Elijah too experienced this remnant of grace which Paul clearly teaches in Romans 11: “…Don’t you know what Scripture says in the passage about Elijah—how he appealed to God against Israel: 3 ”Lord, they have killed your prophets and torn down your altars; I am the only one left, and they are trying to kill me” 4 And what was God’s answer to him? “I have reserved for myself seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal.” 5 So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace. 6 And if by grace, then it cannot be based on works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.”
When we look at 1 Kings 19, we see where Paul is teaching from. Elijah becomes depressed. He runs for his life from people who want him dead, and prays for God to take his life because he feels he can’t go on. After being instructed to go to Horeb, the mountain of God, the word of the Lord came to him saying “What are you doing here, Elijah?” And Elijah replied, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”
Then something happened.
A great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before theLord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 12 After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire.
And after the fire came a gentle whisper.
I love that. These big, flashy, crazy spectacular things are happening all around Elijah…and yet, the Lord was not in them. He was in the whisper. He was in the silence. He was in the stillness of creation.
The Lord then repeated the question again, “What are you doing here Elijah?” and Elijah’s response remained the same. SO the Lord told Elijah to go and anoint Elisha to take his place. God replaced him, and not only that, but God basically told him that while he’s sitting here thinking that this whole plan depends on him, God has seven thousand others that He could choose to use!
An interesting thing about God, is that His plan is not dependant on our failures and successes. He doesn’t need us, but because of His glorious grace He choses to use us. If God calls us to something, and we choose not to be obedient, then He will find someone else. It’s that simple. Who are we to think that we are so great that God needs us? Nothing that God does depends on what we can do, because there is a remnant chosen by grace, and if by grace then it cannot be based on works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.
I’m in a season in my life where everything is falling apart. Im going to complain and spill my junk for a second…. My dad is in the hospital still suffering the effects of cancer even though he’s cancer free, I’m a full time student, desperate for a job, i’m a junior and have no idea what i’m doing when i graduate, my beautiful girlfriend lives 220 miles from me, and to top it all off I’m on crutches.
Yet, in the midst of my complaints, there’s one thing I ask of Lord, the only thing I seek; to gaze on the beauty of the Lord all the days of my life. Let me never forget the remnants of grace in my life; the light fragments that break through the darkness like stars in a black night sky. He has me in this specific place, at this specific time, for a specific purpose, preparing me for something greater than myself.
A remnant of grace.
The fact that He gave me breath in my lungs this morning is more than enough. I’ve been reminded that Gods ways are not my ways. His thoughts are not my thoughts, and if I live my life with the mentality that God is about my temporal happiness then I’ve limited the greatness of God to me, and thats dangerous. God is sovereign in all things despite all circumstances and ultimately God is about the praise of His glorious grace. God is about God.
I mentioned my girlfriend above, and she, herself, is a evidence of grace in my life. God gives her words to speak to me right at the specific times that I need to be encouraged without me even saying anything. God pressed on her heart to consider Moses, who wasn’t called to ministry until he was 80 years old. That says a lot. How many years did Moses wander? How long did he ask God “what am I here for? Why me?” God allowed him to live 80 years before his call, but his life was not wasted. Every circumstance of every aspect of his life was preparation despite his distress and deficiencies. From his abandonment at birth, his adoption as Pharaohs son, raised as a prince and in a culture that he never should have been in, his fleeing from Pharaoh to the land of Midian, becoming a shepherd for at least 40 years leading sheep around ironically just as he would eventually lead a nation. For 80 years Moses was prepared for one purpose; to save a nation in spite of him, not because of him.
So in your waiting and in your wandering, dear reader, know beyond the shadow of a doubt that God is working and preparing you for a day of calling, a day of purpose, a day of hope. Through your pain and sorrow, through your depression and anxiety, through stress and turmoil, He has written it long before you experienced it, and He will be your shelter amidst the storm.
I think religion has gotten a bad rap recently, but I don’t think it’s rightly deserved. Religion is defined as “the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods,” or a “unified system of beliefs and practices relative to sacred things.” Religion…
Recently there’s been a big out burst of “i don’t need theology/doctrine/religion… because i have Jesus. This is simply an ignorant statement. (ignorance doesn’t mean stupid…it means someone lacks knowledge). People are scared of theology because they don’t understand it.
