Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. James 5:17
I’ve pretty much quit watching TV, with the exception of a football game once in awhile, and Jeopardy (one day I’ll be a contestant on there–really). So I watch a lot of Youtube videos of sermons and get news from current event things from there.
Lately I’ve been blessed by Francis Chan videos. They have fed my soul during some tough times. He has encouraged me to stick to the core truths of the Gospel even when it’s tempting to water them down. And he has given me a renewed passion for Jesus and for the Bible.
If you’re looking for a good one to start with, here is a link to the one I’m referring to today, “Experiencing God Deeper 2018.”
If you’re like me, I always mean to get back to the link that someone shares, but it either takes me a long time, or I never do. So I’m going to share some of his points and add some of my own (artistic license).
You experience God when you’re put in front of authorities and God gives you words when you don’t have them. Francis gave the example of the 23 South Koreans who were missionaries in Afghanistan and were taken by the Taliban. That was in 2007. They were held for about two months. The leaders of the group actually argued over who was going to get killed first: “Kill me, I’m the pastor.” A second guy stood up, “No, I’m a pastor too and I’m older–so kill me.” A third man stood up, “No, I’m ordained, so you have to kill me first.” The third man was actually one of two killed, the rest were released.
Years later, Francis met with one of the guys who was a captive and he said that he wished he was still back there because of the intimacy he had with Jesus. Others in the group expressed the same thing. We fear something like this, but yet we experience God in closer and more sure ways when we are put on the spot, like Elijah. We grow. We are no different than Elijah. He was a man just like us. We feel more peace when we are in danger, yet we resist danger at all costs.
We try not to have show downs like Elijah had, but if we want to experience God more deeply, we need to know this: Do not put your trust in money or freedom. We have Christ and He alone is sufficient. We don’t need to go out and try to suffer, but we should stop trying to avoid it.
Not only is Elijah a man just like us, but God is still the same God that made the altar start on fire (1 Kings 18) even after Elijah doused it with water.
You experience God when you get comfort when you need it–not when you’re comfortable. When we do something that scares us, we experience God more deeply, like when Peter stepped out of the boat.
If you find yourself saying, “Remember when I did this…” a lot, then it’s time to change it to the present tense. I did a lot of faith adventures in my youth. But I want to be like Caleb in the book of Joshua. In chapter 14 he went to Joshua at the age of 85 and reminded Joshua of his inheritance promise and then said, I am still as strong today as I was in the day that Moses sent me; my strength now is as my strength was then…So now give me this hill country!
When God called Moses and Jeremiah, they both had excuses about what they couldn’t do. Isn’t that our tendency–to tell God what we can’t do when called? “I can’t speak,” or “I’m too young.” But instead of looking at what we can’t do, we need to look at what God is calling us to. First of all, God is the one who is calling us, and that call has been from before we were born (Jeremiah 1:5; Ephesians 1:4; Eph. 2:10).
So instead of reciting what you can’t do, know that you can do all things through Christ who gives you strength (Philippians 4:13) and 1 Thessalonians 5:24: He who calls you is faithful; He will surely do it.
Whoever abides in Him ought to walk as Jesus walked. 1 John 2:6
In our rock star driven culture, we have Christian leaders who don’t necessarily walk as Jesus walked. Maybe they are just good communicators or good singers. Francis Chan talked about how we need to play, “Follow the Leader.” Our leader is Jesus. We shouldn’t just memorize Bible verses about telling others about Jesus, crossing cultural boundaries to do so, or helping those in need, or obeying Him, getting rid of unforgiveness, etc. We just need to do it.
We need to change our definition of success. If I know Jesus, I should just be like Him. I’ll walk like Him, love like Him, and others will know that they’ve been touched because being around me might be a little like being with Jesus. I don’t know if that’s the case always.
This has challenged me to read through 1 John over and over for a month. I hope it sinks into my pours enough that it changes me to the core. I want to not say “I love Jesus” but to “Just do it.” This has produced some change in me already. I wrote in my last blog how it triggered a chain of events (giving money and an unfortunate car accident on the way to do so) that was a whirlwind. But it has also unearthed some unforgiveness in my heart that God has pointed out. May He do much more in the weeks to come!
May you experience God more deeply as you head into the new year.
If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word, and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make our home with him. John 14:23