Influence

Now the famine was severe in Samaria, and Ahab had summoned Obadiah, who was in charge of his palace. (Obadiah was a devout believer in the LORD. While Jezebel was killing off the LORD’s prophets, Obadiah had taken a hundred prophets and hidden them in two caves, fifty in each, and had supplied them with food and water.) 1 Kings 18:2-4

Obadiah was in charge of Ahab’s palace. Ahab and his wife Jezebel did many evil things, and yet, they had placed Obadiah in charge of the entire palace. Time and time again throughout Scripture, we see that rulers put devout Believers (Joseph and Daniel immediately come to mind) in positions of high authority. Kings and other rulers need people they can depend upon.

Even today we hear stories of many of the Muslim leaders who put Christians in positions of authority. Why? Even though Muslims in general are opposed to many Christian beliefs, the leaders realize that Christians in their administrations won’t lie when asked a direct question. They are honest and dependable. What an incredibly unique opportunity.

Pray for leaders around the world who might have Christians in their midst. The Believers may not have the status of an Obadiah, but as they cook and clean and iron clothes for these leaders, they have opportunities that you and I will never have. And yet, they are often in grave danger at the hands of these rulers.

Pray for boldness. Pray for them to reap a ripe harvest. Pray that they will continue to grow in grace and knowledge of Christ our Lord.

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Purpose

I’ve invited Maria Morgan to share a second day. I will return to the Book of Kings following this.

Maria I. Morgan is a freelance writer specializing in Christian devotionals and articles. Her devotionals are posted on her Life Lessons blog at www.mariaimorgan.blogspot.com. She resides in Georgia with her husband, daughter, cat and two retrievers. She can be reached at morgan.maria.i@gmail.com.

To say he’s athletic is an understatement. Our dog, Mighty Joe, sure does live up to his name. I would definitely say he shows great power, skill, strength or force; the words my dictionary uses to define ‘mighty.’

This past Saturday, my husband and I were out working in the yard. Our daughter will have her senior pictures taken this week and we wanted to have some of them taken on the bridge overlooking the pond. Weeds needed to be pulled, rocks needed to be placed around the waterfall and pinestraw had to be laid to provide the right background we had envisioned. We let Mighty Joe join us while we worked.

When we first got Mighty Joe, he didn’t understand that he was a retriever. After spending a day teaching him how to fetch a ball and consistently telling him, “You are a retriever,” he caught on quickly and now is rarely seen without a ball. He literally spends hours dragging his ball from one end of his ‘bark park’ to the other. Sometimes he amuses himself by tucking his ball into a stack of firewood and going after it with all he’s worth.

On Saturday, with tennis ball in mouth, Joe came over to me and dropped his gooey prize at my feet. I threw his ball and returned to pulling weeds. It seemed I could only pull a weed or two before my fine Chesapeake was back, waiting for me to throw his ball again. I could tell it was a bit irritating to my husband, who was also outside working; after all, technically, Mighty Joe is his dog. Not to be deterred, however, Mighty Joe resisted my husband’s whistling and coaxing and continued to bring his ball to me.

As he continued to streak after his ball and leap into the air to nab it before returning to me, I thought about his intense focus. No matter where I threw his ball, he knew enough to keep his eyes on the ball, retrieve it and return it to me for the next throw. Although it was uncomfortably warm, his mind was bent on retrieving. He didn’t let anything dissuade him from what he viewed as his ‘purpose.’ I thought about Ecclesiastes 9:10a “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might;” (KJV) God used our dog to provide the perfect visual example of this verse for me.

When God has something for me to do, can He count on me to focus on the task, never taking my eyes off of Him, until the task is completed. Or am I distracted when others would have me get involved in another area? Do I let the inconveniences I encounter, become excuses for me to quit, or am I willing to persevere in spite of uncomfortable circumstances?

I love the way God uses the simple things in life to teach us profound truths. My desire is to complete those things God has asked me to do in order to cultivate the characteristic of the person in I Corinthians 4:2 “Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.” (KJV) What is your ‘purpose’? Will you choose to be a faithful steward today?

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Diligence

For the next two days, I have invited Maria, another devotional writer, to share a couple of her devotionals.

