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Elijah’s Wins

Elijah was one of the most feared prophets in the Bible. He appears from out of nowhere before Ahab, king of Israel, announcing it would not rain for a few years (1 Kings 18.) We later learn the drought lasted for 3½ years. King Ahab set out to punish Elijah, but his pursuit was in vain until Elijah decided to show himself and set up a showdown with Ahab’s ministerial council. Myriads of sermons have been preached on Elijah’s prayer and God answering it by sending fire from heaven to vindicate Elijah. It is one of those situations like the three Hebrew children in the fiery furnace, Daniel in the lion’s den, David and Goliath, etc. We revel in winners! Everyone prefers the crown to the cross. The writer of Hebrews alluded to those victories, but then added:

“…and OTHERS were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection: [36] And OTHERS had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment.” Hebrews 11:35-36 (caps mine)

Right after Elijah defeated the enemy and God brought rain, King Ahab’s wife put a “hit” out on Elijah. As you read 1 Kings 19, you will find that the champion in 1 Kings 18 is now running for his life, scared of a woman! Why did this man of faith turn faithless?

Elijah fled from Jezebel, then hid himself and had a pity party. Of all things, he asked God to take his life! Why would he do this, when he could have stayed where he was and Jezebel would have taken it? God, in His mercy, babysat Elijah (as He has all of us) and got him back to focusing on God’s business instead of himself. There is a message to all of us in Elijah’s experiences.

First, a great victory does not mean the battle is over. How many of God’s people have fallen after experiencing a great victory? There is the threat of pride, a lackadaisical attitude and/or dropping our guard against Satan’s temptations. Paul gives instructions to the saints about putting on the whole armor of God (Ephesians 6:13-17) and there are no instructions on taking it off.

Secondly, Elijah thought he was the only one trying to serve God. How often do we feel sorry for ourselves, thinking everyone has abandoned us and God has also? God informed Elijah that He had 7,000 people, (not seven, seventy or seven hundred, but 7000) that were standing for God. Many of us think because we do what we should be doing that we are really special. Christ, Himself, addressed this type of thinking in Luke 17:7-10:

“But which of you, having a servant plowing or feeding cattle, will say unto him by and by, when he is come from the field, Go and sit down to meat? [8] And will not rather say unto him, Make ready wherewith I may sup, and gird thyself, and serve me, till I have eaten and drunken; and afterward thou shalt eat and drink? [9] Doth he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I trow not. [10] So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do.”

Notice Christ’s instructions, “when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants…”

How many of us think that if we do what God wants us to do that we should be commended or receive recognition of some kind. Jesus said that we should recognize that we are “unprofitable servants.” Why should we say that? Because we have done exactly (no less or no more) what we were supposed to do. When things go wrong, we scream, “Why did this happen to me?” How often do we petition God with our great credentials, like the Pharisee in Luke 18:11-12:

“The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. [12] I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.”

The Pharisee listed the bad things he didn’t do and the good things he did do. Read on and you will see how impressed Christ was with his testimony. We try to bargain and negotiate with God in our prayer life. Often, if we have a pressing need, we offer God our services if He will fix it. Dear Lord, if you will heal my cancer I will start attending church! I am sure He is very impressed with that promise. If we were already in church, then we offer something else, like giving more, reading our Bible through once a year, having a regular prayer time…the list is endless. Yet, all these things make us an “unprofitable servant.”

Like Elijah, we forget. Nobody has to serve God, but we GET to serve Him. I have never heard one person in all my years, say that they wished they had not served the Lord Jesus Christ. I have listened to regret after regret for not serving Him more; but NEVER A REGRET FOR SERVING HIM.

I have read and heard many testimonies of men’s regrets as they have come to the twilight years of their lives; regrets regarding professions, marriage, children, personal choices, etc., but never one person voicing any regret over their decision to trust Jesus Christ as Saviour. No one has complained of doing too much for Him.

Like Elijah, we learn that God is with us when we are winning and He is with us when we are losing. Because of Him, the losses are temporal and the wins last for eternity.

Keep Looking Up!

Leland Maples

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