Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Wednesday, 30 May 18:
1. 1 Kings 7:1 – “Solomon was building his own house thirteen years, and he finished his entire house.” Solomon built the House of God for seven years, but spent thirteen years building his own house. The message here is clear, but the Bible will restate the point later.
2. 1 Kings 7:2 – “He built the House of the Forest of Lebanon. Its length was a hundred cubits and its breadth fifty cubits and its height thirty cubits, and it was built on four rows of cedar pillars, with cedar beams on the pillars.” Solomon built a bigger house for himself than he did for God.
3. 1 Kings 7 — Solomon used unbelieving idol makers to build God’s Temple. Solomon partnered with Hiram in many ways which likely contributed to Israel’s syncretism and slide into idolatry. God wants us to do the right things for the right reasons in the right way at the right time. God decides what is right. Be careful not to compromise your integrity in order to produce results. The word integrity means truthfulness but also soundness or wholeness. For example, if a chair has integrity, you can sit on it confidently, but if it doesn’t, it will collapse under the pressure of your weight. When we compromise our integrity, we compromise both our fidelity and our soundness. We will eventually collapse under the pressure, despite our early accomplishments. The foundation of your integrity is Jesus who is your firm foundation.
4. 1 Kings 7:8 — “Solomon also made a house like this hall for Pharaoh’s daughter whom he had taken in marriage.” Solomon allowed in his own house what was forbidden in God’s house – a double standard of holiness. Your character cannot be compartmentalized. You cannot be faithful in one area of your life while you are being unfaithful in another area of your life. You take the same character into every situation.
5. 1 Kings 8:3 — “And the priests took up the ark.” In this regard, Solomon learned from his father’s mistakes.
6. 1 Kings 8:9 says there was nothing but two stone tablets in the ark. The jar of manna and Aarons staff mentioned in Hebrews 9:3,4; Exodus 16:33, 34; and Numbers 17:10 are not in the ark. Why not? There are many theories. I am uncertain, but I am certain that there is no contradiction between these verses. What do you think?
7. 1 Kings 8:18, 19 – “Whereas it was in your heart to build a house for my name, you did well that it was in your heart. Nevertheless, you shall not build the house….” David’s plans, though well intentioned, were not God’s plans. Just because it sounds right doesn’t mean it is right for you. If you ask God from the right heart, He will show you the correct path.
8. 1 Kings 8:33 – “…your people Israel are defeated before the enemy because they have sinned against you….” Solomon, the wisest man on the planet, understood military defeat to be the consequence of sin.
9. 1 Kings 8:35, 37 — Solomon, the wisest man on the plan, saw natural disasters as the consequence of sin, the consequence of ‘afflicted’ hearts.
10. 1 Kings 8:39 — “… then hear in heaven your dwelling place and forgive and act and render to each whose heart you know, according to all his ways (for you, you only, know the hearts of all the children of mankind).” People do what they do for different motives. The outwardly charitable person might not have a truly charitable heart. The offensive person might be troubled beyond your imagination and might actually have a heart more desirous of a right relationship with God than the person who acts noble. Only God knows a person’s heart. Don’t assume you understand the motives behind other’s words or actions. God commands us to judge actions as good or bad but not to presume to understand the heart of another; presuming to know another’s standing with God is judgmental, prideful and offensive to God. If we view actions that are not consistent with God’s word, we are to speak the truth in love with the intent of reconciling that person to Jesus, not to condemn them or to push them further away from Jesus.
11. 1 Kings 8:47-50 — “…if they turn their heart… and repent and plead with you.., saying, ‘We have sinned and have acted perversely and wickedly,’ if they repent with all their mind and with all their heart… and pray to you… then hear in heaven your dwelling place their prayer and their plea, and maintain their cause and forgive your people who have sinned against you.” Forgiveness involves wholehearted repentance, prayer, and rededication to obedience. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)
12. 1 Kings 8:50 – “…grant them compassion in the sight of those who carried them captive, that they may have compassion on them God can make your enemies show compassion towards you.” God controls the hearts of men as He desires, something only He can do.
13. 1 Kings 8:53 — “For you separated them from among all the peoples of the earth to be your heritage” The bride of Christ cannot flirt with our date the world.
14. 1 Kings 8:56-58 — “Not one word has failed of all his good promise…. May he not leave us or forsake us, that he may incline our hearts to him, to walk in all his ways and to keep his commandments, his statutes, and his rules, which he commanded our fathers.” Solomon understood that God does not fail the relationship, we do. God does not walk away from us; we walk away from Him when we incline our hearts towards another and stop following Jesus.
