Friday, February 3
Answer Me 1 Kings 18:37
“Are you listening to me?” How many of us men have heard that statement? “Do you hear me? How many mothers have spoken that to a child? We like to know that we are being heard when we are speaking. Are YOU paying attention? I just wanted to make sure you were focused on what’s being written here.
When we make a statement and especially when we make a request; we like to know that we have been heard. An answer is appreciated. The last sentence of Elijah’s prayer is: “Answer me, O LORD, answer me, that this people may know that you, O LORD, are God, and that you have turned their hearts back.” (1 Kings 18:37). He wants an answer to his prayer so that the people will know that the Lord is God. He is praying for the Glory of God. But that’s not all.
We pray for the Glory of God AND the good of the people. He wanted their hearts to be turned back to God. He wanted God to be BIG and the people to be BETTER. I know that’s pretty simplistic but it is true. What if the people you are around could truly know and comprehend how big and awesome God is and how much better their lives could be as a result of a relationship with Him through Jesus Christ? I believe the world would be a better place and we would begin to experience what the Lord has told us to pray for – “thy Kingdom come” (Matt. 6:10).
You may be thinking, “Yea, but I HAVE prayed and not much has happened.” There are at least three reasons our prayers don’t seem to be effective. First, sin can place a barrier between us and our Father that will hinder our prayers. Please give serious consideration to Isaiah 59:1-2. “Behold, the LORD’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save, or his ear dull, that it cannot hear; but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear.” Another hindrance to our prayers may be that we are asking for the wrong things or for the wrong reasons. In James we read: “You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.” (James 4:3). Finally the answer comes in God’s perfect time not in ours. That’s good news because He understands the beginning from the end and He alone has the big picture of all of life. We must be patient to wait on his timing. I read a quote that convicted me, “We don’t wait well. We’re into microwaving; God, on the other hand, is usually into marinating.” – Dutch Sheets. So we must pray with patient endurance.
Elijah’s first prayer was answered immediately. The people “saw it, they fell on their faces and said, “The LORD, he is God; the LORD, he is God.” (1 Kings 18:39). His second prayer for rain took some persistence (1 Kings 18:42-45). The only pray God cannot answer is one that is not prayed!
“Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not. (Jeremiah 33:3)
Thursday, February 2
Why we Pray (1 Kings 18:37)
Let’s change the title of today’s devotion for just a moment. Instead of “Why we pray” let’s drop one word and it will change everything. Let’s begin with the question “Why pray?” Have you ever had that thought? I’m guessing you have at some point in your life. Perhaps when you were a new Christian and you were learning so much about the life of faith. Or maybe as you grew and you came to learn about God’s Omniscience, Omnipotence, and Omnipresence and you wrestled with the idea of why we need to pray to an all knowing God. “Like He needs me to tell Him something? Yea, right!” Or you have prayed, you have agonized, you have pleaded with God and nothing, I mean NOTHING has happened. So, why pray? Great question. Let’s see if we can answer it in a few paragraphs.
The very first reference to prayer in the Bible is in Genesis 20:7. God is telling Abimelech that Abraham would “pray for you, and you shall live.” With this we are introduced to a profound truth – God works through the prayers of His people. Let’s dig a little deeper into this truth. In the book Intercessory Prayer, Dutch Sheets has written: “God chose, from the time of Creation, to work on earth through humans, not independent of them. He always has and always will, even at the cost of becoming one. Though God is sovereign and all-powerful, Scripture clearly tells us that He limited Himself, concerning the affairs of earth, to working through human beings.” (pp. 28-29) Prayer is how God works in us and through us.
Think about it. We are to ask for His Kingdom to come and His will to be done (Matt. 6:10). It is His plan to accomplish these things but it is our prayers that bring them to pass. We are to ask for our daily bread even though He knows our needs even before we ask for them. We are to “pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” (Matt. 9:38). We pray this way knowing that God is the Lord of the Harvest. Elijah prayed for the fire to fall and the rain to come. Why did Elijah pray? Why didn’t God just zap the altar with fire as soon as it was prepared? Because GOD WORKS THROUGH THE PRAYERS OF HIS PEOPLE. Whoa, caps lock – what’s up with the shouting? Because it is something to shout about! Do you get it? If something is going to happen it is going to happen in response to our prayers.
Andrew Murray said: “God’s giving is inseparably connected with our asking…Only by intercession can that power be brought down from heaven which will enable the church to conquer the world.” The Bible very clearly tells us “You do not have, because you do not ask.” (James 4:2). Why pray? Because it is God’s will for accomplishing His plan. There is one more important reason to pray – but we will have to discover that tomorrow.
As you pray today remember this – “Thou are coming to a King; large petitions with thee bring. For His grace and power are such; none can ever ask too much!”
Could your lack of prayer be hindering God’s work?
Pray my friend, pray!
Wednesday, February 1
Who are You and What Have you Done? (1 Kings 18:36)
“Where do you work?”
“What is it you do?”
“How long have you been there?”
Questions like these usually come soon after meeting someone. Asking what a person does is a way to get better acquainted with them. It can also lead to some clarifying questions which will allow you to get more familiar with your new friend.
