Privilege and responsibility

Re: Verse reading–Esther 4:4-17; 7:1-6 (day one)

“Who knows whether you have attained royalty for such a time as this?”–4:14

“To whom much is given, much is required”, said Jesus one day to His disciples. (Luke 12:48).  God’s sliding scale for judgement.  Those who have much information will be judged by a higher standard than those with less privilege.  Only fair.

Every blessing is also an obligation.  We love BECAUSE we have been loved.  (1 John 4:19).  Not even a choice.  A moral responsibility.

Sometimes, we conquer one kind of fear by focusing on a greater fear– of failing God, of being an ungrateful, spoiled child who always receives but never grows up to give back.

Mordecai’s words to Esther and Jesus’ words to us have a similar thread.  God’s gifts are not given to us so that we can “play it safe”.  His gifts prepare our hearts so that we will be ready for the risks that are involved in giving back!

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Hope and hearing

Re: Verse reading–1 Kings 19:1-18 (day seven)  

“Go out and stand on the mountains in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.”–v 11

If you lose hope, you lose your ability to hear–so far as God is concerned.  Discouragement is a weak grip that cannot hold onto God’s word.  His promises and commands will come, but the hopeless heart will have no strength to receive them.

For 30 years, Elijah welcomed the word of God with manly courage.  Every time.  Now in a sad lapse of confidence, his heart (and his feet) are unmoved.  Discouraged.  Hopeless.

Then,  God comes in an intriguing, new way,  Still small voice. Elijah intuitively understands.  Not “more of the same”.  God is ever new.  Elijah goes to investigate.

John Paul Jones said, “I have not begun to fight” (1779, American Revolutionary War). God says the same.  Only better.  We may be defeated.  God isn’t.

Hope again!  Your hearing will return.

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Move

Re: Verse reading–1 Kings 19:1-18 (day six)

The human heart is so fickle. One minute it can swell with confidence, and the next be overrun by fear. That was certainly true of Elijah. Elijah was afraid for his life, not to mention he was depressed over the lack of repentance, so he ran as far away as he could. Interestingly enough God does show up, but he doesn’t console him; he tells him to prepare himself for his next task.

What if the spiritual antidote to fear is movement? What if fear is overcome not through consolation but by obeying God, doing the things you know he wants you to do? Perhaps fear will never be overcome by hiding in caves, but by seeing God at work in our own obedience.

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The Hand and Voice of God

Re: Verse reading–1 Kings 19:1-18 (day five)  “When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave. And behold, a voice came to him and said,”

Greetings from Impact Youth Camp!  It’s been a wonderful week at LeTourneau University.  Each night as we worship, pray, preach, and process I see the hand and voice of the Lord at work in the hearts and lives of hundreds of teenagers.

Crying, singing, kneeling, praising, questioning, and trusting.  All indicators that these young human hearts are hearing the voice of the Lord.  Some for the first time, others the first time in a long time, still others continuing a regular and on-going pattern and conversation with the Living God who is both personal and powerful.

It is never a small or little thing to hear the creator of the universe call your name and speak life and truth into your soul.  So, how about you?  When was the last time you have personally heard and/or seen evidence of the Voice of God?  Would you wait till you did?  Would you call out till he speaks?  Would you notice if He hasn’t?

I invite you to watch a live stream webcast tonight at 7:30 via our camp website (www.impactyouthcamp.org).  Danny Panter is our camp speaker this week.  You’ll be glad you did!  You might even hear and see the hand and voice of God at work.

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“What are You Doing Here?”

Re: Verse reading–1 Kings 19:1-18 (day four)

It was a legitimate question…”what are you doing here, Elijah?”  Elijah had lost his orientation.  It was true…he had done some mighty things for the Lord.  He had been very zealous; he had torn down the altars to Baal; he had killed the prophets of Baal.  If he had, in fact, been the ‘only one left’, then why was he hiding in a cave?  If he was the only voice for the Lord, he needed to be using that voice to proclaim the truth of the Lord.  God had demonstrated His power by sending down fire from heaven…and where did Elijah think he got the power to kill 400 false prophets and tear down altars and outrun chariots?  He had lost his vision.

Do we ever do that?  Does God do mighty things in our life and we see His hand at work?  Then, we are confronted by one of our fears and we completely forget that God is greater than our circumstances.  Elijah had to re-orient himself to God…what will it take in our lives for us to see again the glory of the Lord?

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Conclusion

Re: Verse reading–1 Kings 19:1-18 (day three)

“Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.”

