The Bible passage for meditation, prayer, and reflection for the week of June 22-28, 2014, is 1 Kings 19:1-8. Elijah had just soundly defeated the prophets of Baal! The Lord was victorious! Elijah's struggles were not yet over though. King Ahab and, more predominately, Queen Jezebel were not going to stand for such a victory.
Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, “So may the gods do to me and more also, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by this time tomorrow.” Then he was afraid, and he arose and ran for his life and came to Beersheba, which belongs to Judah, and left his servant there.
But he himself went a day's journey into the wilderness and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he asked that he might die, saying, “It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life, for I am no better than my fathers.” And he lay down and slept under a broom tree. And behold, an angel touched him and said to him, “Arise and eat.” And he looked, and behold, there was at his head a cake baked on hot stones and a jar of water. And he ate and drank and lay down again. And the angel of the Lord came again a second time and touched him and said, “Arise and eat, for the journey is too great for you.” And he arose and ate and drank, and went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb, the mount of God. (1 Kings 19:1-8, ESV)
Imagine: it is the moment for which you have been preparing for years. You have been intense and diligent in your work so that when this moment came, you would be prepared. And then it comes, your test. You pass! You are victorious! It is over! These were likely Elijah's thoughts. He thought he could slow down, unwind, and take a breather. But then he gets Jezebel's letter. Tomorrow he is going to die. Fear raced into Elijah as he raced out of the area. Elijah was discourage, thinking his recent victory for the Lord meant nothing. God recognized Elijah's needs and provided nourishment for him: food, rest, and exercise, three things you need when feeling discouraged. If you continue reading, after Elijah got his 40 days of exercise, God gave him a pep talk, and what a pep talk it was!
Have we all not, at some point in our lives, faced some sort of discouragement? God is there for us! He is always there for us! He is just waiting for us to come to Him and tell Him our problems. Learn from Elijah. He ran first, then sought the Lord. It is much easier to seek the Lord first. If we are told to run, would it not be better to have the strength of the Lord with us? We do not always see the power of God the way Elijah saw it. Sometimes God provides for us smaller, less obvious ways. Spot God in your life! It can be a phone call from an old friend, an answer to a prayer request, or seeing His beauty and power in a thunderstorm. God is there, you just have to look for it!
The Bible passage for meditation, prayer and reflection for the week of June 29 – July 5, 2014, is Philippians 4:4-9. Paul is imprisoned in Rome, awaiting trial before the Emperor. Paul uses his time in prison to continue his ministry and write letters to many of the churches he established or had close relationships with, such as the Philippine church. In today’s reading Paul is beginning to conclude his letter.
Rejoice in the Lord always [delight, gladden yourselves in Him]; again I say, Rejoice!
Let all men know and perceive and recognize your unselfishness (your considerateness, your forbearing spirit). The Lord is near [He is coming soon].
Do not fret or have any anxiety about anything, but in every circumstance and in everything, by prayer and petition (definite requests), with thanksgiving, continue to make your wants known to God.
And God’s peace [shall be yours, that tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and being content with its earthly lot of whatever sort that is, that peace] which transcends all understanding shall garrison and mount guard over your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
For the rest, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is worthy of reverence and is honorable and seemly, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely and lovable, whatever is kind and winsome and gracious, if there is any virtue and excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think on and weigh and take account of these things [fix your minds on them].
Practice what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and model your way of living on it, and the God of peace (of untroubled, undisturbed well-being) will be with you. (Philippians 4:4-9, AMP)
Paul is in prison, yet he finds ways to rejoice in the Lord. We are not suffering as Paul did, yet we so often, only find things about which to complain. Paul stresses that we need to find the positive, find God’s hand, in everything. At all times, we must pray. Paul uses three different words to stress the importance of prayer. We are to pray, communicate, with God, which includes listening; petition, tell God our specific requests; and do so with thanksgiving, be thankful that God will answer our prayers in the manner that is best for us, but not necessarily in the manner that we want.
