Life was hard for our first immigrants.  They came to America with nothing.  Fathers often had to work 10 or 12 hours a day in a factory, and moms had to stay home with the kids.  8 was about average. Putting food on the table for a family that big was a real challenge.  Also, very seldom would children get to wear store-bought clothes.  They wore hand-me-downs, until those hand-me-downs could only be used for rags.  Another thing most families didn’t have money for was water bills.  Baths were only nights before church, and children had to take turns re-using the same water.  Can you imagine what classrooms smelled like back in the good old days?  

Anyway, as hard as parents had to work, they were thankful. Their lives were still better than what their parents had in the old country.  Plus, they had this hope, that through their hard work, their children’s lives could be better than theirs was. Parents, is that still your hope?  When you think about your children’s future, do you envision them having a good paying job, a nice house, nice cars, nice everything, and plenty of money for vacations, tuition, and retirement.  The American Dream, right?  

In our text this morning, we learn from Solomon’s example what to pray for so that we and our children may have a life that’s truly worth living.  Life that’s truly worth living as nothing to do with the American Dream.  Life that truly worth is life with God both here and in eternity.  So, how do we get our children ready for this?  How do we get ourselves ready?  Let’s do what Solomon did.  Pray!  Pray for a heart with ears: 1.  That we understand our real needs.  2.  That we may treasure the Gospel.  3.  That we apply His Word to everything we think, say, and do.
    1.  Lord, help us understand our real needs!
Our text reads: At Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon during the night in a dream, and God said, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you.” – I Kings 3:5   Sometimes it can feel like God isn’t hearing our prayers.  We pray and pray for healing, or we pray and pray not be lonely anymore, yet nothing changes.  We might think, then, that the reason God isn’t giving us what we ask for, is we first have to clean up our life.  So, we work at that, but maybe don’t make too much headway.  Eventually, we may feel like giving up on ourselves and on God. But here’s the good news.  God doesn’t wait with our prayers, until we’re perfect.  In Solomon’s case, he had been a very bad boy. Solomon had just made an alliance with Egypt, something God had forbidden in the book of Deuteronomy.  Then Solomon married the Pharaoh’s daughter – forbidden!  Then Solomon build an idol temple to make her happy. Really forbidden!  Then Solomon worshipped with her in that idol temple.  Supper forbidden!  

So, was Solomon a true believer?  Yes, but he had a lot of growing up to do.  We read on in our text: Solomon answered, “You have shown great kindness to your servant, my father David, because he was faithful to you and righteous and upright in heart. You have continued this great kindness to him and have given him a son to sit on his throne this very day. – I Kings 3:6   Notice, Solomon never once said he deserved God’s blessings.  He knew better than that.  Instead, he confessed that God’s great kindness to him, was only because of the great kindness He had shown to his father, David.  And God’s great kindness to David was his only through faith in Solomon’s future descendent too, the coming Savior.   

God’s great kindness in view of his great sinfulness completely blew Solomon away.  In the verse before our text, Solomon had just finished sacrificing a 1000 animals.  Sacrificing one animal expressed thanksgiving and commitment to God.  Solomon did this 1000 times over, and it’s what he wanted to do, even though he would continue to fail end God 10,000 times over!  Are we any better?  We sing, “Oh, that I had a 1000 voices   To praise my God with 1000 tongues.  My heart, which in the Lord rejoices, Would then proclaim in grateful songs   To all, wherever I might be,   What great things God has done for me.” – Christian Worship #242   We sing this on some Sundays.  Then like Solomon we look to Egypt or to Washington to make our lives secure.  Or, we use God’s resources to build temples of our idolatry of things, or we put love of family and friends above love for God and His Word.  

So, after all these sins Solomon had just committed, and as he thought about how weak he was, how do you think Solomon felt, when God came to him with that special offer?  I think it was, “God, I need your help!  God, only you can cleanse my sinful heart.  God, only you can give me a heart that understands what my true needs are.”  

Dear parents, pray for this kind of heart for yourself.  Pray for a heart that listens for your children.  Think what a difference that can make in their behavior!  And yet this isn’t just about behavior.  It’s about their relationship with you and their relationship with God.  Likewise, dear members, pray for a heart that listens for our New Hope staff, because understand this well.  Through the Word, we, workers, too are well aware of that gap between our sinfulness and God’s grace.  And yet what a joy it is to begin each morning, knowing that God didn’t call us to work in His Kingdom, because we’re without sin.  He called us by His grace in order to share His grace with others.  

