• Shanley McConnell

Devotion: God-With-Us


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In the Old Testament, 1s Kings 18, the Lord came to the prophet Elijah and commanded him to approach Ahab, the seventh king of the northern kingdom. There was a severe famine in the land, and God was promising to send rain.


Meanwhile, Ahab had called his servant Obadiah, who took care over the king's own household, and said to him: "'Go through the land to all the springs of water and to all the valleys. Perhaps we may find grass to save our horses and mules.' They divided the land between them in their search; Ahab going in one direction by himself, and Obadiah in the other," v3-6.


Obadiah feared the Lord greatly, and this was seen in action. When Ahab's wife Jezebel began murdering prophets of the Lord, Obadiah hid them (over one hundred) in a cave and fed them from his own portions. In such a time as this, with starvation an imposing threat on the nation, such a sacrifice showed his immense trust in God.


As Obadiah was on his way to search for water, behold, Elijah met him. The king's servant recognized the prophet and fell to his knees. Elijah spoke: "Go tell your master that I am here." The Hebrew name Obadiah means "Worshipper or Servant of Yahweh." How fitting was it then that Obadiah had been called to serve the King under an earthly king. His role was to serve God, and, by bringing the prophet closer to Ahab, he was doing just this.


Elijah knew Ahab sought to punish him for the drought. He was intimately familiar with persecutions inflicted by Ahab's household. Still, drawing near, Elijah meet with this man. James 5 tells us that there had been no rain for three years and six months, v17. All this time Ahab had remained unrepentant, and yet, the king was desperate. Although he had originally ridiculed Elijah's announcement that God would not allow rain to fall as national judgment against the kingdom's wickedness, Ahab felt compelled to consult the prophet of the Lord. God compelled him.


God was sending those he dearly loved (Obadiah and Elijah) to a king who worshipped idols and false things. He wanted to redeem the land and restore his people living there. He wanted to show Ahab his authority over all things. He would protect his servants, as he would his people who were living in the land under Ahab's rule. God was willing-----wanted-----to give Ahab another chance to receive his forgiveness.


In verse 41, Elijah says to Ahab: "Go up, eat and drink, for there is a sound of the rushing of rain." And Ahab could see nothing, but it was there: the promise of rain coming. Elijah saw it; his eyes attune to the truth of God's covenant. The heavens growing black with clouds and wind.


Although Ahab later dies in a battle against the Syrians, God's power was received by others. All the people who saw God consume Elijah's offering of worship fell on their faces to testify the living spirit of Yahweh in their midst.


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So often I think God calls us to reach out and tell others about God's compassionate nature, and feel discouraged by their lack of response, hostility and/or disregard. But even as Ahab refused to acknowledge God as a living King whose authority was revealed to all in the drought and the rain, God's power met all the bystanders. Men and women who had come to watch prophets of Baal 'compete' with the Creator. God leaves no one out.


Sometimes we feel as though we have failed to speak life (or be received by) someone we know needs comfort. Perhaps they cannot accept our love because they feel disillusioned by past experiences and hurt? When this is the case, it is easy to feel discouraged and alone. To forget that God is still working in and through us. But let us be comforted (and motivated to continue praising God's name) knowing that he is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask, imagine or expect, according to his power that is at work within us," Ephesians 3:20


Defender, Steffany Gretzinger | Bethel Music Worship.



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Further forward in history comes the story of Jonah, one which many of us are familiar with. God's word comes to Jonah, the son of Amittai: "Arise, go to Ninevah, that great city, and call out against it, for their evil has come up before me," v1. But frightened, Jonah rose and fled from the presence of the Lord to Tarshish.


Throughout the story, the Lord meets Jonah (in a mighty tempest, the belly of a whale, beneath a withering tree), and the man goes before the people of Ninevah and did as the Lord commanded.


But this morning I'm sitting thinking about the idea of Ninevah. Where is the place I am most fearful to go? It is imprisonment? Competition? Could it even be that I am most afraid of the places I do not yet know?


Maybe Ninevah isn't a place at all. Maybe Ninevah represents a person I feel criticized by?


In John 14v23, Jesus spoke: "If anyone loves me, he will keep my word and find a home with us."


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When we keep God's word, we have this assurance: that he is with us------inside and beside. He becomes the place where he find our strength and safety.


So instead of listing objections to the Ninevah, list opportunities (all the ways God can use you to bring security to another).


♪ Open Heaven (River Wild) - Hillsong Worship



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John 10v3: "To him the gatekeeper opens the door. The sheep hear his voice, and he called them by name, leading them out into green pastures, quiet waters, right ways (Psalm 23). The sheep follow him, for they know his voice."


This verse was an analogy to emphasis how Jesus was and would continue to look after his disciples. This metaphor was poignant because there were many shepherds in the vicinity during this time. Moreover, the Old Testament references many stories where shepherds heard, recognized and followed God's voice as they stepped into leader-roles after encountering him as the Good Shepherd.


(little side note: the church bells have been ringing for the last thirty minutes directly outside my window. ok, back to the devo).


"Truly, truly I say to you. Those who come outwith (before and after) are thieves; my sheep will not follow them, v8.


I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will find pasture. The thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy, but I have come so that you may have abundant life, v10.


I am the good shepherd. I will lay my life down for my sheep. Other men and women will see the wolf coming and leave the sheep, fleeing. He flees because he does not own the sheep and cares nothing for them, v14."


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When we sit and reflect on the word of God (as it is written in the Bible, as heard in sermons/studies, as seen in the way those who love us pursue his righteousness), we find security. We feel safe knowing that Jesus promised (and fulfilled this promise) to protect us unto death. The Resurrected One drawing us closer. He stands between us and those who come to destroy our confidence, hope and peace. He lets no enemy in.


So let us reflect and listen, really listen, for the Good Shepherd who knows where we are, loves us as his own and leads us into righteousness. The more we listen for his voice, the more we hear God-With-Us in places where we feel most vulnerable and alone.


As is written in Habakkuk 2: "Stand on guard and station yourself on the rampart; keep watch to see what God will say," v1.


♪ Most Beautiful / So In Love (feat. Chandler Moore) - Maverick City Music | TRIBL Music

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