Devotions for 1 Kings 18:20-39
November 2 – 8, 2015
Monday, November 2, 2015
“How long will go limping with two different opinions?” (1 Kings 18:21).
Jamal was troubled. He had been approached by a head hunter and offered a position in another company. It was a tempting offer. Not only was it a step up the career ladder, but it also included an increase in salary—the position also came with a longer commute, though. At the same time, Jamal liked his present job. His position was challenging. He worked with a great team of people and there was the possibility of advancement. Jamal didn’t know what to do. While he went back and forth in the decision making process he wasn’t able to put himself fully into his work and into strengthening his team. Jamal had to make a choice.
The people to whom Elijah spoke were double minded. They worshiped the Lord, but they also worshiped other gods and idols. The people “hedged their bets”; they offered sacrifices to different gods hoping that if one didn’t help them another god would. They were not fully committed to anything. Elijah called on the people to make a decision—love the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind and strength or don’t serve the Lord at all.
We are not unlike the people of Elijah’s day. We too worship both the Lord and other, lesser gods. We say that God will provide for us, but our trust is in the value of our 401k. We sense God calling us to share our blessings with the poor and needy, but we would like to purchase a larger house for our family and we do need a new car. We rejoice that we are forgiven, but we hold a grudge against a co-worker who opposed us during a meeting. Our Lord is a jealous God. The Lord has given us new life so that we can serve God and God alone.
You are the one true God, Lord. Make us aware of the gods we are tempted to worship and empower us to love and serve only you. Amen.
Tuesday, November 3, 2015
“Then you call on the name of your god and I will call on the name of the Lord; the god who answers by fire is indeed God” (1 Kings 18:24).
Carlos boasted to his friends that he was another Julio Iglesias when it came to singing. One evening after work Carlos and several of his friends visited a Karaoke Bar. Carlos decided to show off his talents and it didn’t take long for his friends to realize that Carlos couldn’t carry a tune. Linda thought that she was a great cook. Few of her friends, though, accepted a second dinner invitation from her. Our words need to be backed up by our actions, or as the old saying goes, “The proof is in the pudding.”
The same goes for gods. We should only worship gods that do something. We may love all of our “toys” but what have they ever done beside get us deeper in debt? Investments at times can be comforting, but in a bad economy they can fail us. The Lord is the only one with a proved track record. At our baptism God cleaned us up, made us new, filled his with the Holy Spirit and adopted us into the family of God. Every day our God walks with us through life, listens to our prayers and gives us both reasons to celebrate and the strength to face the challenges before us. Not one of the gods that we are tempted to worship has done any of that for us.
Oh Lord, you are our God. We want to love you with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength because only you are worthy of this level of commitment. Amen.
Wednesday, November 4, 2015
“They cried aloud … they cut themselves with swords and lances” (1 Kings 18:28).
The priests of Baal wanted their god to do something; to consume their offering with fire. They cried out and shouted to their god from morning to noon. Baal did not answer them. Undaunted the priests cried out louder, they cut themselves in an effort to catch the attention of their god and convince Baal that they were sincere in their requests. Though they tried hard, they could not convince their god to do anything.
We’re a little like the priests of Baal. Frequently we want God to do something for us—something important. We keep praying our prayer over and over. Sometimes we get angry at God and threaten not to worship God if God doesn’t do what we ask. We pout and we try to bargain with the Lord—“if you do this for us we’ll go to church more often or increase our giving.” It doesn’t work. God is not our errand boy. God has never promised to meet our every whim and desire.
The Lord has promised to hear our prayers, to provide for our needs, to embrace us with love, and shower us with blessings. We don’t need to force God to do these things. God moves this way in our lives because God love us and God wants to do these for us.
Lord of lords, remind us that you are not our servant, but we are your servants. Anoint our words and actions as we seek to serve you and share your love and grace. Amen.
Thursday, November 5, 2015
“With the stones he built and altar in the name of the Lord” (1 Kings 18:32).
