Daily Devotional

AUGUST 4

"Weakness"

  


1 Kings 19:1a, 2-3a, 4-8 - Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done .... 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 ... 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.

This story of Elijah the prophet comforts me, because we see him at his weakest point—and it looks remarkably like mine. Just days before God did miracles through Elijah in front of all Israel—raining down fire from heaven, and then breaking the drought on Israel and saving thousands of lives.

If I were Elijah, I would have been thinking, "Okay, everything's going to be fine now. The people will follow God, and King Ahab will listen to me and do what is right." But that's not what happened. Instead the king's wife threatened his life, and Elijah had to run for it. All those miracles and glory, and it came down to this: a tired, beaten man sleeping under a tree, wishing he were dead.

But God was still there, even in the defeat and the quietness and the despair of His servant. But this time it wasn't the brilliant glory of fire from heaven. Instead, it was something very simple and quiet—a little food, a jar of water. Not much, but it was enough. Elijah ate and drank and slept, and then he was ready to pay attention to God when he got to Mount Horeb.

God did not blame him for being worn out—for being sad and afraid and unable to see beyond his present troubles. God didn't say to him, "Where is your faith?" God was gentle with him, and gave him the basics he needed to get back up again. God gave him time and rest and grace to recover.

God does this for us, too. If you are in a bad place, don't worry that God will yell at you or tell you that you are too weak for Him. Do what Elijah did, and tell your trouble to God. Tell Him the truth of how you feel. See what He will do next. The God who gave His own life for you, so that you could be His own, will not abandon you. The One who rose from the dead will raise you up also.

THE PRAYER: Lord, when I am broken, heal me and raise me up. Amen.

This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Kari Vo.

"After God's Likeness"

  


Ephesians 4:17-24, 5:2 - Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. But that is not the way you learned Christ!—assuming that you have heard about Him and were taught in Him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. ... Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

Looks like some in the church at Ephesus were struggling in their Christian walk. The apostle Paul here is speaking to those who have learned Christ, were taught the truth in Jesus to put off the old self, but who have, it seems, reverted to their former ways. It's an age-old story, isn't it? How many times do we seek to do the right thing only to fall back into sin? Paul knew this was true of the believers he instructed in the faith. Here, and elsewhere (see 1 Corinthians 15:58; Colossians 3:14-15; 1 Timothy 4:12), Paul encourages the faithful to live lives of love and service to God and one another, and to remain steadfast in their commitment to God.

Paul was well aware of the difficulties of putting the teachings of Christ into daily action. Yes, there will be times when people lie, but we are to be truthful. There will be days when the sun sets and our anger still burns hot, but we are to control it—lest the enemy make an even greater mess of things. Though we may want to speak harshly and tear down, we are to resist that urge and, instead, build up with our words, edifying and uplifting those around us (see Ephesians 4:25-29). If only we could remember—we are not who we were: the old self is dead; through faith in Christ we are new now, "created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness."

And as Paul says elsewhere, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come" (2 Corinthians 5:17). And what smarter way to put this truth into action than to become "imitators of God, as beloved children." When we flounder and want to sin, Paul reminds us to focus on Christ and His cross. Jesus set the ultimate example for you and me, giving Himself up for us, "a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God," and then rising in resurrection victory.

So when temptations are strong—pray, resist, and look to Jesus and the life He lived—and ask for the Holy Spirit's help to become an imitator of God.

THE PRAYER: Heavenly Father, fill us with Your Holy Spirit that we may all become more like Jesus. In His Name we pray. Amen.

This Daily Devotion was written by Paul Schreiber.

Reflection Questions:

1. How do you give up bad habits?

2. What's the hardest thing you have to do to be an imitator of God?

3. When it's hard to see yourself as a new creation in Christ, what do you do to remember this?