The Word Of God Is Greater

1 Chronicles 22:13
“Then you will prosper, if you take care to fulfill the statutes and judgments with which the Lord charged Moses concerning Israel. Be strong and of good courage; do not fear nor be dismayed.”

As the time of David’s departure drew near he took the time to commission his son to follow and serve the Lord. Solomon would be surrounded by things that would make his task easier but it would ultimately be his own responsibility to choose to live according to the precepts laid down in the word of God. Solomon had the gifts he received from God, the pattern and the resources his father had left behind and he was surrounded by the men who had assisted David in his walk with the Lord. Sadly, the one thing that was missing was a personal desire in Solomon to live a life that pleased the Lord. Instead his life was marked by constant and continual compromise.

There are many pitfalls that make it difficult to follow Christ. We are all constantly bombarded with temptations designed to lead us down roads that take us farther and farther from the paths of God. What we often forget is that we have also been given a roadmap in the scriptures that is designed to guide us through these difficult seasons. When we choose to take the counsel laid forth by David and give care to keep the statutes found in the pages of our Bibles we will find great success.

At the end of the day Solomon had no excuse for his constant compromise. For while the temptations may be great the word of God is greater.

Jim

 

Ask God

Psalm 72:1
A Psalm of Solomon.
“Give the king Your judgments, O God, And Your righteousness to the king’s Son.”

When Solomon first stepped onto the throne of his father, David, he was overwhelmed by the task before him. He realized he was weak and inexperienced, and the responsibility of ruling the nation was too much for him to handle. He knew that the Lord was his only hope, and cried out to God for wisdom. This psalm is a poetic expression of an event recorded in 1Kings 3. There, we find Solomon encountering God in his dreams. Faced with the overwhelming task of leadership, God allows Solomon to request anything he wants. Solomon’s reply is essentially the same as is recorded here. He asks for wisdom to know how to lead the nation.

Few of us are kings or even politicians, but all of us have responsibilities that are too much for us to handle, and all of us face seasons in life when we do not know what to do. James explains what we should do when we face those trying times,

James 1:5 “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.”

Whatever you might be facing, it is comforting to know that we can seek wisdom from God and He will supply it. Solomon found that God gave him much more than he could have ever imagined. Sadly, as time went on, the king became self-reliant and drifted from the Lord, who had been so gracious to him.

Pastor Jim

How I See It

Ecclesiastes 1:2
“Vanity of vanities,” says the Preacher; “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.”

Most of us have heard the description of optimism verses pessimism, where we look at the glass as either half full or half empty. Reading the words of Solomon, he seems to have become a guy who believes the glass is not only empty, but is broken and shards of glass are protruding into his skin. His assessment of life is that it is empty and nothing can make it better. He has come to this conclusion by observing nature and his own personal experiences. Looking at nature, he found, no matter what happens, the sun still rises, and though the rivers run into the sea, it never overflows. His personal experience showed him that no matter how much he looks, his eyes still desire to see more. I can’t really fault Solomon. I think, looking at what is happening in the world today would bum most people out, and even create in us a rather cynical view of life.

The cause of Solomon’s depressing view of life was his failure to look at things in light of eternity. If I see my life as only having importance here, I too, will become quite pessimistic. However, if I see what I am doing in light of the ultimate plan of God, life becomes exciting. I am not sure what effect the next encounter, conversation or opportunity might have on eternity. I don’t know what kind of eternal rewards might be gained by faithfully doing the task that is set before me today.

Instead of having a defeatist attitude of life, why not begin to see each day as another opportunity to love, follow, and serve Christ. Why not take time to look for ways to impact others for eternity. The reality is, this life is passing, but eternity is forever. All we really have are the treasures we will store in heaven, and the example we will leave for others.

Pastor Jim

 

Independence 

2 Chronicles 10:4
“Your father made our yoke heavy; now therefore, lighten the burdensome service of your father and his heavy yoke which he put on us, and we will serve you.”

Solomon’s expansive building projects did not come cheaply, and had a devastating effect upon the nation of Israel. The people sat under a heavy yoke of taxation. After Solomon’s death, the people had enough. They sought relief from the tax burden the government had imposed on the nation. Young King Rehoboam, in his arrogance, believed the government knew better than the people, and rather than relief, he promised an increase in the tax burden, and workload of the people. His words drove the citizens to rebel against his leadership, and resulted in ten of the twelve “states”  separating from the union. The northern tribes formed a new nation, and this became their independence day. Having experienced a heavy yoke, they broke away in order to have freedom. Sadly, the northern tribes never experienced true freedom. Soon after the nation was formed, they set up a system of idolatry, leading the people into a bondage that was much worse than the taxation they had experienced. Their example speaks volumes to us about bondage and true freedom.

The Bible explains, man is in bondage to sin and can only be set free by trusting in the work of Christ on the cross. His sinless sacrifice is the means to setting us free from the bondage of sin, death, and hell. True freedom is found, not when we consider ourselves to be free to behave however we want, but rather, when we are set free from the power of sin, and able to live lives that bring honor and glory to God.

“He who the Son sets free is free indeed.” (John 8:36)

Pastor Jim

 

Heavy Lifting 

2 Chronicles 2:5-6
“And the temple which I build will be great, for our God is greater than all gods. But who is able to build Him a temple, since heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain Him? Who am I then, that I should build Him a temple, except to burn sacrifice before Him?”