Elijah tells us who he is and what he has done as begins his prayer. He says: “…let it be known this day that you are God in Israel, and that I am your servant, and that I have done all these things at your word.” (1 Kings 18:36 (ESV). Elijah identifies himself as the “servant” of God and as such he is totally dependent upon God and responsible to Him. In our culture we struggle with words like “servant” and “slave.” We prefer to be in charge; not under the charge of another. But, if we are not serving God; who are we serving?
We can serve our self. “I,” “me,” and “my” are words frequently spoken by a self-serving person. But there is no lasting joy or fulfillment in serving our self. Others can accumulate so much stuff that they end up serving their stuff. It takes a lot of work to pay the bills to keep up with all the stuff we have. If we are not careful we can end up serving the stuff that should be serving us. Society can be a master that others choose to serve. Being consumed with the latest and greatest or the opinions and attitudes of others is to be the servant to a cruel master. You can never please everyone and will be exhausted trying to. There are plenty of “masters” that can make life difficult for us. There is only one who is worthy to be served.
Serving God is a life of fulfillment and contentment. To be a “servant” of God is to be in good company. Moses (Exodus 4:10), Joshua (Judges 2:8), Nehemiah (Neh. 1:6), along with the prophets (2 Kings 17:3, Ezra 9:11) are all identified as “servants” of God. Even the kings David and Solomon are called God’s “servant” (1 Kings 3:6-7). The Apostle Paul began the letter of Romans with these words: “Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus”. James began his epistle with similar words: “James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ,” As a follower of Christ you too are a servant of the Lord.
What does a servant of the Lord do? Two words best sum up the life of one who serves the Lord. They “trust” and “obey.” That’s what Elijah did and that is what you are called to do as well. We “trust” knowing He will supply all our needs – after all we are His servant and He will care for us. We “obey” knowing that His will and plan are best.
So who are you and what do you do?
Tuesday, January 31
Awesome God 1 Kings 18:36
Who is the most important person you have ever been around? Have you been in the presence of someone with a significant amount of authority? Maybe you work for a large corporation and the CEO sits at the top of the leadership structure. Not too many of us hang out with the corporate CEO. Have you ever been in the presence of a national leader – a King, or a Crown Prince, or even the President? We are probably not rubbing shoulders with that caliber of individuals. More than likely if we ever did gain an audience with a national leader it would be at their invitation not because we just decided to show up. Very few have access to such power and authority.
Elijah had access to King Ahab. Greater than Ahab is the access he had to the “LORD God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel” (1 Kings 18:36). He had direct communication with God through prayer! So do you! Why worry about earthly kings or princes or presidents when you can talk with the King of Kings and Lord of Lords?
When God appeared to Moses in the burning bush He identified Himself saying “I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” (Exodus 3:6). God instructed Moses to tell the children of Israel “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘The LORD, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.’ This is my name forever, and thus I am to be remembered throughout all generations.” (Exodus 3:15). When David prayed, thanking God for all that had been given for the Temple, he used this same reference to God (1 Chron. 29:18). Peter and Stephen referenced this title in the sermons they preached (Acts 3:13, 7:32). This title is significant because it reminds us that God is a covenant keeping God. In the most simple of terms, God keeps His word!
There are three exciting qualities of God’s covenants that continue to give us confidence in our prayers even today.
His covenants are unilateral. They are one-sided. The promises in the Bible are from God to us. That is great news. We may be prone to break our promises but God NEVER breaks His promises. We can count on Him!
His covenants are eternal. God does not change so we can trust in Him. The writer of Hebrews wrote: “When God wanted to guarantee his promises, he gave his word, a rock-solid guarantee— God can't break his word. And because his word cannot change, the promise is likewise unchangeable. We who have run for our very lives to God have every reason to grab the promised hope with both hands and never let go. (Hebrews 6:17-18 MSG)
His covenants are gracious. All we have from God is because of His good favor. Nothing is a result of who we are or what we have done.
Elijah’s prayed to the one and only covenant keeping “God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel.” Today, because of Jesus we can call God “Father” and he is an Awesome God!
Monday, January 30
It’s Time to Pray 1 Kings 18:36
“At the usual time for offering the evening sacrifice, Elijah the prophet walked up to the altar and prayed, …” 1 Kings 18:36 (NLT) Elijah began his prayer at 3:00pm which was the time when the faithful and godly Israelites back in Jerusalem would be assembled together to pray. When it was time to pray, Elijah prayed.
Looking around today I believe we can agree that it is time to pray. Rather than read the news of the day we should allow the news of the day to lead us to prayer. Try using your newspaper or your news feed as a source of prayer requests. You will run out of time before you run out of things to pray for. Look around in your own family; think about the situation in your church family, wouldn’t just these two areas give you plenty to pray for today? Sometimes we can rationalize that we are too busy to pray (Oh, we may not say that but our actions show it) when in reality we are too busy NOT to pray. There is so much happening all around us that we would be wise to plan a specific time to pray. Elijah prayed at a set time. So what time will you pray?
Many have been gathering at noon for a time of corporate prayer. This time has been an awesome experience to gather with brothers and sisters from various churches and backgrounds to pour our heart out to God in prayer. If you have not yet attended one of our noon prayer meetings I plead with you to do so. Don’t miss the blessing, plan to come and pray with us; you will be thankful you did.
