Saturday, August 19, 2017

Souls in Danger


James Rowe was born in January 1865 in Devonshire, England. At the age of 24 he emigrated to the United States taking up residence in New York and working for the railroad. He later worked in Texas and Tennessee finally settling to live his life in Vermont. His daughter remembers he had a friend, Howard Smith. Howard was a small man with arthritis so severe that it crippled his hands and left him with great pain. She wondered how he could use his hands at all let alone play the piano … but he did.

Rowe would pace back and forth in his living room humming a tune that came up in his spirit and Smith would in turn play it and then feebly jot down the words he heard Rowe sing to the new tune. In 1912 on just such a day Rowe began with these words:

Souls in danger look above, Jesus completely saves;
He will lift you by His love, out of the angry waves;
He’s the Master of the sea, billows His will obey;
He your Savior wants to be, be saved today.

Love lifted me; Love lifted me,
When nothing else could help, love lifted me.

Many of you know the rest of that hymn … “I was sinking deep in sin” … “All my heart to Him I give”. Rowe began writing gospel songs in about 1896 and is credited with more than 9,000 published hymns, poems and recitations. This hymn along with so many others impacted my life and gave me a foundation to understand my soul in danger and the stretch of a loving Savior’s hand towards me. Today however, there are still so many souls in danger … and thankfully Jesus is still reaching out His hand.

Recently I heard an encouraging word from a colleague named Jeff Wickwire concerning how each one of us is responsible to manage our own soul. As a result, I have been meditating on what I heard the Spirit of God say to me and this morning I want to share what I believe He wants me to say to you. On that note turn with me to the Old Testament Book of 1 Kings, Chapter 19.

It was about 850 years before Christ. King Ahab and Queen Jezebel ruled the nation of Israel and Elijah was the prophet of God in the land. Jezebel was an evil woman who couldn’t stand the thought of anyone else having influence over her or her husband. She was very selfish and possessed a vile hatred of those whom she felt stood in the way of her getting to live her ambitions. She detested anyone who told her no and she would do anything to make herself look good and to get her way.

When Jezebel could not control God or His prophet she began intimidating and executing the other prophets of Jehovah. Then she started her own religion, ordained her own prophets, fashioned her own gods and subjected the whole nation to follow her seductions. 

However, Elijah remained faithful to God and prayed that the heavens would withhold rain. After 3½ years the famine had taken its toll and the nation of Israel was devastated. God kept Elijah hidden from King Ahab and Queen Jezebel until it was time for a showdown.

In the third year of the famine God spoke to Elijah and told him to gather all Israel, along with King Ahab and all the prophets which had been ordained by Jezebel, to the top of Mt Carmel … God was going to send the rain … but first He would send the fire!

Perhaps you’ve heard or read the account and how the false prophets built an altar at Elijah’s challenge and placed their offering thereon before calling on their god to send fire to consume the offering. They cried and prayed and cut themselves and spent the day in extreme efforts to no avail. Then, Elijah built his altar to Jehovah and laid a sacrifice on the altar before requesting that water be poured all over the offering and altar so that even the ditches were filled. Then, Elijah simply asked God to send the fire … and He did! The fire came from heaven and consumed the offering, burned up the rocks and licked up all the water.

When Israel saw that Jehovah was God and there was no other … Elijah led them to slaughter all the false prophets of Jezebel for whose sake the famine had come upon the land. Then Elijah told King Ahab to get himself off the mountain and back across the valley to his city before the torrential rains overtook him. I encourage you to read the whole account but for now let’s pick up here with this story in 1 Kings 19:1.

1 Kings 19
1 ¶  And Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, also how he had executed all the prophets with the sword.
2  Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, “So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by tomorrow about this time.”
3  And when he saw that, he arose and ran for his life …

·        Elijah faced the famine, the angry King and the hundreds of false prophets only to let fear get the best of him when threatened by an evil woman with a sharp tongue. His emotions overwhelmed his faith.

4  … And he prayed that he might die, and said, “It is enough! Now, LORD, take my life, for I am no better than my fathers!”

·        “I am no better than my fathers” … Right … as James said, Elijah was a man subject to like passions such as we … we are all human and as such subject to the hurts, pains, fears, disappointments, passions and emotions of life – just like everyone else.
·        It’s what we do with our fears and our pain as Believers in Christ that makes us different.
·        Elijah journeyed to Mount Horeb, the mountain of God, and looked in the past for his future … it wasn’t there. Your past is not your future!

9 ¶  And there he went into a cave, and spent the night in that place; and behold, the word of the LORD came to him, and He said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
10  So he said, “I have been very zealous for the LORD God of hosts; for the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left; and they seek to take my life.”

·        It is evident that Elijah’s soul was weary. His mind, his will and his emotions had been so taxed and attacked over the past few years that he was simply mentally and emotionally frayed. (Meltdown)
·        Elijah was a man of God. Your soul can be saved and at the same time you can be disappointed, sad, weary and afraid. Elijah was overwhelmed with life … he had allowed his soul to become sick.
·        We can be saved and sick at the same time … right with God but not in a healthy place in life … mentally, emotionally, physically or spiritually overwhelmed.
·        Here are six signs we glean from this account that may indicate your soul is tired and weary and in great need of refreshing.
1.   Exaggerated Negatives (Comes across fussy and complaining)
2.   Can’t take one more thing (“It’s Enough!” Overwhelmed)
3.   Just want to run away and hide (Depressed and withdrawn)
4.   Angry with and/or blaming others (“Not my fault”)
5.   Feeling all Alone (Nobody else knows or cares; martyr/victim)
6.   Paranoid (Others are out to get you …)

11  Then He said, “Go out, and stand on the mountain before the LORD.” And behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake;
12  and after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice.

The LORD, Jehovah, passed by … God caused the wind, the earthquake and the fire … but those things weren’t God. God was showing Elijah the difference between the work of God and the God of the work. Elijah’s soul was wearied because of all the work he was doing for God but he was not spending enough time with God. (The past is not enough for your future!)

You can’t fellowship a miracle and you can’t praise a song. It all boils down to separating the work of God from the God of the work. Elijah had been so busy working for God that he forgot to keep himself connected to God. As soon as Elijah reconnected with the God of the work, God spoke a fresh word to him and gave him a new assignment in life. Elijah went on from that cave to anoint two new Kings and a new prophet who would do twice as much as Elijah ever did. And then, Elijah never died … he got so close to God that God sent a chariot of fire to pick him up and take him straight to heaven, first class! I’d say that Elijah found his refreshing.

How about you?

Do you need to reconnect with God? Is your soul tired or weary? Are you drifting away? Do you need a refreshing – mentally, spiritually, physically, emotionally?

No one can take care of your soul but you. You are the only one who can connect yourself to the God for whom you live.

It’s not just “Fix my problem God!”, but rather, “God, fix me!”.

Souls in danger look above, Jesus completely saves;
He will lift you by His love, out of the angry waves;
He’s the Master of the sea, billows His will obey;
He your Savior wants to be, be saved today.

Love lifted me; Love lifted me,
When nothing else could help, love lifted me.

God’s love will lift us when nothing else will do. Reconnect with the God of life, light and love. You can begin this with prayer – right now – and believe me: There’s a fresh word just waiting for you!