keeping their children away from knowing God. I mean really, why do they get to skate when I have to lose all the good outside weather just to go and worship at church? Why doesn't God just do something? But soon I just pray for the Lord to convince and convict them of their sin that they may know there is something missing in their lives.

In the rest of the story Elijah listens to God and becomes a teacher to a young man named Elisha. A new generation was about to arise and it would be Elisha that God would use to be the spokesman to carry on the mighty ministry of Elijah. The Bible best expresses the nature of God toward humanity in the Person of Jesus Christ. Isaiah, another prophet once wrote of Jesus in the following way, "A bruised reed He will not break, And smoking flax He will not quench; He will bring forth justice for truth. Isaiah 42:3 (NKJV)

Elijah was not the only righteous god-fearing man left on earth. God told him there was still seven-thousand who were faithful (1 Kings 19:18). As long as we have another breath to breathe there is also another soul seeking Jesus; and who knows maybe it's the man cutting grass, the jogger, or the couple walking the dog. We may never know; but we can know the still small voice of God. Listen for Him and pray. It is then that you will find peace for your soul.

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