What’s Mine is Yours

Bible:

Jehoshaphat the son of Asa began to reign over Judah in the fourth year of Ahab king of Israel. Jehoshaphat was thirty-five years old when he began to reign, and he reigned twenty-five years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Azubah the daughter of Shilhi. He walked in all the way of Asa his father. He did not turn aside from it, doing what was right in the sight of the Lord. Yet the high places were not taken away, and the people still sacrificed and made offerings on the high places. Jehoshaphat also made peace with the king of Israel. I Kings 22:41-44 ESV

Now Jehoshaphat had great riches and honor, and he made a marriage alliance with Ahab. After some years he went down to Ahab in Samaria. And Ahab killed an abundance of sheep and oxen for him and for the people who were with him, and induced him to go up against Ramoth-gilead. Ahab king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat king of Judah, “Will you go with me to Ramoth-gilead?” He answered him, “I am as you are, my people as your people. We will be with you in the war.” II Chronicles 18:1-3 ESV

Reflection:

As I write this, there is a terrible civil war going on in the country of Syria. Many people are getting killed or hurt, and many people are trying to get out of the country to safety. There was a picture in the news of a little boy named Omran from Syria who had been wounded and was covered with dirt and blood. An American boy named Alex saw that picture and wrote to the President of the United States and asked him to bring Omran to his home. He said that this little boy could be his brother, and that he would share his toys and his home and his friends. He wanted to help Omran by sharing everything he had with him. In a way he was saying, “What is mine will be his.”

When Jehoshaphat became the king of Judah, he made friends with King Ahab of Israel. For many years the northern and southern kingdoms had been fighting each other, but now there was peace and friendship between the two kings. When King Ahab wanted to go to war and recover a city that had belonged to him, King Jehoshaphat said that what belonged to him belonged to King Ahab. His fighting men and his horses were the same as King Ahab’s forces. They would fight the battle together as one family.

Jehoshaphat was a king who believed in and followed the true God, and he was foolish to work so closely with a king who had been so wicked and rebellious against God for so long. But in a way Jehoshaphat was like Jesus. Jesus came to us, sinners who had rebelled against God, and said, “What is mine is yours.” He was holy and righteous while we were sinful, and his righteousness became ours. We were cut off from God, but he is the Son of the Heavenly Father, and because of him we also became God’s children. All of God’s love and peace and forgiveness became ours because Jesus shared everything he had with us.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for sharing your life and love and righteousness with us and making us children of your Heavenly Father. Amen.

Source:

http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/09/22/495021467/he-will-be-our-brother-boy-6-asks-obama-to-bring-syrian-boy-to-live-with-him

 

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God Shows Mercy

Bible:

And 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.” I Kings 21:27-29 ESV

The Lord is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
The Lord is good to all,
and his mercy is over all that he has made. Psalm 145:8-9 ESV

Reflection:

In the Middle Ages, Henry IV was the emperor of the Holy Roman Empire (part of what is now Germany), and Gregory VII was the pope. These two men spent a lot of time fighting each other, and one of the problems was that Henry was appointing bishops in the church. Pope Gregory said that only the pope should do that. He wrote a letter to Henry telling him to stop, and Henry wrote a letter back to Gregory angrily refusing. Then Gregory excommunicated Henry. At this time to be excommunicated was a big deal. It put Henry outside of the church, and said that his nobles didn’t have to obey him anymore. Henry’s nobles stopped supporting him, and Henry knew he had to win the pope’s forgiveness. He went to the castle of Canossa where the pope was, in northern Italy, and stood outside, barefoot, in the snow, until Gregory forgave him and brought him back into the church. Henry thought that causing himself pain might make the pope feel sorry for him and have mercy on him.

Ahab did the same thing when he heard God’s words of judgment through Elijah. He fasted, which means he stopped eating for awhile, and tore his clothes and put on sackcloth. Sackcloth is a very rough material, and it’s uncomfortable to wear. It scratches the skin and might leave a rash. Ahab hoped that God would feel sorry for him when he saw Ahab suffering, and God did have mercy. Ahab didn’t earn God’s mercy by making himself miserable. God’s mercy is always a gift, and he is happy to give his mercy to even a wicked man like Ahab. His actions showed that his heart was open to God’s mercy, and God softened Ahab’s punishment by saying that the end of his dynasty would come after his death. He wouldn’t have to watch all his sons and grandsons die.

