PURSUING JESUS

The story of King Solomon’s reign and fall is a story jam-packed with glitz and glamor, and by the end of the story the wheels had fallen off his life.  A true boom and bust story.

It’s a story that shows a strong start to your spiritual life does not guarantee a strong finish. So in that regard, it’s a story that is still relevant today.

The story of King Solomon speaks into our materialistic culture. A culture where so often God is pushed aside as we chase the latest craze. Many people are missing out on all that God has to offer, because they are too busy chasing the things of this world that have no eternal value.

THE LORD’S BLESSINGS 1 Kings 3:11

11 God said to him, “Because you have … not asked for yourself long life or riches, or for the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern what is right, 12 I now do according to your word. Indeed, I give you a wise and discerning mind; no one like you has been before you and no one like you shall arise after you. 13 I give you also what you have not asked, both riches and honor all your life; no other king shall compare with you. 14 If you will walk in my ways, keeping my statutes and my commandments, as your father David walked, then I will lengthen your life.”

Solomon had it all going for him. He was the new king of Israel; he had a great relationship with the Lord, and through his faithful worship, was showered in blessings. His blessings were so great that God himself had promised no other king in the entire world would compare to Solomon during his lifetime.

God chose to bless Solomon with an extravagant lifestyle and world fame. Yet still in Proverbs 16:16 we hear what made Solomon truly rich. He writes, “How much better to get wisdom than gold, and good judgement than silver”.

Later in verse 20 he adds, “

20   happy are those who trust in the Lord.

Despite all the riches Solomon was blessed with, his greatest treasure was his God gifted wisdom and his trust in the Lord

Too often, when we hear about blessings, our mind jumps to think of physical blessings; like the wealth that Solomon accumulated, like gold falling on us or unexpected wealth. And it’s true, God does bless and meet the needs of people in physical ways, but that is not the only way; just read a few lines of the Beatitudes (Blessed are the poor, those in mourning, those persecuted and so on) and you will quickly realise that the promises of these blessings cannot be seen or touched, but relate to eternal life and the Spirit.

 

 

Earthly blessings are temporary but heavenly blessings are everlasting. The spiritual blessings poured upon us are proof of God’s Sovereignty and existence outside of time and space as we know it.

Only the God of the Universe can promise and provide blessings that are never ending and never changing. 

To receive a blessing from the Lord is to receive an undeserved and unmerited gift from God. It is as if God is saying, “You haven’t done anything to deserve this but I want to give it to you anyway”. The ultimate gift God gave us was through the sacrifice of His son. We haven’t done anything to deserve it, and yet Jesus hung on the cross for us anyway.

Solomon asked for wisdom- not for riches. He wanted wisdom so that he could effectively rule the Lord’s chosen people. His heart was in tune with God’s heart and he wanted his blessing to glorify God.

Leo Buscaglia (an author and motivational speaker), “Your talent is God’s gift to you. What you do with it is your gift to God.” 

To honour God with the blessings He has poured upon each of us, (whether that be through finance or physical resources, our gifts and talents, our relationships with people, the opportunities are endless) is to show that we trust in His provision and are grateful for His loving care.

When we hug our blessing so close, and refuse to give it or share it, we are saying to God that we have no faith in him that he is more than a one gift God. We receive and give away because we know that God is a God of abundance.

CHASING THE WAYS OF THE WORLD

Read 1 Kings 11:1-7

11 King Solomon loved many foreign women … Solomon clung to these in love. Among his wives were seven hundred princesses and three hundred concubines; and his wives turned away his heart. For when Solomon was old, his wives turned away his heart after other gods; and his heart was not true to the Lord his God, as was the heart of his father David. Solomon did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, and did not completely follow the Lord, as his father David had done. Then Solomon built a high places for … all his foreign wives, who offered incense and sacrificed to their gods.

