Wednesday, April 16, 2014

1 Kings 15-16

After reading 1 Kings 15-16, I am clear on how this book of the Bible got its name.  There are so many different kings ruling over Judah and the other eleven tribes that it's difficult to keep up with it all.  God's people are divided again and again as their leaders continue to do their own thing instead of follow our God.  If you're confused, you're not alone, me too.  There seems to be one good guy named Asa in the middle of it all, who like David, follows God with all his heart.  He's a breath of fresh air.

I'll admit it.  I have Easter on the brain this week.  I keep thinking about what Jesus was doing this time centuries ago as His three years of public ministry were coming to an end.  

You might be wondering what in the world Jesus has to do with the mess in 1 Kings, but I noticed a really neat connection today.  It is related to the city of Samaria.  We learn that the "evil-doing" King Omri purchased some land...

23 In the thirty-first year of Asa king of Judah, Omri became king of Israel, and he reigned twelve years, six of them in Tirzah. 24 He bought the hill of Samaria from Shemer for two talents[a] of silver and built a city on the hill, calling it Samaria, after Shemer, the name of the former owner of the hill.

Samaria was known as a "good for nothing" town, a place to avoid, to the Jewish people, even in Jesus' time.  And yet, Jesus made it a point to spend time there (remember His conversation with the Samaritan woman at the well).  His visit there was not by chance, but part of His agenda.  The sinful Samaritan woman ends up winning hearts for Jesus throughout Samaria.  Jesus also tells the parable of The Good Samaritan when experts of the law want to know how to inherit eternal life.  

In both cases, Jesus turns our definition of what is "good" inside out.  What is "good" and "right" is not always obvious in God's kingdom.  

Jesus' purpose in all of our lives is to have "saving" and transforming relationships, especially with the least, the lonely, the last, and the unlikely.  Samaria and its people illustrate that for us.

So knowing Jesus purposefully went to Samaria to minister, where are our neighbors that need us to bring God's saving relationships to their lives?

13 Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

A prayer for today-

Dear Lord and Savior,

Thank You for Your example of perfect love in the world.  Forgive me for getting caught up in cultural norms and avoiding the very places where You call me to go and meet people, free of judgement, exactly where they are.  

Help me be Your missionary Lord, loving my neighbors, the way You do.  Give me the heart and the mind to reach people who are in desperate need of Your saving grace and love.

Tell me who needs prayers and show me what to do for those who cross my path.  Where are you calling me to go?

In the name of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit I pray,

Love of Christ,

*This post is part of A Mind-Maker-Upper's Everyday Reading Project.  Click here to read more.

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