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Devotional - How To Ask Of God - Lessons From Solomon

Discussion in 'Thoughts for Today' started by anthony wade, Nov 9, 2013.

  1. That night God appeared to Solomon and said, “What do you want? Ask, and I will give it to you!”Solomon replied to God, “You showed faithful love to David, my father, and now you have made me king in his place. O Lord God, please continue to keep your promise to David my father, for you have made me king over a people as numerous as the dust of the earth! Give me the wisdom and knowledge to lead them properly,for who could possibly govern this great people of yours?” - 2Chronicles 1: 7-10 (NLT)

    King David had passed away. A most beloved and successful king of Israel had gone home to be with the Lord. There was still a temple to be built. There was still a kingdom to reign over. There was still the usual politics to deal with and the enemies of the Lord's people to be wary of. Amidst this backdrop the Bible introduces us to Solomon, the next King of Israel. The Bible tells us that God was already with Solomon and that He had made him exceedingly great. Solomon had already addressed the nation publicly and had offered a thousand burnt offerings to God. Then we come to the key verses above and see that God appears to Solomon. There are several things we can learn as Christians from this exchange which apply to us in our every day walks as well.

    The first thing that stands out to me is the timing. I love the fact that God comes to Solomon at a time when in the natural, it appears things are going quite well. He is established as King and has already addressed the nation. He has acknowledged God and offered 1000 burnt offerings. He has a mandate to build the temple which God would not allow his father David to build. Yet amidst this seeming mountaintop experience God visits him and asks him - what do you want? I think sometimes we think the tests only come in the valley but here is Solomon being tested at the top of the mountain.

    The man of God came up and told the king of Israel, “This is what the Lord says: ‘Because the Arameans think the Lord is a god of the hills and not a god of the valleys, I will deliver this vast army into your hands, and you will know that I am the Lord.’” - 1Kings 20: 28 (NIV)

    The King of Aram made the mistake once of thinking God was only God on the mountaintop. The reality we need to learn is that not only is God in both the valley and the mountaintop but we need His counsel in BOTH situations. We need to see the close relationship between both experiences. If we are blessed to find ourselves on the mountaintop it only means we are surrounded by valleys. If we find ourselves in the valley, we are surrounded by mountaintops. God is still God in both and we need Him in both. It may seem like we need Him less when we are on top but that is only an illusion. He still knows what is coming next.

    Secondly, God will not withhold what we want. He says to Solomon - ask and I will give it to you! Wait a minute preacher! Are you saying that this applies to me too? Well, lets see if Scripture confirms itself:

    “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. - Matthew 7: 7-8 (NIV)

    Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. - Mark 11: 24 (NIV)

    Trust in the Lord and do good;dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Take delight in the Lord,and he will give you the desires of your heart. - Psalm 37: 3-4 (NIV)

    It certainly appears that Scripture confirms it! So why then do so many times we feel unanswered? Why then do we feel as if the heavens are brass? I think it is often a combination of two factors. The first is that we fail to see the answer "no" as being a gift from God. Yet we are supposed to believe Romans 8:28, which says that He is working all things together for our good! Let's face it beloved - sometimes we think we know better than God! He says no but we still think that person is right for us. He says no but we still think that new job opportunity is perfect for us. This all ties into the other factor - we simply are asking with the wrong motive:

    What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. Or do you think Scripture says without reason that he jealously longs for the spirit he has caused to dwell in us? But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says:“God opposes the proudbut shows favor to the humble.”Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. - James 4: 1-10 (NIV)

    If we were honest with ourselves we would have to admit that more often than not we are asking of God from a carnal mindset. The Bible tells us that we are supposed to be a new creation in Christ but sometimes our thinking is the last thing we change. We ask out of greed. We ask out of lust. We ask even though we know God has said no. Yet what does the Bible teach us?

    Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. - Romans 12: 2 (NIV)

    The truth is that we often are seeking to understand the will of God while we are still deep in carnal thinking. It simply will not work like that. Remember the things of God are foolishness to those who are perishing because they do not have the Spirit of God within them to help them understand. The Bible says the Spirit will lead us into all truth and we know the truth is the Word of God. What are you saying preacher? Beloved - we need to take our carnal thinking and put it up against the Word of God and ask the Holy Spirit living inside of us to illuminate the Scriptures for us! To bring them to life so that our thinking can move from carnal to eternal and our minds can become renewed and our lives can be transformed! I know that may not be easy. We have to abandon ourselves and our pride but as the James Scriptures teach us - God shows favor to the humble.

    And humble Solomon was when he asked of the Lord in the key verses. Within his request we find our third lesson. We need to have a kingdom mindset when we ask of God! There are three elements to a kingdom mindset shown here by Solomon. The first element is praise for what God has already done. Man lives in a "what have you done for me lately" mindset but God's ways of thinking are so much higher beloved. He is worthy of all praise. If God never did another thing for me I still owe Him everything for Calvary alone! For taking my punishment and my sins, so that I might live the eternal life I live today. Bless me? He already has more than I can fathom. In the key verses we see that before Solomon asks for anything - he acknowledges all God has already done for his father David and by allowing him to be king. What does this aspect of a kingdom mindset accomplish? First of all it establishes the correct roles. When we pray or ask God for anything, we should never approach it petulantly. I know that may sound obvious but remember the tax collector and the Pharisee:

    To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’ - Luke 18: 9-12 (NIV)

    Look who it says Jesus addressed this parable to! Those confident in their own righteousness who looked down on everyone else. Today we call these people religious. Sometimes we can be so enamored with our religiosity that we lose sight of our Savior! We forget that we have no righteousness at all except through His shed blood! We can start to approach prayer in a proud manner instead of with humility. That is the second benefit from approaching God with praise first for all He has done. It forces us into a humble position before God. It reminds us of who we are and who He is.