Daniel prayed three times a day (Daniel 6:10). He even prayed when it was dangerous to pray. He prayed at a time when it was illegal to pray. We have the freedom to pray today, so let’s pray. Jesus prayed early in the morning, “And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed.” (Mark 1:35). We can get up early if we choose too, so let’s pray. Peter and John “were going to the temple at the hour of prayer,” I’m guessing they were going there to pray. More than likely your church has an established time for a prayer meeting, so let’s pray. The early church was driven to prayer by the problems they encountered (Acts 12:5). Is your church problem free? So let’s pray. Every church I have been around can always use more people involved in ministry. Jesus said, “pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” (Matt. 9:38). Do we need more laborers here and around the world? So let’s pray. Do you know anyone who is sick? James instructs us “call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him,” (James 5:14) So let’s pray. I think you have the idea – It’s time to pray!
“Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.” (Jeremiah 33:3 (ESV)
“You do not have, because you do not ask” (James 4:2 ESV)
“LORD, teach us to pray, (Luke 11:1 ESV)
Sunday, January 29
That was Unexpected! 1 Kings 18:32-35
Do you remember what Elijah did that was so unexpected? Yes, he had a trench dug around the altar (1 Kings 18:32). The trench would hold a few gallons of water. No doubt, the digging of the trench caught the attention of those gathered around. Next he piled the wood on the altar and then he cut up the sacrifice and laid it on the altar (1 Kings 18:33). Whew, now we are back to “normal.” Perhaps Elijah just had a “senior moment” with that trench thing going on. Hold on, there’s more. Now he asks for the people to fill four large jars with water and to pour it over the offering and the wood. Whoa, we are way beyond a ‘senior moment” here. But that’s not all. He has this done two more times. So that means he had a total of 12 large jars of water poured over the wood, the sacrifice, and the altar. I’d put lighter fluid on there; but not water. What is he doing?
He is taking away any thought of him doing anything to start the fire on the altar. If the fire, he is praying for, comes upon the sacrifice and the altar it will truly be a miraculous event. Remember he had told the people “you call upon the name of your god, and I will call upon the name of the LORD, and the God who answers by fire, he is God.” (1 Kings 18:24 ESV). All the people agreed to this. Those who prayed to Baal were calling on the god of the thunderstorms and the god of fertility, that’s what Baal was known for in those days. Surely if anyone one could send fire and rain; a god of thunderstorms and fertility would be at the top of the list – but NOTHING happened when the people called out to him for hours. If the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel can send fire to a soaking wet sacrifice then he is truly God! And that is exactly what Elijah wanted the people to know.
As you may recall from last Friday’s devotional, Elijah did the unexpected and the people experienced the unusual. Maybe you can relate. No, you are not pouring water on an altar but you may have been involved in some different pursuits over past couple of weeks. If you have been fasting, there are certainly plenty who would think of that as a strange thing to do. Perhaps you have chosen to give up something that is important to you in order to seek after something that is even more important – that’s different than what most people will do. Gathering with people from various churches, to spend time praying during your lunch break – who would ever do a thing like that? Well, someone who wants to experience the presence of God in a fresh way is willing to do something that seems a bit “unexpected.”
So don’t worry that others may think you are doing something out of the ordinary. You may be one prayer away from seeing God do something miraculous.
Saturday, January 28
Commit to Finish Strong
Welcome to day 13. I hope that you have enjoyed the last two weeks of fasting and seeking the Lord. It has been so encouraging to hear the stories of what the Father is doing in lives throughout our community. I want you to know that we as Pastors are praying for you daily and hoping that God reveals Himself in new ways to each of you.
I want to encourage you to finish strong as we start the final week of the fast. Days 13 and 14 are always interesting because you now start to focus on how much of the fast you have left. And, it’s easy to begin to think about what you’re going to eat or start back after the fast. I really want to encourage you to make this last week the best yet. In James 1:22-25 it says,
22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does.
That last thing we want for ourselves or our community is to finish the fast and be just like we were before it started. So, make a commitment today to finish strong and ask the Father to bless you and you make a plan to apply all that you’re learning.
Use these questions to help you see what God has already done in you through the fast:
- What is the biggest thing God has taught you so far in our time of fasting and praying?
- How do you think you, and our community, relate to the people of Israel in I Kings 17-18?
- What do you think it’s going to take for us to see the Glory of God fall in our lives and in our community?
- How can you apply what you have already learned as you work to build the prayer altar in your own life?
Friday, January 28
We have NEVER Done it that way before! 1 Kings 18:32
A desire of those who are fasting and praying during this time of 21 Days of Connection is that we would see God move in a mighty way in our lives, in our homes, in our churches, in our communities, in our county, in our country and ultimately in the world. We long to see another move of God that we read about in the pages of Scripture and in the pages of history. We pray with Habakkuk “O LORD, I have heard the report of you, and your work, O LORD, do I fear. In the midst of the years revive it; in the midst of the years make it known; in wrath remember mercy.” (Hab. 3:2). We want to see the Lord revive His work in our midst.
