Elijah – the Lord Jehovah is my God

1 Kings 17

March 13

1 Kings 17 has so much in it, it’s almost impossible to cover it all in one devotion.  It starts with Elijah standing before King Ahab and declaring that there wouldn’t be rain for the next few years, except at Elijah’s command.  We need a little context for this.  King Ahab’s wife was Jezebel, a foreigner, who worshiped Baal.  Baal was the Phoenician fertility god that supposedly sent rain.  Jezebel was actively trying to cause Israel to worship Baal, and was trying to eliminate the worship of Jehovah, the one true God.

God had made promises to Moses long before in Deuteronomy 11:13-14, “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 oil.”  In Deuteronomy 28, we find the curses for turning away from God.  In verses 23-24, we find, “the sky over your head will be bronze, the ground beneath you iron.  The Lord will turn the rain of your country into dust and powder; it will come down from the skies until you are destroyed.”

Remember that God always keeps his word, whether it is the promise of blessing for obedience, or of cursing for disobedience.  And in Israel, at that time, the country had already been worshiping the two calf idols that Jeroboam had made many generations before.  Now, the Israelites were increasing their rebellion by completely turning away from God, so God sent Elijah to Ahab to punish the country, and to set up a showdown three and a half years later to prove once and for all who was the real God.

Once Elijah had delivered his message, God sent him to a ravine, where ravens brought him food twice a day, and he drank from a brook – until it dried up.

Then, God sent Elijah to a poor widow in a foreign country.  Elijah asked her for some water and food.  The widow told him (1 Kings 17:12), “I don’t have any bread – only a handful of flour in a jar and a little oil in a jug.  I’m gathering a few sticks to take home and make a meal for myself and my son, so that we may eat it – and die.”

Elijah told her that if she baked that bread for him, after that, she could bake some for herself and for her son – because God would cause the flour and oil not to run out until the famine was over.  If you were that widow, would you have given your last meal to a stranger?  She did, and as a result of her faith and God’s blessing, her flour and oil did not run out – just like Elijah had said.

Eventually, the widow’s son got sick and died.  Elijah prayed, “O Lord my God, let this boy’s life return to him!”  And in verse 22, we read, “The Lord heard Elijah’s cry, and the boy’s life returned to him, and he lived.”  Incredible!

I see several applications in this chapter to us today.  

Elijah was a godly man.  His name meant “the Lord (Jehovah) is my God”, and his name fits.  And this was at a time when virtually everyone else had forsaken God.  It’s only because Elijah was a godly man that his prayers were so powerfully answered, and that God protected him.  We too need to be godly if we want good things from God.

Elijah went where God told him to go, and when God told him to go there.  Presumably, God sent Elijah to Ahab.  We know that God sent him to the Kerith Ravine – and because of his obedience, God provided for him.  Then, after the brook dried up, Elijah didn’t go anywhere until God told him to go to Zarephath and meet up with the widow God had arranged.  Again Elijah obeyed, and God provided.  We need to be willing to do what God says, when he says it, if we expect God to provide for us.

Elijah experienced hardship, even though he was obviously doing God’s will.  He certainly didn’t have a life of ease, but God did provide for his needs.  We can expect the same.

Elijah could pray!  He prayed that there would be a drought, and it happened.  He prayed that the boy would be resurrected, and he was.  We’re told in James 5:17-18, “Elijah was a man just like us.  He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years.  Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops.”  Yes, these were incredible miracles, but God did the miracles, not Elijah.  Elijah was a person just like us, but he was close to God, and God answered his prayers.  If we want our prayers to be answered, we too need to be close to God.

Everything Elijah was able to do was because of his obedience to God.  How do you compare?  

-Steve Mattison

Questions for Reflection and Discussion

  1. God has a way of creatively providing for those who obey Him. How did God provide for Elijah’s needs? How have you experienced God’s providence?
  2. What was the widow asked to do to help provide for the man of God? Why do you think she did it? How can God use you to help provide for His faithful people in hard times? What are you willing to sacrifice to be used by God in this way? What do you think would have happened to her if she had declined helping and fed herself and her son first? What would have happened to Elijah?
  3. What do you think of Elijah’s prayer life? What do you think of yours? What do you think contributed to Elijah’s prayer life? If you want to see your prayer life deepen and expand, what steps should you take? How serious are you about it?

