The W’s of King Solomon

The Narrative Lectionary points us to 1 Kings 3:4-9 (10-15), 16-28 this week. The gospel text is Matthew 6:9-10. The following are some initial thoughts that may or may not make it into Sunday’s sermon!

1 Kings begins with an elderly and ill King David. “David was about seventy years old (cf. 2 Sam 5:4; 1 Kgs 2:11), which was remarkable in an age when most people, even royalty, did not live beyond their forties” (Whitworth). David’s son, Adonijah, said to be ‘very handsome’ and next in line for the throne, declared himself the heir to the throne and began to prepare by assembling his own small army and supplies. There is evidently political intrigue here because Nathan the prophet meets with Bathsheba and asks, “Have you not hard that Adonijah…has become king, and our loved David knows nothing about it?” He advises Bathsheba to ask King David to name Solomon as King. Which he did … and gave him some instructions about who to kill and who not to kill. These are brutal times and I don’t pretend to understand their thinking nor the bloodshed that secured Solomon’s place on the throne. But there it is.

Solomon was a builder. He was building the temple that the Lord refused to allow David to build. He was building his palace. Wiersbe says he spent seven years building the temple and thirteen years building his own palace (1 Kings 6:37-7:1).

Solomon was a strategist. He built alliances with the kings around him and secured those alliances by marrying daughters of the kings. 

Solomon was a worshiper. 1 Kings 3:3 says that “Solomon showed his love for the Lord by walking according to the instructions given him by his father David…” If the verse ended there, we would be so impressed. But it does go on to say, “…except that he offered sacrifices and burned incense on the high places.” More than that, he offered a thousand burnt offerings on the altar at Gibeon. I’ll admit there is something here I do not understand about Solomon worshiping both God and idols and at the same time God desires to bless Solomon. Perhaps it is an issue of God looking at the heart. Were Solomon’s offerings at the high places simply to placate those with whom he had alliances? I don’t know. I do know that the text says that Solomon has a love for the Lord. Weirsbe suggests that since the temple was not yet constructed that Israel worshiped Jehovah at these temporary shrines.

Solomon was a dreamer. Like some before him, God communicated with him in a dream. The sequence in 1 Kings 3:5-14 indicates to me that (in his dream state?) Solomon was already a man of some wisdom. Before his God-given wisdom was granted, he made a very wise request of God. I doubt that most people would make the request that Solomon did. If this is still when Solomon is young, I wonder if he is overwhelmed with the leadership duties placed before him at the moment? Since we know how Solomon’s story plays out, we know that he lives a lifestyle of opulence and excess toward the end of his life. Yet, Ecclesiastes indicates that at some point he realizes the pointlessness of this kind of life. There are many dreamers in the world, but few that have the power, wealth, and divinely-given wisdom to chase their dreams. 

Solomon is a man of justice. The story in vs 16-28 is iconic as we consider the wisdom of Solomon that it demonstrates. 

Wiersbe says that, “Solomon is mentioned nearly three hundred times in the Old Testament and a dozen times in the New Testament. He’s listed in the genealogy of Jesus Christ (Matt. 1:6-7) and is cited as an example of splendor (Matt. 6:29; Luke 12:27) and wisdom (Matt. 12:42; Luke 11:31). He is identified as a builder of the temple (Acts 7:47). One of the colonnades in the temple was named after him (John 10:23; Acts 3:11, 5:12).”

Solomon’s name comes from the Hebrew word shalom, which means “peace,” and during his reign the kingdom was at peace with its neighbors. (Wiersbe)

There are two “W”s we know about King Solomon: Wisdom and Women. Ironically, he didn’t have much of one when it came to the other. 

About Solomon’s Wisdom, Whitworth makes several observations:

*Has to do with prudence or ‘common sense’.

*A wise moan is one who seeks God and thus wisdom (Proverbs 9:10).

*Wisdom is not just a desire to please God. It also entails knowing what is pleasing to God in a given situation and how to do it skillfully and for his glory. 

*The wisdom that God gave Solomon was neither automatic in nature nor irrevocable. “Instead, this wisdom was a product of God’s divine presence in Solomon’s heart as long as the king sought the Lord through his word.”

*The king was free to follow or ignore the wisdom of God at any time. 

Tony Merida offers Six Interrelated Dimensions of Biblical Wisdom

*Wisdom has a worship dimension. The fear of the Lord is the starting place for wisdom.

