Building the Servant of God

Vol.5, No. 03 – February 16, 2020

1 Kings 17:2-7

And the word of the Lord came to him: “Depart from here and turn eastward and hide yourself by the brook Cherith, which is east of the Jordan –1 Kings 17:2

Have you ever toured Chicago? When we lived in Chicago, it was a time when the Sears Tower was prominent. One of the world’s tallest buildings. The foundation of the building is hundreds of feet down. When you travel almost 100 floors up, you think you can see forever – almost beyond the horizon. On a good day.

The ground breaking for the structure occurred in 1970, with a completion in 1973. The tower’s main building is 110 stories, 1450′ tall (1707′ with TV/Radio antennas). It is an incredible building project.

However, there is another builder. He is Almighty God. He is in the “business” of building His people. Before there is the height of Mount Carmel, there has to be solitude, isolation, and quietness of Cherith. An old Quaker saying reads, “The wilderness is the place of soul-making.” Impact comes from in-depth soul making.

When Elijah stood in Ahab’s palace, announcing there was to be a serious drought, “No rain for three years!” The announcement got attention. I am not sure, if it was a “you could have heard a pin drop” moment, or, if it was a moment of chaos. The intelligence division, royal police, the king’s secret service had one assignment. Bring the rascal, the troublemaker in, put him in custody.

Wow! You would think that mountain man would prepare and know that Baal is the god of rain and fertility!

Thus, Elijah the Tishbite is a fugitive from “injustice.” Yet, God had Elijah exactly where He wanted him to be. Able to hear; able to give a listening ear to Almighty God. The word of the Lord came to him –17:2. He did not need to go scratching for a message from God; it came right to him. Now, we need to see that this is foundational.

Whether the Word of the Lord comes through the Scriptures, or through a distinct impression made on your heart through the Holy Spirit, be sure to listen. The Word of God is unique; His Book is unique. When we come to the Word of God, it is He, who is speaking.

Three things we see in Elijah:

  1. His obedient heart (verse 3, “hide yourself”). It is the learning before the leading. It is the Cherith before the Carmel. It is the hidden life before the public action. F.B. Meyer said, “Every saintly sould that would wield great power with men must win it in some Cherity. A Carmel triumph always pre-supposes a Cherith; and a Cherith always leads to a Carmel.”
  2. His waiting spirit (verse 3). Depart from here and turn eastward . . . There is provision, for Elijah it is cool refreshing water, and the supernatural food that ravens bring, every morning and evening. It is a balanced meal!
  3. His dependent attitude (verse 7, the brook dried up). Can you imagine the thoughts going through Elijah’s mind? Alone with desolation. He waits quietly alongside a dried up creek bed, with parched and cracked lips. Why? God is teaching His servant to trust Him, not focus on His gifts. He is teaching Elijah to walk by faith when things dry up. It is hard to sit by a dried up creek.

Life Application

Does God teach us in the hard times? On the other hand, do our tantrums prevent us from trusting; what if we struggle with leadership, our health, our finances, or one of our loved ones turn from us? Can we really be OK, sitting beside a dried up creek?

NOTE: Over several weeks of 2020, we will be looking at Leadership in an Hour of Crisis. The last three weeks have teased us to think about leadership; it looks different that many of us think or experience. Our country faces a leadership crisis; most are “hung up” in being unable to define leadership. The struggle for groups to have and bear power is nothing more than a caricature of what true leadership entails.

In our small travel through 2 Chronicles, we will get a glimpse of what God thinks of leadership. Thus, we will not be traveling to Disney World, re-watching the Superbowl, or even digging up the verbiage from the recent political debates. Leadership is much more.

God knew He was not whipping up a best seller when He inspired the books of Chronicles, but He never intended to. Not terribly exciting, but they are absolutely essential . . . what the [iPhone contact list] is to communication, and the dictionary is to the English language . . .  Chronicles are great resources, but they were never meant to be read like a Louie L’Amour novel. –C. Swindoll

In the original, 1 & 2 Chronicles is one book. When translated into the Greek, they were divided into two books. The Greek required 1/3 more space than the Hebrew. Scrolls were limited in length. The book of Chronicles is at the end of the Hebrew Bible, in the section of the Writings. If we look at what is now two books, we find the first demonstrates a movement from nothingness to greatness; the second book displays a movement from greatness back to nothingness.

