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Building Lasting Values
1 Kings 11-12
The last time we were together we looked at the biblical value of trust in our series on building God’s House within us through the values and standards set forth in the Bible. Today, I’d like to expand upon that topic as we look at our need to trust God.
Open your Bibles to 1 Kings 11
I think it’s safe say that most Christians fear stepping out into the promises and commands of God. Mainly because they can’t see the future blessings these promises and commands of God hold and bring, and that’s because they’re focused upon their immediate problems.
Now, the only way this fear lessens is when we trust God more than what our immediate situation dictates. Or to say this another way, “Can we trust God? “Can We Trust God to Lead Us?”
And while God understands our fear, He continues to encourage trust Him. We see this in what the Bible says in the Book of Proverbs.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6 NKJV)
The Apostle Paul also talks about this walk of trust.
“For we walk by faith, not by sight.” (2 Corinthians 5:7 NKJV)
These two Scriptures, and many others, speak of our need to trust God, His word and His ways; and in the process stop trusting in our intellect and emotions, which cannot only be manipulated, but also lie to us as well. Instead, we are encouraged to trust in God who does not lie, and whose word never changes, but remains constant over time.
Now, the question of whether or not we can trust God is seen in the decisions we make.
George Barna noted that over 90 percent of church-going Christians do not make important decisions based on God’s word or in seeking His will. Instead, decisions are made based upon a person’s own intellect, peer opinions, or what they feel is right.
Christians marry, quit their jobs, accept other jobs, move into new homes, or move to other cities without even so much as a ten minute prayer, and there is little, of any, fasting in seeking God’s will. Further, God’s word, the Bible, and what it says plays a very small part in our everyday decisions.
Take for instance our giving the tithe, that is, the first 10 percent of our income that God tells us we need to give back to His work. What’s happened is that we have allowed fear to dictate our giving rather than trusting in God’s promise that when we give our tithe that He will bless us, removing the destroyer of our finances, and opening up His window of blessings over our lives (Malachi 3:6-12)
Haggai, a contemporary of the prophet Malachi, records the Lord telling His people that the reason they never seem to have enough to meet their needs, and why there always seems to be more money going out than coming in, is because they have neglected this principle by ignoring the Lord’s house while they are busy building up their own houses (Haggai 1).
Therefore, it all centers on our trusting God more than what we may think, or what our emotions dictate about the situation or circumstance we find ourselves in. And the only way we can passionately pursue God’s presence is to place the full of our trust in God, especially as we reach out in His love to the community around us. Remember, our mission at Living Waters Fellowship is to make a difference in our community for Christ.
Now, this whole subject of trusting God may sound good, and it makes for good copy, but if we’re honest, it completely unnerves us, because it goes against the modern mindset, and our desire to take charge, call our own shots, and to be our own bosses, which is at the very heart of sin, and was actually the first sin recorded.
There is an excellent example in the Bible of just what happens when someone begins to trust in self more than in God and His promises. It is found in the first book of Kings, and is the story os Jeroboam.
Jeroboam was a hard worker. The Bible calls him industrious, and on top of that God had gifted him in the area of leadership. So gifted was Jeroboam that Solomon promoted him over the workers from the tribe of Joseph.
One day as he was going about his work, the prophet Ahijah came to him and told him of the Lord’s desire to make him the ruler over ten of the tribes of Israel.
“So I will take you, and you shall reign over all your heart desires, and you shall be king over Israel. Then it shall be, if you heed all that I command you, walk in My ways, and do what is right in My sight, to keep My statutes and My commandments, as My servant David did, then I will be with you and build for you an enduring house, as I built for David, and will give Israel to you.”(1 Kings 11:37-38)
What a promise! Think about it! He wasn’t even of the line of David, the royal line, yet he received the same promise God gave to David. He received the career break of all career breaks, one that many hope and even pray for.
“If you heed all that I command you, walk in My ways, and do what is right in My sight, to keep My statutes and My commandments, as My servant David did, then I will be with you and build for you an enduring house, as I built for David, and will give Israel to you.” (1 Kings 11:38 NKJV)
Jeroboam was given control of a nation, and ongoing dynasty, and the most precious of all promises, God’s continual presence if he would just trust in God, trust Him at His word and trust Him in all His ways.
