Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Sunday, 6 November 2022:
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.
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.
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.
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.
1 Kings 17:13 — But first make me a little cake….
The widow had enough food to eat one last meal with her son, but Elijah told her not to fear but to use what she had remaining to feed him because God would miraculously provide for her. Her act of all-in faith was required before the miracle. 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.
1 Kings 17:13, 14 — Don’t be afraid…. For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says….
Today’s verses as well as tomorrow’s 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. Tomorrow we will read how 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, will present himself to Ahab, though Elijah’s faithful witness against society had made him “public enemy number one.” In faith Elijah will also challenge 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, “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6) When you have complete confidence in God, you are willing to forgive unconditionally, give beyond your means, accept your circumstances with gratitude, thanksgiving, and contentment; and share the Gospel boldly regardless of how it might be received. Is that you?
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.
As 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 other people but only to accomplish God’s will and to bring others to Jesus.
Psalm 128:1, 2 — Blessed is everyone who fears the LORD, who walks in his ways! You shall eat the fruit of the labor of your hands; you shall be blessed, and it shall be well with you.
Believing in God is not the same as fearing God, trusting Him and obeying Him. James reminds us, “You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder!” (James 2:19) Many people who claim faith in Christ don’t even have a demon level of respect for God. Blessings come from obedience.
“You shall eat the fruit of the labor of your hands….” Biblical living involves fearing the Lord and working with your hands to provide for yourself and others. Work is the first think God gave Adam so that He would be blessed by it and so He could bless others by it. Work only became a curse when it became a labor of lust rather than a labor of love. An important part of being a New Creation reconciled to God is reconciling your work to God.
Psalm 128:6 – May you see your children’s children! Peace be upon Israel!
A full and peaceful family is one of God’s primary blessings for those who follow Him.
Psalm 129:2, 4 — Greatly have they afflicted me from my youth, yet they have not prevailed against me…. The Lord is righteous; he has cut the cords of the wicked.
Proverbs 6:1-5 — Avoid debt to others; work hard, save, and invest (Proverbs 6:6-11); be honest and cooperative in all your dealings with others (Proverbs 6:12-19); and don’t commit adultery! (Proverbs 6:20-35)
Proverbs 6:6-11 – “Without having any chief, officer, or ruler, she prepares her bread in summer and gathers her food in harvest.”
Self-discipline involves making sacrifices and working hard today for a greater tomorrow. God’s blessings in your life depend on your self-discipline. Self-discipline does what is required without the need of a chief, officer, ruler, boss, teacher, coach, counselor, etc. External discipline (someone making you do what you should) is no substitute for internal discipline. You must be willing to do on your own what others aren’t willing to do on their own in order to fulfill your purpose in life. No one can live your life for you, and no one is responsible for your life but you. The Bible is clear, you reap what you sow, but you don’t as much as you sow (seeds planted grow into big harvests), and you don’t reap when you sow (it takes hard work for a long time to reap the harvest). Today, plant good seeds and have the discipline to work the land to get the harvest.
Proverbs 6:12-15 – A worthless person, a wicked man, goes about with crooked speech, winks with his eyes, signals with his feet, points with his finger, with perverted heart devises evil, continually sowing discord; therefore calamity will come upon him suddenly; in a moment he will be broken beyond healing.
People you should stay away from are easy to spot in most cases. One obvious sign is contentiousness. Today’s Proverbs warn that “the Lord hates… one who sows discord among brothers.” (Proverbs 6:16, 19)
Proverbs 6:17-19 — “There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him….”
Do you know the seven things that God hates and considers an abomination?
Proverbs 6:19 — There are six things that the LORD hates, seven that are an abomination to him: …one who sows discord among brothers.
Stated again just to be clear, If you cause discord, you are committing an abomination before the Lord.
Proverbs 6:20 – My son, keep your father’s commandment, and forsake not your mother’s teaching.
God’s plan is for children to be raised by a godly mother and father.
Proverbs 6:23 — For the commandment is a lamp and the teaching a light, and the reproofs of discipline are the way of life.
God’s word is your guide. How deeply are you studying it, and how closely are you following it? Take a moment and re-read Psalm 119 – “… I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you…. In the way of your testimonies I delight as much as in all riches. I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways. I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your word…. Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law…. Your testimonies are my delight; they are my counselors…. The law of your mouth is better to me than thousands of gold and silver pieces…. I have more understanding than all my teachers, for your testimonies are my meditation…. Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path….” (119:11, 14-16, 18, 24, 72, 99, 105)
Proverbs 6:24-35 – Make no mistake. You cannot completely escape adultery’s destruction.
Proverbs 6:30, 31 – People do not despise a thief if he steals to satisfy his appetite when he is hungry, but if he is caught, he will pay sevenfold; he will give all the goods of his house.
Contrary to popular belief, there is never an excuse for doing the wrong thing. The application of justice includes room for mercy and grace, but all are held accountable for their actions. We must hold everyone accountable for their sins, even if we can understand the circumstances which led them to sin.
Things are not what they appear to be from the very limited human perspective. It may appear that sin prevails, but God has already cut the chords of the wicked, the victory has already been won, and we stand victorious in Jesus. You may be enduring suffering now, but it is very much temporary and a very small thing compared to your eternal reward.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 6 November 2022: Have the faith today to obey God, give abundantly, forgive unconditionally, and share the Gospel unabashedly.