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GREAT PLANS

Our Upper Room Devotion for Tuesday, April 18, 2023, was written by Bob LaForge of New Jersey.

1 Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. 2 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 like the life of one of them by this time tomorrow." 3 Then he was afraid; he got up and fled for his life, and came to Beer-sheba, which belongs to Judah; he left his servant there. 4 But he himself went a day's journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a solitary broom tree. He asked that he might die: "It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life, for I am no better than my ancestors." 5 Then he lay down under the broom tree and fell asleep. Suddenly an angel touched him and said to him, "Get up and eat." 6 He looked, and there at his head was a cake baked on hot stones, and a jar of water. He ate and drank, and lay down again. 7 The angel of the Lord came a second time, touched him, and said, "Get up and eat, otherwise the journey will be too much for you." 8 He got up, and ate and drank; then he went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb the mount of God. 9 At that place he came to a cave, and spent the night there. Then the word of the Lord came to him, saying, "What are you doing here, Elijah?" 10 He answered, "I have been very zealous for the Lord, the God of hosts; for the Israelites have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword. I alone am left, and they are seeking my life, to take it away." 11 He said, "Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by." Now there was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; 12 and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of sheer silence. 13 When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. Then there came a voice to him that said, "What are you doing here, Elijah?" 14 He answered, "I have been very zealous for the Lord, the God of hosts; for the Israelites have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword. I alone am left, and they are seeking my life, to take it away." 15 Then the Lord said to him, "Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus; when you arrive, you shall anoint Hazael as king over Aram.

1 Kings 19:1-15 NRSV

 

GREAT PLANS


Years ago, I ran a large community outreach event for our church. Thousands of people came, and it went well. But at the end, one person made a critical remark, and I went home thinking only about what they had said. Because of that one complaint, I felt like the entire event had failed. In 1 Kings 19, we read how Elijah experience something similar. He had recently performed two of his greatest miracles: defeating the prophets of Baal and ending the drought with his prayer. Elijah was doing great things with God: helping vulnerable people, destroying false gods, and saving a region from disaster. But then Jezebel threatened him. After all his great work, Elijah lost his confidence, went off by himself, and wanted to die. For Elijah, that one negative experience seemed to outweigh everything else.


Elijah’s loss of confidence is all too familiar. After all, James 5:17 tells us that Elijah was just like us. But when God brought Elijah food for strength and gave him a task, he realized that God still had good plans for him. And he accomplished more great things through God’s power and grace. Just as God still had great plans for Elijah, God also has great plans for us.

 

Friends,

It takes courage to stand firm on one’s convictions, especially amidst negative talk, adverse situations, and potential troublesome outcomes. Elijah had been zealous in his service to God yet grows fearful when Jezebel threatens his life. Yet, what Bob’s reflection echoes, and God’s promise assures, is that God wants us to remain faithful and faith-filled when opposition to us is at its fiercest. If we remain on the path, though littered with unpleasantness, we will experience the good plans God has for us.

-Pastor Anthony

 

Prayer

Dear God, show us opportunities to grow through criticism and accomplish even more for you. Amen.

-Bob Laforge



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