Now, let’s fast forward and look at how Jeroboam kept this trust God had given to Him. We find the story a little later on in Chapter 14. Let me summarize.
A family crisis has just occurred, Jeroboam’s son has become extremely sick, so Jeroboam commands his wife to disguise herself and go to the prophet Ahijah to see what the Lord might reveal.
This is what we might call a curious command! She was to wear a disguise. Why?
Now remember, this is the same prophet who gave Jeroboam God’s word and promise of a kingdom, so why the disguise? Ahijah would have clearly been in Jeroboam’s corner, which reveals that there had been some sort of a falling out between them, and that Jeroboam had not only alienated himself from the prophet, but also from God.
The second thing that surprises me about this disguise is that Ahijah was not only old, but he was blind as well. Come on, he couldn’t tell if someone was wearing a royal garment or that of a slave: a Sax’s Fifth Avenue suit, or a Wal-Mart special.
Yet, disguised or not, Ahijah knew it was her and why she was coming, because God told him. Ahijah didn’t need to see in the physical, he had spiritual insight from God.
The truth is that we can’t disguise ourselves from God. It doesn’t matter what we wear on the outside, or how we appear in church on Sunday. God sees us for who we truly are, He sees our hearts, not our designer jeans or Nike tennis shoes.
And so the minute she knocks on the door, Ahijah called out, “Hello Mrs. Jeroboam, who just happens to be dressed like somebody else. The Lord has a word for you and your husband.”
And if I could, let me summarize God’s word to Jeroboam:
“I raised you up from nothing and made you a leader over My people. I gave to you out of my grace and mercy, but you disregarded it. Instead you did what was right in your own sight, and you didn’t walk in the way of My servant David.”
“Therefore, as soon as you, wife of Jeroboam, step foot back into your house, the boy will die, and not only that, I will take my promise from Jeroboam and raise up another king over Israel.”
This whole story should pull us up in our seat. What happened? How could something so good turn out to be so wrong? From one moment being told of all these precious promises to then being told your headed to history’s garbage heap. What did Jeroboam do?
The answer is found in six little words, hidden and rarely considered. Turn now to Chapter 12
Now to get a sense of what Jeroboam says, is to understand that the Jewish people would leave their homes in Northern Israel three times a year. This was the land and tribes ruled by Jeroboam. And they would travel to Jerusalem, which was under the rule of Rehoboam, and the Temple of God to offer their sacrifices.
“And Jeroboam said in his heart, ‘Now the kingdom may return to the house of David: If these people go up to offer sacrifices in the house of the Lord at Jerusalem, then the heart of this people will turn back to their lord, Rehoboam king of Judah, and they will kill me and go back to Rehoboam king of Judah.’ Therefore the king asked advice, made two calves of gold, and said to the people, ‘It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem. Here are your gods, O Israel, which brought you up from the land of Egypt!’ And he set up one in Bethel, and the other he put in Dan. Now this thing became a sin, for the people went to worship before the one as far as Dan.”(1 Kings 12:26-30 NKJV)
This is far more tragic than anything Shakespeare could have written or Edgar Allen Poe could have imagined. The six words are the first six words we read, the first six words of verse 26.
“And Jeroboam said in his heart.” (1 Kings 12:26 NKJV)
What this means is that instead of trusting in the Lord, going to Him in prayer and to His word for counsel, Jeroboam took his own counsel.
Jeroboam’s downfall was that he started to work it all out in his own mind and with his own understanding. He began to strategize, to develop a plan of action to counter a supposed threat. Instead of simply trusting in God and the promises that he’d been given, Jeroboam tried to help God fulfill His promises.
Jeroboam thought to himself, and in so doing forgot about God and His word of promise. In other words, his faith was replaced with human wisdom. God said that He would do this for Jeroboam, but Jeroboam took it upon himself to help God along in the process.
This is no different for us. God promises us a gift, a calling, a ministry, even a job or career, and once this is established and confirmed, we decide to take a hand and help God out. And why not, aren’t we involved in this as well, and aren’t we a whole lot closer to the situation than God up in heaven?
Like Jeroboam we forget about faith. Our problem is that we cannot wait for God, and so we take it out of His hands and undertake it ourselves. This is why we need to guard our hearts. Let’s not foolishly assume that our fleshly desires have anything to do with God, His word, or His way.
