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Wednesday, January 18, 2107 Elisha receives the Spirit 2 Kings 2:1-18; 4:1-37; 5:1=27; TS pp. 208c - 211a Elisha has served and observed Elijah as Elijah has served God. Elijah will be taken up into heaven by a whirlwind. Elijah asks Elisha what Elijah can do for him before he leaves. Elisha asks for a double portion of Elijah's spirit. Elisha is not being greedy. He knows he needs God's spirit in order to be faithful - and he desires to be faithful. Elisha is indeed faithful. He is also challenged - even those whom he helps sometimes criticize him. Being filled with the Spirit does not always keep us from harm. In fact, there are times when the Spirit leads us into places where we are not appreciated, where others will misinterpret what we are doing. At the same time, we must be careful not to interpret criticism as always a sign that we are right. Sometimes we need to hear the prophet's voice challenging us; sometimes we need to be the prophet's voice speaking God's word with humility and love. Prayer and an openness to God's Spirit will lead us in knowing which time is which. How do we develop the humility to listen fully to God's Word?
Posted: January 18
Tuesday, January 17, 2017 God gives strength to Elijah 1 Kings 19:1-21; 21:1-29, TS pp. 206b - 208b In spite of God's victory over the prophets of Baal, Elijah begins to feel lonely, like he is the only one who is challenging the evil in the world. God provides Elijah with sustenance, shelter, and eventually a fellow prophet. Elisha joins Elijah. Standing up for what is right, for God, can be difficult. It can seem like no one appreciates what we are doing. We can become weary and despair. God meets us in those times. God gives us hope and reminds us that we are not alone. Where do you see God at work? What strength is God offering you this day?
Posted: January 17
Monday, January 16, 2017 Elijah challenges Ahab and the prophets of Baal - 1 Kings 17:1 - 18:46; TS pp. 203-206 The kings continue to go the wrong path, and God raises up prophets to challenge this sinfulness. Elijah is given the task of confronting Ahab. Ahab thinks he has the numbers on his side. The many prophets of Baal gather to display their strength. Elijah challenges them to a competition of fire. The sacrifices to Baal do not catch fire. Elijah has his wood doused with water,and still it catches fire. The prophets of Baal are slaughtered, yet still Ahab does not get the message. His wife Jezebel is a force to be reckoned with as well. How often do we miss the signs of God because they don't fit with what we want to do or believe? What hope-filled signs of God's presence and power are available to us today?
Posted: January 16
Join us tomorrow for worship at 10:30 a.m. then stay for our Souper Sunday celebration - six kinds of delicious homemade soup! Great way to get to know our congregation and have fellowship in the Spirit!
Posted: January 14
Saturday, January 14, 2017 The descent of kings 1 King 15:25- 16:30; TS pp. 201-202 Unfortunately, Asa's good conduct did not continue with his descendants. After Asa there is a line of kings on the throne of Judah who do evil. The line continues through to the infamous king Ahab. Again we marvel at God's patience. The repetitive comment "and he did more evil than all those who went before him" boggles our minds. How could God let all this go on? Through this history, however, we see God's decision to work according to God's own timing and with God's own plan. As we lead up to the Exile which is coming, we see God's justice at work. God is not a hot temper deity who quickly abandons a people. God never abandons - even with the Exile coming God is working to develop this people into a community that will reveal God's justice. How easily do we give up on people? Sometimes we need to use tough love - letting people experience the consequences of their own behavior - in order to convince them of the damage of the way they are living. This does not mean we stop loving them, anymore than Israel and Judah's hard times mean God stopped loving them. Love takes many forms. How do we show our love for one another?
