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Bullied | Mistreated

Bullied | Mistreated

MondaySo Jezebel sent this message to Elijah: “May the gods strike me and even kill me if by this time tomorrow I have not killed you just as you killed them.”  1 Kings 19:2

FEAR. Threats. Intimidation. Mistreatment can not only hurt our feelings; it can be deadly. God’s prophet Elijah experienced that. He’d done nothing but obey God, and the wickedest queen in history put a bull’s eye on his forehead. Elijah had just called down fire from heaven, drawn a line in the dirt, and challenged Israel to choose their God. Then he had all the evil prophets of Baal slaughtered. He was cleaning house on God’s orders, reminding them who the real God was. But instead of repenting at Elijah’s words, the queen turned on him in fury. She put out a contract on his life and he went on the run.

Sometimes mistreatment comes to us in the form of bullying and intimidation. We were doing what we believed was right, but it ticked someone off. Instead of repenting and changing their ways, they put out a contract on us: our jobs, our kids, our reputations. We were trying to help, to do the right thing, and it was met with fury. God never promises that obedience to Him will be cheap or easy. Sometimes obedience is costly, just ask Jesus. Or Paul. Or the countless Christians martyrs. Satan has always used fear to terrorize God’s children because he’s a bully. But throughout history, the true servants of God have faced threats and intimidation with courage because they knew that in the end, bullies never win.  

Final Thought:  Fear, threats, and intimidation from evil people are often an indication that we’re on the right track.

Prayer: Father, I let threats and intimidation get to me sometimes, and keep me from fully obeying you. Give me courage to follow you wholeheartedly, without backing down because I know my prize is just ahead. In Jesus’ name, amen.

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Tuesday He asked that he might die, saying, “It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life…”   1 Kings 19:4

Have you been there? You’re worn out. Life doesn’t seem worth it anymore. You try to pray but all you can say is, “It is enough, Lord. I’ve HAD it.” That’s where Elijah was and that should encourage us. God included this portion of the story so the rest of us who get to that point have a hero. If a miracle-working, idol-busting, fire-from-heaven prophet like Elijah could get depressed, then God understands how we feel too. Elijah had done nothing wrong. He was totally sold out for the glory of God and had served Him faithfully. But one threat from Jezebel scared the daylights out of him and he was ready to give up.

A quick glance at history shows us that powerful servants of the Lord can get depressed too. Depression is not sin. It doesn’t mean we’re failing God or that He’s mad at us. It’s a state of mind often brought about by extreme stress, fear, or mistreatment. If the depression is caused by unconfessed sin, repentance is the path back to wholeness. But when it comes for no apparent reason, we can take comfort in Elijah’s experience and the fact that God told us about it. The Lord dealt gently with Elijah and reminded him who he was serving and that there were many others faithful to God. Then He sent angels to help until Elijah had the strength to go on. God sends His angels to help us too if we’ll wait on Him. Depression is a bully, but we really can go on.

Final Thought:  Mistreatment can lead to severe depression, but God deals gently with us until we have the strength to go on.

Prayer: Father, you know my ups and downs, my struggles of the past. Some of them still plague me. Thank you for including Elijah’s story in your word to encourage me and remind me that you’re not mad at me when I hurt. In Jesus’ name, amen.   

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Wednesday “…anoint Jehu…king over Israel, and anoint Elisha…to succeed you as prophet.”  1 Kings 19:16

-“I’m quitting!” exclaimed the mother of three toddlers. “I give up. I can’t do this anymore!”

-“I’m done,” sighed Dr. Jones in the middle of an operation. “I’m weary of cutting people open. I’m outta here.”

-“I’m burned out,” sighed Pastor Rob as his church began a building project. “I’m through being a pastor.”

You might add your situation to this list. You’ve had times when you felt you were done. Finished. Couldn’t do it anymore. Maybe it WAS time for you to move on, but usually there is unfinished business. You can’t abandon it, so God sends help.

