Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Just Ask

Sermon was given at 

Solomon’s life and insights show that we must seek God’s wisdom in order to live a Godly life. Solomon was fully aware of all that God had done in, through, and for his father David. Yet he felt overwhelmed at the prospect of governing and leading Israel. When God granted Solomon the opportunity to ask for any blessing, Solomon asked for wisdom and knowledge to lead God’s people. Instead of making a selfish choice for something like riches, Solomon made the best choice. Solomon knew that he was inadequate to rule God’s people on his own; he knew that he couldn’t do it without God. As a result of Solomon’s request, God gave him both wisdom and unsurpassed wealth. True wisdom comes when we ask God for wisdom because we realize that we can’t live a Godly life on our own.

2 Chronicles 1:7-12  (NIV)
That night God appeared to Solomon and said to him, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you.”
Solomon answered God, “You have shown great kindness to David my father and have made me king in his place. Now, Lord God, let your promise to my father David be confirmed, for you have made me king over a people who are as numerous as the dust of the earth. 10 Give me wisdom and knowledge, that I may lead this people, for who is able to govern this great people of yours?”
11 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, 12 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.”

Supporting Passages: 
Genesis 12:1–3, 15:5; 1 Samuel 3:4–14; 2 Samuel 7:16; 1 Kings 3:6–12; 1 Chronicles 17:1-27; 2 Chronicles 9:22; Isaiah 43:12; James 3:17; 1 Peter 5:7

Intro: Are you dependent on God for everything? Solomon had just offered 1,000 burnt offerings to the Lord and worshipped God at Gibeon (1 Chron. 1:3–6). By his actions, Solomon demonstrated his faith and his devotion to God, and God responded to Solomon’s worship with an appearance and a gracious offer. Solomon’s desire to be obedient and faithful manifested itself not only in his worship but also in his response to God’s request (1 Chron. 1:8–10). Solomon asked for what was essential to be able to rule God’s people well—something that he could not attain on his own.

1. God relates to His people on a personal level 
(2 Chron. 1:7–8).

After Solomon’s time of worship, God appeared to him in a dream and gave Solomon the incredible opportunity to ask for whatever he wanted. Before posing this question to Solomon, God knew Solomon’s heart and how he would respond, but He provided Solomon with the opportunity to bring his requests to God and to determine what was most important to him—the temporal or the eternal. God had personally observed Solomon’s worship and then personally inquired of Solomon’s request. He would also personally fulfill Solomon’s request. He did not relate to Solomon from far away but personally.
In The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy and her friends are relentless in their journey to find the Wizard, who they believe can fix all of their problems. Upon finding the Wizard, though, they realized that he was impersonal, harsh, and terrifying. He wouldn’t even see them in person. A lot of people see God as impersonal in this way, but He isn’t. He is intimately involved in the lives of His people.
God graciously allows you to have access to Him. You can go before God at any time and pray to Him and know that He hears your prayers. But do you treat God like Santa Claus or a kind grandfather who simply fulfills your wish list when you pray? While God’s people do not always receive everything for which they ask, God promises to hear the prayers of His people, to give wisdom to those who ask in faith, and to do what will bring glory to His name.

2. God alone equips His people to complete His purpose (2 Chron. 1:9–10).

Solomon could have asked for power, long life, or wealth, but he did not. Instead, he asked God to fulfill the promise that He had made to David, and this promise involved the establishment of David’s son as ruler of Israel, the steadfast love and faithfulness of God to be shown to David’s son, and the responsibility of this son to build God’s Temple in Israel (1 Chron. 17:3–15). For his second request, Solomon petitioned God to give him wisdom and knowledge for the purpose of governing God’s people. The terms wisdom and knowledge involve discernment, spiritual insight, increased intellectual capacity, skill in administration, and the ability to distinguish good from evil. Solomon understood that God had placed him as king over Israel (2 Chron. 1:8–9), and he recognized the colossal responsibility of ruling God’s people. Solomon rightly realized that he could not effectively rule on his own. He saw his own overwhelming need, and he acknowledged God as the true source of wisdom and asked Him to equip him for the task to which He had called him.
Solomon did not ask for wisdom and knowledge simply for his own sake; he knew that his leadership affected the people of Israel. While you might not be a king like Solomon, God has entrusted you with time, talents, possessions, and money. Everything that you have comes from God, and as with Solomon, you are a steward of what God has given to you. You cannot live a Godly life on your own, which is why you need God’s wisdom and help in order to be obedient. Like Solomon, are you seeking God to equip you for faithful living?

3. God honors the humble heart that is dependent upon Him (2 Chron. 1:11–12).

God based His response to Solomon on what was in his heart, and the content of Solomon’s heart showed itself in his actions. First, Solomon acknowledged that God had made Solomon king, which demonstrated humility and recognition that he was simply God’s steward. Second, Solomon’s priority was not long life or wealth for himself. Instead, he sought the equipment needed to be faithful to God in leading God’s people. Solomon considered it more important to have God-given guidance for how to rule Israel than to have his enemies destroyed or his life prolonged, and God saw this desire in Solomon’s heart, which is why He not only granted his request but also showered him with the additional blessings of wealth, possessions, and honor.
In C.S. Lewis’ book The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Lucy and Edmund return to Narnia with their obnoxious cousin Eustace. When the ship, the Dawn Treader, lands on an island, Eustace hides in a dragon’s cave in order to avoid helping repair the ship, and while there he is overcome with greed as he views the dragon’s treasures. While sleeping, he changes into a dragon, and as a dragon, he becomes painfully aware of his own wickedness and selfishness because his external appearance reflects the ugliness of his heart. Likewise, our actions will reflect our hearts.
God knows your heart. He sees all and knows all, and He acts with perfect justice and righteousness in response to what He knows. As with Solomon, your actions are an overflow of what is in your heart. What is in your heart? What are your priorities? What is most important to you?