*Wisdom has an insight dimension. Wise people have insight into spiritual truth (Prov 4:6-7).

*Wisdom has a discernment dimension (Prov 16:21)

*Wisdom has a moral dimension (Prov 14:16)

*Wisdom has a justice dimension (Prov 1:3; 2:9)

*Wisdom has a skill dimension (Prov 8:30)

No one can doubt the downfall of Solomon was his view and use (abuse?) of women. In this, he walks in his father’s footsteps. With hundreds of wives and concubines (1 Kings 11:3), the excess of his reign is matched by its downfall.  “…and his wives led him astray.”

This text and the stories in it are some of the best known accounts in the life of Solomon. In my series this month I’ve been talking about living faithfully for our Faithful God. When Solomon was faithful to God, wisdom prevailed and things went well for him. It was when he failed to trust the truth that God entrusted to him that his fall began.

When we read Ecclesiastes it is easy to see that upon reflection Solomon could see how the mistakes of his past – being caught up in the meaningless things of life that had caught his attention – were his downfall. His words still ring true today as we hear so many voices and have so many attractions – listen to God and love Him above all. 

Now all has been heard;
    here is the conclusion of the matter:
Fear God and keep his commandments,
    for this is the duty of all mankind.
For God will bring every deed into judgment,
    including every hidden thing,
    whether it is good or evil. 

Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 

You’re welcome to join in a discussion of the text along with resources in my group Narrative Lectionarians on Facebook.

Resources:

How to Lose a Kingdom in 400 Years by Michael Whitworth

Be Responsible: Be Good Stewards of God’s Gifts by Warren Wiersbe

Christ-Centered Exposition: Exalting Jesus in 1 & 2 Kings by Tony Merida

Sermon Notes and Audio as it turned out HERE.

 

Your Eyes Reveal It All

 

This is the fourth installment of the 2018 Fall Blog Tour. This post is by Jonathan Woodall. Enjoy!  jd

Your Eyes Reveal It All!  

by Jonathan Woodall

As soon as I heard the theme for this year’s blog tour, my mind immediately went to a short passage in Matthew 6.  I love this passage.  First, I like it because the ancient conceptualization of the human eye as a “lamp” is intriguing to me.  Second, the passage is really about the notion of focus and the idea that what you seek is ultimately what you find.  So, let me share the passage with you, taking into consideration the overview provided by Matt in his post pertaining to the Sermon on the Mount.  

6:22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, 23 but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!

So, let’s have some fun!  It only seems right to share some pictures with you and ask what it is that you see in the picture?  

Here is the first one…

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Picture: http://mathworld.wolfram.com/

And the second…

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Picture: https://www.reddit.com/

And one more… 

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Picture: https://www.moillusions.com/

Now, to the passage.  The eye was seen as the body’s lamp because just like lighting a lamp allowed you to see the room in the dark, so to opening the eye allowed you to see the world.  So, if you had a healthy eye, you could see pretty well.  However, if you have a “bad” eye, that is an eye that is unhealthy, then you can’t see very well.  Blindness was a condition in which the eye couldn’t be “switched on” and so the body could not move about in the light…but stumbled around in the darkness.  

In Context, sandwiched between the warning not to store up materialistic treasures where moth and rust destroy, and thieves steal; and the reality check that a servant cannot serve two masters at the same time—our eye as the lamp passage serves to tell us that the ability to see and to focus on what is right in the sight of God is extremely important.  

In the pictures above, there isn’t a right answer!  Congrats!  You saw a duck or a rabbit in the first picture based upon the aspects of the picture you focused on.  In the second picture, you either saw a young woman or an elderly woman again based upon the aspects of the picture you focused on.  In the third picture, you either saw a vase or two side profiles looking at each other depending on your eyes’ focus.  It is a fun experiment to do, and perhaps you saw both options in each picture. (Or you can go back and try to see the other option)

When it comes to the eyes of faith that Jesus asks us to develop in his Sermon on the Mount, the aspects of life you focus on really do matter.  Jesus asks us to focus on people and relationships instead of stuff and possessions…heavenly treasure that makes us rich in the ways of God.  Jesus continues that we cannot serve money and God.  Our eyes must be healthy, they must be focused, and they are a gateway to our, “shining before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”  

So, what are you seeking?  