Solomon faced a great predicament, he desired to build a temple where God and man could meet, but he realized that all the heavens were too small to contain Him. He knew the dwelling place for God must be grand, but he also knew that no earthly building could ever truly reflect the glory of God. The temple he would build would be a mere shadow of the real glory of God, and was designed to point Israel to the Lord. For generations to come, this building would serve as a place where man worshipped God, and was the focal point of many revivals within the nation. It interests me that this glorious building was the byproduct of a multitude of people investing their many different gifts. In fact, we find thousands of men were hired for the work of quarrying stones alone. Seemingly, innumerable man hours were spent doing nothing more than working with rocks.

Sometimes, it is difficult to see the value in what we are doing for the Lord. We might have a role in the ministry much like a wood cutter or stone mason. We swing a hammer or lift heavy objects, and do not see the intrinsic spiritual value in what we are doing. I think it is important to step back and see the big picture. Without the massive foundation stone, there would have been no altar, tabernacle or mercy seat. The stones were truly the foundation upon which the ministry was built.

The temple serves as a illustration of the church. There are ministries like worship, prayer, and Bible teaching that are clearly spiritual. However,  for these ministries to be effective, there are a host of things that must take place. Cars need to be parked, people need to be welcomed, children need to be cared for, the rooms need to be properly prepared, the lights have to work, and the list goes on and on. In many ways, those who are laboring in the things that may seem mundane, make it possible for people to encounter the Lord. Don’t reduce any service for the Lord as though it didn’t matter. If you are a stone mason, then cut away with all you heart.

Pastor Jim

 

Misguided Affections 

1 Kings 11:40
“Solomon therefore sought to kill Jeroboam. But Jeroboam arose and fled to Egypt, to Shishak king of Egypt, and was in Egypt until the death of Solomon.”

It is almost eerie to compare the similarities between Solomon and Saul, and Jeroboam and David. As a result of personal sin, Solomon, like Saul, had the kingdom taken from him. While Jeroboam, like David, was chosen by God, to rise to the challenge and lead a new nation. Sadly, both men failed miserably. The root cause of Solomon’s sin is explained earlier.

1 Kings 11:1-2. “But King Solomon loved many foreign women… from the nations of whom the Lord had said to the children of Israel, ‘You shall not intermarry with them, nor they with you. Surely they will turn away your hearts after their gods.’ Solomon clung to these in love.”

Solomon was responsible for introducing idolatry into the nation. He built temples, shrines,  and high places for Ashtoreth, Milcom, Chemosh and Molech. These were the gods of the nations surrounding Israel. Along with the worship of these gods, came all kinds of lewd and licentious behaviors. The seeds dividing the nation were planted by Solomon, and quickly picked up by the people of Israel. In one generation, the once powerful nation of Israel, would be devastated by civil war that would lead to invasion, and ultimately collapse.

We read, although Solomon knew his behavior was unbiblical, he “clung to these women in love.” Love has been used throughout history to justify the sinful behaviors of men. A Christian will disobey the will of God, begin to date an unbeliever, and justify it as love. An unmarried couple will cross the line physically, move in together, using their love for one another as an excuse. A married man will leave his family because he is “in love” with his secretary, or a high school sweetheart.

Love is an important part of life, but misguided love will lead us away from the Lord, and into a world of hurt. The same God who instructed us that love is the chief grace, also warned us not to love the world, nor the things that are in the world. It is crucial that we examine our lives and be sure we are not using love as an excuse to sin.

Pastor Jim

 

Expanding Your Portfolio 

1 Kings 5:13
“Then King Solomon raised up a labor force out of all Israel; and the labor force was thirty thousand men.”

Building the Temple was a massive undertaking. It was to be a structure like no other. Unlike the pagan temples that were built in an attempt to reach up to the gods, this temple was built so God could reach down to man. The entirety of this structure pointed to the fact that God made a way for sinful man to have relationship with a holy God. As soon as a person approached the temple, they would smell the sacrifices, and be reminded of their need for a substitute to die in their place; removing the guilt and penalty of sin. These sacrifices provided a temporary covering, and pointed forward to Christ, who would die once, for the sins of all. Without question, this was the most important building of the ancient world.

In order to complete the Temple, Solomon raised up a labor force of thirty thousand men. These men, from all walks of life, devoted months at a time to the work of the Temple. Their work included quarrying enormous stones and transporting them to the Temple mount, along with cedar beams, that came from Lebanon. It was no small task. The labor was great and the project took years to accomplish. When it was finally completed, this structure stood as a light to the world, pointing men to God. For hundreds of years, it served the purpose of providing fellowship between God and man.

There are a lot of things in which we can invest our time, talents and treasures, but there are few that rival investments made in the kingdom of God. I imagine at the end of their days, each of those who devoted themselves to the work of God, thought nothing was of greater value than the hours spent in the quarry working on the Temple stones.

When time runs out for you, and you are looking back over the course of your life, what is it you have done for the Kingdom? Has your time been spent on your own pursuits, or on Kingdom matters? Have you invested in retirement plans, family vacations, recreation, at the expense of investments in the furtherance of the Gospel?

Take a few moments to consider your life and be sure that you are spending it on what matters most.

Pastor Jim