15. 1 Kings 8:57-61 — “May he not leave us or forsake us, that he may incline our hearts to him, to walk in all his ways and to keep his commandments, his statutes, and his rules, which he commanded our fathers…. that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God; there is no other. Let your heart therefore be wholly true to the LORD our God, walking in his statutes and keeping his commandments, as at this day.” Obeying Jesus is an all-or-nothing proposition – you are either obeying or you’re not. Partial obedience is disobedience. However, we live by grace as we grow in love and obedience, which we cannot do naturally — we need supernatural power from God and have access to it through the Holy Spirit. We obey Jesus to glorify Him. Our holy, obedient, wholehearted lives should represent Christ before the watching world.
16. Proverbs 30:1-6 — You can’t out-smart the word of God. Just obey. Don’t muddy the waters of God’s word by mixing in the teachings of man. God’s word is pure. We need not add to it. There are many secular ‘teachers’ out there who can be very convincing. Always test what they are saying by the perfect, unchanging standard of God’s word. Too often I see ‘Christian’ teaching materials that add to God’s word and subtly drift from the truth.
17. Proverbs 30:8, 9 – “Remove far from me falsehood and lying; give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me, lest I be full and deny you and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’ or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of my God.”
– God will not give you more than you can handle; if you choose to be unfaithful, it is not because you couldn’t have remained faithful.
– God may be withholding from you what you want because He knows you cannot handle it faithfully.
18. Proverbs 30:24-28 — Wise people succeed by accepting their current situation rather than using it as an excuse, and they learn to work around obstacles and limitations to exploit opportunities.
19. 2 Corinthians 4:1, 2 – “Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart. But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God.”
– When we lose heart before the world, we are tempted to compromise the word of God to accommodate our compromise and/or theirs. Don’t compromise the word of God in an attempt to make it more acceptable or appealing. The reality of Jesus should cause us to not lose heart.
– False teachers always “tamper with God’s word.” By having thorough personal knowledge of God’s word and by walking in God’s word, you will not fall victim to them. By living out the simple truth and by holding firm to the Truth, you will be salt and light.
– From Oswald Chambers: “Have you “renounced the hidden things of shame” in your life— the things that your sense of honor or pride will not allow to come into the light? You can easily hide them. Is there a thought in your heart about anyone that you would not like to be brought into the light? Then renounce it as soon as it comes to mind— renounce everything in its entirety until there is no hidden dishonesty or craftiness about you at all. Envy, jealousy, and strife don’t necessarily arise from your old nature of sin, but from the flesh which was used for these kinds of things in the past (see Romans 6:19 and 1 Peter 4:1-3). You must maintain continual watchfulness so that nothing arises in your life that would cause you shame. “…not walking in craftiness…” (2 Corinthians 4:2). This means not resorting to something simply to make your own point. This is a terrible trap. You know that God will allow you to work in only one way— the way of truth. Then be careful never to catch people through the other way— the way of deceit. If you act deceitfully, God’s blight and ruin will be upon you. What may be craftiness for you, may not be for others— God has called you to a higher standard. Never dull your sense of being your utmost for His highest— your best for His glory. For you, doing certain things would mean craftiness coming into your life for a purpose other than what is the highest and best, and it would dull the motivation that God has given you. Many people have turned back because they are afraid to look at things from God’s perspective. The greatest spiritual crisis comes when a person has to move a little farther on in his faith than the beliefs he has already accepted.”
20. 2 Corinthians 4:4 – “In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” From Henry T. Blackaby: “When you are blinded, you cannot see things as they really are, even though others around you see them clearly. You cannot experience the full reality of all that is around you. You may feel you are experiencing all that there is to life, yet you may be unaware that you are missing what God desires for you. You may even be in danger because of your blindness and not know it. Paul warned that the “god of this age” can blind you to the reality of Jesus Christ. Christ’s presence can make a significant difference in your life. However, if Satan convinces you to doubt that Christ can do what He promised, he will have blinded you to the reality of what your life is really like and to what it could become. Others may see what your unbelief causes you to miss, but you will be unaware of it. Your life may be steadily moving toward disaster, but you will be oblivious to it. Christ comes to you as light (John 1:4, 5, 9). He illuminates your sin so that you see its ugliness and destructiveness. He reveals Himself so that you can appreciate the glory of His person and the marvelous riches He brings. His presence lights your path so that you can see impending danger. Don’t let the god of this age distort your spiritual vision. Don’t be fooled into thinking that everything is as it should be when, in fact, you are missing out on so much that God wants to do in your life. Ask Christ to illuminate your life and let you clearly see your spiritual condition.”
– The world, the flesh, and the devil blind people from seeing Christ.
