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The Story, Chap. 14 “The Kingdom Torn In Two”

April 30, 2017

The Story, Chap. 14 “The Kingdom Torn In Two”

1 Kings 12-16

 

 

Prayer of Confession & Assurance

(inspired by Deuteronomy 30:11-20)

 

Today I have given you the choice between life and death,

between blessings and curses….

Oh, that you would choose life,

that you and your descendants might live!

(Deuteronomy 30: 19)

 

God has set before us life and death.

The choice is ours.

Let us acknowledge our misuse of the

liberty of choice. Let us pray.

 

—silent prayer—

 

Let us ask to be forgiven for the times when we have chosen badly,

opting for the easy way of habit and social convention,

rather that the higher and harder ways of Jesus.

 

Let us confess that sometimes our choices have been made

from rank selfishness, with scant concern for those around us,

even for those who love us dearly.

 

Let us ask to be forgiven for putting off decisions,

for dithering and avoiding choice until opportunity has gone by.

 

Let us confess that we have at times

made outwardly good decisions for the wrong reasons,

driven by selfish motives.

 

Holy God, Saviour and Friend,

we thank you that long before we face up to ourselves

and frame our confessions, your mercy in Jesus is here waiting for us.

We rest our mortal lives in your immortal Life,

allowing your grace, mercy and peace to cleanse, refresh and straighten us.

 

Breathe into our humanity, loving God, that we may fully live.

 

Please breathe your Spirit in our brains,

that our decision making may be pure and wise.

 

Breathe your Spirit on our lips,

that our speech may witness to life and light and holy joy.

 

 

Breathe your Spirit on our hands,

that in their busyness they may serve you before all else.

 

Breathe your Spirit on our feet,

that we may tread this earth with gentleness and respect.

Through Christ Jesus, our liberator.

Amen!

 

— from Traveling to Easter with Jesus as our Guide, posted on the website of Patmos Abbey—The Order of Saint Columba. http://www.patmosabbey.org/

 

Children’s Sermon:  Set up rope for tug of war - tie color in the middle. Play the game.  In tug of war there are always winners and losers.  Sometimes people get hurt.  Tug of war can be dangerous.  (Have them drop the rope and have some adults grab it to illustrate the next point.)

Designate the “God” side and the “Us” side.

 

Did you know that Tug of War is a game we play almost all the time?  God is always tugging at our heart saying “Follow me!” “Do things my way so that I can bless you!” (Have them tug the rope) And do you know what we do?  We say, “No thanks, i’d like to do things my way!”  Guess who’s going to win in the end.  It will be God.  When we give in, we might still drag our feet. We might even trip, but God hangs on to the rope until we are safely with him.

 

I hope we will think about tug of war this week.  Think about God tugging at you and wanting you to be with him.  And think about the choice you get to make every time, “Am I going to get into a tug of war with God or will I just do what he wants?”

 

 

Intro:  Tug of War is what we see in action in 1 Kings 12-16.  It was a game played in several directions:  between Rehoboam and Jeroboam, between Israel and Judah, between humanity and God.  The winner has already been declared - God wins! So the real question is, how will we play out the game?  Will we put up resistance to what God wants to do in and through us? Will we enter into our own tug of war? 

 

This morning we’ll skip through these five chapters from 1 Kings and look at a few game shapers that are present.  Who do we listen too? Who do we follow?  And what is God after?  How might God redeem the messes we make when we are set on seeking our own way. How do the decisions we make today impact the future of our families, of the world. 

 

So if you’re ready, you may want to find your way to 1 Kings 12:1 and buckle your seatbelt for this quick ride through the game of Tug of War.

 

12:1-11    The tug of who to listen to:  Rehoboam was not missing wise counsel, he 

just chose to ignore it.  Rather than choosing what was right for the kingdom and its people, he chose to act selfishly.  Doesn’t Rehoboam and his peers remind you of some punk gang that you would do your best to avoid if you encountered them walking down a city street?  Even though Solomon wrote all of those proverbs to guide his son into wisdom, he ignored that and followed his father’s example instead.  Oh, ouch!

