“Trivial” Sin

Scripture Focus: 1 Kings 16.30-31
30 Ahab son of Omri did more evil in the eyes of the Lord than any of those before him. 31 He not only considered it trivial to commit the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, but he also married Jezebel daughter of Ethbaal king of the Sidonians, and began to serve Baal and worship him.

Reflection: “Trivial” Sin
By Erin Newton

“I wish there was a way to know you’re in the good old days before you’ve actually left them.” This was a funny line from Andy Bernard in the sitcom, The Office. But the essence is true; hindsight is 20/20. Good days are taken for granted and evil days are brushed off apathetically. We go through life without pausing to consider what is happening.

The previous chapters of Kings show the increasing wickedness of each successive king in Judah and Israel. Later comparison reveals a greater number of wicked kings in the northern kingdom (Israel) versus the southern kingdom (Judah). However, sin is not a comparative business. Both kingdoms were plagued with bad leaders. The story reaches a crescendo with Ahab, king over the northern kingdom.

Ahab is notorious for promoting the worship of Baal and Asherah. These two deities were the common gods of Canaan. Seasons were thought to be determined by Baal’s battles with competing gods. Asherah was known as the fertility goddess. Self-mutilation, temple prostitution, examining animal entrails were examples of rituals done in the name of worshipping these gods. For Ahab, these were “trivial” and the people accepted it without a second thought. 

The reign of Ahab brought a resurgence of other voices in the history of Israel: Prophets. These courageous people stood up against the evil of their day to speak truth and call for repentance. Speaking against injustice and corruption is isolating and difficult. Those who spoke against leaders were constantly threatened. The price of speaking truth was often their own life.

One-third of the Old Testament books are prophetic. You might assume these voices were popular and common. On the contrary, prophets were rejected and few. Each story is a testimony of the cost of truth in a chaotic world.

Jesus also warned, “They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the one who sent me” (John 15.21).  Following Christ echoes the lives of prophets. Abusive leaders infect our world while brave voices are intimidated or attacked. Do we join the population or the prophets? To join the population, we abandon God and do whatever seems right in our own eyes. To join the prophets, we abandon comfort for the sake of truth. “What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?” (Mark 8.36).

Divine Hours Prayer: The Refrain for the Morning Lessons
Be still, then, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations; I will be exalted in the earth. — Psalm 46.11 

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

Today’s Readings
1 Kings 16 (Listen – 5:31)
Colossians 3 (Listen – 3:09)

Read more about Kingdoms Breaking Bad
Ahijah says, “I have … bad news,” but we also bear the Good News. The gospel we prophesy is that tragedy can be reversed.

Read more about Gods of Ruin and Ridicule
We must decide every day whom we will serve. The gods of this world bring ruin and ridicule.

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.

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