Theology literally means the study of God and God’s relation to the world. All Christians, if they read their bible, are theologians. It’s not something to be scared of…it’s something to embrace. It will allow you to understand just a fraction of God and the parts of His nature He has revealed to us in His word. Theology can only strengthen your relationship with Christ…it won’t hinder it.
Here’s a theological statement, Jesus loves you, broken down and picked apart. Something we hear all the time, and honestly, this statement doesn’t affect us much anymore. We hear it so much, it’s lost its meaning. Notice how much more meaning a simple statement has, when backed up with theology.
JESUS: the just judge, the high priest, comforter, counselor, Savior, messiah, Son of God, prince of peace, healer, the one whom all things were created by Him and Through Him and He who holds all things together.
LOVES: unconditionally. Which means without condition. Which means there’s nothing you could ever do to separate you from that love. Which means He gave His life, willingly, to save us. The one who made you blameless and righteous.
YOU: the wretched heart. The dead. The evil. The tainted. The slave to sin. The one who would choose your will above His everytime. The thief. The sexually immoral. The liar. The murderer. The disobedient. YOU.
Jesus. Loves. You.
In this day and age, people are too busy trying to repaint the faith than teach the faith that God has already painted.
The problem with this is the Gospel doesn’t need our help. God doesn’t need our help. If God needed us, we would’t need God. We could just lean on our own understanding, but…
It seriously breaks my heart when people read the bible as if it were a road map to their life instead of reading it for being a book about God.
The bible is not about you. In the words of Matt Chandler, “you are not David and your biggest problem is not Goliath. Jesus is the greater David. Jesus is the greater Moses.” The sooner that we realize this, the sooner we will find true joy every time we open scripture, knowing that it’s not about us.
This one’s my favorite…
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” - Jeremiah 29:11
This verse is especially popular around graduation time, or if you’re going through a hard time in your life. (*side rant* ((if this were really a promise from God to all people then you wouldn’t hear it being said to you when you are going through something bad…logically speaking that is.)) *end side rant* ) We put it on t-shirts and coffee mugs and we smile at the thought of our ‘never offensive; always looks out for my best interest’ Jesus that we’ve made up to make us feel all warm and fuzzy inside…but I’ll save that for a later blog.
Here’s my question: How do you think Peter would have felt hearing this verse as he was crucified upside down? Or how about Paul when he was beheaded?
Needless to say, there are simple applications we can take from this text; that God knows the plans He has for us and that He stays true to His promises. But we must understand that those plans might cost us our life. You have hope of a future glory in Christ Jesus through death, but God never promises to prosper you in this life. On the contrary, biblically, we are often called to suffer for the sake of the gospel (Rom. 8:16-17; Phil. 1:29; 1 Peter 2:20-23; 1 Peter 4; John 16:33; Acts 1:8 ((the word “witnesses” is translated “martyrs” in greek))).
Here’s the context of the passage: Jeremiah 29:11 does not directly apply to anyone alive today. It was a promise made to Jews living in Babylon in approximately the sixth century before Christ. Here’s an excerpt from an article I read a while back that explains the context very well:
- “…let’s examine the context of the verse in question. Jeremiah was writing early in the time of exile, not long after the beginning to the Babylonian Captivity, which would last seventy years as a judgment for idolatry. The northern Jewish kingdom of Israel had been invaded and carried off to distant lands by the Assyrians a generation prior, and now the southern kingdom of Judea had suffered a similar fate at the hands of Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. Many false prophets had arisen and were stirring the Jewish population in Babylon to rebellion with the false assurance that such a rebellion was the will of God (v. 8- 10), and that the rebels would enjoy divine protection. The Lord, through Jeremiah, exhorted his remnant of true believers to get settled and live their lives where they were, as they would be there for a while. Verse eleven completes the thought begun in verse ten, which says: “For thus says the LORD, ‘When seventy years have been completed for Babylon, I will visit you and fulfill My good word to you, to bring you back to this place.” Our verse in question was a promise that, although times would be tough for the Israelites for the immediate future, God had not forgotten them. His promise would be fulfilled, but they needed to be patient.”
Jeremiah 29:11 was written to a specific group of people at a specific time, and it was fulfilled completely, exactly when the Lord promised it would be.
Context is everything. We can’t create our own Jesus. We aren’t entitled to our own opinions when it comes to scripture. There’s the message of the bible, and then there’s not. Don’t be discouraged! Yearn to know Him. I mean really know Him and His word, and live to make it known. Don’t be sucked into this prosperity teaching, because it’s not the teaching of the bible. It’s a false gospel.
