Solomon not a Good Example for Us

In reading through 1 Kings again, I am reminded that Solomon’s life and experience was astounding, by any standard of measurement. When the Lord told David that, even though it was a good thing that he had it in his heart to build a temple, he would not be allowed to because of his history of bloody wars in battle. It would be Solomon who would complete the task David began. So Solomon replaces David as king.

As a result, when Solomon asked God for wisdom to be a proper king, God gave him that and much more. The beginning chapters of 1 Kings reflects Solomon’s beginnings and extravagant kingdom. When you offer a formal sacrifice of 22,000 bulls and 120,000 sheep in one single sacrifice, you can begin to grasp the extravagant extent of Solomon’s reign and wealth. Reading 1 Kings chapters 1-10 reflects this in an overview of specifics to show how exceedingly great Solomon’s life and kingdom were.

Scripture also tells us that he wrote 3000 proverbs and 1005 songs. People came widely to hear his famous lectures on trees and animal life. His wisdom exceeded all men past, present and future, and is credited as being the wisest man who ever lived. “The wisdom of Solomon” is now an enduring proverb that simply means someone is exceedingly wise.

But when you finish reading the first 10 chapters, you come to the word BUT; that is the first word in 1 Kings 11. BUT Solomon loved many foreign women. What? Say it ain’t so!, as the old saying goes. No, no, please Solomon, why did you go there? Why did you not keep taking heed to God’s word and heritage that had come through your father, David? Seven hundred wives and 300 concubines? And we are supposed to believe the more modern interpretation that Song of Solomon is his faithful love narrative for his bride? I don’t believe for a moment that the Song of Songs is about marital romance, but about Christ and the church.

Be that as it may, one of the enduring and most important lessons we can draw from Solomon is that there is nothing on this earth that insures persevering in the faith except one thing. Solomon had every personal benefit– a godly father, a godly heritage, phenomenal opportunity, the highest position, extreme wealth, and wisdom from God that no one else was ever given. He was the single man in the earth that led the true people of God, Israel.

Yet none of it kept Solomon from departing from the living God. The only assurance of continuing to go on with God in faith is to go on with God. Going on with God is the only genuine and final evidence of truly persevering in the faith. Continuing to love and walk with Christ is the only evidence that you love and walk with Christ now. The only proof and certainty of election and being a child of God is true perseverance in the faith to the end. Our perseverance in the faith is not what keeps us saved–it is proof and evidence of being saved.

Was Solomon truly saved? It seems, unlike Saul the first king of Israel, that he was. God told David at the end of his life that He would not remove his love from Solomon, as he did from Saul. God’s certain promise of his love for Solomon continued. Yet his end was not exemplary. Some mystery remains about how Solomon can begin so good and end not so good. But there is no mystery about one thing. Running well spiritually to the end is the only goal any believer should have. And we cannot presume on the past–our spiritual heritage, experience, knowledge, wealth, position in life or ministry, or even relationships–we cannot presume that any of those things are proof of a healthy spiritual life. Nor can we presume that anything that is earthly can insure our perseverance in the faith. Going on with God to the end of life means enduring to the end. And Jesus said those are the only ones who will ultimately prove to be saved.

— Mack Tomlinson

What an Example! – The Leisurely Christ

Privacy was difficult to obtain. Yet Jesus was always leisurely; He never hurried. Even when an urgent message came from Bethany that Lazarus was dead, ‘He abode two days still in the same place.’ He required and took sufficient time for His plan of action to mature. Interruptions never distracted Him. He accepted them as opportunities of a richer service. Interruptions were the occasion of some of His most gracious deeds and most revealing words. He lived intensely, yet entirely without tension.

– G. H. Morling

You and your Burdens

It is our Lord’s meekness and lowliness that made His great burden so light. And it is out of His own experience that He speaks to us. ‘Bring a meek heart to your burden as I did,’ He says to us, ‘Bring the same mind to your yoke as I brought to my yoke, and see how easy it will feel.’ Go to Him in any circumstance, and whatever He sees good to do with you and your burden, He will begin to give you another heart under it. He will begin to give you a meek and lowly heart. It is not your burden that weighs you down. It is your proud, rebellious self-seeking, self-pleasing heart. Had He dealt with you after your sins and rewarded you according to your iniquities, you would not have been here to find fault with the way He is leading you to pardon, peace and everlasting life.

– Alexander Whyte

Advice for Students About to Enter the Workforce

According to Dennis Ju, a software programmer for Liferay in Southern California, students enter the workforce with two main emotions: excitement and fear.

“Excitement for this new chapter filled with opportunities and fulfillment, and fear because this next chapter will last the next 40 years of their life,” he said. “There is a great trepidation of entering the ‘rat race.’”

Though both feelings are valid, Dennis said they must be guided, lest we end up falling into the same pitfalls as the rest of the world.

Pitfall: Believing work is ultimate.
Pitfall: Work is a curse.

“Those are the two fallacies we must guard our hearts against lest work becomes either an idol or it becomes utterly toilsome,” Dennis said.

