Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“God may not give us an easy journey to the Promised Land, but He will give us a safe one.”
Today’s Study Text:
“Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done and how he had slain all the prophets of Baal with the sword. Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, ‘So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I make not your life as the life of one of them by this time tomorrow. Then he (Elijah) was afraid and arose and went for his life and came to Beersheba of Judah (over 80 miles, and out of Jezebel’s realm).”
1 Kings 19: 1-2
“I’m Valuable For I Am Stamped With God’s Image”
“The farther we move from God, the more we devalue man.”
Has anyone ever threatened my life spiritually or physically?
How do I feel when someone devalues me?
What do I truly believe I am worth to God?
How does the way God values me make me feel? And how does this knowledge reflect in my behavior toward others?
“When we touch others with the touch of Jesus, we remind people from all walks of life that they are created in the image of God, beings of dignity and value in the sight of heaven.”
The Jesus Touch
It had been quite a day, to say the least. With a multitude of the people of Israel gathered at Mount Carmel along with King Ahab, himself, and the prophets of the false god, Baal, this revival meeting came to an explosive conclusion when fire from heaven came down, consuming not only the altar on which Elijah placed an offering, but the stones which held the sacrifice and then, the water which was poured over the altar was lapped up right down to the earth in the surrounding trench.
This was a striking statement to every witness, “The Lord He Is God!” and with voices in unison, a mighty chorus lifted their confession heavenward, “Yes, the Lord is God!”
You and I might come to the conclusion that with such a majestic outpouring and revelation from God that the entire nation of Israel would have been swept into a spirit of restoration as never seen before.
Unfortunately, as too frequently happens during times of spiritual awakening, the depth of devotion which must follow the emotion of conviction had not taken root. By the time the sun set that day, Elijah found himself alone on Mount Carmel lifting his voice to heaven, asking God to send the promised rain.
I found this to be a tragic result at the end of such a spectacular day. And I asked myself, “Would I have stayed by with Elijah to join him in prayer?” No wonder this devout man of God felt he was the only person who had not bowed the knee to Baal. After a day of God’s message being delivered with awe-inspiring clarity, you’d think a few folk would have stayed behind to pray. But no, Elijah was alone. But this wasn’t all he faced on a day that would have drained the life-force from the strongest of us.
After seeing a small evidence that rain was approaching, “a cloud as small as a man’s hand arising out of the sea,” Elijah, inspired by “the hand of God,” ran in front of Ahab’s chariot, a twenty mile journey, to the entrance of Jezreel, delivering King Ahab safely to his palace.
But here’s where Jezebel and her attacks are seen in full force. This time, though, they were directed at Elijah, himself. While in past times, Elijah had a “most wanted” target on his back, there were clear and immediate directives from God as to how he was to proceed and where he was to go to keep himself out of harm’s way. Repeatedly, we find these words, “and the word of the Lord came to him.” Wouldn’t you find it reassuring to have God come to you with verbal guidance which was so distinct that there was no question in your mind as to what you were to do next? I know I’d love to have my heavenly Father give me, not only a map, but audible directions as to how I was to make my way through the journey He designed for me.
Thankfully, God has left us words of guidance and let me share with you some from David found in one of my favorite Psalms: “For He will give His angels especial charge over you to accompany and defend and preserve you in all your ways of obedience and service…He shall call upon Me, and I will answer Him” (Psalm 91: 11, 15, Amplified Bible). I want to add to these encouraging words a passage penned by the great F. B. Meyer, “God guides us, often by circumstances. At one moment the way may seem utterly blocked; and then shortly afterward some trivial incident occurs, which might not seem much to others, but which to the keen eye of faith speaks volumes. Sometimes these things are repeated in various ways, in answer to prayer. They are not haphazard results of chance, but the opening up of circumstances in the direction in which we would walk. And they begin to multiply as we advance toward our goal, just as the lights do as we near a populous town, when darting through the land by night express.”
I love the words above for they help us to understand the situations you and I find ourselves in when we can’t hear or see or feel any response from God and we are confused as to where we should go or what our next step should be.
F. B. Meyer’s counsel also opens for me a window into the challenging events that confronted Elijah after he experienced the tremendous outpouring of God’s power on Carmel. Filled with God’s spirit, Elijah was then directed to deliver King Ahab to Jezreel and it was at this point when there was a pause. A hesitation. Call it a dash -- that mark that falls in between two events.
