From slave to significant

1 Kings 9:22 But Solomon did not make slaves of any of the Israelites; they were his fighting men, his government officials, his officers, his captains, and the commanders of his chariots and charioteers. 

Solomon had a lot of power.  He was able to do whatever he wanted with the people he governed.  He captured enemy territories and forced them to do labor.  He was the absolute authority, anointed by God.  But he didn’t wield his hand with force against God’s people.  Instead, he gave them significant things to do that would benefit the kingdom.  In short, he didn’t make them slaves.

Galatians 4:7 tells us that in Christ, we are no longer slaves.  We once were slaves to sin, powerless against it.  But now we are sons, heirs, and part of the King’s Kingdom.  When you give your life to Christ you don’t sign up to be a slave; you sign up for significance.  You get to be a fighting man, an official, and a captain.  This is the way of God: He has a significant plan for your life.  It is a place of honor and a place of purpose.

If you have been struggling with what God has for your life, take hope today.  Just like Solomon did with the Israelites, God does not treat you like a slave.  Instead, you are a son or a daughter.  He has a place of significance for you.  It is an exciting place and if you haven’t found it, begin asking Him to show you.  Because once you begin walking in your purpose, you will discover the most amazing adventure of your life.  

We can’t have church today…too cloudy

1 Kings 8:10-11  10 When the priests withdrew from the Holy Place, the cloud filled the temple of the LORD. 11 And the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the LORD filled his temple.

I love this! Solomon finished building the temple and brings the ark (presence) of the Lord into it.  The presence of the Lord descends onto the temple physically in a cloud.  It was so thick, they couldn’t have church!  Imagine their surprise as they tried to perform the ceremonial duties as required by the Lord.  They wanted to make the sacrifices, say the prayers, and read the scriptures.  But the presence of the Lord was too thick!

Today, most churches have a plan as to what their Sunday service is going to be like.  There is a planned out worship set and a planned out sermon.  Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that those things are not inspired and anointed by God.  Worship and the Word are good things!  But what would happen if the presence of God came so strong that it began to mess up the plans?  What if His presence was so great, we couldn’t have church?

Would we forge ahead with our structure and plans, or would we allow the presence of God to put us in awe of Him?  Sometimes, I think churches administrate God right out of their services.  Yet He is what they are supposed to be about.  David wrote that better was one day in His courts than a thousand elsewhere.  And I say that better is one day at church basking in the presence of God than a thousand days at church where He doesn’t show up!  

If the church (and the church service) is going to be effective, He needs to show up!  This should be our main concern: that the glory of the Lord fills the temple.  I love it when God ruins the plan on Sunday mornings.  It’s His church, His people, and His plans… not mine.   As a pastor, I must keep this perspective.  As His people, we must pursue the same in our own lives.  Invite His presence to live each day in you.  Plan for a cloudy forecast and cancel your religion.  It will change everything!

That’s one shiny temple!

1 Kings 7:45-47  All these objects that Huram made for King Solomon for the temple of the LORD were of burnished bronze. The king had them cast in clay molds in the plain of the Jordan between Succoth and Zarethan. Solomon left all these things unweighed, because there were so many; the weight of the bronze was not determined. 

This was one ornate temple that Solomon built.  Our text in chapters 6 and 7 are very detailed as to what went into it.  We have silver, gold, and …. pomegranates? I guess they were a big deal back then.  Everything was measured carefully.  We know its height, length, weight, and shoe size.  But we will never know about the bronze.  There was just too much of it.  Now that’s one shiny temple!

There were so many bronze pieces that it was nearly impossible to measure, we read.  While that statement may not seem that significant, it tells us something about the provision of the Lord.  You see, as Solomon set out to build the Lord’s temple, he had very specific instructions.  Basically he needed a whole lot of supplies.  And here’s the thing: God supplied all of his needs.  He supplied them to the point that he could no longer keep track of how much provision there was.

As we walk in the Lord’s will for our life, I believe we will discover the same thing.  God will pour out His blessings on us to the point of not being able to keep track.  That may look like an overflow of money or maybe an overflow of peace.  Shoot, I have friends with an overflow of kids.  I’m not sure how they keep track! 🙂  But God will overflow in our lives as we pursue Him.  I have experienced His goodness and want to shout it from the rooftops!  So let’s pursue God with our whole lives today and ask for HIS overflowing provision.

Move that bus!

1 Kings 6:38 In the eleventh year in the month of Bul, the eighth month, the temple was finished in all its details according to its specifications. He had spent seven years building it.  

