The Right Place

“I have commanded the ravens to feed you there” 1 Kings 17:4

Had Elijah gone anywhere else the ravens would not have found him but King Ahab’s men might have. The Lord could have protected Elijah even in Ahab’s palace had He chosen to do so but Elijah’s absence would give Ahab opportunity to consider his position before God without Elijah being in his face.

It is good for us to consider, from time to time, whether we are where the Lord wants us to be or whether He may be directing us elsewhere. Quite likely we will discover that we are where He wants us to be but even if that is so we won’t have that assurance unless we ask. The reason we do not ask may be because we are comfortable where we are or that it just does not cross our minds to check?

Elijah was faced with possible death from Ahab if he did not move away so he was well motivated to hear where the Lord would have him go. We shouldn’t need to wait until we feel threatened before we seek the Lord’s counsel or confirmation. Such threats might be loss of employment, unmet needs, difficult neighbours or schooling for children.

In Acts 8 we read how the Lord took Philip away from a thriving evangelistic ministry in Samaria to the desert to meet one man. Philip might have argued with the Lord about the wisdom of such a move and his friends might also have discouraged him but he obeyed the Lord.

Rather than remain in doubt, we can, from time to time, ask the Lord if we are where He wants us to be and doing what He wants us to do. Of course we will only do this if He is indeed Lord in our hearts and we are willing to do whatever He asks. There is always joy and peace in knowing that we are where the Lord wants us to be. When we are he will provide all we need.

Had Elijah thought he knew a better place there could have been quite a different outcome. Elijah was a man not a superhero. God did great things through Elijah, not because he was greater than other men, but because he took the word of the Lord literally and went to the place and did what he was asked by the Lord.

In the context of the evangelist Philip (Acts 8), but equally applying to Elijah and us, Vance Havner writes, “Philip ‘arose and went … and behold.’ He who said, ‘Go ye therefore …’ has said ‘Lo, I am with you.’ As you obey, you may not see the why of it, but you shall see the who. He who says ‘Go’ goes along.”

Where the Lord sends us He goes with us and will provide for us there. Elijah knew this theoretically at first but because he acted upon it he experienced it first hand and his faith in the Lord grew and was proven.

Giving in Faith

“I am gathering a couple of sticks that I may go in and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it and die.” (1 Kings 17:12)

By the time Elijah had come to this widow he had trusted the Lord to feed him by ravens and experienced their twice daily provision for some time. When the Brook Cherith dried up the Lord sent him to this destitute widow. Her state is adequately described in the verse above.

Instead of Elijah providing for the widow and her son he asked her to prepare her last food and give it to him. Humanly speaking we would ask, “Who in their right mind would do such a thing?” Common sense says don’t give away the last of your food. However, the widow was moved to a measure of faith in Elijah when he told her she could make some more for herself afterward. From where would this man produce more flour and oil?

The woman gave all that she had based solely on the word of Elijah. The result was that she saw the hand of the Lord provide for all three of them for a lengthy time. Then she knew that the God of Elijah was truly the God of all creation and she then put her faith in Him. (v 24).

We do not place our faith in a man but in One infinitely greater. Jesus Christ is the bread of life but do we really believe it?

Our actions with material things, including money, demonstrate our faith in Jesus Christ. If we are stingy it shows that we think He is stingy; if we are generous it shows we believe He is generous. If we give it all into His hands it shows that we understand He gave all for us and will not leave us forsaken.

Another widow hundreds of years later also gave all that she had (Luke 21:1-4). In contrast to the amounts the more wealthy people gave it was very little, even insignificant, yet Jesus says she gave more than all.

This should be a clue to us that Jesus is not impressed with amounts we give but rather the faith in the heart of the one giving. What we do with money and material things is evidence of where our heart is. As Jesus said, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Luke 12:34).

It is not for us to measure others because we do not know what is in their heart and rarely what they actually give to the Lord. Only the Lord knows that. It is always time for a stock take on your treasure. Is it in heaven (Jesus Christ) or on earth (material things)? One is eternal and the other destined to be destroyed.

Emulate the faith of these widows who trusted Him for their daily bread.

Showers of Blessing

“Elijah was a man with a nature like ours and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit” (James 5:17-18)

James makes reference to Elijah’s prayers in conjunction with his exhortation for us to pray in faith, confess our sin, and be fervent in prayer and righteous in behaviour. The actual events that James is referring to occurred at a time whenIsrael had turned away from the Lord their God to the gods of the surrounding nations.

Under Ahab and Jezebel Israel had turned its back on the Lord. “Ahab did more to provoke the Lord God of Israel to anger than all the kings of Israel who were before him” (1 Kings 16:33)

That Elijah prayed that it would not rain reveals that it can be God’s will to stop the rain in order to get His people to return to Him. The drought was to get the attention of His own people not that of the world.

We make a mistake, I believe, if we think that droughts or other ‘natural’ disasters or pestilences are solely to gain the attention of an unbelieving world. It is to provoke Christians to pray but not for rain. We are to pray believing in the Person of our God in our Lord Jesus Christ, confessing our sin of serving ourselves instead of Him and turn to righteous behaviour. In other words, droughts or other disasters are calling God’s people to repentance. We cannot expect the ungodly that are dead spiritually to repent if those who claim to be alive spiritually will not. In Revelation 6:16 we can read how unbelievers would rather die than repent.

The accusation that James makes is that God’s people were praying for selfish things, for their own pleasure and ease of conscience instead of being involved with the interests of Jesus Christ (James 4:3).

If in a drought God gave us rain without our repentance what would we do? We would probably turn to other selfish prayers. Is this the meaning of prayer, to treat God as Father Christmas to give us pleasure and joy?

Prayer is a man or woman, boy or girl, communing and living with God through our Lord Jesus Christ and by the Holy Spirit. We cheapen this if we pray with no regard to the Person with whom we commune. We wouldn’t do that with our spouse or our children, would we?

In Australia we have a spiritual drought among God’s people and this may be why we have experienced rain drought. It is time we repented and returned to our Lord and let Him fulfil His mission in and through us. In 1967 and 1968 Billy Graham came to Australia for evangelistic meetings. It wasn’t Billy Graham that saved people; it was the Lord Jesus Christ in response to the praying of God’s people inAustralia.

Christians began praying for the unsaved months before Billy Graham ever came. They were surrendered to Jesus Christ and obeyed Him by sowing the Seed of the Word of God in the hearts of unbelievers and watering it with daily prayer. Droughts and disasters may be God’s provocation for us to do the same.