Seeking after a Seeking God

Scripture Focus: 1 Kings 3.3-4
Solomon showed his love for the Lord by walking according to the instructions given him by his father David, except that he offered sacrifices and burned incense on the high places. The king went to Gibeon to offer sacrifices, for that was the most important high place, and Solomon offered a thousand burnt offerings on that altar.

Reflection: Seeking after a Seeking God
By John Tillman

People in scripture often worshiped God wherever they happened to be and God accepted them. But the “high places” in Israel were different. They were pagan sites of worship before the Israelites conquered the land. 

Israel drove out most idol worship but some still survived. Joshua warned the people of “traps and snares” saying that these practices, if continued, would be “whips for your backs and thorns for your eyes.” Worship at “high places” was expressly forbidden by God, because God knew that the old, cultic practices would return to pollute and subvert true worship. 

But people in Solomon’s day still worshiped at these places. The worship of God in Israel at this time was scattered. This was partly convenience so that they did not have to travel to Jerusalem, but it also had to do with tradition and an emotional and cultural connection to these locations. 

David had taken the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem and set up a tent for it there in anticipation of the Temple being built. But the tent of meeting constructed by Moses was still at Gibeon. Probably what made Gibeon the “most important” high place was the emotional, traditional, and historical connection to Moses. This empty tent, filled only with nostalgia, remained in use as a place of worship and is where God spoke to Solomon. 

James tells us that God grants wisdom to all, without finding fault, and that includes young king Solomon who asked for wisdom even while unwisely worshiping God at a questionable place. God will do the same for us. 

God, throughout the scriptures, is a God who seeks. God, of course, desires us to seek him “while he may be found” and to seek him in his Temple. We should care deeply about worshiping in ways that are proper and biblical. But because God is a seeking God, he is always ready to meet us where we are. 

He will meet us in hiding in the wilderness, as he met with David.
He will meet us wrapped in nostalgia, as he met with Solomon.
He will meet with us singing new songs, as he met with Asaph.
He will meet with us in a corrupted Temple, as he met with Isaiah.
He will meet with us in a corrupted land, as he met with the woman at the well in Sychar.

Wherever and however we draw near to God, he will draw near to us.

Divine Hours Prayer: The Greeting
Out of Zion, perfect in its beauty, God reveals himself in glory. — Psalm 50.2

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Readings
1 Kings 3 (Listen – 4:29)
Ephesians 1 (Listen – 3:10)

Thank You!
Thank you to our donors who support our readers by making it possible to continue The Park Forum devotionals. This year, The Park Forum audiences opened 200,000 free, and ad-free, devotional content. Follow this link to join our donors with a one-time or a monthly gift.

Read more about Prayer From the Cave :: Readers’ Choice
Prayer does not come easier in dark times, but we may feel it does since we more quickly and easily turn to it in distress.

Read more about Take Up Your Mat
Jesus sought us out when we were paralyzed and deformed by sin…When we take up our mat and walk, we are just beginning to follow him in faith.

Putting To Death Racial Hostility

Scripture Focus: Ephesians 2:15-16
His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility.

Reflection: Putting To Death Racial Hostility
By John Tillman

In the ancient world, every race and people claimed supremacy. Supremacy of race or country is an ideology that is based on one of the oldest, perhaps first, sins: pride.

The secular vision of evolution does not posit equality as a trait or as a policy. In fact evolutionary biology is the source of much of the past century’s eugenics-based racist thought.

Our culture’s concept of human equality is based not in science, but in Christ. The wellspring of the concept of racial equality is the cross of Christ as described in the above verse from Paul’s letter to the Ephesian church. The first voice in history crying out for racial equality and the end of slavery was a Christian one.

This is why it is such an enduring tragedy that throughout history the church has struggled to keep various strains of racism from infecting and crippling the church and its work. Every era of the church is touched—and sometimes scarred—with this struggle.

While it is true that without Christian abolitionists, the abomination of racial slavery would still be common, it is equally true that many Christians also stood on the other side. Many lent support to slavery as a legal institution—allowing economic needs and cultural norms to force an ungodly twisting of their theology. (Economic needs and cultural norms fuel today’s illegal slavery crisis—including sexual slavery and secular society still has no answer to the problem.)

Idolatry takes many forms and modern Christians are just as susceptible to them as our first century counterparts were. We must not let nationalistic pride become the idol that keeps us from pursuing the death of racial hostility through the cross of Christ. Only at the cross can we drop our pride, let our hostility die, and take up the new life of unity that Christ died to give us.

Christians must take the lead in racial issues because we have the only viable ideology that, if we let it, will counter the ideology of hate. We cannot grow weary. We cannot tire of addressing the issue. We have the only answer.

“Because so many Christians haven’t yet learned, these words of Paul must continually be proclaimed—that in Christ the barriers of race, language, culture, and social class are all transcended. For man to put up these superficial fences truly reflects the superficiality of his humanity.”Dr. Nelson Hayashida

Divine Hours Prayer: The Call to Prayer
But I will call upon God, and the Lord will deliver me.
In the evening, in the morning, and at noonday, I will complain and lament, He will bring me safely back…God, who is enthroned of old, will hear me… — Psalm 55.17

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Readings
1 Kings 4-5 (Listen – 7:21)
Ephesians 2 (Listen – 3:04)

Thank You!
Thank you to our donors who support our readers by making it possible to continue The Park Forum devotionals. This year, The Park Forum audiences opened 200,000 free, and ad-free, devotional content. Follow this link to join our donors with a one-time or a monthly gift.

Read more about When the Dream becomes a Nightmare
I still have a dream that with this faith we will be able to adjourn the councils of despair and bring new light into the dark chambers of pessimism.

Read more about Racism Wears a Mask
The church was the first entity in history to directly attack racism and the Holy Spirit is the only way its burden can truly be put down.

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