You can’t handle the truth!

1 Kings 22:6-8  6 So the king of Israel brought together the prophets—about four hundred men—and asked them, “Shall I go to war against Ramoth Gilead, or shall I refrain?” “Go,” they answered, “for the Lord will give it into the king’s hand.” 7 But Jehoshaphat asked, “Is there not a prophet of the LORD here whom we can inquire of?” 8 The king of Israel answered Jehoshaphat, “There is still one man through whom we can inquire of the LORD, but I hate him because he never prophesies anything good about me, but always bad. He is Micaiah son of Imlah.” “The king should not say that,” Jehoshaphat replied. 

It’s one of the most remembered movie scenes of recent time.  It comes from “A Few Good Men” starring Jack Nicholson and Tom Cruise.  In this scene, Lt. Kaffee (Cruise) is interrogating Colonel Jessep (Nicholson).  He wants to know if Jessep was the one who gave the orders that resulted in the death of a soldier.  As Kaffee pushes, Jessep gets increasingly agitated and the courtroom is tense.  Kaffee continues to push, finally demanding: “I want the truth!”  Jessep’s response is now immortalized in movie history. “YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH!”

I find it interesting that people avoid the truth because they don’t think they can handle hearing it.  In 1 Kings 22, King Ahab called 400 prophets to prophesy about a certain battle.  King Jehoshaphat (of Judah) asked Ahab if there was any main prophet remaining.  Was there anyone the likes of Elijah still around?  There was; his name was Micaiah.  But King Ahab didn’t like to hear from Micaiah, because he always said bad things about him.  He never had anything good to say, so he avoided him.

Micaiah had good reasons why he always had bad things to say to King Ahab.  You see, Ahab was the most wicked Israelite king to have ever lived.  He made the sins of the kings before him look trivial.  So of course, God always had bad news to deliver to him.  If you are going to be a wicked person, you probably aren’t going to get the ‘ol two-thumbs-up from the man upstairs. 

Do you ever avoid God because you can’t handle the truth that you know He will bring?  If so, you are only hurting yourself.  God desires relationship with you, but that relationship is going to be on His terms.  He loves you enough to point out your sin so that you can do something about it.  Hebrews 12:6 says that the Lord disciplines those he loves.  He wants to weed the wickedness out of your heart so that you can be fully led by Him.  So don’t avoid the truth today; face it head on.  In the long run, you will be glad you did.

What a baby

1 Kings 21:4 So Ahab went home, sullen and angry because Naboth the Jezreelite had said, “I will not give you the inheritance of my fathers.” He lay on his bed sulking and refused to eat. 

Big babies drive me crazy.  I’m not talking about large infants – they are generally pretty cute and mostly harmless (aside from the occasional shoulder vomiting).  When I say big babies, I am talking about adults who throw temper tantrums when they don’t get their way.  Treating others like garbage, sulking, crying, yelling, and stomping feet are just some of the symptoms.  Basically, they have the self-control of an infant.

Ahab was a big baby, too.  He wanted some land from Naboth and was told no.  So he went to his room, sulked, and refused to eat.  Really?  You have got to be kidding me.  This was the KING.  You are telling me the king had a 2-year old fit?  It’s okay though, because his wonderful wife Jezebel had Naboth killed for him.  What a great wife, that is, if they were auditioning for the Jerry Springer show.

What do you do when you don’t get your way?  Maybe you withdraw and pout.  Or maybe you make the people around you suffer, lashing out at the ones closest to you.  Maybe you shake your fist at God.  Listen… life is not about getting your way; it is about living for HIS ways.  If we will choose to grow in the Lord and strive to be mature, we won’t resemble big baby Ahab.  Ask the Lord for the self-control today to deal with the no’s of life.  Take your disappointments to Him and let Him take care of the rest.

Talking Smack

1 Kings 20:11  The king of Israel answered, “Tell him: ‘One who puts on his armor should not boast like one who takes it off.’ ” 

Here in 1 Kings 20, we’ve got some smack talking of Biblical proportions.  Imagine these two kings on the basketball court.  King Ben-Hadad tells Ahab that he is going down; he doesn’t stand a chance.  Have you ever had someone smack talk you like that?  They try to get into your head and convince you of your failure before the game even begins.  In our scripture today, there was more at stake than a basketball game; this was all out war.