Chronicles is not simply reflecting a historical or political account; it is addressing a spiritual account. The setting is in Solomon’s Temple. In the books of the Kings, the view of Israel is given from the throne; in Chronicles, the view is from the altar. In Kings, there is a view from man’s perspective; in the book of Chronicles, we get God’s perspective.

I am sure that you have not read many devotionals written from the Chronicles. However, All Scripture is breathed out by God, and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. –2 Timothy 3:16-17.

So with that background, it will be well for us to travel through these Scriptures in Chronicles, and let them assess us through the truth of the Word God gives.

Leadership in a time of crisis

Strengthened in the Kingdom

Vol.5, No. 04 – February 10, 2020

Leadership in a Time of Crisis

2 Chronicles 1:1

Solomon the son of David established himself in the kingdom, and the Lord his God was with him and made him exceedingly great. –2 Chronicles 1:1

Names mean things. Solomon means shalom, peace. He is the 10th son of David, the second by Bathsheba, and the third king of Israel (reigning for 40 years). It could be a cloudless dawn of a spring morning when Solomon’s dad said, I am about to go the way of all the earth. Be strong, and show yourself a man. –1 Kings 2:2

This is a great example of leadership; modeled for not only his son, but also for the people of the land. From his family upbringing, watching his mentor-father David, with a tender heart praying for divine wisdom, to the seven years of building the Temple, and his memorable message of dedication and prayer.

Three words describe Solomon’s early kingship, Wisdom, Wealth, and Worship. It is clear that the Lord God was with Solomon, exalting him. Now it is most likely summer, with a great harvest, but also evidences of early fall.

This strong leader, in an unparalleled focus, does surgery on the sagging ruling party of the nation; reconstructing the way governing should flow. For at least 20 years, Solomon smooths the nation’s wrinkles. During that time a grand estate develops with houses, resorts, stables, pools, fortresses, and a gorgeous home. Then there is a breathtaking Temple.

In our world’s history we have had Einstein’s, Nobel and Pulitzer winners, economic presidents, some of great intelligence – however, none with authentic spirituality wedded to academic excellence. Solomon spoke 3000 Proverbs, lectured on trees, animals, birds, and fish. He composed 1005 songs. Peoples from all nations came to hear the wisdom of Solomon (1 Kings 4:34).

When the Queen of Sheba came (from over 1400 miles away) to hear his wisdom, it is said that her breath was taken away. Solomon possessed outstanding earthly greatness, he was a man of noted affairs (pun intended), and possessed wisdom greater than any earthly being. Here is an outstanding ruler, a lover of peace, and an “establisher” of a powerful nation. His recorded judgments set precedents that still impact nations today. Solomon created institutions operating in a fashion that surpassed the weaknesses of man’s feeble attempts at wisdom.

What we have in this brief outline of Solomon is a multi-tasking, multi-talented, extraordinary energetic leader. What he became in leadership is a result of using the gifts God gave him; using them to the fullest.

When one does that, it gives glory to God. There are lessons to learn from Solomon (both in the successes and the failures). Solomon is an author, composer, architect, administrator, diplomat, and businessman. What an incredible read.

Life Application

Are we really using the gifts that God has given us? What are the goals and accomplishments that are on God’s expectation list for us? In our current time of crisis, we have the same privilege as Solomon, to ask for wisdom. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. –James 1:5

Leadership in a time of crisis is always available—if we would but ask our Almighty God!

The Tishbite Transformer …

Vol.5, No. 02 – February 2, 2020

Grooming the One God Uses

1 Kings 17:1

Now Elijah the Tisbite, of Tishbe in Gilead, said to Ahab, “As the Lord, the God of Israel, lives, before whom I stand, there shall be neither dew nor rain these years, except by my word” –1 Kings 17:1

Our experience shows that God is always grooming His representatives for the critical hour. God is never at a loss; He provides for every eventuality. When it seems that things are taking a dark and dangerous turn, when humanity displays their worst, God is not only aware, He is prepared in eternity past, present, and future. Odd, He seems to begin His work in a small place, most often by preparing an obscure person. In our passage, Elijah is that person.