We are all sinners who need God’s mercy, but we can’t earn it by doing good things or by hurting ourselves or making ourselves suffer. Jesus did all that for us. He suffered pain and died on the cross for our sakes, and earned God’s mercy for everyone in the world. God’s mercy to us is a free gift, and it is ours every day. We don’t have to earn it, and we don’t have to pay God back, but he sends us his Holy Spirit to keeps our hearts open to his mercy and to show our love for God by living a life that pleases him.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for showing us mercy through our Savior, Jesus. In His Name, Amen.

Source:

http://saburchill.com/history/biblio/006.html

 

A Higher Authority

Bible:

As soon as Jezebel heard that Naboth had been stoned and was dead, Jezebel said to Ahab, “Arise, take possession of the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite, which he refused to give you for money, for Naboth is not alive, but dead.” And as soon as Ahab heard that Naboth was dead, Ahab arose to go down to the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite, to take possession of it.

Then the word of the Lord came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying, “Arise, go down to meet Ahab king of Israel, who is in Samaria; behold, he is in the vineyard of Naboth, where he has gone to take possession. And you shall say to him, ‘Thus says the Lord, “Have you killed and also taken possession?”’ And you shall say to him, ‘Thus says the Lord: “In the place where dogs licked up the blood of Naboth shall dogs lick your own blood.”’”

Ahab said to Elijah, “Have you found me, O my enemy?” He answered, “I have found you, because you have sold yourself to do what is evil in the sight of the Lord. Behold, I will bring disaster upon you. I will utterly burn you up, and will cut off from Ahab every male, bond or free, in Israel.” I Kings 21:15-21 ESV

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account. Hebrews 4:12-13 ESV

Reflection:

In the United States in the 1930s, there were a number of very dangerous criminals, such as Bonnie and Clyde, John Dillinger, and Pretty Boy Floyd. These criminals committed horrible crimes like bank robbery, kidnapping, and murder. They often were able to get away with their crimes because if they could get across a state line, the police couldn’t do anything to catch them or bring them to justice. One of these criminals was Machine Gun Kelly. He kidnapped a wealthy oil man from Texas named Charles Urschel and held him for a ransom of $200,000. The money was delivered and Urschel was released, and he was able to give the authorities enough clues so that Machine Gun Kelly was found and captured, and sentenced to life in prison. One reason Kelly was captured was that the Federal Bureau of Investigation, usually called the FBI, was given more power and the ability to get involved in crimes that crossed the state lines. Criminals like Machine Gun Kelly were brought to justice because they had to face a higher authority than a state that they could so easily escape from.

Ahab thought he could kill and take possession of Naboth’s vineyard because he didn’t think there was any authority above him who could call him to account for his actions. It was easy to get away with murder and stealing for someone who was the king! But Ahab had forgotten that he was under God’s authority and was accountable to God’s judgment. Elijah met Ahab just as he was taking possession of Naboth’s vineyard. Ahab called Elijah his enemy, and he wasn’t happy to see him at all! He knew that Elijah would have words of judgment for what he had done. Elijah told him that he would die a violent death for his sin, and that his dynasty would be brought to an end.

We all will have to face the judgment of God someday, and not only our actions, but our words and even our thoughts will be brought out into the open before God. That’s a very scary thought, because we all sometimes live as if we are the boss of our own lives, and that there’s no God who has authority over the way we live. We would be condemned as Ahab was, but God had mercy on us and sent Jesus to die for us. Jesus took all our sins on himself, and paid the penalty for them on the cross. Because he did this, we don’t have to worry about facing God’s judgment. We are accountable to God for the way we’ve lived our lives, but Jesus has balanced the account in our favor by his life and his death for us.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for dying for us so that our sins could be forgiven and that we won’t be condemned in the last judgment. Amen.

Source:

http://www.biography.com/people/machine-gun-kelly-507610

A Frame-up

Bible:

But Jezebel his wife came to him and said to him, “Why is your spirit so vexed that you eat no food?” And he said to her, “Because I spoke to Naboth the Jezreelite and said to him, ‘Give me your vineyard for money, or else, if it please you, I will give you another vineyard for it.’ And he answered, ‘I will not give you my vineyard.’” And Jezebel his wife said to him, “Do you now govern Israel? Arise and eat bread and let your heart be cheerful; I will give you the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite.”

