Tag: Elijah

The Importance of Clean Water

635887959829433922-GTY-505416754The water crisis nightmare in Flint, Michigan began in April 2014 when the state decided to switch the source of the city’s water supply from Lake Huron to the Flint River until a new supply line to Lake Huron was ready. Apparently ignoring the fact that the Flint River had a history of being noxiously unclean and neglecting to treat its water with an anti-corrosive agent to protect the pipes resulted in a huge dilemma in trying to restore drinkable water to the city. The toxins in the water were so bad that the water turned brown from the corrosion in the lead water mains. On top of that lead from those water mains began seeping into the tap water coming into approximately half the homes in the city. The toxins and the lead resulted in a water disaster of historic proportions in America. Residents cannot safely bathe in the water, much less drink it.

The original problem was caused, in part, in an effort to save money. The resulting catastrophe will continue to result in dire health problems among the citizens of the city – especially the children – and will in turn cost the city and the state untold millions in repair and reparations.

Had those in the decision making process of this change from Lake Huron to the Flint River anticipated the horrible outcome, they would not have hesitated to have spent the money for the anti-corrosive materials and would have possibly come up with another solution other than using the Flint River in the first place.

We cannot live without water. Worldwide contaminated water has always been a concern. Many get sick and die long before they should when they drink contaminated water. Many mission organisations exist just for that one purpose – to provide clean water for people to drink.

Contaminated water is symbolic of what Satan wants to do in our lives. You can’t always see the contamination, but when he adds his nasty and noxious toxic influence to what God has created, it brings about something harmful and impure. Contamination can be deadly. Purity is the only healthy spiritual choice. 800px-Flint_River_in_Flint_MIchigan

Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord? Or who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart (Psalm 24:3-4).

For My people have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, and hewn for themselves cisterns – broken cisterns that can hold no water (Jeremiah 2:13).

“He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water (John 7:38).

 

The Cure for Loneliness

The Cure for Loneliness

Furthermore, if two lie down together to keep warm, but how can one be warm alone? And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart (Ecclesiastes 4:11-12).

We are made for companionship and we feel it keenly when it is absent.

The refrain of the Beatle’s hit song, Eleanor Rigby is:

All the lonely people.

Where do they all come from?

All the lonely people.

Where do they all belong?

Some of the most popular pop songs have had this lonely theme: I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry by Hank Williams; Only the Lonely by Roy Orbison; Lonely Man by Elvis Presley and many others. Why are those songs so popular? Many people can relate to the lyrics.

Being alone and being lonely are two different things. You can be by yourself but not be lonely. You can be in a crowd, but the loneliness can be devastating.

A February 2014 article in The Guardian says that loneliness has found to be more deadly than obesity and is now being defined as a disease.

In a report called Rewarding Social Connections Promote Successful Ageing that Professor John Cacioppo presented in Chicago… the effect of satisfying relationships on the elderly was measured.

Cacioppo’s team found that friendships helped older people develop their resilience and ability to bounce back after adversity, as well as an ability to gain strength from stress rather than be diminished by it.

Not surprisingly, there is no corresponding good news for those less well connected to other people. Loneliness has dramatic consequences on health. Feeling isolated from others can disrupt sleep, raise blood pressure, lower immunity, increase depression, lower overall subjective wellbeing and increase the stress hormone cortisol (at sustained high levels, cortisol gradually wears your body down).

Elderly people can often be so lonely that they will keep telemarketers on the phone just to have someone talk to them, but it is not just the elderly who are prone to loneliness.

Social media is not always beneficially social. Occasionally the harsh comments made through twitter, Facebook and other sources can cause great damage to the targeted person – often a young person.

God knows we need fellowship. He made us that way. Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him” (Genesis 2:18).

Loneliness is a malady that can strike even God’s choicest servants. Elijah had performed great miracles in the name of the Lord, but then had a spell of depression when he thought he was alone. Then Elijah said to the people, “I alone am left a prophet of the Lord, but Baal’s prophets are 450 men” (1 Kings 18:22). With that declaration, Elijah challenged the prophets of Baal to a demonstration. Each one would place a bull on an altar but put no fire under it. Elijah said, “Then you call on the name of your gods, and I will call on the name of the Lord; and the God who answers by fire, He is God” (1 Kings 18:24). After much pleading, the prophets of Baal were unable to get their gods to consume their offering. Elijah then poured water over the sacrifice and the wood and called upon the Lord who then consumed the sacrifice. The people saw, fell on their faces before God, and seized the prophets of Baal.

