The Prophet of Prophets

I am studying in 1 Kings 17 -19 presently, and I am just flat out giddy about it. This is one of my absolute favorite sections of Scripture. I love teaching the Word of God because I truly believe every single word of it as written and I want everyone else to as well. This past week as I studied in 1 Kings 17 the Holy Spirit brought to my recognition something in the first two verses that I don’t believe I had ever noticed before. 1 Kings 17:1-2 says,

“Now Elijah the Tishbite, from Tishbe in Gilead, said to Ahab, ‘As the Lord, the God of Israel, lives, whom I serve, there will be neither dew nor rain in the next few years except at my word.’ Then the word of the Lord came to Elijah:”

Now what is so significant in these two verses? What is buried in these words that I had missed the other 500 plus times that I have dug into these verses and sifted through these chapters? What can we discover about Elijah that made him different? So different that he is a prophet that is prophesied about by other prophets in the Bible. “See, I will send the prophet Elijah to you before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes.” (Malachi 4:5) So different that he is the prophet that stood with Moses and Jesus Christ on the Mount of Transfiguration to represent all the prophets of God (Matthew 17:3-4). Read 1 Kings 17:1-2 again and pay close attention to that small word “then“. Do you see it?

This, my friend, is what I saw this morning in these verses that I had completely missed before. Usually when a prophet is recorded speaking in the Scriptures we see that the Word of the LORD came to the prophet and then the prophet goes out in obedience to share what the LORD told him. However, right here in 1 Kings 17:1-2 what we see is Elijah the Tishbite step up before a King and speak BEFORE the Word of the LORD comes to him.

Elijah was just a man who loved the Lord and feared Him. He was a man who knew the word of the Lord that was given to ALL His people Israel through Moses before they set foot in this promised land. He knew what God declared in Deuteronomy 11:11-19,

“But the land you are crossing the Jordan to take possession of is a land of mountains and valleys that drinks rain from heaven. It is a land the Lord your God cares for; the eyes of the Lord your God are continually on it from the beginning of the year to its end.

So if you faithfully obey the commands I am giving you today—to love the Lord your God and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul— then I will send rain on your land in its season, both autumn and spring rains, so that you may gather in your grain, new wine and olive oil. I will provide grass in the fields for your cattle, and you will eat and be satisfied.

Be careful, or you will be enticed to turn away and worship other gods and bow down to them. Then the Lord’s anger will burn against you, and he will shut up the heavens so that it will not rain and the ground will yield no produce, and you will soon perish from the good land the Lord is giving you. Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”

Elijah’s father and his father before him had been faithful to teach these words to their children just as the Lord had commanded. When Ahab brought the Baal and Asherah worship into the kingdom and married Jezebel a priestess for Baal, Elijah simply had enough. Elijah knew what the word of the Lord said and he stepped out in faith before a King and declared it to be done. Even to the point of declaring that it would not rain until he himself said it would.

Elijah set himself up to represent the Lord without having to be asked to or commanded to by the Lord. There was no extra promise or assurance of protection by God that gave him the encouraging push to obey. Elijah stepped into what had already been written, what had already been commanded, what had already been promised and believed God would have his back.

Why is this so significant for us? Why would he be the prophet that is set up as the representative of all the prophets? Look at where we are today beloved. The cannon of Scripture has been closed. All that need be written has been written. There is no new word to come.

“I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this scroll: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to that person the plagues described in this scroll. And if anyone takes words away from this scroll of prophecy, God will take away from that person any share in the tree of life and in the Holy City, which are described in this scroll. He who testifies to these things says, ‘Yes, I am coming soon.’ Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen.” (Revelation 22:18-21)

Will we choose to be Elijah’s in our day? Will we choose to live by what was written and declare the truth of God and live in obedience to God even if we have not heard a word from Him? After all, it has already been written…

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” (Matthew 4:4)

Do you have the faith to walk by what is written? Even if it means calling out a King? I hope you do beloved. I pray that I do. I strive to be an Elijah, because it’s the Elijah’s that come in spirit and power, to turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord. (Luke 1:17). Elijah was just a man (James 5:17), just a regular human being like you and me, and God held off the rain for three years simply because he stepped out in faith. Then God sent the rain because he prayed and asked Him to open the heavens.

