Give me an understanding heart Lord

If we look back to the Old Testament book of 1 Kings 3 we see an interesting passage that is headed “Solomon asks for wisdom”. We see in this passage that he could have asked God for anything, Solomon asked God for “an understanding heart” so he could lead the people of Israel.

Let’s have a look at the text…

3 Solomon loved the Lord and followed all the decrees of his father, David, except that Solomon, too, offered sacrifices and burned incense at the local places of worship. 4 The most important of these places of worship was at Gibeon, so the king went there and sacrificed 1,000 burnt offerings. 5 That night the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream, and God said, “What do you want? Ask, and I will give it to you!”

Solomon’s reply was not the usual. He could have asked for anything in the world. Instead he asked for an understanding heart or wisdom as the heading in the NIV calls it…

“7 Now, O Lord my God, you have made me king instead of my father, David, but I am like a little child who doesn’t know his way around. 8 And here I am in the midst of your own chosen people, a nation so great and numerous they cannot be counted! 9 Give me an understanding heart so that I can govern your people well and know the difference between right and wrong. For who by himself is able to govern this great people of yours?”

The Lord was very impressed with Solomon’s request and granted it to him…

“10 The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for wisdom. 11 So God replied, “Because you have asked for wisdom in governing my people with justice and have not asked for a long life or wealth or the death of your enemies—12 I will give you what you asked for! I will give you a wise and understanding heart such as no one else has had or ever will have! 13 And I will also give you what you did not ask for—riches and fame! No other king in all the world will be compared to you for the rest of your life! 14 And if you follow me and obey my decrees and my commands as your father, David, did, I will give you a long life.”

We all need God’s wisdom and an understanding heart to do the things that God wants us to do in this life. Like Solomon we should ask God for wisdom and an understanding heart to lead His people or lead in our area of influence. It is just so vital.

How about you? What areas do you need wisdom in today? What areas do you need an understanding heart in? Remember what James 1:5 says, “If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you”.

God Bless,

Dave

The Book of James

I have started reading the Book of James this week for my morning devotions. I am really looking forward to re-reading James as it is one of my favourite Bible books.

I remember when I first came to Christ I started attending a home Bible study group with some church friends. We worked our way through James with a study guide. Then about 12 months later when I moved to a church closer to my home, the home group was studying James too. I really think God was trying to tell me something!

I am really thankful that is how it turned out because the book of James is a very practical book that has lots of simple straight forward advice about living the Christian life. It touches on areas like faith and trials, listening and doing, not discriminating, faith and works, controlling your tounge, drawing close to God, judging others, patience in suffering and the power of prayer.

Looking back now I can see how God used the Book of James and the Bible studies groups to shape my new faith. Because of this study I have grown a real and practical faith that understands that faith without works is dead (James 2:17). I have also found that I don’t want to be only a hearer of the word, but a doer too (James 1:22).

If it has been a while since you have read James, or perhaps you have never read it, you can begin reading it today on Biblegateway.com for free! You can do that here.

God Bless,

Dave

Concluding exhortations

One of the things I have really noticed while reading the Bible this year is the amount of good teaching and reminders that it has in the closing chapters of each book of the Bible.

In Hebrews chapter 13 the writer has some great advice to the Hebrew people and for us today.

v1 – Keep on loving each other as brothers.

v2 – Don’t forget to keep entertaining strangers.

v3 – Remember those who are in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners.

v4 –  Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure.

v5 – Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have.

v6 – The Lord is my helper, so I will have no fear.

v7 – Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.

v8 – Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

In these eight short verses there is some great reminders for us today. It is about loving and caring for each other, living right, being content, trusting God, remembering your leaders and the great truth that Jesus never changes.

There is some great stuff in there to ponder as we go about our lives today!

God Bless,

Dave

Paul and encouragement

A few days ago I finished reading the New Testament letters known as the Pauline Epistles. These are the letters that were written by the Apostle Paul to the various churches or certain people in the first century AD.

One thing that has really stood out to me is Paul’s encouragement. It was a common theme throughout his letters. No matter what the main theme of his letter, he wanted to encourage those in the church to press on and move forward in God.

He encouraged the readers to love God, trust in Jesus alone for their salvation, to live a life worthy of the call, the do good works to those around them, to love one another deeply, to teach the church God’s Word, to be Christ’s ambassadors and reconcile people to God and to look forward to the great day of Jesus’ return.

His whole life was about encouraging people to look to and believe in Jesus Christ and to go on and live your life for Him and Him alone. I don’t know about you, but that seems a great way to spend a life! It is a life of purpose, meaning and one that will stand for all eternity.

Let’s all commit to following Paul’s example today.

God Bless,

Dave

PS. The New Testament letters that are generally accepted by most Bible scholars as written by Paul are Romans, 1 & 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 & 2 Thessalonians, 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus and Philemon.

Philemon the person

I was just reading one of the shortest books in the Bible – Philemon. It is only one chapter that contains 25 verses.

While the main theme of the book is Paul’s request to Philemon to receive back the runaway slave Onesimus, I enjoyed the section that talked about Philemon the person. In verses 1-7 we find out what type of person he is.

  1. He is a much loved co-worker (v1)
  2. He has a house church meet in his home (v2)
  3. He has a strong faith and trust in Jesus (v5)
  4. He has a great love for all of God’s people (v5)
  5. He is generous because of his faith (v6)
  6. Paul has gained much joy and comfort from his love (v7)
  7. His kindness has often refreshed the hearts of God’s people (v7)

While it is only a short chapter, I think it speaks volumes about Philemon and who he is. He really sounds like his faith made a real difference to the way he lived and interacted with those around him.

Philemon sounds like a great example to us today. He had a great love for God and His people, he opened his home and he was a real encouragement and comfort to those around him.

He’s the type of bloke I would like to be around and be friends with!

God Bless,

Dave

Being transformed by Scripture

I have been reading the Bible for a little over 20 years. In this time it has changed me and my attitudes. Some bad ones have gradually fallen away and they have been replaced by good ones that line up with God’s Word.

In 2 Timothy 3:16-17 it says, “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work”.

These verses tells us that one of Bible’s main functions is to correct us and teach us the right way to live. Why? So God can equip us for every good work.

I am so thankful God has given us the Bible. It has really transformed my life and my thinking. And it is still transforming me today after 20 years!

If you haven’t read the Bible in a while or perhaps have never read it, why not check out the free online version at BibleGateway.com today?

God Bless,

Dave