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Mar 2, 2015

90 Day Challenge – Day 61

Sarah Christmyer

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Bible Time Period: Divided Kingdom

Israel split into rival kingdoms and fell into idolatry: help me to choose your kingship over other loves.

Reflection

In spite of the evil done by the kings of Judah, God promised in 1 Kings 15:4-5 to maintain a “lamp” for David in Jerusalem forever.  This symbolizes the permanence of the Davidic dynasty in the city where God has chosen His name to dwell.  The situation is different in the northern kingdom of Israel.  There a long succession of kings from a number of different families and factions follows Jeroboam.  The first eight of these northern kings are described in 1 Kings 15:25 – 16:34.   Pay attention to the kind of men they are and to what Israel is like during their reigns.

Today’s Reading

1 Kings 16-19

Today’s Question

God sent prophets to carry his message of warning and love to Israel.  One of the greatest was Elijah (chs. 17-19).  What is God’s message to Israel through Elijah?

Join the discussion below!

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  • In short, God’s message to Israel through Elijah is that God is the LORD. Through the test of the sacrifice, God seemingly gives the advantage to the Baal worshipers by allowing their priests to chose the sacrifice and having plenty of time to prove Baal’s existence and power. Yet it is the water drenched sacrifice to God that ignites, proving that not only is God all-powerful but also that He is the only God.

    I wonder whether secretly in the depths of their souls, many Israelites felt unsatisfied and unfulfilled by dividing their worship of God with Baal, which is why they agreed to the test. Others may have agreed because they did not believe in God and thought this would bring everyone to worship Baal. Either way, they did not have long to repent because in Chap 19 v18 God says “But I will spare seven thousand in Israel—every knee that has not bent to Baal, every mouth that has not kissed him.” The fact that God would only spare those who remained faithful, seems an indication that those who worshiped Baal may have had a scary but cotton candy reversion e.g. they are going with the flow, promise the earth and 5 minutes later go back to their old ways.

    Thinking on our readings today and the Homily, we were asked what was the center of our lives and which master did we serve? We were told that anxiety and worrying were often signs that we put ourselves at the center and if so, these things draw the life out of us. If we put God at the center, He would look after us. I wish I could always act on that advice, instead of wasting so much time and energy worrying about trivialities.

    • St. Faustine (who gave the Mercy Chaplet)had a sentence Christ taught her: Jesus, I trust in You. If we would only remember that when we are having difficulties it would be a lot easier to follow Him. (Though we will not be perfect every time, our hearts will be in the right place.)

      • I have the Divine Mercy image on the wall by my bed so it’s the first thing I see every morning when I wake up, “Jesus, I Trust in You”. These words give me great comfort. I once had a priest in the confessional give me this penance: to repeat this phrase 20 or 30 times. When I recite this devotional prayer, I am able to feel His arms wrapped around me to comfort and heal me…

        Today’s Gospel has a special meaning for me because Jesus has been Faithful and True to His Word. I recall a time not too long ago when I was sitting in prayer, my financial worries weighing heavily on my mind. I look out the window at the bird perched in a tree in my front yard, and this Scripture passage came to mind: “Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” (Matthew 6:24)

        My heart goes out to those of you who have posted above about your trials and the feelings associated with the painful memories of abuse and abandonment. There is nothing worse than feeling unloved and unworthy. Today’s first reading was very brief, but God’s message to His people is not to be overlooked: “Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you.” (Isaiah 49:15)

        With love and prayers for blessing and peace, Mar

    • Yes Liz, the readings today are a great reminder of our lack of trust in God.

      This Bible story leaves us wondering why God’s people are so incapable of loyalty to the true God. Then I am reminded that with all the Graces I have received through the sacraments and Life in Christ I am still incapable of keeping God at the centre of my life. Even Elijah fled to the wilderness when under threat! This gave him time to re-focus on God rather than his own panic at the threats to his life. I think we have to recognise that despite our weakness God still works through us. As the Bible reading progresses I realise these crazy people of God are very much like me!
      From a worrier!

      • I find that most of my worries come from putting God at the center of my life. Yes. I fear the Lord with very real fear. How often do think about what is God going to do to me next.

