Daily Devotion for February 23, 2017

'If the Lord is God, follow Him!'

1 Kings 18:16-39 NIV

...Ahab went to meet Elijah. When he saw Elijah, he said to him, “Is that you, you troubler of Israel?”
“I have not made trouble for Israel,” Elijah replied. “But you and your father’s family have. You have abandoned the Lord’s commands and have followed the Baals. Now summon the people from all over Israel to meet me on Mount Carmel...
So Ahab sent word throughout all Israel and assembled the prophets on Mount Carmel. Elijah went before the people and said, “How long will you waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal is God, follow him.” But the people said nothing (18-21).
Then (the prophets of Baal) called on the name of Baal from morning till noon. “Baal, answer us!” they shouted. But there was no response...And they danced around the altar they had made... they shouted louder...and they continued their frantic prophesying...But there was no response (26-28).
Then Elijah said to all the people, “Come here to me.” They came to him...At the time of sacrifice, the prophet Elijah stepped forward and prayed: “Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that You are God in Israel and that I am Your servant and have done all these things at Your command. Answer me, Lord, answer me, so these people will know that You, Lord, are God, and that You are turning their hearts back again.”
Then the fire of the Lord fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench.
When all the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried, “The Lord—He is God! The Lord—He is GOD!” (30,36-39)
The Devotion is brought to You today by John Ortberg in “Care Instructions for a Life Worth Living:”

“In 1 Kings 18:16-39, Elijah challenges the people of Israel saying, 'How long will you waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal is God, follow him.' But 'the people said nothing.'

We are all tempted to tell ourselves that we can hang onto our idols and God as the same time. What God taught the people of Israel, and what He wants to teach us, is that it is impossible to hold both God and idols in our heart. There is simply not enough room. Though few people actually bow down and worship stone idols these days, idolatry is still present. A Baal is anything that tempts us away from full devotion to God. For example, a Baal can be:

A relationship that dishonors God
A lifestyle that keeps us from being generous to the poor
A habit or an addiction that we know God wants us to give up, but we refuse
A grudge against someone who has hurt us
A struggle with pride and the power it has over us”

In addition, “Elijah challenges the prophets of Baal to a test of prayer saying, ”You call on the name of your god and I will call on the name of the Lord. The god who answers by fire—He is God.” It is helpful to observe the vivid contrast between the way the prophets of Baal pray and the way Elijah prays. The 850 false prophets yell, scream, act out, and put on a show. Elijah simply speaks and watches God manifest his power. Sadly, sometimes Christians pray more like the prophets of Baal than like Elijah. It's as if they think that they have to get God's attention by doing something dramatic: praying loud enough, long enough, with the right formula, with enough boldness, or with some kind of radical and special behavior if God is going to hear. This is simply not true. Elijah talks to God calmly and expects God to take care of the results.”

Brothers and Sisters in Christ, take some time today to “imagine you are part of the crowd standing on Mount Carmel, watching the battle between Elijah and the prophets of Baal. What do you learn about Yahweh, the God of Israel? What do you discover about idol worship? How do you see God at work in Elijah? What do you learn about yourself?” May we rightly turn toward our Lord today, and "follow Him." Moreover, may we increasingly say, “The Lord—He is God! The Lord—He is GOD!”

AMEN

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