~ Click on this link for today's readings ~
1 Kings 11:1-12:19 ~ Acts 9:1-25
Psalm 131:1-3 ~ Proverbs 17:4-5
Old Testament - Wow... things go south in today's readings big time for Solomon! Why? Simple. 1 Kings 11 verses 5 & 6 tell us: "Solomon worshiped Ashtoreth, the goddess of the Sidonians, and Molech, the detestable god of the Ammonites. Thus, Solomon did what was evil in the LORD's sight; he refused to follow the LORD completely, as his father, David, had done." This is sad stuff to read. Solomon had a great life, great relationship with God and he plain and simple fumbled the ball. He knew God and knew he was not to worship other gods. And he did so anyway? Why? Well, yeah, maybe having 1,000 wives & concubines was a bit of a distraction - but I don't blame them per se. It was Solomon that decided to marry outside of Israel and it was Solomon that decided to have all those wives and concubines (and polygamy is not God's plan - God's plan since Adam & Eve was one man, one woman - not one man, many women). And it was Solomon that decided to worship other gods. He was running a strong race early on - but stumbled. Fumbled. This all reminds me of Paul's wisdom in 1 Corinthians 9 verses 25 through 27: "Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize." Paul wisely realized that even with all of his preaching to others, he still had to be diligent to make sure that he himself would not be disqualified! Incredible wisdom... Think Solomon could have learned from these words of Paul? Think you and I can learn from these words of Paul? And can we learn not to repeat Solomon's mistakes? How are you running the race? Are you running in such a way as to get the prize?
Below is an image for these sad verses of 7 & 8: "On the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem, Solomon even built a shrine for Chemosh, the detestable god of Moab, and another for Molech, the detestable god of the Ammonites. Solomon built such shrines for all his foreign wives to use for burning incense and sacrificing to their gods."
King Rehoboam's bad decision making in 1 Kings 12 is an excellent example of why we should respect our elders... Rehoboam blew off the advice of his elders and instead heeded the foolish advice of the young men around him. And then the kingdom was divided. Of course, this turn of events was the will of God. But, still, a good example I think of why we should listen to and respect our elders....
New Testament - Big readings today! Saul is converted to Christianity by Jesus himself! I think this is the most powerful conversion story in all of the Bible! Below is the phenomenal painting "The Conversion (of Saul) on the Way to Damascus" by the Italian Baroque Era painter Caravaggio, circa 1600:
As I was reading Acts chapter 9 today, I thought more about Ananias than I have before. Can you imagine being Ananias and being asked to go find Saul of Tarsus? Ananias demonstrated amazing faith in today's readings. God's words to Ananias about Saul in verses 15 & 16 are powerful - and as we now know, so very true: "But the Lord said, "Go and do what I say. For Saul is my chosen instrument to take my message to the Gentiles and to kings, as well as to the people of Israel. And I will show him how much he must suffer for me."" Great stuff... In your life, who might God be calling you to go visit - like he called Ananias to visit? Is there someone who is waiting for you to visit them, lay hands on them, and open up their hearts to receive the Holy Spirit? Will you be Ananias for that person? Below is an image of Saul/Paul (kneeling) and Ananias from today's readings:
Bible.org's commentary on today's Acts readings titled "The Conversion of Saul" is at this link.
Psalms - Psalm 131 verse 2 is a beautiful reflection! "But I have stilled and quieted myself, just as a small child is quiet with its mother. Yes, like a small child is my soul within me." What a great reflection and reminder to take 1 day a week as a Sabbath day of rest. A day to still and quiet yourself. Just like a small child is with its mother. Have you been still and quieted yourself recently? Why would David, the Psalmist, write about this? Why would this be a good thing to do?
Proverbs - Proverbs 17 verse 5 is quite convicting for us to consider: "Those who mock the poor insult their Maker; those who rejoice at the misfortune of others will be punished." That is a powerful realization - if you mock the poor, you mock God. If you care for the poor, you care for God. I have a friend who met Mother Teresa many years back at her home for the sick & dying in Calcutta. And my friend when he met her was trying to tell her all the great stuff he was doing in his life and in his ministry. But, Mother Teresa really didn't care to hear about all his ministry stuff. All she said to him was "Do you want to meet Jesus? Do you want to meet Jesus?" And of course he said "Yes! Of course I do Mother Teresa." So, she led him by the hand down a hall and into a room where a man was on his deathbed. She sat my friend down at a chair by this man's bed. And she placed my friend's hands on this dying man's hands. And she said, "Now you will meet Jesus." And she left the room... and left him in the room with the dying man for about 30 minutes. And you know what - my friend met Jesus that day in a way he had never done so before. So, how about you. Do you want to meet Jesus?
Comments from You & Questions of the Day: In your life, what was your conversion story? Do you mind sharing your testimony here with others? Perhaps it may not be as dramatic as Saul/Paul's story, but do you think it is just as special in God's eyes? (I do!) Also, what verses or insights stand out to you in today's readings? Please post up by clicking on the "Comments" link below!