Flipping and Flopping

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In 1 Kings 18, we have the infamous Biblical smack down of Elijah vs. the False Prophets of Baal.

It is one of the most awesomest (seminary word) stories in the Bible – I highly recommend reading the whole thing.  (In addition to reading the whole Bible itself of course.)

When Elijah arrives on the scene, he’s got to do a bit of triage with Obadiah to assess the situation.  Before all the public humiliation of the ‘god’ Baal by the almighty Yahweh, Elijah verbally slaps the people of Israel in 18:21 —

How long will you go limping between two different opinions?  If the LORD is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him.

Yikes.  Ouch.  Hey, Elijah, I thought you were going to come here to beat up on the Baal guys not us.

Yet, we still do this today don’t we?  We flip flop between believing our God is who he says he is, and also entertaining sin – the complete opposite of that.  When we linger in sin – we are saying that sin is better than God.

There are two sides to this of course – initially, we all need to come to the knowledge (faith) that we are sinners, and our relationship with our Creator has been broken, and God has offered us Jesus to reconcile us to him, but then after we have been justified and adopted into God’s family thru faith in Jesus– we need to remember who we are in Jesus.  That  we, as redeemed children of God, do not live lives characterized as flip flopping between following sin and following God. Our commitment is to live lives that please God…24/7.  (2 Cor 5:9)

May we truly believe the LORD is God and follow him today.

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What Are You Doing Here?

1 Kings provides one of the most powerful demonstrations of God’s presence and power then few other narratives in the Bible.  We see how quickly Israel (now divided into 2 kingdoms) starts rapidly departing from the Lord, usually due to their kings following other gods and as we so often read doing “evil in the sight of the Lord.”

1 Kings 18 is the famous account of Elijah vs. the prophets of Baal at Mt. Carmel.   God shows up in a huge way and unquestionably displays his sovereignty over false gods and the false prophets of Baal pay with their lives.  Elijah, riding high on this victory and being used by God in such a powerful way…finds himself then in the cross hairs of Queen Jezebel.   For reasons which aren’t as clear, Elijah – after just calling down fire from heaven, and routing hundreds of men – runs from the queen like a scared little girl.  He RUNS 120 miles, sits down under a tree and proceeds to have a pity party asking even that he “might die.”  (1 Kings 19:4).

God then shows up again – again demonstrating his sovereignty over his creation by displaying power in the wind, an earthquake, and then fire.  But the Lord wasn’t in any of these – he was instead in what came next – a low whisper.

“What are you doing here, Elijah?”  (19:13)

I was immediately struck by how many times I go places I shouldn’t be.   Perhaps not so much physical places anymore, but maybe for you that may still apply – but places in my mind. Even if we call ourselves disciples of Christ, we still will struggle with sin in this life – one of the biggest battlegrounds is our minds. Our minds are so powerful and how we think MUST be shaped by the gospel of Jesus Christ.  We  must take every thought captive and make it obedient to Jesus. (1 Cor 10:5).  Many times I will find myself thinking things that I should not, and then subsequently allowing that to alter my perception.   The famous clip from Martin-Lloyd Jones rings true here once again – in his commentary on Ps 42 –

“Have you realized that most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself? Take those thoughts that come to you the moment you wake up in the morning. You have not originated them but they are talking to you, they bring back the problems of yesterday, etc. Somebody is talking. Who is talking to you? Your self is talking to you. Now this man’s treatment [in this psalm] was this: instead of allowing this self to talk to him, he starts talking to himself. ‘Why art thou cast down, O my soul?’ he asks. His soul had been depressing him, crushing him. So he stands up and says: ‘Self, listen for moment, I will speak to you.’”

–Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Spiritual Depression (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1965), 20.

The Bible is very clear that we are to renew our minds (Rom 12:1-2; Eph 4:22-24) which will then lead to renewed behavior.  Right thinking leads to right living.

So, don’t let your thoughts get away from you.  Counter act wrong thoughts with the truth of the gospel.  Preach the gospel to yourself constantly.  Pray for the Spirit to remind you of the truth of the gospel.  Meditate on his word. Surround yourself with things that glorify God.

And in those moments where you find the thoughts running away – be quick to ask yourself  – “What are you doing here?”

And head back to the cross and press on.