28 Sep. 2014 Sunday
|Sermon: Bringing our children into God’s blessing||video||audio||ppt||doc|
Scripture Reading: 1st Kings 3:5-14
5 At Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon during the night in a dream, and God said, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you.”
6 Solomon answered, "You have shown great kindness to your servant, my father David, because he was faithful to you and righteous and upright in heart. You have continued this great kindness to him and have given him a son to sit on his throne this very day.
7 “Now, O LORD my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David. But I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties.
8 Your servant is here among the people you have chosen, a great people, too numerous to count or number.
9 So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?”
10 The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for this.
11 So God said to him, “Since you have asked for this and not for long life or wealth for yourself, nor have asked for the death of your enemies but for discernment in administering justice,
12 I will do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be.
13 Moreover, I will give you what you have not asked for--both riches and honor--so that in your lifetime you will have no equal among kings.
14 And if you walk in my ways and obey my statutes and commands as David your father did, I will give you a long life.”
Scripture Reading: 1st Kings 9:1-7
1 When Solomon had finished building the temple of the LORD and the royal palace, and had achieved all he had desired to do,
2 the LORD appeared to him a second time, as he had appeared to him at Gibeon.
3 The LORD said to him: “I have heard the prayer and plea you have made before me; I have consecrated this temple, which you have built, by putting my Name there forever. My eyes and my heart will always be there.
4 As for you, if you walk before me in integrity of heart and uprightness, as David your father did, and do all I command and observe my decrees and laws,
5 I will establish your royal throne over Israel forever, as I promised David your father when I said, ‘You shall never fail to have a man on the throne of Israel.’
6 But if you or your sons turn away from me and do not observe the commands and decrees I have given you and go off to serve other gods and worship them,
7 then I will cut off Israel from the land I have given them and will reject this temple I have consecrated for my Name. Israel will then become a byword and an object of ridicule among all peoples.”
Today we will continue our sermon series on the big story of the Bible. Our subject is God’s covenant with Solomon, David’s son. You may remember God’s covenant to David from last time. God promised David that “ I will raise up your offspring to succeed you and I will establish his kingdom”.
God remained true to His promise. David had a son whose name was Solomon. When he grew up, he became king, after David.
1, The blessing of Solomon’s early reign
As a young man Solomon had a humble heart and wanted to follow God. When God first appeared to him at Gibeon and asked “what do you want”, his answer was “wisdom”. The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for this and said to him: "Since you have asked for this and not for long life or wealth for yourself, nor have asked for the death of your enemies but for discernment in administering justice, I will do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be. Moreover, I will give you what you have not asked for-both riches and honor-so that in your lifetime you will have no equal among kings."
God’s words came true. From the Bible, in 1 Kings 4, we can see Solomon’s splendor and his prosperity
1）His rule “Solomon ruled over all the kingdoms from the river to the land of the Philistines, as far as the border of Egypt.” This was actually related to God’s covenant to Abraham; God had promised to give a land to his people Israel. With Solomon as king, they lived in it in security,
2） His wealth Solomon was the richest man who ever lived. He owned : Houses, vineyards, gardens, slaves, flocks, singers, so much silver that it was as common as dirt, and many other things.
3） His wisdom “God gave Solomon wisdom and very great insight, and a breadth of understanding as measureless as the sand on the seashore. Solomon's wisdom was greater than the wisdom of all the men of the East, and greater than all the wisdom of Egypt…And his fame spread to all the surrounding nations. He spoke three thousand proverbs and his songs numbered a thousand and five. ..Men of all nations came to listen to Solomon's wisdom, sent by all the kings of the world, who had heard of his wisdom.”
From this we can see that God’s covenants with Abraham and David were partly fulfilled through Solomon. We may understand it more clearly when we look back to these covenants. God said that he would bless their descendants.
God’s covenant with Abraham
Gen. 12:1-3; 17:6-7
God’s covenant with David
I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, All peoples on earth will be blessed through you.
I will raise up your offspring to succeed you and I will establish his kingdom .
I will make you very fruitful, I will make nations of you, and kings will come from you
Your son will be the one who builds house for God, I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.
I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come
Your house and your kingdom will endure forever; your throne will be established forever
God blessed David by giving him a son to reign after him. God blessed many nations through Solomon, because they came to Solomon for wisdom, So we can see that God’s promise to Abraham was partly fulfilled at this point. Of course, the final fulfilment of these promises has come through Jesus. God blessed all nations through Jesus, the descendant of Abraham, the son of David. He is the savior of all nations and he is the king who came from the line of Abraham and David. He is the real blessing for all nations, including us here today.
2, The kingdom was divided because Solomon was unfaithful
However, Solomon fell away from God in his old age.
1 Kings 11:1-9: “King Solomon, however, loved many foreign women,…… 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." 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 Molech 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. 7On a hill east of Jerusalem, Solomon built high places for all his foreign wives ^^^^^^^^^9The Lord became angry with Solomon because his heart had turned away from the Lord.”
