2 Kings 3-4 B

What can I do to help you?” Elisha asked. “Tell me, what do you have in the house?” “Nothing at all, except a flask of olive oil,” she replied. And Elisha said, “Borrow as many empty jars as you can from your friends and neighbors. Then go into your house with your sons and shut the door behind you. Pour olive oil from your flask into the jars, setting each one aside when it is filled.” So she did as she was told. Her sons kept bringing jars to her, and she filled one after another. Soon every container was full to the brim! “Bring me another jar,” she said to one of her sons. “There aren’t any more!” he told her. And then the olive oil stopped flowing. 4:2-6

I love this miracle God performs to provide for a widowed woman. He uses something she already has, something ordinary like oil, and multiples it, filling up vessel after vessel in her house. She’ll sell the oil, pay off her debts and be able to live off the profit. God prioritizes her troubles and provides for her. I see this concept repeated in the Bible, especially when it come to miracles. Someone’s sack lunch is used to feed thousands (Mark 6:31, John 6:1-14) or like when a few stones in a boy’s pocket are used to take down a giant soldier (1 Sam. 17).

When has God used something in your life, something ordinary, for a greater purpose?

Never underestimate what God is able to do. We don’t need elite education, special resources or extraordinary circumstances for him to show up. These chapters are just a drop in the bucket of examples of God using the underdog or the least expected to accomplish his work.

Share a time God unexpectedly showed up in your life with us in the comments!

 

-Carly

 

2 Kings 1-2 B

These chapters make me giggle. First off, there’s not a lot of back story or context for the whole Ahaziah-fell-through-a-lattice story. I want to know more. What was he doing??

Second, my flannel graphs in Sunday school never properly prepared me for a leather-loin-girdle-wearing Elijah. Where are the billowing robes!?! It reminds me of John the Baptist’s crazy outfits. Elijah was pretty much God’s favorite man on earth, at the time, and he’s described as: “a hairy man with a leather girdle bound about his loins.” (1:8) which is, apparently, his signature look. Why do we make such a fuss about what is acceptable church attire?

Then the whole story leading up to his departure is strange. All the “you can stay here“s and the prophets repeatedly telling Elisha he was about to be left behind. I like it. I don’t have anything insightful to add besides, “the Bible is entertaining”. I hope you enjoyed these chapters today as I did. You can read Carly’s post from last time if you want something more profound.

-Bethany

1 Kings 21-22 B

These chapters! My goodness, the Old Testament is a wild ride. I hope you read them for yourselves, because these posts can hardly scrape the surface.

Here’s what jumped out to me:

 “Meanwhile, the messenger who went to get Micaiah said to him, ‘Look, all the prophets are promising victory for the king. Be sure that you agree with them and promise success.’ But Micaiah replied, ‘As surely as the Lord lives, I will say only what the Lord tells me to say.’ ” 22:13-14

Micaiah is courageous and faithful with the message God has given him. He doesn’t waver in the presence of authority or in the threat of violence. He stands firm; he only says what the Lord tells him to say.

Does people-pleasing prevent you from sharing what God wants you to say? 

I love this Psalm: “In my distress I prayed to the LORD, and the LORD answered me and set me free. The LORD is for me, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me? Yes, the LORD is for me; he will help me. I will look in triumph at those who hate me. It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in people. It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in princes.” Psalm 22:13-14

It is better to take refuge in the Lord. Why do I so quickly forget that?

 

-Carly

 

1 Kings 19-20 B

“But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he asked that he might die, saying, ‘It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life, for I am no better than my fathers’.” (19:4)

Elijah can’t even anymore. He seems to have a righteous anger about how hopeless the situation is. Rightly so, the LORD just handedly won a stand off against the preferred god of His own people, and it’s somehow still not over.

I love how gentle the LORD is with him in this moment. He sees Elijah’s despair and makes him a cake. “Arise and eat, the journey is too great for you.” God knows he doesn’t have what it takes, so He supplies the power.

I am struck by the frailties of our humanity in these chapters. Even a great prophet like Elijah doesn’t have the perspective to know it isn’t over. But the LORD gently helps him find a refuge and provides a replacement. It’s beautiful, even, to remember the continuation of this story. That Elijah doesn’t ever die, the LORD takes Him up in a chariot. He loves Elijah.

Meanwhile, back in the valley, Elijah doesn’t know that, not only does the LORD have other prophets, but they’re hard at work (getting punched in the face and stuff) while Elijah rests and finds his replacement.

The war in chapter 20 is strange, because why would God give victory to this horrible Ahab person?? (So nice He didn’t give this assignment to poor Elijah). But the LORD’s motive becomes clear:

“And a man of God came near and said to the king of Israel, ‘Thus says the Lord, ‘Because the Syrians have said, “The Lord is a god of the hills but he is not a god of the valleys,” therefore I will give all this great multitude into your hand, and you shall know that I am the Lord.’” (20:28)

This isn’t about anyone besides Him and His Great Name. He will walk away from the battle having cleared some things up. Namely His unlimited jurisdiction.

If you are someone who truly wants to see the glory of the LORD fill the earth, and for all people to know Him, but you’re tired and discouraged, because people are the worst, ask for His strength and perspective today.