        • I have a different fear. Will God ask me to do something I don’t want to do or something I am afraid to do? So I don’t ask God what He wants of me.

          • I understand that fear Jeanne…I also fear that I’ll even hear God over all the others in my head. I often pray to God asking that I do hear Him and to give me strength to do His will.

          • Guess several of us know that fear. I’ve come to see that God only asks of us what He created us to do and He does qualified the called. If He asks you to do something, it will come easy and natural to do it and you will know it is Him calling because of the peace you will experience. “Be not afraid.” Plus it will produce “fruits.”

          • Most people seem to say that once they actually do what the Lord asks of them, even though they were reluctant and resistant at first, in the long run they realize what a blessing it turns out to be. So we really need not fear what He may ask of us…

        • You have a lot to bear and i pray God will give you strength from his presence in your life and his infinite love for you.

        • Sounds very like how Elijah felt when threatened by Jezebel. Can you derive comfort from 1Kings 19:11-12? “There was a strong and violent wind rending the mountains and crushing rocks before the Lord – but the Lord as not in the wind; after the wind, an earthquake – but the Lord was not in the earthquake; after the earthquake, fire – but the Lord was not in the fire; after the fire, a light silent sound.” I know it helps me when I am frustrated and afraid to remember that God is not the storms in our lives; He is the calm. Somehow, I find peace when I realize that God does not “do to me,” I am the source of strife in my life; or the strife comes from places I have no control over – the human condition of suffering. Peace comes when I finally let go and “do for Him” in trust. My prayer for you is peace, joy and strength, Barbara Ann. Wish I could give you more than a mental hug.

          • Kerry, you have good point in bringing out if the Lord, in the wind? In earthquake, in fire? To me, the Lord doesn’t really terrorize us but He comes in silence. I’m even more terrorized with bombastic preachings of many churches in my way home when most often there were two on each side of the road almost reaching each other’s bombastic preachings. How often do we hear our priest homily in this tone?

          • Honestly? I have heard bombastic preaching on a regular basis from a Catholic priest. Please keep him in your prayers.

        • Years of searching has shown me that the things God “does to me” turn out far greater than the small plans I thought up. I see His way, it is peaceful AND it always works out for the benefit of all involved. All things really do work together for those who love the Lord. The current readings are enhancing my fear of the Lord, the greatest is fear is of losing Him.

          • It is really not the things God actually does to me but the things I imagine that God should do to me. Something in todays readings spoke to me (of course it was how the our priest explained it that spoke to me ) it was the second reading from 1 Corinthians

            It does not concern me in the least
            that I be judged by you or any human tribunal;
            I do not even pass judgment on myself;
            I am not conscious of anything against me,
            but I do not thereby stand acquitted;
            the one who judges me is the Lord.
            Therefore do not make any judgment before the appointed time,
            until the Lord comes,
            for he will bring to light what is hidden in darkness
            and will manifest the motives of our hearts,
            and then everyone will receive praise from God.

            Our priest told us that what Paul was saying is that we are not only not supposed to judge others but we are not supposed to judge ourselves.
            This is why Elijah was in the cave. He had judged himself a failure.

          • If I am reading this correctly, it sounds like you are going through a trial I’ve been going through for years–unworthiness. I agonized over past sins, omissions, etc. I’ve heard all the arguments, but it was deep seeded. I’m doing a novena to Our Lady Undoer of Knots. It is helping more than anything I’ve tried. Mine came from early childhood. Really wonderful to begin to have a better relationship with God.

          • Kathy that is exactly what our priest was talking about. He told a story about when he was a lawyer, He was defending a young man that found himself in jail. He went to see the young man’s mother who told him “I don’t know why he turned out this way, I told him everyday how worthless he was” I almost burst into tears, he could have been talking about my mother. Even my son noted this, he was not unaffected by my mother, I’ll bet you have the same story

          • Somewhat. Both mother and father left me when I was a year old and whenever I did see them, they basically just criticized me. Abandonment issues leads to worthlessness. See if you can connect to that Novena. Wish I could visit w/you. Perhaps I could share some healing. Bless you.

