First

What’s the first thing a ruler does when he/she comes into power? They make sure that everyone knows who’s the boss. They make statements and interviews. They get on the cover of as many newspapers and magazines as possible. Social media lights up with their feeds. Back in the day, they built statues, commissioned art, and distributed propaganda. They let the world know who they are.

Solomon was the first king in Israel to inherit the throne. Through a series of rather unfortunate events, many of his brothers did not outlive their father. Solomon, however, grew into adulthood and was even given the throne before David died. We know that he was a wise man. When God offered to grant him anything, he asked for wisdom above all else. A wise move for a man claiming to need more wisdom. So when Solomon took over the throne with the wealth of David behind him, he built himself a grand palace. But not before he built a temple for the Lord.

In the eleventh year in the month of Bul, the eighth month, the temple was finished in all its details according to its specifications. He had spend seven years building it.

It took Solomon thirteen years, however, to complete the construction of his palace.

1 Kings 6:38-7:1 (NIV)

Solomon had near endless resources at his disposal. He could have used them to cement his place as ruler of all Israel, but he instead chose to build a place of worship. He build a place to house the ark of the covenant. He made building a house for the Lord a priority over building a house for himself.

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

Matthew 6:33 (NIV)

Solomon’s wealth is still spoken of today. So is his wisdom. So is the temple he built. Not so much his palace.

When we, like Solomon, make God’s kingdom and His house, a priority, God will ensure that everything else is taken care of. While his palace was grand, it was the temple that Solomon was remembered for.

What do you want to be remembered for?

Read: 1 Kings 6-7, Luke 23:27-38

As for me and my house

Every person on the planet—whether they realise it or not—has made a choice about God. There are only two ways to decide, but many ways that decision can be made.

  • Ignorance—some people’s choice has been taken out of their hands. By not knowing about God, sadly, their choice is against Him.
  • Misinformation—some people make their choice about God based on hearsay. They don’t really know the truth for themselves and trust in the word of another, whether right or wrong. Again, sadly, many make a choice against God because they believed a single person’s opinion over the actual Word of God.
  • Fact—I  personally know people who have weighed all the facts and still made a choice against God. It is a conscious decision to reject the Lord.
  • Personal desires— some are under the impression that a life lived for God is boring and useless and too costly, so they reject Him.
  • Truth—there are those still, who know and understand the truth of the Word of God and accept it.

No matter what we choose or how our choice is made, we do make the choice and there are consequences either way.

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life.

Romans 6:23 (NIV)

At the end of his life, Joshua gathered Israel together for one final pep rally. He recounted all that God had done in bringing them out of Egypt and into the land of promise. He closed with this:

Now fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods you forefathers worshiped beyond the 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 forefathers served beyond the River, of the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.

Joshua 24:14-15 (NIV)

For Israel, the consequences of rejecting God to serve other gods was dire. Along the way from Egypt to Canaan, He made it pretty clear how things would go for them if they went against Him.

If you forsake the Lord and serve foreign gods, he will turn and bring disaster on you and make and end of you, after he has been good to you.

Joshua 24:20 (NIV)

Now, we are no longer under the law, but under grace (Romans 6:14). God is not going to smite us should we refuse His gift of salvation. No, we bring ruin upon ourselves.

Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slave, you are slaves to the one whom you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?

Romans 6:16 (NIV)

No matter what choice we make, we must be prepared to live (or die) with the consequences. But, so long as there is breath in your lungs, it is never too late to make a declaration like Joshua: But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.

Read: Joshua 23-24 Luke 6:27-49

Knock three times

When you approach someone’s house, how many times do you knock without receiving an answer before you leave? Once? Twice? Three times?

And He said to them, “Which of you shall have a friend, and go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves; for a friend of mine has come to me on his journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; and he will answer from within and say, ‘Do not trouble me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give to you’? I say to you, though he will not rise and give to him because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will rise and give him as many as he needs.

Luke 11:5-8 (NLT)

So, in even simpler terms, the friend in the house isn’t going to help you because you’re his friend; he is going to help you because you’ve annoyed him with your persistent knocking and won’t stop until he gives you what you need.

All of this because one of the disciples asked Jesus to teach him to pray.

The only time one-and-done is sufficient when it comes to praying about our needs is if we see an immediate response. When Jesus healed people, He didn’t need to keep petitioning God because, as soon as He prayed, it was done. If you have the faith to see immediate results every time you pray, you need to be in full-time active ministry preaching to the masses. For the rest of us, we may need to be a little more like the man visiting his neighbour.

And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will be given what you ask for. Keep on looking, and you will find. Keep on knocking and the door will be opened. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And the door is opened to everyone who knocks.

Luke 11:9-10 (NLT)

I think many have arrived at the conclusion that God doesn’t want to be bothered by our little prayers. But the truth is quite the opposite! Jesus himself told us that, in prayer, we should be like the annoying neighbour and not stop asking until we get what we’ve asked for. Not only is God not bothered by our perseverance in prayer, He welcomes it. He wants to fulfil our needs, but He also wants us to be dependent on Him.