  • If you were to evaluate what your eyes tend to watch, what would it be?  Another way to say it, what catches your eye?  
  • Would you say that you have “blind-spots?”  What are persons and things that you might fail to see?  
  • When people use you as a “lamp” to light up the darkness…what do they see from your good works?  
  • How healthy are our eyes of faith?  

Your eyes may just reveal it all!  

——————-

Jonathan Woodall is the minister for the GracePointe church of Christ in Elizabethtown, PA and blogs on the church website www.gracepointechurchofchrist.org and on his personal page at www.jonathanfwoodall.com.  He is the spouse of Hayley and they have two children–Brynn and Aidric.  Jonathan has also served as a worship minister, campus minister, and adjunct instructor of communication. 

 

David – What Happened?

Sermon NOTES and Sermon Audio:

This week the Narrative Lectionary points us to 2 Samuel 11-12 and Psalm 51.

It’s a part of King David’s story that is both shocking and disappointing. It’s not shocking for a King to use his power to use people, but we know King David as a ‘man after God’s own heart‘. He is exalted in Scripture in a way that few are. Yet as we read his descent into abhorrently destructive behavior we wonder where the David we know and love went off to?

David – what happened? How do you fall so far? We probably don’t ask those questions very loudly. We know very well the deceptiveness of sin and the lust of the flesh. It is just that we hope that someone of David’s stature can show us how to avoid falling into sin. But he doesn’t.

David is someplace he shouldn’t be. Why isn’t David at war? The text says that it was “the time when kings go out to battle” (2 Samuel 11:1), but David sends Joab and he remained in Jerusalem.

David is watching something he shouldn’t watch. We are human. We know that beauty, as we see it, attracts our hearts, minds, thoughts. Humans aren’t strangers to the allure of sexual attraction. We know we can look away, but do we? David didn’t.

David acts upon his thoughts in a way he shouldn’t have. Sending for Bathsheba is both an act of privilege and power, as well as physical lust. We have no idea from the text that David is interested in Bathsheba as a person. She is merely an object to him.

David attempted to cover his shameful behavior. Uriah is a potable figure in this story as well. He is another person David uses as a means to an end. The shame of this is multiplied by the faithfulness of Uriah to his King.

David descends deeper into sin and shame by having Uriah killed. These were days of brutality and King David, writer of the Psalms, lover of the ways of God,  has spiraled into a barbaric act of desperate self-preservation.

Enter Nathan the Prophet. Nathan would play a key role at times of David’s life (and Solomon’s) when he needed to hear the word of the Lord. This is one of those times. Nathan’s parable enraged David, but it was only when he revealed the true meaning of the parable that David began to understand what he has done.

The suffering David brings into the lives of others and himself is immense. The son born to this union becomes ill and dies. Bathsheba has lost husband and son. David is humiliated in the mess he made of his own life and others.  His life at this point is a poor reflection on the people of God.

The Narrative Lectionary has us reading Psalm 51-:1-9, but I think 1-17 would be more complete. The utter contempt with which David views his sin, his desire to be cleansed, to express his heartfelt desire to be restored to a walk with the Lord – are all signals to us that David recognized the truth about his own actions.

In preaching this month on being faithful to our Faithful God, I think we should consider that faithful Christians yield and repent to the Lord. Nowadays nothing is a sin. The only sin  is to label something a sin! But David sees the way he has let God down by his actions and his heart.

Are we ever broken over our own sins? Do we find ourselves in the death spiral of David … following the flesh, covering up our sins, wounding others to make ourselves look better, abusing our power and privilege to lift up ourselves … I don’t know about you but I’ve been down some of those roads. Let us hear the calling to be broken over our sins, not dismissive of them. Feel the pain of how we displease the God who loves us so much, instead of pretending He doesn’t notice. When is the last time we wept tears of bitterness over our own fallenness?

My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise. – Psalm 51:17

This episode of David’s life stands out to the Biblical writers. In our less patriarchal times, we are mindful of the pain and loss suffered by Bathsheba. But the Hebrew writers continue to point out Uriah as the one who was hurt. And he did pay a price for his loyalty.

1 Kings 15:5 For David had done what was right in the eyes of the Lord and had not failed to keep any of the Lord’s commands all the days of his life—except in the case of Uriah the Hittite.