So she wrote letters in Ahab’s name and sealed them with his seal, and she sent the letters to the elders and the leaders who lived with Naboth in his city. And she wrote in the letters, “Proclaim a fast, and set Naboth at the head of the people. And set two worthless men opposite him, and let them bring a charge against him, saying, ‘You have cursed[a] God and the king.’ Then take him out and stone him to death.”And the men of his city, the elders and the leaders who lived in his city, did as Jezebel had sent word to them. As it was written in the letters that she had sent to them, they proclaimed a fast and set Naboth at the head of the people. And the two worthless men came in and sat opposite him. And the worthless men brought a charge against Naboth in the presence of the people, saying, “Naboth cursed God and the king.” So they took him outside the city and stoned him to death with stones. Then they sent to Jezebel, saying, “Naboth has been stoned; he is dead.” I Kings 21:5-14 ESV

You shall not spread a false report. You shall not join hands with a wicked man to be a malicious witness. You shall not fall in with the many to do evil, nor shall you bear witness in a lawsuit, siding with the many, so as to pervert justice. Exodus 23:1-2 ESV

Reflection:

Lady was a sweet Cocker Spaniel who had a home with Jim Dear and Darling. Everything was wonderful for Lady until one day Jim Dear and Darling had a baby, and Aunt Sarah came to visit and brought two Siamese cats with her. These cats make a mess in the house, shredding curtains with their claws and trying to get at the bird and the fish and even trying to steal milk from the baby. Lady tried to stop them from doing these things, but the cats made it look like Lady was the one who had made the mess, and they even made it look like Lady had attacked them and tried to hurt them. Aunt Sarah put a muzzle on Lady, and Lady ran away from her home. It wasn’t a happy place for her anymore.

What the Siamese cats did to Lady is called a frame-up. Frame-ups are taking innocent people and making them look guilty of doing something bad so that they are punished. People might be framed for someone else’s crime, or they might be framed just because someone hates them and wants to get them into trouble. Jezebel arranged a frame-up for Naboth. She got some false witnesses to say that Naboth had cursed God and the king, and then the people stoned him to death. She did this so that her husband, King Ahab, could get his hands on Naboth’s vineyard when Naboth had refused to sell it to him. Jezebel thought that since her husband was king he could have anything he wanted, and it wouldn’t matter if she used a cruel or wicked method to meet that goal.

God warns his people that lying about others, especially in order to get them into trouble, is a terrible sin. This kind of lying is called “bearing false witness.” Lies cause all kinds of trouble and hurt, break up friendships, and ruin good thoughts. When Jesus lived in our world, people told lies about him. They said that he had claimed to be a king who was going to start a rebellion against the Roman emperor. This was a total lie, but it scared his Roman judge, Pontius Pilate, and Pilate had Jesus put to death. Jesus was willing to go to death, because he loved us and wanted to pay for our sins, even our sins of lying. Jesus forgives our sins every day and sends us his Holy Spirit to help us speak words that are loving and true.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for your forgiveness. Help me to tell the truth and use my words to help and build people up. Amen.

Source:

Lady and the Tramp Dirs. Clyde Geronimi, Wilfred Jackson, and Hamilton Luske. Walt Disney Productions, 1955. Film

A Sulky King

Bible:

Now Naboth the Jezreelite had a vineyard in Jezreel, beside the palace of Ahab king of Samaria. And after this Ahab said to Naboth,“Give me your vineyard, that I may have it for a vegetable garden, because it is near my house, and I will give you a better vineyard for it; or, if it seems good to you, I will give you its value in money.” But Naboth said to Ahab, “The Lord forbid that I should give you the inheritance of my fathers.” And Ahab went into his house vexed and sullen because of what Naboth the Jezreelite had said to him, for he had said, “I will not give you the inheritance of my fathers.” And he lay down on his bed and turned away his face and would eat no food. I Kings 21:1-4 ESV

The inheritance of the people of Israel shall not be transferred from one tribe to another, for every one of the people of Israel shall hold on to the inheritance of the tribe of his fathers. Numbers 36:7 ESV

In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications,with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him. Hebrews 5:7-9 ESV

Reflection:

Ricky was sulking. He wanted to have some candy, and his mother had said no. He tried kicking and screaming, but that didn’t get his mother to give him his way. So now he was sulking. He sat angrily in his room and refused to come out or to talk to anyone. Lots of little children throw tantrums and sulk, but most of them eventually learn not to. Older children know that they can’t always have what they want or get their way about everything.

