March 6, 2012
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We have a lot of towns here in Pennsylvania with interesting names, many of them based on the Bible, such as Bethlehem, Nazareth, Paradise, Emmaus and so forth. It might seem that Mount Joy is a Bible name but it is actually named after an Irish ship. But about 50 miles due north of us in the anthracite coal region is a town named Mount Carmel, which was clearly named after a Bible place. Sawmill operator, Albert Bradford, gave Mount Carmel its name because of its elevation and beautiful setting in the mountains. He decided that it deserved a special name and named it after the holy mountain in Israel.
Mount Carmel is a coastal mountain range in northern Israel stretching from the Mediterranean Sea toward the southeast. It is referenced most famously in today’s text (1 Kings 18:16-45), the great contest between Elijah, a prophet of God, and all the prophets of Baal. In the daily text Elijah went before the people.
1) He asked a probing question, “How long will you waver between two opinions?”,
2) He issued a prophetic challenge, “If the LORD is God, follow Him; but if Baal is God, follow him.” and
3) He got a pathetic response, “But the people said nothing.”
Elijah’s probing question is so fitting for the contemporary Church and committed Christian. He confronted the apostate, idolatrous northern Kingdom with this succinct query, “How long will you waver between two opinions?” It seems the people of God had long forgotten the final challenge of Joshua several hundred years earlier, “Choose you this day whom you will serve.”
Sadly they “wavered” in their allegiance. The Hebrew word for waver literally means “to hop or skip over”. They were hesitant as to whom they would commit themselves. They were also double-minded. Many years later the Apostle James wrote, “A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways” (James 1:8).
That question is at the very heart of the issue when stripped of politeness. After all, very few want to be called anti-God. They may be ambivalent. They may be agnostic. They may even say they have their “private faith”, but the bottom line is that they are anti-God. Jesus said it so well, “He who is not with me is against me” (Matthew 12:30). You can’t be “sort of with God” and “sort of against God.”
This day I want to be like the Jewish prophet Elijah. He didn’t mince his words. So many today are like the people who, when confronted with Elijah’s clear choice, “said nothing.” Perhaps they thought by committing to neither view they would appease both. That sounds like the rampant pluralism of our day. And it really sounds like many in the visible church.
But the one true God does not give us the option of wavering. The challenge of Elijah continues to ring down through the ages, “If the Lord is God, follow Him.” Jesus Christ and the New Testament preachers did not tolerate a wavering commitment. They never ran after people to accommodate their wavering beliefs or double-mindedness. The once wavering Thomas, when confronted with the evidence, exclaimed, “My Lord and my God” and went on to live and die for his Master. Let us wholeheartedly serve God today and boldly declare, “The Lord is God and I will follow Him!”
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily Prayer: Father, help me to thirst and hunger for Your Living Word where I find convincing truths to assure me, “This is the way. Walk in it.” I want to keep my heart fixed upon You and my mind certain of Your truths in this age where false religions abound the broad way continues to widen. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life and I gain entry to You, my Father, only through Jesus the Son. I’ve got a made up mind and I’m going to follow You during the good and the bad times, the lean and plentiful periods. Whether I stand with many or whether I stand alone, I choose to wholeheartedly follow You. In the name of Jesus I pray. Amen.
Any given day we prepare these messages we are aware of heartache in the world. We especially consider the devastating tornadoes in the Midwest and are praying for the hurting families who are picking up the leftover pieces from what was once their home as well as those burying their loved ones. Our hearts go out to them as we lift our prayers to heaven on their behalf.
Today we are taking the train into Philadelphia to attend the Philadelphia International Flower Show. We have an Amtrak station in Mount Joy and can park and ride the train right into the heart of the city and actually walk to the Pennsylvania Convention Center where the show will be held. I am not much of a city slicker but periodically enjoy the contrast and normally enjoy my rural home all the more after a trip to the city! We will also be going to the historic Reading Terminal Market next door to the Convention Center. We hope to meet the son of a friend of ours who runs “Miller’s Twist”, a pretzel making business at the market.
See here for a photo of the ship Mountjoy our community is named after.
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