Solomon's reign became harsher in his old age because he turned away from the Lord. It is a sad conclusion to Solomon’s life. However, even though Solomon had turned away from God, God still had mercy on him and his family. God was still faithful to his covenant even though Solomon fell away. God still remembered his covenant to David,
He said to Solomon “If you or your sons turn away from me, then I will cut off Israel from the land, but for the sake of David your father, I will not do it during your lifetime, I will still give Rehoboam (Solomon’s son) one tribe for the sake of David my servant (1 Kings 9:4-5; 11:11)
After Rehoboam, became king, the whole nation asked him to make their life easier. However, he made the people's life even harder. As a result, they rebelled against Rehoboam. The nation was divided into two. Most of the tribes became a separate nation. They were called Israel. The small nation that stayed loyal to Rehoboam was called Judah. It was a tragedy! God's people were divided into two smaller nations, Israel and Judah, who were enemies. It seemed like the blessings of God's covenant were lost.
However, God was faithful to his promise. Even though Solomon's and Rehoboam’s life were messed up, God’s purpose would continue. He didn’t take the throne back from Rehoboam and left him people to follow him. This was because of his covenant to David.
Solomon's reign started very well. However, because of his unfaithfulness his reign became harsher, and under the hard rule of his son, the kingdom divided into two.
Solomon’s downfall occurred because he gave into a common temptation. Instead of focusing upon the Kingdom’s future generations he was thinking mainly about himself, about his comforts and desires, especially to have more wives, So he forgot the Lord who made promises to him and his forefathers.
Now just think about it. Solomon really had the privilege to know God and to serve God, but somehow, pleasing his wives seemed important.
We too are often tempted by many things. How can we fight temptation?
I think the real question is this: what do we really value?
Solomon: started by honoring God and brought blessing to Israel and the nations. However, his problem started when he wanted to please his wives more than pleasing God. That's when he fell into temptation.
What is more important when you face the temptation? If we have a heart to please God, that’s is what will help you to get away from the temptation.
In Hebrew 11:24-26 we read “By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh's daughter. He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time. He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward.”
Notice that Moses thought that serving God was of greater value than the treasures he could have in Egypt. He was looking ahead to the reward he would get from God.
God has given us a wonderful salvation through Jesus. Jesus has given us a future hope for when we die, and has promised to be with us now. He has a good plan for our lives as we follow him. When we remember God's word, and all his promises to us, we will continue to really want God and we will have the strength to resist temptation. We can see this in some New Testament passages.
Romans 13:14 clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.
Galatians 5:16 So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.
Did you notice that when God made the covenant with David, he mentioned his covenant with Abraham, when he talked to Solomon, he mentioned his covenant with David. His covenant was continuous. It was passed on from generation to generation. The parents should teach their kids about God’s word and covenant. And parents need to train their children by the example of their own lives.
The Jewish people have a good tradition about teaching children to God’s words. In Deuteronomy 6:4-7 it says: “ Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”
From Solomon’s story, we can see the influence of parents to the child. David taught Solomon. Solomon needed to teach Rehoboam, his son. Unfortunately, Solomon forget what his father had taught him. He forget to put God in the first place. He married many wives and it became a snare to his family.
Solomon might have been too busy ruling his kingdom. He was busy with his wives and building temples for their false gods. He didn't make time to teach his son about God’s covenant. Sadly, it's still true today that many parents neglect their family. Actually, we parents need to lead our families, to help help them to walk in the right way. But we won't be able to do it if we are too busy. And if we are bad examples our children will learn from that. Imagine Rehoboam growing up. He could see all the things his father had done. At the beginning that was good, but later it became worse. His family must have influenced him in many ways. I wonder: how are we influencing our children? Are we teaching them God's ways, or does our example lead them away from God?
Ephesians 6:1-4 “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 'Honor your father and mother'--which is the first commandment with a promise-- 'that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.' Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”
Children should respect their parents, but parents, you have your responsibility for training your kids. If you don't do it, there is really no-one else to replace you!
In the New Testament, Timothy’s faith was influenced by his mother and grandmother, When Paul wrote to Timothy, he said "I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also."
What a great opportunity we have to influence our children by our sincere faith!
We don’t help our children to follow God if we don’t follow Him ourselves. Parents' behavior will have a great effect on their children's character. As parents, we are the every important example for our kids. To help them, we need to build a relationship with God ourselves. I know I have a long way to go as a Mom, sometimes I really don’t know how to teach her, but I realized how important it is to entrust her to our God. ( see the PPT On the children’s day, many families worshiped God and sang praises to God together. It’s really fun.)
Proverbs 22:6 “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.”
Maybe many of us here don't have children yet. But this is still relevant to us. Even now, we can have spiritual children. We can influence other people for the Lord. Our example can be a good influence or a bad influence. And one day we may have children of our own.
May God rescue us from trials and from sin, and help us to bring our children into his blessing, walking in God’s presence and serving God with an upright heart!