Story, Wk. 14 1/15/17—Highland—Meute
The Story: “A Kingdom Torn in Two”
The Story, Chapter 14
I Kings 12: 1-11; John 13: 1-8
Pearl: The many decisions we make through our lives defines us and impacts others as well.
Function: To motivate worshippers to constant decisions for Christ, and constant dependence upon Christ, leading to life trajectories of faithfulness which will positively influence others to also depend upon the new life in Christ.
Previously in The Story, and welcome back to it; we saw how King Solomon started out so well but gradually lost his bearings.
1. This can be a dangerous reality for any who make decisions at some point in their lives to follow the Lord Jesus Christ and to serve him.
2. It is important to see “life in Christ” as a million repeated decisions to follow the Lord. One moment of decision is not enough.
3. Conversion, for most everyone, I would argue, is much more a process and a lifelong series of choices, decisions, and continued new commitments.
For King Solomon the trajectory of his life affected his son Rehoboam and another rising leader Jeroboam to the extent that they tore the kingdom of God’s people into two kingdoms (Israel—northern, Judah—southern).
1. What happened to the nation of Israel was an object lesson for what happened within the heart of Solomon. Solomon had a divided heart when it came to loyalty to God. He did not exclusively worship God but because of his many wives and their diverse loyalties, he also worshipped other gods.
a. Because Solomon’s heart became divided the results trickled down to his son Rehoboam who had a direct hand in the tearing of the nation into two nations.
2. Such division of the kingdom into two was a tragedy for the people of God who worshipped the monotheistic Lord (one God).
a. It was the inevitable result of the people wanting an earthly king as opposed to having the Lord alone for their authority. Certainly the Lord foresaw this when his people asked for a king and it is one reason why he was disappointed when they asked for one. Nonetheless he accommodated to their request and led them to appoint a king.
3. Solomon made a promising and bright start with the Lord and the people but he gradually veered away from singular devotion to the Lord and his decisions affected many others as a result.
The notion of the “sins of the fathers” or “the sins of the parents” being visited upon subsequent generations is a serious one.
1. Yet I want to make a strong point here: you should not be paralyzed by the notion that there is no reversing “the sins of the parents.”
2. The grace of God is fully capable of breaking cycles of sin!
3. People make excuses and resign themselves to lives defined by their parent’s poor choices. Invoking this notion of “the sins of the parents,” people live less vital lives than they can.
4. Too many Christians live out of an Old Testament mindset more than a New Testament mindset. Your lives, since the life of Jesus Christ, are much better off than prior to his coming. People read about the “sins of the fathers” being visited upon the following generations in the Old Testament and they think this is a reality of life. Because you live in the age of grace, thanks to what God accomplished in Jesus Christ, you are better off by far. The cycles of sin from previous generations can be broken again and again and dashed into smithereens by the awesome power of the risen, reigning Lord Jesus the Christ!
a. Rehoboam, a son of Solomon, was given a day of decision. He was given the opportunity to make a profound choice which would affect the destiny of the people of God.
b. Another young leader from Solomon’s administration, Jeroboam, broke away and commanded 10 tribes among God’s people. The opportunity came for the nation to stay as one when Jeroboam, inspired by a reconciling spirit, went to Rehoboam and asked that the burdens of Solomon upon the people be relaxed. If King Rehoboam did so then they would all follow him as the one King. The nation had the opportunity to unite!
c. Rehoboam asked for a few days to decide. He consulted with his elder advisors and they suggested that he relax the burdens and keep the nation as one. Then he consulted with his younger, peer advisors, and they recommended more cruel oppression than his father exerted. Rehoboam chose the advice of his young advisors and so the kingdom was divided.
At every level of society from leaders to private citizens, your decisions…your steps…your choices wield influence. The ripples go out.
Living in the age of grace, though, you can also begin anew each and every day. Every day can be a new day; every day can be new life IN THE POWER OF THE RISEN JESUS THE CHRIST!
“Cycles of sin,” “negative story lines,” do not have to be the story of your lives! “In Christ you are new creatures, everything old has passed away, and everything has become new!” (II Corinthians 5:17).
1. So repeat after me: “Not my story!” If you learn nothing else in The Story, learn this: God’s “upper story” is teaching you that “your story,” the “lower story” does not have to be “the story of your lives.” “Your story” can be “God’s story!”
2. You can have a new mantra: “Not my story!” Any time that you are undone and unsettled and defeated by the story of your lives you can remember and proclaim: “Not my story!” Because of the grace of God in Jesus Christ your stories can be changed and transformed.
3. Every day is a new day and life can be “new life” in the power of the risen Lord Jesus. No earthly power is equal to his power!
Even as the people of God were torn into two nations, Israel (north) and Judah (south) and entered into years and years of suffering under mostly corrupt leaders (out of 43 kings, five were good and 38 were bad) God was all the while advancing his purposes with or without the help of his people. He continues to do this even now. Always overlaying your stories, always overlaying the stories of every nation, the good and the bad, is God’s story of wholeness which will one day be fully realized. This is why you look forward to Christ’s return and a historic outcry of God’s people is: “Come, Lord Jesus!”