Kingdoms Breaking Bad

Scripture Focus: 1 Kings 14.14-16
14 “The LORD will raise up for himself a king over Israel who will cut off the family of Jeroboam. Even now this is beginning to happen. 15 And the LORD will strike Israel, so that it will be like a reed swaying in the water. He will uproot Israel from this good land that he gave to their ancestors and scatter them beyond the Euphrates River, because they aroused the LORD’s anger by making Asherah poles. 16 And he will give Israel up because of the sins Jeroboam has committed and has caused Israel to commit.” 

Reflection: Kingdoms Breaking Bad
By John Tillman

Watching a comedy we often imagine ourselves as the bumbling, yet eventually triumphant hero. Watching tragedies, however, we tend to disassociate from the hero. We judge them harshly, thinking we would have done differently.

The show Breaking Bad is one example. Audiences loved Walter White and mistook him for a system-challenging anti-hero and they identified with him. Then, slowly, his character arc was revealed—the sympathetic hero who becomes a villain. Some fans felt betrayed. They wanted Prince Hal and got Macbeth. But it was all there in the title: “Breaking Bad.” How did we expect it to end?

Jeroboam’s story starts like a hero’s story. Like David, he was secretly told by a prophet that he would be king. When idol worship was expanding in Solomon’s kingdom, Ahijah pulled Jeroboam aside, telling him that he would be king because of Solomon’s sins. Representing the fracturing of the nation, Ahijah tore his new cloak into twelve pieces, giving Jeroboam ten of them. (1 Kings 11.29-31)

But this story is a deep tragedy. Near the end of Ahijah’s life, the blind prophet could see the bloody end of Jereboam’s dynasty. For generations, Jeroboam’s name would become a byword for biblical authors to measure the evil of kings to come. 

As Israel fractures, each dynasty hopes to be the answer. But each one, especially in the northern kingdom, “breaks bad.” Ahijah prophesies to Jeroboam that it will all end in death and exile.

Ahijah ministered in a country going bad fast and with worse coming over the horizon. 
Through Ahijah’s words, we hear God’s frustration with Jeroboam and his other chosen instruments. 

Like Ahijah, we may serve in a nation or a time when leaders rise with promise and fall with the shattering clamor of scandal. It is still possible to serve God faithfully amidst political corruption, idolatry, and a culture that rejects God. The prophets prove it.

Ahijah says, “I have … bad news,” but we also bear the Good News. Our God is slow to anger, gracious, and forgiving. He pleads with those who reject him to repent. 

The gospel we prophesy is that tragedy can be reversed. Those with ears to hear and eyes to see can come and be saved. Those doomed to ruin can be restored. Those exiled can come home. Those who have been harmed can be healed. Those dead can be raised to life.

Divine Hours Prayer: The Greeting
Let those who seek you rejoice and be glad in you; let those who love your salvation say forever; “Great is the Lord!” — Psalm 70.4

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Readings
1 Kings 14 (Listen – 5:22)
Colossians 1 (Listen – 4:18)

Read more about Uprooting and Replanting
We the unworthy and unrighteous can be replanted into a new kingdom of peace.

Read more about Prepare for the End
Christians are sometimes guilty of looking forward to the apocalypse like a private revenge fantasy.

Christ’s Supremacy :: A Guided Prayer

Scripture Focus: Colossians 1.18
He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.

Reflection: Christ’s Supremacy :: A Guided Prayer
By John Tillman

What I often call “preacher stories” are stories, illustrations, and parables about modern faith that have been passed on and told in many versions by many preachers in many sermons.

One of my favorite “preacher stories” is about a new preacher at a church who keeps preaching the same sermon every Sunday. Eventually a church leader questions the pastor about it and requests a new topic for the following Sunday. The preacher responds, “When you start acting like you remember the first one, I can stop repeating it”

We all need repetition in our spiritual lives to reinforce the greatest truths of our faith. One of those truths is the supremacy of Christ. The supremacy of Christ may seem unassailable. How could we forget it? We all nod our heads and “amen” in agreement…

Yet in our actions and in our lives, we find many ways to place things before Christ. People, issues, politics, career—these things all push to the front of our minds and demand our supreme attention and commitment.

Pray this prayer over the weekend, and repeat as needed to proclaim in faith the supremacy of Christ over all in your life and subjugate everything else to him.

Christ’s Supremacy
We pray to Christ and proclaim his supremacy…

The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation…For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible…

Nothing we create can displace Christ.
No government can cast him out, for they exist within his creation.
No discovery can reveal anything that Christ did not create.
No achievement or success can accomplish more than Christ’s redemptive work on our behalf.

He is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased…through him to reconcile to himself all things…making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

We confess to you our pride, our naked greed, our self-deception, our poverty of principles and possessions.

In humility, Christ, we accept from you…
Peace we are incapable of procuring,
Redemption beyond our means to purchase,
Rescue from darkness of our own making.

Help us to let go of anything which strives to take your place.
Make of us a body that serves, be our head which gives us purpose.
May we continue in faith…

…established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel.

Divine Hours Prayer: The Greeting
I will confess you among the peoples, O Lord; I will sing praises to you among the nations.
For your loving-kindness is greater than the heavens, and your faithfulness reaches to the clouds. — Psalm 108.3-4

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Autumn and Wintertime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Readings
1 Kings 14 (Listen – 5:22)
Colossians 1 (Listen – 4:18)

This Weekend’s Readings
1 Kings 15 (Listen – 5:30), Colossians 2 (Listen – 3:27)
1 Kings 16 (Listen – 5:31), Colossians 3 (Listen – 3:09)

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Read more about Solus Christus
There has never been and will never be a clearer portrait of God than the person of Jesus himself.

Read more about Downgrading Grace
When we downgrade grace through faith, we chip away the cross of Christ, making it an additive to our life rather than the sole source of our life.