By This Time Tomorrow II

By This Time Tomorrow You Can Do It

In part one, we discussed how as disciples of Jesus, we’re called to participate in the great spiritual battle of soul reconciliation called “The Great Commission.” The Bible reminds us our battle is not against a flesh and blood opponent, but against the spiritual forces of evil (Galatians 6:12). Oftentimes after a great spiritual victory, we hear a spiritual taunt telling us to, “Back off the intentional relational transformational discipleship!” What should we do?!

We read in 1 Kings 19 that after Jezebel had taunted Elijah, the Lord recommended a few things to Elijah, to ease his state of distress.

Two times the angel says to Elijah, “Arise and eat (1 Kings 19:5,7).” Elijah ate, drank and rested, caring for his physical needs. I could take the spiritual approach and tell you this means we should read the Word. That would be great advice! But I think it’s important to recognize that, in the words of John Ortberg, “Sometimes the most spiritual thing you can do is take a nap.” These spiritual battles are physically draining. We need to take heed of ourselves, and realize when “the journey [has been] too much (1 Kings 19:7).” Make sure you’re getting enough rest, eating nourishing foods, and drinking enough water.

The second instruction given to Elijah was, “Go outside before the Lord… and listen for His low whisper (1 Kings 19:11-12).” I used to go to a fitness club to use the treadmill and elliptical machines. But I noticed my time with the Lord at the gym was not like our times together when I went outside and walked. I’m always looking to hear that Voice behind me saying, “This is the way, walk in it (Isaiah 30:2).” And maybe like Adam heard the physical sound of the Lord walking in the garden in the cool of the day (Genesis 3:8), I hear Him better outside? I now bundle up and walk outside in the cold all winter long! It’s where I hear God best. His gentle whisper strengthens me day by day. I’m so thankful that like David, I can say I’ve learned to strengthen myself in the Lord. (1 Samuel 30:6)

Finally, Elijah was told to “Go back to the wilderness and anoint” three leaders (1 Kings 19:15). Sometimes the places we’re called to serve can begin to feel like the wilderness. And those that serve with us may privately feel a spiritual dryness, or battle fears and insecurities themselves. When the Lord told Elijah to anoint three leaders, his job was to affirm God’s call on their lives. In a recent “Last Man Standing” episode Tim Allen’s character said, “I call those who I know can do it.” When we affirm God’s call on someone, we’re reminding them that God called you because He knows you can do it. The Bible says we should encourage one another every day. No matter how dark and overwhelming the taunts may seem, let’s not forget to encourage those who are courageously trying to serve the Lord.

By This Time Tomorrow

By This Time Tomorrow Running Scared

As disciples of Jesus, we’re called to participate in the great spiritual battle of soul reconciliation, called “The Great Commission.” The Bible reminds us our battle is not against a flesh and blood opponent, but against the spiritual forces of evil (Galatians 6:12).

Elijah, in I Kings 18, had been diligent to engage in a spiritual battle. He was outnumbered 450 to 1. God sent fire on a water-soaked altar, and Elijah slaughtered all the prophets of Baal by his own hand! Elijah experienced a tremendous victory won by God, right in front of his own eyes.

Then came the taunt, “BY THIS TIME TOMORROW… (1 Kings 19:2).” Like Goliath in the Valley of Elah (1 Samuel 17) who came out every day to shout and defy the armies of the Living God, Jezebel unloaded on Elijah.  She said, “I’ll make sure you’re dead by this time tomorrow.”

Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. He cries out, “Enough already! It’s too much, Lord! I would be better off dead. I am insignificant, no better than my ancestors (1 Kings 19:4).” In the same way, in the battle with Goliath, the Israelites had been shaken, and paralyzed with fear, and they had run away (1 Samuel 17:24).   And so it continues, one generation after another, century after century, Satan and his mouthpieces do their best to intimidate God’s children.

I’m noticing a pattern in my own life. I’m watching God win big victories: I see a man repenting of pornography addiction. I watch a couple take steps to reconcile after adultery. I sit with another leader who shares a struggle and invites God to help him overcome. These are significant spiritual victories that hit the enemy where it hurts.

And then I hear it… the intimidation, the taunt.  “BY THIS TIME TOMORROW….” I experience a dark cloud of emotions following God’s biggest wins. I used to think it was physical fatigue, and I’m sure that’s part of it. But I have become more systematic to journal this experience, and this darkness seems to come about exactly 24 hours after a spiritual victory, or after a discipleship battle, like seeing someone delivered from sexual sin, or overcoming a stronghold of resentment in leadership.

When this happens I feel all alone, exhausted, overwhelmed with fear, battling despair, like I’m trapped and there’s no way out. It feels like this must be the end. When I try to sleep I am restless. It’s a feeling of being vexed.   Sometimes it’s not until I find myself praying like Elijah, “It’s impossible Lord. It’s too much… I can’t do this anymore. I want to run away…” that I realize this is more than fatigue.

“BY THIS TIME TOMORROW…” is a spiritual taunt whispered by the enemy of souls. He is communicating in every way he can, “Back off the intentional relational transformational discipleship, OR ELSE.”

When young David heard the taunting, he said in 1 Samuel 17, “Let no man’s heart fail because of him. Your servant will go and fight.” He recalled victories God had previously won and declared, “This uncircumcised Philistine shall be like one of them, for he has defied the armies of the living God…This day the Lord will deliver (him) into my hand…that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, For the battle is the Lord’s.”

My fellow disciples of Jesus, we have to wise up and remember this message is a spiritual trick. The Blood of Jesus is greater! We will see the enemy run in Jesus’ name. The Bible says, “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” So I’m not running, I’m standing right here (Ephesians 6:13). And I’m not backing off the intentional relational transformational discipleship, either. By God’s grace, I intend to see the captives set free in Jesus name (Isaiah 61:1). Who’s with me?!