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Most of the articles on these WebPages have been written by godly men with a central belief in the Lord Jesus Christ. However as with most of us, they may have different beliefs concerning some particular doctrines. These articles have been made available for the purpose of “gleaning the good” where good can be found. I do not necessarily endorse all that is written by others, anymore than I expect others to endorse all that I write.

   Morning Thoughts by Elder Philip Conley

I Kings 19:7-8, "And the angel of the LORD came again the second time, and touched him, and said, Arise and eat; because the journey is too great for thee. And he arose, and did eat and drink, and went in the strength of that meat forty days and forty nights unto Horeb the mount of God."

This morning, life is a series of ups and downs. We have joys and sorrows. Truly, if truth was measured by our perception and "feeling" of things, then truth would be relative to our emotions of the day. However, what should bring us the highest ups and cheer us through the lowest downs are the things that do not change. We cannot eliminate the downs in life. Storms, persecutions, tribulations, etc. will come. They are inevitable. However, they are bearable, and the success with which we are able to bear them stems from a proper perspective of the Lord's dealings with us. Quite often, our perception of His dealings is limited; therefore, we do not see all about a situation like He does. Yet, His consistency of dealing with His people should be enough for us to know that what we see Him do is consistent with the things we may not notice. In other words, God is not duplicitous or capricious. He does what is right all the time, every time. Furthermore, He is pleased to do what is right all the time, every time.

In the passage from our study verses above, we see Elijah coming into a "down" time right after an "up" time. If we review the 18th chapter of I Kings, we see that Elijah has one of the highest manifestations that a prophet could have, proving his validity as one of the Lord's prophets. Elijah challenges the prophets of Baal - one against many - and wins the day. By Elijah's supplication, God sends fire down from heaven to consume the offering, alter, water, etc. that Elijah prepared. All Baal's prophets could do was cut themselves and bleed everywhere when there was no answer to their cry. After this happens, Elijah is furthermore blessed to call upon the Lord to send rain to end the 3.5 year drought, kill all the prophets of Baal, and run before Ahab into the city.

How high his experience must have been! Everything from physical strength to outrun a chariot to fire from heaven that prompted speechless and rebellious people to cry out, "The LORD He is the God. The LORD He is the God." Yet, chapter 19 opens with Jezebel threatening the man of God's life for killing her prophets and making a mockery of her system and rule. Compared to the "up" he just had, one might think that Elijah could handle this "down." Even after the repeated blessings, Elijah becomes discouraged. (Verse 4) Then an angel appears and tells him to eat. (Verse 5) In our verses, the angel appears again, and tells him to eat again. Then, Elijah must go for 40 days in the strength of the meat from those two meals sent from the angel's hand.

One might say that this is an interesting story, but what should the purpose be for us today? What is interesting is that even though this story revolves around physical and natural things, it pictures spiritual things seen by faith. Consider that Elijah was much blessed physically with natural fire, natural fleetness of foot, and eventually natural food for sustenance on a natural journey. These things should point us to our spiritual walk, manifestations of spiritual fire, and spiritual food. Like Elijah's natural circumstance, they are not without their persecutions, but we should learn two things about this particular account. The first thing we should learn is that the Lord's consistency in dealing with His people is the same now as it was then. The second thing we should learn is that Elijah's behaviour - as great a man of God as he was - is not something we should mirror when having our "downs" in life.

Let us deal with the second thought first. Elijah has a literal mountaintop experience at Carmel and then immediately wished to die after Jezebel's threat. Oh how similar that is to our case sometimes when we have left God's house rejoicing in hope of the glory of God only to immediately fall victim to self-pity when confronted by the devil's devices. He might be waiting at the door of the church house or shortly thereafter to attach himself somewhere in our lives and rob us of the beauty that we experienced in God's holy mountain. We may have had an experience so rich that God's spiritual fire was seen by faith to receive our offerings and praise to the extent that hearts overflow and our cups run over. It might be a case so apparent that all there present say, "Surely the Lord is in this place."