Elijah walked the talk so God was able to look down from heaven when he bowed up on King Ahab and say “Hey, well would you look at that! Atta boy, Elijah! Don’t worry son, I’ve got you. My eyes range over all the earth searching to and for looking to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Me (2 Chronicles 16:9). I’ve been waiting and searching for someone like you! Now let’s get to work.”

How do we become Elijahs in our day? We start by knowing the Word of God. Then the next step is to walk in obedience to what you know. The third is to start opening our mouths and moving our feet sharing the word of the Lord with others. We need more people who are willing to gird up their loins and live righteously (not self-righteously) and truly get serious about speaking out against the evil in our present day and point the world to the One who came to save while the day is still the day of salvation.



If I Had Of Had More Than Thirty Seconds…

Last night our middle daughter graduated from high school. Our school allowed the parents to share one minute after presenting our children with their diplomas. Her Dad and I split that one minute. I had to write all this to pull out the one minute, but had I had more than thirty seconds… here is what I would have shared.


You entered this world with a voice that demanded that you be heard. You have continued to become a woman with a voice that still demands to be heard. You have always been a girl who was not afraid to speak truth. You have never been hesitant to challenge an injustice no matter who it was that you might have to call out in order to do so and we have always had your back. We always will.

In our home you have been taught to use your head. You have been raised to be a person of action, a self-starter, and a finisher. You have been taught to never half-way do anything. We have taught you to do all things with a spirit of excellence. We have watched you choose to challenge yourself time and time again and have seen you trust the Lord to help you meet those challenges. We have watched you work hard and refuse to cut corners even if it meant you would not finish first because maintaining your integrity was more important than the momentary win. I will never forget watching your ten year old self waddle like a duck in karate and getting the prize, even though you were last, simply because you did it right the entire time even though others were not and were way ahead of you.

We chose to be parents that treated our children like the adults we hoped they would become. You have done your own laundry since you could reach the knobs on the washing machine. You have been responsible for keeping up with your own appointments and keeping us informed of all that was required of you and of us to see that you had everything you needed. You have even made all your own phone calls and emails in setting up everything you needed for college. We have raised the bar high your entire life, thus far you have risen to reach it, and we don’t expect you to lower it now.

You have been taught in our home that you are free to make any choice you like as long as you are willing to accept the consequences of that choice. As you step into adulthood those consequences become greater, further reaching, and more permanent. You must remember that first and foremost you are Christian and you are a Christian living in the United States of America. Therefore, you never have an excuse to not walk free and live brave. Never allow the fear of man’s consequences to keep you from obedience to God. Never forget that God is your provider, not a job. Never forget that if all others forsake you because you won’t go their way, God’s way is always the only way, and Jesus IS enough.

As you step into adulthood and into the world remember that God has given you life and He has given you a voice. Use it. “Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of the unfortunate. Open your mouth, judge righteously, and defend the rights of the afflicted and needy.” (Proverbs 31:8-9). However, don’t just open your mouth, but move your feet. “To do righteousness and justice is desired by the Lord more than sacrifice.” (Proverbs 31:3). Never forget that this life is not about you, but you have been bought at a price. It is no longer you that lives, but Christ in you. You leave a mark for His name where ever you go and in whatever you do.Therefore, “act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8).

As a mother it has been absolute joy to parent you. Though I know there have been many times that we did not see eye to eye, you have chosen to always be respectful. Even when hormones and crazy schedules and lack of sleep could have been a seedbed for mother daughter battles, there have been no wars. Many parents couldn’t imagine spending 24-7 with their kids, but I can say I did it and I loved it. Every lesson plan I put together, every book I had to order, every errand I had to run, every morning wake-up song, and every bedtime devo has been special for me. I know that the “bedtime” devos have been fewer and farther between this past year, but they remain special. It hurts my heart to think of the fact that in less than three months you will be sleeping under another roof in another state. My prayer is that you will continue in what you have been taught and spend time with the Lord in His Word every morning and every night.

