Jul 27, 2020
Join us as we explore God’s ancient wisdom and apply it to our modern lives. His word is as current and relevant today as it was when he inspired its authors more than two and a half millennia ago. The websites where you can reach us are alittlewalkwithgod.com, richardagee.com, or saf.church.
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Thanks for joining me today for "A Little Walk with God." I'm your host Richard Agee.
As many of you who have listened to my podcasts for a while know, I often use scripture from the lectionary for the focus of my thoughts. I’m amazed at how often the scriptures seem to point to the very things I need to hear. And as I hear from others of you, it seems the scripture often relates to something going on in your life at the time as well. It is uncanny the way God works, but he is God after all.
Well, this week’s Old Testament focus was no different. It comes to us from 1 Kings 3 as Solomon takes the throne succeeding his father David. You’ll remember David became the model against whom every other king was measured. He wasn’t perfect by any means. We know about his adultery, his attempts to hide it, and ultimately his plot to murder his mistress’ husband to cover his sin. David’s life wasn’t one spent in dark, hooded robes mumbling prayers in the sanctuary. He was king. A battle-hardened warrior. He expanded Israel’s territory and rooted out its enemies from its cities. But God called David a man after his own heart.
Now Solomon has gained the crown. God comes to him and we pick up the story from there as Eugene Peterson describes it in The Message:
4-5 The king went to Gibeon, the most prestigious of the local shrines, to worship. He sacrificed a thousand Whole-Burnt-Offerings on that altar. That night, there in Gibeon, God appeared to Solomon in a dream: God said, “What can I give you? Ask.”
6 Solomon said, “You were extravagantly generous in love with David my father, and he lived faithfully in your presence, his relationships were just and his heart right. And you have persisted in this great and generous love by giving him—and this very day!—a son to sit on his throne.
7-8 “And now here I am: God, my God, you have made me, your servant, ruler of the kingdom in place of David my father. I’m too young for this, a mere child! I don’t know the ropes, hardly know the ‘ins’ and ‘outs’ of this job. And here I am, set down in the middle of the people you’ve chosen, a great people—far too many to ever count.
9 “Here’s what I want: Give me a God-listening heart so I can lead your people well, discerning the difference between good and evil. For who on their own is capable of leading your glorious people?”
10-14 God, the Master, was delighted with Solomon’s response. And God said to him, “Because you have asked for this and haven’t grasped after a long life, or riches, or the doom of your enemies, but you have asked for the ability to lead and govern well, I’ll give you what you’ve asked for—I’m giving you a wise and mature heart. There’s never been one like you before; and there’ll be no one after. As a bonus, I’m giving you both the wealth and glory you didn’t ask for—there’s not a king anywhere who will come up to your mark. And if you stay on course, keeping your eye on the life-map and the God-signs as your father David did, I’ll also give you a long life.” (1 Kings 3:4-14 TM)
What maturity Solomon showed as he expressed his wish. Give me the wisdom to judge these people. Help me to know the difference between good and evil. If you want me to lead, then give me a listening heart.
Don’t you wish more of our leaders would pray for a listening heart to know the difference between good and evil? It seems we live in a time more like the beginning of the book of Judges when everyone did what was right in their own eyes. This “cancel culture” that sprang up from somewhere that decided if I don’t like what you say or what you do, you become invisible. We make you disappear from the world. What you stand for doesn’t count. What you believe doesn’t matter. You are hereby canceled.
How does that fit into what God wants for us? Do we think we can add him to part of the “cancel culture?” I know there are those trying – pulling down statues of Jesus, desecrating churches, synagogues, temples, and other houses of worship. We see an “I believe in me” culture rising. But God cannot be canceled. Nations tried before to their destruction. We can try to rewrite the past. We can try to remake a belief system. We can declare we will rise on our own strength. Many tried. Many failed.
A relatively small group decided they want a different government here. I’ve heard too many times, “We’ll burn it down if we don’t get what we want.” How does that help anyone? If everything has been burnt to down, who will rebuild? Who will expend the energy to watch it come tumbling down again? Who wants to risk the threat of careless vandals destroying a life’s work again? And who will have the funds to do so? When the government changes, so does the money. The meaningless coins and paper that we pass to one another in exchange for something. We think money has value, but it doesn’t.
If you think money has value, ask the Argentinians who went through month after month of triple-digit inflation when prices became so high the last three zeros on every price tag were removed. But salaries didn’t change. Income didn’t rise with the same inflation. Ask the Venezuelans who experienced triple-digit inflation not so long ago. Money didn’t mean anything anymore. Did the government help? No. Did the change in leadership make things better? No.
It seems to me we have an awful lot of people trying to get into this country for it to be such a terrible place to live, work, and raise a family. I see millions trying to come in every year, but I don’t see millions trying to leave to go to some other country. Why is that? Maybe it’s because in the past we thought about more than ourselves. Maybe in the past, our elected officials remembered their office wasn’t about making money or becoming popular or even getting reelected. Their office was to pray Solomon’s prayer and ask for discernment so they might have a listening heart.
As I watch most votes in the House and Senate, it seems no one has a listening heart anymore. Most votes split across party lines. Why? Because no one listens. Is every Democrat good? No. Is every Republican bad? No. We will find good and evil among every party, every race, every economic stratum. We will find racism in the same places. No section is exempt. I will say, or write, or do something that I’m sure someone will think is racist. So will you. Why? Because we are. We think in the culture in which we live and work and play. And whenever we come in contact with another culture, it doesn’t matter what color their skin or what language they speak, we will do something someone in that culture could take as offensive.
But when do we act like Solomon and stop and listen with a discerning heart? When do ask the question, “What do I have to think about the person I know to believe he or she said or did whatever it was to intentionally hurt me?”
When we ask that question before we blurt out a response, most of the time, we know the answer will be they didn’t intend harm. I took something wrong. I didn’t understand. There is miscommunication between us. How can we learn from each other so we can avoid bitter feelings? Then talk to each other and listen to each other – but not on Facebook. Pick up the phone. Go to lunch. Really communicate. Don’t scream that you know what the other person thinks. You don’t.
Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived knew he needed a listening heart to discern the good from the bad. How much more do we need to pray for such a thing in this day? How much different would the streets of our city be tomorrow if all of us sincerely asked for a discerning, listening heart, then sat down with those not like us and heard their story? Maybe we would learn something. Maybe we would care. Maybe we would find some directions to take that would ease the growing tension in a country where millions come to find freedom from oppressive governments.
Is our nation perfect? Not by any means. Is it terrible? Talk to those who escape from those nations led by dictators and politburos. Can we make improvements? Not until we stop and listen to each other and decide we want to do what is right, not what is politically advantageous. As we begin to approach elections in the fall, I encourage you to get information about the candidates. Don’t listen to the news or social media or the campaign adds. Find out about their character. How did they vote on critical issues and why? What do they say they believe and do their actions support it?
You can find me at richardagee.com. I also invite you to join us at San Antonio First Church of the Nazarene on West Avenue in San Antonio to hear more Bible-based teaching. You can find out more about my church at SAF.church. Thanks for listening. If you enjoyed it, tell a friend. If you didn't, send me an email and let me know how better to reach out to those around you. Until next week, may God richly bless you as you venture into His story each day.
Scriptures marked TM are taken from THE MESSAGE: THE BIBLE IN CONTEMPORARY ENGLISH (TM): Scripture taken from THE MESSAGE: THE BIBLE IN CONTEMPORARY ENGLISH, copyright©1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group