Elijah came on the scene with no introduction and announced the Word of God. He told the people there would be no rain, upholding what was said in Deuteronomy 28:24 for those in disobedience. Ravens brought him food and when the brook dried up, he went to the widow of Zarephath and God provided.
Elijah then had a showdown with the prophets of Baal. As Elijah watched, the prophets could not get Baal to produce fire. Elijah poured 12 jars of water in a trench and God produced fire that drank up all of the water and burned the surrounding stones. It was an amazing display of God’s power, but then Elijah ran in fear and hid himself in a cave.
God approached Elijah and asked him – What are you doing here? There was incredible wind, an earthquake and fire but God was not in any of them. Then came a gentle whisper. Elijah was reminded of God’s greatness. There are moments when we need to be reminded of God’s greatness – when fear and doubt creep in and try to discourage us. Today, ask yourself how great is our God? How great is our God! Step out of the cave.
“When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’” – 1 Kings 19:13 [NIV]
Saul was awaiting the arrival of Samuel so that he could consult with the Lord for battle. Samuel was late in arriving so Saul decided to take things into his own hands. His men were starting to get antsy so he felt he needed to do something. Instead of waiting for Samuel to present to the Lord the burnt offering, Saul offered it up. This was not something he was supposed to do – he disobeyed the Lord’s commands.
When Samuel arrived later, he asked what Saul had done. Saul painted a portrait of some of his men leaving and said he felt “compelled” to offer the burnt offering. Compelled means “forced.” He broke the Lord’s command (disobedience) so as to present a sacrifice to seek the Lord’s favor. Saul did not understand that God desires obedience over sacrifice. We should do both; however, if you are not obeying then is your heart really in the sacrifice?
Obedience is not a word we enjoy. It requires that we follow commands. There are some commands that are to protect us, to help us, etc. There are some commands that we are given to guide us in treating the Lord God as holy. Today is a good day to remember that God is holy. We serve a holy God. Our God desires obedience before sacrifice.
“He waited seven days, the time set by Samuel; but Samuel did not come to Gilgal, and Saul’s men began to scatter. So he said, ‘Bring me the burnt offering and the fellowship offerings.’ And Saul offered up the burnt offering.” – 1 Samuel 13:8-9 [NLT]
As a parent it can be very frustrating to constantly be repeating the same thing over and over again. There may be a rule that you have for your child’s benefit and you find yourself having to repeat it because it is not followed. It can be very nerve-wracking when you sound like a broken record with some rules, and yet you find that the repetition doesn’t always equal obedience.
Today I had to spend a great deal of time fixing my son’s computer because he failed to follow the rules that I have enforced since he learned how to use a computer. For some reason, his desire to follow the other way caused him to neglect my rule, a rule which was set for his own good and for the benefit of his computer’s health.
We do this all the time. God has left us His Word and within we find a lot of rules to follow and an example of how to live better. Yet we find ourselves constantly disobeying again and again. The Bible is very repetitive but we still don’t get it. We still fall short. Thankfully my son has a mom who is a bit of a tech nerd who can fix the consequences caused from disobeying the computer rules. Thankfully we have a Savior who has taken the punishment once and for all for each one of us despite our disobedience.
Today, thank God for His love and His sacrifice and pray for a more obedient heart—a heart devoted to Him.
“And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love.” – 2 John 1:6 [NIV]