My own personal stance against religious hypocrisy - both my own, and any others who seek to hurt people in the name of God.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Things That Matter Often Take Time - Even With God

I was talking with my son the other day and decided to seek validation to a point I was making using my Bible. I knew what I wanted was in 1 Kings, so I opened the Bible up near the beginning. I was within three pages of what I wanted. Sometimes God doesn't want me wasting time searching.

The passage applies very nicely and neatly to some of what our family is going through at the moment. The background to the passage is Elijah's confrontation with the prophets of Baal. The Baal prophets set up a sacrifice and spent an entire day praying and pleading for Baal to set fire to it. Nothing happened.

Then it was Elijah's turn. He prepared his sacrifice and then ordered water poured onto it. Several times until the trench which surrounded it was overflowing with water. Then he prayed.

And at the time of the offering of the oblation, Elijah the prophet came near and said, "O Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that thou art God in Israel, and that I am thy servant, and that I have done all these things at thy word. Answer me, O Lord, answer me, that this people may know that thou, O Lord, art God, and that thou hast turned their hearts back." Then the fire of the Lord fell, and consumed the burnt offering, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. 1 Kings 18:36-38 Revised Standard Version

Following this victory, Jezebel declares that she will have Elijah killed that very day. So Elijah flees her wrath and hides in a cave. Emotionally worn out he cries to the Lord, and God responds to him.

And he said, "Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord." And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind and 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. And when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. 1 Kings 19:11-13 Revised Standard Version

God is peace. Not raging storms, volcanoes and earthquakes. The power of God is not God. God is more than that. Much more.

Following God requires faith. Having a relationship with God requires faith. Faith is NOT an emotion. Faith is a belief system and attitude which determines our decisions.

The enemy of faith is fear. Fear is an emotion. Emotions are not the friends of faith. Not even when they support faith. Why not? Because emotions are rudderless ships. Read James.

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives to all men generously and without reproaching, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways, will receive anything from the Lord. James 1:5-8 Revised Standard Version

Emotions - even those that make us feel closer to God - are not to be trusted. Emotions are the wind; the earthquake; the fire. The scream at us and demand our attention by being loud and forceful. But they deceive.

How often have we felt like someone hated us? Someone who actually loves us? A parent? A child? A spouse? God? We feel something, but it's a lie.

And how many times have we been deceived by someone pretending to be our friend? We felt good about the relationship - until they sprang their trap and took our money, our body, or whatever it was they wanted.

Emotions can be wonderful things. But they will lie to us.

God is not in emotions.

Ask for wisdom and you will get wisdom. But remember this: You will NOT likely get it as a dose of magic. You will get wisdom the way wisdom is best achieved - through living your life and paying attention to what is going on and what God has said in his Word.

It can be very hard to ignore emotions. Times are hard, and there is the threat of losing the things we hold dear. Having faith does NOT mean we won't lose them. Having faith means we will trust God whether we keep them or not.

I rejoice in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me; you were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. Not that I complain of want; for I have learned, in whatever state I am, to be content. I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound; in any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and want. I can do all things in him who strengthens me. Philippians 4:10-13 Revised Standard Version

Paul did not learn this in a day, a week, a month, or even a year. It took the greater portion of his life. And so it will with us.

God so often compares our faith to a mustard seed which, "starts as the smallest of seeds, but grows into the largest of bushes". Growth implies a passage of time.

Faith in God means patience with God. That's how trust is shown.

May God bless you in whatever circumstances you find yourself today.

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