Archives for December 2016

Living and Reviving a Courageous Faith Like Elijah

I still can’t believe it. Three months ago a replica of the Temple of Ba’al/Palmyra’s Triumphal Arch, was built in front of New York City’s City Hall, very close to Ground Zero.  September 19th was the public unveiling.

The Institute of Digital Archeology, in partnership with Harvard University, orchestrated this movement. ISIS destroyed this temple in Syria in October 2015, and they wanted to rebuild it in the US as a symbol of defiance. Who is it really defying?

It is no wonder that Elijah’s bold faith on Mount Carmel has been on my heart recently. I pray for a modern-day revival as we experience modern-day paganism.

As we look to 1 Kings 18:16-39, Elijah had been a quiet prophet during Ahab’s (and crazy Jezebel) evil reign as King of Israel. Elijah had warned them that, according to the Lord God of Israel, there would be no rain or dew for several years (1 Kings 17:1). After three years God tells Elijah to present himself to Ahab, and God would send rain on the land.

Elijah met with Ahab, who asked to gather all the people from Israel onto Mount Carmel. Ahab brought 450 prophets of Baal .

“Elijah went before the people and said, ‘How long will you waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.’ But the people said nothing.” –1 Kings 18:21NIV

Elijah then told them the was the only of the Lord’s prophets left, yet Baal had 450 prophets. He told them to get two bulls, choose one for themselves, cut it up, place it on the fire and not light the fire. He would do the same.

“Then you call on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of the Lord. The god who answers by fire—he is God. Then all the people said, ‘What you say is good.’” –1 Kings 18:24

So those prophets called on the name of Baal for about six hours until noon. But there was no answer. They even danced around the altar they had made.

At noon Elijah started mocking them. “Shout louder! ‘he said. ‘Surely he is god. Perhaps he is deep in thought, or busy, or traveling. Maybe he is sleeping and must be awakened. ” –1 Kings 18:27.

Isn’t this like a reality show? I think it’s funny. Haven’t we mocked others? Obviously they did it in the Bible also.

The people of Baal even started slashing themselves with swords and spears, as was their custom until they bled. (Ouch—so not appealing). Then they started frantically prophesying until time for their evening sacrifice.

“…But there was no response, no one answered, no one paid attention. Then Elijah said to all the people, ‘Come here to me.’ They came to him, and he repaired the altar of the Lord, which was in ruins.” –1 Kings 18:29b-30.

Elijah took 12 stones, representing the 12 tribes of Israel, and built an altar in the name of the Lord. Then he did something even more courageous to show his faith.

He built a trench around the altar, arranged the wood, cut the bull into piece, and laid it on the wood. He asked the Baal prophets to fill four large jars with water and pour it on the offering and on the wood. He asked them to do it again, then a third time. The water soaked the altar and even filled the trench he had made.

Now remember it had not rained for three years! Water was a treasure. Elijah boldly wanted to prove that no fire would be coming from him, but ONLY from the Lord. With wood not being able to burn wet, it showed only a miracle would cause the fire.

Then Elijah stepped forward and humbly prayed to the Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel…

“’Answer me, O Lord, answer me, so these people will know that you, O Lord, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again.’

“Then the fire of the Lord fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones, and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench. When all the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried, ‘The Lord—He is God! The Lord—He is God!’” –1 Kings 18:38-39.

What leadership and faith lessons can we learn from Elijah?

What will it take for the US to cry out that the Lord is God?

  • The majority voice isn’t always the Truth. Elijah was one prophet. His lone voice spoke the words of Truth, that the Lord our God is the only true God and the only One God who responds and is worthy of our worship. May we have courage to speak Truth alone when other voices are loud.
  • Identify the problem as first step. Elijah asked how long they would waver between two opinions—Baal or God as Lord.
  • Boldly demonstrate your faith. Elijah did in two huge ways:
    1. He rebuilt the altar that was in ruins and dedicated it back to God. May we do the same for our nation, for our state, for our communities. It’s not too late.
    2. By Elijah asking the Baal people to pour precious water on the altar three times, he showed his belief in God’s miracles. Nothing is impossible with God. All we need is the faith of a mustard seed.
  • Cry out to God—Elijah humbly prayed aloud. When is the last time you prayed aloud? Let’s cry out to God today, every day.

