Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine, no more can ye, except ye abide in Me.”
John 15: 4
“From moment to moment, and from hour to hour, the inner nature of man is to be continually sustained with the life of God.”
W. Hay Aitken
Today’s Study Text:
“He (Elijah) said to her, ‘Give me your son.’ And he took him from her bosom and carried him up into the chamber where he stayed and laid him upon his own bed.”
1 Kings 17: 19
“The Test of the Home-Life Part 5
Up Into the Loft!”
“Those who live as their human nature tells them to, have their minds controlled by what human nature wants. Those who live as the Spirit tells them to, have their minds controlled by what the Spirit wants…To be controlled by the Spirit results in life.”
Romans 8: 5, 6
Good News Bible
Have I ever felt like my “life” was drained out of me spiritually even though I am “alive” physically?
How much time do I choose to spend “up in the chamber” with my heavenly Father?
What difference do I think it would make spending time with my Father in prayer and the study of His’ word each day?
“If you find God, you find life: if you miss God you miss the whole point of living.”
“Draw nigh to God, and He will draw nigh to you.”
James 4: 8
I have to be honest -- I almost missed it. And this is what has happened to me in the past when I thought I knew so much about a story in the Bible that I didn’t need to read it closely again. How wrong I was! I now believe that the Bible is such a storehouse of profound treasure, I could read and reread it without unearthing all that God has stored within the pages of His’ word.
And so it was with our study text today. In the home-life in Zarephath, we find that Elijah exhibited the characteristics of consolation and encouragement when tragedy struck. Witnessing the immense sorrow of the heartbroken widow, Elijah asked only one thing of the grieving mother, “Let me have your precious child,” was his request.
It is then, in 1 Kings 17: 19, that as I prayed over this passage of Scripture, words which I have read before popped off the page like they had a neon sign surrounding them saying: “This is it –- don’t miss this golden treasure.” Like a miner who all of a sudden strikes a vein of gold in the earth, so there is a vein of gold in this passage that I’ve managed to miss in times past, and what a pity that was. I want to share this text with you from a couple of different versions of Scripture so we can see exactly how Biblical scholars translated or paraphrased 1 Kings 17: 19:
1. “He (Elijah) then took him from her bosom, carried him up to the loft where he was staying, and laid him on his (Elijah’s) bed.”
1 Kings 17: 19
The Message Bible
2. “Give the boy to me,” Elijah said. He took the boy from her arms, carried him upstairs to the room where he was staying, and laid him on the bed.”
1 Kings 17: 19
Good News Bible
In the King James Version we find these words, “He (Elijah) carried him (the boy) up into a loft, where he (Elijah) abode.” And here’s the phrase, “up into the loft where he abode.” Up the steps Elijah went with the body of a lifeless boy held close against his chest. Up into his abode -- the place where he lived. A lean-to of some sort. A temporary shelter where we know Elijah had spent many hours in daily communion with his heavenly Father. Up, up, up -- he ascended to that little spot -- as close to heaven as he could be and into the presence of the one who was guiding each step he took -- even his weary steps into the foreign land of Zarephath. It didn’t matter that Elijah lived on the roof of a poor widow’s home. It didn’t matter he had no permanent address in life. All that mattered was that up in the loft, as close to his heavenly Father as he could be, Elijah entered into the presence of God. His God who gave life not only to Elijah, but to those he touched. The great Bible commentator, Matthew Henry expresses this thought when he noted, “a gracious soul can reconcile itself to the poorest accommodations, if it may have communication with God in them.” This is why I believe the phrase, “up into the loft” is so critical we should take a few moments to look at. As we will find in subsequent studies, it was “up in the loft” where the power of God’s life infiltrated every cell of Elijah’s being. It was “up in the loft” where Elijah communed with his Father and gained the strength so necessary for each step he took. As Pastor John MacArthur reveals in his book, Alone With God, our fellowship with God is not meant to wait until we are in heaven. God’s greatest desire, and our greatest need, is to be in constant fellowship with Him now.”
It was the now of the daily home-life where Elijah gained power as he spent time with God. As Pastor MacArthur further points out, “There is no greater expression or experience of fellowship than prayer.” I believe as the widow watched and listened to Elijah, as she heard his prayers, l imagine that she discovered that Elijah had something very special -- an intimate connection that led her to hand her young son over to the care and keeping of this wayfaring mountain man.
