Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Monday, 28 May 18:
1. 1 Kings 3:1 — “Solomon made a marriage alliance with Pharaoh king of Egypt. He took Pharaoh’s daughter and brought her into the city of David.” Solomon began his reign by going against God’s specific word not to entangle with Egypt, not to marry unbelieving women, and not to have many wives. (Exodus 34:12; Deuteronomy 17:16) Almost immediately, Solomon, the wisest ruler of all time, had sowed the seeds for his downfall – “When Solomon was old, his wives turned away his heart after other gods.” (1 Kings 11:4) Solomon’s disobedience to God, the ultimate leadership failure, left Israel permanently divided until its final destruction. Why would Solomon directly disobey God by marrying Pharaoh’s daughter? Solomon was following a common practice used by rulers during that historical period in order to maintain peace between nations. His decision was likely celebrated by many as a great step forward for world peace. But there is no real peace apart from peace with God. Solomon chose worldly wisdom over true wisdom which comes only from God. True wisdom would have been to fear the LORD and obey His commands, defying worldly expectations. If only he had trusted the Lord and remained obedient to His commands for marriage and holiness. Today, many of God’s commands are viewed as outdated and out of touch with how the world actually works, and Christians have compromised to keep the peace and to get along. As a result, the Church is more divided than ever before, and Christians suffer the same consequences of sin as everyone else.
2. 1 Kings 3:2 — “The people were sacrificing at the high places, however….” A historic trend revealed as a warning in the Old Testament for future generations is that while a nation is heading down a path of destruction, it often continues proudly in religious practices, deceiving itself in believing that all is well with God. “God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.” (Acts 10:34, 35; see also Romans 2:11)
– Jeremiah 6:14 – They have healed the wound of my people lightly, saying, ‘Peace, peace,’ when there is no peace.
– Ezekiel 13:10 — Precisely because they have misled my people, saying, ‘Peace,’ when there is no peace, and because, when the people build a wall, these prophets smear it with whitewash….
– Ezekiel 13:16 — …the prophets of Israel who prophesied concerning Jerusalem and saw visions of peace for her, when there was no peace, declares the Lord God.
– Isaiah 56:10 — His watchmen are blind; they are all without knowledge; they are all silent dogs; they cannot bark, dreaming, lying down, loving to slumber.
3. 1 Kings 3:3 — “Only he sacrificed and made offerings at the high places.” David was in disobedience to Deuteronomy 12. Why? Again, probably because everyone else was doing it. Here is another incident where Solomon’s compromise set the stage for his future idolatry that would cause him to lose the kingdom. This is the deceptive, destructive worldly ‘wisdom’ of “acceptance”, “inclusion”, and “tolerance”, that is so widely proclaimed today. But not every idea or lifestyle is equally valuable or beneficial. God is the Author of ethics, right and wrong, and opposites cannot both be right. No one on earth was smarter than Solomon, yet intelligence cannot overcome pride and an unfaithful heart. Every person makes a choice to obey God or not. There are really only two kingdoms on earth. The Kingdom of God, and the kingdom of man, with its many warring factions. Jesus told us to seek the Kingdom of God. We will soon read Ecclesiastes where Solomon laments at the end of his days over his ultimate failure to simply obey God and serve the Kingdom of God on earth faithfully.
4. 1 Kings 3:7 — “I do not know how to go out or come in.” Humility is the path to greatness. Knowing that you don’t know anything is key. God is very clear in his word. You cannot know how to make good choices without His guidance, and you cannot obtain the self-control required to resist temptation apart from the power of the Holy Spirit.
5. 1 Kings 3:11, 12 — “Because you have asked this, and have not asked for yourself long life or riches or the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern what is right, behold, I now do according to your word.” Wisdom comes through selfless sacrifice, seeking what is right in God’s eyes and best for others over self. You have to decide if you want wisdom or rather comfort. There is no growth in the comfort zone, and there is no comfort in the growth zone.
6. 1 Kings 3:13 — “I give you also what you have not asked, both riches and honor, so that no other king shall compare with you, all your days.” When you focus on God and others, God will take care of you better than you could take care of yourself by directing your efforts towards personal success and security. God gives His people abilities and success, not for their glory and comfort but rather for His glory. If you start to believe life is for you or about you, you have walked away from God.
7. 1 Kings 3:14 — “And if you will walk in my ways, keeping my statutes and my commandments, as your father David walked, then I will lengthen your days.” Intelligence and talent is not enough. Obedience is essential.
8. 1 Kings 3:26 — “Then the woman whose son was alive said to the king, because her heart yearned for her son, ‘Oh, my lord, give her the living child, and by no means put him to death.’ But the other said, ‘He shall be neither mine nor yours; divide him.’’ There is worldly ‘love’ and then there is genuine godly love. The worldly form of love is ultimately focused on self – getting what you want from someone else, approval, validation, pleasure, gifts, etc. Worldly love, which is not really love, will eventually hurt the object of affection. Godly love is selfless – wanting what is best for the other. True love is ready to surrender everything for the sake the one loved. King Solomon knew that true love would be self-evident by the choices made by the one who truly loves.
9. 1 Kings 4:29 — “And God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding beyond measure, and breadth of mind like the sand on the seashore.” God can take you beyond your natural powers and abilities. He can empower you with “supernatural” (beyond natural) powers.
10. 1 Kings 4:34 — “And people of all nations came to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and from all the kings of the earth, who had heard of his wisdom.” Solomon had a unique opportunity to glorify God before all nations. Unfortunately, he compromised his witness and was ultimately more influenced by them than an influence.
12. Proverbs 28:1 – “The wicked flee when no one pursues, but the righteous are bold as a lion.” Righteousness produces boldness.
