ODJ: God’s Renewing Presence

October 13, 2016 

READ: 1 Kings 19:1-18 

As Elijah stood there, the Lord passed by (v.11).

“I long for the cold embrace of death,” tweeted my friend’s teenage son—feigning mock despair. Apparently his second-hour high school orchestra class was dragging on too long. So he put into practice what he had learned in his first-hour class: creative writing.

Elijah could have tweeted out a similar message—except he would have been deadly serious.

A gutsy prophet to Israel during the reign of the evil king Ahab, Elijah’s job description included confronting the chronic problem of Baal worship. This made him a wanted man.

One time, on top of Mount Carmel, Elijah (assured of God’s presence in his life: 1 Kings 18:15) confronted, defeated, and executed 450 prophets of Baal (vv.16-40). Shortly after this dramatic showdown, however, things began to unravel for the prophet. Ahab’s wife, Jezebel, wanted Elijah dead. The news of the queen’s threat sent him running for his life out into the wilderness. Scared, alone, and utterly discouraged, he eventually collapsed under a tree and prayed for death to take him (19:1-4).

After an angel ministered to him, Elijah journeyed to Mount Sinai—the place where his forefather Moses first met God. There, the disheartened prophet met Him too and was lifted up by His presence, not in the dramatic fashion he had witnessed on Mount Carmel but by a “gentle whisper” (vv.5-13).

Has life left you feeling all alone and discouraged? Don’t give up! Cry out to heaven. The same God who met Elijah and encouraged him with His presence will meet you too— perhaps in ways you would least expect. God renewed Elijah’s spirit and allowed him to see his difficult circumstances from His perspective. He can do the same for you!

—Jeff Olson

365-day plan: Acts 5:1-16

Read Jeremiah 29:13 and consider what it means to seek God and His presence. 
How has God revealed His loving heart to you in the past? What can you do to experience God’s renewing presence today?