From the Well - 9/23/2015

I ran across these actual military fitness reports taken from the files of the British Royal Navy and the Marine Corps. Here is how some of the recruits were evaluated:

“His men would follow him anywhere but only out of curiosity.”

“He would be out of his depth in a puddle.”

“This officer is really not so much of a has-been, but more of a definitely won’t be.”

“This young lady had delusions of adequacy.”

“She sets low personal standards and then consistently fails to achieve them.”

“On my last report I said he had reached rock bottom. He has since started to dig.”

As someone has said, “Great leaders are hard to find.” Israel was fortunate to have great leaders but by the end of Solomon’s reign, things were beginning to change. At first, Solomon prayed for Wisdom, that God would give him a “discerning heart.” By the end of his reign, Solomon was worshipping foreign gods and taxing the people to the breaking point. Unfortunately, his poor leadership was passed on to his son Rehoboam who continued to oppress the people. Eventually this led to a divided kingdom, Israel in the north with Jeroboam as King and Judah in the south with Rehoboam as the leader. Things would never be the same again and God’s people would look back on David’s leadership as the golden years.

Questions for the Week

Consider journaling your responses to these questions:

When Solomon’s son, Rehoboam, was faced with a decision about the heavy taxes he was placing on the people, he sought two sources of input (I Kings 12:1-11; The Story, 193-194). What was each source and how did their advice conflict? Why do you think the advice was so radically different?

Older people who have walked longer in life often carry a body of wisdom in their heart. Who is a very wise person you know and how has he or she impacted your life? What is one of the best pieces of wisdom this person has offered you through the years?

In their wisdom, the elders told Rehoboam that if he served the nation, the people would gladly follow him. Jesus modeled this truth in the New Testament when he washed the disciple’s feet (John 13). How can serving with a humble heart actually make a person a stronger leader?

What are ways you could grow in service as you seek to influence the lives of people around you? Who is one person God is calling you to serve this week?

This section of The Story as well as the teaching and life of Jesus illustrate that a divided house will always fall. What practical things can we do to bring peace in our family and within our homes?

The church, the family of God, has had its own share of civil wars and divisions through the centuries. What can you do to seek peace and harmony in your local congregation?

As the chapter of The Story shows, the sin of spiritual compromise through idolatry is of great concern to God. It led to Solomon’s poor finish in life. It also marked both the Northern Kingdom of Israel and the Southern Kingdom of Judah and eventually led to the fall of both. What are ways that idolatry can still slip into our lives today? How can we identify it and root it out before it weakens our faith and destroys us?

Prayer Time

As you take time to pray, here are some ideas to get you started:

·         Thank God that despite human failures throughout history, he has never given up on us but continues seeking and loving us.

·         Thank God for the people he has placed in your life who have real wisdom and are willing to share it with you.

·         Pray for healing in your relationships that are broken.

Between Sessions

Personal Reflections:

Meditate this week on these three questions:

·         Am I a peacemaker or a source of conflict in my relationships and how can I seek to build bridges and heal broken relationships in my life?

·         When I am placed in situations where I am called to be an influencer and leader, am I a humble servant?

·         Are there any idols in my life . . . even little ones? If so, what can I do to cast them out?

Personal Action:

One of the most divisive organizations in the history of the world, sadly, has been the church. As you move about your community in the coming week, commit to pray for every church you pass. Ask for God’s blessing and guidance for these brothers and sisters.

Read for Next Session

Read Chapter 15.