Now as for college, you have chosen a field of study that will have you asking the whys for all the worst of human behavior. In doing so never forget that the answer to all the whys won’t be found in any textbook by man, but in between the pages of Genesis and Revelation. In all of your study and in all of your research, if you will keep the Word of God as your plumb line you will be well ahead and will be able to stay focused on truth and maintain hope. No one knows the heart and mind of man as the One who created him. The Spirit of God that dwells within you is there to help you in forensic psychology, just as He is in systematic theology. He will be there to remind you that the battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the spiritual forces of darkness. The mind of man is the depths of that battlefield so you will always need to be diligent in being suited up in the full armor of God.

Never forget that you do have an enemy and it’s not other people. It’s that serpent of old who simply knows how to use other people to attack you. One of your biggest temptations in life will be to withdraw from people or begin to even hate them, which will cause you to lose your fire to reach them for the gospel of Christ. This can happen in the church as quickly as it can in college. It can even happen within your family. When you are tempted to withdraw, choose to engage. When you are tempted to hate, choose to love. It’s okay to keep an arm’s length distance, but it’s never okay to ignore and treat others as if they do not exist and have no value. Jesus died for the world, not just for the people that are nice to you. You might not understand in the moment why God has allowed certain people to enter your life and others to leave, but know that He is sovereign and they crossed your path for a purpose.

Keep challenging the status quo yet always be willing to be challenged yourself. The day you stop being challenged is the day you stop growing. Keep speaking truth yet always be willing to hear truth being spoken to you. Most of the time we do not know the whole story and taking the time to gather more information always changes our perspective. Keep demanding to be heard yet always be ready to be quiet and listen, and it’s best to choose to listen first. Treat all people with respect, even if they completely disagree with everything you know to be absolute truth. You never know when someone has simply been looking to finally meet someone who believes in their convictions enough that they do not have to be validated in them by winning an argument. When in doubt, always choose grace. When in doubt, always choose love. When in doubt, always choose peace. Mercy always triumphs over judgment.

Shelby, I am so proud to be your mother. I love you more than words can say, and I have a lot of words! I am so very grateful that I find myself on this side of parenting that has me now transferring from authoritative disciplinary to trusted advisory and friend. I hope that you will always be able to look at me and not just see a mother, but see your biggest fan and best friend. I will always be in your corner cheering you on and coaching you up and sending you back out to fight another round, because I believe with all my heart that you will have the victory. Life can be hard, and sometimes the hits keep coming, but you are never down for the count. You are a Halbrooks and a Vaughn and even more so, you are a Holy Spirit filled daughter of the One True King. You follow the One who overcame the world and through Christ you are more than a conqueror. Always live like it.  

PS: Shelby, this is just the starter post. I’ll be writing on this to give to you when you leave for college. I love you so very much.

Finish Strong

I am continuing my study through Kings and Chronicles, and as I had the opportunity to share this past week with a group of Athens middle schoolers, there is treasure in these pages. There are many books in the Bible that many of us can miss the preciousness in because we are not willing to wade and sift through what we find to be mundane and monotonous or simply just plain difficult to read. However, if we will just choose to slow down and take in the entirety of Scripture and fumble through the hard to pronounce names and lists of genealogies and strange measurements and so on, our God has much to teach us.

This past week I was in 1 Kings 15 and 2 Chronicles 14 – 16. In these chapters I read of the reign of Asa King of Judah. Asa followed his father Abijam after a short three year reign. The nation of Israel had been split into two nations (Israel and Judah) for around twenty years when Asa became King of Judah. Idolatry was full throttle in both the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah. However, when Asa became king he sought to see that changed.

When Asa became King the Scriptures tell us that, “Asa did good and right in the sight of the LORD his God.” (2 Chronicles 14:2). He entered his reign calling the people of Judah back to the law and commands of God. He called the people to enter back into the covenant of God to seek Him with all their heart and all their soul. The people followed him back to God and the people rejoiced with this return to the LORD. Asa even dethroned the Queen Mother because of her idolatry.  Asa began well.

His obedience to the LORD brought peace back to the land. However ten years in to his reign, Ethiopia attempted to attack. As the attack loomed before him, Asa completely outnumbered, turned to the Lord.