Matthew doesn’t let us forget this episode in the genealogy of Jesus when he writes:

Matthew 1:6 David was the father of Solomon, whose mother had been Uriah’s wife…

This was not the last word in David’s life. He wasn’t ever perfect. But he did go on to lead productively and the rule of Jesus was referred to as the ‘Throne of David’ that would have eternal implications. Our worst moments do not define our entire journey either. But they do remind us of the need to be committed to hearing the Lord and maintaining a penitent spirit.

Resource: NATHAN THE PROPHET

For discussion and resources for the Narrative Lectionary texts each week, join my Facebook group called Narrative Lectionarians.

Blog Tour #3, My Entry: In Search of The Search

God created mankind upright, but they have gone in search of many schemes. – Ecclesiastes 7:29

In one respect I think we can say that people are always searching for something. There’s some unmet need, some empty place that needs to be filled, some missing component that has left our hearts lacking. Epic poems and long novels have been written about the search for … that unidentifiable something. So I do stipulate that this is a realistic expectation for many. Most? I don’t know.

Overstimulated and Overwhelmed” is how one article describes the condition so many are facing today.

“This overstimulation can come from a variety of sources including excessive noise, multitasking, and cluttered surroundings.  Overuse of electronic media is a modern phenomena particularly linked to issues of anxiety, depression, and isolation.  This is unfortunately wide-reaching, as the average American spends most of their waking hours (about 11) on electronic media and internet.”

Can we make the case that we are so intent on searching for meaning and connection with God that we’ve exhausted ourselves? Or could we make the case that we’ve exhausted ourselves and the search is no longer interesting to us. We’ve given up.

…There is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. – Romans 3:11

Maybe it’s just me, but American Christians (some? most?) are suffering a slump of sorts. Any search we can identify seems to be on hold while we explore some of those ‘many schemes‘ the wise man wrote about in Ecclesiastes. Sometimes I feel that the spiritual search has fallen off of our radar while we seek fulfillment and excitement elsewhere.  If that’s true, why is this?

Could it be that we have taken our eye off of the Savior? Instead of intentionally being committed disciples of Jesus, we sought to have bigger, better, brighter experiences in life, in relationships, in worship. Something to make us feel something.  Have we chased after the experience but forgotten to love and serve the people around us in the name of Jesus?

“I began to wonder if what we were doing in evangelical circles had more to do with redeeming ourselves to culture than it did with showing Jesus to a hurting world, a world literally filled with outcasts.”
Donald Miller, Searching for God Knows What

God has promised that if we search for HIM, He will be found. Jesus said that if we seek the Kingdom first, our other needs would be met. 

You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.- Jeremiah 29:13

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. – Matthew 6:33

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. -Hebrews 11:6 

For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. – Luke 11:10

If you are feeling empty these days, look in the mirror and ask that person if they have been searching for God with their whole heart. I can’t prove it, but I think there are many people suffering from a spiritual emptiness they cannot identify. It’s not that they do not desire God. It’s more than that. It is that somehow the noise and distraction of life has kept them from desiring to desire God. The search for the Search has been put on hold. Indefinitely?

How do we break out of spiritual disenchantment and renew the search for the Search? How do I learn once again to be captivated by the beauty of the Savior and in awe of the power of the Father and feel the holy fire of the Holy Spirit? I hope you’re not looking for something to dazzle you here. I can’t offer you more of the stuff that has us numbed to the Spirit’s call. I can only think we must go back to basics.

Have I been spending time in the Word? I’m going to suggest paper, not screen. Too many distractions and temptations when we’re staring at the glow. Break free.

Have I asked God to reignite the passion for Kingdom living in my heart? Am I talking to Abba about the distance between us?

What have I done for someone else lately? Not for pay, not for recognition, not for anything except the opportunity to serve.

Have I been quiet? No tv, no small screens, just you and God and… no words. (It’s ok if you fall asleep… fall asleep in His presence… He loves you. You can grow in this area of listening prayer.)

Am I walking alone or do I have fellow disciples to serve, study, pray and love alongside?

Contemporary Christian group Building 429 sang a song about The Space In Between Us. That’s what we’re trying to bridge. Regaining the search for the Search is my desire for us.

God, for the days when I’m so distracted by the world around me and in front of me, give me the energy and strength to turn it off, turn away, and turn toward you. Grow within me the burning desire to know you more completely and serve you more faithfully. I not only desire to seek you, I desire to desire to seek you. Thank you for knowing what that means. Amen.

