Thursday, November 29, 2012

He Had to Ask for It

How is your prayer life?  I have to be honest, mine isn't the best right now.  I acknowledge God throughout the day with quick little "thank you's" or "can you's"...but I haven't been spending time communicating with him.  I haven't been really talking to Him and I definitely haven't been listening.  How did I realize this you might ask?  Through the wisdom of Solomon.

1 Kings 3:9-13 - 9"So give your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people to discern between good and evil.  For who is able to judge this great people of Yours?"  10It was pleasing in the sight of the Lord that Solomon had asked this thing.  11God said to him, "Because you have asked this thing and have not asked for yourself long life, nor have asked riches for yourself, nor have you asked for the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself discernment to understand justice, 12behold, I have done according to your words.  Behold, I have give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there has been no one like you before you, nor shall one like you arise after you.  13I have also given you what you have not asked, both riches and honor, so that there will not be any among the kings like you all your days."

There are a few things we can learn from Solomon here:

1. We must pray.

God didn't just give Solomon wisdom.  He had to ask for it.  God could easily give us everything we want or need for He knows our hearts (Psalm 44:21).  But I truly believe that He wants us to communicate with Him to entrust Him with our wants and needs, the secrets of our hearts.  He craves that intimacy with us.  

It is easy to push that time with Him aside, to place it on the back-burner (trust me, I know).  But why!?!  If we truly desire an intimate relationship with God, then we must communicate with Him.  If a husband and wife don't communicate with one another their marriage slowly begins to fall apart, they lose the intimacy they had on the day they said "I do."  Communication is ESSENTIAL in any relationship.  

And let us never forget that, "When [we] pray, [our] prayers are heard by the same God who answered Moses' prayer for water in the desert, the God who gave Abraham and his barren wife a son, and the God who made the slave Joseph second in power only to Pharaoh" (Francis Chan, Crazy Love, pg. 116).  Isn't that amazing!?!

2. When we pray, we need to put God first.

Solomon was praying for discernment so that he would be able to do the job that God had called him to do - "By this choice Solomon made it appear that he desired to be good more than great, and to serve God's honour more than to advance his own" (Henry).  How different would our prayer life look if we were to apply this concept?  How different would our lives look if we were to apply this concept?  Instead of approaching God with a list of things we selfishly want or need what if we approached Him as Solomon did and prayed for the things that will help us succeed in serving Him?  

3. When God answers, we need to be faithful with what He gives us.

Sometimes God will say "no."  And we must respect that.  But often times He does say "yes," just as He did with Solomon.  He even blessed Solomon with the riches and honor he didn't ask for!

Unfortunately, in the end, Solomon didn't use his riches, honor, or wisdom faithfully.  He became unfaithful, brutish, and even worshipped the gods of the Moabites - "He received much; but he would have received much more, had he been faithful to the grace given.  No character in the sacred writings disappoints us more than the character of Solomon" (Clarke).  

We cannot use what God gives us to our advantage, we cannot squander His blessings away, we cannot turn our back on Him and expect everything to remain the same.   We must be faithful to Him and all that He gives us, whether that be wisdom, courage, wealth, or fame.

I hope I sparked something in your mind today.  I challenge you today to look at your prayer life and see what needs fixing.  

Do you need to communicate more intimately with God?  

Do you need to put Him first in your prayer life?  

Are you having trouble being faithful with what He has given you?

Make this a checklist and look back on it often.  Our walk with God is a journey and while one thing might come easy now, it could be a struggle next month.  But for today, pick one of these things and go pray.  Drop everything you are doing right now and give Him some time to truly and deeply communicate with you.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Box Syndrome

1 Kings 2:4 - so that the Lord may carry out His promise which He spoke concerning me, saying, 'If your sons are careful of their way, to walk before Me in truth with all their heart and with all their soul, you shall not lack a man on the throne of Israel.

Not too terribly long after this Babylon took over and the Israelites lived in exile for a very long time.

I kept looking at this verse thinking, "If only Israel hadn't messed up...if only they had followed these simple instructions..."  

Maybe we would still be under Israel's reign - a wonderfully united nation of God...

But someone else would have messed up.  I guess it was probably inevitable.

The thing is...why is it so hard??  Those instructions seem pretty simple.  

  • Be careful of your way
  • Walk before God in truth
  • With all your heart and with all your soul
I think it's that "all" that gets us.  I think we all truly want to give God our heart and soul...but only parts, not all, I meant that's just a little bit excessive don't you think??

Justin and I had a long talk on our way home from Michigan yesterday about how people can separate their faith from politics.  For us, that is an impossibility.  I will not vote for a man who literally covers up crosses in any area that he is speaking.  I cannot do so in regards to my faith.  But for others, the two are completely separate things.  I referred to it as "Box Syndrome" - they have each section of their lives perfectly boxed up and labeled.  One for "Faith," one for "Politics," "Friends," "Family", "Recreation/Hobbies," "Business," etc.  Not one box invades another...everything is separate.  And if you are living with "Box Syndrome" then I suppose the only box God gets is the "Faith" box.  Does that sound like God is getting ALL of our heart and soul???  I don't think so.  Our "Faith" should be the box the encompasses all other boxes.  We shouldn't be able to access any of the other boxes without first having to open our "Faith" box.

So here's to not taking the easy way out - gather up all of those boxes today and put them in one collective box - the "Faith" box.  Give God ALL of your heart and soul today...see how much it will truly change and shape your life!  (For the good of course!)