What we find is that God didn’t immediately tell Elijah what he was to do next. Instead, after King Ahab reported to Queen Jezebel on the events which had transpired during the past twenty-four hours, Jezebel suited up in her battle-gear and decided she’d go to combat with God’s servant, Elijah.
She sent a messenger with this threat: “Let the gods do to me what I have planned for you because you are a dead man.” Jezebel was so certain of her success in carrying out her plan that she dared her “gods” to kill her if she didn’t! (Come back tomorrow to see why it’s so dangerous to have any dealings with Jezebel). She wanted Elijah to know she meant business!
Now let’s put ourselves in Elijah’s sandals. He’d had a day of it. Tired. Hungry. Worn to a frazzle. After seeing God dramatically keep His word by sending fire and rain, you would think that nothing could unnerve this man of God. However, the Bible states that, Elijah was afraid.
I want to add, I would have been, too, for Jezebel had a very successful track record of keeping her word. There were many burial plots scattered across Israel as a result of the sword of Jezebel which was used to kill God’s prophets. On the heels of a huge revival, with the smoke from the fire from heaven barely being blown away -- Jezebel looked like she would win again. Her goal was to blot out the image of God in Israel and replace it with the image of Baal and only one man stood in her way, or so she thought. With all the forces of evil on her side, Jezebel went for Elijah’s mind by attacking his faith in God’s watchcare over his life and then she went for Elijah’s behavior by pushing him to his physical limits as well. The same tactics -- attack the mind then goad your victim into acting on impulse in a moment when Elijah was overcome by weariness were what Jezebel used again and again.
It was at this time of hesitation, a time when God hadn’t given His’ servant Elijah a map with the next steps highlighted in flashing lights when Elijah, wearied and worn by the battle, yielded to the all-to-human temptation to put a low value on himself, and to forget how important we are to God and that the stamp of God’s image is on every child He created.
I want to insert a personal note here, for as I have reflected a great deal on Elijah’s life and especially this moment in time, when an otherwise “iron-man” seemed to weaken and find himself subject to the fear caused by an enemy we call Jezebel, I realized that in my own life, when Jezebel or her evil co-horts have been successful in devouring my faith and weakening my hold on God, it has been at those times when overwhelmed by illness, depression, grief or weariness that I am most easily blinded to the key fact that underlies my existence and it is this: I am God’s child, created in His image. Stamped with His image on my life!
You may be asking, “Well, Dorothy, what does being created in God’s image have to do with how frightening Jezebel can be and how accomplished she is in getting me to do her bidding?” Let me share several thoughts I hope will help illuminate this critical point. Voddie Bancham, Jr., penned this vital statement which highlights our heritage: “Who am I? Who are You? We are the crowning glory of the creation of God. You must never forget that you are created in the image of God as the crowning glory of His creation.” Now let’s put this fact at the foundation of our belief about ourselves. Had Elijah placed that fact at the core of his emotional being at the moment when Jezebel’s messenger hit him between the eyes with the terrorizing words, “You’re a dead man,” Elijah could have found solid footing on the foundation that his Creator, the God of heaven and earth valued him so dearly that no one who ever came against him would succeed. It was with all God had to give that you and I were created in His image -- valuable and with the dignity that calls out not only for us to respect each other but to respect ourselves. We’ve been marked and stamped: “Belongs to God. Created by God!”
What Jezebel forgot or maybe never understood, because of her belief in an earthly god, whose worship called for the lowering of self to reflect the mundane and common was that we devalue ourselves when we step into an earthly world where we become like what we look upon.
Never let the attacks of Jezebel, even when you are at your lowest, blind you to the value your Creator has placed upon you. When we are feeling the most vulnerable, it can be then that the strikes of a Jezebel will be the most fierce, leading us to be afraid that our God has forgotten us -- that He is too busy to see us through. How wrong we are. He is always there. Always with us. And always our protector. In the face of Jezebel’s threats, just take a look at that stamp on you: “Created by God. Property of the Creator!”
“For all those dark times, here’s a word of hope: God meets us where we are. Even if we aren’t looking in His direction, He is always looking in ours.”
Liz Curtis Higgs
“Eternal and most glorious God, who hast stamped the soul of man (or woman) with Thine image, received it into Thy revenue, and made it part of Thy treasure; suffer us not to undervalue ourselves, nay, so to impoverish Thee as to give away these souls for nothing, and all the world is nothing if the soul must be given for it.
Do this, O God, for His sake who knows our natural infirmities, for He had them, and knows the weight of our sins, for He paid a dear price for them Thy Son, our Savior Jesus Christ.” Amen
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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