I always thought the feeding of the five-thousand was a one-of-a-kind miracle. But without desiring to subtract from it's abundance, it was not the first time God amazed in such a way. For Elisha, God's mighty prophet was called to help in a similar situation of lack.
Twenty loaves of bread were given. One hundred people stood to be fed. And Elisha, like Jesus told the attendant to hand it out... to trust the provision.
So he gave it to them,
and as the Lord had promised,
they ate and had some left over.
2 Kings 4:44
But we do not serve a God of "just enough." I mean, even people can often find a creative way to stretch a limited supply. Like tell everyone not to take as much. Cut the pieces even smaller. Or distract and delay the crowd until more can be bought or made.
How grateful I am that we do not serve a God of distraction and disappointment. Rather He wants not only to supply, but to leave us with leftovers... remainders... remains.
Could it be possible that His message is not only abundance in everything we lack. But also that He longs that we remain dependent on Him? That we remain in a state of need which only He can fulfill?
Let us not be satisfied with only what we can make do. Let us instead, admit our inability to provide it all, so that we can remain in His Gracious Abundance.
Ahab was the king of Israel... But Ahab son of Omri did what was evil in the Lord’s sight more than all who were before him.
1 Kings 16:30
And Elijah was the prophet sent to show God mighty before all of Israel; to turn their hearts back to Him. But Ahab persisted in his evil ways and lead the people to do the same; worshipping idols with heartened hearts.
Even after the many signs from God... Still, there was no one like Ahab, who devoted himself to do what was evil in the Lord’s sight, because his wife Jezebel incited him. He committed the most detestable acts by going after idols as the Amorites had, whom the Lord had dispossessed before the Israelites.
1 Kings 21:25-25
So God sent word through Elijah that Ahab and all his descendants would be destroyed. This seemed to catch Ahab off guard.
When Ahab heard these words, he tore his clothes, put sackcloth over his body, and fasted. He lay down in sackcloth and walked around subdued.
1 Kings 21:27
And God recognized his humble heart, sparing Ahab from disaster.
Multiple acts of rebellion from Ahab.
One act of humility.
The AMAZING GRACE of God is astounding!
For I cannot line up my sins in comparison to others. I am not able to say that my sins are less severe than theirs. If my heart is inclined to my own way, then it is as far from God as Ahab's was.
But if God, in all His mercy and grace received the humble heart of Ahab, then there is still grace left for me as well.
How grateful I am for this Pardon to the Humbled. My only sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit; A broken and contrite heart, such, O God, You will not despise.
"How long will you hesitate between two opinions?" Elijah asked as he stood high on Mt. Carmel before Ahab, 450 prophets of Baal, and all of Israel.
Then he offered them a test; a trial by fire...
Two similar piles of wood, two prepared oxen for sacrifice.
Elijah politely let the prophets of Baal go first as he sat back from morning to evening watching them foolishly seek power from their god of the sun. Surely they believed their god could bring the fire.
Yet nothing happened.
Now it was Elijah's turn. His confidence in God was bold and awe-inspiring. He stood and proclaimed...
“Yahweh, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, today let it be known that You are God in Israel and I am Your servant, and that at Your word I have done all these things. Answer me, Lord! Answer me so that this people will know that You, Yahweh, are God and that You have turned their hearts back.”
1 Kings 18:36-37
But only AFTER he had the people douse his sacrifice with gallons and gallons of water... the one thing these people considered MOST valuable after three years of drought! How could he be so lavish with what they lacked? How could he ask them to give up what they feared was the last of their life-sustaining resources?
Surely this man was crazed.
Or simply filled with faith in his God.
Then Yahweh’s fire fell and consumed the burnt offering, the wood, the stones, and the dust, and it licked up the water that was in the trench. When all the people saw it, they fell facedown and said, “Yahweh, He is God! Yahweh, He is God!”
1 Kings 18:38-39
"How long will you hesitate between two opinions?" Elijah asked. Will you depend on what is seen, what is counted and what is tangible? Will you hold onto what is running low, fearing there won't be enough?
