1 Kings 4:29-34
In the 1990’s a book written by Bruce Wilkinson swept the nation. It was titled The Prayer of Jabez. In that book Bruce challenged Christians to step out in radical faith and to tear off the ceilings of limitations that they had placed on themselves and on God. The key phrase in that prayer was asking the Lord to “expand my territories.” He challenged us to dream big and to step out with no fear into the calling that God had placed on our hearts, expecting that God will bless it, because it is His will that we are doing.
In another book, titled Wild at Heart, John Eldridge challenges the Christian with this compelling phrase, “Don’t ask what the world needs, ask what makes you come alive and go do it, because what the world needs is more people who are alive.”
Those are inspiring words. Too many times we can get into a burdensome place of worrying about making ends meet, pleasing our bosses, keeping up with the Jones’, or wondering if the people around us approve of what we are doing. These two authors have challenged us to drop the shackles of worry that come from looking at others for our sense of direction and self-worth. They said we can drop these shackles by looking to God and God alone for direction, fulfillment, and empowerment. When our eyes are fixed on God and we are worrying only about what He wants from us, then we can remove any ceiling that we may have needlessly placed on ourselves. With God leading us we can climb any hill and accomplish anything that He desires. Why? Because we are simply following and obeying, not forging ahead on our own agenda.
In today’s passage we see a beautiful picture of a man who was living the fulfillment of this philosophy. Solomon had begun his journey by asking God for a “listening heart” (see last week’s devotional). Because of Solomon’s selfless attitude and yielded spirit God led him into amazing places of art, literature, science, politics, exploration, and discovery. His wisdom launched into the stratosphere and the Kingdom of God flourished because of it.
In a few chapters we will see that this “Golden Age” of Solomon’s Kingdom became tarnished and eventually destroyed the nation. It could be easy for us to look at that failure and say, “see, dreaming dreams and stepping out in an adventure with God will only lead to corruption and destruction.” It is true that Solomon became corrupted by his success, but it is important for us, at this point, to understand where the corruption truly came from. It was not the peace and fruitfulness that was the problem, that came from God. The problem was that Solomon took the blessing of God and hoarded it for himself. We will deal with that issue on Wednesday.
Today, let’s not lose sight of the fact that it was God that gave Solomon the wisdom he needed to lead the nation. It was God that poured into Solomon such rich gifts that allowed him to overflow with the creation of original songs, proverbs, architecture, and innovation. It was God that blessed the kingdom with peace so that “the people of Judah and Israel were as numerous as the sand on the seashore; they ate, they drank and they were happy.” (4:20)
Perhaps this is a picture of what the Kingdom of God can be like for people who are willing to submit their hearts to God and step out in adventurous faith to do the things that God is asking them to do. Imagine what it would be like if every person in our church was authentically tapped into a dynamic relationship with God through the daily discipline of study, prayer, and meditation, that they were truly submitted to the leadership of the Holy Spirit, that they knew what the unique overflow was that God had for their life, and that they were courageous enough to obey God to do that thing that He had asked them to do? A church like that would be gushing with the Kingdom of God into its local region. A church like that would be an unstoppable force for the Kingdom of God to pour the light of love, grace, and hope that comes through Jesus.
Today, what is holding you back from stepping into God’s flow in your life? Is it fear? Are you holding on to the safety of the known, fearing that God would not be there to catch you if you failed? Do you know enough about yourself and about God to be able to discern God’s calling on your life?
Whatever it is, ask God to make it clear to you. Ask God to fill you with His love and ignite your heart with passion to know the thing that you were designed to do and to jump into that thing with fervor.
When you come alive, it will be like a charcoal briquette igniting. That, in turn, will ignite the person next to you, and before you know it, your whole community will be on fire!