King Ahab’s response to Ben-Hadad was brilliant.  He said, “one who puts on his armor should not boast like one who takes it off.”  Essentially meaning, don’t talk like you’ve won the battle while you are still getting ready for it.  I guess he could have said, “don’t count your chickens before they hatch,” but that would have been far less manly.  The point is, Ahab didn’t put up with this kind of smack talking from his enemy and neither should we.

Satan is a smack talker, too.  He tries to to get into your head and convince you of your failure before the battle even begins.  And we listen to him.  We give up on the dreams that God has put in our hearts because we are convinced we can’t do it.  We give into temptation because we believe we aren’t strong enough.  It’s time for God’s people to stop listening to the lies, engage in battle, and win.  Jesus has guaranteed our victory, so let’s not believe anything less than that!

Sheba Googles Solomon

1 Kings 10:4-9 When the queen of Sheba saw all the wisdom of Solomon and the palace he had built, the food on his table, the seating of his officials, the attending servants in their robes, his cupbearers, and the burnt offerings he made at the temple of the LORD, she was overwhelmed. She said to the king, “The report I heard in my own country about your achievements and your wisdom is true. But I did not believe these things until I came and saw with my own eyes. Indeed, not even half was told me; in wisdom and wealth you have far exceeded the report I heard. How happy your men must be! How happy your officials, who continually stand before you and hear your wisdom! Praise be to the LORD your God, who has delighted in you and placed you on the throne of Israel. Because of the LORD’S eternal love for Israel, he has made you king, to maintain justice and righteousness.” 

Sometimes, you just have to see it to believe it.  Just the other day, my wife and I spent some time driving around looking at possible hotels for an upcoming marriage retreat.  We looked online ahead of time at prices and pictures, so we knew where we wanted to go.  There was one hotel in particular that we were excited to look at.  It looked amazing online!  When we arrived, we had high expectations and were sure this was going to be the one.  However, it turned out they had a REALLY good photographer.  The place was terrible!   Boy, were we glad that we went and looked at it in person.

The Queen of Sheba had a journey of exploration, too.  She had heard all about Solomon and his leadership.  She had been told about his wisdom, his riches, and his great kingdom.  If she could have, she probably would have looked up the pictures online, read stories on google, and watched videos on youtube.  Can’t you just see it?  “Sheba Googles Solomon.”  But regardless of what she had heard, she wanted to see this in person.  She had to know for herself if all the rumors were true.

What she found is that all she had heard didn’t come close to the greatness of Solomon’s kingship.  She found great wisdom in him and he personally touched her life as he answered life’s mysteries for her.  She was astounded and overwhelmed.  In short, he took her breath away.  But check this out: her response to his greatness was to praise his God!  

How do people respond to your successes?  Do they praise you or the Lord?  I find it phenomenal that Sheba sees Solomon’s greatness and gives praise to his God.  I want people to celebrate my successes that way, too.  I want them to see the Lord’s work evident in my life and recognize that all of my successes, blessings, and triumphs are from Him.

What are you doing here?

1 Kings 19:9  He entered a cave there and spent the night. Then the word of the LORD came to him, and He said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” 

Have you ever found yourself someplace that you weren’t supposed to be?  It’s like being found in the hallway by the principal when you are supposed to be in class.  It’s like running into your pastor while he is doing prison ministry… except you are on the other side of the bars.  The question is: what are you doing here?  It’s a long story, we might say.  Or maybe we will just say, uh…ya…um…well…

Elijah found himself in this situation with the Lord, which is not a good place to find yourself.  He had just finished destroying the 450 prophets of Baal.  He called down fire from heaven.  He was bold, courageous, supernatural, and unstoppable.  But then he got a text message from Jezebel that read: “I M going 2 kill U.”  Of course nobody wants a text message like that.  It would freak me out, that’s for sure.  Actually, I had someone threaten my life once.  It was a crazy young kid that I had to fire.  Creepy.

Back to Elijah.  What gets me about this situation is that this bold prophet of the Lord ran and hid in a cave.  He believed that God could destroy 450 false prophets but wouldn’t protect him from Jezebel.  So he found himself in a place that he shouldn’t have been in.  Do you ever find yourself in those situations?  You are called to live according to the purpose of God in your life, but you are hiding out.  Maybe your cave is fear or maybe your cave is sin.  Whatever the case, the Lord would ask you: “what are you doing here?”  “Didn’t I call you to walk away from sin in your life?  Didn’t I ask you to trust me?”