Lord, there is no one besides You to help in the battle between the powerful and those who have no strength; so help us, O Lord our God, for we trust in You, and in Your name have come against this multitude. O Lord, You are our God; let not man prevail against You.” (2 Chronicles 14:11)

The Lord was faithful to defend his people and defeat their enemy (2 Chronicles 14:12-15) and the land lived in peace for twenty-five more years. After living in the blessing of peace for twenty-five years the northern kingdom of Israel rises up and attempts to attack the southern kingdom of Judah once again. Now Asa has another opportunity to see the faithful deliverance of his God, but here enters the problem.

So far Asa has done well. So far Asa has put his trust in the Lord. He began well, but as he spent twenty-five years in the ease of God’s peace… Asa forgot God. Asa forgot all that God had done and could do and he went to the King of Aram for help. He even pulled treasuries out of the LORD’s house in order to pay him for his aid.

God allowed the aid to work this time, but then He sent a prophet to Asa.

“Because you have relied on the king of Aram and have not relied on the Lord your God, therefore the army of the king of Aram has escaped out of your hand. Were not the Ethiopians and the Lubim an immense army with very many chariots and horsemen? Yet because you relied on the Lord, He delivered them into your hand. For the eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His. You have acted foolishly in this. Indeed, from now on you will surely have wars.” (2 Chronicles 16:7-9)

Here. Right. Here. Here is Asa’s opportunity to recognize his sin. Here is Asa’s opportunity to recognize his mistake. Here is his opportunity to fall on his face before his faithful God and cry out to Him in repentance and seek forgiveness and restoration. Here is the opportunity, but sadly Asa fails to take it.

Asa grows angry and throws the prophet who delivered the message into prison. Asa isn’t recorded ever turning to false gods, but he is recorded as choosing to turn to man to help him in times of need instead of God and finally dying in his forty-first year to reign (2 Chronicles 16:12). He only lives five more years after choosing to stop seeking the Lord.

Asa didn’t finish strong.

He could have, but he didn’t. God had promised him that he would be with him. God had showed him that he would be with him. He even knew that God could forgive him and continue to use him. He knew God’s track record, yet for some reason he stopped seeking the Lord. What about you?

What enemy are you facing? What trial have you entered into? What circumstances have entered your life that are making you feel that God has already abandoned you? Who are you trusting in?

Precious one, if you have put your hope in man you will find yourself disappointed. Choose to trust God. Go back to His promises. Review His track record through the Word. Look back on all His faithful provisions in the lives of those recorded in the Scriptures and look back on all the ways He has faithfully provided for you. Then, most importantly, look forward to the promise and be reminded of the sacrifice that was made that you might take hold of that promise. “But you, be strong and do not lose courage, for there is reward for your work.” (2 Chronicles 15:7).

When life gets hard and people and situations and circumstances blind-side you and the enemy whispers in your ear that it’s okay to quit, that it’s okay to stop caring, it’s okay to stop trying; don’t listen. When the enemy tries to get you to follow your flesh and define everyone by the choices of a few, don’t listen. When it’s hard to keep standing, to keep smiling, to keep hoping, allow the Holy Spirit within to call truth to your mind.

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (James 1:2-4)

Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. (Galatians 6:9)

Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1-2)

As our daughter’s youth minister shared with her graduating class this past Sunday morning, don’t allow the ups and downs of the journey to distract you from the destination. Jesus Christ is the destination. Standing before Him, holy and blameless without spot or blemish is our goal. Gaining the winning crown of life that we can present to Him in thankfulness for His endurance is our prize.

Everything that enters our life is an opportunity to prepare us for what lies ahead. So when life seems to sucker punch you in the gut and you find yourself either face down in the dirt or throwing up your walls of protection, don’t turn away from God. Turn to Him. Ask Him how what just entered your life can make you more like Jesus and further the gospel. Then allow Him to take it and in His faithful and capable hands produce that perfect result. In due time, precious one, the harvest will come. No matter what, finish strong.



