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1 Kings 18; Acts 11; Psalm 135; Proverbs 17:12-13 (Contemporary English Version)

1 Kings 18

Elijah Proves He Is the Lord’s Prophet

18 1-2 For three years no rain fell in Samaria, and there was almost nothing to eat anywhere. The Lord said to Elijah, “Go and meet with King Ahab. I will soon make it rain.” So Elijah went to see Ahab.

3-4 At that time Obadiah was in charge of Ahab’s palace, but he faithfully worshiped the Lord. In fact, when Jezebel was trying to kill the Lord’s prophets, Obadiah hid one hundred of them in two caves and gave them food and water.

Ahab sent for Obadiah and said, “We have to find something for our horses and mules to eat. If we don’t, we will have to kill them. Let’s look around every creek and spring in the country for some grass. You go one way, and I’ll go the other.” Then they left in separate directions.

As Obadiah was walking along, he met Elijah. Obadiah recognized him, bowed down, and asked, “Elijah, is it really you?”

“Yes. Go tell Ahab I’m here.”

Obadiah replied:

King Ahab would kill me if I told him that. And I haven’t even done anything wrong. 10 I swear to you in the name of the living Lord your God that the king has looked everywhere for you. He sent people to look in every country, and when they couldn’t find you, he made the leader of each country swear that you were not in that country. 11 Do you really want me to tell him you’re here?

12 What if the Lord’s Spirit takes you away as soon as I leave? When Ahab comes to get you, he won’t find you. Then he will surely kill me.

I have worshiped the Lord since I was a boy. 13 I even hid one hundred of the Lord’s prophets in caves when Jezebel was trying to kill them. I also gave them food and water. 14 Do you really want me to tell Ahab you’re here? He will kill me!

15 Elijah said, “I’m a servant of the living Lord All-Powerful, and I swear in his name that I will meet with Ahab today.”

16 Obadiah left and told Ahab where to find Elijah.

Ahab went to meet Elijah, 17 and when he saw him, Ahab shouted, “There you are, the biggest troublemaker in Israel!”

18 Elijah answered:

You’re the troublemaker—not me! You and your family have disobeyed the Lord’s commands by worshiping Baal.

19 Call together everyone from Israel and have them meet me on Mount Carmel. Be sure to bring along the four hundred fifty prophets of Baal and the four hundred prophets of Asherah who eat at Jezebel’s table.

20 Ahab got everyone together, then they went to meet Elijah on Mount Carmel. 21 Elijah stood in front of them and said, “How much longer will you try to have things both ways? If the Lord is God, worship him! But if Baal is God, worship him!”

The people did not say a word.

22 Then Elijah continued:

I am the Lord’s only prophet, but Baal has four hundred fifty prophets.

23 Bring us two bulls. Baal’s prophets can take one of them, kill it, and cut it into pieces. Then they can put the meat on the wood without lighting the fire. I will do the same thing with the other bull, and I won’t light a fire under it either.

24 The prophets of Baal will pray to their god, and I will pray to the Lord. The one who answers by starting the fire is God.

“That’s a good idea,” everyone agreed.

25 Elijah said to Baal’s prophets, “There are more of you, so you go first. Pick out a bull and get it ready, but don’t light the fire. Then pray to your god.”

26 They chose their bull, then they got it ready and prayed to Baal all morning, asking him to start the fire. They danced around the altar and shouted, “Answer us, Baal!” But there was no answer.

27 At noon, Elijah began making fun of them. “Pray louder!” he said. “Baal must be a god. Maybe he’s day-dreaming or using the toilet or traveling somewhere. Or maybe he’s asleep, and you have to wake him up.”

28 The prophets kept shouting louder and louder, and they cut themselves with swords and knives until they were bleeding. This was the way they worshiped, 29 and they kept it up all afternoon. But there was no answer of any kind.

30 Elijah told everyone to gather around him while he repaired the Lord’s altar. 31-32 Then he used twelve stones to build an altar in honor of the Lord. Each stone stood for one of the tribes of Israel, which was the name the Lord had given to their ancestor Jacob. Elijah dug a ditch around the altar, large enough to hold about thirteen quarts. 33 He placed the wood on the altar, then they cut the bull into pieces and laid the meat on the wood.

He told the people, “Fill four large jars with water and pour it over the meat and the wood.” After they did this, 34 he told them to do it two more times. They did exactly as he said 35 until finally, the water ran down the altar and filled the ditch.

36 When it was time for the evening sacrifice, Elijah prayed:

Our Lord, you are the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel. Now, prove that you are the God of this nation,[a] and that I, your servant, have done this at your command. 37 Please answer me, so these people will know that you are the Lord God, and that you will turn their hearts back to you.[b]

38 The Lord immediately sent fire, and it burned up the sacrifice, the wood, and the stones. It scorched the ground everywhere around the altar and dried up every drop of water in the ditch. 39 When the crowd saw what had happened, they all bowed down and shouted, “The Lord is God! The Lord is God!”

40 Just then, Elijah said, “Grab the prophets of Baal! Don’t let any of them get away.”

So the people captured the prophets and took them to Kishon River, where Elijah killed every one of them.

It Starts To Rain

41 Elijah told Ahab, “Get something to eat and drink. I hear a heavy rain coming.”

42 Ahab left, but Elijah climbed back to the top of Mount Carmel. Then he stooped down with his face almost to the ground 43 and said to his servant, “Look toward the sea.”

The servant left. And when he came back, he said, “I looked, but I didn’t see anything.” Elijah told him to look seven more times.

44 After the seventh time the servant replied, “I see a small cloud coming this way. But it’s no bigger than a fist.”

Elijah told him, “Tell Ahab to get his chariot ready and start home now. Otherwise, the rain will stop him.”

