Reflection on 1 Kings 3:1-14

004-solomon-wisdom

Scripture

“Give me an understanding heart so that I can govern your people well and know the difference between right and wrong. For who by himself can govern this great people of yours?”

Observation

Solomon goes up to Gibeon to worship God and offer 1000 burnt offerings. The Lord appears to Solomon in a dream and asks him to name what he wants and the Lord will give it to him.

Solomon asks the Lord for wisdom to rule His people and to know the difference between right and wrong. The Lord promises that He will give him the wisdom he asked for and the wealth and fame he did not ask for.

Application

We all need God’s wisdom, an understanding heart as Solomon describes it. Whether it is leading people, relationships or work, we need wisdom to navigate through life.

This passage shows clearly that God will give wisdom to all who ask Him for it. The problem is that our prayers are often for God to fix what might have been prevented through wisdom.

Ask for wisdom and God will give it to you.

We need wisdom at home to order our households well- wisdom to deal lovingly with spouse and children, wisdom to budget and spend our income wisely, wisdom to know what activities are good and which are bad.

At work we need wisdom to know how best to serve our employer, wisdom to administer our responsibilities well.

At church we need wisdom to know what to volunteer for and what to pass by.

Much wisdom comes from handing our cares to the Lord and listening for the still small voice of the Holy Spirit.

Prayer

Father I thank you that you give wisdom to all who seek it from you. Help me Lord to listen to your Spirit in every situation so that I will learn your wisdom. Amen.

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Reflection on John 6:41-51

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Scripture

“I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me has eternal life.”

Observation

People start to grumble because Jesus said that He is the Bread of Heaven. They know His father and mother. How could He have come from heaven?

Jesus responds by saying that nobody can come to the Him unless the Father draws them. Anyone who believes has eternal life. He is the Bread of Heaven, just like the manna their ancestors ate in the desert.

Application

Salvation is a person, not a religion. If we really want to be sure of eternal life, we must attach ourselves to Jesus and follow His way.

There is nothing that we can do to make us right with God. If I decide to live a perfect life from today, that is only what God expects of me, and it does nothing to pay for my previous sins.

Good deeds and religious virtues can never make us right with God. Only Jesus can do that.

Anyone who believes (a better translation would be “trusts”) in Jesus has eternal life.

Jesus has paid the price for my sin. All I have to do is trust in Him.

Many years ago, there was a man in my town who lived on the streets with his dog. Each week he would go to the bank and withdraw $20 for his drink and some food for his dog. He was actually quite a wealthy man and could afford to live in any house and eat the best food. He chose to be homeless.

God has given His promise to every person in the world, the promise of eternal life. Those who refuse to receive the promise make the choice for hell.

The choice is clear. Trust in Jesus for eternal life. Trust anything else for eternal torment.

Prayer

Thank you Jesus for opening the doors to heaven for me. I receive your promise of salvation and I choose to follow you. Amen.

Reflection on John 6:24-35

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Scripture
Jesus answered “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”

Observation
After the feeding of the 5000, Jesus and the disciples cross the lake in a boat. Some people follow them. Jesus confronts them with the fact that they are only following Him for the food He produced.

They ask Him what God requires of them. Jesus replies that the work of God is to believe in Jesus. Jesus is the bread of life and anyone who comes to Him will not hunger or thirst.

Application
A religious person will want to know what they have to do to placate God, whom they perceive to be angry at their guilt. Whether it is sacrifices, good deeds or pilgrimages to holy places, we want to know what pleases God and gets us out of trouble.

Jesus tells us here that the work God gives us is simply to trust in Jesus.

When I trust in the One sent by the Father, I can know my sins are forgiven. What bliss!

A religious person will pray a prayer of repentance, the “sinner’s prayer.” They may start to attend a church.

But Jesus is looking for more than a prayer. To trust Him means that we hand everything about us into His hands. It is about a relationship. He directs our paths and we follow, trusting that He has our lives under control.

It’s all about believing Jesus.

Believing that He is in control.

Believing that our sin is forgiven and that we have abundant life in Jesus.

Believing that the One who fed 5000 people has enough to meet my needs.

Prayer
As one person in the Bible said, “Lord I believe; help my unbelief.” Jesus, I trust you to direct my paths. Help me to follow you today. Amen.

Reflection on 2 Samuel 11:26-12:14

david-and-nathan

Scripture

Then David confessed to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.”

Observation

Following Uriah’s death, Bathsheba mourns for her husband, but then goes and lives in the palace. She gives birth to a boy.

Nathan the prophet comes to David with a story about a rich man who steals a lamb from a poor man. David is outraged and says that whoever does such a thing deserves to die. Nathan tells him, “You are the man.”

David realises that the story is about him and repents of his sin. Nathan says that although the Lord has forgiven David, the baby will die because of his sin.

Application

Sometimes our temptations can blind us to the reality and enormity of our sin. David could have had any possession he desired, any woman he wanted. He was walking in God’s favour, but his list for one woman changed everything.

When we are battling temptation our one thought is, “I want that now.” We cannot see the wider picture. We neglect to pray about the issue and to find out God’s will. When we sin, the ramifications spread like ripples in a pond.

