Yesterday we celebrated America’s Independence Day, the remembrance of July 4, 1776, the day that represents the Declaration of Independence and the birth of the United States of America as an independent nation; which marked freedom from tyranny! Today’s Thought for the Day may seem familiar to you. You may recognize this expression from former Presidents who used it to encourage the country to persevere with the mission the U.S. was involved in. But in thinking of 1776, my remembrance goes back to 2000 and the film “The Patriot” which was set in that time period. Mel Gibson portrayed Benjamin Martin, an unassuming man who is forced to join the American Revolution when the British threaten to take his farm away from him (full disclosure, I stole that description from IMDb.) At one point in the movie, we are introduced to this phrase as Benjamin Martin is remembering his late wife’s encouragement to persevere. It was a powerful scene but it is the phrase “Stay the Course” that I want to focus on today.
I have been reading about the life of King Solomon in my quiet time recently. He was such a fascinating character in history. Incredible things were accomplished during his reign over the nation of Israel – the building of the Temple in Jerusalem, unity in the nation, peace and prosperity like never before. Solomon started off so strong in following and serving God…(you can read about in this post ★ Thought for the Day – Who Are You Imitating? ★ that I recently shared,)…But unfortunately just a few chapters later, the Bible recalls how he was led astray. Let’s test your Bible knowledge…do you know what caused that? It was not a crafty business associate or peer pressure or anything external. It was the lust of his flesh. 1 Kings 11:1-3 (NLT) says…
“Now King Solomon loved many foreign women. Besides Pharaoh’s daughter, he married women from Moab, Ammon, Edom, Sidon, and from among the Hittites.
The LORD had clearly instructed the people of Israel, “You must not marry them, because they will turn your hearts to their gods.”
Yet Solomon insisted on loving them anyway. He had 700 wives of royal birth and 300 concubines. And in fact, they did turn his heart away from the LORD.”
My friend made this astute statement,
And boy is that what happened to Solomon. 1 Kings 11:4, 9-13 (NLT) goes on to say…
“In Solomon’s old age, they turned his heart to worship other gods instead of being completely faithful to the LORD his God, as his father, David, had been.
The LORD was very angry with Solomon, for his heart had turned away from the LORD, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice.
He had warned Solomon specifically about worshiping other gods, but Solomon did not listen to the LORD’s command. So now the LORD said to him,
“Since you have not kept my covenant and have disobeyed my decrees, I will surely tear the kingdom away from you and give it to one of your servants. But for the sake of your father, David, I will not do this while you are still alive. I will take the kingdom away from your son. And even so, I will not take away the entire kingdom; I will let him be king of one tribe, for the sake of my servant David and for the sake of Jerusalem, my chosen city.”
The wisest man who had ever lived was destroyed by HIMSELF! All that Solomon built during his reign was destroyed in the very next generation as the nation of Israel “reaped what he sowed!” Scary!! May that not be so of me!! Such a sad reality but how many of us willfully choose what we know will harm us! I heard a pastor say once,
“Choose to sin, choose to suffer,”
Such a simple concept to understand but yet why do we fail so often? David’s prosperity without adherence to God’s Word lead him to places he never dreamed he would. Now I am not saying that if you are rich and living a comfortable lifestyle that your life will go tragically bad, not at all! BOTH David and his son departed from the path to satisfy what their flesh wanted instead of following God and the consequences were catastrophic. For David it resulted in adultery, an unplanned pregnancy and murder. For Solomon it resulted in the dissipation of his integrity and devotion to God, the end of peace in Israel and ultimately the fracturing of the nation after his death under the rule of his son Rehoboam who succeeded Solomon. If want to study this some more check out 1 Kings 11:14, 23, 26, 33 (NLT) which shows how one man’s sin affected an entire nation as God raised up adversaries to oppose Solomon for his disobedience.
1 Kings 11:39 (NLT) says,
“Because of Solomon’s sin I will punish the descendants of David—though not forever.’”
Solomon is a great cautionary tale for all of us! I encourage you to “Stay the Course,” and follow the advice from 1 Timothy 6:12 (NIV)…
“Fight the Good Fight. Take hold.” Those are strong action phrases. Staying the Course is not something that just happens. It is hard work sometimes and the decision will cost us temporary gain or pleasure for the BETTER prize of eternal life. There is no more important decision to make then to trust Jesus and continue to develop your walk with God. Every 4th of July, we celebrate our freedom, our Independence, but what I would like to leave you with is that true freedom comes from God through His Son’s sacrifice on the cross. Jesus provides true freedom over sin and darkness! Meditate on this truth from Romans 8:1-2 (NLT) about the “Life in the Spirit” that we can enjoy when Jesus is our savior:
“So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.”
In every aspect of our life we need to stay focused on obeying God’s Word and not allow any distraction, any influence or any momentary pleasure to steal away the life we can have in Jesus! Just a side note…we focused a lot on men here but the same can be true for women as well. Also realize to that it is not just the physical temptations that can lead us astray, but also power and the love of money can too but that’s a whole other Thought for the Day! Stay tuned!
As promised, here is. . .★ Thought for the Day – Stay the Course…Part 2 ★