          • Wow Kathy your story is more like my children’s. Because I had worthlessness issues, I entered an abusive marriage. My husband abandoned my son when he was born. My mother took care of my children while I worked and treated them much as she treated me. She can’t be faulted because she thought that was the way to raise children. She always prefaced her criticisim with “I am only saying this because I love you” So my daughter not only witnessed physical abuse of me by her father but my mother’s constant criticism of me.

  • As I read today’s reading and contemplated on the question, I found myself amazed at the unfaithfulness of the Israelites. They seem to follow anyone else but the Lord our God. God so loved us that he sent yet another to intercede in the constant battle of good vs. evil.

    God wants His flock back under HIs protective wing. He loves us so! That statement humbles me
    because I keep wandering off from the flock in order to “do my thing”. I need to stay close and
    safe within the flock lest I be tempted to stray too far.

    • A wise priest once told me that Jesus loves to see us struggle before the cross…it means we are trying!! And that is what really counts…It tells us our hearts are in the right place.

  • Elijah is to me the most fascinating person of the old testament. His message is the same message as all the Judges and Prophets it is even the same as John the Baptist “Repent! Return to God ! Worship only the one true God. Perhaps my favorite part of the story is Elijah’s encounter with the priests of Baal. I love the way he taunts them. Particularly where he says “Perhaps Baal is to busy to hear them, The true God of Israel always has time for each individual and will answer every prayer for the best of every individual. I also love the image of the storm coming as the hand of God. Elijah also performs miracles in God’s name. The two miracles mentioned here, the never empty flour jar and the bringing the widow’s son are similar to the miracles of Jesus (multiplication of the loaves and fishes and the restoring to life the daughter of the official)

    • Elijah and John the Baptist do present a nice bookend effect, don’t they? John seems to be proclaiming an end to a long spiritual drought, too.

  • Elijah’s efforts to turn people back to God and away from their man made religion eventually frustrated him to the point of wanting to give up. Thanks be to God for not accepting his resignation. I also thank God for the religious leaders and disciples He has put in my life to help keep.me on His path. Today’s readings connect nicely as they too point us to trust God and not ourselves something I will focus on for lent..

  • Great synopses again from everyone….I love when the readings correspond with the Scriptures we are focusing on — no coincidences!
    There is sooo much material here to ponder. As the footnotes suggest, Elijah proclaimed a drought on God’s authority – manifested in a real drought on the land. Yet, as the widow and her son are witness, God still provided true life-giving sustenance to His faithful.
    The contest between Baal and God brought into sharp relief the symbolism of water for me. I am fascinated by how the drought and the contest occurred in Samaria. Again, the Gospel of Geography. Recall the Woman at the Well story in the New Testament.
    In Elijah’s time, an abundance of water could not quench the raging fire of God, burning for His people to return to Him. The storm ending the drought is an offer of continued providence the people need to understand. Christ offers the Samaritan woman, in the same region hundreds of years later, the same grace – an end to the drought in her life if she will accept him as the source of Living Water, the Messiah.

  • To gain many, many interpretive insights (literal, spiritual lenses all covered) from this period of Salvation History, I recommend a book: “Jezebel – Portraits of a Queen,” by Patricia Dutcher-Walls. It is part of the Interfaces Series, edited by Barbara Green from Liturgical Press.

  • Wonderful comments by everyone this Sunday. Again, in my true form, I found another visual that really makes me feel what the words say. Talk about a statement that no one could ever doubt that God was real, present, and powerful. My what a sight! I often feel like Elijah in day to day life. With church numbers dwindling, it feels awful challenging to not only stay strong spiritually but also help the Church community grow as I feel that God has given me this charge to at least try. May we all be blessed with the power to keep this fire inside us alive and show the fire to everyone in our midst as well. God will always be there and keep burning if we just keep that fire alive inside of us and allow it to light up others as well.

    • Thank you again for the stunning picture. On can almost sense the fear in the false priests of Baal. One of our Parish Priests is an artist. When he is writing his sermon he paints a picture for inspiration sometimes he is able to make a copy and he passes it out at mass.

  • Maybe I missed the explanation: all these sagas of Kings and others seem to end with “and their deeds are recorded in the Chronicles of the Book of Kings”. are we talking of the very books we are reading here, or of another compendium that has been lost to history?