King Ahab was a grown man and the king of Israel, but he had never learned not to sulk. He thought that because he was the king, he could have everything he wanted, and that everybody would have to obey him no matter what. He didn’t understand that even though he was the king, he had been put into his position by God, and he had to answer to God for the things he did as king. He wanted a vineyard that belonged to a man named Naboth, and when Naboth said no, King Ahab sulked. He acted like a little child who hadn’t learned to accept that he couldn’t always have things his own way. The vineyard belonged to Naboth, and even more than that, it belonged to God. Naboth understood that the land of Israel was a gift from God, and that it couldn’t be sold. According to God’s law it needed to stay in his family. Ahab didn’t care about God’s law or what Naboth wanted. He only cared about getting his own way.

We are all like Ahab sometimes, even if we don’t sulk or act in other childish ways. We want our own way, and we don’t want to give in or consider the needs of other people. We don’t want to follow God’s ways or do the things he wants us to.  This is because we are sinful people. God wanted to bring us out of our selfish ways and into life with him, so he sent Jesus to be our Savior. Jesus went to the cross to pay for all our sins. It was a very hard thing for Jesus to do, to obey his Heavenly Father even to the point of terrible pain and death. But Jesus was perfectly obedient to God. He didn’t put his own needs or wishes first, but instead he obeyed God for our sake. Because of what Jesus did, we are God’s people, and he sends us his Holy Spirit to help us follow God’s will and leave our selfish ways behind every day.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for sending Jesus to save us. Help us to follow him and obey your will. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Starting a New Life

Bible:

So he departed from there and found Elisha the son of Shaphat, who was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen in front of him, and he was with the twelfth. Elijah passed by him and cast his cloak upon him. And he left the oxen and ran after Elijah and said, “Let me kiss my father and my mother, and then I will follow you.” And he said to him, “Go back again, for what have I done to you?” And he returned from following him and took the yoke of oxen and sacrificed them and boiled their flesh with the yokes of the oxen and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he arose and went after Elijah and assisted him. I Kings 19:19-21 ESV

After this he went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax booth. And he said to him, “Follow me.” And leaving everything, he rose and followed him.

And Levi made him a great feast in his house, and there was a large company of tax collectors and others reclining at table with them. And the Pharisees and their scribes grumbled at his disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” And Jesus answered them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” Luke 5:27-32 ESV

Reflection:

Harold Hill was a con man. He traveled from town to town, sold expensive band instruments and uniforms to the boys in the town, and claimed to be a band leader. He used a method called the “think method,” where the boys didn’t actually have to practice their music, but just think about it, and would learn to play that way. He also found himself a girlfriend in every town, who would help him escape before the people in town caught on to his dishonesty and got him in trouble. But when he came to River City, something unusual happened. He fell truly in love with Marian, the town’s librarian, and didn’t want to leave her. He decided to face his punishment for his dishonesty so that he could stay with Marian and lead an honest life. He left behind his other girlfriends and the way he had lived before.

This is only a story, and it can be really hard for someone to make a new start in life like that. When Elijah called Elisha to serve him, Elisha knew that his whole life was going to change. He knew he would have to leave his parents so that he could follow and learn from Elijah. Someday he would take Elijah’s place as God’s prophet, and he knew that it wouldn’t be an easy job. Not only did he say goodbye to his family, but he also took the oxen he had been using to work in the fields and killed them as a sacrifice to God. He knew he wouldn’t need them to work his fields any longer. He gave a feast to his friends and neighbors to celebrate his new life.

Jesus called people to follow him, including a man named Levi, a disciple we know as Matthew. Levi left his business, where he was making a lot of money, and started a new life as one of Jesus’ disciples. He gave a big feast to celebrate his new life, and at this feast the religious leaders complained about the kind of people that Jesus was spending time with. These leaders didn’t understand that Jesus was calling them to come away from the sins in their lives and to start a new life with him. When Jesus calls people, their whole lives change.

Jesus calls us to follow him also, and to leave behind sins that separate us from God and his ways. It isn’t an easy job to follow Jesus and to live his way, but Jesus went to the cross to win the forgiveness of all our sins, and that forgiveness is there for us every day. Jesus sends his Holy Spirit to give us new lives in him, now and always.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for calling us to follow you. Please forgive our sins and help us each day. Amen.