 

Resources

Overstimulated And Overwhelmed: Sensory Overload, Anxiety, And Depression

Joshua and a Call to Commitment

The Narrative Lectionary this week points us to Joshua 24:1-15 [16-26]. We are at the end of Joshua’s colorful life. The most familiar verse in this text is in verse 15:

“But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”

This text serves as a recommitment to the task of serving God only.  

We could begin our sermon with a lame preacher riddle about which Bible character was the son of Nun (which sounds like none). But please don’t. I digress.

A couple of preaching points occur to me on an initial reading, centered around commitment.

Commitment to God leads to a life God blesses. Joshua has lived a life of commitment to God. This text is at the end of his life, giving a retrospective. The faith of Joshua is amazing. One could begin with the amazingly brave faith he and Caleb had as they reported to Israel what they had found in Canaan. Both Joshua and Caleb were lifelong unmovable servants of Jehovah. In this text Joshua speaks on behalf of God to Israel’s leaders (Joshua 24:1, 2). He reminds them of God’s faithfulness to Abraham (whose father was an idol worshiper), Moses, Aaron.  I find some humor in verse 7, “Then you lived in the wilderness for a long time.” Boy did they!  

Joshua 24:13 “ So I gave you a land on which you did not toil and cities you did not build; and you live in them and eat from vineyards and olive groves that you did not plant.’

Commitment to God is challenged by the presence and appeal of other gods. This was the biggest struggle of Israel, and it’s ours as well. Joshua counters this by lifting up the power and faithfulness of God and asking for a commitment:

Joshua 24:14-16 “Now fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your ancestors worshiped beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”

Joshua is issuing a challenge to consider that there are other gods, and we are free to make the choice to live for them. It seems clear, though, that God demands that a voice be made. He won’t tolerate sharing our hearts with inferior gods. The false gods of our time are attractive, alluring, captivating even. If you want to get in trouble you can start naming the gods of our time, but be aware that everyone has ‘gods’ nearby that are asking for head/heart space. So if you want to tell how evil someone else’s gods are, include your own. But are we willing to lose our connection with God in order to serve them? Joshua affirms you can make that choice, but as for him and his house, they will serve the Lord.

Commitment to God influences family systems. This chapter begins with Abraham taking a different path from his family. Terah evidently served idols, but God removed Abraham from that setting and sent him on a new journey. We have to wonder what this says about…

*Leadership in the Family

*Religious unity in the Family

*Willingness of a family to be different from the world around it

Joshua is committed to leading his family in love and service to God. Are our families today united in devotion to God? Or are we torn in our various pursuits of other gods?

Commitment to God requires strength and courage. Reading through Joshua it is hard to miss the theme of courage. “Be Strong and Courageous” is found at least five times.  Joshua heard this admonition both from Moses and the Lord in Deuteronomy 31. Perhaps this is where Paul is inspired to write in 1 Corinthians 16:13, “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong.”

Commitment to God is a testimony to the world about what is really important in life.  In Clarence E. Macartney’s The Greatest Men of the Bible, he points out that Joshua is the equivalent of the New Testament name Jesus. He writes, “Joshua is the Great Heart of the Old Testament.” He recounts Joshua’s encounter with the commander of the army of the Lord (Joshua 5) and writes, “Back of his heroic achievements was a deep acquaintance with the holiness and the majesty of God. It cannot be otherwise with us in the battle of life.” He concludes, “The world needs men who can preach like Joshua; not only rehearse and describe the great things of God and of Christ, but persuade men to choose them, and to choose them now.” Also, “There are plenty of gods won you can serve, aside from the true God and his Son Jesus Christ. Among these gods are business, society, money, power, fame, appetite, pleasure. But what are all these gods compared with Jesus Christ? … Who ever chose God and lived to regret that choice?”

Commitment to God provides a powerful example. God’s final testimony about Joshua:

Joshua 24:31  Israel served the Lord throughout the lifetime of Joshua and of the elders who outlived him and who had experienced everything the Lord had done for Israel.

Commitment to God leaves behind a legacy of faith. These are some of the last words of Joshua, from the previous chapter:

Joshua 23:14-16 “Now I am about to go the way of all the earth. You know with all your heart and soul that not one of all the good promises the Lord your God gave you has failed. Every promise has been fulfilled; not one has failed. 15 But just as all the good things the Lord your God has promised you have come to you, so he will bring on you all the evil things he has threatened, until the Lord your God has destroyed you from this good land he has given you. 16 If you violate the covenant of the Lordyour God, which he commanded you, and go and serve other gods and bow down to them, the Lord’s anger will burn against you, and you will quickly perish from the good land he has given you.”

