~ Click on this link for today's readings ~
1 Kings 14:1-15:24 ~ Acts 10:1-23
Psalm 133:1-3 ~ Proverbs 17:7-8
Old Testament - Allright, now we are getting into the story of the Kings! I really like this portion of the Bible. I am fascinated by the back-and-forth stories and timelines of the Kings of Israel and the Kings of Judah. The one very unfortunate thing you will notice over and over are verses like 1 Kings 14 verse 22 - "During Rehoboam's reign, the people of Judah did what was evil in the LORD's sight, arousing his anger with their sin, for it was even worse than that of their ancestors." Or verses like 1 Kings 15 verse 3 - "Abijam committed the same sins as his father before him, and his heart was not right with the LORD his God, as the heart of his ancestor David had been." And we will read far too few verses like verse 11 as we read about the Kings of Judah and Israel - "Asa did what was pleasing in the LORD's sight, as his ancestor David had done." I think what is interesting to note in all of these verses - and in the verses to come about future Kings we will read about - is that it really didn't much matter what the Kings "did" in their reigns. Their wars or their building of cities or whatever really didn't matter compared to did they sin against God or not? Did they lead Israel or Judah into sin or not? Did they love God or not? And I think this is the same for our lives today. God does not so much care what our careers are or what our social status is or how many friends we have. God cares whether we love him with all of heart, mind, soul and strength. God cares whether we are sinning against him or not. As Jesus tells us - "seek first the kingdom of heaven, and all of these things will be yours as well." So, yes, God ultimately does care about our lives and careers and friends and such too - but he first wants us to seek a right relationship with Him - and then everything else will flow from our relationship with God. Someone should have let some of these Kings of Israel and Judah know this!
Okay, a good overview of the Divided Kingdoms of Israel and Judah at this point in our readings in First Kings is this image below:
Below is an image for 1 Kings 14 verses 25 & 26 - "In the fifth year of King Rehoboam's reign, King Shishak of Egypt came up and attacked Jerusalem. He ransacked the Temple of the LORD and the royal palace and stole everything, including all the gold shields Solomon had made."
New Testament - I love it! Almost every time we see an angel visit someone the visited person is panic stricken by the angel! :) Verse 4 today - "Cornelius stared at him in terror. "What is it, sir?" he asked the angel."" Seriously, it's pretty consistent that people in the Bible get freaked out by angelic visitors. Probably because it's a pretty rare thing. Don't you think you'd get freaked out / scared if an angel visited you? I am pretty sure I would. Maybe that's why angels only show up in our human world visuals when something big needs to happen. Something big happens in today's (and tomorrow's) readings with Cornelius and Peter. I'm thinking if you or I were visited by an angel today, we might end up with an expression like this... :)
Before we get to the big thing that happens today with Peter, check the remainder of verse 4 - "And the angel replied, "Your prayers and gifts to the poor have not gone unnoticed by God!" Hmmm... think God pays attention when we give gifts to the poor? Have you found a consistent way to give gifts to the poor? (If not, might I suggest one avenue? World Vision. Don't worry, I don't work for them and don't have relatives working there either. I just know they do amazing work caring for and creating self-sufficiency for the poorest of the poor worldwide. I've been sponsoring children with them for the past 5 years and volunteering with them the past two years. One very cool thing you can do with World Vision - in addition to sponsoring a child, which I think is the coolest - is that you can literally buy things like a goat or a cow or fruit trees for the poorest of the poor worldwide. And you can buy these things for someone you know, in their honor, as a gift. Really. So, next time you are struggling with what to buy the person who has plenty of stuff a wedding gift or a birthday gift or whatever, buy a goat in their honor at World Vision! It's a beautiful thing. All you'd ever want to know about the life-changing opportunity of sponsoring a child through World Vision is at this link - www.WorldVision.org - and click on Gift Catalog link for all the details on buying goats and cow and fruit trees. Thanks for considering. Oh - and feel free to tell me and others your favorite orgs that serve the poor in the Comments section below. Seriously, I'd love to hear orgs that you dig!)
Okay, back to today's readings and the big happenings. I think Tyndale's One Year Bible Companion answers the question well of "What was the meaning of the vision Peter saw?" as follows: "According to Jewish law, certain foods were forbidden to be eaten (see Leviticus 11). The food laws made it difficult for Jews to eat with Gentiles without risking defilement. In fact, the Gentiles themselves were often seen as 'unclean.' Peter's vision meant that he should not look upon the Gentiles as inferior people whom God would not redeem. Before having the vision, Peter would have thought that a Roman officer could not accept Christ. Afterward, he understood that it was his responsibility to go with the messengers into a Gentile home and tell Cornelius the Good News of salvation in Jesus Christ."
Bible.org's commentary on today's Acts readings titled "Is Cleanliness Next to Godliness?" is at this link.
Psalms - Psalm 133 is a great short Davidic Psalm about harmony! Verse 1 sets the pace of this psalm nicely - "How wonderful it is, how pleasant, when brothers live together in harmony!" Do you consistently seek harmony in your interactions with others? Do you pray for peace?
Proverbs - Proverbs 17 verse 7 is a great reminder, once again, to not lie. One thing I've noticed that people do a lot these days is exaggerate... and I gotta say it makes me uncomfortable. Exaggerating feels like a lie to me. Why exaggerate? Why not just tell it like it is. I mean, I think it's okay to encourage or market or get excited about things truthfully. (hopefully my little World Vision goat sales pitch above doesn't go too far? :) But, why exaggerate? Particularly when it comes to factual numbers... why exaggerate those? How about you - do you exaggerate? Think this might be a very close cousin to a lie? If so, can you focus on just telling things straight, like they are?
Comments from you - What verses or insights stand out to you in today's readings? Please post up by clicking on the "Comments" link below!