Manna for Today

 

Yahweh versus Baal (1 Kings 18)

So they took the bull given them and prepared it.  Then they called on the name of Baal from morning till noon. “Baal, answer us!” they shouted. But there was no response; no one answered. And they danced around the altar they had made.  27 At noon Elijah began to taunt them. “Shout louder!” he said. “Surely he is a god! Perhaps he is deep in thought, or busy, or traveling. Maybe he is sleeping and must be awakened.”  (1 Kings 18:26-27)

With the stones he built an altar in the name of the Lord, and he dug a trench around it large enough to hold two seahs[a] of seed. 33 He arranged the wood, cut the bull into pieces and laid it on the wood. Then he said to them, “Fill four large jars with water and pour it on the offering and on the wood.” 

34 “Do it again,” he said, and they did it again.  “Do it a third time,” he ordered, and they did it the third time. 35 The water ran down around the altar and even filled the trench.

36 At the time of sacrifice, the prophet Elijah stepped forward and prayed: “Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command. 37 Answer me, Lord, answer me, so these people will know that you, Lord, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again.”

38 Then the fire of the Lord fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench.  39 When all the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried, “The Lord—he is God! The Lord—he is God!”  (1 Kings 18:32-39)

Learn it:

                King Ahab had replaced the worship of the LORD, Yahweh, with worshipping the false god Baal.  Yahweh sent the prophet Elijah to remind the people of who he was.  Elijah goes back to King Ahab who had been looking to find him and kill him because of the draught.  Elijah suggests to the king that they should have a showdown between the two gods and the one that lights the sacrifice on fire, is greater.  Ahab agrees to this and gathers 450 prophets of Baal to go against the one prophet of Yahweh.

                In the passage above we see the prophets of Baal offering a sacrifice, dancing and yelling but Baal does not answer them.  Elijah is sitting there watching them and he begins to mock them!  He tells them to yell louder because their god has fallen asleep!  How bold is he?  When it comes to his turn to offer a sacrifice, he douses the wood in water three times, making it extremely hard to catch on fire.  In contrast to the 450 Baal prophets chanting and dancing around, we see one prophet of Yahweh kneel and offer a prayer.  As soon as he finished praying Yahweh threw down fire from above and the wood caught on fire and it “licked up” all the water around the altar.  What a sight that would have been!       

Live it: 

                In this story, God, Yahweh, is reminding his beloved people that he is the one true God more powerful than anything in the world.  The people had been led astray to worship a false god that is nothing more than a wooden idol.  Yahweh graciously performs this amazing act to show them his powers.  When the Israelites see this happen, they fall down and recognize that Yahweh is God. 

                In our world, it’s easy to find security in other things and not trust God.  We can find security in our careers, our knowledge, our family, or maybe escape reality in TV, sports, or hobbies.  We can’t let our focus be turned to other false idols.  We need to remember that God is the most important thing in our lives.  He is the one that will provide for all our needs.  He is the one that will give us the wisdom in tough situations.  He is the one that will bring us comfort in our times of grief.  Why, why would we turn to anything else? 


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God Prepares Elijah for Ministry (1 Kings 17)

Sometime later the son of the woman who owned the house became ill. He grew worse and worse, and finally stopped breathing. 18 She said to Elijah, “What do you have against me, man of God? Did you come to remind me of my sin and kill my son?”

19 “Give me your son,” Elijah replied. He took him from her arms, carried him to the upper room where he was staying, and laid him on his bed. 20 Then he cried out to the Lord, “Lord my God, have you brought tragedy even on this widow I am staying with, by causing her son to die?” 21 Then he stretched himself out on the boy three times and cried out to the Lord, “Lord my God, let this boy’s life return to him!”

22 The Lord heard Elijah’s cry, and the boy’s life returned to him, and he lived. 23 Elijah picked up the child and carried him down from the room into the house. He gave him to his mother and said, “Look, your son is alive!”

24 Then the woman said to Elijah, “Now I know that you are a man of God and that the word of the Lord from your mouth is the truth.”  (1 Kings 17:17-24)

Learn it:

                We’ve been focused on the kings in Israel and suddenly, the author turns his attention to Elijah.  All we know is that he is from Tishbe, and the LORD has told him to proclaim to Ahab that there is going to be a drought over the next few years.  This is a bold proclamation and then the LORD sends him into the wilderness to live.  He tells him he will provide water from a creek and that ravens will bring him food to eat.  The LORD is beginning to test the faithfulness of Elijah.

                Elijah passes the first one and then the LORD tells him to go to a city and find a widow that will feed him.  He goes, finds her and finds out that the women and her son is in a desperate situation where they are about to run out of food.  Elijah still asks her to make him some food first and that the LORD will not let the food run out.  She obediently does what Elijah says and they always have food. 

