WEEK 23, Day 1, Monday, 4 June 2018

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Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Monday, 4 June 18:

1. 1 Kings 17:4 — “I have commanded the ravens to feed you there.” God can take care of your needs in miraculous ways using all the powers of nature.

2. 1 Kings 17:7 — “And after a while the brook dried up, because there was no rain in the land.” God will provide for you through hard times but won’t necessarily keep you out of hard times.

3. 1 Kings 17:8-10 — “Then the word of the LORD came to him, ‘Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and dwell there. Behold, I have commanded a widow there to feed you.’ So he arose and went to Zarephath.” You have to both hear God’s word and obey God’s word to experience His miraculous blessings. When you follow God, He arranges circumstances and controls hearts to provide for you in ways that others would not recognize as miraculous.

4. 1 Kings 17:12 — “And now I am gathering a couple of sticks that I may go in and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it and die.” If you are willing to give all that you have for God’s service, a total sacrifice, you will be blessed beyond imagination. It takes faith to give beyond what appears reasonable. God may take you to your breaking point to reveal your character and willingness to obey His law of love.

5. 1 Kings 17:13 — “But first make me a little cake….” Faith operates without a safety net, where it’s an all or nothing proposition. If you always require a back-up plan, you are not operating on total faith.

6. 1 Kings 17:13, 14 — “Don’t be afraid…. For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says….” Today’s verses speak to the power of walking in faith and trusting in the Lord to the point of complete surrender, submission, and obedience. Elijah was commanded by God to journey into the wilderness during a great famine and drought – he went. He was then commanded to travel to Sidon with no food or water – he went. Elijah then asked a widow to give him the last food she had for her and her son and to believe that God would supply her needs – she did it. Obadiah put his life of the line to hide the Prophets from Jezebel, and he again put his life on the line by telling Ahab that Elijah was in town. Elijah, as an act of faith and obedience, presented himself to Ahab, though Elijah’s faithful witness against society had made him “public enemy number one.” In faith Elijah challenged the prophets of Baal publicly on Mount Carmel. These people acted in faith and God proved faithful. Through their faithfulness, they glorified God before a watching world and were, themselves, blessed by the experience. How much different do you suppose the widow’s perspective of God was after God miraculously provided food for her and her son and then brought him back to life? It takes faith to obey God, and the Bible says, “without faith it is impossible to please God.” In or NT readings today, Paul challenges the church to live by faith and “purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.”

7. 1 Kings 17:24 — “And the woman said to Elijah, ‘Now I know that you are a man of God, and that the word of the LORD in your mouth is truth.’” Because of her faith, the widow experienced the power of God in an incredible and personal way.

8. 1 Kings 17:24 — Like He does with all prophets, God gave Elijah great power in order to validate him as a true prophet, not just to take care of Him. God’s ultimate aim is always to glorify Himself, not His followers. The true disciple of Jesus does not seek God’s power to accomplish his personal goals or to gain the favor of people but only to accomplish God’s will and to bring others to Jesus.

9. 1 Kings 18:1 – “After many days the word of the Lord came to Elijah, in the third year, saying, ‘Go, show yourself to Ahab, and I will send rain upon the earth.’” Elijah did not go anywhere on his own initiative but rather waited on direction from God. Jesus said that He operated the same way. Why do you do what you do? Notice that the word of the Lord came to Elijah, “after many days.” Until then, Elijah simply remained faithful to what he had already been told to do, without using God’s silence as an excuse to quit endeavoring. Are you willing to obey God’s clearly written word without requiring some special revelation?

10. 1 Kings 18:4 — “Obadiah took a hundred prophets and hid them by fifties in a cave and fed them with bread and water.” Obadiah not only feared God, he also prepared for famine when no one else had. Therefore, he was able to care for God’s prophets. Faithful followers of Christ don’t hoard wealth or save for a future of unproductivity, but they do save so that they can provide for themselves and others during lean times or times of trouble. Are you saving up for retirement so you can finally relax? If so, your plan will ruin you.

11. 1 Kings 18:17, 18 — “When Ahab saw Elijah, Ahab said to him, ‘Is it you, you troubler of Israel?’ And he answered, ‘I have not troubled Israel, but you have, and your father’s house, because you have abandoned the commandments of the LORD and followed the Baals.'” The unrepentant sinner becomes the enemy of both God and His servants, blaming them for the consequences of sin. Sinners will blame and despise God’s messenger. The messenger is an easy target. The word “martyr” is Greek for “witness.” Jesus discovered that persecution started within the “church” as his teachings threatened church tradition, church leadership, and the position of compromise the church had established with the State and secular society. Today the church is largely silent in the face of dramatic social deviation. Speak the truth boldly, and discover the Greek word for witness. In the midst of persecution, God’s servants must continue to proclaim truth. Are you willing to be hated by the world to proclaim God’s message? Christians are not the judge but rather the messenger of the Judge. Never hold back from speaking the truth in love thereby denying your life mission and purpose.