This is dramatic. This “mountain man” is from an obscure town called Tishbe. How would you like to tell people you are from Tishbe? Tishbe is almost hidden in the mountain country of Gilead. It is on the other side of the Jordan River. Yet, when this person comes on the scene, it is like a crash of thunder in the history of Israel. We have severe thunderstorms where I live in Georgia. Thunder gets our attention. Elijah got the people’s attention.

Wherever Elijah appears it seems as though lightning flashes, thunder crashes, fire flames rise, and there is the sound of a mighty wind. He is effective. He is a mountain man par excellence.

However, he is a solitary character, probably graduated Magna cum Laude from Wilderness Mountain University, with a Master’s Degree in Solitude. My doctorate degree does not ring with that sound.

Elijah grew up in the solitude of Gilead; Gilead with its wild, lawless, and unkempt lifestyle. He looked like its persona. With his family, he lived in a rough shelter, and kept sheep. What a life!

One pastor, Dr. C. E. Macartney, called Elijah the loneliest and grandest man, of the Old Testament. Actually, we know nothing of a wife, family, friends, or associates. He could have easily said along with Isaiah:

I have trodden the winepress alone, and from the peoples no one was with me; I trod them in my anger and trampled them in my wrath; their lifeblood spattered on my garments, and stained all my apparel –Isaiah 63:3

Dr. Macartney considered him grand, actually most grand. Elijah stood for righteousness (especially as compared to an evil king and queen); he faced the organized religion of Baal (the Bull god). This Tishbite was a powerful demonstration of the influence of a single personality. One person.

Rugged mountain terrain, wild country, desolate and deep canyons—they often make for rugged individuals.

God often surrounds Himself with [seemingly] incompetents. The people God uses have rarely been great people, nor have great people been the people God uses. God looks at misfits, milquetoasts, shmucks, and schlemiels. God does not have to make do with a bunch of fools. He [literally] chooses them! –David Roper

Elijah, the “Tishbite Transformer” had three things going for him that we see:

  1. As the Lord God lives” – a pointed one-liner that spells out a difference from the dead gods of the culture (not much has changed!). The flagrant idolatry of the culture with its dead gods, pagan priests, and shrines is so much like today’s culture of self-worship and trinkets. Jehovah is a living God, Elijah says.
  2. There is a presence of whom you need to hear (O king!)Elijah willingly stands in the presence of the caring, charming, and rich King Ahab. However, Elijah was really in the presence of One greater than any earthly monarch; the One who is Almighty God.
  3. There is a NameElijah’s name has great meaning, for it represents his God. Elijah in Hebrew means, Jehovah is my strength. Names are important; when people think of our name they reflect upon what they know of us. Elijah’s name is key to his life and ministry.

Life Application

Our lives portray who we are. Are we people who hold to a living God? Are we people unafraid to stand for the truth of Almighty God? What do people know about us that is key to our life and ministry? How much of that is important? All of it!

Just a note . . .

57 years ago today, Donna and I said our marital vows (yes, on a holiday, Groundhogs Day!). We did not date long before marrying (but we have been dating ever since!) I believe that God in His grace and mercy placed Donna in my life. Placed us together. Neither of us were believers at the time of our marriage. In God’s graciousness, He never stopped chasing us. He brought us to Himself when we chose to listen to Him. Our love for each other has grown over the many years. We have had events in life that have caused great emotional distress; a son born with life threatening physical difficulty, the loss of parents, our own physical difficulties, and even financial difficulty. God has taught us that “He has got it.” He is absolutely dependable–always. He is never not aware of our needs in life. He defines those needs far greater than we could have ever imagined.

He has never removed us from His hand. Elijah had the same experience of God’s presence.

How do your life experiences fit with God’s presence? He is completely faithful.

Scroll To Top