45-46 A few minutes later, it got very cloudy and windy, and rain started pouring down. So Elijah wrapped his coat around himself, and the Lord gave him strength to run all the way to Jezreel. Ahab followed him.

Footnotes:

  1. 18.36 this nation: Hebrew “Israel.”
  2. 18.37 will turn. . . to you: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
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Acts 11

Peter Reports to the Church in Jerusalem

11 The apostles and the followers in Judea heard that Gentiles had accepted God’s message. So when Peter came to Jerusalem, some of the Jewish followers started arguing with him. They wanted Gentile followers to be circumcised, and they said, “You stayed in the homes of Gentiles, and you even ate with them!”

Then Peter told them exactly what had happened:

I was in the town of Joppa and was praying when I fell sound asleep and had a vision. I saw heaven open, and something like a huge sheet held by its four corners came down to me. When I looked in it, I saw animals, wild beasts, snakes, and birds. I heard a voice saying to me, “Peter, get up! Kill these and eat them.”

But I said, “Lord, I can’t do that! I’ve never taken a bite of anything that is unclean and not fit to eat.”[a]

The voice from heaven spoke to me again, “When God says that something can be used for food, don’t say it isn’t fit to eat.” 10 This happened three times before it was all taken back into heaven.

11 Suddenly three men from Caesarea stood in front of the house where I was staying. 12 The Holy Spirit told me to go with them and not to worry. Then six of the Lord’s followers went with me to the home of a man 13 who told us that an angel had appeared to him. The angel had ordered him to send to Joppa for someone named Simon Peter. 14 Then Peter would tell him how he and everyone in his house could be saved.

15 After I started speaking, the Holy Spirit was given to them, just as the Spirit had been given to us at the beginning. 16 I remembered that the Lord had said, “John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” 17 God gave those Gentiles the same gift that he gave us when we put our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. So how could I have gone against God?

18 When they heard Peter say this, they stopped arguing and started praising God. They said, “God has now let Gentiles turn to him, and he has given life to them!”

The Church in Antioch

19 Some of the Lord’s followers had been scattered because of the terrible trouble that started when Stephen was killed. They went as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, but they told the message only to the Jews.

20 Some of the followers from Cyprus and Cyrene went to Antioch and started telling Gentiles[b] the good news about the Lord Jesus. 21 The Lord’s power was with them, and many people turned to the Lord and put their faith in him. 22 News of what was happening reached the church in Jerusalem. Then they sent Barnabas to Antioch.

23 When Barnabas got there and saw what God had been kind enough to do for them, he was very glad. So he begged them to remain faithful to the Lord with all their hearts. 24 Barnabas was a good man of great faith, and he was filled with the Holy Spirit. Many more people turned to the Lord.

25 Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul. 26 He found Saul and brought him to Antioch, where they met with the church for a whole year and taught many of its people. There in Antioch the Lord’s followers were first called Christians.

27 During this time some prophets from Jerusalem came to Antioch. 28 One of them was Agabus. Then with the help of the Spirit, he told that there would be a terrible famine everywhere in the world. And it happened when Claudius was Emperor.[c] 29 The followers in Antioch decided to send whatever help they could to the followers in Judea. 30 So they had Barnabas and Saul take their gifts to the church leaders in Jerusalem.

Footnotes:

  1. 11.8 unclean and not fit to eat: See the note at 10.14.
  2. 11.20 Gentiles: This translates a Greek word that may mean “people who speak Greek” or “people who live as Greeks do.” Here the word seems to mean “people who are not Jews.” Some manuscripts have “Greeks,” which also seems to mean “people who are not Jews.”
  3. 11.28 when Claudius was Emperor: A.D. 41-54.
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Psalm 135

In Praise of the Lord’s Kindness

135 Shout praises to the Lord!
    You are his servants,
    so praise his name.
All who serve in the temple
of the Lord our God,
    come and shout praises.
Praise the name of the Lord!
    He is kind and good.
He chose the family of Jacob
and the people of Israel
    for his very own.

The Lord is much greater
    than any other god.
He does as he chooses
in heaven and on earth
    and deep in the sea.
The Lord makes the clouds rise
    from far across the earth,
    and he makes lightning
    to go with the rain.
Then from his secret place
    he sends out the wind.

The Lord killed the first-born
    of people and animals
    in the land of Egypt.
God used miracles and wonders
    to fight the king of Egypt
    and all of his officials.
10 He destroyed many nations
    and killed powerful kings,
11 including King Sihon
of the Amorites
    and King Og of Bashan.
He conquered every kingdom
    in the land of Canaan
12     and gave their property
    to his people Israel.

13 The name of the Lord
    will be remembered forever,
    and he will be famous
    for all time to come.
14 The Lord will bring justice
and show mercy
    to all
    who serve him.

15 Idols of silver and gold
are made
    and worshiped
    in other nations.
16 They have a mouth and eyes,
    but they can’t speak or see.
17 They are completely deaf,
    and they can’t breathe.
18 Everyone who makes idols
    and all who trust them
    will end up as helpless
    as their idols.

19 Everyone in Israel,
    come praise the Lord!
All the family of Aaron
20 and all the tribe of Levi,[a]
    come praise the Lord!
All of his worshipers,
    come praise the Lord.
21 Praise the Lord from Zion!
He lives here in Jerusalem.
    Shout praises to the Lord!

Footnotes:

  1. 135.19,20 Aaron. . . Levi: Aaron was from the tribe of Levi, and all priests were from his family. The temple helpers, singers, and musicians were also from the tribe of Levi.
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Proverbs 17:12-13

12 A bear robbed of her cubs
is far less dangerous
    than a stubborn fool.
13 You will always have trouble
    if you are mean to those
    who are good to you.

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