What cave are you in today?  Can you hear the voice of the Lord speaking: “what are you doing here?”  If so, simply leave the cave and walk into His grace.

 

Mocking the functional gods

1 Kings 18:25-29  25 Then Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, “Since you are so numerous, choose for yourselves one bull and prepare it first. Then call on the name of your god but don’t light the fire.” 26 So they took the bull that he gave them, prepared it, and called on the name of Baal from morning until noon, saying, “Baal, answer us! ” But there was no sound; no one answered. Then they danced, hobbling around the altar they had made. 27 At noon Elijah mocked them. He said, “Shout loudly, for he’s a god! Maybe he’s thinking it over; maybe he has wandered away; or maybe he’s on the road. Perhaps he’s sleeping and will wake up! ” 28 They shouted loudly, and cut themselves with knives and spears, according to their custom, until blood gushed over them. 29 All afternoon they kept on raving until the offering of the evening sacrifice, but there was no sound; no one answered, no one paid attention. 

You are probably familiar with the story of how Elijah called down fire from heaven to light the altar of the Lord.  He poured buckets of water on in first just to prove a point. What a showboater!  But do you remember this part of the story?  I had forgotten how cruel Elijah was to the prophets of Baal.  He mocked them sarcastically and cruelly.  Their faces must have been turning red with embarrassment once the whole thing was over.  I love how he told them to keep shouting because maybe their god was thinking it over or taking a walk.  Bahahahahahaha!

“Maybe your god is taking a walk; maybe he is sleeping.”  Do you ever find that you have put something else in place of God in your life?  These are the things that become your functional savior.  It could be people, money, things, relationships, alcohol, shopping… just about anything you use to rescue you from yourself.  We turn to things other than God for our hope, our rescue, and our peace.  We turn to people for our self-esteem and worth, and they are all substitutes for the voice of God in our lives.  Jesus came to this earth to be our Savior, our only Savior.

Can you hear the prophet Elijah calling out to you as you fill the void with other things beside Christ?  “Why are you so discontent; is your god of money taking a walk.  Why are so depressed; is your approval from man taking a nap?”  This is the insanity of serving other gods.  It is for this reason (among others) that God said to worship Him and Him alone.  Tear down your altars, people.  There is one true God; He alone is your Savior.  All others will fail and all others will be mocked.

Running on Empty

1 Kings 17:13-16  13 Then Elijah said to her, “Don’t be afraid; go and do as you have said. But first make me a small loaf from it and bring it out to me. Afterward, you may make some for yourself and your son, 14 for this is what the LORD God of Israel says, ‘The flour jar will not become empty and the oil jug will not run dry until the day the LORD sends rain on the surface of the land.” 15 So she proceeded to do according to the word of Elijah. Then the woman, Elijah, and her household ate for many days. 16 The flour jar did not become empty, and the oil jug did not run dry, according to the word of the LORD He had spoken through Elijah. 

Do you ever feel like you are running on empty?  When you do, your energy is depleted, you can’t think straight, and you just want to take a good long nap.  Worry sets in, too.  The other day I got in the car to drive to my office and the fuel light was on.  Instantly there was this little anxiety that hit, “I wonder if I will run out of gas on my way?”  Running on empty is no fun.  No one likes to have the fuel light on, walk around with sleep deprivation, or open empty cupboards.  But the lady in our scripture today had some seriously empty cupboards.  She was running on empty.

For many of us, we run on empty spiritually too.  We go about our days, our weeks, and our lives trying to get by.  We feel like we’ve lost our passion for the Lord and that we have nothing to give.  We haven’t taken the time to get filled up by Him and so we live a depleted, powerless life.  That’s when anxiety, worry, and fear set in.  We aren’t connected to our Savior and everything seems insurmountable.  The only solution is to lean into His arms and His ways.

Verse 15 says that “she proceeded to do according to the word of Elijah.”  She had so little and yet she followed the instructions from the Lord.  She used the very little she had to walk according to his commands.  And do you know what happened?  He replenished her.  She gave all she had and He provided more.  You see, if we would just walk according to the word of the Lord in our lives we, too, would find that our jars will never be empty or dry.  As we lean into His Word, He will refill us, sustain us, and overflow us.  Make the choice today to walk according to His Word and you won’t have to run on empty any more.