By Rev. Don Neuendorf, Pastor at St. Paul, Ann Arbor
*As we walk with Elijah through his trails, we are happy to see that we are not alone. Reverend Neurendorf at St. Paul, Ann Arbor has shared with us some of the short devotionals that he is using during their walk with Elijah. While they are not following along quite the same path we can still see Elijah’s footprints upon our journey.
Response to July 26 Message:
1 Kings 17:7-24
7 And after a while the brook dried up, because there was no rain in the land. 8 Then the word of the Lord came to him, 9 “Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and dwell there. Behold, I have commanded a widow there to feed you.”
Last Sunday’s sermon reflected on how God provided for Elijah in the wilderness. During years of drought and famine, when it did not rain for three years, God hid Elijah from his enemies and he delivered daily food by the ravens.
Now at last the drought has lasted so long that the stream which had provided the prophet’s water has dried up. And so God sends him to a new place–a surprising place.
Where would you go to look for help? If your car was broken down on the road, would you walk up to the tattoo- covered biker to ask for a ride to the gas station? If you didn’t have money to pay your light bill, would you go to another country, to people who speak a different language, to ask for help?
God crosses borders. God destroys obstacles. He used a Canaanite woman to care for his prophet, Elijah. When her own food was failing, God crossed the borders of possibilities, turning scarcity into abundance.
He did not send a great windfall, but he gave just enough day after day, faithfully. When the widow’s son died, God even crossed the boundary of life and death.
God crosses borders. God destroys obstacles.
Where would you go looking for help? God can bring help to you from any source. Not just your family. Not just from those you know or are comfortable with.
God, your Father, crosses all boundaries to love and care for His children. He even crossed the boundary between heaven and earth, sending His Son into an alien land, to an enemy people, to people who would take His life.
And out of death, God brought life forever.
Prayer: Father, let me not fear the unfamiliar, but let me see Your hand at work in this world wherever I turn. Teach me to trust. Amen.
Response to August 2 Message:
1 Kings 18:17-40
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. Then Elijah said to the people, “I, even I only, am left a prophet of the Lord, but Baal’s prophets are 450 men.”
A large crowd has climbed all the way up the rounded slopes of Mt. Carmel, overlooking the sea. Gathered around Elijah and the 400 prophets of Baal, they are waiting to see what happens.
It’s a sort of worship duel. The two sides will each pray and see which God responds, whether Baal or Yahweh. Which part would we play if we had been there?
Hopefully, you don’t see yourself in the place of King Ahab or Queen Jezebel, or envision yourself as one of the prophets of Baal. (Although, if you have, you should know that God sought to bring them back to faith also. See 1 Kings 21:27-29.)
More likely you imagine that you are a believer hidden in the crowd. But why was the crowd silent when Elijah challenged them? Some things never change.
It’s hard to take a public stand in the midst of a crowd. And it would be easy for us to condemn these people for their silence. But God does not condemn them.
But God does not condemn them.
God wants to bring them back to Himself. That’s why Elijah builds his altar with 12 stones representing all of the tribes of Israel, even those who were “lost.”
Even if you have drifted away from your heavenly Father, He desires to lead you back. He still has your stone. He still wants to build you up as a part of His Temple, His Body, His Kingdom.
When God revealed his power on the mountain, many turned back to him–at least for a time. Our faith is weak. But God’s love is not weak. God’s grace is always ready to welcome us back.
Prayer: Father, I too have hesitated between turning to You and returning to the world and its idols. Lord, restore me again and again. Bring me home and let me find my joy in You. Amen.
Second Devotional in response to the August 2 Message:
1 Kings 18:1-16
And Ahab called Obadiah, who was over the household. (Now Obadiah feared the Lord greatly, and when Jezebel cut off the prophets of the Lord, Obadiah took a hundred prophets and hid them by fifties in a cave and fed them with bread and water.)
In this part of the story of Elijah nothing exciting happens. Ahab calls his servant to help him. They need to find grass for the horses to keep them from dying in the midst of the drought. So Ahab goes one way with half the horses, and Obadiah goes another way. And the servant meets Elijah.
Obadiah is a good person for you to get to know. For several years he has been the head of King Ahab’s household. He keeps the budget and directs the other servants.
It’s a house in which the worship of Baal and Asherah is common. There were probably even some who had practiced human sacrifice (16:34). The Bible says that 850 prophets “ate at Jezebel’s table.” That is, they were fed from the household of the king.
That means that Obadiah was in charge of caring for 850 false prophets, and yet he was hiding 100 prophets of Yahweh, men whom his employer, Jezebel, wanted to put to death. And if he was feeding them, it was probably with Ahab’s food!
Many believers today live in the midst of false teachers. Some of them are wonderful people, and some are angry, or immoral. A few may even be criminal, or doing things that we know are wrong.
We live in the world, but like Obadiah we are called to care for the people around us, even if they were prophets of Baal. And through the worldly tools that God entrusts to us, like the king’s food, we also care for the people of God.
We live in the world, but like Obadiah we are called to care for the people around us, even if they were prophets of Baal.
God cared for Obadiah in the very house of his enemy. He can care for you.
Prayer: Father, you love the people around me, even if they reject You. Lord, help me to love them as You do. Amen.