Incomparable King and Kingdom

Scripture Focus: 1 Kings 15.11-15
11 Asa did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, as his father David had done. 12 He expelled the male shrine prostitutes from the land and got rid of all the idols his ancestors had made. 13 He even deposed his grandmother Maakah from her position as queen mother, because she had made a repulsive image for the worship of Asherah. Asa cut it down and burned it in the Kidron Valley. 14 Although he did not remove the high places, Asa’s heart was fully committed to the Lord all his life. 15 He brought into the temple of the Lord the silver and gold and the articles that he and his father had dedicated.

Reflection: Incomparable King and Kingdom
By John Tillman

1 and 2 Kings include summaries at the beginning of a king’s reign. Was he better or worse than the last king?

Kings did “what was right in the eyes of the Lord,” or they did not. Wicked kings are compared to wicked kings of the past. Nadab, Jeroboam’s son, is described as, “committing the same sin his father had caused Israel to commit.” Many wicked kings will be compared to Jeroboam until Ahab takes his place as the most wicked king of the northern kingdom.

We all love to compare kings. “Mine is better than yours.” “Yours is the worst ever.” How childish. Unless one is employed as a historian, these types of statements are not only immature but are typically shaped by partisan narratives rather than facts. 

The narrator of scripture is uninterested in the types of comparisons we make. These stories are not the whole story. After each, we find a statement similar to “and as for all the other events of his reign… are they not written in the books of the annals of the kings” etc. In other words, the narrator is telling us that scripture is concerned with higher and greater things than economic policy or political intrigue. Those details are only mentioned if they further the purpose of the writer.

Scripture’s accounts of kings are focused on the only statistic that matters—righteousness.

When we come to these works, we should evaluate ourselves (and our kings) with sober judgment, (Romans 12.3) asking the same questions biblical authors asked:
Did they establish justice? 
Were they faithful to God? 
Did they care for the poor? 
Did they worship with a pure heart?

We fall short. Every leader does. There is only one incomparable king who accomplishes all these things—Jesus. When he is introduced, the angels report, “Peace on earth, goodwill to men.” (Luke 2.14) When he begins to establish God’s kingdom, God says, “This is my son in whom I am pleased.” (Matthew 3.17; Mark 1.11) At his transfiguration before his closest disciples, God said of him, “This is my son…listen to him.” (Matthew 17.5; Mark 9.7; Luke 9.35)

May we be fully devoted to him, like Asa. And like Peter, James, and John, may we listen to him, please God by following him, and announce to humanity that peace and goodwill are available in his incomparable kingdom.

Divine Hours Prayer: A Reading
Jesus taught us, saying: “There is no need to be afraid, little flock, for it has pleased your Father to give you the kingdom.” — Luke 12.32

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

Today’s Readings
1 Kings 15 (Listen – 5:30)
Colossians 2 (Listen – 3:27)

Read more about Our Forgetfulness, God’s Faithfulness
Just one generation before, God’s people had been faithful and obedient to him. Yet within a short time, Israel abandoned God.

Read more about Our Sins Ever Before Us
Confessions rarely come without confrontations. We must see our sins before us, before we can put them behind us in repentance.

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.