Solomon built the temple and it only took him one chapter of the Bible to build it.  We I think about it in those terms, that seems pretty fast.  But the temple took quite a bit longer to build than the time it took me to read this chapter.  It took seven years!  You see, temples aren’t built overnight.  They take time and energy.  That doesn’t seem very appealing, does it?

We live in a society that thrives on instant gratification.  When we go out to eat, we expect our food in 10 minutes.  (If it is fast food, we expect it in 2 minutes.  Two minutes people.  We are eating food that was prepared in 2 minutes.  You can’t even cook Top Ramen that fast!)  We work out 3 times and wonder why we haven’t lost those 10 pounds.  I used to expect my computer to get me to the correct internet site within about 2 seconds; now I expect my phone to do the same thing.  To top it all off, we have a television show called, “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.”  They build a home in one week!  That’s just not normal.  So we have this mentality that I must have it now.  If we can’t afford it, we grab our credit cards, buy now, and pay later.

The temple took 7 years, not a week, to build.  And Solomon didn’t “move that bus” when it was all done.  The Bible tells us that WE are the temple of the Lord.  He no longer resides in a building made by man; He resides IN man.  He dwells within us and He asks us to treat our bodies like a temple to Him.  And we have to be built, remodeled, cleaned up, etc.  That isn’t going to happen overnight.  This isn’t drive through Christianity.  Just because I showed up to church those three times doesn’t mean that my temple is ready.  It requires a bit more work than that.  The temple took seven years to build.  Let’s put some effort into building faith in our life.  Let’s put effort into knowing Him more, making ourselves a temple that He would be pleased to dwell in.

Biblical Instruction for Congress and Senate

1 Kings 5:10-12 In this way Hiram kept Solomon supplied with all the cedar and pine logs he wanted, and Solomon gave Hiram twenty thousand cors of wheat as food for his household, in addition to twenty thousand baths  of pressed olive oil. Solomon continued to do this for Hiram year after year. The LORD gave Solomon wisdom, just as he had promised him. There were peaceful relations between Hiram and Solomon, and the two of them made a treaty. 

I would like the congress and senate to read this chapter of the Bible, please.  It’s a story of two different leaders, with two different belief systems, get this… getting along.  They figured out how to get along to accomplish something great.  Solomon provided resources for King Hiram and in exchange was given building materials to build the temple.  They could have declared war on each other, but they learned to work together for a greater benefit.

Do you have any people in your life who are unlike you?  They may have different goals, dreams, visions.  They may have different ideals and standards.  They may have a different way of leading.  But just because we are different, doesn’t mean we can’t work together.  Yet we tend to create walls between ourselves and those who are different from us.  We do it for our comfort and we do it for self-preservation.  If we just looked at the bigger picture, we might see that God will use others for His glory.

Who is it you are avoiding?  Who do you refuse to work with?  Ask God today for His bigger plan and see if He would call you to work together for a greater purpose.

The peace of Chuck Norris

1 Kings 4:24b He had peace on all his surrounding borders.

Solomon was wise; Solomon was powerful.  With the armies described here in 1 Kings 4, he could have wiped out any enemy he wanted. Even if his neighbors had great armies, he easily could have outsmarted them with a better battle plan.   But Solomon had peace on all his surrounding borders.  He had peace.  All around him.

You know who else has peace all around him?  Chuck Norris. Because nobody can defeat the awesomeness that is Chuck Norris.  I dare someone to try.  LOL.  But his peace comes by his hands.  It comes by beating up numskulls.  It comes by intimidating the most worthy foe with his beard… er, I mean, fighting skills.  If peace is determined by how well I can fight, I have a false sense of peace.  I might know I can win, but that doesn’t stop people from attacking me.  So I am left to defend peace with my mad skills at all times.  No thank you Chuck Norris.  No thank you.

So I must gain peace another way.  It cannot be gained through karate.  It cannot be gained with an awesome beard.  It must be gained by how I treat others around me.  (I have the feeling that Solomon treated others well.)  It must be gained by how I lead.  I have to guard my tongue, check my heart, and watch my actions.  It will take effort on my part.  It will require that I don’t take up offenses and that I don’t make assumptions.  Peace is work, but it is worth it.  And it must be accomplished in my heart, not with my hands.

How are your borders defined?  Do you have peace with the people around you?  If not, what can you do to change that?

The gospel according to Meatloaf

1 Kings 3:3 Solomon showed his love for the LORD by walking according to the statutes of his father David, except that he offered sacrifices and burned incense on the high places. 