Taking Elijah’s words at face value (instead of as a melodramatic attempt to gain God’s sympathy), one can hear a mind that has concluded that effectiveness has run its course.  Elijah perhaps envisioned a national revival, a shift in loyalties––even at the very top––from idolatry to revelation.  He had staked so much on the outcome of this showdown with the prophets of Baal that its failure to break a generations-long pattern of spiritual decay left him aimless and empty.  He could not conceive of any further work; his prophetic imagination was spent.  When what is longed for doesn’t come to pass, does that nullify your future in this life?  Are you now an also-ran?  Has God decided to make second-fiddle music with your life?

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Keep Your Armor On!

Re: Verse reading–1 Kings 19:1-18 (day two)

Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, “So may the gods do to me and even more, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by tomorrow about this time.” vs. 2

This is not an unfamiliar narrative. Great triumph or deliverance followed by depression or sin, it happens. Moses knew this very well. How often did God reveal himself in a tremendous way only to have the people forget. Elijah has just experienced an incredible display of God’s “realness”, and know he runs, hides, wallows in his despair. Surely there must be a way to avoid the roller coaster life of faith.

Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. Eph. 6:11 (actually refer to 10-18 for the full passage). The reality is that scripture never instructs us to take the armor off. Once we encounter fierce opposition we should not let down our guard. Remain steadfast, on guard. Otherwise the real battle may come after the one you were ready for.

 

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Weary

Re: Verse reading–1 Kings 19:1-18 (day one)

“So Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah to say, ‘May the gods deal with me. . . if by this time tomorrow I do not (take your life).  Elijah was afraid and ran for his life.”–v 2-3

I know people who are trustworthy.  I also know people who are trustweary.  They serve well and long.  Stand like heroes against doubt and disappointment, opposition and criticism.  Then, one day, they get in the “red zone”.  Overload.  They get weary, and then they get afraid.

Sometimes they run.  Sometimes they get negative.  Sometimes they make foolish decisions.  Elijah is in the first category.  Jezebel’s threat sends him “over the edge”.

Rest is a spiritual necessity.  Sabbath is a command not a suggestion. Those who don’t get it in normal rhythms will experience God’s intervention.  “He MAKES ME lie down”.

Rest from all other things!  Guard your margins.  Save your energy for the most important thing.  Trust.

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A bad report

Re: Verse reading–Numbers 13:26-33; 14:1-9 (day seven) 

“And they gave out to the sons of Israel a BAD report”–13:32.

Was it BAD because it was dishonest?  No.  The majority that day were being completely honest.

Was it BAD because it was malicious? Motivated by self-interest?  No.  The ten members of that study committee thought that they were speaking wisdom.

It was BAD because it was not true, not an accurate reflection of God’s will.   They had not heard from God.  Listened to fear, instead.  It was BAD because “whatever is not of faith is sin”–Romans 14:23.

When God says, “go”, fear hesitates but faith obeys.  When God says, “wait”, pride pushes forward but faith kneels in humble patience.

Bad or good is ultimately determined by whether God is in it.  Have you waited on Him?  If so,  He is calling you to obey the “GOOD and acceptable and perfect will of God?”–Romans 12:2.  Anything else is going to be BAD.

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The Pit of Despair

Re: Verse reading–Numbers 13:26-33; 14:1-9 (day six)

In the Princess Bride, Wesley finds himself in the Pit of Despair where he is tortured and ultimately dies…at least mostly. His body is rescued by soon-to-be accomplices. They then take his body to a magician who works a miracle on the mostly-dead Wesley. Immediately he becomes conscious, but must slowly regain his strength over the course of the movie in order to rescue the damsel in distress. Great movie!

We too can find ourselves in our own pits of despair, with no apparent way out. It could be related to health, finances, or relationships; regardless of the source, we can feel helpless and hopeless. That is how the spies felt in Numbers 13 and 14 (except Joshua and Caleb) as they faced the obstacles ahead of them in claiming the Promised Land. They couldn’t see how they could overcome it; they were helpless and hopeless, and it infected everybody. With the obstacles so great, they had forgotten all that God had already done as well as his promises. We can fall into this sin just as quickly, can’t we?

The apostle Paul wrote from prison in Philippians 4:12-13, “I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” Two things to notice here, one Paul learned, it wasn’t immediate, he had to grow in the Gospel; two, God did not necessarily whisk him away out of every despair inducing circumstance. It is clear, like Joshua and Caleb, Paul learned to cling to the promises of God based on what Jesus had done in the Gospel. Even though we may find ourselves in the pit, we do not despair because Jesus has already overcome the world; his promises hold true for all eternity!

That is far better than a giant miracle pill!

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