One Year Bible Reading Plan and Devotional
Today’s Bible Reading: May 8
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Clicking on the Scripture links above will open a new window where you can read the scripture from the Holman Christian Standard Bible at Biblegateway.com or choose the Bible version you prefer to read. Check back each day to get the Scripture to read in the One Year Bible Reading Plan.
Whom will you follow?
We all know people who claim to be Christian, but if you look at how they live their lives you can’t tell much difference between them and the rest of the world. They dress like the world, talk like the world, and eat and drink like the world. They might show up for church on Sunday, wearing their best clothes and best smile. And they lift their hands in the praise songs and as soon as church is over and they are back in the car, they look just like the world again. It’s as if they can’t decided who’s side they are on – team Jesus or team Satan. It leaves you wanting to ask, “Whom will you follow?!”
Elijah challenges Israel to decide whom to follow
In 1 Kings 18, we find the prophet Elijah who challenges the Israelites to decide what God they are going to follow. Throughout Israel’s history, they had a tendency of worshipping false gods. At this particular time, the false god was Baal. Elijah tells Ahab to gather all of Israel to Mount Carmel along with the 450 prophets of Baal and the 400 prophets of Asherah and he then issues his challenge.
He pits himself as the loan prophet of God against all the prophets of Baal. He tells the people to built two altars and bring two bulls – one for him and one for all the prophets of Baal. They each prepare the bull for sacrifice and lay the wood on the altar – but Elijah tells them to not put any fire on the sacrifice. Instead the prophets of Baal would call on their God to send down fire and Elijah would call on his God for fire. The God that answered by sending fire to consume the sacrifice would be identified as the one true God. The people all agreed that this was a good solution.
When you follow a false god, don’t expect an answer from him
Elijah then let the prophets of Baal go first. The people prepared their altar and bull and laid the wood on it. They called on Baal from morning till noon – but there was no answer and no fire. They began leaping around the altar – still no answer. Then around noon Elijah calls out, mocking them, telling them to cry louder because maybe he is meditating or busy or away on a journey or sleeping. So they cry out to Baal louder and begin cutting themselves until blood gushed out on them – but still, there was no answer from Baal … and no fire.
When you follow God, expect an answer
Now it’s Elijah’s turn. He calls all the people near him. He takes 12 stones and rebuilds the altar of the Lord and dug a trench around it. Elijah puts the wood on the altar, cut the bull in pieces and laid them on the wood. Then he told the people to fill four water pots with water and pour it on the sacrifice and wood. They did this three times, so that when they poured the water on the sacrifice and wood, it filled the trench around the altar in the process – in other words, the sacrifice and wood were drenched so that a fire would be about impossible to burn.
Then Elijah steps up and prays: “Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that You are God in Israel and I am Your servant, and that I have done all these things at Your word. Hear me, O Lord, hear me, that this people may know that You are the Lord God, and that You have turned their hearts back to You again.” God answered Elijah’s prayer – not in words, but in results! Fire came down from heaven and consumed the drenched sacrifice, the wood, the stones, and dust. It licked up all the water that was in the trench. Only one prayer. God answered. That’s the power of a living God for one who believes and trusts in Him.
We Live in a World of Brokenness
We live in a world full of brokenness. There is pain, poverty, disasters, disease, war, and death. But this is not God’s original design – a perfect design. God has a perfect design for this world He created. But His perfect design moved to brokenness when sin entered our world. Sin is turning away from God’s design and pursuing our own way. And this leads us us to brokenness. Brokenness and sin leads us to death and this death will leave us separated from God forever. But God does not want us to stay in brokenness and sin. So He has made a way out and that way is Jesus. Jesus comes and enters into our brokenness and the death that we deserve for pursing brokenness, Jesus takes our place and dies on a cross as His body is broken for us. Then three days after He died, he rose from the dead, making a way for us out of our brokenness and sin. When John the Baptist saw Jesus, John said, ““Here is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29)
How do we get out of our brokenness?
From the first sin in the Garden of Eden to today, people have tried many ways to get out of their brokenness. They search for a way out through careers, hobbies, relationships, sex, drugs, religions, education and countless other things they think will fill the void that our brokenness leaves in our lives. But none of these things will get us out of our brokenness. The only way out is Jesus. And if we turn from our sin and believe that Jesus died for us and rose from the dead, we can leave our brokenness and grow in a relationship with God and pursue His design.
Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” – All of us, including me and including you. Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life.” This is God’s free gift to us. There is nothing we can do to earn it. Isaiah 64:6 says, “All of us have become like something unclean, and all our righteous acts are like a polluted garment.” Because sin pollutes us and leave us broken, Jesus tells Nicodemus in John 3:3, “I tell you the truth, unless a man [or woman] is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” There is only one way to receive eternal life. Jesus said in John 14:6, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
Receiving Eternal Life
So how do we receive this free gift of eternal life? Romans 10:9-11 says, “That if you confess with your mouth, Jesus is Lord; and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be save. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it with your mouth that you confess and are saved. As the Scripture says, ‘Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.'” When we confess our sins and believer in our heart that Jesus, who lived a sinless life, died and rose again, paying for us – in our place – the wages of sin that we have earned, we then no longer live for ourselves. 2 Corinthians 5:15 says, “And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.” And in verse 17, Paul writes, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, and look, new things have come.”
There are two types of people in the world. Those who are pursing God’s design and those who are still lost in your brokenness? Which are you? In Revelation 3:20, Jesus says, “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him and he with me.” If you are still lost in your brokenness and sin, Jesus is knocking at the door of your heart right now. Will you let him come in?
God is asking America today – In whom will you trust?
Today, America is not longer a nation who can honestly have a slogan that says, “In God do we trust.” We have become a broken nation with no absolutes in what is right or wrong. In the name of equality, we tolerate all religions, regardless of what god is worshiped – and we call it progress. We remove the Ten Commandments from our courts of law. However, the problem with having no absolutes, is that people are gender confused. Morality is non-existent. Crime and violence are everywhere. Truth is relevant to the person and the moment.
There is only one God and He already set the standard for right and wrong. We find that standard in our Bible. We can change His laws so that we can live the way we want to and not feel guilt, but God will never change His laws so we are never guiltless. When we stand before Him, it will be by His laws that He judges us. It is by His laws that we are found to be broken sinners. Our sin separates us from God. By his laws, the wages we earn for our sin, is death.
Each one of us today must decide if we will follow God – or someone/something else. You can’t travel down both paths. Your are either lost in brokenness or you are pursing God’s design. You are either all in for Jesus or all in for Satan. Whom will you follow?
#ReadYourBible #1Kings #John #whomwillyoufollow
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Week 19: May 9-15, 2022
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