So what's the big idea of the passage?

God will always give us what we need to accomplish His purpose. Solomon asked for wisdom and knowledge, and while God gave him what he had requested, He also bestowed upon Solomon many things for which he did not ask—wealth, possessions, and honor. God’s purpose in giving Solomon such great wisdom was not to make Solomon popular or famous; rather, it was to rule God’s people well. God granted Solomon’s request for His own glory. Even though God answered Solomon in such an amazing way, God does not always give His people exactly what they request. Sometimes His answer is “no” or “wait.” But we can trust that God will always give us exactly what we need to accomplish His purpose in everything. Our answer might not be what we imagined, but God’s sovereignty and goodness will always provide.

The book of 2 Chronicles is a continuation of the story of the monarchy in Israel that began in the book of 1 Chronicles. Whereas the first part of the Chronicles saga focuses on the reign of King David the second and most honored king over Israel, the second part of Chronicles focuses on David’s successors, beginning with his son, Solomon. The scope of 1 Chronicles is wide at first, as the first 10 chapters provide extensive genealogies, and then the book narrows to highlight David’s reign. Conversely, the scope of 2 Chronicles is narrow at first, as the first nine chapters detail Solomon’s reign, and then the book widens in scope to relay the story of the split of the nation of Israel, the monarchy of the southern kingdom of Judah, the exile, and the return from exile.
The book of 1 Chronicles ends with two major moments of transition: 1) the anointing of Solomon as successor to David’s throne over Israel, and 2) David’s death. Thus, 2 Chronicles begins with the spotlight squarely on Solomon—“Solomon the son of David established himself in his kingdom, and the Lord his God was with him and made him exceedingly great” 2 Chron. 1:1. Solomon’s first biblically documented act as king was to worship the Lord, and to do so he went to [Gibeon] rather than stay in Jerusalem.
While at Gibeon, Solomon prayed to God for wisdom. This biblical passage of God’s initial dealing with Solomon as king comes before a critical moment in Israel’s history, not to mention redemption history: the construction of the Jerusalem Temple. As God prepared to come to Israel and focus His presence in a particular place of worship, first He prepared the king so that the king might prepare the people for such an event. Such a mighty undertaking began with a simple request for the task’s most vital element: wisdom.
This lesson demonstrates the Essential Truth that [People are God’s Treasure]. First, God came to Solomon and invited Solomon to make a request of Him. Second, God was pleased with Solomon’s request for wisdom with which to rightly rule over the nation of Israel—the “chosen people.” Third, God not only granted Solomon wisdom on behalf of the nation of Israel but also granted him wealth and power befitting his royal position so as to further draw the gaze of the nations to the witness of the glory of God in Israel. In all of these instances, God graciously engaged humanity, providing on an individual and a corporate level. People are important to God. They are the focus of His redemptive plan. This story about King Solomon asking God for wisdom displays this truth.
Our God is approachable. This is wondrous news, for it means that we can cast all our cares upon Him - 1 Peter 5:7 - and that we can petition Him for anything. And while God wants to hear from us about everything that is going on in our lives, He also wants us to exercise discernment about what we ask for. As King Solomon exemplified, God is pleased with prayer requests that are kingdom-centered. Along these lines, it can also be concluded that God is also pleased with prayer requests that are gospel-oriented and focused on making Him known. Are you taking advantage of the accessibility of the Almighty and making your concerns known to Him—and are you doing so frequently and fervently? When you approach Him, are your prayers kingdom-centered or self-centered? When you pray in front of your students, what do they hear? Are your prayers an example of a kingdom-centered, gospel-oriented, God-glorifying mindset, or are they an example of self-centered, superficial, faithless communication with the divine? Perhaps the more fundamental question is, do you ask things of God at all (in front of your students as well as in private)?
Your students probably spend a lot of time talking with their peers, but how much time do they spend talking to God? When they pray to Him, what kinds of things are they asking for? Encourage your students to go to God often because He genuinely cares about every detail of their lives, and He wants them to ask Him for help. But also teach them about the substantial matters of the kingdom of God that are particularly prayer-worthy—things like the advancement of the gospel nearby and far away, the spiritual growth of themselves and their loved ones into the image of Christ, and the wisdom to live a life worthy of the calling that they’ve received as Christians. Help your students to ask in the manner of Solomon—wisely. Help your students to ask for the same thing that Solomon asked for—wisdom.

Small Group Questions:

  • What do most people consider to be the source of wisdom and knowledge?
  • How did Solomon model humility in his life?
  • How do we make our heart’s desires line up with God’s desires?
  • How does God express His adequacy in our lives through our inadequacy?

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