Key verse: 1 Kings 3:9
Big idea: Worship is the heart of wisdom.
Today's text picks up after the death of King David, when his son Solomon began to reign. The Lord came to Solomon in a dream and asked him what he wanted. Solomon could have asked for military might, personal wealth, long life and good health, or ten thousand other things. Every child who has ever seen the movie Aladdin probably has some ideas about what they would ask for if the opportunity arose to have anything their heart desired. But the king's answer was different: he asked for a wise heart to govern the people. The king knew that God had given him an extraordinary task, and his greatest desire was to handle that task well. To do that would require the ability to discern between difficult choices, to find a middle way between bad options, and to represent God well in all that he did.
It is no coincidence that Solomon wrote, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom," in Proverbs 1:7. At the time that he prayed, we do not have any evidence that Solomon had any extraordinary wisdom beyond his love of God. But the wisdom to put God's will for his life first led to all other wisdom. For you and me, we cannot expect to be visited in a dream and be given unmatched insight into every situation, but we can cling to God's promise in the book of James that if we ask God for wisdom, He will give it to us generously. If wisdom is the practical skill of living, what could be more central to being wise than having the single most important priority of all in place? God was pleased with Solomon's response, and as a reward for his humility, promised to give him all of the things that he did not ask for as well. Jesus put it this way, "Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you." The principle is the same and God is still faithful.
Discussion idea: How does the story that ends this chapter illustrate Solomon's wisdom? How might a lesser king have resolved that same situation?
Prayer focus: Lord, make your Word and Your Spirit a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. Help me to seek Your kingdom first, and know that everything else will be added.
Key verse: Romans 5:21
Big Idea: One man sinned and brought death to all, but the gospel shows us how one man died and brought life to all.
When I make a bad decision, it does not only affect me. My wife and children, because they are my family, suffer for my actions. But as a pastor, the consequences of my mistakes can go even further. I can harm the members of AMBC and everyone over whom we have influence. Imagine if I were the President of the United States. An error in judgment or character might cost servicemen and servicewomen their lives and launch a war which I would then be powerless to stop. The people who suffered would not be morally responsible for my sin, but they would nevertheless be affected. The first man, Adam, sinned, and because God had given him dominion over the whole world, the entire world suffered the consequences. Everything and everyone fell into the shadow of death with a nature bent toward sin.
The state that Paul described in Romans 1-3 is endemic to our world: we are all sinners by our very nature. Who taught you to lie? Who taught you not to share? Who taught you to lose your temper and fight to get your way? This rot is deep into our hearts. Adam declared a rebellion, and his whole domain is embroiled in it. Worse still, when we are old enough to choose, we all enlisted with the rebellion. No one sins as a toddler and becomes perfect when they learn better. No, death came by one man, but it passed to all men because all sinned (Romans 5:12). We were God’s enemies, outcasts by birth, and traitors by choice.
How did God respond to us? While we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). Adam’s life brought death to his whole kingdom, but Christ makes us a better offer: when we accept His reign by faith, He transfers us to a new realm, where His death brings life. God’s solution is to make a new creation, inhabited by new people, whose hearts have been made new. We are not made new by works (which are part of this creation and unable to rise above it) but by God’s work in creating a new one. The death of Jesus took the old rulers in the old creation to their ultimate conclusion and overcame them, to replace them with new and better masters. Sin was powerful, but grace’s reign goes farther and deeper (Romans 5:20). As indeed the domain of Adam was led into death, the realm of Christ the King leads to eternal life and righteousness. That is the path Abraham took in chapter 4, and it is the only path that leads to life.
Discussion Idea: Who had a bigger impact, Christ or Adam? Why?
Prayer Focus: Thank God that while we were still sinners, He loved us anyway and gave His life for us. Pray that He would give us the wisdom to see our lives as He does, where we have one foot in this world and one in eternity, so we might live like it.