What is it?

Looking through my journals and email, I found out that I was wishing for a lot of good things to happen. I claimed to be “hoping,” but I did not/could not be confident the desired outcome would happen. That is not what hope is about. Hope is more than wishing. [Want to know more? Click here.]

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Wisdom Comes With Responsibilities

Who was the wisest man in the known world between 970 and 931 B.C.? The Bible has something to say about that. In 1 Kings 4:29-34 God explains exactly who that person was:
29 Now God gave Solomon wisdom and very great discernment and breadth of mind, like the sand that is on the seashore. 30 Solomon’s wisdom surpassed the wisdom of all the sons of the east and all the wisdom of Egypt. 31 For he was wiser than all men, than Ethan the Ezrahite, Heman, Calcol and Darda, the sons of Mahol; and his fame was known in all the surrounding nations. 32 He also spoke 3,000 proverbs, and his songs were 1,005. 33 He spoke of trees, from the cedar that is in Lebanon even to the hyssop that grows on the wall; he spoke also of animals and birds and creeping things and fish. 34 Men came from all peoples to hear the wisdom of Solomon, from all the kings of the earth who had heard of his wisdom.
Solomon sounds like a well rounded, highly educated, Renaissance man. The Hebrew word used for wisdom in this passage means, in one sense, “practical knowledge and understanding.” Solomon didn’t only know a lot about a lot; he knew how and when to apply it. Sounds like the kind of person I want to be.
Don’t be fooled. Having such wisdom does not mean always getting it right. In fact, while Solomon used the wisdom God gave him to develop Israel into a center of wealth, economic development, and leisure activity, he didn’t necessarily apply the wisdom as God would have had him. People in high places from all around the known world came to get advice and counsel from Solomon, but he didn’t always give them what God would consider most important. Solomon’s wisdom was leading Israel, and presumably other nations, into a decline – a falling away from the one true God.
In New Testament terms, Solomon, with all his wisdom, was a stumbling block causing people to do things in a manner not according to God’s instructions. Luke 17:1-2 indicates there will be people who cause other people to stumble, and there is a warning to such people. Such people usually have a role that makes them an authority of some type: a teacher, a pastor, a business leader, a small group leader, a counselor, etc. Woe to anyone who leads others astray. Look at what Jesus says in Luke 17:1-2.
He said to His disciples, “It is inevitable that stumbling blocks come, but woe to him through whom they come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea, than that he would cause one of these little ones to stumble.
I’m sure no one sets out to cause another to stumble or lose their way in following the commands of God; however, look at the passage. Stumbling blocks are inevitable, and they will come through people. I do not want to be such a person. So I consistently study and apply God’s Word to my own life, and prayerfully do not give wrong information to others.
The penalty for being the cause of stumbling blocks is high. Do everything you can to avoid being the bearer of wrong information or teachings.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

How Would You Answer?

I’m getting right to the point. God said to Solomon: “Tell me what I should give you” (1 Kings 3:5b CJB). God is saying to us, “Tell me what I should give you.” How would you answer?
Solomon answered, demonstrating three aspects we should use.  First, Solomon was thankful (vs. 6). He thanked God for all He had done for David including giving David a son to sit on his throne. Second, in verse 7, Solomon confessed his weaknesses: “So now, Adonai my God, you have made your servant king in the place of David my father; but I am a mere child — I don’t know how to lead!” (CJB)
Finally, Solomon made his petition in verses 8 and 9:
Moreover your servant is among your people, whom you chose, a great people so numerous that they cannot be counted. Therefore, give your servant an understanding heart able to administer justice to your people, so that I can discern between good and bad — for who is equal to judging this great people of yours?”
Solomon asked for an understanding heart. A heart that would be able to hand out justice, according to God’s wisdom, for the people God chose. Solomon wanted to discern what was good versus bad in God’s eyes. Solomon recognized he was not “equal” to do such judging on his own. He was concerned about carrying out the role God had given him and in taking care of God’s people as best as he could.
How would you answer? What would be at the top of your list? Would help for personal situations and needs or wants be on top? Picture yourself sitting in front of God. What would be most important to Him? Are those our day-to-day concerns?
God answered Solomon in verses 10-14, and the answer went far beyond the humble request of Solomon:
10 What Shlomo [Solomon] had said in making this request pleased Adonai. 11 God said to him, “Because you have made this request instead of asking long life or riches for yourself, or your enemies’ death, but rather asked for yourself understanding to discern justice; 12 I am doing what you requested. I am giving you a wise and understanding heart, so that there has never been anyone like you, nor will there ever again be anyone like you. 13 I am also giving you what you didn’t ask for, riches and honor greater than that of any other king throughout your life. 14 More than that, if you will live according to my ways, obeying my laws and mitzvot [commands] like your father David, I will give you a long life.”
Solomon had focused his request on the things God would want. He focused on what would further the Kingdom of God. And God granted him his request – and so much more. This reminds me of Matthew 6:33 and Jesus’s instructions to His disciples:
But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you. (NASB).
God knows our needs and one of His promises in the New Testament says, “And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19 NASB). Both Solomon and Paul (the writer of Philippians) understood that by serving God and His purposes, their needs (and our needs) would be taken care of (added to us).
Do we understand this? Are we asking of God according to His purposes and to further His Kingdom?
How would you answer God’s question?