A Bible Study: Elijah the Stranger Danger

Can I be transparent for a moment?

I feel overwhelmed. After a summer of freedom and laziness, starting school again, being on a schedule again, becoming responsible again is the biggest struggle right now.

And with my car giving me trouble, feeling disconnected in a place I know that I'm called to and missing family and friends, I cry out to God on a daily basis.

And yesterday was no different.

I just finished listening to an A-MA-ZING! word from John Gray of Lakewood Church (Sept.24). I was pumped. I was encouraged. I was excited. Then I got on the phone with my sister and I was sobbing.

Things got uncomfortably awkward real quick and I had to get off the phone. And it wasn't anything that my sister said or did, it was me! I was crashing from that high! I couldn't sustain myself on that elevation. I needed more than a good word. I needed action!

With snot and tears everywhere, I shouted to Him that I had nobody! Everyone I knew couldn't help me the way I needed! I kept looking to people for something that only He could give me, so here I was, on my bed, screaming, "I NEED YOU NOW! You're the only one I got!"

Then in the midst of my misery, Elijah pops into my head. And after a few more minutes in my wallow of self-pity (cause that's just how I do), I pick up the bible and read his story.

Before 1 Kings 17:1, Ahab, at the time, has disobeyed God and followed after his predecessors' footsteps, raising up the idol Baal and causing the Israelites to sin.
And then this happened: Elijah the Tishbite, from among the settlers of Gilead, confronted Ahab: “As surely as God lives, the God of Israel before whom I stand in obedient service, the next years are going to see a total drought—not a drop of dew or rain unless I say otherwise.”
Elijah comes out of nowhere. At first, I thought I missed his introduction so I flipped back but I couldn't find him. He just appears in chapter 17 and he shared God's message with the king of Israel, Ahab.

I was so confused. Usually, when we meet people, we get their whole background. We learn about their mamas and their daddies and their issues but not for Elijah, so I dug a bit deeper into what was said about him.

Elijah the Tishbite, from among the settlers of Gilead

Gilead is mountainous region divided between Gad and half of Manasseh, the two of three tribes that did not cross the Jordan River into the promise land.

Tishbite means stranger.

Therefore, Elijah, the stranger from the land outside the promise land, got an audience with the king and told him what's about to go down: a drought for the next few years...

A stranger, an outsider, an outcast, a nobody was placed in front of a king.

A stranger, an outsider, an outcast, a nobody was being used by the King!

Isn't God AH-MA-ZING?!

Even now, in this time and age, you cannot get an audience with someone of importance without the right connections and the right resume filled with the right list of prestigious titles and accolades. You have to prove your worth before you can get into the presence of someone of worth.

But I am so glad that we serve a God who is above and higher than the world's way.
But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.

If you're anything like me, you may think that you have nothing to offer, you may think that you don't meet man's requirement for approval and recognition, you may not see a way to achieve your dreams, but if you do what Elijah did, if you align yourself with God and follow Him, you'll find yourself being used by God Almighty in mighty ways, you'll find yourself before kings and queens, before people who will fund those dreams.

God is so amazing and He is so faithful. He sees you and He knows you.

Where you are may make you feel like a stranger, an outsider, an outcast, a nobody but in His eyes you are His Beloved and soon enough He will usher you into the promise land to do His will.

Don't you know that what's inside you is a danger to the plans the devil has? The enemy wants you to feel isolated and unimportant so that you can't activate the gifts God placed inside of you. If he gets you to feel small and insignificant then that will cripple your walk with Christ and you won't be effective in God's will.

So you can't believe those lies. You have to keep that fire of faith alive. 

You have to believe that God loves you, that He has not forgotten about you and that He will use you at the right time.

Don't quit. The world needs you!

Got Grace?

Ever since last week, I've been scared of driving.

I blew out my tire. If there was such a thing for tires, my tire was in its birthday suit by the time I was able to pull over; stripped bare naked. And thankfully, gracefully, mercifully I didn't hurt myself or anyone else in the process.

But the guy who changed my tire warned me that if I were to drive above 55 mph, if I were to drive at the speed limit on the highway, then the spare will pop off, I would lose control of the car, and possibly flip the car.

If I wasn't scared before, then I was terrified by the time I got behind the wheel.

I drove miles below the limit that day and the next.

The morning after, I cried while driving on the highway (cause California doesn't believe in local roads), staring at the speedometer, thinking that I'm gonna die if I tempt fate again. I will die if I don't pay attention to my car. I will die if I'm not careful.

Have you ever felt that way, that if you don't get it right this time that you'll lose your chance forever?

Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save and His ear is not too dull to hear. 
Isaiah 59:1 
You are His and He will never leave nor forsake you. He will be quick to save you. And if you listen, God will show you how to get out of that situation no matter how many times He's told you before.

