Gods of Ruin and Ridicule

Scripture Focus: 1 Kings 9.6-7
6 “But if you or your descendants turn away from me and do not observe the commands and decrees I have given you and go off to serve other gods and worship them, 7 then I will cut off Israel from the land I have given them and will reject this temple I have consecrated for my Name. Israel will then become a byword and an object of ridicule among all peoples.

Reflection: Gods of Ruin and Ridicule
By Erin Newton

I don’t think humanity was made to live in perpetual uncertainty. The looming threat of another worldwide crisis hinders decision-making. Fearful, we let impulse govern our lives. But these impulses lead us into pain. When threats feel imminent, determining our choices beforehand can save us from unintended disaster.

After Solomon succeeded in building a temple, God encouraged the people to decide ahead of time to stay committed to him. The Temple was now filled with the constant presence of God and he promised to hear their prayers. Peace, prosperity, and joy were all benefits from the covenant relationship. Israel’s future was bright just as long as they continued in obedience and devoted worship to God alone.

I always wondered how the Israelites could abandon God so easily and fall into idolatry. However, it is evident that Israel was not operating in a vacuum. Israel was actively involved with other people: trade, marriage, travel, etc. In the ancient world, proper religious practices were thought to ensure good harvests and fruitful wombs. In the face of adversity, trials, or suffering, seeking the favor of a god was the natural impulse.

Israel’s greatest temptation was deciding to whom they would pray. If the people around them were prospering, would they look to Baal? If their wombs were empty, would they burn incense to the image of Asherah? Foreign religious practices gave people a sense of control over life, a way to manipulate a god into action.

Our greatest temptation today is to worship the false gods of power, wealth, pleasure, and narcissism. If our friends appear happier than ourselves, do we embrace the impulses of instant pleasure? If others act in ways that we dislike, do we trade mercy for power and subdue the world around us? When our impulses take control, we attempt to bend circumstances to our will.

Like the word given to the Israelites, Jesus said, “If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” (John 15.6-7) We must decide every day whom we will serve. The gods of this world bring ruin and ridicule. However, if we abide in Christ, we enjoy the benefit of God’s presence. 

Divine Hours Prayer: The Greeting
I will confess you among the peoples, O Lord; I will sing praises to you among the nation.
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 Summertime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Readings
1 Kings 9 (Listen 4:16)
Psalms 28-29 (Listen 2:41)

This Weekend’s Readings
1 Kings 10 (Listen 4:27)Psalms 30 (Listen 1:32)
1 Kings 11 (Listen 7:05)Psalms 31 (Listen 3:11)

Monday’s Readings
1 Kings 12 (Listen 5:15)Psalms 32 (Listen 1:34)

Read more about Captivity, Exile, and Exodus
They rejected God and set up their own gods and a government filled with oppression and mistreatment of the poor and outcasts.

Read more about The Sojourn of Sanctification
Those indoctrinated in the false gods of Egypt would teach all nations, showing them what the one, true God is like.

From Privilege to Prisoner to Priest

Scripture Focus: Ephesians 4:1-2

As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.

Many churches in the United States celebrate the Feast of St Francis of Assisi on October 4 each year. The feast commemorates the life of St Francis, who was born in the 12th century. Jon provides us an excellent reflection on today’s reading in Ephesians drawn from events of Francis’s life.

Reflection: From Privilege to Prisoner to Priest
By Jon Polk

St. Francis of Assisi is generally known for his peaceful disposition and love for animals and nature. The Prayer of St. Francis (authorship uncertain, but often attributed to Francis) begins…

Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace;
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy.

However, this devoted follower of Christ, widely regarded for his vow of poverty, did not begin life in a humble way. Francis was born in Italy around 1181 to a wealthy cloth merchant and his beautiful French wife. By age 14, Francis, spoiled by luxury, dropped out of school and gained a reputation as a rebellious teen, known for drinking, partying, and vanity.

His privileged upbringing afforded him training in archery and horsemanship and when war broke out in 1202, he joined the cavalry. Having no combat experience, Francis was easily captured by opposing forces and imprisoned for a year before ransom was negotiated.

But during his time as a prisoner of war, Francis began to receive visions from God and arrived home a changed man. He turned his heart towards God and spent time in prayer, seeking direction.

Eventually, he felt the call of Christ to serve the Church and to live a life of extreme poverty—fully devoted to Christianity. He is considered by many to be one of the purest examples of living the Christian life, other than Jesus himself.

Certainly, Francis embodies Paul’s encouragement to the Ephesians to “live a life worthy of the calling you have received” and to “be completely humble and gentle.”

Francis’ deep dedication and gratitude to God is seen expressed in these excerpts from a song he composed, Canticle of the Sun. May these words guide our worship and service to Christ.

Most High, all powerful, good Lord,
Yours are the praises, the glory, the honor,
and all blessing.
To You alone, Most High, do they belong,
and no man is worthy to mention Your name.
Blessed are those who endure in peace
for by You, Most High, they shall be crowned.
Woe to those who die in mortal sin.
Blessed are those whom death will
find in Your most holy will,
for the second death shall do them no harm.
Praise and bless my Lord,
and give Him thanks
and serve Him with great humility.

Divine Hours Prayer: The Call to Prayer
Come now and see the works of God, how wonderful he is in his doing toward all people. — Psalm 66.5

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

Today’s Readings
1 Kings 7 (Listen – 7:47)
Ephesians 4 (Listen – 3:58)

This Weekend’s Readings
1 Kings 8 (Listen – 10:23) Ephesians 5 (Listen – 3:42)
1 Kings 9 (Listen – 4:16) Ephesians 6 (Listen – 3:17)

Thank You!
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Read more about Paul’s Prayer for the Power of Faith
Give us service to perform.
Give us needs to meet.
Give us debts to cancel.
Give us trouble for which you are the only answer.



Read more about How to Know When to Give
As the Corinthians’ generosity caused Paul to celebrate, may our generosity bring joy and refreshment to those doing good in the world.