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Sunday Message for 15 August 2021: “Wise Life”

Today we meet King Solomon, an iconic figure whose legendary wisdom continues to inspire truth-seekers (1 Kings 2:10-12; 3:3-14.

Even outside Christianity there is widespread name recognition of King Solomon, who ascended to the throne after his famously flawed father King David. Like everyone else who ruled Israel, Solomon was morally deficient. One of Solomon’s failings was his sacrificing of animals at the high places, a reference to forbidden, Canaanite religious rituals. The Canaanites were the dominant cultural force in Solomon’s geographic region of Palestine. Beyond Solomon, many Jewish people sacrificed to gods other than the Jewish God Yahweh. It’s not surprising then that Solomon erred by going to Gibeon where he had 1000 animals needlessly sacrificed.

Solomon’s participation in forbidden Canaanite religion might have sealed his fate had it not been for his realizing that he had done wrong. Recall that King David had committed adultery and murder and God remarkably referred to David as a man after his own heart (because David admitted his evil behavior and was sincerely sorry for it). Solomon’s confession meant that he accepted forgiveness and that God continued to bless him.

God wants people to confess and admit when they are wrong. Jesus emphasized this when he taught that people in authority will be held to a higher standard. What distinguishes David and Solomon from other flawed rulers is that they admitted their wrongdoings rather than denying, deflecting, and doubling-down on their evil. Recent, sensational politicians in twenty-first-century America have rejected this lesson.

God’s teachings emphasize that condemnation is the penalty for those who try to conceal their guilt by lying or by attacking their accusers. History confirms that authoritarian rulers who refuse responsibility for their bad decisions will experience a catastrophic end on the day of reckoning.

While Solomon was at Gibeon God visited him in a dream and invited him to ask for anything he wanted. Solomon responded by asking for wisdom. This pleased God so much that God also gave Solomon what he didn’t ask for, including long life, riches, and victories over enemies. No Canaanite deity could have done better for Solomon.

Solomon was blessed because he rejected his previous bad behavior. “If you will walk in my ways, keeping my statues and commandments, as your father David walked, then I will lengthen your life” (1 Kings 3:14). Would you be willing to strike this same deal with God? Thankfully, it’s not just ancient kings who can experience transformation. As a child of the Almighty you are similarly redeemed. As with Solomon, if you honor God with your priorities you can claim marvelous blessings.

We live in an era of cultural wars where even facts don’t seem to matter to millions of people. An entire nation can be ruined when enough people willingly embrace evil. Faulty thinking threatens democratic ideals and America’s morality. Character and integrity matter, especially for people elected to high office. When leaders lie and are not held accountable then destruction awaits. Don’t give up because true followers of God can fight and achieve victory, even over hordes embracing darkness.

Far too many people mistakenly believe that the Bible condemns thinking and reasoning. Not at all! If this were true then Solomon would not be a positive role model. Intellect and faith co-exist and can often correct each another; ego-driven pride corrupts both facts and faith. Jesus didn’t try to diminish peoples’ minds but he did denounce the excuses people make for deliberately making bad choices.

Your mental fitness combines with your spiritual and physical health to create a better life. Psychology as a science of mind attests to the crucial role that your mind plays in wellbeing. How you think determines how you act and how good you feel. When your thinking is distorted then it contaminates other areas of life, causing suffering and negatively impacting persons around you.

Wisdom triumphs over lies and brings to light the dark, false gods of fear, ignorance and anger. Wisdom is generated when knowledge is utilized in a manner that maximizes truth and love. God gave us brains to help us survive and thrive in a hostile universe. By using your mind optimally you will overcome threats while helping yourself and others grow.

Have you asked God for wisdom? Have you attempted to develop a stronger mind and to learn how to make decisions based on facts, reality, and the best available evidence? If you will seek God this way then like Solomon you will discover an amazing life not otherwise possible. Own your mistakes, admit when you’re wrong, and like ancient royalty you’ll rule the kingdom of your life with inspiring integrity.

–Reverend Larry Hoxey

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