Sunday, June 18, 2017

June 18: 1 Kings 19 – 20:25; Psalm 136; Proverbs 17:16; Acts 12:1-24



Overview

            1 Kings: Jezebel threatened to kill Elijah that very day. Elijah was afraid and ran to Beersheba and then on into the wilderness where he sat down and asked God to kill him. He fell asleep. An angel woke him and fed him. This happened twice because he had a long journey. He then went 40 day and nights to Horeb.
            Elijah took shelter in a cave and God spoke to him asking what he was doing. He replied, telling about his zealousness for the Lord and said he was the only one left and they want to kill him. The Lord told him to go outside as he passed by.
            There was a great wind, earthquake, and fire. The Lord wasn’t in these but then came a whisper and Elijah listened. Again, the Lord asked what he was doing and he repeated his story. The Lord told him what he needed to do next, anoint Hazael king of Syria, Jehu king of Israel, and Elisha as his replacement. Oh, and by the way, the Lord still has 7,000 in Israel who haven’t worshiped Baal.
            Elijah found Elisha and put his cloak on him. Elisha then sacrificed his oxen and gave the cooked meat to the people. Then he went with Elijah to assist him.
            Ben-hadad, king of Syria came to Samaria with 32 other kings and demanded the Ahab turn over all his treasures, wives, and children. Ahab agreed. Then Ben-hadad said he would send his servants to search and take whatever they saw.
            Ahab consulted with the elders and people who said to not give in to Ben-hadad. Ahab replied to Ben-hadad that the last demand was too much. Ben-hadad said he would make Samaria dust and Ahab replied that he shouldn’t boast before the battle was over. A prophet came to Ahab and told him he would defeat Ben-hadad and then he would know that God is the Lord. The prophet told him who should fight and Ahab should lead.
            Israel attacked Ben-hadad with 7,000 men while Ben-hadad was drunk. Ben-hadad escaped but his army was defeated. The prophet told Ahab they would return in the spring. Ben-hadad’s servants told him that the Lord was only a god over the hills so they advised him to reassemble the vast army and attack in the plains where they could defeat Israel.
            Psalm: We are to give thanks to the Lord. We do this because he is good and his love is steadfast, forever it doesn’t change. We give thanks because he is the one and only God and it can be seen in the way he has created all things. It can be seen in the way he established Israel, brought them out of Egypt, gave them a land, and rescued them from his foes.
            Proverbs: Even if a fool had money and it were possible to buy wisdom, he wouldn’t do it because a fool doesn’t have the sense to even want wisdom.
            Acts: King Herod killed the Apostle James. That made Jews happy, so he locked up Peter and put him under guard to hold him until after the Passover and then kill him. The night before he was to be killed, an angel came and freed him from the chains that bound him between two guards. The angel told him to follow and led him through the midst of the guards and the city gate, which opened by itself. Peter thought he was dreaming until the angel left.
            He went to John Mark’s house and knocked at the door. Rhoda answered the door but was so excited to hear Peter she didn’t open it but told the other believers who were praying for Peter’s release. They thought she was crazy until they heard Peter still knocking at the door. He explained how he was released then left for another place.
            Herod was upset about the escape and killed the guards. Herod was also angry with Tyre and Sidon so they came to ask for peace. Herod got gussied up in his royal robes, sat on his throne, and gave a powerful speech. The people said it was the voice of a god. Since Herod didn’t give glory to God, the Lord struck him down; he was eaten by worms and died.
            But God’s word kept on increasing and more and more people come to the Lord.

What Stood Out

            1 Kings: “And behold, a prophet came near to Ahab king of Israel and said, ‘Thus says the Lord, Have you seen all this great multitude? Behold, I will give it into your hand this day, and you shall know that I am the Lord’” (1 Kings 20:13).
            Psalm: “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever” (Ps 136:1).
            Proverbs: “Why should a fool have money in his hand to buy wisdom when he has no sense?” (Prov 17:16).
            Acts: “They said to her, ‘You are out of your mind.’ But she kept insisting that it was so, and they kept saying, ‘It is his angel!’” (Acts 12:15).