But there is a mindset that may hinder what we seek. The mindset is best expressed in the phrase “We have never done it that way before.” A small group leader has a burden to reach out to a forgotten group in the community and a “saint” pulls out a big ole wet blanket in saying “But we have never done it that way before.” A Pastor sits on a dream that God has placed in his heart because he fears hearing that dreaded phrase when he shares the dream with others. He has heard it so many times before he can’t endure hearing it again. A dad wants to lead his family to think beyond themselves and to make an impact in their community but a wife or a child or another relative shoots down the idea because “We have never done that before.” A woman of God has a burden to reach out to her co-workers in a creative and engaging way to share Christ with them; but the elders at her church think it is an unusual or unique approach, something that hasn’t ever been done before.
Wait, does this have ANYTHING to do with Elijah and the situation on Mt. Carmel? Yes! Yes it does! You may have read over it so quickly that you missed it. You see the Bible tells us that Elijah “made a trench about the altar” (1 Kings 18:32). Listen, can you hear it? I’m sure there is someone standing around in the crowd punching their neighbor in the ribs and saying: “What is He DOING? There is nothing in God’s Word about putting a trench around the altar. We have never done it that way before.” And that individual would be right. Check it out. You will find no reference to trenches and altars anywhere else in the Bible. God laid down some very specific plans for building the altar in the Old Testament and He NEVER once said anything about a trench. Elijah did something unexpected and the people experienced something unusual – they saw the “fire of the Lord” fall and consume a soaking wet altar and everything around it. Wow!
Maybe it is time for us to do what we have never done before. If it is something God has placed on your heart and it is not forbidden in Scripture it may be time to dig a trench. The fire may fall if we dig the trench and follow through on the burden God has birthed in our souls.
Let’s dig some trenches BECAUSE we have never done it that way before and the time has come to do the unexpected so that we may experience the unusual. Who knows, we may just be one trench away from hearing the people exclaim “The Lord, he is God; the Lord, He is God.” (1 Kings 18:39).
Thursday, January 26
What are we building? 1 Kings 18:32
In 1 Kings 18:32 we read “and with the stones he built an altar in the name of the Lord.” He built the altar because the people of Israel needed to be called back to what they had forsaken. Remember when he met up with Ahab? Ahab tried to blame Elijah for the drought but Elijah quickly told him "It's not I who has caused trouble in Israel, but you and your government—you've dumped GOD's ways and commands and run off after the local gods, the Baals. (1 Kings 18:18 (MSG)). The problems were a result of their forsaking of God. The solution would come when they returned to Him. The altar would represent the place for them to return to God.
If you were to search the word “altar” in the Bible you would discover some exciting truths like these…
1. An altar was often built when someone had encountered the Presence of the Lord. (Gen. 12:7, 35:1)
2. An altar was a place where the People gathered to worship the Lord. (Lev. 9:23-24)
3. An altar was a Place of sacrifice. (Exodus 29:18, 25)
4. An altar could also offer Protection to those in need. (1 Kings 1:50)
5. An altar was where Prayers were offered. (Gen. 13:4, 26:25, Isa. 56:7)
6. An altar was also a place of Praise. (Psalm 43:4)
If you take the time to look up the references above you will have a greater understanding of the significance of the altar in Elijah’s day. But you may be scratching your head and thinking “so what does all of this mean to me and to the 21 Days of Connection?”
Glad you asked. We are praying for the Lord to restore what has been broken. Today it is not the altar that is broken but it may be that the Church is broken and needs repair. No, I am not demeaning the Church just expressing a concern for the Church as we see it today. It seems as if there are far too many professing believers who see the Church as optional and not vital in their lives. Jesus declared to Peter “I will build my church;” and he hasn’t rescinded His building plans. So with conviction and confidence we seek to build up the Church for the glory of God and the good of all people.
Look over the six items listed above. Now think about the church. All of these apply and are needed today. We experience the Presence of the Lord, as we come together in worship (Matthew 18:20). The Church is not a building but it is a gathering together of People to worship God. There is no need for any animal sacrifices today because Jesus was the sacrificial lamb for us. We are called to offer our bodies as a living sacrifice (Rom. 12:1-2), we can also bring the sacrifice of praise into the house of the Lord (Heb. 13:15), and our giving is a sacrificial act of worship (Heb. 13:16). The Church, not as a building, but as a body of believers is the Place through which we can offer these sacrifices. The Church, of all places ought to be a place of Protection for the hurting and needy. The gathered Church should be a Praying Church (Acts 12:5, Luke 19:46). Surely as the Church gathers we have much to Praise the Lord for (Heb. 2:12)
So let’s pray for God to rebuild what may be broken and in disrepair in our local churches so that the Church may be a glorious church (Eph. 5:27).
“Lord, revive your church and let that revival begin in me."
Wednesday, January 25
What’s in a Name? 1 Kings 18:31
“Hi, my name is Mike.” That’s how I begin a conversation with someone I am meeting for the first time. I share my name and they usually tell me theirs. So what’s your name? You may not have answered out loud but you probably did say your name in your mind. Your name is significant. It represents you. There’s probably a story that goes with your name. You may have been named after a grandparent or distant relative. Perhaps your name was influenced by one of your parent’s best friends. You may love your name or you may not be too fond of it; but it is your name and that is how people call on you. Your name, your full name, identifies you.