As you meditate on, pray over, and reflect upon, this week's verse, consider your prayer life. Do you pray as Paul instructs? Is your life focused on the miracles of God or the worry placed in your path by Satan to distract you?
The Bible passage for meditation, prayer, and reflection for the week of July 6-12, 2014, is 2 Kings 6:1-7.It is such a simple story, a childhood favorite, yet it conveys so much about the character of Elisha and of God. The small things in life are important too! As you meditate on, prayer over, and reflect upon this week's verse, consider your small problems and to whom you are relying on for a solution to them.
Now the sons of the prophets said to Elisha, “See, the place where we dwell under your charge is too small for us. Let us go to the Jordan and each of us get there a log, and let us make a place for us to dwell there.” And he answered, “Go.” Then one of them said, “Be pleased to go with your servants.” And he answered, “I will go.” So he went with them. And when they came to the Jordan, they cut down trees. But as one was felling a log, his axe head fell into the water, and he cried out, “Alas, my master! It was borrowed.” Then the man of God said, “Where did it fall?” When he showed him the place, he cut off a stick and threw it in there and made the iron float. And he said, “Take it up.” So he reached out his hand and took it. (2 Kings 6:1-7, ESV)
Imagine if you borrowed your neighbor's Ford F-350 King Ranch pickup truck. While using it, it unintentionally gets damaged or destroyed. Can you afford to replace it? The boy is in the same situation. He borrowed his neighbor's axe. lost it, and is unable to replace it. Then, metal was a big deal. If you remember when Saul and Jonathan went to war (1 Samuel 13), they were the only two individuals in the entire Israelite army who had steel weapons! The axe head had fallen into the muddy Jordan River. The boy knew where it was, he had been attentive to what he was doing and not careless, but he was unable to retrieve it. Elisha cared enough to help with what on the surface may appear to be a small issue, but to the boy, Elisha's help meant everything. God cares for our problems so much more!
These verses also represent our salvation. We have moments of weakness and sometimes fly off unexpectedly into muddy waters (sin, temptations). While in the muddy waters, we can no longer perform the tasks we have been called to by the Lord. Yet, Jesus came and died for our sins. Through His death on the wooden cross, we are able to rise out of the muddy waters and once again be used for the purpose for which we have been carefully crafted.
Just as the boy took his "small" problem to Elisha, salvation allows us to take our small problems to the Lord. If Elisha, a man, can care about small issues, how much more does the Lord God care about our, His children's, small issues? Small issues can stress us out and pile on until they become large issues. Do not wait for the small things to grow. Make life easier on yourself and turn over your problems to the Lord!
The Bible passage for meditation, prayer, and reflection for the week of July 13 - 19, 2014, is Luke 22:14-23. In this passage, Jesus and His disciples are celebrating Passover. Jesus, knowing that it is His last and what is to come, introduces a new tradition.
And when the hour came, he reclined at table, and the apostles with him. And he said to them,“I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.For I tell you I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.”And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said,“Take this, and divide it among yourselves.For I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.”And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying,“This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying,“This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.But behold, the hand of him who betrays me is with me on the table.For the Son of Man goes as it has been determined, but woe to that man by whom he is betrayed!”And they began to question one another, which of them it could be who was going to do this. (Luke 22:14-23, ESV)
Today, this is often referred to as Communion. Many religious traditions, feasts, and remembrance activities laid out for the Israelites after they escaped from Egypt had become monotonous by the time of Christ. It lacked significance and importance. We are not immune from that problem today. Communion is celebrated different ways in different churches. In some churches and to some people, the significance of Communion has been lost. Examine your heart. Do you accord Communion the significance it deserves?
The Bible passage for meditation, pray and reflection for the week of July 20-26, 2014, is 1 Thessalonians 3:2-5. Paul, along with Silas and Timothy, are writing to the church at Thessalonica. Paul and Silas were arrested and run out of town shortly after they established the church. Paul is anxious to return to the church, but has thus far been prevented from doing so. Instead Timothy was sent to encourage the fledging church.
