November 5, 2015

Walking by Faith

1 Kings 7:1–51, Mark 4:26–5:20, Proverbs 1:28–33, Ephesians 5:25–29

My hubby doesn’t like novels with lots of description. He is looking for action first, then dialog. When reading the Old Testament, I sometimes want to skim through the detailed descriptions of how the temple was built. However, I realize that the building of Solomon’s temple and the growth of my spiritual life as well as the growth of God’s kingdom have similar characteristics — all three require extensive labor with results that can only be attributed to God! Yet those results may not come for weeks, months, or even years.

This morning, 1 Kings describes the incredible temple built by Solomon. It was God’s design, large and intricate, yet built in a short time. Most structures like this took a lifetime.

One verse popped out: “(Solomon’s) own house where he was to dwell, in the other court back of the hall, was of like workmanship. Solomon also made a house like this hall for Pharaoh’s daughter whom he had taken in marriage.” (1 Kings 7:8)

I’ve often compared the state of my own house with what is going on in my life. When I get scattered with too many things on my mind, my home often looks like someone turned it upside down and shook it. This comparison extends to dreams. When I dream about a house I am living in, it reflects how I feel about my life. Sometimes it is large and spacious, sometimes small and stuffed with clutter.

For that reason, I noticed that Solomon’s work on the temple was solid and beautiful. He built his own house in the same manner, as he did with the house for his wife. This reminded me of a NT passage concerning marriage. God tells husbands: “Love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church.” (Ephesians 5:25–29)

The man is not only responsible to take care of his own life, but also the life of his wife. Solomon did it, giving the same care to his wife as himself, but not only that, the same care as he did in building the temple. These principles connect. Besides that three-fold connection, God’s people are to care for the spiritual lives of everyone, working with diligence and excellence so that all of us become all that we can be to glorify God.

Another parallel to the construction of Solomon’s temple is how the growth happens. We work at it, yet the results are God’s not ours. We do what we should do, but He makes happen the fruit of godliness.

Jesus said, “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground. He sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows; he knows not how. The earth produces by itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. But when the grain is ripe, at once he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come . . . With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable shall we use for it? It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when sown on the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth, yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes larger than all the garden plants and puts out large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.” (Mark 4:26–32)

Paul later wrote that we plant and water, but God provides the growth. Again, my task is to obey God in planting, nurturing, but it is also important that I trust Him for the results.
That He works with us is amazing, but what happens if I refuse to do my part? And is there any guarantee when I am obedient?

Solomon describes what happens to those who become lax with spiritual disciplines for their own life or who neglect to build up the spiritual lives of others through prayer and discipleship. In the same passage, he also adds the results for obedience:

“(Those who disobey) will call upon me, but I will not answer; they will seek me diligently but will not find me. Because they hated knowledge and did not choose the fear of the Lord, would have none of my counsel and despised all my reproof, therefore they shall eat the fruit of their way, and have their fill of their own devices. For the simple are killed by their turning away, and the complacency of fools destroys them; but whoever listens to me will dwell secure and will be at ease, without dread of disaster.” (Proverbs 1:28–33)

Obedience can appear deeply difficult, particularly if the results are not instant, and disobedience can be more appealing because it may give instant gratification. No wonder that God tells me to walk by faith and not by sight!

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