In 1 Kings 18:31 we read of Jacob who was renamed Israel. The phrase, “Israel shall be your name,” reveals a change in his life. As a young man he had lied about his name. When questioned by his father he had claimed to be his brother (Gen. 27:19). Jacob had a history of being a deceiver and a schemer. When he encountered God (Genesis 32:27) he was again asked “What is your name?” It was an opportunity to face who had been and to become who he was meant to be.
His name in 1 Kings 18 would remind Israel of their past and that they could have a new future if they, like Jacob, would submit to God. It also reminds us that our past does not have to dictate our future. One encounter with God, through Jesus Christ, can change everything. Saul the persecutor became Paul the preacher (Acts 13:9). Jesus said to Peter, “You shall be called Cephas” (John 1:42). These name changes signify the change that God can bring about in a person’s life.
You may not change the name on your social security card or on your driver’s license but you can have a radical change in your life when you yield to Jesus Christ. Those who trust in Christ are a “new creation” (2 Cor. 5:17). Ezekiel 36:25-26 is God’s Words to the nation of Israel and equally descriptive of what happens to all who trust in Christ. Let these words encourage you:
“I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleanness, and from all your idols I will cleanse you.
And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.”
Before trusting in Christ we were “strangers” (Eph. 2:19) and by faith in Him we are now “saints.” At one point we were spiritually homeless and now by grace we are “heirs” with Christ (Rom. 8:16-17). Spiritual orphans can become adopted children through Jesus Christ (Galatians 4:4-7).
Praying for revival is in essence praying for change. When revival comes we will know that our past does not need to dictate our future because Christ makes “all things new” (Rev. 21:5). So, live according to the name Christ has given you… child of God (1 John 3:2).
Tuesday, January 24
Significant Words (1 Kings 18:31)
Do you remember when you first heard them? When that special someone first said “I love you” and you knew they he or she meant it. Maybe it was when the doctor said “the test is positive, you are expecting!” Who can forget when that little one first uttered “Momma” and “Daddy.” There are words we hear that stand out from other words. They are loving words. They are lasting words. You could even say they are life-changing words.
As Elijah rebuilt the altar, we encounter a reminder of significant words from Israel’s past. In 1 Kings 18:31 we read the phrase “to whom the word of the LORD came” and we are reminded of God’s words. Israel wasn’t just any nation; they were a nation birthed through God’s word (Genesis 12:1-2). An altar was first built by Abraham in response to hearing God speak to him (Genesis 12:7). The promised child (Isaac) came in the time and manner that God said he would come (Genesis 21:1). Isaac’s son Jacob was renamed Israel as a result of words spoken by God (Genesis 32:28-30). Israel’s past was filled with loving words, lasting words, and life-changing words and yet somehow they had forgotten and forsaken these words.
The rebuilding of the altar and the reference to “the word of the LORD” is a call for Israel to return to God’s Word. They do not need to remain in a time of drought. The Kingdom does not need to be divided. God does not have to be distant. Everything could change if they would hear and respond to God’s Word.
Things can change for us too if we will hear and respond to God’s Word. Do you remember when you heard the call to salvation through the Word of the Lord? Has there been a time when the message of the Word challenged you to surrender your life to Him? Have you felt the Word nourish you and strengthen you? Are you hearing God’s Word on a regular basis?
They are so many voices and so much noise in our society that seems to drown out God’s Word. If we are not careful we can become dull of hearing concerning God’s Word. What was once of great significance can become secondary and we can find ourselves just like Israel. We will be divided. We will have a drought in our souls and in our churches. God will seem to be distant
The words of Amos the prophet may feel very real to you at this time: “Behold, the days are coming,” declares the Lord GOD, “when I will send a famine on the land— not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD.” (Amos 8:11).
21 Days of Connection is about connecting with God and others. Through preaching, through personal Bible study and partnering together in prayer we want to hear from God. We must return to the Word of the Lord if we truly desire to see a revival in our day.
Jesus said: “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” (Mark 4:9). If you listen closely you will hear loving words, lasting words, and life-changing words.
Monday, January 23
Twelve Stones Then and Now (1 Kings 18:31)
It used to be a remarkable place. Now it lies in shambles. A lack of concern and the passing of time left only a shell of what once was the home of a multi-millionaire. We saw it one summer on vacation. The mortar had deteriorated and the stones had fallen. Many areas were inaccessible due to safety concerns. While it is beyond repair you can still gain a sense of the majesty that was once there. The remaining stones told a story.
The stones that Elijah assembled on Mount Carmel also told a story. Some may have remembered stories passed down from generation to generation of Abraham building “an altar to the Lord” representing a place where he met with the Lord (Gen. 12:7). Others may have recalled hearing the story of Joshua and the 12 stones removed from the Jordan River, to build a memorial of God’s power in delivering His people (Joshua 4:5-7). Yes, there are stones that speak to us.
The stones on Mount Carmel ultimately reminded those gathered there of a God they had once worshipped but had now forsaken. They remind us that stones may crumble over time but God remains the same. The rocks that afternoon declared that individuals could once again meet God where they had always met Him, at an altar of worship.
Are there “stones” in your life that have fallen out of place? Are there some people, places or practices that you have abandoned that were once significant in your relationship with God?
Here are some “stones” that God may be calling you to reassemble so you may experience and enjoy the presence and power of God.