Even with the miracles that God had performed through Elijah’s hand, Elijah continued to believe that he was alone. When Jezebel sought him out to kill him, he ran away, crying for God to take his life. When God confronted him, Elijah twice said, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God of hosts; for the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left; and they seek to take my life” (1 Kings 19:10,14).

God did two things to help Elijah understand he was not alone. He informed him of seven thousand in Israel who had not worshiped Baal. He sent Elijah to meet his own successor. Elisha became his servant and served the Lord with him. Cured of his disease of loneliness, when the Lord told Elijah He was going to take him to heaven by a whirlwind, Elijah tried to leave Elisha behind. He wanted to go on alone. Elisha begged him to allow him to go with him, saying three times, “I will not leave you!” 

What made the difference for Elijah? God became enough. He had believed in God and performed His miracles. Elijah wanted companionship. God gave him Elisha. In the time between his bout of depressing loneliness and his ride on the flaming chariot, Elijah realized that with God, he was never alone.

Jesus knew rejection, but He never gave in to the disease of loneliness because He knew that His Father was always with Him. “Indeed the hour is coming, yes, has now come, that you will be scattered, each to his own, and will leave Me alone. And yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me (John 16:32).

Alone, but not lonely, could describe many people I know. Like Anna, who was a widow eighty-four years and was so dedicated to God that He gave her the special gift of seeing the Christ Child, I know widows who spend most of their time in prayer. I have friends who are so sick they cannot do the things they would like to do, but give glory to God because they totally trust Him.

Jesus knew His disciples would be confused and lonely after His death. He told them it would be to their advantage that He went away because He would be sending His Holy Spirit to be with them always.

All the lonely people – where do they all come from?

They come from all ages and all nationalities. They come from every sex and every vocation. They come from every walk of life.

All the lonely people – where do they all belong?

In the loving presence of Jesus, who said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5b).

© Stephanie B. Blake

May 2015

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That Special Someone – A Friend

We all need friends.

I have some very special friends – some that I don’t see very often, but when I do, we take up right where we left off.

DSC03454 Cuba Oct '08 153 Stephanie, Sharon and Tina Photo on 8-10-14 at 4.56 PM IMG_1255I am an American. Some of my friends are American but many of my friends live in other countries. We communicate by phone, email, or Facebook but there can be great lapses of time between each message. I often wish for a chance to catch up – to have a cup of coffee or tea with that special someone – a person I feel comfortable with, I can relate to, who understands me.

Although I consider myself a friendly person, not everyone I meet falls into that “special someone” category. There are those who do not share my interests, my values, or my faith.

God is the creator of all people, but not every person wants to be close to Him. I take encouragement from those who do and learn from their special relationship with God, such as these biblical characters:

  • Noah who found grace in the eyes of the Lord and he and his family were saved from the flood.
  • Abraham who was called a friend of God.
  • Moses who could talk with God face to face.
  • Job whom God called a blameless and upright man.Oma and her friend Lisa
  • Elijah who was known as a man of God.
  • Isaiah who was given prophetic visions by God.
  • Ezekiel who had the hand of the Lord upon him.
  • Daniel who was protected by God in the lion’s den.
  • The virgin Mary who was highly favored, chosen to be the mother of the Savior.
  • John, the apostle, who called himself “the one whom Jesus loved”.

Jesus makes it possible for each of us to have a personal relationship with Him. His miraculous birth, His sinless life, His sacrificial death and His bodily resurrection is a gift of grace to those who chose to believe in Him. There don’t have to be any lapses of time for communication – we can talk with Him constantly.  Especially comforting is – like Abraham – we are His friends. And like John, He loves us completely.

“Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you” (John 15:13-15).