God is the same yesterday in the days of Elijah, as He is today. Now, more than ever, with our country building temples of Ba’al in NY and symbolically in our homes, may we humbly follow Elijah’s example. I pray for the fire of God’s revival in our homes and on our nation as we fall prostrate and proclaim that Jesus is Lord.

In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.


What may be a “Ba’al” in your life?


“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, THEN I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin AND will heal their land.” –2 Chronicles 7:14


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The IN-Keeper–Preparing Room


The Inn-keeper in the Bible Story of Jesus’ birth intrigues me. Not much is written about him. He leaves much to our imagination. With the census going on for the entire Roman World, you know his inn must have stayed jam-packed at 100 percent occupancy. He was truthful to Mary and Joseph.

He certainly wasn’t a mean man. In fact, I can sympathize with him. Guests checked out, then more guests with reservations checked in.  He was trying his best to be hospitable by offering a stable/cave and manger out back.

Little did he know he was too busy and lacked room in his life for the Savior of the World’s birth. Ouch. Doesn’t that hit close to home?

“While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.” –Luke 2:7 NIV

Anything of value in our lives requires us to make room.

We make room in our time schedules, our budgets, our hearts for a new relationship we value. Even for Christmas we make room, don’t we?

To bring in our new wonderful-smelling Christmas tree, we move over our comfy chairs, reading lamp, plants–whatever it takes. Box after box of Christmas decorations require us to move our year-round décor and replace with our valued Christmas festive decor.

In the Bible Story of Jesus’ birth, the Inn-Keeper had no room for Jesus. Mary and Joseph resorted to a hay-filled stable, along with the smelly animals. Our Savior of the World Jesus was born in a tiny manger. The tiny manger was plenty of room for the King of Kings and was truly the first King-Size Bed. 

Even the favorite Christmas carol “Joy to the World” exclaims, “Let every heart prepare Him room.”

The big question is: Do I make enough room in my heart, my schedule for Jesus? He wants our whole heart, my whole heart. So many times I don’t make enough room with my hurried schedule, my shortened quiet time, quick prayers.

Jesus is our only Way “In” to eternal life. He is the Door, the Gate. “Therefore Jesus said again. ‘I tell you the truth, I am the Gate for the sheep.” –John 10:7 NIV

We who believe are all “IN-Keepers.” Jesus loves us so much and wants to reside in our hearts for eternity.

How much room am I making in my schedule, my budget, my heart for Jesus, the Savior of the World, my Savior?

Please forgive me, Lord, for being too busy. For not making room for You. Take my whole heart, Lord. Lord Jesus, move everything else out to make all the room You want and need in my heart. You are the only way IN to eternal life. I desire to be a true “IN-Keeper.” In Jesus’ name, by the Power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

“I’m prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, prone to leave the God I love. Here’s my heart, Lord, take and seal it, seal it for thy courts above.” –Come Thy Fount of Every Blessing


–“Make room for us in your hearts.” –2 Corinthians 7:2a NIV

–“ ‘Say to the owner of the house he enters, ‘The Teacher asks: Where is my guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples? He will show you a large upper room, furnished and ready. Make preparations for us there.’” –Mark 14:14-15 NIV


–How can I make more room in my heart, my schedule, my life for Jesus? Please comment.


-“But this I do know. My own true love. All your life long, you wait for your own true love to come–we all do–our destiny, our joy, our heart’s desire. So how am I to say it, gentlemen? When He came, I missed Him. Pray for me, brothers and sisters. Pray for the Inn-Keeper. Pray for me, and for us all, my own true love.” –from the Inn-Keeper’s perspective, taken from Frederick Buechner’s  “The Birth.” Magnificent Defeat.