12. 1 Kings 18:21 — “And Elijah came near to all the people and said, ‘How long will you go limping between two different opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him.’ And the people did not answer him a word.” You must choose between fidelity to God or fidelity to the world. You cannot be faithful to both. If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice. Much like the people of this account, today, the Church remains largely silent in the midst of rapid social decay due to compromise. Following God is an all or nothing proposition. Jesus Himself said that He had no use for the lukewarm Christian. You cannot follow and not follow at the same time. You cannot partially obey and still be obedient. You cannot remain silent before the sins that God abhors and remain in a growing love relationship with Jesus.

13. 1 Kings 18:27 — “And at noon Elijah mocked them, saying, ‘Cry aloud, for he is a god. Either he is musing, or he is relieving himself, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is asleep and must be awakened.’” Elijah did not show respect for false religions.

14. 1 Kings 18:29 — “No one answered; no one paid attention.” The world is full of passionate people who very sincerely believe lies to be true. No matter how much someone wants to believe a lie, the truth remains the truth. Jesus said he came to “testify to the truth.” We have been entrusted with the message of truth which challenges many sincerely held beliefs in the world.

15. 1 Kings 18:37 — “Answer me, O Lord, answer me, that this people may know that you, O Lord, are God.” God answers our prayers as we desire when what we desire is His will be done. Your prayer life is powerful when it is aligned to God’s will rather than simply your desires. God’s intent is always to bring glory to Himself. All that we desire should be to glorify God.

16. Proverbs 4:1 — “Hear, O sons, a father’s instruction….” Proverbs, chapters 1-4 implore the reader to “listen to, hear, receive, accept, store up, and obey” God’s word.

17. Proverbs 4:7 — “The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom, and whatever you get, get insight.” To be wise, you must make getting wisdom your goal. Wisdom is often defined as “knowledge rightly applied.” You won’t be wise by being merely a hearer of God’s word; you must be a hearer and a doer.

18. Proverbs 4:11 — “I have taught you the way of wisdom; I have led you in the paths of uprightness.” Parents must lead their children by example. Teach them what wisdom is and show them what it looks like. Jesus taught and then demonstrated. The Marine Corps has a training adage — “Educate; demonstrate; replicate.” The leader, teaches what to do; demonstrates what to do, and then coaches as the student attempts to replicate the teacher’s example.

19. Proverbs 4:20-21 — “My son, be attentive to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. Let them not escape from your sight; keep them within your heart.” God’s word must serve as your daily instruction and must be your focus; you must have a true passion to obey God’s word.

20. Proverbs 4:23 — Our first responsibility is to guard our hearts; everything else we do flows from our hearts.

21. Proverbs 4:24-27 — Every little thing we do affects our hearts, positively or negatively. Did your heart get better or worse yesterday?

22. Proverbs 4:26 — “Ponder the path of your feet; then all your ways will be sure.” You must assess yourself continually and think deeply about how well you are obeying your Lord and Savior.

23. 2 Corinthians 7:1 — “Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.” Knowledge of Jesus should drive you towards a relentless pursuit of holiness, purity, and obedience. Grace compels us to holiness motivated by love rather than by mere duty towards the Law.

24. 2 Corinthians 7:9 – “As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us.” Being ‘sorry’ or remorseful is not the same as being repentant. A person can be sorry from a self-centered perspective (sorrow over personally suffering the consequences of sin) while not really having a repentant heart which seeks renewal and restoration with God and those offended. A person can even feel sorrow for having failed or hurt others, without a commitment to seek reconciliation. Judas took his sorrow to a suicidal end, but Peter’s repentance led to restoration and a changed life. Repentance is deep remorse over sins committed against God, driving the repentant person to truly hate their sin.

25. 2 Corinthians 7:10 — “For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.” Today’s philosophy would suggest that all grief is bad – finding happiness is the key to life. However, the Bible points out that there are two types of grief – godly and worldly. Godly grief is in fact vital and draws us to repentance and a deeper relationship with God, while worldly grief is wholly destructive, offering no hope. A key word above is “repentance.” Jesus began his earthly ministry by proclaiming: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand (Matthew 3:2).” Good grief leads you to Christ. Bad grief destroys you.

26. 2 Corinthians 7:10 — Salvation removes regret.

“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 4 June: Choose today to cleanse yourself that you may be holy and pure. Be washed with the word of God, and remove those things from your life that are unacceptable to God such as unwholesome entertainment. (2 Cor 7:1, Eph 5:3; 1 Cor 8:12; 1 Cor 6:18; Matt 5:29-30; 1 Cor 6:19-20; Psalm 119:9-11; Romans 12:1-2; Romans 3:23-24; 1 John 1:8-9) The choices you make today will either bring you closer to Jesus or further away. Make your purpose today oneness with Jesus and act accordingly. Don’t read your Bible, say your prayers, and then entertain yourself with ungodly things. God will not be mocked in this way.

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