Our God, who is able to Answer with Fire, will provide a much needed rain of relief... but only after He consumes what we let go... what we must give sacrificially to show our hearts committed to Him.
Let us not be known for hesitating between two opinions. Rather, let us boldly choose to go all in with our hearts, boldly proclaiming as Elijah did, that our faith is in the One True God.
Jealousy. Not typically a quality we deem as godly.
So I remember being surprised the first time I heard God being described as jealous... even being provoked to jealous anger.
But then I got to thinking about it. Because these words are used to describe Him when the people He loves... those whom He is trying to guide, to lead, to provide and protect... choose someone or something else to which they give their attention.
In this case, it was the nation of Judah. They had turned their hearts to worship foreign gods. They also built for themselves high places, sacred pillars, and Asherah poles on every high hill and under every green tree; there were even male cult prostitutes in the land. They imitated all the detestable practices of the nations the Lord had dispossessed before the Israelites.
1 Kings 14:23-24
It wasn't as if they were not aware of God.
As if they had never been introduced to Him.
They had, in fact, been led to this promised land BY Him. Been given it as an inheritance. And these descendants knew their heritage.
They in fact, lived in the very place which was God's home on earth.... Jerusalem, the city where Yahweh had chosen from all the tribes of Israel to put His name.
I Kings 14:21b
God had settled His very presence with man in Judah... in the temple at Jerusalem. But a new king with a personal agenda was led astray... as were the people in his kingdom.
So God became jealous.
You know that feeling when you've made a friend. You think it's a real connection, until suddenly they're making excuses why they can't meet you for lunch. Why they aren't available to talk, or hang out. But you see their picture on social media... smiling it up with other people.
It's not that they don't have time for you.
It's that they didn't choose to spend the time they have... with you. They chose another. So that sickness begins to creep in. That self-doubt turning to anger because you can't understand how you're not good enough for them... for their social group.
Imagine that feeling from heaven.
Imagine how God feels as the Creator.
He gave us life... His very breath within us.
He inspired people to write out His thoughts to us.
He has provided, protected and prospered us.
Then we go and choose other things... other people to put at the very center of our heart. We become indifferent to the One whom the world does truly revolve around. We put off another day the prayer, the quiet time, the worship and praise to the One who laid His life on the line... to save ours. I mean, we'll get to it... just not today.
So could it be that God can still be provided to a jealous anger which burned within Him all those years ago? Now we may not worship gods of stone. And we may not climb to the altars in the high places of Judah which are detestable to God.
But do we put Him first...
Each day, every day... all day?
As He does us.
How precious it is, Lord, to realize that you are thinking about me constantly! I can’t even count how many times a day your thoughts turn toward me. And when I waken in the morning, you are still thinking of me!
Psalm 139:17 TLB
This is the love of a jealous God.
Jealous for our hearts to turn to Him.
Solomon had died. His son Rehoboam was crowned King of Israel in his place. And the people cried out to their new king... asking that he not be as harsh as Solomon was in his last days.
So Solomon's advisors give Rehoboam this advice...
Be a servant.
Respond to them with kind words.
Then they will be your servants forever.
Be a servant to others.
That sure seems like strange advice for a king, huh? But I can think of a King who did just that. These advisors must have had the heart of God.
Unfortunately, Rehoboam didn't follow their advice. In fact, he promised to be harder on them than his father. And the kingdom was taken from him.
But we have a King who served us first.
came through humble beginnings.
Spent his years of ministry homeless,
traveled about experiencing humanity.
He left the magnificence of heaven
to become one of His own creation.
He washed feet.
He reached down to those in need.
And greatest of all,
He gave Himself over
to men's mockery and cruelty.
He died the humiliating death
of a criminal.
Yes, this was the life of a King.
Jesus lived out the advice given to Rehoboam... if you will be a servant to these people and serve them, and if you respond to them by speaking kind words to them, they will be your servants forever.
How grateful I am to be a servant to Jesus, the Servant King!
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