11/23/M – Remaining Faithful

1 Kings 11:1-28; Acts 9:10-25; Psalms 130:6-8; Proverbs 28:11

OT: “King Solomon loved many foreign women in addition to Pharaoh’s daughter: Moabite, Ammonite, Edomite, Sidonian, and Hittite women from the nations about which the Lord had told the Israelites, “You must not intermarry with them, and they must not intermarry with you, because they will turn your heart away to follow their gods.” To these women Solomon was deeply attached in love. He had seven hundred wives who were princesses and three hundred who were concubines, and they turned his heart away. When Solomon was old, his wives turned his heart away to follow other gods. He was not wholeheartedly devoted to the Lord his God, as his father David had been. Solomon followed Ashtoreth, the goddess of the Sidonians, and Milcom, the abhorrent idol of the Ammonites. Solomon did what was evil in the Lord’s sight, and unlike his father David, he did not remain loyal to the Lord… The Lord was angry with Solomon, because his heart had turned away from the Lord, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice. He had commanded him about this, so that he would not follow other gods, but Solomon did not do what the Lord had commanded.” (‭‭1 Kings‬ ‭11:1-6, 9-10‬ ‭CSB)

This is a sad story that often repeats itself. When Solomon began his reign as king, he was humble and depended greatly on the Lord. He loved the Lord and was committed to His word, will, and ways. Because of Solomon’s properly placed desires, God blessed him richly. As is often the case, Solomon gradually turned his eyes to the blessings instead of keeping them on the Blesser. The Apostle John warned us about that in 1 John 2:15-17. It is troubling how quickly Solomon went from dedicating the temple to building places of worship for foreign idols and false gods. Chapter 10 of 1 Kings is all about Solomon amassing great amounts of wealth and prestige… and part of that was amassing an enormous harem of women from every variety of race and religion. Solomon succumbed to the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life. Within just one generation, Jerusalem went from hosting the earthly habitation of the One True God to becoming overrun by worship centers to every idol and false god known to man. All because Solomon took his eyes off the Lord and sought pleasure and satisfaction in the things of this world.

NT: “There was a disciple in Damascus named Ananias, and the Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias.” “Here I am, Lord,” he replied. “Get up and go to the street called Straight,” the Lord said to him, “to the house of Judas, and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, since he is praying there. In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias coming in and placing his hands on him so that he may regain his sight.” “Lord,” Ananias answered, “I have heard from many people about this man, how much harm he has done to your saints in Jerusalem. And he has authority here from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name.” But the Lord said to him, “Go, for this man is my chosen instrument to take my name to Gentiles, kings, and Israelites. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.” Ananias went and entered the house. He placed his hands on him and said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road you were traveling, has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” At once something like scales fell from his eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he got up and was baptized. And after taking some food, he regained his strength. Saul was with the disciples in Damascus for some time. Immediately he began proclaiming Jesus in the synagogues: “He is the Son of God.”” (‭‭Acts‬ ‭9:10-20‬ ‭CSB)

Ananias was a hero of faith in my book. He was just an ordinary guy. As far as we know, he held no position of leadership or influence in the Damascus Church. He was simply a faithful disciple of The Way. The Lord appeared to him in a vision and asked him to do something incredibly risky. He didn’t know what had just happened to Saul. All he knew was that Saul came to Damascus to arrest Christians and drag them back to Jerusalem for trial. Finding Saul and then praying for him could have lead to Ananias’ arrest and even possible execution. But the Lord reassured Ananias and told him to go… so Ananias remained faithful to the Lord and obeyed precisely. Ananias’ faithful obedience made all the difference. Because he trusted the Lord, laid aside his claim to his life and risked everything to pray for Saul, Saul received his sight, was baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, and was filled with the Holy Spirit. Saul is another story in faithfulness. One thing was true of Saul: He was committed to honoring the Lord’s word, will, and ways. As soon as it was made clear to him that the Lord was in fact the Jesus that he was zealously persecuting, he quickly abandoned his life… all that he had built over the years… the reputation that he had strived so hard for, and followed Jesus. For many of us, if Jesus asked us to do something risky, we would say no. For many of us, if Jesus confronted us and told us that everything that we had built in our lives was preventing us from fully following Him, we would reject Jesus’ correction and cling to our stuff. Ananias and Saul chose to make Jesus their primary pursuit and they remained faithful to Him… and the world was changed because of it. Where does my heart lie? Am I faithful to the Lord, or am I faithful to my life?

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