Today’s Bible reading: 1 Kings 9-10:29; Acts 8:14-40; Psalm 130:1-8; Proverbs 17:2-3
Solomon desired to build a Temple for God (1 Kings 9:1), which he did. Unfortunately, Solomon did not desire to follow God with the same passion. As we will see, the completion of the Temple is the high point in Solomon’s life. It will be all down hill from here. So often we put so much effort into doing something for God at the expense of being with God. We need to be careful that is never the case.
God tells Solomon that David followed Him with “integrity and godliness” (1 Kings 9:4). David was not perfect, as we saw. But God did not remember David’s sins because David followed God by faith. The same is true for us today. We are far from perfect. But when a person is saved, by faith, God will forgive his/her sins and count that person as righteous. How cool is that?
Israel was chosen by God to be the nation through which God would exalt Himself to the entire world. If Israel obeyed God they would be blessed beyond belief such that the world would know those blessings had to come from God. But if they disobeyed, they would be punished so severely that the world would also see that God’s hand was in it. Either way, God would be exalted.
The Queen of Sheba comes to visit Solomon in 1 Kings 10. Sheba is modern-day Yemen or perhaps Ethiopia. She came to visit Israel at their zenith – and was overwhelmed by what she saw (1 Kings 10:5). This not only included an abundance of food and clothing but also organization. I thought this was very interesting – having a well structured organization brings glory to God (1 Kings 10:9).
The rest of this chapters tells us Solomon’s great wealth. Solomon had asked God for wisdom, not wealth. But because he did, God promised to make him very rich. Here we see examples of all the possessions he owned. Much of this wealth corrupted Solomon and, hence, we see that, although he was wise, he may not have used his wisdom wisely. If he were really wise he would not have let this wealth go to his head. In fact, he would not have spent this wealth on himself at all.
All throughout Jesus’ ministry the Jews had refused to believe in Him (other than His disciples and a few others), but many Gentiles did. In Acts 8 we read about the people of Samaria, who were Gentiles, also believing. Samaritans were despised by Jews, as we already learned, but here they are welcomed by Peter and John as being part of God’s family – simply because they believed.
Philip had been preaching in Samaria, with great success as we have seen. But in Acts 8:26 God calls him away from this work to go to into the desert. Philip obeys because he knows that God has a plan. Along the way he meets an Ethiopian who is trying to understand a passage from the Old Testament.
This man had achieved much in life (Acts 8:27), yet still had an empty place in his heart that could only be filled by God. Philip acts boldly to this opportunity God had present to him. So often we are afraid to speak to others about Christ, but if God impresses on our hearts that we should, we need to obey – someone’s eternity is at stake. The world is very bold in its declaration that God’s word is irrelevant. Why should be not be bold in return? Especially considering that God’s message has the power of life (heaven) while the world’s message can only lead to eternal death (hell).
Philip teaches the Ethiopian who believes and is baptized (Acts 8:30-38). This man will be in heaven today because Philip obeyed God. If he had disobeyed who knows what would have happened to this man and many others that he probably had an influence on.
How great is it that the Lord does not keep a record of our sins? If He did, no one could have eternal life. Instead, God offers forgiveness (Psalm 130:3-4). How great is that?
Just like fire can confirm the purity of precious metals, God will test our heart with trials and tribulations in this life (Proverbs 17:3). Non believers who like to insist that God doesn’t exist because Christians experience bad things in life just like everyone don’t understand how God works. Sending trouble into our lives is God’s way of purifying us – He uses these situations to reveal what is truly in our heart (just like fire reveals what is in gold). Once we know what is inside of us, He can work on removing it. If we allow Him, of course.
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