Look at what Jeroboam did! He started his own religion in order to retain the power God had promised if he would obey and do it God’s way.
Jeroboam systematically violated nearly every principle of God’s law, and had people thinking they were worshipping God. Jeroboam began his own religion, which was an insidious mixture of true and false, what we looked at the last time we got together, and that is what’s called, “Syncretism,” that is, combining a bunch of ideas in order to form something new.
In other words, it looked, sounded, and smelled like the real thing, but it was a fake, much the same way that fool’s gold looks like real gold.
Now, there’s a whole lot that can be said about how these various practices relate to the church
Boil it all down, like Jeroboam, we devise in our own hearts what we believe is right rather than trusting in God and following His word and His ways.
The Bible says about the heart, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked.” (Jeremiah 17:9 NKJV)
However, when we think about it, what Jeroboam did makes perfect sense, in other words, it was logical, and that’s how unbelief often clothes itself, in logic.
It was logical. Jeroboam gave the people an easier way to worship God. Instead of going all the way to Jerusalem, or as we say, “across town,” Jeroboam said, “Here’s a place of worship that’s close and easy.” Today we are making worship quick and easy, no muss or fuss, we’re making our worship of God both cultural and time sensitive.
We’re always inventing new models, making it easier on the people, more convenient for the busy modern day person. Our comfort level is now becoming the measure of our commitment. What we need to understand is that quick and easy doesn’t mean the best.
We look at life much the same way. We think we can improve on God’s formula. We take two or more jobs, while cutting back on our tithe and giving, thinking that soon we’ll get ourselves financially independent so that we can give God more. Further, we think that by working harder and longer, missing time with family and with God that we will be able to give more attention to both later on.
However, we can never improve on God’s formula. What is God’s formula?
“Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33 NKJV)
You see, it’s only when we trust in God’s promises that we will receive the blessings, not when we take matters into our own hands.
The way of unbelief begins the same in us as it did in Jeroboam when he started to take his own counsel and doing what he thought was right. Unbelief always talks to itself instead of talking to God. The problem is that when we talk to ourselves, we’re not really talking to anyone who is very smart, and that’s because our outlook is limited by time and space, while God outlook is beyond time and space. He truly does know it all.
“‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,’ says the Lord. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.’” (Isaiah 55:8-9 NKJV)
Those who live by faith, those who trust in God know and admit that they don’t know it all, or how everything will work itself out, especially given the rotten situations they are in. Rather, they insist that God will work it out to His good, and in the process meet their immediate needs.
The Apostle Paul said, “Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6 NKJV)
In other words, God who saved us, who gave us the faith to believe, is not about to stop after sending His Son, Jesus, to die for our sins. After saving us at such an incredible cost, why would God stop and not fulfill His promises? He won’t. Therefore, we need to trust God, and in essence stop trusting in ourselves or in our limited knowledge.
The Bible says that without faith, that is, without this trust in God, it is impossible to please Him (Hebrews 11:6). That is why it is so important for us to trust God in everything, especially if we desire to be in His presence.
God is not pleased when we question His truthfulness, or faithfulness, and start to backpedal at His promises, or at His word.
God said, “I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is there anything too hard for Me?” (Jeremiah 32:27 NKJV)
With this in mind, consider now the message that Jesus had for Martha, Lazarus’s sister, right before He raised Lazarus from the dead.
Martha, believing more in what her eyes and logic dictated, balked at Jesus’s assertion that her brother Lazarus would live again. In her mind it was too late for Jesus to help her brother who was now dead and buried for the last four days.
But to Martha, and for all of us who believe that our situation is beyond hope, Jesus says, “Did I not say to you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?” (John 11:40 NKJV)
The battle for our spiritual lives has nothing to do with our trying harder or our being good enough. Rather it is all about belief. And so, “Will you believe? Will you trust in Jesus?”
Our pursuit for God’s presence lies squarely in whether or not we will believe that God will do what only He can do, and then let Him do it His way, and in His timing.
Such faith, such trusting in God is what God honors. And so, I go back to our original assertion,
Can We Trust God To Lead Us?
Wednesday Evening Bible Study