13. Proverbs 28:3 – “A poor man who oppresses the poor is a beating rain that leaves no food.” There is nothing worse than a poor sinner who condemns other poor sinners.
14. Proverbs 28:4 – “Those who forsake the law praise the wicked, but those who keep the law strive against them.” If you love flowers, you must hate weeds. If you love righteousness, you must fight against evil. The best way to counter culture and fight against the evils of this world is to personally obey God when others won’t, refusing to compromise as others do.
15. Proverbs 28:8 – “Whoever multiplies his wealth by interest and profit gathers it for him who is generous to the poor.” We can profit from our excess by lending it with interest to those who do not have, or we can give our excess to the poor and build our wealth by producing more. Throughout the Bible we can see that God wants us to build wealth by increasing our productivity, through industry; and in our productivity, he wants us to give freely. God forbids accruing wealth by charging interest in lending to other believers. God’s retirement plan is to create industry that remains productive in your latter years, not by hoarding your excess in “barns.”
16. Proverbs 28:9 – “If one turns away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer is an abomination.” Don’t bring God your prayers in disobedience.
17. Proverbs 28:11 – “A rich man is wise in his own eyes, but a poor man who has understanding will find him out.” Wealth brings pride which brings destruction.
18. Proverbs 28:13 – “Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.” Live in the freedom of honest, transparent humility. Be honest about your sin. Do not conceal it in fear and pride. Your confessed sin points to your Savior.
19. Proverbs 28:19 – “Whoever works his land will have plenty of bread, but he who follows worthless pursuits will have plenty of poverty.” God calls us to produce and grow daily, growth in character, competence, and contribution. Don’t waste a day.
20. Proverbs 28:20 – “A faithful man will abound with blessings, but whoever hastens to be rich will not go unpunished.” Be faithful! This is the essence of character, the essence of life. People often ask, “What does God want for my life?” Often they ask with a preconceived notion that God’s will for them involves some version of worldly success – big, visible, proclaimed accomplishments. Many spend their entire lives chasing after big goals, believing this is what God wants for them. However, the Bible tells you what God wants for your life – “For this is the will of God, your sanctification.” (1 Thessalonians 4:3)
21. Proverbs 28:21 – “To show partiality is not good, but for a piece of bread a man will do wrong.” People should be held accountable for sin, but we should not overlook their unfortunate circumstances that might have contributed to their sin.
22. Proverbs 28:26 — “Whoever trusts in his own mind is a fool.” Questions?
23. Proverbs 28:27 – “Whoever gives to the poor will not want, but he who hides his eyes will get many a curse.” Christians have the demand from God to give to the poor.
24. 2 Corinthians 2:7 –“So you should rather turn to forgive and comfort him, or he may be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow.” We must hold people accountable but with the goal of restoring them, not destroying them.
25. 2 Corinthians 2:14 — “But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us… and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere.” We make the world better by spreading the knowledge of Christ everywhere.
26. 2 Corinthians 2:17 — “For we are not, like so many, peddlers of God’s word, but as men of sincerity, as commissioned by God, in the sight of God we speak in Christ.”
– True Christians only desire to serve Christ as an Ambassador, despite great expense and personal sacrifice.
– Some people use God’s word for personal gain. Some have peddled it. Christianity has proven highly marketable. More and more, people are being directed towards books about the Bible rather than the Bible itself, all for a price. A quick online search of some popular Christian names will reveal them to be some of the wealthiest people on earth. The wealthy pastor or preacher stands in stark contrast to the example given by Jesus. “You received without paying; give without pay.” (Matthew 10:8)
– In many other ways, people approach God’s word from a self-centered perspective in hopes of getting what they want. Many read God’s word as a self-help book in order to live happy, comfortable, successful lives. However, God’s word is not intended to teach you principles but rather to lead you to the Person of Jesus, to guide you into a very real and personal relationship. Jesus explained, “And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” (John 17:3) Eternal life is not knowing “about” God; it is knowing God in real relationship. It is not about receiving blessings from God but rather about receiving the blessing of God’s presence. God did not introduce you to concepts; He introduced you to Christ. The power of your testimony is that you bear witness to the reality of Jesus Christ, and the evidence of your genuine encounter with the Living God is apparent in how you have responded to that encounter. You cannot bear witness to what you do not know or haven’t experienced. You won’t be truly transformed by what you haven’t experienced and aren’t experiencing daily. Yes, God’s word, being truth, does, if followed, offer paradigms and principles that can drastically improve anyone’s life, even a non-believer. Yes, you can repackage God’s word, market it, and make some money. However, if you stop at principles and simply knowing ‘about’ God rather than becoming truly intimate with God, you have missed the prize and joy of eternal life, and you might be leading others to a superficial form of religion. What has inspired so many martyrs over the centuries? It wasn’t a story they read, it was a Person they knew. Jesus explained that God’s word is essential in our walk with God, but the power comes from the Spirit of God working through His word. Seek the Living God with all your heart, nothing else. Don’t view the Bible as a supernatural success book. See the Bible as your conversation with God to build your relationship with Jesus.
— Matthew 22:29 — But Jesus answered them, “You are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God.
— Jeremiah 29:13 — You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.
— John 4:29 — “Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?”
— Matthew 11:28 — Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
— Luke 9:23 — And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.
— Romans 15:13 — May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.
— 1 Corinthians 4:20 — For the kingdom of God does not consist in talk but in power.
— 2 Corinthians 4:7 — But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 28 May: Approach those who offend you with the intent to lead them to Jesus. Remember, your mission given by God is one of reconciliation. (2 Corinthians 2:7)