Bible Passage: 1Kings 19:1-8
Reading the encounter of Elijah and King Ahab, one truth stands out: the victory of yesterday is not a guarantee for future success and breakthrough over life’s struggles. A strong and healthy person one interacts with today may fall sick the next day. A vehicle which performs excellently well on a trip, can ‘pack off’ before the next trip. Life is also fragile and has to be held with prayer. After he boldly and courageously delivered God’s message to Ahab the King, Elijah, the fearless, bold and courageous Prophet of God, a gifted seer, and a miracle worker was threatened by Ahab’s wife, Jezebel. In response to Jezebel’s harassment, Elijah considered committing suicide as an option. As you continue your journey in the New Year, your courage will not be reduced by fear or intimidation. You will always stand tall.
Ahab the king of Judah is one of the principal characters we are studying today. He placed little value on the worship of the true God. Ahab had no religion convictions; he allowed many atrocities to be committed during his reign. For instance, God had made it clear in Joshua’s day that Jericho was never to be rebuilt (Joshua 6:2). Ahab allowed this blatant violation of the revealed will of God; it shows his personal disregard for the Lord and His dictates. No wonder a sad commentary was written about Him, “Ahab did more to provoke the Lord, the God of Israel, to anger than all the kings of Israel who were before him” (1Kings16:33). He also condoned the excessive pagan practices of his wife, Jezebel, in the worship of Baal. I pray that your heart will not be sold out to doing evil things that will provoke God’s anger. When you deliberately flout God’s order, you invite God’s wrath on your life. Again you deliberately block all avenues for God’s blessings to be channeled to you. On the other hand, God rewards and blesses life of obedience with his presence, favor, long life, and material blessings.
Elijah the Prophet
Another character in our study is Elijah. He was an ordinary man that God used to perform extraordinary miracles. Elijah predicted famine following the wickedness of the Israelites. He said, “As the Lord, the God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, there shall be neither dew nor rain these years, except by my word” (1kings 17:1). After the three years, God decided to be merciful to His people. He instructed Elijah to present himself to Ahab and to inform him that it would rain. Elijah was no doubt a true servant of God. He performed many unimaginable miracles. Obviously, Elijah must have considered himself favored of God when he was representing God through all the miracles he performed in God’s name and on His behalf.
But Jezebel sent a murder threat to the man of God, Elijah: “May the gods deal with me, be it ever so severely, if by this time tomorrow I do not make your life like that of one of them” (1Kings19:2). Following this threat, Elijah was afraid and ran for his dear life. In spite of the recorded success he made earlier, out of frustration he said, “It is enough; now, O Lord, take my life, for I am no better than my fathers.” At this point, Elijah was experiencing emotional burnout, weariness, hunger, pride, and self-pity.
The merciful God heard Elijah’s complaints. Instead of granting him his wish to die, the Lord refreshed him and prepared him for the long journey ahead. The Lord said, “Arise and eat for the journey is too great for you” (1Kings19:7). Indeed, the journey of a year is long, especially, 2019. It is made of 12 months, 365 days, 8760 hours, 525,600 minutes, and 31,536,000 seconds.
Getting Strength for the Journey
No matter what your record for the past year was, whether it’s that of progressive advancement and victory over life’s struggles or a repeated failure and frustration, you need strength for the journey this year. You cannot dwell on your past, you have to move on. The strength you need will not come from man, but from God who had compassion on Elijah. God set before him, undeserved table in the wilderness in the presence of his enemies. That God will supply all you need for your journey this year.
In order to enjoy the best from God’s provision for you this year, practice Paul’s principle of letting the past bury itself; forging ahead by getting new dreams, adjusting your lifestyle and making necessary adjustments, discipline and commitment to realize them. Paul said, “Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians3:13-14). Forgetting what is behind will serve as an antidote for discouragement, poor performance and pride that gives a wrong attitude, “I have arrived” that makes one to rest on one’s oasis.
One of the problems Elijah had was fear. He allowed the spirit of fear to grip him. Fear dulled his perception of God and he soon forgot how God had used him. One man defined FEAR as “False Evidence Appearing Real.” Fear is an activator and you don’t have to activate thoughts of fear and feelings of anxiety. As a child of God, don’t believe the fears that can make you to panic and run up and down. Fear is a “thief” it sabotages your joy and poses a self-imprisonment. It depends on the one you desire to rule you. Therefore, get strength, and activate faith.
Some Sources of Strength
1. Know Jesus as your Lord; abide in Him, and do not depend on your wisdom and ability. The Bible says, “For in Him [Jesus] all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell.” All you need for your survival, you find all in Jesus. Jesus says, abide in me, apart from me you can do nothing. Like a branch that detaches itself from the main vine, deprives itself of nutrients and will eventually dry; so is anyone who refuses to tap from Jesus unlimited resources. In Apostle Paul’s experience, he testifies, I can do all things through Christ who infuses His strength into his. Get strength for the long journey this year by knowing Jesus as the source for your daily existence.
2. ‘Eat God’s word.’ Psalm 19:7-14 lists some of the benefits of ‘eating,’ reading, meditating on God’s word, and obeying it. Some are: the word of God converts the soul, making the simple wise, enlightening the eyes as the sun enlightens all the living things on earth, gives warning. The word of God is sweet and sweeter than the honey drippings of the honeycomb. The word of God is perfect, sure, true, eternal, and righteous. Therefore, this year, start ‘eating’ God’s word for strength, wisdom, and understanding.
3. Fellowship with believers: Do not forsake the assembly of believers, why? As iron sharpens iron, and man sharpens another, we gain encouragement, inspiration, and convictions when people of like minds worship together. Join a Bible believing church, a dynamic fellowship where Bible is taught and practice.
4. Practice holiness: Sin will separate you from the holy God. Living life of holiness fosters intimacy with God, it builds spiritual strength and stability, it makes people to see God in you and glorify Him. Holiness gives you peace with God.
In 2019, the journey is long, get strength daily from God, by abiding in His word, fellowshipping with other believers and running away from sin that can cloud your vision and thinking. Happy New Year!