Two Choices

Saturday – May 29, 2021

1 Kings 9-10, Acts 26

Solomon has finished the calling that God assigned to him. The temple was completed. In addition, Solomon has built an elaborate palace and pursued wisdom in his life. In 1 Kings 9, God appears to Solomon and makes a second promise to him. If Solomon commits to following after God and living by the commandments of God, God will build his kingdom and establish it. But, this promise presents a choice: either Solomon can have a kingdom established forever or he would have his kingdom ruined and removed. These consequences are contingent upon the actions of the Israelites outlined in Deuteronomy 30: “I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Choose life so that you and your descendants may live, love the Lord your God, obey Him, and remain faithful to Him. For He is your life, and He will prolong your life in the land the Lord swore to give to your fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob” (v. 19-20). 

The Israelites could have life and blessings, but they needed to love God, obey him, and remain faithful to him. If they didn’t, they would live a life apart from God, full of troubles and difficult times. Even though the choice seems like a no brainer, generations of the Israelites still choose death, including Solomon. Because of their choices, they faced exile, famine, sickness, and death. 

We have the same choices today. We can choose life or death. I’ve always wondered why the Israelites couldn’t see the goodness that they were leaving behind because they chose to live a sinful life. However, when I look at my own life, I can understand why that path seemed pleasing to them. Sin feels good in the moment. It fills us up in the short term. But, as life continues and sin upon sin piles up, it turns out to be rotten. Like sweet cakes or soft drinks, it tastes good, but over time, too much leaves us feeling gross inside. Too much leads to death. To say no to sin requires self-discipline and sacrifice. We recognize that we are giving up something that may feel good now, because later on, we will have a better thing. 

Because of the sacrifice of Jesus, our consequences are not contingent upon all of our actions. We will not be judged by the law, because we have freedom in Christ – if we make one choice. If we choose to make Christ our Lord, we will have life in him. Today, choose life! Choose to live righteously and follow after Jesus, the perfect king. This choice and the sacrifice is so worth it!

~ Stephanie Schlegel

Read or listen to today’s Bible reading at Biblegateway.com: 1 Chronicles 9-10 and Proverbs 21.

Our High Calling

Thursday – May 27, 2021

1 Kings 5-6, Acts 24

As Solomon’s reign continues, he begins to build the temple: the job promised to him by God through David. Solomon knows that this is his calling – and he wants to do it well. After David was told that he could not build the temple because of the blood shed on his hands, David amassed a treasure trove of building supplies for years. Even though temple building was not David’s calling, he still worked hard to make sure that he made Solomon’s task easier through his actions. 

One of the first actions that Solomon takes is to get the best lumber he could find. He goes to the king of Lebanon and asks for the cedars of Lebanon. Then, he began to build the temple – a process that lasted 7 years! 

Solomon knew that when God has called you to do something you make sure to do two things: (1) you give him the best of you first and (2) you complete the task assigned to you no matter how long it takes. Solomon didn’t let the difficulty of getting the cedars of Lebanon stop him from being sure to get the finest lumber. He also didn’t give up in the process of finishing the temple. He was committed to finishing the task he was assigned to well. 

In our lives, are you as committed as Solomon to completing the calling God has assigned to you well? We are God’s hands and feet in the world. Part of our testimony to the world is how well we complete our callings. “Let’s not grow weary of doing good” (Gal. 6:9). “Let’s finish the race we are running with endurance” (Heb. 12:1-2). 

~ Stephanie Schlegel

Read or listen to today’s Bible reading at Biblegateway.com: 1 Chronicles 9-10 and Proverbs 21.

The Path to Life

Tuesday – May 25, 2021

1 Kings 1-2, Acts 22

1 Kings opens up with David’s final moments. His health begins to decline as turmoil grows in his kingdom. David’s sons had a history of defiance and wrongdoing, culminating in the story of Absalom’s revolt described in 2 Samuel 15. Absalom dies, and David mourns for him. In 1 Kings, we meet another of David’s sons, the next in line after Absalom – Adonijah. Adonijah is the heir apparent, the oldest surviving son. He begins to exalt himself in 1 Kings 1:5, saying “I will be king!” This Lion King-esque refrain has a darker tone to it. Adonijah was never truly promised the throne, and at the time he was saying this, his father was still alive. Instead of waiting for a peaceful transition of power, Adonijah seizes the moment of David’s weak health and begins amassing forces to take the kingdom by force. Adonijah’s greed for power leads to sin and death, as the revolt eventually spirals into his own demise. 