                Suddenly, her son gets ill and dies.  The woman gets furious at Elijah and blames him!  Elijah does not react to her but then pleads with the LORD to save this boys life.  The LORD hears his prayers and brings the boy back to life.  We read about how Elijah, goes through a few tough circumstances and each time trusts that the LORD is going to get him through each one and he does.

Live it:

                In our lives, God is going to test us.  He wants to see how much we believe he is going to get us through some tough situations.  We must have the faith that Elijah had and trust that God is always going to be with us.   Just like with Elijah, God gave him some small tests and then he would give him greater challenges to test his faith.  It’s important for us to remember that God has gotten us through some difficult things in our pasts and that he is going to continue to be faithful in our current circumstances as well!  He can do things greater than our minds can fathom.  What do you need to trust God with today?  How has God been with you in the past?   


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Things Continue to Spiral (1 Kings 16)

In the thirty-eighth year of Asa king of Judah, Ahab son of Omri became king of Israel, and he reigned in Samaria over Israel twenty-two years. 30 Ahab son of Omri did more evil in the eyes of the Lord than any of those before him. 31 He not only considered it trivial to commit the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, but he also married Jezebel daughter of Ethbaal king of the Sidonians, and began to serve Baal and worship him. 32 He set up an altar for Baal in the temple of Baal that he built in Samaria. 33 Ahab also made an Asherah pole and did more to arouse the anger of the Lord, the God of Israel, than did all the kings of Israel before him.  (1 Kings 16:29-33)

Learn it

            As we read through chapter 16 we go through five different kings of Israel.  During that time Judah has one king!  For Israel, it could be turned into quite an interesting story of betrayal and kings committing suicide after reigning for just seven days.  A lot of nasty things are happening.  Worst of all, we read each king is more wicked than the last. 

The last king we read about is Ahab.  He goes so far as changing the national religion from worshipping the Lord, Yahweh, to worshipping Baal.  He builds temples to Baal and even marries a woman, Jezebel, who only worships Baal.  We read that his actions are really stirring up the anger of the LORD.  It leaves us wondering, what is the God of Israel going to do?  Is he going to pour out his wrath now, after all the wickedness his people have done?  Surely, he is at his breaking point!

Live it:

            Have you ever been in a season of life where you feel you are just stuck in some sin that you can’t seem to shake?  Each decision you make seems like the wrong choice.  I’ve been there, and I’m sure we all have.  We just keep spiraling and it seems like there is no hope. We feel like God is just punishing us because we don’t trust him enough or some other reason that we convince ourselves to be true.  How do we stop that habit of sin?

                We need to see where God is giving us ways to overcome our sin.  Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 10:13, “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”  God is giving us ways.  He gave Israel the law it was up to them to follow it.  Just like God has given us his Word, his Holy Spirit, and it is up to us to be obedient.  Not always easy, but God is always with us and gives us a way out.  


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Doing Good in Tough Situations (1 Kings 15)

Asa did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, as his father David had done. 12 He expelled the male shrine prostitutes from the land and got rid of all the idols his ancestors had made. 13 He even deposed his grandmother Maakah from her position as queen mother, because she had made a repulsive image for the worship of Asherah. Asa cut it down and burned it in the Kidron Valley. 14 Although he did not remove the high places, Asa’s heart was fully committed to the Lord all his life. 15 He brought into the temple of the Lord the silver and gold and the articles that he and his father had dedicated.  (1 Kings 15:11-15)

Learn it:

            We begin today looking at the kings of Judah.  The first king in this chapter, King Abijah, was not devoted to the ways of the LORD.  Then King Asa succeeds him, and he is a great ruler.  He casts out the male shrine prostitutes and begins to rid the nation of all the false idols.  He even removes his own grandmother from her place of power!  He was not afraid to take on his own corrupt family!  Even though King Asa was not perfect, his heart had the right motives and he helped get Judah’s focus back on the LORD. 

            We round out this chapter looking at the kings of Israel.  We see that it is just one wicked king after another.   From this point on the author will focus primarily on Israel.  Compared to Judah, who currently has a good king, Israel is in a bad place and we will see how God does not give up on them!   

Live it:

            Focusing on King Asa’s life we can learn a lot about his courage as a king to stay true to the commands of God.  He had to change course from what previous leaders had done.  You can bet he was met with resistance from the people.  He was also met with resistance from his own family.  He was a king that had conviction and stuck to it.

 

            How do you handle sticking to your convictions when faced with peer pressure?  It’s not always an easy thing to do, especially if you have to go against your families.  Those are moments when we need to rely on God.  He is the one that can give us the strength and courage to be bold in our faith.  God blessed King Asa by allowing his life story to be used for encouraging the people of God for thousands of years.  How will people remember your life?  What is your testimony going to be?  


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Pastor’s Corner