March 9, 2017

Today you should read: 1 Kings 22:1-53

No one likes it when someone else says something bad or critical about you. Jehoshaphat was not in the minority when complaining to the King of Israel about certain prophets because they never prophesy anything good about him (v. 8). Even if criticism is constructive, it can still hurt. Especially if it doesn’t go our way or if it’s truth that reveals sin or hurt. And that’s exactly what still happens in this story as Micaiah prophecies and the King says “How many times shall I make you swear that you speak to me nothing but the truth in the name of the LORD?” in verse 16. But he wasn’t afraid to speak truth, especially when coming from God and we should be no different. Sometimes, as Christians, we must deliver hard truths to others or even hear them ourselves. We must not have the same attitude as Jehoshaphat who only wanted to hear the good, whether it’s truth from God or not.

Verse 23 has been a source of confliction for Christians who know that we worship a God who keeps his promises and does not lie. God represents truth and in a world of “alternative facts” and “your truth doesn’t mean it’s my truth” this passage confuses us because it shows how God uses what is called “a lying spirit” for His good purposes. The ESV Study Bible does a great job explaining some of this by saying:

“Though God himself does not do evil, he sometimes uses evil agents to accomplish his purposes (see notes on 1 Sam. 16:14; 2 Chron. 18:15–22).”

God still hates lies and keeps His promises but it doesn’t mean He won’t use things in this fallen world for His Will and Plan. I think of this when international missionaries are put into situations where they have to lie to bring Bibles into other countries and certain sinful situations that God redeems later because we know that Romans 8:28 is true.

And we know that for those who love God all things work together hfor good, for ithose who are called according to his purpose.

By: Erik Koliser — West Campus Pastor

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March 8, 2017

Today you should read: 1 Kings 21:1-29

In 1 Samuel 8, before Israel had a king, the last Judge, Samuel, issues a warning. Part of Samuel’s warning to Israel was that a king will conscript sons and daughters, they will take part of the harvest, and “He will take the best of your fields and vineyards…” (1 Sam 8:14). And yet, “The people refused to obey the voice of Samuel. And they said, ‘No! But there shall be a king over us, that we also may be like all the nations’” (8:19–20). Although they had been warned, God’s people reaped the consequences of their sin. Likewise, they probably never counted on a king like Ahab.

King Ahab’s wife, Jezebel, has become one of the most notorious people in the Bible. Today’s passage illustrates her character and power over the malleable Ahab. Ahab desired Naboth’s vineyard, and when Naboth refused to sell, Ahab seemed to accept his answer. However, after moping around for a while, Jezebel took matters into her own hands and had Naboth killed. While it seems unlikely that Ahab would have killed Naboth without Jezebel’s intervention, he had no qualm taking advantage of Naboth’s death.

Elijah brought a message from the Lord to Naboth warning him that his actions will lead to a terrible death. Likewise, the fate of Jezebel had been sealed. Then something unexpected happens, “When Ahab heard those words, he tore his clothes and put sackcloth on his flesh and fasted and lay in sackcloth and went about dejectedly. And the word of the Lord came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying, “Have you seen how Ahab has humbled himself before me? Because he has humbled himself before me, I will not bring the disaster in his days; but in his son’s days I will bring the disaster upon his house.” (27–29)

While Ahab did not come to saving faith, the Lord relented the calamity that would befall him because he humbled himself at the Lord’s warning. In the next chapter, Ahab will meet his ignominious end and the dogs will lick up pools of his blood, but his lineage will not yet be cut off.

As I consider this passage, several things stick out. First, the person you marry has an enormous effect of your life. Proverbs 12:4 says, “A noble wife is the crown of her husband, but the wife who acts shamefully is like rottenness in his bones.” (NET) Jezebel’s actions (and Ahab’s approval) brought the wrath of the Lord. Ahab was not a “good guy,” but it’s clear that Jezebel led him into greater sin than he would have achieved on his own.

Secondly, we can never overstate the importance of repentance and humility before the Lord. Although, Ahab’s actions were not salvific, they seem to have spared him from a greater calamity than he experienced. How much calamity do we see in our lives and in the lives of others who fail to humble themselves before the Lord? Just pick up a tabloid! True humility is recognizing who we are in light of who God is. When we truly understand our fallenness and the corruption of our nature, we understand that we need a Savior to bring us into a relationship with the Lord and make us new. Repentance and humility are great, but repentance and humility outside of a relationship with Christ cannot save. We need a relationship with Christ and a new nature (2 Cor 5:17) so that repentance and humility can have it’s full effect.

By: Tyler Short — Connections Ministry Associate

March 7, 2017

Today you should read: 1 Kings 20:1-43

Our passage today discusses a war. The ESV Study Bible sums up this passage well:

Ahab’s War against Syria. After Elijah’s recruitment of Elisha, one expects to read of his anointing of Hazael as king over Syria and of Jehu as king over Israel (cf. 19:15–18). Instead, one finds a story in which a different prophet appears and in which a different king of Syria (Ben-hadad) loses a war with Ahab. The message of ch. 19 is thus underlined: Elijah is not the only servant of God left, in spite of what he has claimed (19:10, 14); and the quiet ways of God must take their course for a while before the events spoken of in 19:17 come to pass.

One thing that stood out to me is the promise given in verse 13: “Behold, I will give it into your hand this day, and you shall know that I am the LORD.” This promise is then followed by an unusual battle plan, that would show God’s promise to be true because of the drunkenness of Ben-hadad. What was the purpose of the God’s promise? To glorify Himself.

If nothing else, we should be reminded today of the faithfulness of a God who makes and keeps his promises. We should also be reminded that the purpose for our lives should be for the glory of God, and that in any situation that we might find ourselves, it is a helpful practice to be intentional in remembering who God is and what He has promised to do in your life.

Take joy that if you are in Christ, God has promised to be at work in your life, conforming you more and more into the image of Christ.

By: Graham Withers — Pastoral Ministry Apprentice

March 6, 2017

Today you should read: 1 Kings 19:19-21

Often we think of discipleship as a uniquely New Testament idea. We all know the Great Commission to go and make disciples of all nations. But we also see the pattern of discipleship even in the Old Testament. Today’s passage is a perfect example of this.

Elijah has called upon Elisha to pass the mantle of his leadership to. He finds Elisha faithfully working his craft, and casts his cloak upon him, indicating that he wants Elisha to follow him. Elisha is eager to follow, but he asks that he would be able to say farewell to his family first, which Elijah obliges. He then goes on to learn from and assist Elijah.

We can never have too many reminders of why it is so important for us to be pouring our lives into others, and seeking it out ourselves. It is important for us to be reminded because we often want to do things our own way and in our own power. But God has designed the church to function in such a way that relationships between older, more experienced believers are to aide the lives of younger ones.

Is there someone in your Connect Group or on your serve team that could benefit from the years of experience and lessons that God has brought you through? Take a bold step and initiate a time where you can invest in the life of another.

By: Graham Withers — Pastoral Ministry Apprentice