Promises & Blessings

Genesis 12

February 2

The first thing I think we should recognize when reading Genesis chapter 12 are the six things that God promised Abraham. He told him to go to a land that He would show him. Secondly he told him he would make him a great nation. 


I believe the next two promises go hand-in-hand. God said, “I will bless you” and “ I will bless those who bless you.” It was important for God to let Abram know that he was going to bless him. There would also be those that would be an encouragement to him. 


At the same time there would be negative people that came along that were a source of discouragement. God promised that he would take care of those people. 


And lastly God told Abraham that he would give him the land. He was going to give him the land as an everlasting possession. 


Ultimately what I believe this means for us in life is we need to have the same kind of faith Abram had. Our faith as a whole should be based upon that kind of belief in God. 


Where I look at this text in a different context is this. I think we can apply these promises to our personal ministries. When God instills something in your heart that we feel He is calling us to do, we need to believe like Abram did that God is showing us what He would have us do.  


 I believe that just like God made Abram a great nation, we too need to have the kind of faith that believes that God is going to work mightily in our ministry. I’m not saying that we will be great but that God will do great things through us.


I believe following our heart and believing those first two promises are so important, but don’t fool yourselves. There will be both positive and negative people that come along in your ministry. Keep yourself focused on the positive people in ministry and ignore the negative. Don’t let the naysayers discourage you into quitting what you wholeheartedly believe God has called you to do. 


In the end when we listen to God rather than men; we will find ourselves hearing the words that we all want to hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.” (Matthew 25:23 NKJV)


As a result of our faithfulness; Abraham and all of the faithful together will see the fulfillment of God’s last promise. We will be given the land as an everlasting possession. Thank you God for that promise and may God richly bless each and everyone in your ministries.

-Rick Eldred

Questions for Reflection and Discussion

  1. What directions did God give to Abram before the promises? Do you think the promises will only come to Abram if he follows the directions God gave?
  2. What have you already left behind to go where God leads? What were the results (or maybe they are still in progress and hard to see)? Where may God be asking you to go? What may He be asking you to leave? Pray for God’s direction and guidance, as well as your own obedience.
  3. “I will bless you…and you will be a blessing” – God (Genesis 12:2). What blessings has God given to you? How have you used what God has blessed you with to be a blessing to others? What can you do to spread that blessing further this week?

Forgetfulness that Leads to Death

Psalm 106 and Jeremiah 17 & 18

Forgetfulness is a common ailment. We all forget. We forget where we put the keys. We forget to send the birthday card, forget to get milk at the store and forget to pay the bill or finish the homework or return the library books. We climb in bed after a long day of remembering lots of things and realize we forgot to exercise and read our Bible and call mom. I have done it all. I am pretty much an expert forgetter.

Much of the time our forgetfulness is just inconvenient or unfortunate. It means we have to make an extra stop at the store tomorrow, pay the late fee on our bill, or receive a lower grade. Maybe one day we will learn there are consequences to our forgetfulness and it will help us remember to do what we had planned to do all along – until we forgot.

But sometimes a poor memory will actually lead to death. Tragic cases can occasionally be read in the news. Forgetting to take children out of their car seats and into safety. Forgetting to latch and lock the pool gate. Forgetting the once familiar route home. There can be dreadful, heartbreaking consequences for yourself or others which can lead to death when one simply forgets.

You can also read about the devastating effects of forgetfulness in the Bible. In fact, in both of today’s passages we find instances of forgetful people, with various results. In our Psalm for the day (106), we continue the history lesson of God’s people. In today’s lesson the Israelites are exiting Egypt and traveling through the dessert. Maybe the heat is getting to them because they seem to be having a hard time remembering some pretty big and important events that happened not so long ago.

Psalm 106:7 — When our ancestors were in Egypt,
    they gave no thought to your miracles;
they did not remember your many kindnesses,
    and they rebelled by the sea, the Red Sea.

Psalm 106:13 — But they soon forgot what he had done
    and did not wait for his plan to unfold.

Psalm 106:19-21 — At Horeb they made a calf
    and worshiped an idol cast from metal.
They exchanged their glorious God
    for an image of a bull, which eats grass.
They forgot the God who saved them,
    who had done great things in Egypt

Sometimes the forgetful people are met with God’s mercy and yet another miracle they will also forget further down the road. Sometimes it’s more serious, and even fatal. Poisonous snakes, deadly disease, and the ground swallowing up those who forgot to remember God. What else could God do to help them remember?

