1 Kings 17:8-24, Psalm 146, Galatians 1:11-24, Luke 7:11-17
1 Kings 17:8-24:
- What were the reasonable expectations of hospitality for the widow towards Elijah? I'm trying to picture my grandmother, a widow, and how she would have to respond to a strange man showing up at her door. The text has God telling Elijah that God has already commanded the widow to feed Elijah. What was this call/command like for the widow? Was she afraid? Confused? Excited to be called on?
- "She went and did as Elijah said." She shows great faith and trust. Of course, what were her other options? She, too, was on the verge of death from the famine, like everyone else. She had nothing to lose from trusting, or at least trying to trust Elijah's words. Perhaps it is easier to trust and have faith when we have nothing left to lose. But I wish we were better at being faithful when we have everything to lose!
- v. 18 - Ah, finally. The hesitation, fear, anger, worry about whether or not trusting was a good idea after all.
- "The Lord listened to the voice of Elijah." Do you think God listens to your voice?
- "Now I know" the widow says. We seem to be so in need of 'proofs' to 'know' about God's action in the world. What convincing do you need to have?
- "Do not put your trust in princes, in mortals, in whom there is no help." What/who do you put your trust in? How does how you live show who you trust? Does the way you live communicate your trust in God?
- "When their breath departs, they return to the earth; on that very day their plans perish." This reminds me of the slogan I've seen - "He who dies with the most toys still dies."
- :6-:9 - These verses mirror Isaiah 61 in the tasks of justice that God has a reputation for: care for the oppressed, food for the hungry, freedom for captives, sight for the blind, presence for the stranger, assistance to widows and orphans. Repeatedly we hear that this is what God is about. What is your reputation of care? How are you helping bring God's tasks of justice to reality?
- :15 - Paul says that God chose to reveal Christ to Paul, since he was "set . . . apart before [he] was born." In his reasoning, it would logically follow that God doesn't choose to reveal Christ to others. Why would this be? I tend to lean toward believing that God reveals God's self to each one of us, and we choose how to respond. For once, Paul may not be giving himself enough credit - he chose to respond to God. In a dramatic way? Sure. But still a choice is involved.
- Paul must have had such a hard relationship with the Twelve. He emphasizes in this passage how outside the 'norm' his encounter with Christ is, his receiving of the good news. His relationship with the Twelve is - strained - throughout the New Testament. Why is it so hard to accept people who believe differently than us, practice differently than us, journey in a different way than us, if the core is the same?
- "And they glorified God because of me." Has your life/testimony/action ever caused someone else to glorify God? If not, why not?
- This is Paul's faith-life story in abbreviated form. What's your story? How did you get where you are?
- Again, a widow and son - check out the parallels with our text from 1 Kings.
- "mother's only son" - the woman is a widow, and has only one child. The child, then, is so, so precious.
- compassion - a favorite word in the gospels. Jesus has compassion. What does that word mean to you? Do you have compassion? What does your compassion cause you to do? What does it fail to cause you to do?
- This is only of a handful of gospel stories of Jesus raising the dead - we also have Lazarus and the daughter of Jairus. How does this story compare? What is its significance (other than to the mother!)?
- The crowd responds in fear. That seems like a very reasonable response! We may hate death, but we at least understand that it happens and is permanent. But Jesus turns things upside down. How do you think the son felt? What would you do if you had a second chance like this?
- What about Jesus raising a man from the dead makes the people call him a prophet? Does that gel with your understanding of what a prophet it?