    The second element to the kingdom mindset on display here from Solomon is that it acknowledges that God is sovereign to maintain even the status quo. I do not think we realize that everything we have is thanks to the Lord. Our homes, our careers, our family, our church, our pastor, our ministries - everything. Solomon says - please continue to keep Your promise made to David. I can tell you personally, it is quite unsettling to wake up and lose your church and your pastor. Or to wake up and find there is no loyalty among men and you lose your job. As unsettling as these experiences were they were calmed by the realization of the sovereignty of God. It may have surprised me but it did not surprise God. God doesn't have a Plan B, because He does not need one. I remember the futility of my thinking before Christ when I didn't respect all that I had until I lost it. While that may be more understandable within the carnal mind it happens way too often to believers as well. When we are asking of God we need to start with praise for all He has done and acknowledging His sovereignty over everything we have. It is a forced mechanism to elevate the name above all names before we ask Him for anything.

    The final aspect of the kingdom mindset on display in the key verses is that there is a benefit to the kingdom in the request. It indicates where your heart is in the request. Is it on the things of this world or on the eternal? The story of Simon the Sorcerer displays this. Simon had converted and was following Phillip when Peter came to Samaria and Simon saw Peter impart the baptism of the Holy Spirit by the laying on of hands. His request quickly revealed his heart:

    When Simon saw that the Spirit was given at the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money and said, “Give me also this ability so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” Peter answered: “May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money! You have no part or share in this ministry, because your heart is not right before God. - Acts 8: 18-21 (NIV)

    Simon's thinking was still carnal. He did not ask for the power because he wanted to see more souls bought into the kingdom or more believers being baptized in the Spirit. He asked for selfish and worldly motives. We need to make sure that our heart is right before God. Now let us look at someone who asked with a kingdom mindset:

    When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, “Tell me, what can I do for you before I am taken from you?”“Let me inherit a double portion of your spirit,” Elisha replied. - 2Kings 2: 9 (NIV)

    Elisha followed one of the greatest prophets ever in Elijah. When asked what could be done for him he asked for a double portion of the spirit of Elijah. There is nothing in Scripture to indicate that Elisha was asking with impure motive and the results show that God rewarded the kingdom mindset request because in reviewing the Old Testament we find that the ministry of Elisha saw exactly double the miracles that the ministry of Elijah had produced! So Solomon asked purely for the wisdom and knowledge to lead the great people of Israel and God saw his kingdom motives:

    God said to Solomon, “Since this is your heart’s desire and you have not asked for wealth, possessions or honor, nor for the death of your enemies, and since you have not asked for a long life but for wisdom and knowledge to govern my people over whom I have made you king, therefore wisdom and knowledge will be given you. And I will also give you wealth, possessions and honor, such as no king who was before you ever had and none after you will have.” - 2Chronicles 1: 11-12 (NIV)

    Did you catch that beloved? Solomon doesn't ask for what we might have been tempted to ask for. Money, fame, and success. Instead, he thinks about what is needed in relation to the kingdom of God and because of that - he gets the money, fame and success as well! This is also cross confirmed in Scripture:

    But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. - Matthew 6: 33 (NIV)

    But beware beloved. The kingdom mindset is something that has to be continually cultivated. It is not automatic and it is constantly under attack from the enemy and the world. Playing to our flesh and pride we can easily lose sight of the kingdom, as Solomon would.

    King Solomon, however, loved many foreign women besides Pharaoh’s daughter—Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians and Hittites. They were from nations about which the Lord had told the Israelites, “You must not intermarry with them, because they will surely turn your hearts after their gods.” Nevertheless, Solomon held fast to them in love. He had seven hundred wives of royal birth and three hundred concubines, and his wives led him astray. As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not fully devoted to the Lord his God, as the heart of David his father had been. He followed Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and Molek the detestable god of the Ammonites. So Solomon did evil in the eyes of the Lord; he did not follow the Lord completely, as David his father had done. - 1Kings 11: 1-6 (NIV)

    God answered the request of Solomon and the king was regarded as the wisest man who ever lived. His kingdom thrived and he became successful beyond his wildest imagination. Yet he did not cultivate his kingdom mindset and over the years he would continue to go against the Lord's wisdom when it came to women. He would have 1000 wives and concubines; many from foreign lands who led him astray to worship other gods. After Solomon died, the Kingdom of Israel would be forever split into Israel and Judah and the downhill slide would not stop until Israel would be scattered by the Assyrian Empire and Judah would be taken into captivity by the Babylonian Empire. There are always consequences for living with a carnal mindset. Despite that we have this record of when Solomon walked rightly. He gave praise for all God had done. He acknowledged His sovereignty in everything he had. He prayed with a pure heart and a kingdom mindset. Let us seek to do the same today.

    Reverend Anthony Wade - November 9, 2013

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