Many generations later we see the same tragic forgetfulness recorded in the book of Jeremiah.

Jeremiah 18:15 — Yet my people have forgotten me; they burn incense to worthless idols, which made them stumble in their ways, in the ancient paths. 

They had forgotten the MOST important thing of all – the One who gave them life, the One who provided for all their needs, the One who had laid out blessings for those who follow, the One who had laid out curses for those who went their own stubborn way. They forgot God. And because of their repeated forgetfulness God was preparing the curses promised in his covenant: destruction, invasion, death.

It is easy to get so caught up in living our own busy lives, going our own stubborn ways, before we know it, we have forgotten our Life-Giving Teacher and all the lessons He was trying to teach us. And, instead, we face death and destruction.

Thankfully, there are ways to remember. With effort we can fight off this deadly tendency to forget. Here’s some ideas to build your memory.

How to Remember

Keep a thankful journal. Write down at least 3 things each day to thank God for. The act of writing helps you remember, and you will have the written journal to return to when your brain gets fuzzy on the details of how God has provided and cared for you – every day.

Clear an overly busy schedule. Trying to do too many other things that really don’t matter doesn’t leave time and space in your overbooked brain and calendar to remember God and do what is most important. You may even find some of those “extras” in your life that were getting too much of your time and memories were approaching, or at, idol status. Clear ’em out.

Get to church, Sunday school, Bible study, youth group, the church mens or ladies group, church camp, etc… Surround yourself regularly with those who are helpful for jogging your spiritual memory. When left alone brain connections can diminish leading to difficulty recalling. Instead, get to church. It’s a great place to overcome your own memory deficiencies – and it’s a great place where you can even help someone else remember God, His greatness and all He has done.

Add visual or auditory cues. What “tricks” will help you remember to keep God first. The Israelites were told to write it on their doorposts – maybe you need some Bible verses on your wall, mirror and refrigerator. Satan uses many schemes to erase God from people’s memory. Jesus found great power against Satan’s schemes by using God’s scriptures which he had committed to memory. Take out that Bible, the Sword of the Spirit, and use it daily to slash away cobwebs forming in your brain. Time and study and a love for God’s eternal word is the best cure I know for forgetfulness that leads to death.

Remember God and what He has done, is doing and will do!

-Marcia Railton

Today’s Bible reading passages can be read or listened to at BibleGateway.com here – Psalm 106 and Jeremiah 17-18

Restoration is Possible

Deuteronomy 30-31

Deut 30 4 NIV

Yesterday we looked at God’s promises of blessings and curses, rewards and consequences, for the choices that the Israelites made.  We also saw that God enacted those consequences exactly as described hundreds of years later with the Babylonian captivity.

Today’s passage in Deuteronomy provides some hope that even after God punishes, he restores.

In historical context, we once again see God doing just what he promised. (See books like Ezra and Nehemiah).

God’s response to us is really no different. His word is clear on what he expects of us, and the consequences we reap can be crushing.  But if we return to him, he will always restore us.  Always.

Make good choices

From the middle of chapter 30 on, we see God literally pleading with his people to choose his ways.  He lays it all out, and reminds them that he’s not asking them for anything too hard, saying,

“Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach.”

Then he reminds them of the promised rewards or consequences they will face and gives them a bit of an ultimatum and a plea,

“I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses.  Now choose life, so that you and your children may live, and that you may love the LORD your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him.  For the LORD is your life”

Our sin hurts us.  But it doesn’t just hurt us, it grieves God.  His pleading with us to choose his path is not only because he knows that it’s ultimately the best for us.  He’s also pleading with us to choose him.  He loves us that much.

If you’ve found yourself suffering the consequences of bad choices, restoration is possible.  It is usually a long path, but worth every step.  Here’s a resource that you might find helpful  https://thesparrowshome.com/caught-in-sin-restoration-possible/

 

Susan Landry

 

Today’s Bible passage can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Deuteronomy+30-31&version=NIV

Tomorrow’s reading will be the final chapters of the first 5 Books of Law – Deuteronomy 32-34 and then also Psalm 91 as we continue the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

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