 

13:1-10    The tug of who to worship:  God’s big issue with Solomon had been the 

worship of idols.  God’s issue with Israel in the desert was when they partied around a golden calf and look at where the confrontation takes place here!  It’s the desert all over again! God is jealous of our hearts.  He wants our loyalty to be to him alone!

 

15:3-5        The contrast to tugging is God’s faithfulness to the promise he made to 

David I am in awe here of God’s faithfulness.  What does that teach us about God’s character?  Can he be trusted?  We do well to live like God is trustworthy.

 

        Now we have to take a brief time out from the tug of war game to 

acknowledge a rare circumstance in the history of Judah.  15:11-15     “Asa’s heart was fully committed to the Lord all his life.” When all is said and done in my life, I would like to be worthy of that statement on my tombstone.  I want God to win the tug of war I put him through daily.  Ultimately, I do so want him to win.  Any one with me on that?  So if that is our heart’s desire, why don’t we just die to ourselves and consistently say “yes” to him.  

 

15:32-34    Tug btw. Israel and Judah and the legacy of poor decisions.  One clear 

snapshot we are given in 1 Kings is the impact one generation’s actions have on another.

Now remember that Solomon was full of God-given wisdom, but his son, Rehoboam followed his father’s example rather than his wisdom.  What do our lives teach our kids?  Being softball season, if you go to a game, you have a front row seat to the best and worst of parental examples. It is amazing how even the calmest and wisest of parents can get caught up in the game and you can watch the game rage come over them and all of a sudden it’s all about winning.  And all of that speaks louder to a young child than the sermon preached pre-game of “Do your best.  It’s not about who wins or loses.  Just go have a good time.”

 

We will conclude our journey with the winner for worst king ever.

 

16:29-33    Ahab wins.  I love that the writer of 1 Kings thought it important not only to 

account the horrible gods that Ahab chose to worship but highlights the really poor marriage decision he made with these words, “but he also married Jezebel”. The point being, just when you thought he couldn’t get any worse, he marries Jezebel.

 

When the PW group studied Bad Girls of the Bible we met Jezebel.  She was bad for a lifetime.  Ahab became a pawn in her hands and as a result, most of the prophets of God were murdered. 

 

We continue to run into these OT atrocities: Baal and Ashteroth.  Let’s take a quick peek at what that’s about. These gods were part of Canaanite culture which is where God lead the Israelites to settle and receive the promised land.

 

Baal was believed to be the God of rain and water.  So while the Israelites may not have totally abandoned God the Creator, they would choose to appease Baal in case God wasn’t enough.  Now before we get too judgmental on this, ask yourself the question, “To what or whom have I turned to just in case God didn’t come through?” Hopefully none of us have practiced the worship of Baal which included temple prostitutes doing . . . things to create rain (use your imagination); the sacrifice of children burned on the altar, and other such things.   But aren’t we each a little guilty of turning to something other than what God wants to provide in his time and in his way so that we can have the security we crave?

 

Ashteroth was the female counterpart of Baal.  She was known as a goddess of fertility and was turned to for such instances. And again the temple prostitutes would perform acts to bring rain on the land or help out a barren woman.

 

Concl.  The spiritual game of Tug of War is all about where we place our faith at any given moment of the day.  Are we going to be loyal to God and his Word or are we going to hedge our bets?  For instance, when we pray for God to provide do we wait for him to do so or do we keep looking for a way to solve the problem ourselves: trying the get rich quick or lose weight quick scheme instead of the discipline that leads to God’s best for us?  And even when we know that we are jumping the gun, or getting ahead of God do we do it anyway?  We win! - for the moment but we miss the blessing of having God provide.  When we “do for ourselves” we shut down the opportunity for God to be glorified for the incredible things he can do.

 

What difference might it make in this week if we devoted ourselves to waiting on God and trusting him?  What if we followed the wisdom of Solomon and the commands of God.  What if this became our spiritual and social experiment for the week?  What might happen if we completely trust God with our lives and our circumstances?  This does not mean don’t go to the doctor when you’re sick!  But it means that when faced with a choice of doing a wrong thing to get a good thing, try waiting on God to sort it out.  Lay down the rope.  Quit playing tug of war. Let God be God in your life.