~ Click on this link for today's readings ~
1 Kings 19:1-21 ~ Acts 12:1-23
Psalm 136:1-26 ~ Proverbs 17:14-15
Old Testament - Great chapter today! We are introduced to Elisha, who will be mentored by Elijah to succeed him as a prophet at the end of First Kings 19 today. However, before we get to Elisha, we read about Elijah being very "dejected" in the desert to say the least. Some commentaries on this early portion of chapter 19 are not super-kind to Elijah for heading to the desert. Commentaries I think wisely suggest that verses 9 & 13 demonstrate God trying to gently let Elijah know he's off course and feeling too sorry for himself, when asked twice in these verses: "What are you doing here, Elijah?" This kind of reminded me of Jonah fleeing from God's will on the boat. (which we'll read about later this year). And this kind of reminded me of me - and maybe you too. :) Have you ever had that nagging question enter your heart or mind when you suddenly realize that you are off course from God's will in your life? That question of: "What are you doing here??" I know I have... Praise God when we are actually able to hear and understand that question and get out of the desert and back to life and back to loving this hurting world! Below is a wonderful painting from the year 1464 by the Flemish artist Dirk Bouts for verses 5 & 6, early on in the chapter when Elijah was fleeing to Mount Sinai - "Then he lay down and slept under the broom tree. But as he was sleeping, an angel touched him and told him, "Get up and eat!" He looked around and saw some bread baked on hot stones and a jar of water! So he ate and drank and lay down again."
Today in 1 Kings 19 verses 11 through 14 we read about how God appears to Elijah in a way that he was not expecting – “Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him, "What are you doing here, Elijah?” The interesting thing to note about these verses is that Elijah was expecting or hoping God would appear in judgment to the Israelites in a windstorm, earthquake or fire. But God did not appear in any of these forms. Instead, God comes to Elijah in a simple gentle whisper. A gentle whisper. And I wonder about us in our lives today as well – do we often expect God to move mountains or to really show himself to us in big bold ways? When, perhaps, God may be speaking to you or me right now, but we’re missing it? Why? Well, is it possible that God is speaking to you right now with a simple gentle whisper? Is it possible that you have built up so many distractions or duties or activities or worries in your life that you cannot hear God’s gentle whisper? I know that I have been in this place too many times – I’ve gotten myself so busy looking for God in all the wrong places. And then finally I will slow myself down for just long enough to hear God speaking to my heart in a gentle whisper! A gentle whisper that I am sure was there all along. . . but I was looking for God in the windstorm and earthquake and fires of life. When instead I should have simply slowed down and listened for God’s gentle whisper. Will you slow down long enough to listen for God’s gentle whisper for you? Do you believe that God can speak to you in a simple gentle whisper this very moment?
Bible.org's commentary on today's 1 Kings readings titled "The Vulnerability of Victory" is at this link. "The Crisis of Elijah" is at this link. "The Restoration of Elijah" is at this link. And "Taking Up Your Mantle" is at this link. Below is a painting in a Carmelite cloister in Frankfurt, Germany from the year 1517 by an unknown artist showing the life of the prophet Elijah, including what I think is the anointing/calling of Elisha in the middle portion - and you'll see the angel tending to Elijah in the desert on the left and the burnt offering from yesterday's readings on the right:
New Testament - There is a lot going on in today's Acts readings as Peter is freed from jail by an angel!
I love verse 5 in this chapter as Peter was put in jail - "But while Peter was in prison, the church prayed very earnestly for him." Who are you praying for very earnestly these days? Do you think that prayer changes things? How is your prayer life this very day?
Verses 21 through 23 are a great great reminder to not ever accept anyone calling you a god - nor for you to every think of yourself as a god - "When the day arrived, Herod put on his royal robes, sat on his throne, and made a speech to them. The people gave him a great ovation, shouting, "It is the voice of a god, not of a man!" Instantly, an angel of the Lord struck Herod with a sickness, because he accepted the people's worship instead of giving the glory to God. So he was consumed with worms and died." We should never accept worship from others. The glory should always go to God. As the Psalmist so wisely and worshipfully says in Psalm 115:1, "Not to us, not to us, O LORD, but to your name be the glory."
Bible.org's commentary on today's Acts readings titled "The Death of James and the Deliverance of Peter" is at this link.
Psalms - Psalm 136 is a liturgy of Praise to God as Creator and Redeemer. A Levitical priest singer likely led the recital, while either worshippers or a Levitical choir responded with the refrain. Cool Bible factoid here - the response "His love endures forever" is repeated 26 times in this Psalm, which is the numerical value of God's name "Yahweh" - back when Hebrew letters were also used as numbers. A lot of intricacies went into the Psalms... some of which do get lost in translation from Hebrew to English. Below is an image of the Hebrew letters yud, hey, vav, hey -- often depicted in English as YHWH or Yahweh -- spelling the name of God.
Psalm 136 is also a Michael W. Smith song! :) C'mon, you know the one - verse 1 - "Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever." (and Smitty carries on - "for he is good, he is above all things, his love endures forever. Sing praise. Sing Praise! Forever God is faithful, forever God is strong...")
Proverbs - Proverbs chapter 17 verse 14 today is a great reminder that the best way to end a quarrel is to stop it before it starts! "Beginning a quarrel is like opening a floodgate, so drop the matter before a dispute breaks out." Once the quarrel starts, the waters can quickly flow out of control like a flood. Is there a simmering matter in your life that you need to address quickly and head-on before it breaks out into a quarrel? Before the floodgate opens?
Comments from You & Questions of the Day: What verses or insights stand out to you in today's readings? Please post up by clicking on the "Comments" link below!