Source:

The Music Man. Dir. Morton DaCosta. Warner Brothers, 1962. Film

Work to Do, and Not Alone

Bible:

And behold, there came a voice to him and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” He said, “I have been very jealous for the Lord, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away.” And the Lord said to him, “Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus. And when you arrive, you shall anoint Hazael to be king over Syria. And Jehu the son of Nimshi you shall anoint to be king over Israel, and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah you shall anoint to be prophet in your place. And the one who escapes from the sword of Hazael shall Jehu put to death, and the one who escapes from the sword of Jehu shall Elisha put to death. Yet I will leave seven thousand in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.” I Kings 19:13b-18 ESV

And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:15-17 ESV

Reflection:

George Bailey was a very good man, but he was having some terrible trouble. Eight thousand dollars had been stolen from his business, and if he couldn’t get the money back he would lose his business and go to jail. He tried to get some help, but the man who could have helped him was the one who had stolen the money, and he refused to help. George became desperate. He felt all alone with his troubles, and didn’t want to live anymore. He didn’t think his life was any good, and so he planned to jump off a bridge. But his guardian angel stopped him, and showed him all the good things he had done in his life. When George went home, he found out that he had many, many friends who had put their money together to get George out of his trouble. George learned that he wasn’t alone and that his life and his work had done good things for many people.

Elijah felt a lot like George Bailey. He was running away, afraid of Queen Jezebel, and he felt all alone. No one else served the true God except him, he thought. He had tried to speak God’s words to the people, but it seemed as if no one had listened. He didn’t think his life was worth living anymore. Elijah asked God to take his life away. But God gave Elijah two wonderful gifts to give him a reason to go on living. He gave him some work to do, and he told him he wasn’t alone. God had worked through Elijah, and he would continue to do so. There were 7000 people in Israel who had stayed faithful to the true God and didn’t worship Baal. God had saved a group of people who remained faithful to him.

God gives us the same gifts he gave Elijah. Sometimes we feel as if we are all alone, but we never really are. Not only do we always have God with us, caring for us and helping us, but God gives us brothers and sisters in our church family. There are people who care about us and can help us because they love the same God we do. God also gives us work to do. We might be a son or a daughter or a brother or a sister or a student or a friend. We might be many of these things at the same time, and each of these things has work to do–things like loving, helping, serving, studying, doing chores, and obeying. Our lives mean something because God made us and gave us work, and when we ran away from him he sent Jesus to die on the cross for us and bring us back to him and into the family of God’s people. Our lives have meaning through Jesus.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for dying for me to bring me back to God and into God’s family. Help me to do the work you give me to do every day. Amen.

Source:

Capra, Frank, dir. It’s a Wonderful Life RKO Radio Pictures, 1946. Film.

God Whispers

Bible:

There he came to a cave and lodged in it. And behold, the word of the Lord came to him, and he said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” He said, “I have been very jealous for the Lord, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away.” And he said, “Go out and stand on the mount before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper. And when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. I Kings 19:9-13a ESV

The Lord is merciful and gracious,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
He will not always chide,
nor will he keep his anger forever.
He does not deal with us according to our sins,
nor repay us according to our iniquities. Psalm 103:8-10 ESV

Reflection:

When American soldiers are fighting or stationed in foreign countries, the people, especially the children, are often afraid of them. The military has guns and other powerful weapons that could hurt people. American soldiers don’t always want people to be afraid of them. Many of them especially want to help and protect the children. One thing that people in the American military have done for many years is to sometimes give candy and gum to children in the foreign countries where they are. Children are very happy to get these treats, and it helps them understand that the soldiers don’t want to hurt them, but instead are there to help and protect them.

When God came to meet Elijah where he was hiding in a cave in the desert, he didn’t show himself to Elijah in power and destruction. He showed Elijah a strong wind that tore rocks apart, and he showed Elijah an earthquake that shook the earth, and then he showed him a fire that burned plants and trees and grass, but God wasn’t in any of these things. It was only when God spoke in a low whisper that Elijah knew the voice of God and came out of his cave to meet him.

When God speaks and acts in anger and judgment over sin, we are afraid of God because we know we deserve his punishment. But God is good and loving, and he coaxes us to come to him with quiet, gentle words. He doesn’t want to hurt and punish us, even though that’s what our sins deserve, but instead he wants to forgive us. He sent Jesus to come to us in love and gentleness. Jesus died on the cross to take all of our sins away, and because of Jesus we have peace with God. We don’t ever have to be afraid to come to God in prayer, because we know that he forgives our sins and loves us and will hear and answer us.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for loving and forgiving us for Jesus’ sake. Amen.