And we sent Timothy, our brother and God’s servant in [spreading] the good news (the Gospel) of Christ, to strengthen and establish and to exhort and comfort and encourage you in your faith,
That no one [of you] should be disturbed and beguiled and led astray by these afflictions and difficulties [to which I have referred]. For you yourselves know that this is [unavoidable in our position, and must be recognized as] our appointed lot.
For even when we were with you, [you know] we warned you plainly beforehand that we were to be pressed with difficulties and made to suffer affliction, just as to your own knowledge it has [since] happened.
That is the reason that, when I could bear [the suspense] no longer, I sent that I might learn [how you were standing the strain, and the endurance of] your faith, [for I was fearful] lest somehow the tempter had tempted you and our toil [among you should prove to] be fruitless and to no purpose. (1 Thessalonians 3:2-5, AMP)
Paul was concerned! He had not been able to spend the time he wanted with the church and fully establish it, as he did with most churches. In Thessalonica, there was severe opposition to Christians, which is why Paul and Silas were forced to leave. The Thessalonians are being reassured that suffering for our faith is not unusual. We should expect it! We are not going to have a cozy, comfortable life by serving Christ. We are going to have trials and tribulations. Paul knew this and was deeply concerned for the Thessalonian Christians, praying that they would have strength. Paul was also giving them comfort. We do not have to face our trial and tribulations alone! Christ is always with us, as are fellow believers in Christ. As you meditate on, pray over, and reflect upon this week’s verse, consider your life in Christ. Is it comfortable? Are you challenged? Find a mentor or friends who is willing to help you through your trials.
The Bible passage for meditation, prayer, and reflection for the week of March 16-22, 2014, is 1 Samuel 7:1-4. The Israelites, who no longer worshipped the Lord God alone, had lost the Ark of the Covenant to the Philistines in battle, due to believing that they could control God through the Ark. The Philistines no longer wanted to possess the Ark, as wherever it was placed, suffering was brought down upon the people. The Philistine god, Dagon, had proved to be no match for the power of the Lord. To relieve themselves of their suffering the Ark was returned to the Israelites. Even once the Ark was returned, the Israelites did not turn away from their idols. Consider the meaning of repentance as you read 1 Samuel 7:1-4.
So the men of Kiriath-jearim came and took the ark of the Lord and brought it into the house of Abinadab on the hill and consecrated Eleazar his son to have charge of the ark of the Lord. And the ark remained in Kiriath-jearim a very long time [nearly 100 years, through Samuel’s entire judgeship, Saul’s reign, and well into David’s, when it was brought to Jerusalem]. For it was twenty years before all the house of Israel lamented after the Lord. Then Samuel said to all the house of Israel, If you are returning to the Lord with all your hearts, then put away the foreign gods and the Ashtaroth [female deities] from among you and direct your hearts to the Lord and serve Him only, and He will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines. So the Israelites put away the Baals and the Ashtaroth, and served the Lord only. (1 Samuel 7:1-4, AMP)
Samuel, a prophet of the Lord and judge over all of Israel, instructed the Israelites that if they wanted to return the Lord's favor, they must repent whole heartedly. The Israelites were given three instructions: 1) rid themselves of their idols, 2) commit to the Lord, and 3) serve only the Lord. These instructions for repentance still stand today. We may not have statue idols like the Israelites, but anything we place before the Lord is an idol. Do you neglect your Bible study because you want to play a video game or computer game? Is there a television show or movie you watch instead of spending time with the Lord? Even work can become and idol if you allow it to take precedent over the Lord.
Repentance, to the Lord, is not simply feeling remorse for what you have done. That is today's definition of the word. To the Lord repentance is much more involved. To repent means to turn away from the sin. Are you truly sorry if you continue to commit the action for which you apologized? We are human. We all sin. Thankfully, we have a loving God who is understanding and willing to forgive, but as Christians we should want to live a life that is pleasing to Him, which includes whole hearted repentance and turning away from sin. Spend some time this week meditating on, praying over, and reflecting on what I Samuel 7:1-4 has to say about true repentance and whether you offer true repentance in your life.