 

Prepare to Be Surprised

The wife of a man from the company of the prophets cried out to Elisha, “Your servant my husband is dead, and you know that he revered the Lord. But now his creditor is coming to take my two boys as his slaves.” Elisha replied to her, “How can I help you? Tell me, what do you have in your house?” “Your servant has nothing there at all,” she said, “except a small jar of olive oil.” Elisha said, “Go around and ask all your neighbors for empty jars. Don’t ask for just a few.” Then go inside and shut the door behind you and your sons. Pour oil into all the jars, and as each is filled, put it to one side.” She left him and shut the door behind her and her sons. They brought the jars to her and she kept pouring. When all the jars were full, she said to her son, “Bring me another one.” But he replied,” There is not a jar left.” Then the oil stopped flowing. She went and told the man of God, and he said, “Go, sell the oil and pay your debts. You and your sons can live on what is left” (2 Kings 4: 1-7 NIV).

Notice that when Elisha told the widow to ask her neighbors for empty jars, he said, “don’t ask for just a few.” What happened next was a surprise. It was something only God could do. If this widow had known how God was going to bless her, would she have asked for even more jugs?

Elisha’s mentor Elijah had a similar experience with the widow at Zarephath (1 Kings 17: 7-16). As she was preparing what she believed to be her last meal for her and her son, Elijah approached her. All she had left was a handful of flour and a little olive oil in a jug. Elijah asked her to prepare something for him first and then for herself and her son. Although the drought in the land lasted for years, Elijah promised that the food would not run out until the day the Lord sent rain on the land.

These women were destitute because they had lost their husbands and thus their support. One went to a man of God hoping for help. The other was not even aware help was available. Neither of them could have imagined how their circumstances could have turned out well. They were surprised by God’s miraculous provision for them.

In each case, God called upon His servants to use what little the widows had to bring about the blessing. A little oil filled all the jugs the widow had collected. Only then did it stop. A little flour and a little oil were not depleted until the rain came.

Jesus surprised more than one tremendous crowd by feeding them from a tiny supply of bread and fish. In these circumstances, not only was there enough for the people, but an abundant supply remained. Jesus had these gathered up so there would be no waste.

Similar stories of provision can be found all over the world today. No story is identical to another, but one thing is clear. God loves to surprise His children. He knows our special wants and needs and delights in arranging surprises for us.

Sometimes we miss out on the best of God’s surprises because we are not prepared to receive them. How can we prepare ourselves for the surprises God has for us? Simply by living expectantly in faith that what God allows in our lives is best for us. Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the certainty of things not seen…Now without faith it is impossible to please God, for the one who draws near to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him (Hebrews 11:1,6).

Some people would like to believe that God promises blessings because we deserve it. These are those who would preach and teach that Christians should never be ill or poor. That is not the teaching of the Bible. Story after story proves that God blesses and provides for His people in adverse circumstances.

If what we hope for is to honor God – loving, obeying and trusting Him – His rewards will be both temporal and eternal.

Daniel remained untouched by the lions when he was thrown into their den. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were not even singed when they were thrown into the fire, but the men who tossed them in burned to death. Stephen – in the midst of being stoned for proclaiming Jesus – saw Him standing at the right hand of God. Paul and Silas – jailed for preaching Jesus – sang and prayed and then the angels opened the doors of the prison.

In “Making Each Moment Count: 21 Reflections on a Fulfilled Life”, Anne Bryan Smolin says in a chapter entitled “Expect Surprises”:

What surprises are waiting for me today? What graces will come my way? Who will carry the message? What will it be and how will it be packaged? Will I recognize it as gift?

Instead of deciding what my day will be like and what needs to happen, let me live this next 24 hours with abandon, open to the possibilities that dangle before me.

Anne has a good point. We often expect nothing or too little from God. We ask for small blessings when he desires to pour out His richest blessings upon us. Our God is not just a big God. He has no limitations. He delights in blessing His children who can give the glory to Him and who can in turn bless others.

George Mueller, a great man of prayer whom God supplied with the means – daily – for running the orphanages He had led him to establish, said, “Why should we limit either the goodness or power of God by our own knowledge of what we call the law of nature?” George Mueller lived expectantly and was accustomed to seeing God’s miracles on a daily basis.

Squire Parsons, a very gifted gospel artist, in his song “He will” expresses this idea perfectly.

“I don’t how He’s gonna make this trial a blessing…. I don’t know how He’s gonna do it, but I know He will.”

Wake each morning with eager anticipation. Have faith in God and be prepared for His abundant surprises. Give Him what you have and He will multiply it or give you something even better.

Stephanie B. Blake

April 2013

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