 

As we read on the story of Solomon, we find the story turns sour. This is where the wisest man in the world knowingly turned away from God and disobeyed His commands. It’s a clear warning that a strong start to a relationship with God does not always guarantee a strong finish.

 

To stray from God’s laws is to stray from God- and here was Solomon breaking the very first commandment, “You must not have any god before Me”. Solomon put many other gods ahead of the Lord Almighty. Rather than receiving the amazing life the Lord had given to him with a humble gratefulness, Solomon was led astray and found comfort in all the wrong things.

The initial failure of the children of Israel, as detailed in Judges 1, was that they failed to drive out the enemy, and tear down their idols.  They much preferred to compromise, so because of this first disobedience, everything else was doomed to failure.[1] Solomon is in the same boat: in trying to please his foreign wives, he was disobedient to God and was doomed to failure.

It’s something that any one of us can fall victim to: trying to please those around us and not focusing on pleasing God.

Solomon’s fall was not his riches. It’s not a sin to have or want nice things; as the story of Solomon shows, the Lord wanted Solomon to experience all that the life of a king had to offer. The problem arises when our lifestyle distracts us from God’s purpose for our lives. When we no longer accept blessings with a thankful heart, but instead are expectant and demanding of more to come, deep rooted problems arise.

Solomon himself in Ecclesiastes 5:10 says, “Those who love money will never have enough. How meaningless to think that wealth brings true happiness.”

When we fall into the trap of pursuing the things of this world, we will quickly find the pursuit will never end.

Read 1 John 2:15-16

15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. The love of the Father is not in those who love the world; 16 for all that is in the world—the desire of the flesh, the desire of the eyes, the pride in riches—comes not from the Father but from the world.

Sometimes we focus so much on chasing the green grass over the fence, that we forget about the gold paved streets and jewel encrusted walls that await us in heaven. In 1 Peter 2:11 we read, “Dear friends, I warn you as temporary residents and foreigners to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against your very souls.”

Our time here on earth is temporary. This is not our final destination.  As a family of believers, we can have confidence in the greater things that await us in heaven.

PURSUING JESUS

1 Timothy 6:6-11

for we brought nothing into the world, so that we can take nothing out of it; but if we have food and clothing, we will be content with these. But those who want to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and in their eagerness to be rich some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pains.

There is a lesson we can learn from the life of Solomon. He started well but lost his way, he got the speed wobbles and fell off the road to eternity.

God knows our wants and desires, and all He wants us to do is ask Him for whatever we need.

Mathew 7:7Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.…

James 4:3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.

He is our provider and He knows what is good for us. If God doesn’t provide the things we want, it’s not because he doesn’t care about us. It’s probably because it’s not going to do us any good at this very moment. For Psalm 84:11 says, “The Lord will withhold no good thing from those who do what is right.” No GOOD thing. Not a Mercedes because our friends all drive Porsches, but things that are good.

We believe in an incredible God who wants us to know that the riches He has prepared for us are beyond what this world could imagine. They are so great that the earth we live in cannot contain them! These are the treasures that we should be sharing with those who have not yet heard the Good News of Jesus.

Jesus was very aware of the short-lived nature of earthly treasures which is why he said in Matthew 6:19-21, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures here on earth where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart is also.”

Together as members of the NZ Baptist family, we are reaching out on a global scale to those who have not yet been told about the treasures that await them in heaven. Instead of pursuing the things of this world, we have taken up the call to pursue God’s desire for those who have not yet experienced His loving mercy.

Through the work of NZBMS the people of Asia are being encouraged to explore all that it means to be in relationship with Jesus Christ.

We are called to share the message of Jesus to all who are willing to listen both here in New Zealand and the rest of the world. A smile, a wave, or even a meal may be all that the Lord needs to plant a seed of salvation into the heart of an unbeliever. As Rick Warren, pastor and author has said, “The way you store up treasures in heaven is by investing in getting people there”



[1] John E Hunter Limiting God 95