    • I am taking the Bible Timeline at our parish 1Chronicles and 2Chronicles are supplimental books that roughly the last half of 1Samuel, 2Samuel and 1 and 2Kings. Occasionally you will see them referenced in the footnotes depending on which Bible you are using

      • Good question Al. I’ve wondered the same thing myself. Thanks Barbara, for sharing your knowledge! I’ve read Chronicles but never made that connection.

        • I actually enjoyed Chronicles more that Samuel and Kings. They are more literary than Samuel and Kings, which are quite linear.

  • I feel very blessed to share this bible study with you all! I have been playing catch up this weekend after getting behind a few days…however, even if I do not get all the reading done each day, I often “peek” at everyone’s’ comments! They inspire me to stay with it and catch up! You all don’t let me down…I seldom feel the need to add. Thank you all…

    I agree that the comments already made sum up my thoughts on God’s message through Elijah. My only add is on the threads about worries and trust in God. In the last couple of years, once I figured out through my exposure to Jeff Cavins and daily readings from books like “Jesus Calling” that all God asks of us is to trust Him, spend time with him and serve/obey Him. I’ve been focused on this. It has made a tremendous difference in my life. It takes time but I am finding more days of calm and peace regardless of what is happening. I still worry and become impatient at times wishing God would “answer” my prayers quicker and show me the “plan” so I wouldn’t worry. However, through all of you and my increased “time” with God, I am becoming more patient and trust Him. I know (most of the time) that He is in control and all will be okay. There is a lyric from a Christian pop song that says something like “if you don’t know what to say just say Jesus.” I have been practicing this and it works when I become anxious. I encourage everyone to keep working on this if you feel like you worry too much…God will be there!

    • Judy, thank you for sharing your gain with internal peace, more so now, with the ongoing reminder that God is in control.

      After 22 yrs as an educator I was terminated from my position due to malicious lives of people whom I believe knew they would not be able to beet me to believe in their cult religious beliefs and turn from God. Since this day I have struggled and keep looking to Jesus. My biggest struggle is looking to God for financial worries. I have been reading books written by Anne Costa. This has help me build strengthen me as affirm believer to trust God. I am more at peace and do believe things will work out for me. Where I struggle the most is with patience.

  • Elijah is a man whom was chosen by God. Throughout the bible there are chosen ones, by God, to allow the no believers another opportunity to believe in only one God. When Elijah completed the acts of the burnt offerings many of the people were back on track. This is seen daily in today’s world, but today’s population and nonbelievers are also out trying to convince others to fall into sin against God.

    I really have to stay focused daily as I depart my home and continually ask God got the Holy Spirit to guide me and watch over me through this corruption of life.

    It is obvious back the the believers of God removed themselves to solitudes places when seeking the guidance of The Lord. The prophet Elijah and Moses both go up to similar placed when seeking direction from God. I am getting better at finding places for solitudes minutes in a day to seek and complete check point for direction from God. This has been so helpful and reassuring to me that he is he one in charge of my life.

    • After Jesus, we are all chosen by God. That is what Pope Francis is talking about “New Evanglism

      • Absolutely correct. You are right that Jesus is the mediator between humans and God our Father. Thank for the reflection.

    • Yes that is true Carla in today’s world that unbelievers surpassed in numbers, and our church leadership seem very deficient and un attractive evangelism system and formation. Our retiring chaplain, a good friend of mine who supported me much in the Ministry of Altar Server Formation, i once ask him a personal question. “Father, what is the work that you ought to do but for some reason, unable to fulfill?” He answered me this way, “I’m quite a shy priest that I regret to have not been doing much home visitation.”. Then he explained the need for home visitation on a non invasive way in every parishes. Since we serve under the Legion of Mary the work of home visitation for two years, I am well acquainted with the priest’s explanation for the urgent need of it to reach out to every member of the Parish. It’s a hardwork, but you are always inspired by Mother Mary to share in the work of Jesus. This type of work seem to be unfulfilled or barely little reaching to our fellowmen, that our church do not emphasized much to our believers.