As long as you have breath, God will offer you another chance.

What I forgot, as I drove in trepidation, is that I didn't use up my last free pass with God. If I did find myself in that situation again, my God is able to save me. My God is able to deliver me. My God will do it again.

Yea, I have responsibilities. I need to keep up with my maintenance, be aware of the warning signs, but if the unthinkable happens, if something out of my control occurs, I don't need to be afraid.

God has me. Although it caught me off guard, He saw it before He laid the foundations of the world down and He gave me grace to get through that accident, that trial, that fire, that storm.

God is limitless. What He offers you is boundless. When man writes you off, God doesn't. He made a promise with you and He's sticking with you til the end.

He is faithful. And whatever you're facing today, God has grace for that.

And He has grace for tomorrow too.

And the next day and forever more.

A Bible Study: Show Up!

In Esther 1, King Xerxes is throwing a huge party for one hundred and eighty days!

180 days...  I can't even hang for an hour and neither can my pocket book; however, the king could because he had the wealth to show off and that's what he was doing.
And after the 6 months of extravagance, (really, where is the $ coming from) the king decides to have a week long banquet.

The liquor was flowing, good feelings were boundless and the king was full of joy, so he said to his servants, "Hey, let's get my wife out here to enjoy all these festivities."

The servants hurry off to get the queen and quickly return without her.

She said, No, I ain't going to do it.

And the king was pissed!!!!

Yea, I know women have rights. A woman can say no and not cause a world war. Sometimes we just want to hang with our friends at home and do nothing (which she was doing at the time of the summon).

Wearing heels, a tight dress and a crown isn't all that it's cracked up to be. Heels hurt. Beauty hurts. Tight dresses always make me feel bloated... But that's neither here nor there.

I understand why the queen might have declined the king's offer but let's look at the king's perspective for a minute.

He spent half the year, throwing parties after parties in his kingdom. Each event more extravagant than the last. And to close the night out, he decides to show off his beautiful queen.

The king probably thought that his queen, his wife was his crowning glory. He delighted in his wife and he wanted the kingdom, who was gathered at this big bash, to experience his happiness too.

And she said, No, I ain't going to do it.

Wouldn't you be pissed too?! To think that you saved the best for last and the best couldn't be bothered by you...

Did I mention the king was mad?

Well, if I didn't, he was steaming and he consulted his advisers and they said, "Dude, you have to nip this in the bud cause if word gets out, then all the women will follow the queen's lead and there'll be chaos by the end of the night."

And the king listened to them and dethroned his queen and sent out an issue reading, all men are head of the household.

Then the next day, when he's probably nursing his hangover and his regret over the rash decision, his advisers go ahead with a national search for the next queen of Susa.

Yea, it's harsh and yea, the queen probably had good reasons to decline his offer but every action has a consequence, good or bad. And the king was mad!

So how much more would it grieve God that you keep saying no to Him?

Before He laid down the foundations of life, the King of kings, the Lord of the lords, the Creator of the universe thought of your purpose and created you.

Throughout history and throughout your life, God prepared the world for you, His crowning glory. He set up the opportunities, lined up the people to bless you, stored up riches just for you and you can't show up?!

He paid with His Son's life to give you a new life, a life of abundance and you can't show up?!

For what?
Why aren't you saying yes to His calling?

Because... I can't even think of any excuses. There is nothing that can separate you from God. Nothing should be able to.

Not your past, present, future
Not your fears, insecurities, lack
Not your dreams, hopes, reality
Not your family, friends, enemies
Not your decorum, tradition, culture
Not even the devil could create a lasting wedge between you and God.

Why are you saying no?

I can't even think of a reason why I allow my fears to hold myself back from God. Although I am not qualified, although I have no clue as to what He's called me to do, it doesn't matter because He who calls us is faithful to do it.

He's going to do it. God is going to do it. God, (you know Him, right?) God is going to do it. One more time so that it can sink in, God will do it. And He invites us to be a part of His story.
So come in, show up and join the party, God is saving a seat for you.

And you obeying God, you showing up is not only for you; it's also for the people who are tied to your presence at the party. It's for those who look up to you, it's for those who are at the receiving end of your obedience.

It's not only about you.

And the cost of showing up pales in comparison of not showing up. Your disobedience costs you His presence in your life. You'll be cutoff from God; you'll feel as though He's nowhere to be found when you were the one who stayed in your room and didn't show up.

Open the door and step out into the unknown, step into the purpose God has for you.

You'll probably stumble, you'll probably stutter, you'll probably spill some drink on your dress or shirt but that's okay, okay?

Because God is beaming with pride that you graced the party with your presence. This is what He's always imagined: you fumbling around becoming the person He created you to be under His careful gaze.

God doesn't mind the mess. He's happy that you showed up. Everything else, He'll take care of.

Trust Him.