December 31, 2021

December 31, 2021

December 31, 2021

Sandra Failing
Certified Lay Speaker
Tennessee Valley District

1 Kings 3:5-14  CEB

Solomon first meets God

3 Solomon became the son-in-law of Pharaoh, Egypt’s king, when he married Pharaoh’s daughter. He brought her to David’s City until he finished building his royal palace, the Lord’s temple, and the wall around Jerusalem. Unfortunately, the people were sacrificing at the shrines because a temple hadn’t yet been built for the Lord’s name in those days. Now Solomon loved the Lord by walking in the laws of his father David, with the exception that he also sacrificed and burned incense at the shrines.
The king went to the great shrine at Gibeon in order to sacrifice there. He used to offer a thousand entirely burned offerings on that altar. The Lord appeared to Solomon at Gibeon in a dream at night. God said, “Ask whatever you wish, and I’ll give it to you.”
Solomon responded, “You showed so much kindness to your servant my father David when he walked before you in truth, righteousness, and with a heart true to you. You’ve kept this great loyalty and kindness for him and have now given him a son to sit on his throne. And now, Lord my God, you have made me, your servant, king in my father David’s place. But I’m young and inexperienced. I know next to nothing. But I’m here, your servant, in the middle of the people you have chosen, a large population that can’t be numbered or counted due to its vast size. Please give your servant a discerning mind in order to govern your people and to distinguish good from evil, because no one is able to govern this important people of yours without your help.”
10 It pleased the Lord that Solomon had made this request. 11 God said to him, “Because you have asked for this instead of requesting long life, wealth, or victory over your enemies—asking for discernment so as to acquire good judgment— 12 I will now do just what you said. Look, I hereby give you a wise and understanding mind. There has been no one like you before now, nor will there be anyone like you afterward. 13 I now also give you what you didn’t ask for: wealth and fame. There won’t be a king like you as long as you live. 14 And if you walk in my ways and obey my laws and commands, just as your father David did, then I will give you a very long life.”
15 Solomon awoke and realized it was a dream. He went to Jerusalem and stood before the chest containing the Lord’s covenant. Then he offered entirely burned offerings and well-being sacrifices, and held a celebration for all his servants.
Solomon and the prostitutes
16 Sometime later, two prostitutes came and stood before the king. 17 One of them said, “Please, Your Majesty, listen: This woman and I have been living in the same house. I gave birth while she was there. 18 This woman gave birth three days after I did. We stayed together. Apart from the two of us, there was no one else in the house. 19 This woman’s son died one night when she rolled over him. 20 She got up in the middle of the night and took my son from my side while I was asleep. She laid him on her chest and laid her dead son on mine. 21 When I got up in the morning to nurse my son, he was dead! But when I looked more closely in the daylight, it turned out that it wasn’t my son—not the baby I had birthed.”
22 The other woman said, “No! My son is alive! Your son is the dead one.”
But the first woman objected, “No! Your son is dead! My son is alive!” In this way they argued back and forth in front of the king.
23 The king said, “This one says, ‘My son is alive and your son is dead.’ The other one says, ‘No! Your son is dead and my son is alive.’ 24 Get me a sword!” They brought a sword to the king. 25 Then the king said, “Cut the living child in two! Give half to one woman and half to the other woman.”
26 Then the woman whose son was still alive said to the king, “Please, Your Majesty, give her the living child; please don’t kill him,” for she had great love for her son.
But the other woman said, “If I can’t have him, neither will you. Cut the child in half.”
27 Then the king answered, “Give the first woman the living newborn. Don’t kill him. She is his mother.”
28 All Israel heard about the judgment that the king made. Their respect for the king grew because they saw that God’s wisdom was in him so he could execute justice.

New Year Resolutions
 Devotion

Advent is over.  Jesus has been born.  The new year is almost upon us.  How fast time flies!  The longer I live, the faster time seems to pass. 
 
With the New Year only a blink away, I have been thinking about the tradition of making New Year’s Resolutions.  While that isn’t biblical, it seems that so many people are sharing their intentions – with friends and family, on Facebook and other social media platforms, and even with complete strangers as they wait in line to check out of a store.  It’s common to hear such things as losing weight, going to the gym regularly, taking classes to learn something new, working toward a healthier lifestyle.  I’ve made such resolutions myself in the past, and I’m sure some of you have, too.  But while these resolutions are made in all sincerity, most are kept for a week or two, at best.  There’s got to be a better way to welcome in the New Year.  Looking at today’s scripture, we can see that there is.
 
We have a lot to learn from Solomon.  When God said to him, “Ask whatever you wish, and I’ll give it to you,” Solomon thought about his needs before answering.  Instead of asking for things that would bring him personal gain, his first thought was for others. 
 
First, he thanked God for all He had already done for his people and for placing him on the throne.  Then he recounted his weaknesses and asked God to help him overcome them, for the good of the people he ruled over.  He understood that he was young and inexperienced, so he asked for wisdom.  He asked for a discerning mind so he could govern well and distinguish good from evil.  This pleased God, and He granted that wish – and then some!  He also promised Solomon wealth, fame and a long life.  Looking back, we know how well Solomon ruled; in fact, we could say he is an overachiever!
 
Solomon was making the equivalent of our New Year’s resolutions.  He was vowing to be a good and just ruler, with the best interests of his subjects in mind.  But he knew he would need help to achieve that goal, and he asked God for the help he needed to be successful.
 
When we consider our New Year’s resolutions, what should we seek?  Fame and fortune?  A happy life?  Good health and longevity?  All these are tempting; but they are all self-serving and fleeting.  What could we aim for that would be more meaningful?  What if we, like Solomon, chose our resolutions to not only better ourselves, but to benefit others? 
 
First, we need to discover the right resolutions, those that will benefit not only ourselves, but others as well.  To do this, we must have a conversation with God – aka prayer – in which we ask for His guidance in choosing the right goals.  I say “conversation” because that’s what prayer is:  we need to speak, but we also need to listen.  God always wants the best for us, and He will always lead us where we need to go, if we but listen.
 
Next, we need to determine those weaknesses that might prevent us from reaching our goals.  It can be hard for us to admit our failings, but we all have them.  Like Solomon, we should ask God to provide for us anything we need in order to overcome them.  Since He has helped us discover the right goals, He will most certainly provide whatever we need to be successful.
 
All of this requires time and sincere effort, but it will be worth it.  Don’t you think that would all be pleasing to God, who would see that our “cup runneth over” in response?  Those would be resolutions worth keeping!
 
May 2022 be the year that we all make resolutions that we can keep.  Happy New Year!

Prayer

Loving and gracious God, we love you and we praise you!  You have been our God since the beginning of time and You have given us generously of your blessings.  Today we ask, not for material things, but for your guidance in our lives.  As we look to the start of another year, help us to make resolutions that are pleasing to you.  And as we go through the coming year, help us to honor those resolutions.  We ask these things in the name of your precious Son, our Savior, whose birth we have just celebrated.  Amen.