For The Sake Of David

Sometimes as parents we have to watch our children spiral out of control. It is a hard thing to see. One of the most frustrating things in life for me is when I know that someone knows the right thing to do and the right way to behave, but they simply refuse to do so. I don’t know if there is many things much worse than having to witness someone we love, someone we have poured life into, turn away from God and live in disobedience to everything that His Word commands, while claiming that they and God are “just fine.” This is so hard because we know it is not just a temporary earthly issue we are facing, but their eternity is at stake.

I can’t sit back in judgment, I have both been the child that spiraled out of control and the parent that has watched a child spiral out of control. I write this today not to judge or condemn or to even offer advice, but simply to share some truth from the Word of God that might be a light shining in someone’s darkness. The light that shines in the darkness is His life because His life is the light of all men (John 1). So beloved parent what we must always be sure to do is to faithfully shine bright.

When we look in the Scriptures it was the faithfulness of Abraham that caused God to bless Jacob even though he was a man of deceit. It was the faithfulness of Abraham that had our Lord God on Jacob as the Hound of Heaven. It was the faithfulness of Abraham that led God to wrestle with Jacob until daybreak and take his hip out of joint. It was the faithfulness of Abraham that allowed God to move on his behalf and change Jacob’s name to Israel and bless him with the blessing of the promise. Jacob was blessed in spite of himself because of the faithfulness of his Grandfather, but it would take him until almost his death bed before he would realize that truth.

In the Scriptures as we read through the lives of the kings of Israel we see time and time again how God did not completely wipe out the lineage of David, no matter how horrible his sons to his great great great grandsons became, simply for the sake of David…

However, the Lord was not willing to destroy Judah, for the sake of David His servant, since He had promised him to give a lamp to him through his sons always. 

2 Kings 8:19

Just do a phrase search on “for the sake of David” and you will see how time and time again God spared what He had every right to destroy simply because of the faithfulness of the one who He used to begin it all. God remained faithful to His promise to David. He remained faithful no matter what the unfaithfulness of man. Our God remains faithful to all His promises.

We also see in the Scriptures that God remained faithful to His promise despite David’s failures. When David repented and returned to the Lord, the Lord simply picked up and carried on His promises right on through the consequences of David’s sin. The consequences of David’s choices remained, but they were not able to defer or detour the purposed work of a sovereign omnipotent holy God.

Abijam became king over Judah. He reigned three years in Jerusalem; and his mother’s name was Maacah the daughter of Abishalom. He walked in all the sins of his father which he had committed before him; and his heart was not wholly devoted to the Lord his God, like the heart of his father David. But for David’s sake the Lord his God gave him a lamp in Jerusalem, to raise up his son after him and to establish Jerusalem; because David did what was right in the sight of the Lord, and had not turned aside from anything that He commanded him all the days of his life, except in the case of Uriah the Hittite. 

1 Kings 15:1-5

God never acted like David didn’t mess up. He never pretended that what David did never happened. He even acknowledges it in the lineage of Jesus as He refers to Bathsheba as the wife of Uriah (Matthew 1:6). Yet, David’s sin did not cancel out His previous obedience or the unconditional covenant that God had made with him. David had fallen, but God would only allow him to fall so far for so long. God never loses.

What can we learn this?

As I read through these Scriptures and as I study through the pages in Kings and Chronicles and read of the choices of the kings and queens and prophets and people, I want to learn. I want to learn to remain faithful. I want to learn to not panic when I see others spinning out of control, especially if it’s my own children. I want to know that I know that if I remain faithful to obey my God, if I choose to keep my heart wholly devoted to the Lord… my God will honor that faithfulness. Through choosing to believe what I read in His Word I also have the hope that if and when I stumble and fall, no matter the depth of the season of sin I might step knee deep into, the moment the Holy Spirit of God breaks my stubborn rebellious heart and brings me to my senses, when I repent and return, God remembers His promises to me. He always remembers… not for my sake, but for the sake of His Son Jesus Christ.

He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. (Psalm 23:3)

Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of Your name; and deliver us and forgive our sins for Your name’s sake. (Psalm 79:9)

Nevertheless He saved them for the sake of His name, that He might make His power known. (Psalm 106:8)

Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps My word he will never see death. (John 8:51)

My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. (John 10:27-29)

The bottom line, beloved of God, is that He never lets go.