David’s temptation led him to a multitude of sins- adultery, lies and murder, to name a few. But the consequences of his sin were generational- the baby would die, his other sons would oppose him and each other, and so on.

We might think that there are no consequences for our sin. We might think that we got away with it. But God sees all. Of course, the first and most grievous result of sin is that it separates us from God and interrupts our relationship with Him.

The good news in all of the gloom of sin is that God forgives us when we repent and turn away from our sins. “If we confess our sins to Him, He is faithful and just to forgive our sins and cleanse us from all wickedness.” (1 John 1:9)

Prayer

Father, I confess my sins to you right now. I ask for your forgiveness and the grace to walk in obedience to you. Amen.

Reflection on 2 Samuel 11:1-15

davidandbathsheba

Scripture

Late one afternoon, after his midday rest, David got out of bed and was walking on the roof of the palace. As he looked out over the city, he noticed a woman of unusual beauty taking a bath.

Observation

Instead of going to war, as kings were supposed to do, David stays at home. After a siesta, he goes out to the palace roof from where he sees a beautiful woman taking a bath.

David sleeps with Bathsheba who becomes pregnant. To cover up his adultery, David arranges to have her husband killed in battle.

Application

A powerful man who misuses his power for sexual reasons and then tries to cover it up. The story continues to run to this day.

This story starts with a dereliction of duty. David should have been leading his army in battle, not idly looking for women to seduce.

Many sins start with a moment of idleness and maybe a sense of entitlement. “I’ll take a sickie today; I deserve it,” we tell ourselves. Maybe it’s a holiday overseas where the normal constraints of being found out don’t seem to apply.

There used to be a saying that “Idle hands are the devil’s workshop”, meaning that in times of inactivity we can be open to temptation.

The solution is not to fill our lives with endless activity so we won’t have opportunity to sin. No, the solution is to find out God’s purpose for our lives and dedicate ourselves to that.

When we discover what we here for, the distractions and seductions of this present age will have less attraction for us.

Prayer

Lord, there are many things in this world that are appealing to the fleshly nature. Help me to pursue you and you alone so that the attractions of this age lose their appeal in the light of your glory and grace. Amen.

Reflection on Mark 6:14-29

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Scripture

Deeply grieved, the king regretted his promise to her, but since he had made his vow in front of his honoured guests, he could not deny her request.

Observation

King Herod hears about Jesus and what people are saying about Him. Some people insist that he is John the Baptist resurrected. Herod believes this and becomes disturbed.

Previously, Herod had had John arrested because John was publicly rebuking Herod for his immorality in marrying Herodias. At a feast for Herod’s birthday, his stepdaughter danced for the assembled dignitaries. He was delighted and promised her whatever she requested. At her mother’s urging, she requests John’s head on a platter. Reluctantly, Herod acquiesced to her demand.

Application

Our words can imprison us and others so we should be careful about what we say. Where the text says “The king regretted his promise,” an early Syrian version says he was “tied in a knot,” a very graphic description.

Our words have power to free us or enslave us.

A year ago I made a promise to “try to” do something. It seemed impossible at that point, but the promise seemed to be led by the Holy Spirit. For six months, I prayed daily for the grace to do what I had said I would try to achieve. Finally a breakthrough came as the Lord lifted me to a higher level of faith.

A vow uttered from the human soul constricts us or “ties us in a knot.” A godly promise can take us upward and higher. The difference is the source of the promise, whether it is energised by the spirit or by the flesh.

When we discover that we have spoken foolishly we should immediately take it to the Lord and seek His direction. His ways are higher than our ways, and His wisdom exceeds all human wisdom. He will show us how to be free of a fleshly promise or vow.

Prayer

Thank you Lord that you set me free from foolish vows and promises. Help me to control my tongue and only make declarations that honour you. Amen.

Reflection on Ephesians 1:1-14

niagara-falls

Scripture

Every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realm has been lavished upon us as a love gift from our wonderful heavenly Father- the Father of our Lord Jesus- all because He sees us wrapped into Christ. This is why we celebrate him with all our hearts.

Observation

God has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in Christ. He chose us and joined us to Himself, adopting us as His children.

The cascading riches of His grace flow over us and release wisdom and insight. God’s long range plan is that He will make all things new through Jesus Christ.

The Holy Spirit is the first instalment or deposit for what is coming- all to the glory of God.

Application

Because of Jesus we lack nothing. Everything we need for salvation and eternity has been given to us.

God is not reluctant in His giving. He lavishes grace upon grace over us. His grace is like a mighty waterfall that keeps flowing over us. It is superabundant- more than enough, more than is reasonable.

It is all because He loves us and desires us to see His love for us. He is like an old billionaire who falls in love with a young woman and showers her with jewellery and all kinds of extravagant gifts.

God’s graces are more than mere physical baubles. His first grace is the promise of eternal life. We are guaranteed a place in heaven, a “mansion.”

But there is so much more than even this:

  • the gifts of wisdom and insight

  • the power gifts of the Holy Spirit

  • the fruit of the Holy Spirit

But Paul tells us all of this is just a deposit or an engagement ring. There is so much more to come.

Prayer

Lord God I thank you for your overflowing, superabundant grace which you lavish on me daily. Please help me to look to your cascading, flooding grace and to rejoice in you every single day. Amen.