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It might not be obvious but I find it very interesting the way 'the church met' in Acts 12. Apart from the wonderful story of Peter's deliverance I love that the church was meeting in Mary's house, 'where many gathered for prayer'. Acts 12:12-14. In the early days of the church it was just normal to meet as a church in people's homes. Today it amazes me that people who are institutionally driven are suspect of these expressions of 'simple, organic church', but here it is right in our faces. The church met in homes. But this isn't the only example. Early in Acts 8:3-4 it says that 'Saul was going everywhere to devastate the church. He went from house to house, dragging out both men and women to throw them into jail." I am highlighting this to affirm those of us who are doing 'home church' but sometimes feel we are not fully legitimate. Don't let the monolithic, CEO driven churches intimidate you. There is a place for those churches too, but the fact is, it was very normal, just like breathing in the early days of the church and up until Constantine, to meet in homes.
For those in the home church movement you are very much in the flow of biblical history. Keep growing and keep going...

I Kings 19:1-21

Elijah had called down a drought, stood as God’s representative as he played the “dozens game” (yo momma is …) with false prophets and asked the folks to choose the God/gods who won out, he had “seen” a small tiny cloud the size of a man’s hand, break a three year drought, and then out ran a kings chariot. Yet at the threat of a woman, he ran or was it the threat? Was it the fact that in spite of everything that God had done and proved to the people that He was the only true God, there were no changed lives? In order for change to happen people must decide to change and I truly believe that, only those looking for truth will redirect their lives to following Truth. The search for Truth comes by way of the condition of the heart.

Many people desire to do great things for God, yet when something spectacular happens, we become depressed because we thought wrongly that people would surly change, but they do not. We become so focused on the spectacular that we may miss the voice of God as He whispers to us in a still small tone. Like Elijah, God has to wait until we become do low that we cry out for death. We desire death because we fail to see that our value is not in being an avenue for the spectacular but it is in our obedience to the Word of God. Even when we see not discernable fruit in the midst of the spectacular, that doesn’t mean we are not fruitful.

As Elijah stands on the mountain, after being called out by God, and as we stand on our mountain we need to understand that God may use the spectacular, the earthquake, the great wind, the fire to take us to the place where we no longer have distractions to hearing His voice.

The windstorm comes to blow the things in our lives that are not anchored down by God’s Word out. Then after the great wind, the earthquake comes to shake off everything that remained after the wind. And after the earthquake is over when we think that nothing is left in us that is not of Him, He sends fire to purify everything that remains. When everything in our lives has been tossed to and fro, when everything has been rocked and boulders of hindrances falls away and when the tremendous heat of the fires of purification burns off the dross, then that still small voice of our great King can be heard.

Adversity does not come to destroy us; it comes to reveal the cracks.

Grace and peace,
Ramona

1Kings19

Much has been made of whether Elijah was fleeing Jezebel and her threat of his physical life, or if Elijah was searching for God and a healing of his "soul".

I am in the latter camp for two reasons:

1) If Elijah simply wanted physical safety - Beersheba is in Judah. Why not go to Jerusalem and seek the protection of the King of Judah (Jehosophat???)

2) There are 23 words in Old Testament Hebrew that indicate "life". "Nephesh" used in vs. 3 seems to indicate "soul, self, life" in other words - 'the inner man'. So it seems Elijah might have been running for his very "soul" perhaps after having a crisis in faith when the spectacular works failed to have an effect on the King, Jezebel, and/or the people of Israel (in a lasting way).

Reminds me of Peter walking on water in Matt 14. As soon as he got distracted by the events around him, Peter began to sink. He cried out, "Lord, save me". Perhaps this running into the desert is Elijah's silent cry as he was emotionally sinking - 'Lord, save me'.

It is not said that Elijah consulted God when he set out, and in his first prayer recorded in the trip - Elijah prayed that he might die.

Not without precedent. When Moses was physically and emotionally spent - he made the same request of God. (Num 11:10-15). God responded by ignoring the request and telling Moses what He would do: provide additional "judges and meat for the people". God was going to provide some relief for Moses' physical and emotional burdens.

God did the same for Elijah. God ignored the request and provided what Elijah needed for his physical and emotional burdens - restful sleep and food.

When Elijah got to Mt. Sinai - the NIV translates "he went into "a cave". However,

Literally, the Hebrew is definite describing the cave. "The cave may well have been the specific 'clift of the rock' where God appeared to Moses (av, Exodus 33:22) rather than the 'cave-region' generally." (Wiseman)

Kind of neat, if this was the case.

The first time the Word of the Lord came to Elijah - it seems it was in normal tones. Asking 'WHAT are you doing here'? A question much like Adam's in the garden (Where are you?). It gave Elijah a chance to unload.

Then the elements arrived (I like Ramona's symbolic interpretation), and then the question was repeated in a gentle whisper - perhaps with a different emphasis - 'What are you DOING HERE?' (You need to be out and about doing my work????)

Maybe there is a little something like the stubborness of Peter here - but I wish we knew the tone of voice of Elijah - because I sense his response the second time may have been a bit more "subdued and plaintive".

So God gave Elijah something to do:

"God gave Elijah something to do. He needed a task to focus on so he could avoid excessive introspection. He needed to stop looking at himself and his own (admittedly difficult) circumstances. He needed to get on with what God wanted him to do." - David Guzik

God also encouraged Elijah with a word about "the remnant". When times are dark, God is remarkably consistent. There is always a remnant of believers. It was true then, we will see it to be true later, and it will be true in the End Times.

So Elijah obeyed and set out. He finds Elisha - probably from a family with some money, and not afraid of work. Elisha was not just mportant for the things God said - but Elisha will be a comfort and an aide to Elijah (provide him with the support of a "believer" and man of God???)

Elisha becoming an "attendant (servant)" of Elijah is the same Hebrew word used for Joshua's relationship with Moses.


Luch,

Thanks for the encouragement of churches meeting in houses. We were blessed to be able to meet with ours today. Last weekend my wife fell and broke her hip. It has been repaired by a complete hip joint prosthesis. Ain't medical technology great? Yesterday she came home from hospital. She has limited mobility. She will be starting a
heavy programme of physiotherapy. And she is looking forward to getting back on her bike in about two months time.

This morning we spent about three hours over breakfast and then gently learning how to shower and dress her. Then we went to our Sunday morning gathering. A dozen people in a home. Just to be able to worship, hear the Word and enjoy coffee among friends was a great blessing.

But the big picture is that we are all part of the Body. There is an interesting speculation about God's view of this by Ron Wood at http://christianstogether.blogspot.com/2006/05/church-in-city-and-response.html at the end of the article:

"When the Lord looks down from heaven into a major metropolitan area, does he see only Baptist churches? Does he see only Spirit-filled churches? Does he see only churches inside buildings? What does he see? The answer is—he sees the whole church at once, all of it, every flavor and variety and style you can imagine. They are all his people, everyone who names the name of the Lord and has been redeemed by the blood of his Son.

"If you're saved, you'd better learn to love your brothers and sisters, even those of different races or liturgies, since we'll all going to spend eternity together! And if you're following the pattern of the apostles and prophets settled in the Bible and affirmed in church history, you'd better start believing in the legitimate church as it really is: congregations plus a myriad of small house groups and the whole network of all the saints in your city."

Blessings,
Andrew B

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