-Bethany

1 Kings 17-18 B

These are two of my favorite stories in the Bible. I love the second half of 18. Here’s an overview Bethany wrote, I’ll just share what I noticed today:

Then the Lord said to Elijah, “Go to the east and hide by Kerith Brook, near where it enters the Jordan River. Drink from the brook and eat what the ravens bring you, for I have commanded them to bring you food.” 

I always feel moved when God uses creation and animals within his work. I poked around online for a while to see if there was anything symbolic about ravens, but didn’t find much. They’re simple birds, smart, but not remarkable by any means, and it’s speculated that they don’t even bother to feed their young (Psalm 147:9, Job 38:41).

Yet these animals, a dime a dozen, still answer to the Lord. On one hand, I love this because it’s a slight glimpse of God exercising his power over his creation. And on the other, it reminds me that God allows me to choose him. We aren’t like the birds; we have a choice to obey him and join him in his work.

If we want to dance around in circles, worshiping our lifeless gods that don’t respond or make a sound (18:29), we have that choice.

God deeply loves you and desires to be loved back by you. If he simply wanted power and control, to dictate your every move with a heavy hand, he could do it instantly. But instead, he patiently waits out a relationship with us. He does things like using a starving widow, one of the least important people to that culture at the time, to tell a part of his story. He has mercy on her, rewarding her faithful hand that reaches into the bottom of the empty flour jar every morning. He demonstrates tangibly that he is our provider, he is sovereign over life, death, weather and fertility, as Baal followers claim their manmade god is.

Did these chapters change how you see God?

 

-Carly

 

 

1 Kings 15-16 B

After a slower narrative start, the author of Kings hits the fast forward button on these guys: “This one followed the LORD, this one angered Him…”

While a mostly righteous king (Asa) reigns in Judah, Israel experiences a dizzying few decades of turn around.

It can feel like we’re missing out on some serious history, here, but the point of Kings is to highlight those who did, and did not, keep the LORD as Lord. Another detail included is this:

“In his days Hiel of Bethel built Jericho. He laid its foundation at the cost of Abiram his firstborn, and set up its gates at the cost of his youngest son Segub, according to the word of the Lord, which he spoke by Joshua the son of Nun.” (16:34)

I’m sure many cities were built and rebuilt at this time, but most noteworthy is the one which fulfills a prophecy almost 500 years old!

What do you think will be the most noteworthy aspect of your life? If I was alive at this time, I would not be mentioned, as my ancestors weren’t either!

What was going on with the average Israelite during these decades? I’m sure some still worshiped YHWH as best they could (He always keeps a remember for Himself), and others were confused, indifferent, or stoked about Asherah worship. Only God sees all of us, but it’s interesting to note how responsible He holds leaders.

This should push us to do a few things.

  1. Pray for our leaders
  2. Approach leadership positions cautiously and humbly
  3. Keep the LORD as Lord!

There will be more chapters like this, which cover a lot of time, but tomorrow we will slow down for a closer look at the life of Elijah, and the reign of Ahab.

-Bethany

1 Kings 13-14 B

“But the old prophet answered, ‘I am a prophet, too, just as you are. And an angel gave me this command from the Lord: ‘Bring him home with you so he can have something to eat and drink.’ ‘ But the old man was lying to him. So they went back together, and the man of God ate and drank at the prophet’s home. Then while they were sitting at the table, a command from the Lord came to the old prophet. He cried out to the man of God from Judah, ‘This is what the Lord says: You have defied the word of the Lord and have disobeyed the command the Lord your God gave you. You came back to this place and ate and drank where he told you not to eat or drink. Because of this, your body will not be buried in the grave of your ancestors.’ ” 13:18-22

These were pretty wild chapters (shrine prostitutes? Symbolic donkey and lion hang out in the road?!), but I was really upset about this part. Why would the old prophet do that? Ugh, it doesn’t sit right with me. I dwelled on it for a while, and unfortunately, recalled that usually when Scripture deeply rubs me the wrong way, it’s because it resonates with me personally.

The old prophet is holding up a mirror for me that I don’t really want to look into. Insecure and prone with pride. The Bible leaves out the exact details, but here’s what I speculate:

Jealousy. This man is described as “the old prophet”. As in, old news. As in, probably not prophesying anymore. His sons are visiting him, possibly even caring for him. He hears of a new man of God performing snappy new miracles and decides to take him down. Yikes.

Is there something in your life you’ve placed a little too much worth in?

I don’t want to be like the old prophet, and wow, I don’t want to be like the man of God either. He puts his life on the line for a meal (glad I’m not the only one who is often ruled by their appetite), and deliberately disobeys EXACTLY what God said to him.

I’m not convinced he entirely believed the prophet when he said God changed his mind and said it was okay to come over for dinner. It’s just easy to believe other godly people when they tell you what you want to hear. 

But we don’t answer to godly people, we answer to God. 

How do you go about sifting your decisions through God’s word? Who do you find yourself turning to when you need to make a decision? Someone who will tell you what you want to hear, or someone who will tell you the truth?

 

 

-Carly