Insight

            1 Kings: Elijah had a pity-party after Jezebel threatened to kill him. He had just taunted 850 prophets of false gods, seen God send fire from heaven and then rain at his prayers. He had killed the false prophets and outran Ahab’s chariot. Then one woman threatens him and he’s so afraid that he runs away and asks God to kill him. He hides in a cave after God miraculously feeds him for a 40 day and night journey. He then complains to the Lord that he is the only prophet left. It doesn’t seem right that a person who has been used by God in so many ways would then have such great fear and fail to trust the Lord for his safety. Perhaps, the problem was Elijah’s pride. God ripped Elijah’s prideful trust from him so that he had to realize his trust in the Lord was a gift from God and not something that originated within himself. God then gave him a replacement to keep him humble.
            It can happen to all of us in various ways. We can have “natural” abilities that God uses and we come to a point where we realize that much of what we’re doing is not because we’re trusting God but our own abilities. It is times like that when the Lord takes that from us and we have to trust in him and only him. We can continue in ministry in his strength and power, but sometimes he has to show us how easy it is for him to replace us.
            We should also be careful about thinking that something is beyond God’s abilities. The Syrians thought that they lost the battle with Israel because God was the God of the hills. They reassembled to fight because they thought their gods could overcome God because he was not as powerful in the plains. The prophet that came to Ahab made the statement that Israel would win so that they would know that God is the Lord. That statement will eventually extend to the Syrians. We must remember that God is Lord of all. Whether our circumstances are easy or tough, Jesus is still Lord.
            Psalm: If we really understood the impact of Psalm 136:1, we would be in a very good spiritual place. Saying that God is good is an understatement that can be seen when we are thankful for all he has done in our lives and the lives of every other person in the world. It can be seen in what he did for Israel, but especially in our salvation through Jesus. It should make us be thankful because his love doesn’t change. That love that he worked in Jesus to forgive us came while we were his enemies. He still loved us even then! He will always love us.
            Proverbs: One of the problems that a fool has, is that he doesn’t know he is a fool. He doesn’t have the sense to use whatever resources he has to make the change to become wise. Praise the Lord because he is able to take all of us fools and save us. It isn’t because of how smart or wise we are. It is because the Holy Spirit transforms us. If it were left up to us, we would continue in our sinful ways and there would be no hope.
            Acts: When we read about Peter’s release from jail by and angel, it’s easy to see why some people put so much stock in them that it borders on worship if not actually worshiping them. Think about the situation. Peter has sixteen soldiers guarding him. Two of them were actually chained to him. The chains fell of, the angel didn’t have the key. The two guards didn’t wake up. The other guards didn’t see a thing. The city gate opened by itself.
            I believe that the angel caused everything to happen in the way it did because that is the simplest explanation for it. If God had caused it to happen and the angel was there only as a guide, then I’m sure Scripture would have said that so that God got the glory directly.
            I’ve written about the power of angels in my book, Battling Satan with the Armor of God. Satan has the same powers because he is a fallen angel. He doesn’t do God’s bidding but is in opposition. Where the angel was freeing Peter, Satan would have bound him and had him killed before his time. We need to remember that God’s angels work for our good but Satan uses the same powers, when God allows him, against us. The angel blinded the guards, Satan will blind us if we aren’t careful.
            Sometimes, we exhibit unbelief in our prayers and we don’t even know it. Peter arrived at the house where people were praying for his release. When Rhoda told them Peter had been released and was standing outside, they didn’t believe her because they didn’t really believe that God would answer their prayers. That can be the only conclusion to what they said. How often do we pray for something that is exceptionally difficult, God answers just as we wanted, and then we’re surprised? I just goes to show that our faith isn’t quite as strong as we think.

Application

             I need to depend on God more and myself less. I need to be more thankful for all he’s done. I need to trust in his goodness regardless of the circumstances and trust he answers prayers in the way the knows best. I should not be surprised at the way he answers.

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