Those moments are the times when the devil works the hardest shortly thereafter to steal that from us. He will be waiting, and he will be ready. May we be ready to stand and contend rather than lie down and wallow. The other thought that we should understand is the Lord's consistency. Quite often, we hear said, "Even if we did everything that we were supposed to do, that does not obligate the Lord to bless us." Biblically speaking, that is a true statement. Luke 17:10 shows that doing our duty is not extraordinary. However, we sometimes hear said, "Even if we do what the Lord commands, He is not obligated to bless us." Biblically speaking, I do not believe that is a true statement.

Because of His consistency and unchangeable nature, what the Lord promises will always be true. (II Corinthians 1:20, Malachi 3:6) This unchangeable purpose is not restricted to God's economy of salvation. Rather, it extends to God's complete nature and all the promises that He has made. Therefore, when God promises to bless righteousness and punish iniquity, we can rest assured that this promise is just as sure and unchanging as the promise, "It is finished." While they pertain to different things, both are just as sure and unwavering, due to the non-duplicity of God. Now, someone might say, "What are you driving at, and what is the point?"

The point is simply this: our actions are not what obligates God to bless us, but God is obligated to bless us when we act righteously. The reason that He is obligated to do so is because He obligated Himself to do it when He promised us how He would act in conjunction with our actions. If willing obedience is met with the good of the land today, so will it be tomorrow and always. If stubborn rebellion is met with the sword's point today, so will it be tomorrow and always. (Isaiah 1:19-20) The obligation is there, but it was not us who did the obligating. God "obliged" us by making sure and steadfast promises to us.

So, if God is unchanging in the way that He behaves both respective and irrespective of our actions, then His dealings with Elijah naturally are also mirrored in His dealings with us spiritually. God knew that Elijah would have trials even after such a grand time on Mount Carmel. Elijah's down moment of wishing to die in verse 4 would not end there. God knew that his complaint would be bitter still  when he got to Mount Horeb later. Yet God, in His faithfulness, provided Elijah what was needed and sufficient to get through the problems. Elijah's current problem in our verses was a death threat. The solution was to "get out of Dodge" or Jezreel in this case. God provided the sufficient sustenance for Elijah to make it out of harm's way.

We may have mountain top experiences in Mount Zion, but God understands that we will have death threats and problems that trouble our souls. The remedy is that we are provided with spiritual meat that will sustain us to the other side of the trial. The angel tells Elijah that he must eat more than he initially did, because the journey before him was too great. Elijah did not know the specifics, but it was sufficient to get him through it. We may have wonderful meetings in God's house that are greater and more majestic than we have ever seen. Those times may be necessary as meat to get through some difficult days ahead.

My richest days in God's house many times are followed by long periods of onslaught from Satan. As he brings his arrows of fear and discouragement, I many times fail to draw on the sustenance of the meat that I enjoyed in God's vineyard. But, thankfully, there have been a few campaigns in which the difficult journey that I did not know was before me was spiritually fought using the sufficiency from God's hand. Brethren, His grace and meat is always sufficient, but many times, I fail to see and use it sufficiently.

One of the main differences between the natural picture in Elijah's life and the spiritual account in our lives is the separation of mountaintop fire and food. In this passage, they occur separately, but spiritually, they are entwined. God's house is not just as place to get - as they say these days in the "contemporary church" - spiritually "pumped up." God's house should encourage us and lift us up spiritually, but there is more of a benefit than that. The service provides food for the soul that is meat for strength in the days ahead. Perhaps we might think that we have received a double handful from heaven, but it just might also be that the meat of that experience is necessary to sustain us for the long and difficult days ahead. Therefore, church is not a place for "feeling good" and not using the experience later, or much worse just eventually forgetting about it. Rather, it is a blessing for today and strength for tomorrow as well.

Finally, may our reaction to the trial keep a single-minded focus on something that never changes. Elijah looked at things that changed: his circumstances. Our circumstances will likewise change. May we think about One that does not change. Regardless of circumstance, He is there, behaves the same, consistent way, and is the provider of those things we need. Are we up or down today? Is it a high day or a low day? Are we being fed or having to go in the strength of previous meat? Are we victorious in our contention for the Lord in His mount or having to run from our enemies? The answer to all of these questions is not nearly as important as knowing that He is still with us, His grace is sufficient, and our efforts to serve Him are neither in vain nor unrequited.

In Hope,

Bro Philip