Reading the Bible for the nourishment of your soul (1 Peter 2:2)
Praying as a means of conversing with the living God (1 Thess. 5:17)
Gathering with believers at a local church to worship God (Hebrews 10:25)
Love for your brothers and sisters in Christ (John 13:34-35; John 15:12)
Forgiveness of others (Col. 3:12-13)
Faith that really works in service to others (James 2:14-17)
Confessing of sin (1 John 1:8-9)
Sharing the Gospel with others (Matthew 28:19-20)
You have heard the messages in your church the past couple of weeks. Hopefully you have read something in these devotionals that revealed a need in your heart. Now God, in His grace, is reminding you that some “stones” need to be reassembled in your life.
Are you ready to rebuild so you can be revived? Pick up that stone and put it back in place.
Sunday, January 22
It is Time to Make Some Repairs (1 Kings 18:30)
If you live in a house, you know there are things that need to be repaired over time. If you drive a car you will have to make repairs to keep the car running well. There are even times when a chipped tooth or a broken bone needs to be “repaired” by a dentist or a doctor. Could there also be times when your heart needs to be repaired? I’m not referring to the organ that pumps blood through your body (although stints and bypasses are used to repair the blood pump) but I am thinking of your spiritual being. Are there repairs that need to be made that impact your relationship with God and others?
Prior to seeing God move in a mighty way Elijah took time to repair “the altar of the Lord that had been thrown down.” (1 Kings 18:30). An altar, in the Bible, was a place of meeting with the Lord. It was a place of sacrifice and surrender. The altar in Elijah’s day had been thrown down by the people of Israel. They had turned their back on God and ignored their relationship with Him. The priority of worship had certainly fallen by the wayside for the nation of Israel. Repairs were needed.
Before you experience revival you may need to make some repairs. A significant repair involves our relationship with God. Think through the implications of these verses.
Psalm 66:18 (ESV)
If I had cherished iniquity in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.
Proverbs 28:9 (ESV)
If one turns away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer is an abomination.
Isaiah 59:2 (ESV)
but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear.
1 John 1:9 (ESV)
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Sin effectively tears down the “altar” of worship in our hearts. Sin breaks our fellowship with God and others. Would you be willing to ask God to show you the sin(s) that may be affecting your fellowship with Him? Confessing and forsaking sin may be the repairs that are needed in your life at this very time.
Along with our relationship to God our relationship with others may need some repair. Read Matthew 5:23-24 to get God’s perspective on our relationships with others. Colossians 3:13 also speaks clearly to the issue of forgiving one another stating; “…if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.”
“Lord, please show me what “repairs” need to be made in my life today.”
Saturday, January 21
Gather Around (1 Kings 18:30)
We often view things from a distance. We can see what our friends are doing across the country through our social media apps. The events on the other side of the world are brought closer through the television. We may have connection but we lack in closeness. It’s when we gather together that we get next to one another and we feel a sense of closeness and belonging.
Gathering with friends after work can be a good ending to a crazy day. Gathering around the table for a meal with friends and loved ones forges special bonds. Gathering together for worship reminds us that we are not alone and that there is a God who really is near. There is something special about gathering together.
In 1 Kings 18:30 Elijah calls the people to “come near to me.” One paraphrase uses the phrase “Gather around.” From what we have read so far in 1 Kings we get the idea that Elijah knows something big is about to happen and he wants the people to gather around so they do not miss it.
In some way, through our 21 Days of Connection, we are saying to believers in various churches and denominations that the time has come for us to “gather around.” We need to come together in anticipation of what God can do in us and through us. There is a sense of community that is developed as we take the time to gather together. If you have not yet been to the noon prayer gatherings downtown you really should come and “gather around.”
We are gathering together to pray. We are gathering together in anticipation of God working in our midst. We are gathering together as brothers and sisters in Christ. As we come together, we experience a bond that transcends our local body of believers. Yes, being a part of the local Church is important; but understanding that we are a part of the universal Church is also a vital lesson. Coming together also makes a statement to the society in which we live. They can see our passion. They are aware of our prayers. They sense that we are partnering together in a way that is significant to us. Our gatherings can make a difference. Our gatherings may be a catalyst to the revival we are longing for.
The Haystack Prayer Meeting began, in August 1806, with just five students gathering together to pray and discuss the need of foreign missions. You can read more about it HERE. Many other revivals of days gone by can be traced to a small group of people who gathered together to pray for the glory of God to be revealed.
When Elijah said: “Come near to me.” The Bible reports that “all the people came near to him.” (1 Kings 18:30). Neither I nor your pastor is Elijah; but together we are inviting you to “gather around.” Gather with us each day to read this devotional and to pray for revival. Gather with us downtown, at noon, to pray. Gather with us on Sunday to worship. Let’s gather together and see what the Lord will do in the coming days, months and years.
Friday, January 20
When your gods let you down (1 Kings 18:23-29)
Elijah issued the challenging question – “How long will you go limping between two different opinions?” (1 Kings 18:21). He then proposed a bit of a challenge, if you will. He and they would each prepare a sacrifice and place it upon an altar. They could call upon their god and he would “call upon the name of the Lord.” (1 Kings 18:24). Whichever God answers by fire they would agree that “he is God.” Everyone agreed. Elijah even let them go first.