21. 2 Corinthians 4:5 – “For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.” We proclaim Christ, not ourselves. We deny self and take up the cross of Jesus as we follow Him. As an ambassador for Christ, be very careful to never represent yourself in any situation.
22. 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.”
– Christians don’t claim to be special of themselves but rather give all credit to Jesus. We are special only because we are His children. The Gospel message is all about what He did for us, not what we are capable of doing. Often Christians turn the Gospel message into a plan to achieve the American dream with God’s help – “Follow the principles of the Bible and you can be successful in all areas of your life.” The Gospel message is that God saved us despite us so that we could know Him. The Bible is not pointing us to principles; it is pointing us to a Person, Jesus! Principles won’t necessarily lead you to the goal, which is Jesus. But when we follow Jesus, the principles occur naturally in our lives because His is the Author of the principles.
– Jesus called the Pharisees whitewashed tombs, looking good on the outside but unclean on the inside. We are the opposite, unimpressive on the outside but full of the Holy Spirit on the inside. The power of God does not depend on our outward appearance. We don’t need new branding or a better marketing campaign.
– From Henry T. Blackaby: Knowing God and having Him reside within you is a treasure of infinite value. Jesus likened this value to that of a perfect pearl. The collector would readily sell everything he had in order to possess this one matchless pearl (Matt. 13:45-46). Your relationship with God places an immeasurable value on your life. The treasures of God’s wisdom and knowledge are available to you through Christ (Col. 2:2-3). His love now fills you. His incomprehensible peace surrounds your heart and mind (Phil. 4:7). When Jesus dwells in your life, everything available to Christ dwells within you (Eph. 3:19). Paul was comparing our lives with the clay pots commonly used in his day. The contents of the earthen vessels, not the containers themselves, were of great value. The jars would become chipped and broken and would deteriorate over time, but nobody thought of the jar—they were interested in its contents. Paul noted that our great possession is that which God has placed within us. When people focus on us they see a frail, imperfect, and deteriorating vessel. Nothing that comes from our flesh is worthy of praise. Our bodies are aging and losing strength (2 Cor. 4:16). Only as we allow God to fill us and renew our inner self will people see a treasure of immeasurable worth. Don’t focus on outward appearances and physical strength, for these deteriorate. Rather, allow the Holy Spirit to convince you of the infinite treasure that is within you because of God’s presence.
23. 2 Corinthians 4:10 – “…that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.” From Oswald Chambers: “We have to develop godly habits to express what God’s grace has done in us. It is not just a question of being saved from hell, but of being saved so that “the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.” And it is adversity that makes us exhibit His life in our mortal flesh. Is my life exhibiting the essence of the sweetness of the Son of God, or just the basic irritation of “myself” that I would have apart from Him? The only thing that will enable me to enjoy adversity is the acute sense of eagerness of allowing the life of the Son of God to evidence itself in me. No matter how difficult something may be, I must say, “Lord, I am delighted to obey You in this.” Instantly, the Son of God will move to the forefront of my life, and will manifest in my body that which glorifies Him. You must not debate. The moment you obey the light of God, His Son shines through you in that very adversity; but if you debate with God, you grieve His Spirit (see Ephesians 4:30). You must keep yourself in the proper condition to allow the life of the Son of God to be manifested in you, and you cannot keep yourself fit if you give way to self-pity. Our circumstances are the means God uses to exhibit just how wonderfully perfect and extraordinarily pure His Son is. Discovering a new way of manifesting the Son of God should make our heart beat with renewed excitement. It is one thing to choose adversity, and quite another to enter into adversity through the orchestrating of our circumstances by God’s sovereignty. And if God puts you into adversity, He is adequately sufficient to “supply all your need” (Philippians 4:19). Keep your soul properly conditioned to manifest the life of the Son of God. Never live on your memories of past experiences, but let the Word of God always be living and active in you.”
24. 2 Corinthians 4:13 — “I believed, and so I spoke.” If you truly believe in Jesus, you will naturally proclaim Jesus. Be bold and speak what you believe.
25. 2 Corinthians 4:16 — “Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.” Renewal is a process, day by day.
26. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 — “Do not lose heart…. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” The secret to endurance and perseverance is having an eternal perspective and spiritual awareness. You must be able to see past apparent circumstances to the larger, more relevant spiritual realties.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 30 May: Be bold, speak the truth in love, and say what you believe. (2 Corinthians 4:1-5,13) However, give people the benefit of the doubt. Show grace when people do something wrong or offend you. You do not really know the “why” behind their actions or what God might be doing in their lives. Remember, you have been given the ministry of “reconciliation”; how can you lead others closer to Jesus? (1 Kings 8:39; Proverbs 25:8)