I like the way Andrew Murray explains, what I believe to be, the type of spiritual atmosphere Elijah brought to the house in Zarephath and into the daily life of that entire family: “It is a great thing to enter the inner chamber, and shut the door, and meet the Father in secret. It is a greater thing to open the door again, and go out, in an enjoyment of that presence which nothing can disturb.” This was the radiant life that came under the roof of the home in Zarephath. Elijah’s life -- and his connection to heaven -- didn’t just stay with him in his roof-top abode, he carried it down the stairs, into the street -- everywhere he went, the soft-touch of heaven reflected upon others.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve been reading a three-set volume of books, penned by Pastor John Piper. These books contain a total of nine short but comprehensive biographies of Christian heroes. Men of God whose relationship with their heavenly Father was expressed by their patient endurance, their triumphant joy, and their strength through affliction.
Several days ago, I read about Charles Simeon who was born on September 24, 1759. In his fifty-four years as pastor of Trinity Church, he was met by some of the most notoriously hostile challenges to his work for God. As I reflected on what he went through, I asked myself if I would have put up with the kind of intolerable treatment he did. Thinking about this question brought me to the answer that in my own personal life, I’ve given up way too frequently when the struggle became, what I thought, was impossible to bear. And I ask you, “To what lengths of endurance would you persevere in making God your all-in-all, despite what road blocks got in your way?” However, the secret to Charles Simeon’s successful life, for me, didn’t end without an answer. In the biography entitled, Charles Simeon, author Moule writes, “Simeon invariably arose every morning, though it was the winter season, at four o’clock; and, after lighting his fire, he devoted the first four hours of the day to private prayer and the devotional study of the Scriptures…Here was the secret of his great grace and spiritual strength. Deriving instruction from such a source, and seeking it with such diligence, he was comforted in all his trials and prepared for every duty.” The endurance Charles Simeon exhibited in his daily life was, to those around him, directly attributable to his spiritual life.”
As I considered a 4 a.m., 4-hour timetable, spent “up in the loft” in communion and study with my Father, I thought to myself, “I just don’t have the time or strength.” But this passing notion got me to reflect on the words of John Wesley who rendered these thoughts on time spent “up in the loft.” Wesley noted, “I have so much to do that I must spend several hours in prayer before I am able to do it.”
The duties of the day in any home-life require (yes, require) time well-spent “in the loft” of your abode or my abode. In Elijah’s case, his time was in a lean-to on a roof. For me, it is a chair in my closet. It doesn’t have to be a fancy prayer room. It doesn’t have to be in a chapel.
No, we can become intimate with our Father by inviting His presence into our lives at any moment of any day. If we want to have the life of heaven coursing through our veins, as did Elijah, then time alone “up in the loft” is time well spent, for as Pastor Charles Stanley so correctly observes, Our intimacy with God -- His highest priority for our lives -- determines the impact of our lives.” And I’ll just add, what an impact Elijah had on the life of the widow and her son and the entire town of Zarephath, for that matter.
“New life, supernatural life, the abundant life of the living Christ is imparted to the person who in desperation turns from the old, barren, bleak ways of the world to keep company with Christ.”
W. Phillip Keller
“Thou hast called us to Thyself, most merciful Father, with love and with promises abundant, and we are witnesses that it is not in vain that we draw near to Thee. We bear witness to Thy faithfulness. Thy promises are Yea and Amen. Thy blessings are exceedingly abundant, more than we know or think. We thank Thee for the privilege of prayer, and for Thine answers to prayer; and we rejoice that Thou dost not answer according to our petitions. We are blind, and are constantly seeking things which are not best for us. If Thou didst grant all our desires according to our requests, we should be ruined. In dealing with our little children we give them, not the things which they ask for, but the things which we judge to be best for them; and Thou, our Father, art by Thy providence overruling our ignorance and our headlong mistakes, and art doing for us, not so much the things that we request of Thee as the things that we should ask; and we are day by day, saved from peril and from ruin by Thy better knowledge and by Thy careful love. Amen.
Henry Ward Beecher
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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