If you don’t get your answer immediately, knock again. Knock twice. Knock three times if you have to. Don’t stop knocking until God opens the door.

Daily Bible reading: Judges 20-21, Luke 11:1-28

The King and His Thieves

Let me illustrate this further. Who is powerful enough to enter the house of a strong man and plunder his goods? Only someone even stronger—someone who could tie him up and then plunder his house.

Mark 3:27 (NLT)

This may be one of the only times where Jesus seems to condone theft. But not just any theft. Let’s give this verse some context:

Jesus has just been doing a bit of his Father’s work by healing people and casting out demons. The local priests have accused him of being possessed by Satan. Jesus is setting them straight by explaining that a house divided cannot stand. If he was working for Satan, why would he be casting out demons? Then he goes on to say that, in order to rob a strong man, an even stronger man has to go in first and tie him up. Wait, what?

The odds that Jesus is actually encouraging people to go into someone’s house, tie him up, and steal his things are, well, none. But in this context of binding the devil, perhaps the strong man Jesus is referring to is Satan himself.

This idea is new to me, so bear with me as I make a feeble attempt to make sense of it all.

We know that, because of sin in the Garden of Eden, man gave authority of the earth to the devil. The earth is now the devil’s “house” and the property in the house is humanity. Salvation is pretty much God stealing from Satan.

When Jesus said that all power and authority in heaven and on earth had been given to him, he’s saying that his is the stronger man who went into the strong man’s house and tied him up. Now the house can be robbed.

Jesus, as the strongest of strong men has done the difficult work. It’s now up to us as the Church to do the rest and go into the house and plunder the goods. To go into the world and preach the Gospel making disciples of all nations.

If we’re stealing back what was already stolen, are we still thieves?

Daily Bible reading: Numbers 3-4, Mark 3:22-35

House Rules

Growing up, we had house rules. There were certain guidelines anyone living or coming in to our home were expected to abide by. There were different rules at my cousin’s house. Different rules at my grandparent’s house. Different rules at all of my friends’ houses. Every house has its own set of rules.

All through Leviticus, God is telling Israel to be holy because I am holy. He basically tells them that they are who they are because of Him. He is Lord. He is holy. Because He is Lord, they have the opportunity to be made holy. He says, “I am the Lord who makes them holy.” (Leviticus 21:23) House rules.

So long as Israel called themselves set apart to be God’s people—along with anyone else who may be living with them—they were set apart. To continue to be set apart, there was a rule book to comply with. A pretty strict set of instructions, if you ask me, but those were God’s house rules. So long as you abide by them, you can stay in the house. If you break them, out you go.

Though we no longer abide by the Levitical law, there were still a great many things that Jesus told us to do: love God, love your neighbours, repent from your sin, follow me, keep your word, don’t lust, seek first the kingdom of God… Jesus outlined what a life following him should look like. He taught it. He lived it. He wrote new house rules.

My question to the Church would be this: if you don’t keep the house rules, what makes you think you’re still able to live in the house? The rule always was (and still is) that, as long as you live under this roof, you abide by these rules. God basically said the same thing in Leviticus and Jesus reiterated it in the Gospels. Where do we get off trying to break the rules and think we get to stay in the house?

We can be made holy by one thing and one thing alone—the blood of Jesus Christ. By accepting his blood, we accept his teachings, and we accept his name as our own. We make the decision to live a life set apart. We live by a different rule book. And here’s the catch—we don’t make the rules and we don’t get to change the rules. It’s not our house. It’s God’s house.

Daily Bible reading: Leviticus 22-23, Mark 1:1-22

The Walk

What’s in front of you? Right now, it’s a device of some sort that has a connection to the internet. What’s on that device? Truth? Lies? What do you put in front of yourself on a daily basis? What, if anything, do you put away from yourself?

David got pretty serious about what he allowed in his presence.

I will ponder the way that is blameless.
Oh when will you come to me?
I will walk with integrity of heart within my house;
I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless.
I hate the work of those who fall away;
it shall not cling to me.
A perverse heart shall be far from me;
I will know nothing of evil.

No on who practices deceit shall dwell in my house;
no one who utters lies shall continue before my eyes.

Psalm 101:2-4, 7 (ESV)

Now we could have the argument that, if we are to fulfill the Great Commission, that we can’t put all of these people away from us. I don’t think that’s what David means here, though. I believe he is looking at the people he surrounds himself with on a daily basis. The people he allows to speak into his life and influence his decisions.

I will look with favor on the faithful in the land,
that they may dwell with me;
he who walks in the way of the blameless shall minister to me.

Psalm 101:6 (ESV)

Who or what do you allow to influence you on a daily basis? Are you intentional about what you allow before you and what you put away from you?

Think about these verses today. Pay attention to what you allow to direct your day. Do you favour the faithful? Do you turn from those who utter lies?

Why not try to walk in integrity today?

Daily Bible reading: Psalm 99-102; Romans 13