August 13, 2013

Ready to die? Ready to live?

This morning we are talking about the value of sleep, exercise and good food. My devotional reading is about the priestly prayer of Christ towards the end of His time on earth, but the author eventually gets to the importance of those values. In His prayer, Jesus said…
I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours…. I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. (John 17:9, 20–21)

What did Jesus pray concerning us? One of His requests was about our lives in this world. “I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one.” (John 17:15)

Many Christians assume that the normal attitude of a Christian is supposed to be like that of Peter when he said, “Lord, why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” (John 13:37) However, that is not how Jesus prayed. He asked His Father not to take us out of this world, not to let us “lay down” our lives for Him, but keep us from the clutches of Satan. Dying for Jesus might be a testimony, and some say the church grows on the blood of the martyrs, but a living witness has more power than a noble death and a gravestone.

At one point in the life of Elijah, he also wanted to die. He won a major confrontation with idol worshipers but when the king’s wife, Jezebel, threatened him with death, he ran for his life. After a long journey, this prophet sat under a broom tree and said…

 “It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life, for I am no better than my fathers.” And he lay down and slept under a broom tree. And behold, an angel touched him and said to him, “Arise and eat.” (1 Kings 19:1–5)

The angel supplied food then Elijah slept again and was soon ready to serve God again.
The days that I feel like I want to “go home” are often stressful days when my work is difficult or life is not much fun. I understand Elijah’s plea. But, as today’s devotional reading says, when people are whining that they do not want to live, often what we really need is food and sleep and exercise!

These thoughts make me feel like a wimp who complains too much instead of doing the right things to be ready to serve God, sometimes as simple as sleep, food and exercise.

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