Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Monday, 31 October 2022:
1 Kings 11:1-3 — Now King Solomon loved many foreign women, along with the daughter of Pharaoh: Moabite, Ammonite, Edomite, Sidonian, and Hittite women, from the nations concerning which the Lord had said to the people of Israel, “You shall not enter into marriage with them, neither shall they with you, for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods.” Solomon clung to these in love. He had 700 wives, who were princesses, and 300 concubines. And his wives turned away his heart.
Solomon was granted unsurpassed wisdom by God. However, even in his superior wisdom, he did not “guard his heart” by obeying God’s simple, clear commands. His lack of self-control and obedience destroyed him and set the stage for the ultimate destruction of the kingdom of Israel. Our problem is not the gap between ignorance and knowledge but rather the chasm between knowledge and commitment. It Isn’t that we don’t know what God wants; it is that we refuse to do what God wants. It isn’t that God hasn’t adequately empowered us to obey; it’s that in our hearts we really don’t want to obey. There is a part of us that doesn’t want our Savior to be our Lord and Savior. It takes humility to truly examine our hearts and an attitude of repentance and continual re-submission to walk with God day by day. Daily Bible study gives us course corrections and is used by the Holy Spirit to convict our hearts — if we are receptive to the Holy Spirit. Do not quench the Spirit by ignoring that conviction. When God convicts you, you stand at a crossroads. What you do next is absolutely vital. Loving God is not an intellectual choice; it is an issue of the heart.
1 Kings 11:14 — So Solomon did what was evil in the sight of the LORD and did not wholly follow the LORD.
1 Kings 11 is one of the scariest chapters in the Bible: Solomon was the wisest man in the Old Testament. God had blessed him with all that he desired. Yet this wisest man chose to directly disobey God even though God had appeared to him twice! This chapter shows how powerful sin is. All the wisdom in the world, even miraculous encounters with God won’t enable a person to obey God within his own power. The power of the Holy Spirit is required as is much grace. Sin is powerful and its consequences severe. Solomon’s sin resulted in the division of the tribes of Israel. The wisest king permanently divided the kingdom because he refused to simply obey God.
1 Kings 11:14 — And the Lord raised up an adversary against Solomon.
God punished Solomon by giving success to his enemies. This is a pattern in the Bible. Throughout the Bible God also uses other things such as natural disasters, corrupt politicians, and untimely events to punish His people. These are things only God can control. Those who worship ‘science’ (pseudoscience) would never accept these things as punishment from God, while those who follow false religions might characterize things as punishment from God which aren’t. It takes a genuine relationship with God and receptiveness to the Holy Spirit to know how to interpret what is happening in your life and why. Another reason why sin is nothing to trifle with is that it is hinders your ability to hear the Spirit. How does God deal with your disobedience? How do you respond? “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)
1 Kings 11:38 — And if you will listen to all that I command you, and will walk in my ways, and do what is right in my eyes by keeping my statutes and my commandments, as David my servant did, I will be with you and will build you a sure house, as I built for David, and I will give Israel to you.
Solomon “did evil in the eyes of the Lord; he did not follow the Lord completely.” Therefore, God tore the kingdom away from him and gave it to Jeroboam. For Jeroboam, God set the same conditions of obedience. Jeroboam, however, will also sin terribly against the Lord. The sins of these individuals will have a ripple effect on the rest of Israel’s history and will cause pain and suffering for generations. Proverbs 1 offers a warning to those who would follow their bad example: “How long will you who are simple love your simple ways? How long will… fools hate knowledge? Repent at my rebuke! Then I will pour out my thoughts to you, I will make known to you my teachings. But since you refuse to listen when I call and no one pays attention when I stretch out my hand, since you disregard all my advice
and do not accept my rebuke, I in turn will laugh when disaster strikes you; I will mock when calamity overtakes you — when calamity overtakes you like a storm, when disaster sweeps over you like a whirlwind, when distress and trouble overwhelm you. Then they will call to me but I will not answer; they will look for me but will not find me, since they hated knowledge and did not choose to fear the Lord. Since they would not accept my advice and spurned my rebuke, they will eat the fruit of their ways and be filled with the fruit of their schemes. For the waywardness of the simple will kill them, and the complacency of fools will destroy them; but whoever listens to me will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm.”
1 Kings 11:40 — Solomon sought therefore to kill Jeroboam.
Solomon wasted his energy trying to kill Jeroboam, an adversary sent by God. Solomon should have spent his energy repenting and pursuing his relationship with God. If you are aligned with God’s will, nothing can stop you – “he makes even [your] enemies to be at peace with [you].” (Proverbs 16:7) However, if you are working against God’s will, nothing will succeed in the end.