A verse we all know and love. A verse that we’ve all heard and have been comforted by when life seemed unfair. A verse that strengthens the hearts of Christians everywhere.
A verse that we have distorted, and misunderstood.
“Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” - Psalm 37:4
Here’s the problem. Our hearts are by nature, evil.
*side rant* (Many Christians think that if they don’t want it, then God won’t give it to them. They think that God will never give them more than they can handle which is found in the book of… oh yeah, no where. God never promises to not give you more than you can handle. In fact, the exact opposite is true; God will give you what you can’t handle. The point of the Gospel, is that you can’t and He can. If God never gave you more than you could handle then how would His strength through your weakness ever be shown? (2 Cor. 12:7-10) - and that verse also shows us that sometimes God says “no.” Paul pleaded with God three times to take the thorn of his flesh, the messenger of satan, away from him. But God said no. He said “My grace is sufficient for you, my power is made perfect in your weakness.” That’s why Paul BOASTED in his weakness.) *end side rant*
Anyways, back to our evil hearts… “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” - Jeremiah 17:9
The heart. The one beating inside your chest. The one that leaps for joy the first time you hold that special someone’s hand; the one that feels heavy when you see the half dead puppies on TV with Sarah McLaughlin singing “In the Arms of An Angel” …. You get the point…. Your heart - is the biggest liar you know. Your heart will change emotions under the slightest shift of circumstance. Not only is your heart deceitful, but it is deceitful above all things. Not only is your heart deceitful above all things, but it is also beyond cure. You can not and will not ever be able to fix it. It is beyond cure, so who can understand it then? Well since you can’t. He can. God formed your heart, so I think He knows it a little better than you do.
SO now that we understand that we don’t understand. Lets try now and understand whats really meant.
When you take delight in the Lord, you become dead to sin and alive in Christ (Romans 6). His will becomes greater than yours because you have been crucified with Christ and you no longer live but Christ now lives in you. The life you now live, you live by faith in the Son of God (Galatians 2:20). He will give you the desires of your heart, but when your desires don’t line up with Gods, then you live by faith, knowing that whatever He has willed to happen is ultimately for your everlasting joy, not your circumstantial happiness. Because when we suffer, we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope (trust). And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us (Romans 5:3-5)
Nicholas Herman has a good explanation of this when he says, “We must empty the heart of all other things, because God will only possess the heart alone; and as He cannot possess it alone unless it is empty of all other things … and neither can He do in it what He pleases, unless it is left vacant to Him.”
“Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” - Galatians 5:24
You see, we serve a God who knew our dreams and our desires before the foundations of the Earth were laid. But He also knew our failures and our shortcomings. He knew that our hearts would deceive us. So He saved us from ourselves. He paid our ransom. He set us free from deceitfulness and bridged the gap for our hearts desire to be whatever His will is.
When the desire of our heart becomes His will, we will surely receive it every time.
Something’s wrong. Almost every religion in the world claims that after death a soul lives on in some sort of fashion, yet our generation is ready to accept this hopeless, demoralizing motto from a rapper whose lyrics do nothing but dumb down the minds who listen. (I’m sorry if it seems like I’m a hater, but I for one, am tired of the same crap over and over that the rap game spits.)
Live life with no regrets. Do what makes you happy. After all, you only live once, right?
This life is full of consequences. Consequences aren’t always bad. Good and bad choices both have consequences. If you believe you only live once, why would you waste it in prison or killing yourself all for a momentary happiness that will eventually be over? The truth is that you only die once, but you will live twice, either in heaven or in hell (a lot of pastors call this negative preaching, but i love you too much not to warn you about the reality of hell).
The reality of our situation is that through our life and eventually our inevitable death, we will either be a subject of grace or an object of wrath, but either way we will glorify God. Everyone will die, but you’ll either die to sin or you’ll die because of it.
- “For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— because anyone who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.” - Romans 6:5-10
When we die to sin, we have no fear in death, because death is merely just a doorway to lead us into the everlasting. We cannot die again because of Christ’s sacrifice. Death no longer has mastery over us. We are no longer slaves to sin but yet we are slaves to righteousness and righteousness leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life (Romans 6:15-23) through Jesus Christ.
The wages of sin is death, and we almost got paid. But through Jesus we have hope. Through Jesus we can be confident that through death we will surely live.
So You Only Die Once - That’s the real motto.