They were able to choose the bull for their sacrifice. They prepared it and placed it upon their altar. They did not put any fire under the sacrifice – that would be cheating. And then they started to call upon their god. They cried out from “morning until noon,” (1 Kings 18:26). Crying, calling, shouting, pleading, imploring, begging, passionately, persistently, loudly, on and on they called for several hours – but no answer from their god. Scripture states it very clearly “there was no voice, and no one answered.” Elijah mocked them. They ramped up their calling out and started to cut themselves. It is recorded that “blood gushed out upon them.” What a gory, chaotic mess! We read this and shake our heads and marvel that people can do so much for a “god” that won’t answer them.
We shouldn’t be surprised. We cry out to gods of our own making all the time and they are still silent. The gods of our own making may be found in a bed, in a bottle, at the bank, at our business, or any number of other places. We bow before them and ask them for peace or prosperity or power or pleasure or any other thing that we think they will give us. We cry out on the weekends, we call them during the week, we turn to them in the dark of night when no one else knows and yet they still ultimately remain silent. There is no real voice and there is no lasting answer from these supposed gods.
So, we should use this day to evaluate our life and see what god is giving us the silent treatment. Well in reality no god can answer the needs of our heart. No god can give us what the living God of the Bible can provide.
As we pray for a personal revival may we seek to turn from any and all gods that may allure us but will never answer us. May we give up crying, pleading, and even abusing ourselves looking for answers where they will never be found. When we do this may we also help others see the futility of looking for peace and comfort where it will never be found.
There is a God who hears and answers prayer. May we willingly and gladly abandon all lesser gods for the joy of knowing the one true living God. Then we will know what revival looks like and feels like.
Thursday, January 19
Who Are You Going to Call (1 Kings 18:24)
“Just give us a call.”
“Call us today.”
“One call is all it takes.”
“Call now before it is too late.”
Commercials, infomercials, sales flyers, and other offers all have an appeal for you to call or contact them. When you need help, or advice, or a particular type of service; you are going to need to call upon someone.
Elijah acknowledged that for anything to happen a call was going to be made. A call for a response. A call for action. A call for the true God to make himself known.
So far there was a statement of their source of trouble – they had turned their back on God. There was a clear invitation to step over onto God’s side and quit wavering between God and Baal. An acknowledgement was made that the odds appeared to be against Elijah and for the prophets of Baal. The time has now come to call out and see who answers.
Here is how Elijah said it: “And you call upon the name of your god, and I will call upon the name of the LORD, and the God who answers by fire, he is God.” And all the people answered, “It is well spoken.”” (1 Kings 18:24 (ESV))
“It is well spoken” said the people who were very quiet just a couple of verses prior (see verse 21). Perhaps they were tired of a “religion” that had no power or lasting effect. Trying to serve two Gods is exhausting; they were eager to see who is the living and true God. Could it be that we are in the same place in our time?
Could we be surrounded by people who are tired of trying to “fake it until they make it”? Are there people all around us who see the futility of empty, self-centered relationships? Have we come to a time when we know the answers we need won’t come from Washington or any political party? Are we living with people who are weary and tired of religion and ritual? Do we live in a time when people would love to see and experience a redeeming, personal, and powerful God move in our midst in a way that is unmistakable and supernatural? I believe the answer to all these questions is YES!
Yes we want to see God move in our day! This is why we are fasting. This is why we are coming together to pray as a united body of believers. This is why a number of pastors are preaching a series of messages from 1 Kings 18. This is why we are taking the time to examine our lives and confess our sins. This is why we are responding to God as we are prompted to do through His Word and our time in prayer. That is why YOU are reading this.
It is time to “call upon the name of the Lord” (1 Kings 18:24) so the world will see His Glory!
Wednesday, January 18
When the Odds are Against You (1 Kings 18:22)
What if you were in a basketball game that put you and only you against the top team. What about seeing your favorite football team take on their number one contenders; but your favorite team could only have three men on the field. It’s the end of the month and there are three more bills to pay but only enough money to barely cover one of the bills. Here’s the point - it is a bad feeling to be outnumbered. When the odds are against us it is easy to lose hope.
We live in a day when we can feel outnumbered. I mean who is REALLY trying to live for God today? There are times when it feels like there are more non-believers and unbelievers at work than there are believers. If we share our convictions we might end up like the fired Atlanta Fire Chief at worst or alienated from our peers at best. It’s easy to think “Who am I and how could I possibly make a difference in the world today?”
Looking around it is easy to have thoughts like this. But maybe we should look up instead of looking around. Elijah acknowledged that from a human perspective he was outnumbered. “Then Elijah said to the people, “I, even I only, am left a prophet of the LORD, but Baal’s prophets are 450 men.” (1 Kings 18:22 (ESV)).
Elijah was not stating a fear but a fact. “There are 450 prophets of Baal against one man of God.” You get the idea that he knows he is living in obedience to God and being outnumbered from an earthly perspective is no problem at all. An important lesson in this situation is that an apparent majority is in reality a minority.