3 John 1:1 – The elder to the beloved Gaius, whom I love in truth.
Love is an easy word to say, but true love is complete sacrifice, and few people truly love. In 1 Corinthians 13, Paul explains that while there are many people who can do amazing things, true love is miraculous and very rare. If you are not abiding in the Holy Spirit through genuine, active faith in Jesus Christ, it is impossible to love at all. (see 1 John 4:19 and John 15)
3 John 1, 3, 8, 12 — I love in truth…. indeed you are walking in the truth…. that we may be fellow workers for the truth…. Demetrius has received a good testimony… from the truth itself…. and you know that our testimony is true.
The true church is united in truth, truth that makes man-made divisions such as race, class, culture, nationality, and denominations meaningless. Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14 6) Those who ‘walk in the truth’ walk as Jesus walked. John reminds us that, toward that life ambition, we should live our lives “for the sake of the name” and treat others “in a manner worthy of God.” (3 John 6, 7) Is that your ambition? Are you united as one with the true church rather than the world?
3 John 1:3, 4 – For I rejoiced greatly when the brothers came and testified to your truth, as indeed you are walking in the truth. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.
Real Christians don’t just talk about the truth, they walk in the truth. They surrender themselves to Jesus daily and walk with Him, denying themselves, proclaiming the truth daily in love, demonstrating forgiveness, generosity, grace, mercy, peace, patience, kindness, justice, humility, etc… Your life goal should be that as you follow Jesus closely, you will be an example to help others follow Him too, not follow you but follow Him.
Love hopes more than anything else that others would follow Jesus.
3 John 7, 8 — For they have gone out for the sake of the name, accepting nothing from the Gentiles. Therefore, we ought to support people like these, that we may be fellow workers for the truth.
God expects us to work with and through the church to advance the Kingdom. If you are not intimately connected with and serving with a committed body of believers, you are missing out on God’s will for you and likely have a problem with your relationship with God which is being revealed in your personal relationships. Your love for God and love for others is inextricably linked.
3 John 11 – Beloved, do not imitate evil but imitate good. Whoever does good is from God; whoever does evil has not seen God.
The Bible could not be clearer on this point: faith is revealed in attitudes, words, actions, and the quality of relationships with others. Jesus said, you judge the tree by the fruit the comes from it. Those who truly know and love Jesus are transformed by His love. They don’t continue in unrepentant sin, and when they do sin, they mournfully and humbly turn to God in repentance. Christians are continually claiming the promise of 1 John 1:9 – “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
In the very short letter of 3 John, John contrasts the behavior of Gaius and Demetrius with that of Diotrephes. Gaius had displayed his love and “faithfulness to the truth” along with his commitment to “walk in the truth” by showing hospitality and generosity to “the brothers” who he did not know personally. Contrarily, Diotrephes who “likes to put himself first” is characterized by John as a malicious gossip who refuses to “welcome the brothers.” John then reminds us of what was taught by Jesus, “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit…. The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil.” (Matthew 12:33, 35) Of our own power, we have no ability to be “good” only through Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit can we hope to do good – “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:4, 5) So, how do we abide in Christ? Jesus said, “Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” (John 15:9-11). The verse above tells us to “imitate good” rather than evil. So, how do we imitate good? Ephesians 5 expands on this concept and would be worthy of review today. Unlike Diotrephes who lived selfishly while claiming to be Christian, we are to “walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” and to submit “to one another out of reverence for Christ.” (Ephesians 5) The Holy Spirit gives us the power to abide in Christ, but we must make the decision daily to submit to God and others in true love. The completely sacrificial love lived out by Jesus is our example.
John encourages the Church to walk in obedience to the Lord. John, The Apostle of Love, sees obedience as required to truly love God and to express genuine love towards others. Paul backs this truth up in Romans 12:9 when he says, “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.” Someone once said, “If you love flowers, you have to hate weeds.” Sin is contrary to God’s will – it offends, hurts, and destroys. We cannot take a casual, careless position on either love or sin like the culture around us does.
Christians who are really Christian do the work of Christ.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 31 October 2022: If Jesus walked in your circles today, what would he be like? How would He act? What would He do? What would He say to your friends, family, neighbors, and coworkers? Make every effort to imitate Jesus today. Truly seek to be His Ambassador. Keep a journal of your experience. Make a note ever hour on how the last hour went. You have somewhere around sixteen waking hours today, sixteen hours to reveal the Way, the Truth, and the Life to others. Journal sixteen hourly self-assessments today, each time praying for a closer walk with Jesus and a greater imitation of Him to others. (3 John 11)