I love you Lord, and I lift my voice… to worship you, oh my soul, rejoice.  We express our love for the Lord in many ways.  For some it might be through prayer; for others it might be through worship.  For Solomon, it was through obedience.  Yes, his love for the Lord was shown by walking according to the statutes of his father David, which by the way were the ways of the Lord.  I’m with Solomon on this one – obedience is the biggest proving ground of our love for God.

You know, Meatloaf sang a song that aptly describes this area of our Christian life.  “I would do anything for love…”  At face value, most of us would agree to that line of the song.  We would do just about anything for the love of God in our lives.  Then there’s the next line, “but I won’t do that.”  What’s the THAT?  I would say for many Christians it is obedience. “Yes God I worship you!!! Obedience?  I’m out.”

Jesus said that those who love him obey his commands.  Yet that seems too hard for us sometimes.  We are willing to pray, read our Bibles, talk to someone about Jesus, play a worship CD on our way to work.  But what about simple obedience?  What about the things he asks of us in his Word?  What about the things he speaks to us with a still small voice?  You could argue that obedience is the hardest part of walking with the Lord.  I would say that obedience IS walking with the Lord.

So… what are the things He is asking of you that you just won’t do?  What does that say about your relationship with Him?

Work harder, not smarter?

1 Kings 2:1-4 ​When the time drew near for David to die, he gave a charge to Solomon his son. “I am about to go the way of all the earth,” he said. “So be strong, show yourself a man, and observe what the LORD your God requires: Walk in his ways, and keep his decrees and commands, his laws and requirements, as written in the Law of Moses, so that you may prosper in all you do and wherever you go, and that the LORD may keep his promise to me: ‘If your descendants watch how they live, and if they walk faithfully before me with all their heart and soul, you will never fail to have a man on the throne of Israel.’

(This one is mostly for the men out there, although it applies to everyone.)  We’ve all heard the old saying: work smarter, not harder?  Well I personally believe we should work both smarter and harder, but whatever.  The point is, wisdom tells us to think about what we are doing so that we don’t wear ourselves out with work that is pointless.  We practice this principle at our jobs, our ministries, and our sports endeavors; but I wonder if we practice it in our homes?

David was a wise man who gave some great advice to his son, who by the way became the wisest man who ever lived.  His advice? Son, it’s not so much about what you accomplish while you are on the throne.  The quantity of your work isn’t what is going to matter in the long run.  What really matters is that your descendants serve the Lord with their whole hearts.  If you can instill that in the generations to come, our family will always be on top. 

Now for some reason, men in our culture have put much more stock in what we accomplish today than what will matter tomorrow. We have relegated the responsibility of raising our kids to our wives, schools, sunday school teachers, and disney TV shows. We would rather they “go find something to do” than interact with them on a personal level.  It’s not okay, people.  It’s NOT OKAY! 

We must take a cue from David.  It’s not about what I accomplished at work today.  It’s not about the wars I will win or the money I will make.  It’s about me investing in the next generation.  It is about me taking an active role in preparing them to serve the Lord with all their heart and soul.  Someday, my great-great grandchildren will be on top because of it. 

I just can’t wait to be king

1 Kings 1:5  Now Adonijah, whose mother was Haggith, put himself forward and said, “I will be king.” So he got chariots and horses ready, with fifty men to run ahead of him.

“Oh I just can’t wait to be king!”  Remember that fun song from the movie, Lion King?  Little Simba knew he was next to be king.  He excitedly sang about how great it would be when that day came.  But his uncle Scar wants to take the throne away.  He comes up with his own evil plan to become the next king instead of the rightful heir.  It’s a page out of 1 Kings 1.

Here, Adonijah decides that he will be the next king.  His father, King David, was old and not real able to do anything about it… so he thought.  Here’s the problem, Solomon was the rightful heir to the throne.  David finds out Adonijah’s plan and while he is busy crowning himself king with a group of friends, David announces that Solomon is the new king of the land.  That didn’t work out too well for him.

Self-promotion doesn’t usually work out too well in general.   Humble yourself in the sight of the Lord and HE will lift you up.  (James 4:10)  Forcing ourselves to the top didn’t work for Adonijah and it won’t work for us.  This is the way of the world, not the way of the Lord.  He calls us to love and to serve.  He calls us to stand out from the rest and allow Him to do the promoting.  If we will take that mindset, we might even find ourselves like Solomon.  If we are patient, God will lift us up in His time.