190707 Devotional Guide

In Worship by Bruce LogueLeave a Comment

Daily Bible Readings

Monday. Hebrews 11:32-38. What does the Hebrews writer say about people like Gideon, Barak, and Samson? What did they do that distinguished their lives? Why should we take note of such people?

Tuesday. Jonah 1:1-6. What did God ask Jonah to do? What was Jonah’s response? What did God do in return?

Wednesday. Romans 11:1-6. Paul makes reference to Elijah’s complaint to God. What was the complaint? How did God reassure Elijah?

Thursday. Hebrews 12:18-24. The writer of Hebrews told his audience that their times were not like the times of Israel in the wilderness. How was it different? (See verse 18,19.) What is the new reality? (See verse 22.)

Friday. Matthew 17:1-13. What happens to Peter, James and John in this text? How does God use this event to communicate with them? How would you describe the event?

Saturday. 1 Kings 19:9-18. This is the text for Sunday’s sermon.

Hymn of the Week

Faith of our Fathers
by Frederick W. Faber, 1849

Faith of our fathers! living still
in spite of dungeon, fire, and sword;
oh, how our hearts beat high with joy
whene’er we hear that glorious word!
Faith of our fathers, holy faith!
We will be true to thee till death!

Faith of our fathers! we will strive
to win all nations unto thee,
and through the truth that comes from God,
the world shall then be truly free:
faith of our fathers, holy faith!
We will be true to thee till death!

Faith of our fathers! we will love
both friend and foe in all our strife;
and preach thee, too, as love knows how,
by kindly words and virtuous life:
faith of our fathers, holy faith!
We will be true to thee till death!

Prayer for the Week

Dear Father. We do not want to be like the faithless Israelites who quickly melted down their gold and worship a manufactured idol. Inanimate. Created in their image. We are often tempted to do that ourselves and we pray that you will empower us with the strength of your Spirit. Give us strength and faith for the arduous journey. In Jesus’ name I pray this. Amen.

Devotional Article for the Week

Moving beyond the Ashes
How do you restore the joy to life and ministry again?
by Phil Ware (12/09/2012)

A drought across much of the country left our forests vulnerable. After a few lightning strikes and a few careless campers, what was once lush, beautiful forested mountainsides now are scarred, ugly, and burned out. The eerie remains of the brutal fire mar the landscape. At first glance, these once gorgeous forests look hopelessly lost to flames. They are burned out and burned down. Yet history teaches us that given time and the right rains, the forest will return. It is a message those of us involved in ministry and service to others need to hear.

Those involved in serving others often find themselves feeling much like the charred remains of a once beautiful forest. Either the challenge of the task, or the well placed attacks of Satan, has left them depleted and vulnerable. Life takes a turn for the worse, and they find themselves feeling empty, used up, useless, and burned out. What can you do when sleep does not replenish your sense of exhaustion? What do you do when you don’t have the energy or will power to quit but dread every sunrise which reminds you of your inadequacy and failure? What do you do when you’re spiritually burned out? I believe the story of Elijah offers us some insight on this difficult problem (1 Kings 18:1-28 & 1 Kings 19:1-21).

Immediately following Elijah’s great victory over God’s enemies at Mount Caramel, his life was threatened by evil Queen Jezebel. He ran for his life. Jezebel had killed hundreds of God’s prophets during Elijah’s time. He ran from her threats. He ran until he fell exhausted and defeated. He collapsed… a burned out wreck. He had fallen from the height of ministry’s mountain to the valley of ministry’s despair. But God’s grace led him to a better place. Elijah’s recovery offers us some insight for our own way back from spiritual depletion, burn out, and exhaustion.

The first step? Elijah was honest with God. He told him the frustrations and discouragement of his heart (1 Kings 19:4). He whined and moaned and felt sorry for himself in the presence of God. While I’m not big on anyone having a pity party for oneself, it is necessary for us to be honest with God and with ourselves, about how we feel. It may not be right or righteous, but it is where we are. So often we don’t feel we can be honest with God, so we are never honest with ourselves. The way back from flame-out is honesty with God and with ourselves — honesty about our limitations, our frustrations, and our inadequacies. Quite often, however, we can’t be honest with ourselves until we’ve been honest about our own unrealistic sense of self-importance. Being honest in the presence of God reminds us how petty our perspective really is in the grand scheme of his work in the world.

Next, Elijah rested and received nourishment (1 Kings 19:5-7). Emotional exhaustion and depression can often lead us into poor eating and sleeping habits. Before we’re ready to attack the challenge of going on, we often need to get some rest and nourishment. As we pause and acknowledge our need for refreshment, God gives us spiritual refreshment as well. We see this same principle with Jesus and his care for his disciples (Mark 6:31-32). Spiritual depletion and physical exhaustion often are related.

Elijah then went to a place where he knew God had been real to his people (1 Kings 19:8). For Elijah, this was a special mountain on which God had once appeared to his people. For us, it may be rekindling our prayer time, our listening to Christian music, going back and visiting a spiritual retreat, or seeking prayer time with an old friend. The key is putting ourselves in a place where we know God has acted and blessed his people before. Yes, we know God can act and reveal himself anywhere, but the act of submitting ourselves to him and reconnecting with our spiritual past is often vital for us as we seek to reawaken our heritage.

In addition, Elijah waited on the direction of God for his life (1 Kings 19:9-13). He wanted to experience the presence of the living God. He knew without this encounter, he would not have the strength to go on. For us, this probably means dedicating ourselves to time in prayer, the reading of Scripture, and connecting again with spiritual friends. Often we are like Elijah, wanting and expecting to see God in the dramatic and awesome revelation of his power. Yet more often than not, God’s presence in our lives is revealed in more subtle ways as we submit ourselves to him and wait for his guidance.

This frequently comes to us through the words and companionship of a trusted friend; a sermon spoken as if it were just for us; a well-timed song’s message which we need to hear to awaken a spiritual memory; a piece of Scripture we read or remember which speaks directly to our need; or a bit of especially relevant reading material we “just happen across” as we are waiting for God to show his will in our lives. God’s “still small voice” can be heard, but only if we seek him and are open to his many ways of blessing us.

Finally, Elijah left that place and invested himself in the future of his people by carrying on his ministry and involving another to follow in his path (1 Kings 19:15-18). Elisha carries on Elijah’s great faith and ministry so God’s work goes on after Elijah returns to God. Often the cause of burn out is our own misguided and unbalanced sense of indispensability. When we invest ourselves in others, we let God remind us that his work will go on without us and after we are gone. It is not our ministry, but God’s that is important. Recognizing that we minister to honor him, not to bring honor to ourselves, helps us involve others in the work of God. This revitalizes us and insures that “the torch is passed” to a new generation of servants for the Almighty.

While there is no magic formula for a return from burn out, we need to realize God has done a great work through others after they have collapsed under the weight of ministry. He can do that work in us as well. The charred remains or our present can often be the beautiful place of God’s redeeming work if we will seek him and let him restore life after burnout.

Many things can contribute to our spiritual burn out:

• Overextending our commitments to the point of exhaustion and fatigue
• Unaddressed sin in our lives
• Not having partners to share our lives
• Trying to do ministry all by ourselves
• Having an over-inflated estimation of our importance and ability
• Losing touch with God
• Family and health crises
• Pessimistic point of view

Is there something else you have found that leads to burn out not listed? How have you seen that at work?

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