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Nothing is Impossible

fullsizerender-27During this Christmas season, I get so excited about the Bethlehem scene in Luke 2—the angel, the manger, the shepherds, Mary, Joseph, the wise men, AND sweet baby Jesus’s birth.

This year I am so pumped also about the chapter before—Luke 1. I see a story of struggle and God’s miracle. The kind of story I love. The kind of story I live and can relate to.

Three of my favorite verses are found throughout this Luke 1 chapter. I never realized how much was in that chapter foretelling John the Baptist’s and Jesus’ birth.

Zechariah was a priest, and his wife Elizabeth had not been able to get pregnant. An angel appeared to Zechariah and told him not to be afraid (if I saw an angel I’d be afraid also), and that his prayer had been heard. I love that.

The angel told him he would have a son, name him John.

“He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord…and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from birth.” –Luke 1:14, 15.

Zechariah doubted the angel, asking:

“How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.” –Luke 1:18.

Ouch. How many times do I doubt God’s promises, God’s goodness, God’s faithfulness? My “soul holes” of doubt speak louder than my faith.

Because Zechariah doubted, he was struck silent for her whole pregnancy. People in the temple could tell he had seen a vision. He made signs with his hands but could not speak.

His sweet wife Elizabeth became pregnant and remained in seclusion for five months. Her response was,

“The Lord has done this for me.” Luke 1:25.

Amen. What profound gratitude.

Six months into Elizabeth’s pregnancy, the angel Gabriel visits Elizabeth’s young relative Mary in a little town of Nazareth. The angel Gabriel told Mary she would give birth to a son named Jesus.

“He will be great and will be called Son of the most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David…His Kingdom will never end.” Luke 1:32, 33b.

Mary asked the angel how it would happen since she was a virgin. The angel’s response is so encouraging.

“Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God.”  Luke 1:36, 37.

AMEN! Mary’s response is one of my favorite in the entire Bible.

“’I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said.’ Then the angel left her.” Luke 1:38.

Can you imagine being 13 or 14 years old, as Mary was, and having the kind of Spirit-filled faith to be that obedient? She is such an inspiring testament of faith.

Then Mary went to visit Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s voice, the baby inside of her leaped, and Elizabeth was filled with the holy Spirit. Elizabeth encouraged Mary, saying in a LOUD voice:

“Blessed are you among women and blessed is the child you will bear!….” –Luke 1:42.

Elizabeth declared another one of my favorite verses:

“Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!” –Luke 1:45.

Friend, what can we learn from this passage so full of miracles and wisdom?

1) God hears our prayers. The angel affirmed Zechariah first by saying his prayer had been heard. Every prayer is heard, no matter how short the prayers are and how desperately we cry out to God.

2)Whatever in our life seems “barren,” God provides life in that barren spot. Nothing is impossible with God. For me it’s my singleness. God fills my “barren spot” and heart’s desire for a husband. You may have a “barren” relationship or a yearning for a child. God fills that soul hole, even on days that are hard, especially at Christmas.

3) May we always give God the praise. Like Elizabeth who had prayed for years to be pregnant, “The Lord has done this for me.” All comes from Him.

4) May we have the humility and faith like Mary to be totally obedient. Not only did she say she was the Lord’s servant. She declared her total surrender. “May it be to me as you have said.”

Oh, I pray so for me and you also. Total surrender.

It was for Mary. It will be for us also if we surrender our will. May Thy will, not my will, be done.

Merry Christmas, friend.


–What seems “barren” in your life? What seems impossible? Please comment.

–What prayers do you want God to hear? Keep praying. He hears them all.


“And Mary said: ‘My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for He has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me—holy is His name.” –Luke 1: 46-49.

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