He gives two pieces of advice to do so.

ONE. Guard Your Excitement

“Fear that excitement and be guarded,” he said. “Be excited for the God-given joy to derive from work, but beware the danger of work becoming your life pursuit. An ambition for earthly greatness and finding self-worth in work has been the downfall of many Christians.”

TWO. Guard Your Thoughts About Work

“Work is frustrating and toilsome, there’s no sugar-coating that,” he said. “The flip side of the temptation to make work an idol is the temptation to think work is meaningless and should be avoided.”

Guard your heart from pursuing freedom from work.
Guide your fear into a realization that work is cursed not a curse.

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Psalm 90 – Teach Us to Number our Days

This is one of my favorite psalms; I have several favorites – Psalm 1, Psalm 40, Psalm 84, and others; but among my favorites also is Psalm 90; I read 2-3 Psalms every morning as a part of my morning Bible readings. Whenever I see that I have come to Psalm 90 again, my heart warms and I look forward to it.

The author is Moses, and it is a prayer, a prayer about man’s smallness and temporalness, and the shortness of our life and years. Perhaps my favorite part of the psalm is vss. 12-17 at the end of the psalm.

What specific requests does Moses make here?

1. TEACH US (vs 12) – “teach us to number our days, in order that we may gain a heart of wisdom”. Who doesn’t need that? Teach me, O God, all your ways; I need to be taught by God Himself. Even Moses himself was teachable, and cried out to God to be taught. Are we beyond this, even when life is fleeting by, and we are heading into our later years? We all need to be “taught” continually by the Holy Spirit, and one of the utmost things to be taught is to “number our days”, in order to gain a wise heart.

2. SATISFY US (vs 14) – Our hearts need and want satisfaction continually. That is why this world is continually in pursuit of vacations, fun, entertainment, and holiday get-a-ways to some remote beautiful destination; this is why people love to travel to new places they’ve never seen, and want to experience new things for the first time. Satisfaction–the heart needs it and longs for it. Here Moses prays that GOD would satisfy him; why? because only God can truly and permanently satisfy a person’s heart, soul, and spirit. Man cannot be satisfied by anything except by the One who made him. “Satisfy us early with your mercy.” When Christ Himself satisfies our hearts and lives, and we find true contentment in Him, then a dungeon or a jail cell can be like a palace to us. When Christ satisfies us, nothing else has to; but when Christ is not our satisfaction, nothing else will permanently satisfy.

3. MAKE US GLAD (vs 15) – Gladness? Yes, gladness of heart; Make me a truly happy man, happy in You, Lord; no one likes or is attracted to a gloomy, sad Christian. There is no beauty or attraction in such Christianity; yes, there are times of sadness, sorrow, and trials, but we normally should radiate the joy, pleasure, and gladness of spirit that emanates from Christ Himself. Even suffering Christians often do this in spite of their hardships. Why would Moses pray, “make us glad” unless it were a valid and godly request?

4. LET YOUR WORK APPEAR (vs 16) – God showing us progressively His purposes, will, and His kingdom work is all that ultimately matters in this life; all else is temporal and passing. “The world is passing away, and its lust, but he who does the will of God abides forever.” (1 John 2:17) Can you pray, “Show us, show me, Your work, O Lord; show me continually all you want of me and all you have for me.”

5. LET THE BEAUTY OF THE LORD BE UPON US (vs 17) – God’s beauty and glory being upon our lives; what a thing to pray. It was upon Moses and is the desire of every true believer. Let it be upon me, Lord.

6. ESTABLISH THE WORK OF OUR HANDS (vs 17) – Each of us have a specific work, calling, and purpose that only we can fulfill; no one can live our life for us; we cannot be anyone else or do the work of another person; trying to be like others is always frustrating and failure; let us be ourselves and serve our own generation by personally, from the heart, do the will of God for us; He has a work for our own hands to fulfill that no one else can do. “Establish, Lord, the work of my hands.”

May God hear our cries for such reality as He did Moses; A greater than Moses is here–and He lives within every believer to fulfill each of these realities in our hearts as we cry out to him with such praying.

– Mack Tomlinson

Godly Companions

“And this man (William Burns), the friendship of this man with all he was and had been, was the gift and blessing of God at this particular juncture to Hudson Taylor. Week after week, month after month they lived and traveled together, the exigencies of their work bringing out resources of mind and heart that otherwise might have remained hidden. Such a friendship is one of the crowning blessings of life. Money cannot buy it; influence cannot command it. It comes as love unsought, and only to the equal soul. Young and immature as he was, Hudson Taylor had the capacity to appreciate, after long years of loneliness, the preciousness of this gift. Under its influence, he grew and expanded and came to an understanding of himself and his providential position that left its impression on his later life. William Burns was better to him that a college course with all its advantages, because he lived out before him right there in China the reality of all he most needed to be and know.”

(pg. 364, The Growth of A Soul – Hudson Taylor in Early Years)