Posted: January 14
Friday, January 13, 2017 A faithful king 1 Kings 15:9-24; 2 Chronicles 14:1 - 16:14, TS pp. 199-200 In the midst of a line of bad kings comes a ray of hope. Asa comes to the throne and seeks God's will. Asa removes most of the idols and destroys many of the worship spaces to other gods. He tries to turn the hearts of the people back to God. He even removed his grandmother from her position as Queen Mother because she was promoting a different god. Asa made some difficult choices in his willingness to follow God. Some, especially his grandmother, must have resented what Asa was doing. Yet Asa did what was best for his people and what was faithful to God.Where did Asa learn to act rightly? Perhaps he looked at what his father had done and learned what not to do. His father Abijah had reigned only three years, coming to power after his father Rehoboam. Maybe some of Solomon's advisors were still around. Who influences our faith? We have some choice in this. Our decisions are our own to make. Influences can make it more difficult, or easier, to go in the right direction, but we cannot make excuses for our own choices. In Asa, we see God's patience at work and showing fruit. God also wants to work in us!
Posted: January 13
Join us for worship this Sunday at 10:30 a.m. and then stay after worship for our Souper Sunday celebration - six kinds of delicious homemade soup and bread! Terrific fellowship as well!
Posted: January 12
Thursday, January 12, 2017 Rehoboam's fall and his successors 1 Kings 14:21 - 15:8; 2 Chronicles 11:1 - 13:22; TS pp. 198c-199b Rehoboam also does evil, but for the sake of David and Solomon, God allows him to stay on the throne for a while. God had promised that the line would continue, and so it does. The next several kings, however, are said to be more evil than those who went before them. God's faithfulness is tried, and found steadfast. Each is given an opportunity to return to God. God is working with and through the people of Israel (both kingdoms) trying to create a people who will reveal who God is - righteous and just, faithful and loving. The kings are not a whole lot worse toward the people than other kings of their time. They are, however, ungrateful and unfaithful to God - and this affects the lives of the people they govern. It is not enough for the people of God to be "not any worse than others." Those, including ourselves, who claim the grace of being God's people are called to reflect God's goodness. We cannot do this on our own. We need Christ. We need the Holy Spirit. We need God's strength and guidance. We need God's forgiveness. With trust in God's mercy, we turn to God and allow God to change us into the creation God desires us to be. How do we open ourselves to God's movement in our lives?
Posted: January 12
Wednesday, January 11, 2017 Jeroboam fails 1 Kings 12:25 - 13:6; 14:1-20; TS pp. 196-198b Once Jeroboam becomes king his own insecurities come to light. He is worried that the people will go back to Rehoboam if the people continue to worship in Jerusalem. So he decides to make worship easy for the people. He creates two golden calves (apparently he didn't read his history about Aaron and the golden calf!) and places one at two different locations for the people to worship. When life gets difficult, it can be hard to trust that God is still working. Even when we have successes (like Jeroboam getting most of Israel) we can doubt, and fall back into believing we have to create our own success (or defend what we have). Worship, keeping our focus on God, helps us to remember where our real strength lies. How do we maintain our focus on God? How do we make worship a priority in our lives?
Posted: January 11
Tuesday, January 10, 2017 Jeroboam becomes king 1 King 12: 16-24; 2 Chronicles 10:16-11:4; TS p. 195 Jeroboam had been part of the delegation that went to Rehoboam seeking relief from the harsh labor. When Rehoboam refused, the people turned to Jeroboam. Ten of the twelve tribes went with Jeroboam. Only Judah and Benjamin (including Jerusalem) stayed with Rehoboam. Rehoboam tried to gather troops to regain the rest of the king, but the prophet Shemaiah received word from God to warn Rehoboam not to fight against other Israelites. War was averted for a while. Their is division among God's people, due to the failure of the king to live according to God's ways. Yet God is still working for unity among the people. God desires us to work for unity even when we have serious disagreements. This is true whether we are talking about families, work relationships, the Church, our community or the world. It can be hard to see exactly how to do this. How can we be faithful to God's ways, especially in addressing our differences, without demonizing those with whom we differ?
Posted: January 10
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