I’m sure my sermon will take on a form I can’t quite picture at this moment. This are some initial thoughts as I look at the text for next Sunday.

John

If you’d like to join our Facebook discussion group,  Narrative Lectionarians, click HERE.

Blog Tour #2 by Matthew Stidham

The Seeker’s Heart

“You are what you love.” That’s the title of a book by James K. A. Smith that has challenged my life, particularly my heart. I’ve learned that my heart isn’t always focused on what it should be, regardless of what my actions show. This realization led me to the Sermon on the Mount, one of Jesus’ longest teaching passages in Matthew 5-7. Some view this passage as a checklist we need to keep to please Jesus. But viewing the Sermon on the Mount as a checklist shows you’ve missed the point.

Take a look at this summary of the teachings in this passage:

– Attitudes (5:1-12)
– Actions/Witness (v13-16)
– Righteousness (v.17-20)
– Conflict (v. 21-26)
– Marriage and Adultery (v. 27-30)
– Divorce (v.31-32)
– Honesty (v.33-37)
– Revenge (v.38-48)
– Giving (6:1-4)
– Prayer & Forgiveness (v.5-15)
– Fasting (v.19-24)
– Worry/Self Dependence (v.25-34).

That’s a lot of topics! It seems Jesus has something to say about nearly every part of our lives. But Jesus isn’t addressing a bunch of topics here. In reality, he addresses one topic and applies it to many different areas. What’s the one topic? The heart.

In every instance, Jesus is teaching us how we should orient our heart. We can try to follow checklists all day, but without our heart being right we’ll never be the people God calls us to be. Take a look at his teaching on murder, or adultery in the passage. The issue wasn’t outward actions, rather a matter of the heart.

Let’s look at one two more statements. In Matthew 5:16 Jesus says “…let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” Yet chapter 6 starts with “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them.

How are we supposed to keep both of these? There’s no way to check these off a list. Logic says you cannot do both, but it all boils down to what our heart is seeking. Are we honoring God and glorifying Him, or showing off and honoring ourselves? If the heart is in the right place, we are doing exactly what Jesus wants. It all boils down to 6:21- “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Smith puts it this way: “…if the heart is like a compass…then we need to regularly calibrate our hearts, turning them to be directed to the Creator, our magnetic north.” In other words, what we do shapes us into who we become. The life of a Christian should be drastically different than a non-Christian. So how are we doing? Do we have a heart seeking God, or are we chasing after the world? What you love shapes your life. So, what are you seeking?

It’s time for a heart check. If we orient our heart toward seeking God, our attitudes will be God-focused when we’re mistreated (5:1-12). If our hearts are right, we will be salt and light (both of which are elements that change every situation they enter) for God’s glory (v. 13-16). If our hearts are seeking Christ and his righteousness, we will want to be righteous in our actions (v.17-20). If our hearts are seeking the Father, we won’t mistreat our brothers and sisters (v.21-26). If our hearts are centered on the covenental Creator, we will honor our spouses by remaining pure and committed to each other (v.27-32). If our hearts are on the God of justice, we will show love and honesty, and not seek revenge when we are wronged (v.33-48). If our hearts are pure we will give generously, not for our own glory, but to honor God (6:1-4). If our hearts are right we will pray heartfelt prayers that lift up others and don’t glorify ourselves…we’ll forgive others as we’ve been forgiven (v.5-15). If our hearts are right we’ll focus on God because of our want of relationship with him, not to impress others (v.19-24). If our hearts are right we’ll rely on Him for our needs without worry (v.25-34).

“You are what you love.” What does your heart seek? Do you seek after the things of God, or chase after whatever the world calls important? Jesus reminds us to “…seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

Keep your heart focused on God. Keep honoring Him in everything you do. Seek him first and foremost. Only then will you have the true heart of a seeker.

Matt Stidham is the Preaching Minister for the East Side congregation in Snyder, TX. He and his wife Jennifer have three beautiful children. You can connect with Matt on Facebook (@matthew.d.stidham), on Twitter (@MatthewStidham), or at his blog – www.crosseyedchristianity.wordpress.com.