God heard the cry of Elijah’s heart, but there was some unfinished business. So God provided Elisha as a protégé. His trainee. The two men worked together finishing what Elijah started, and then God took Elijah up in a whirlwind. We probably won’t get a whirlwind, but God has other ways of delivering us. When we’ve served Him faithfully to the end of our assignment, we can call upon the Lord and expect His answer. It may come in the form of a phone call, an unexpected text, a friend coming alongside us. He may open a door we did not know was there or close one we’d been pounding on. We must never abandon the work God has given us, but when we’re worn out and run down, it’s time to look up. Help is on the way.

Final Thought:  What methods has God used in the past to deliver you when you felt you could not go on?

Prayer: Father, I love the way you heard Elijah’s heart and understood his exhaustion. That gives me confidence that you’ll hear mine too when I cry to you. When I think I can’t go on, remind me to look up. Help is on the way. In Jesus’ name, amen.

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Thursday Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart… there was an earthquake…then a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire…then came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it…he went out…  1 Kings 19:11-13

Which of these statements sounds like our Heavenly Father and which ones are from our enemy:

  -“You’re a failure. You’ll always be a failure! Until you can act right, I want nothing to do with you!”

  -“Go ahead and sin. God understands. He knows nobody’s perfect, so why try?”

  -“Come to me, Child. I saw what you did and I want to forgive you so we can be close again. Repent and be restored.”

Unless we walk closely with God, we can be easily fooled by enemy lies. Especially when we’re being mistreated, it’s hard to distinguish God’s voice from all the other voices shouting in our heads. The mistreatment starts to sound accurate: Maybe I am good for nothing. Maybe I’ll never get it right. Maybe I should just give up. Elijah had the same problem, so God gave him a pop quiz. The Lord’s voice was not in the thundering storm, violent earthquakes, or raging fires. His was a still, small voice. A gentle whisper. Only then did Elijah leave the cave and draw near to God. And only when we quiet our hearts, turn down the volume of all the other voices, will we hear His. God’s voice is kind, gentle, loving—never condoning sin—but always with a way to be restored. When we want to hear God, we must open His word and listen for the whisper.

Final Thought:  God longs to speak to us through His word. His voice convicts but never condemns those who seek Him.

Prayer: Father, I have trouble distinguishing your voice from all the others in my head. Maybe that’s because I tolerate too much noise. Teach me to be still and know that you are God. Teach me to hear your whisper. In Jesus’ name, amen.

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Friday There by his head was some bread…and a jar of water. He ate and drank and then lay down again. 1 Kings 19:6

Every grandma since time began greets her family with, “Have you eaten? Here, have some of this.” We smile and roll our eyes, but maybe Grandma is on to something. That’s the same treatment Elijah got from God. Elijah was exhausted and famished, but too depressed to take care of himself. So God sent angels in the place of Grandma. He took a nap and when he woke up, there was a snack waiting. Then he slept again. God is giving us a recipe for good mental health.

We tend to ignore our physical health when we’re stressed out, but that’s dangerous. We’re physical beings. We need food and rest in order to think clearly. Everything seems worse when we’re tired and hungry. Even mistreatment can feel like the world is caving in if we don’t keep it in proper perspective. After Elijah ate, drank, and rested, he had the energy to continue obeying what God told him to do. But in our world, we sometimes act like martyrs, as though that was more spiritual. “I don’t have time for myself,” groans a tired mom. “It’s all about the kids.” An over-stretched dad sighs, “I’m working three jobs. Not getting enough sleep so I sure don’t have time to read the Bible.” This fake martyrdom is one of Satan’s suggestions. He hints that to take care of ourselves is selfish. He knows if we’re strung out, we’re no threat to him. So, take care of yourself!

Final Thought:  Do you play the martyr at home or work? Are you making excuses for not taking good care of yourself?

Prayer: Father, this hits close to home. Maybe I’m doing that without realizing it. Am I taking good care of the body you gave me? Or am I making excuses for not keep my physical, spiritual, and mental health a priority. Help me change that. Amen.