Thursday, July 24, 2014

When Overwhelmed by Responsibilities

When Overwhelmed by Responsibilities

1 Kings 3:1-15

§         Turn to the Lord (1 Kings 3:1-4)

§         Focus on What’s Important (1 Kings 3:5-9)

§         Walk in God’s Ways (1 Kings 3:10-15)

Biblical Truth

God delights in giving His people the wisdom they need to manage the responsibilities He assigns them.

Life Impact

When faced with overwhelming situations: Seek God’s wisdom to manage your responsibilities and understand that God will give His wisdom to accomplish His purposes.

At times our lives can feel totally overwhelming and we feel like we cannot possibly maintain control. Sometimes this can be our fault because we can take on more responsibilities than we can handle.

 

But at other times we are doing exactly what we should, but what is required of us is still overwhelming.

God will give His children wisdom to handle the tasks He has given them.

(The question is do we ask Him for help or do we try to handle it on our own?)

The story of Solomon’s request of God to give him wisdom is a model for us to trust that God will give us wisdom when we face overwhelming responsibilities.

Turn To the Lord

1 Kings 3:1-4

Solomon, David’s son by Bathsheba, stood at the threshold of his reign. First Kings 3-4 describe the early years of his reign before the temple construction began in the fourth year of his rule. Solomon’s sense of responsibility as king likely was overwhelming for him.

One of his first actions was to make an alliance with Pharaoh king of Egypt. The typical means of establishing political and military alliances was through marriage, so Solomon married Pharaoh’s daughter. Solomon, however, didn’t stop with one marriage. He accumulated 700 wives and 300 concubines in his lifetime (11:3)! Solomon’s many marriages eventually contributed to his downfall.

Three major building projects marked the early years of Solomon’s rule. His palace and the wall surrounding Jerusalem were important to his authority and safety. No king should be without a palace, and no city would long survive without a wall to protect it. But the most important building project was the temple.

David had desired to build the temple, but God forbade him, designating the task for his son Solomon.

Faced with his weighty responsibility as king of Israel, Solomon turned to the Lord. He traveled to Gibeon to offer burnt offerings there. He sacrificed and burned incense there. Solomon’s huge sacrifice there of 1,000 burnt offerings indicates he felt great need of God’s help.

Already the weight of responsibilities was heavy, but that weight drove him to God for help.

Our first step in managing responsibilities as well is to turn to the Lord for help.

Life is difficult from any perspective. A person of faith is not ensured a life free from the stress of multiple responsibilities. The key to managing them is to maintain a vital connection to God, a deep love for His Word, and a desire to live in a manner that honors Him.

Focus on What’s Important

1 Kings 3:5-9

God responded to Solomon’s worship with an expansive offer. God said, “Ask. What should I give you?” Solomon could Ask for anything he desired.

As Solomon thought about God’s offer and all the possibilities he could ask for, his first words weren’t about himself but about God! Solomon said to God that He had shown great and faithful love to … David. The expression refers to God’s consistent lovingkindness. God’s faithfulness to David his father created confidence for Solomon.

Solomon also recognized that his father’s faithfulness, righteousness, and integrity were important parts of the equation of blessing. We cannot live any way we wish and expect God to pour out blessings on us. Because of His gracious nature, God blesses all people, the just and the unjust. But obedience to God moves us more deeply into the stream of God’s blessings. David experienced those blessings, and Solomon made note of them.

Solomon continued His prayer. He said, You have continued this great and faithful love for David, an expression of Solomon’s confidence in God. He realized that as God had acted in the past, He acts in the present and will act in the future. Solomon’s focus in this prayer was not on his own needs, but on God’s character.

Too often we make our feelings and welfare the focus of our prayers to God. More focus on His character and consistency will actually reduce anxiety or stress we are experiencing because of overwhelming responsibilities.

As Solomon concluded his prayer, the enormity of his task weighed on him, for he saw that the people were too numerous to be numbered or counted. Instead of asking selfishly, he saw his purpose in life in the context of God’s purpose.

Solomon did not ask for himself great riches or influence. Rather he focused on gifts that would enable him to lead God’s people wisely. He knew that positions of responsibility require discernment and wisdom. So he asked for an obedient heart. An obedient heart would enable Solomon to discern between good and evil. He focused on what was most important to carry out his responsibilities as king and thus asked for wisdom. Solomon realized that nothing could possibly be better to ask for.

Believers today should know what Solomon knew—prayer that pleases God is not self-centered. Rather, it focuses on God’s will and purpose. We are to be more concerned with God’s kingdom than our personal agendas.

If necessary, ask God to help you reorder your priorities and reduce your level of anxiety and stress.

  • How would you have responded to such an offer by God?
  • Would your request honor God or center on you?

Walk in God’s Ways

1 Kings 3:10-15

We please God when we pray in a manner that reflects His eternal values. Solomon’s selfless prayer pleased the Lord. The Lord reviewed for Solomon the kinds of requests he could have made, and each one was reasonable in his situation. Long life was a natural request. All of us probably pray for health that enables us to live long lives. Riches - Solomon would need wealth to rule effectively. Death of your enemies was yet another request Solomon did not ask of God.

As tempting and reasonable as each of these possible requests were, what Solomon asked of God had an eternal quality to it. Having discernment as Israel’s king meant Solomon could understand a deeper purpose in life than merely having long life, riches, and victory over enemies. With discernment Solomon could lead God’s people to live wisely and to trust God deeply. Solomon’s request pleased God, and He granted Solomon a wise and understanding heart that was unmatched by any other earthy ruler.

The way forward is to be prayerful always and make your needs known to God. But in praying be prepared for God to readjust your requests and to offer blessings of far greater value even than health and long life. When we ask for gifts that touch eternity, then we are in a position to enjoy the lesser gifts even more. This is clear from God’s next response to Solomon. Because of Solomon’s selfless request, God also granted him riches and honor that exceeded all his contemporaries. In verse 14, God also promised Solomon a long life. With God’s gift of a wise and understanding heart and a long life came His reminder to walk in My ways.

A very important spiritual principle is at work here. If we take care of the most important priorities first, God takes care of all our other concerns as well. Jesus taught this clearly in the Sermon on the Mount, promising that if we seek first God’s kingdom and His righteousness He will give to us all things we need. These things include food, drink, and clothing (Matt. 6:25). Our first priority as Christians is to focus on what’s important—to seek God’s kingdom.

Solomon reflected this priority in his request for wisdom that enabled him to discern God’s will and purpose in every situation.

This lesson is about our response when we feel overwhelmed by responsibilities. The great temptation when we feel pressure is to focus on taking care of those responsibilities without first aligning our hearts with God. We become too busy to pray. We tend to become materially practical and neglect the priority of spiritual resources.

The good news is that if we ask God for wisdom and trust He will give it to us. God does not intend for you to manage your responsibilities alone. He assigned those responsibilities. He will provide the resources you need to meet them. So take your cue from Solomon—he looked up when life was about to get him down.

Connection to Life

Examine the things that are stressing them out. Pray about whether the stress is because you have taken on too much responsibility or because you are not handling it the way God intends. Once God answers, pray for wisdom on how to respond.

Biblical Truths of This Lesson in Focus

  • Our first response when faced with multiple responsibilities should be to turn to the Lord.
  • Our prayers must not be self-centered but focused on what’s important—God and His purposes.
  • When believers walk in God’s ways, He supplies them what they need to carry out the responsibilities He gives them.
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