~ Click on this link for today's readings ~
1 Kings 18:1-46 ~ Acts 11:1-30
Psalm 135:1-21 ~ Proverbs 17:12-13
Old Testament - Wow! Great readings today in 1 Kings 18. This is an amazing chapter of the Bible, and one that I heard a wonderful sermon on a couple of years ago. This is strong stuff. One thing that kind of got me chuckling was the subtitle the New Living Translation puts at the top of this chapter - "The Contest on Mount Carmel"! For some reason this got my mind thinking of WWF Championship Wrestling... yes... strange place for my mind to wander I realize. :) But then, this imagery kind of stuck with me throughout the readings and I definitely think Elijah threw down a WWF level taunt in verse 27 when the prophets of Baal were not having any luck getting their fire started - "About noontime Elijah began mocking them. "You'll have to shout louder," he scoffed, "for surely he is a god! Perhaps he is deep in thought, or he is relieving himself. Or maybe he is away on a trip, or he is asleep and needs to be wakened!"" Perhaps he is relieving himself?? The prophet Elijah puts even Hulk Hogan's WWF taunt's to shame! :)
Okay... in all seriousness... 1 Kings 18 is an amazing chapter. There were several verses that stood out to me. First was verses 17 and 18 when Ahab meets Elijah - ""So it's you, is it--Israel's troublemaker?" Ahab asked when he saw him. "I have made no trouble for Israel," Elijah replied. "You and your family are the troublemakers, for you have refused to obey the commands of the LORD and have worshiped the images of Baal instead." I love Elijah's directness and boldness to Ahab. Ahab tries to go after Elijah and maybe intimidate him, since Ahab is King. And Elijah does not back down one iota - he tells Ahab exactly why Ahab is the troublemaker. I love that. I wonder about our lives today. If someone comes after us and maybe attacks our faith or integrity falsely in some way, will we immediately stand up for our faith like Elijah did to King Ahab?
Verses 20 & 21 are powerful - "So Ahab summoned all the people and the prophets to Mount Carmel. Then Elijah stood in front of them and said, "How long are you going to waver between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him! But if Baal is God, then follow him!" But the people were completely silent." What a great question - and one that we may need to ask ourselves - "How long are you going to waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him!" Are we wavering at all in our commitment to God? Are we being silent like the people were when Elijah asked this question? Let us not waver between two opinions... If the Lord is God, are you following him? Wholeheartedly?
Below is an image of Elijah's "sermon on the Mount Carmel"... :) bad pun... sorry. (I really should know better than to start off a blog post with the Hulkster... it sets me off on the wrong foot... :)
I love the little story at the end of today's chapter where Elijah falls to his knees in prayer on Mt. Carmel and tells his servant to go look toward the sea - 7 times! And then soon comes the little cloud....
Last but not least, verse 46 is a great closing to this eventful chapter! "Now the LORD gave special strength to Elijah. He tucked his cloak into his belt and ran ahead of Ahab's chariot all the way to the entrance of Jezreel." Think about this day's events - Elijah meets with Obadiah. Summons Ahab. Meets with Ahab. Summons the people of Israel and the prophets of Baal and Asherah. Conducts a WWF Smackdown tourney :) - and God wins big time! Prays for rain. And then what better way to finish out this type of day but to "tuck his cloak into his belt" and run faster than Ahab's chariot back to Jezreel! Great stuff! What a chapter! Elijah rocks!
Bible.org has tons of great commentary on today's readings in 1 Kings 18, which is not surprising considering how much happens in this chapter today. Commentary titled "The Word of the Lord Comes to Elijah" is at this link. "Elijah ministers to Obadiah" is at this link. "Elijah Meets and Rebukes Ahab" is at this link. "When One Becomes a Majority" is at this link. "The Ineffectual Prayers of the Baal Priests" is at this link. And finally, "The Prayers of Elijah" is at this link.
New Testament - I love how Peter answers his "critics" in Acts chapter 11 today. He simply tells them the story of what happened. And through this plain and simple act of telling his story truthfully we get to verse 18 - "When the others heard this, all their objections were answered and they began praising God. They said, "God has also given the Gentiles the privilege of turning from sin and receiving eternal life."" And this makes me wonder about our lives today. How do we answer our "critics" when it comes to our faith? Is it possible that we can answer our critics simply by telling our story? Just like Peter simply answered his critics with his story? Is it possible that our story of how God reached out and changed our lives could be very effective in winning hearts and minds for Jesus? I think sometimes we underestimate the power of simply telling our story. It is our story - and after we tell it, how can anyone really criticize it? Or argue with it? It is our story. Let us tell it. And let us tell our story often and with great love. I believe God can work wonders when we simply tell our stories...
Psalms - Today in Psalm 135 verse 3 we will read this very simple, yet profound verse – “Praise the LORD, for the LORD is good; sing praise to his name, for that is pleasant.” The words I want to focus in on here are “the Lord is good.” Do you believe this to be true? Do you really – in your heart – believe that God is good? I think this is important for us to really meditate upon. I’m afraid sometimes we get into our minds that maybe God is not always good. Maybe we start to think that God is out to get us. Or out to trick us. Really isn’t looking out for us. Doesn’t really like us. Doesn’t really love us. These are all of course lies that come into our mind from the Enemy, the Destroyer. God is obviously good. So good. All of the time. And maybe sometimes we really need to remind ourselves of this. Even in the midst of challenges and struggles and addictions and hardships – God is good. God is there with us. God is leading us – and maybe even taking us through a hardship to bring us to the Promised Land on the other side. Our human minds will often not understand God’s ways. But, I think for us to always remember that God is good is so important for our continuing growth in our relationship with God. So, again, do you believe the words of this Psalmist? Do you believe that God is good?
Proverbs - Yikes... Proverbs 17 verse 13 is no joke - "If you repay evil for good, evil will never leave your house." Let us be diligent and prayerful to make sure we never repay evil for good...
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!