Adonijah walked down the path of foolishness. His rash actions were compounded by sinfulness and a total disregard for the law. He had to pay for all of his actions. But, in verse 6, there is an interesting statement: “But his father had never once reprimanded him by saying “Why do you act this way?” Adonijah did not commit these actions in a vacuum; he had a family, court, and religious leaders surrounding him. Who was speaking wisdom into Adonijah’s life? Encouraging him to make wise choices and reminding him of Absalom’s life – and what might happen if he doesn’t show patience in his potential ascension to the throne? David ‘never once reprimanded’ Adonijah, calling into question his wrong behavior. Instead, he allowed Adonijah to do what was right in his eyes. In doing so, Adonijah eventually walked towards his own death. David needed to provide guidance and discipline for Adonijah, and because of his refusal to do so, Adonijah caused turmoil and pain to himself and others. 

Discipline can seem like a scary thing. It’s definitely one of my least favorite parts of being a teacher. It’s complicated and sometimes painful to discipline others and be disciplined ourselves. But, discipline is a crucial part of being a disciple of Jesus. Hebrews 12:10-11 says, “10 [Our parents] disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. 11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” Discipline is such an important part of our sanctification. Essentially, discipline is the way that we call each other back to the way of righteousness and holiness. And, it’s the way that God calls us back to him. 

How have you experienced God’s discipline in your life – through his hand or those of your parents or church leaders? Remember, discipline can keep us from becoming an Adonijah, someone with no guardrails or guidelines for the right, wise way to live. Let’s pursue a righteous life together. 

~ Stephanie Schlegel

Read or listen to today’s Bible reading at Biblegateway.com: 1 Chronicles 9-10 and Proverbs 21.

Still Not Alone

1 Kings 20-21

1 Kings 20 13 NIV sgl

I neglected to mention at the end of yesterday’s “You are Not Alone” devotion that one excellent way to battle the weary, lonely depression that sometimes falls upon those who speak for God is to find a partner in ministry – work together with one you can mentor.  At the end of chapter 19 Elijah found Elisha.  Some Bible scholars suggest they worked together about 6 years, but I found another that thought it could have been closer to 23 years.  Regardless of the length of time, I believe it is safe to say the apprenticeship was a mutual blessing to both Elijah and Elisha – and likely multiplied the work that either one could have done on their own.  Elisha will have a very long and powerful ministry for the LORD, but what would it have looked like if he had not had the opportunity to serve under Elijah?  Who are you serving under?  Who are you mentoring?

It is interesting that in the next chapter neither Elijah nor Elisha are mentioned, but at least twice a prophet or son of a prophet speaks to evil King Ahab – once to tell him how to be victorious over the attacking Ben-Hadad of Aram, and once to reprimand him for being too leniant on Ben-Hadad when God delivered him into Ahab’s hand.  This is further proof that Elijah was indeed not the only one left to stand for and speak for God.  And proof, that while Elijah had very faithfully performed many deeds and sermons for God – God did not need Elijah.  The Almighty can call any man or woman – or rock – to work for Him.  I do believe when the city walls fall down on 27,000 fleeing enemy soldiers God’s rocks were at work – perhaps others would have merely called it a coincidence or an earthquake (1 Kings 20:30).

It can truly be amazing who and what God uses – even the evilest king who had ever lived.  Sure, enough, when God wanted to show HIS strength against the advancing foreign army – He tells Ahab the winning battle plans through a prophet and Ahab somewhat surprisingly listens and follows along – to a point.  And, in the last chapter of today’s reading we will even see Ahab repentant – for a time.  There is no heart God can’t soften and change or use for His glory.

But, you are just asking for trouble if you choose to hang out with the bad girls (or in Ahab’s case, his wicked wife).   They have done a lot of evil things but how many commandments do they manage to break when Ahab decides he would love to have a vegetable garden for his second palace?  Once, again, sin snowballs.  One leads to another and it grows larger and larger. With serious consequences.

Following the violent murder of innocent Naboth and the stealing of his property, Elijah is sent to condemn Ahab and Jezebel and foretell their own violent deaths – only partially put on hold by Ahab’s repentant spirit.  Isn’t it good to know that God still sees the  cruelty and injustice of the world today and His timeline is put in place to make all things right.  There will be a time when all humanity meets their judge and will be held accountable for all their deeds and the condition of their hearts.  Until that day may we faithfully carry His word – knowing that we are not alone!

Marcia Railton

 

Today’s Bible reading can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+Kings+20-21&version=NIV

Tomorrow’s Bible reading will be 1 Kings 22 & 2 Chronicles 18 as we continue the seekgrowlove.com 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan