December 30, 2021

December 30, 2021

December 30, 2021

Cindy Stulce
Laity, First-Centenary UMC
Scenic South District

 2 Chron. 1:7-13 (Common English Bible)

That night God appeared to Solomon and said, “Ask whatever you wish, and I will give it to you.”
“You showed so much kindness to my father David,” Solomon replied to God, “and you have made me king in his place. Now, Lord God, let your promise to my father David be fulfilled because you have made me king over a people as numerous as the earth’s dust. 10 Give me wisdom and knowledge so I can lead this people, because no one can govern this great people of yours without your help.”
11 God said to Solomon, “Since this is what you wish, and because you’ve asked for wisdom and knowledge to govern my people over whom I’ve made you king—rather than asking for wealth, riches, fame, victory over those who hate you, or even a long life— 12 your request for wisdom and knowledge is granted. But I will also give you wealth, riches, and fame beyond that of any king before you or after you.” 13 Then Solomon went from[a] the shrine in Gibeon, from the meeting tent to Jerusalem where he ruled over Israel.

What Did You Ask For?
Devotion

    It's that time of year again, the time when we ask each other that perennial question: "Did you get what you asked for this Christmas?"
    In today's scripture, God appears to Solomon and says, "Ask whatever you wish, and I will give it to you."
    Imagine if God said that to any of us! We'd probably have a wish list a mile long: money (tax-free, of course), jewelry, mansions, cars. Or maybe fame and a long, healthy life. We might even wish for our enemies to come to a bad end.
    Solomon, however, asked for none of these things. Instead, he asked God for wisdom and knowledge to govern this innumerable people whom God had placed in his care. Solomon asked for nothing that would benefit him personally, but only what would enable him to carry out God's will.
    No wonder God was pleased! He granted Solomon's request, and then some. In the parallel passage in 1 Kings 3:5-14, God says that he will give Solomon wisdom and understanding such as no man had ever had, and no man ever would again. Even today, many thousands of years later, people talk about the wisdom of Solomon.
    Solomon asked God for what he needed, not what he wanted. Let's take another look at our personal wish list. Do we really need a bigger house, a fancier car? Even what may seem to us like a genuine need, such as an end to the pandemic (and didn't we ask for this same thing last Christmas?), might not be in line with God's plan. 
    The Apostle Paul thought he had a legitimate need: an absence of pain. In his second letter to the Corinthians, he reveals that he has been given a "thorn in the flesh." Whether this "thorn" is physical, emotional, or spiritual, we don't know, but it is painful enough that Paul asks God three times to remove it. Instead, God leaves this unnamed thorn in place in order to keep Paul humble, and to remind him that God is the source of strength in Paul's weakness.
    Many people brought their needs to Jesus. They asked to be cured of leprosy (Lk. 5:12-13), to receive their sight (Lk. 18:38-43), to be healed of their diseases (Lk. 4:40-41), or to have healing for a loved one (Lk. 4:38-39; 7:1-10). These were all legitimate needs, and Jesus willingly gave these people what they asked for.
    Others, however, came to Jesus not with needs but with their wants. One man asked Jesus to make his brother share the inheritance with him (Lk. 12:13); James and John, the sons of Zebedee, asked that Jesus let them sit on either side of his throne when he came into his glory (Mk. 10:35-37). These selfish wishes Jesus did not grant. 
    He told his followers that God is well aware of our everyday needs (Matt. 6:25-34). Food? God feeds the birds; he will surely feed us as well. Clothing? God clothes the wildflowers--and even Solomon was not so splendidly attired! Surely God will clothe us, too.  
    But each of us also has some deeply personal need. Perhaps you need patience to deal with a difficult person in your life. Maybe you need a spirit of calm in the midst of the world's turmoil. You might ask that God deepen your faith and trust in Him. Or perhaps, like Solomon, you ask for wisdom to make the right decisions.
    As we prepare to enter a new year, what will you ask for? 

Prayer

Heavenly Father, You know the needs of our hearts even before we speak them. Teach us to ask wisely for what we desire from you, and may it always be in accordance with your will. Amen.