Strength for the Journey

Bible:

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.” And he lay down and slept under a broom tree. And behold, an angel touched him and said to him, “Arise and eat.” And he looked, and behold, there was at his head a cake baked on hot stones and a jar of water. And he ate and drank and lay down again. And the angel of the Lord came again a second time and touched him and said, “Arise and eat, for the journey is too great for you.” And he arose and ate and drank, and went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb, the mount of God. I Kings 19:4-8 ESV

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake. Psalm 23:1-3 ESV

Reflection:

In the Middle Ages, travel was often dangerous, and there wasn’t always a good or safe place for people to rest when they were out on a journey. But one place that would always welcome people was a monastery. The monks who lived in monasteries believed it was their sacred duty to provide a safe place and food and a bed to travelers. One famous monastery that provided rest for travelers was St. Bernard’s monastery in the Alps. This monastery was on a pass that was 8000 feet above sea level, and only free of snow for a couple of months during the summer. St. Bernard’s gave an important resting place for travelers trying to travel across this dangerous pass. It was at this monastery that St. Bernard dogs became very important. These dogs were good at guiding people through the snow, breaking the snow with their low, broad chests, and also, because of their keen sense of smell, rescuing people who were lost.

Elijah was traveling alone, lost in fear and discouragement, but he soon found that God hadn’t left him alone. God sent an angel to give him food and water so that he could rest and have strength to travel. The gifts God gave Elijah gave him the strength to continue his journey into the wilderness, where he would meet God and get directions to continue his work as God’s prophet. But before Elijah was ready to hear the voice of God, he needed rest and strength.

We also get tired and discouraged on our journey of life. We wonder why things happen the way they do, or if God is with us or really cares about us. God doesn’t leave us alone when we are tired and discouraged. He comes to us through his word, the Bible, to give us comfort and strength to continue to follow his way. We know that God will never leave us alone, because he sent Jesus to be our Savior. Jesus followed the journey his heavenly Father had sent him on, a journey that took him to the cross to die for us. Because Jesus took that journey for us, we know that he will never leave us alone as we travel through life.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for dying for us and for staying with us all through our lives. Amen.

Source:

http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/a-brief-history-of-the-st-bernard-rescue-dog-13787665/?no-ist

Bravery and Fear

Bible:

Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, “So may the gods do to me and more also, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by this time tomorrow.” Then he was afraid, and he arose and ran for his life and came to Beersheba, which belongs to Judah, and left his servant there. I Kings 19:1-3 ESV

Be gracious to me, O God, for man tramples on me;
all day long an attacker oppresses me;
my enemies trample on me all day long,
for many attack me proudly.
When I am afraid,
I put my trust in you.
In God, whose word I praise,
in God I trust; I shall not be afraid.
What can flesh do to me? Psalm 56:1-4 ESV

Reflection:

Ulysses S. Grant was a general for the Union army during the American Civil War. He saw many bloody battles, and won many victories for the Union cause. Before he fought in the Civil War, he also fought in the Mexican War with great bravery. In these two wars Ulysses S. Grant saw a lot of violence, which he faced with courage. But there was something a little different about this military general–he couldn’t stand the sight of blood! He couldn’t stand to see animals being killed, and he wouldn’t eat steak if there was any blood left in it. He had to have it charred to the point of being burned before he would touch it.

Elijah had spoken to powerful King Ahab and told him about his sinfulness, and he courageously faced 450 prophets of Baal and challenged them to prove that their god was real. Elijah seemed to be a fearless man of God, but when Queen Jezebel heard that he had killed all her prophets, she became very angry and threatened to kill him. Then this brave man suddenly became very afraid and ran away. His courage failed him with this new challenge.

It can be comforting to read about Elijah and know that we are all like him, weak and sinful people. No matter how much good God does in our lives, we sometimes fail and become fearful. Our faith and trust in God grows weak. God doesn’t leave us when we are weak and fearful, but instead he stays with us to help us and strengthen us. He came to us in Jesus and faced all the sorrow and trouble we face in this world. Jesus went all the way to a painful death on the cross for our sakes. Because of what Jesus did, we can know that God forgives our sins and is always there for us to love us and help us. His love is with us now and forever.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for being with us when we are weak and fearful. Please help us and forgive us for Jesus’ sake. Amen.

Source:

http://www.pbs.org/warrior/content/bio/grant.html