Elijah took items that were available to him and built an altar to the Lord. First he repaired the existing altar and then he added twelve large stones to it. Elijah used his time, his abilities, stones and strength to build the altar. The finished altar was not a monument to Elijah or a demonstration of his abilities. Building the altar was an act of worship that was accomplished to honor God.
The tasks before us may not be to build altars. Still, we are called to use our time, abilities and the items around us to do things that honor God. Like Elijah, our accomplishments are not for the purpose of winning the praise and admiration of people. Our time, talents and treasures, our words and actions, all with which we have been blessed, can be items of worship that are used to honor and glorify God.
Holy God, may the way we live our lives each day be acts of worship to you. Amen.
Friday, November 6, 2015
“Water ran all around the altar and filled the trench also with water” (1 Kings 18:35).
The Marines have a saying, “The difficult we do immediately. The impossible may take a little longer.” Doing the impossible appears to be something that God enjoys doing, also. A couple had a child when they were in their 90’s. A shepherd boy became King of Israel. The fiery furnace in Daniel did not consume nor did the lions in the den eat. A persecutor of Christians became Christianity’s greatest missionary and Jesus was raised from the dead.
So often we are faced with impossible situations. It is easy to convince ourselves that things are so bad that not even God can change them. Yet, God does move. God may not move in the way that we imagine or desire. God often catches us off guard and surprises us when God moves. The best prayer when facing the impossible may not be a set of instructions of what God should do. It may be a prayer that acknowledges God’s presence and power and gives thanks that God will accomplish God’s will.
Powerful Lord, forgive us when we doubt in the face of impossibilities. Grant us the patience to wait and the ability to trust in your presence and power. Amen.
Saturday, November 7, 2015
“O Lord, answer me, so that this people may know that you, O Lord, are God and that you have turned their hearts back” (1 Kings 18:37).
The people who gathered around the altar with Elijah that day beheld an impressive manifestation of God’s presence. Both the offering and altar were consumed by God’s fire. The people saw what God did and their hearts were turned toward God. Today, it is rare for the fire of God to come down during our worship services and consume our offering and the altar. Some people say that worship services are not where they see God. So where do people see God?
Some people think that people see God in bullhorns that proclaim God’s judgment, or in protest marches. Others believe that people see God by their success and affluence. In reality, few have their hearts turned to the Lord by such things.
God’s presence and power can best be displayed by a helping hand and a word of encouragement. God’s is revealed in acts of service, hugs, tears and laughter. Sometimes we think that people are really impressed and lives are truly touched through big miracles and flashy shows of power. Usually, though, God’s presence and power are seen in the everyday things of life and are expressed in simple acts of love and kindness.
Lord of Power and Might, reveal yourself in our simple acts of love. Through them turn people’s hearts toward you. Amen.
Sunday, November 8, 2015
“When all the people saw it, they fell on their faces and said, ‘The Lord indeed is God’ the Lord indeed is God’” (1 Kings 18:39).
The Johnson’s took a road trip. The two children, Mark and Mary sat in the back seat with earphones perched on their heads listening to their music and engrossed in DVD movies. The children were oblivious to the rolling hills, majestic mountains, fluffy clouds and awe inspiring sunset. They weren’t interested in the trip. Mark and Mary just wanted to get to their destination.
So often we get caught up in life and we ignore the wonders and demonstrates of God presence and power, love and grace around us. We are too busy to look around, see God and fall on our faces and worship God. We are so absorbed in the mundane that we are blind to the profound. When this happens life drains from us and we are not renewed.
Each day we receive the invitation to stop and look around. As we survey what is around us we catch glimpses of God’s presence, hints of God’s power, reflections of God’s love and examples of God’s grace. Seeing these we are able to respond with words of thanks and praise along with lives of worship.
O God who Is, thank you for your presence in our lives and in our world. Open our eyes that we may see you and worship you. Amen.