  • The report came as shocking to Jezebel that so much of these priests that she supported them now they were dead at the hand of Elijah. But by her message back to Elijah, I do not understand why he run away for his life. Did God has anything to do with this? Or Elijah was afraid for there is no general conversion, there will be no support for him?

  • What a thick-headed hard-hearted people! Over and over again, they turn away from the One True God and worship the false gods.

    As we prepare our hearts for Lent, perhaps we need to examine where our fidelity lies… with God, or with the idols of the world? In the past few years, I have tried to do something “different” for Lent. Rather than giving something up (like sweets!) one year I decided to give up “anger”. Perhaps we can choose to give up one of the idols we worship that keeps us enslaved to sin and keeps us separated from God.

    Or I was thinking, perhaps rather than giving something up, perhaps I can “add” something daily, an act of kindness, devotion, etc. Something I can “do for the Lord” as an active sacrificial offering to my God.

    In my study on Galatians in Chapter 5, St. Paul lists the works of the flesh and the fruit of the Spirit. I thought the Application question was very timely this week. We were asked to “choose one work of the flesh you struggle with, or one fruit of the Spirit you would like to cultivate, and ask the Lord to show you how to die to the first or walk in the second this week”. So as Lent begins this week, I strive to “die to the first AND walk in the second” for the next six weeks.

    “At the time of the offering of the oblation, the prophet Elijah came near and said, ‘O Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that you are God in Israel, that I am your servant, and that I have done all these things at your bidding. Answer me, O Lord, answer me, so that this people may know that you, O Lord, are God.’”(1 Kings 18:36-37)

    • Thanks Marianne for sharing and I like your resolve for the coming lent. I am reflecting on that and I am wishing I could emulate myself in you.

        • Is that Chapter of Galatians or is it Session 5 of the study. I did the study of Galations last fall I would like to go back and review my notes
          I don’t have to worry about what I will give up this Lent. Last Friday my Dr. handed me a list two pages of things I must decrease so I decided to give them all up for Lent 🙂 maybe after Lent I will have a little bit back in my diet.

          • Just be sure that you don’t eliminate anything that is necessary in smaller doses, Barbara… Praise God for your continued health!

            It’s Chapter 5, Session 7. I love the Application Questions. Always great food for thought… the food we need for a healthy spiritual diet!

          • Thank you Marianne. I will review that that session. I type all the sessions into my computer them I type my notes in and sometimes go back and review and type in more thoughts.

          • Remember Question 6, “What impact has this controversy over circumcision had on the love the Galatians have for one another, and why would this worry Paul?” Why was Paul upset? He probably taught them the Bible Timeline and Salvation History and they STILL didn’t learn from the mistakes of their predecessors. Humanity never seems to learn that sin and the lack of harmony separate them from God!

  • Elijah was a great and determined defender of the worship of the Lord against the religious apostasy that were then plaguing the country under Ahab and his wife, Jezebel. He fought against pagan cults, in particular the cult of Baal, and was given the power to work miracles as a means of convincing Israel that Yahweh was their true God. His message was for Israel to turn their hearts back to Yahweh the true God.

  • If I was ever asked who were the two greatest persons I would choose to sit and have a conversation with I would definitely choose Elijah and Jesus. Elijah was such an endearing prophet with a sense of security and belief in God as well as himself. He knew since he was a child that he was given this spiritual gift and never doubted that he couldn’t convince the people to believe that worshipping the one true God instead of Ba’al would save their lives and souls. Reading these chapters is timely during this Lenten season and it has made me think how important it is look at the rest of these Lenten days with how I can improve my own spirituality.

  • Yes I agree that we need to look at where are own fidelities lie as we look how easily the Israelites fell into idolatry. How central to our lives is the Lord? He is so merciful if we turn back to him.
    I like Elijah’s bold imploring of the Lord and bold actions to have the people see that the sacrifice to Baal would not be consumed but he drowsed his sacrifice with water and it was consumed. Elijah trusted in the Lord and the Lord was faithful. He is always faithful and merciful if we turn to Him.

  • With the miracles of the drought and and that of the widow who’s was brought back to life are vivid signs that only God has the powers. Even then, these are such short retained miracles that one must train to keep with The Lord day and day out so that one does not wander. This section is another key reminder of why one should ONLY seek the way of a God and no other.

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