Maria I. Morgan is a freelance writer specializing in Christian devotionals and articles. Her devotionals are posted on her Life Lessons blog at www.mariaimorgan.blogspot.com. She resides in Georgia with her husband, daughter, cat and two retrievers. She can be reached at morgan.maria.i@gmail.com.

My husband, Steve, enjoys gardening. Not surprisingly, we both enjoy our landscaping the most when it looks its best. Steve reminds me often, that if there is one square inch of planted area in anyone’s yard that doesn’t have weeds growing in it, someone obviously took the time to pull the weeds.

I started feeling guilty yesterday, when I knew Steve went outside several times, despite the heat, to pull countless weeds. I was working in the air-conditioned comfort of our home, but I felt the tug to go out and pull my share of our weed crop.

After pulling my hair up and donning my oldest clothes, I grabbed my gloves, trowel, and weed bin, and set off to tackle the weeds on the hillside closest to the road. ‘Out of control’ is the only way I could describe the mess of weeds that stared back at me. I was tempted to abandon my mission and head back into the house. Thoughts of Steve, sweating in the heat, stopped me and I stooped down and got to work.

As I began looking at the weeds I was pulling, it was interesting to see that there were really only a few kinds: crab grass, clover, and tall, tuberous ones with shallow roots. Once again, I was reminded of the similarity between the weeds on my hillside and the sin in my life. Usually I tend to struggle with two or three areas in my life that tend to be what the Apostle Paul referred to as ‘besetting’ sins (Hebrews 12:1). These are the things that surround us or attack us from all sides, according to the American Heritage Dictionary. They can range from self-centeredness to any number of addictions. It’s a conscious, daily battle to experience victory in these areas.

When I allow God to put His finger on the ‘weeds of sin’ in my life and gently extricate them from the soil of my heart, I know I am much more pleasing to Him and able to be used by Him. According to John 10:10, Christ says, “…I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” (KJV) His desire is to give me victory over my ‘crop of weeds.’ His will for me is to be conformed more and more into His image – one day at a time. Will you give Him access to your ‘weeds?’

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Accused

Some time later the son of the woman who owned the house became ill. He grew worse and worse, and finally stopped breathing. She said to Elijah, “What do you have against me, man of God? Did you come to remind me of my sin and kill my son?” 1 Kings 17:17-18

If you’ve been around any length of time you’ll undoubtedly know that people like to blame others for things that go wrong. Such was the case with the poor widow that Elijah had been staying with. Her son became ill and as he grew worse, and started to blame Elijah. Elijah took the problem into his own hands and went to heal the boy. Later the woman acknowledged that Elijah must have been a man of God to perform such a miraculous deed.

If you’re like me, you get blamed for things you don’t do. As a teen I was regularly blamed for things I never did (I never got caught in many of things I did so it all evened out). But often we can get irritable and nasty when we’re accused of things we’ve not done. Sometimes the accusation is not worth fighting, but many times it is. Still, our reaction to being falsely accused speaks volumes about our inner character. Do we immediately go on the attack? Do we crumble inside and not do anything? Do we seek to solve the problem?

Christians throughout history have been accused and blamed for atrocities they’ve never committed. And yet, Scripture warns us that this will be the case. What does it say? “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” Matthew 5:11-12

There’s our answer.

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Blessing Us His Own Way

Elijah said to her, “Don’t be afraid. Go home and do as you have said. But first make a small cake of bread for me from what you have and bring it to me, and then make something for yourself and your son. For this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: ‘The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the LORD gives rain on the land.’ ” 1 Kings 17:13-14

After the brook had dried up, the Lord had told Elijah to go to a small town where a widow would feed him. Elijah found the widow and told her to get him some water and some bread. First the Lord had fed Elijah from the mouths of ravens. Now he is telling Elijah to get food from a poor widow. That couldn’t have been an easy task for Elijah because widows then were not well cared for (hence the many commands in the Old and New Testaments to care for the poor). Now the Lord wants the poor widow to care for His prophet. What a change it must have been.

But Elijah walked in boldness. He knew that God had told him to do something and spoke accordingly. He promised the widow that she would have enough food until it rained again. And it’s no surprise to us that God, in fact, did provide.

Once again God provided, this time through another unlikely source: a poor widow. It probably would have been the last place we would have sought food and drink, but not God. Continue to praise God for his blessings in your life. As the hymn says, “count your blessings, name them one by one.” List out your blessings then praise God for them.

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