But now, His grace is so awesome, and so over the top, at times we may feel scared or even guilty that our presentation of His grace isn’t up to the level that it deserves to be and needs to be.  Solomon felt that way too, as he began his call to lead the nation of Israel.  And so, he prayed: But I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties. Your servant is here among the people you have chosen, a great people, too numerous to count or number. So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?” – I Kings 3:7b-9   God answered that prayer.  In the verses after our text is the account of how Solomon was able to wisely decide a court case.  I don’t want to spend time on that now.  I would invite you to read it at home in I Kings 3:16-28.  

At any rate, all of us face situations, where we need godly wisdom to sort things out.  Pray for that wisdom as you begin.  Keep praying for that wisdom throughout session that you may hear what the others are saying, and hear in your conscience what God has to say about it.  And finally pray for God’s blessings upon your decisions.  But how does God answer these prayers?  He doesn’t usually give us His wisdom through a bolt of lightning.  He works His wisdom in us slowly through His Word, which this brings us to the next little prayer based on Solomon’s prayer:   
    2. Lord, help us treasure the Gospel!
We do treasure the Gospel.  For example, we know John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world”.  Or, we know Psalm 23 – “The Lord is my shepherd”.   At certain times of our life, those are perfect go-to passages.  But let’s not stop with just them.  You see, every time we find a pearl of wisdom in God’s Word, the Holy Spirit is right there whispering in our ears, “Dig deeper.  Dig deeper”.  Then as we keep digging deeper, we will become even more aware and more amazed at God’s grace. Moses experienced that too.  He then cried out, “Show me your glory.”  

This is when God hid Moses in the cleft of a rock, and let Moses see His back side, because He said, “My face no sinner can see and live”.  God then also proclaimed the meaning of His name.  He said, “The Lord, the Lord, the compassion and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. – Exodus 34:6-7   Don’t let passages like this be just words.  Each morning or each evening, dig deeper and pray about what they mean for you, until you find a new pearl.  And here’s how you’ll know when you’ve found a new pearl.  You’ll realize all the more what a little child you still are before God, and then that the Holy Spirit will whisper to our hearts yet again, “Dig deeper.  Dig deeper”!  The Holy Spirit’s goal is that we speak from the fullness that He has put into our hearts.  And this leads us to pray this third little prayer based on Solomon’s pray:

    3. Lord, help me to apply your word to everything I think, say, or do!
We read on in our text: The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for this.  So God said to him, “Since you have asked for this and not for long life or wealth for yourself, nor have asked for the death of your enemies but for discernment in administering justice,  I will do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be.  – I Kings 3:10-12   As we keep treasuring all God has taught us, and as we keep digging deeper, more and more, we’ll truly get it that there’s nothing more important in life than our relationship with God.  Also, as we get that, our whole life takes on new urgency.  It’s to share with others, what He has first given to us, and all the more so, because there is second part to what God said to Moses: Yet He does not leave the guilty unpunished: He punishes the children and their children for the sins of the parents to the third and fourth generation. – Exodus 34:7   The completion of that thought, based on Deuteronomy, is that God punishes the children for the sins of their parents, when the children are repeating their parents’ sins.  But now this sin cycle can be broken!  And God uses us to break that sin cycle in, as the Holy Spirit gives us the wisdom to say the right words in the right way and at the right time, and then works through that in others, even as He’s continually working in us to break whatever sin cycles remain in us.  

And what shall our response be to all this?  Just like the first immigrants wanted a better life and more opportunities for their children than they had had, may our goal be that the next generation be more faithful and harder workers in God’s kingdom than we have been.  That’s not the American Dream, is it.  It’s better than the American Dream! God grant that just as Solomon marveled at what God had done for his father and through his father, our spiritual heroes of faith someday will be our children and grandchildren.  Can this really happen? You decide, because on this day through His Word, God is also inviting us to pray with Solomon: Lord, give us hearts with ears that we may understand our needs, that we may treasure the Gospel, and that we may apply God’s Word to everything in our life.  Pray for this, and God will give it!  Amen

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