Liberal pundits may express their disdain for Christians. Laws may be passed that seem to be discriminatory toward believers. Television shows may deride morals that we believe in. Coaches and players who pray before or after games may be mocked and even forbidden from praying. Why pray for revival in a day like this? Wait a minute; why not pray for a revival in a day like this? NOW is the time we need revival. We need it individually, we need it corporately, we need it desperately!
Our prayer can and should be “Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you?” (Psalm 85:6 (ESV)) Habakkuk prayed for revival: “A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet, …. O LORD, I have heard the report of you, and your work, O LORD, do I fear. In the midst of the years revive it; in the midst of the years make it known; in wrath remember mercy.” He prayed in a time when society was messed up (read Habakkuk 1:1-4).
Being outnumbered should not depress us; it should drive us to our knees. We should pray as Elijah prayed “…let it be known this day that you are God in Israel,” (1 Kings 18:36 (ESV)) We desire to see “An extraordinary work of God’s grace through ordinary people in ordinary places producing extraordinary consequences for God’s glory.”
“Oh Lord, revive your work in our midst.”
Tuesday, January 17
Who's Side Are You On? (1 Kings 18:21)
As we begin to pray and prepare ourselves for God’s reviving work we are confronted with a significant decision. Whose side are we really on? Is it possible to give God ALL of Sunday and we handle the other six days? That sounds reasonable doesn’t it? No wait, what about Sunday and one other Bible study during the week – God would be cool with that wouldn’t He?
Do you really think God simply wants you to show up at one or two religious meetings a week and that is the extent of a revived and vibrant Christian life? Of course you wouldn’t say it that way; but more often than we like to admit we try to live it that way.
The question that the prophet Elijah asked the people is a relevant question for us today. “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.” (1 Kings 18:21 (ESV)) They were probably showing up at the Temple to perform their “religious” rituals for God and then they would try to accommodate some Baal worship on the side. Such a life is far from effective and is totally exhausting.
So who or what is the functional god in your life? Where is your trust? In your skills? In your relationships? In your bank account or 401K? None of these are wrong in and of themselves and none of them is an effective god. It is interesting that when the people heard the question the Bible says: “the people did not answer him a word.” Maybe they were silent because the realized their guilt or their silence may have been because they were willing to wait and see what would happen next.
To experience an extraordinary work of God in our ordinary lives we need to..
1) Own our responsibility for any trouble we may be experiencing (see yesterday’s devotion). “Trouble” may be God’s way of getting our attention.
2) Acknowledge that we really can’t effectively serve God and _________________.
Elijah’s question was straight up and spot on; then and now. In fact, in the book of James we read: “... Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do. (James 1:6-8 (NLT))
Today’s verse reminds us that we should not be divided in our loyalty. The revived Christian life is not a life of “God and _______” it’s just God.
The people of Israel did not answer Elijah when he asked the question. You can. Perhaps you will need to admit to the futility of living a divided life. We will all be on our way toward personal revival if we acknowledge the supremacy of God in our lives.
Monday, January 16
Where Did the Trouble Come From? (1 Kings 18:17)
It made me smile when I saw the words on the t-shirt… “The trouble with trouble is that it starts out to be so much fun.” There is certainly a grain of truth in that statement. But the reality is that we seem to be plagued by trouble and there is no fun in that.
Check out the news and it seems as if we are engulfed in trouble. Oh wait, forget the news just look at the lives of some of your co-workers – “man how did they get in THAT kind of trouble.” “Hold on, it’s not just my co-workers; it’s my family that is swamped with troubles of our own.”
Maybe we should print another shirt that declares “The trouble with trouble is that we are all in trouble.” You may be one of the few who would say “Nope, that’s not me.” Well it’s not you NOW, but it probably has been you and trouble may well find you in the coming days.
The prophet Elijah, King Ahab, and the people of Israel all found themselves in trouble. They were in the midst of a major draught (three years with NO rain) and a serious famine. So God sends Elijah to Ahab to discuss the situation (1 Kings 18:1). OK, it was more of a confrontation than a discussion. When Ahab sees Elijah he blames him for the trouble they are in (1 Kings 18:17). He’s really no different than we are. No matter what kind of trouble we are in we usually want to point our finger at someone else. “This is happening to me because you have….” and so the blame game begins.
“Our country would not be in the mess we are in if it wasn’t for those (political party of your choice).” “Our church would be much stronger if it weren’t for (other member’s name or your pastor’s name).” “If (anybody’s name) wasn’t such an idiot I wouldn’t be in the mess I am in!” Yes, it’s easy to point the finger at others.
Let’s stop pointing fingers today and start looking in the mirror. That’s the essence of what Elijah told Ahab. Here’s a great paraphrase of Elijah’s answer to Ahab: "It's not I who has caused trouble in Israel," said Elijah, "but you and your government—you've dumped GOD's ways and commands and run off after the local gods, the Baals. (1 Kings 18:18 (MSG))
It may be possible that some of our trouble is the result of our turning our back on God. The trouble we are in is not PUNISHMENT from God but rather a warning light seeking to direct us back into a close relationship with Him. Theodore Roosevelt once said: “If you kick the person in the pants responsible for most of your trouble, you wouldn’t sit for a month.” Ouch!
So as we begin to pray for revival let’s stop pointing our finger at others and let’s simply ask the Lord to show us our part in owning the troubles that surround us.