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"Follow God’s Beautiful Story of Redemption for Your Life"

Mother’s Day - May 13/18 1Kings 8


Today we’re looking at God’s marvelous gift of redemption, buying us back out of bondage to sin and death to be His beloved children, His dear sons and daughters through faith in Jesus who gave His whole life up on the cross to make that possible. God gives Himself to us in a “covenant of love”; in Solomon’s words in 1Kings 8:57, “May the LORD our God be with us as he was with our fathers; may he never leave us nor forsake us.”

             Today’s also Mother’s Day, or Christian Family Sunday as it’s also called. Ideally parents model unfailing love for their offspring. Raising children demands a lot of time and energy and self-giving. It can be a huge commitment, and our parents, especially our mothers, deserve a lot of credit for looking after the next generation.

             An exhausted housewife dragged herself to the telephone when it rang and listened with relief to the kindly voice on the other end. "How are you, sweetheart? What kind of day are you having?"

             "Oh, Mother," said the woman, "I'm having such a bad day.The baby won't eat, the washing machine broke down, the house is a mess, we're having two couples over for dinner tonight and I haven't had a chance to go shopping yet, and to top it off, I just sprained my ankle."

             The mother was overwhelmed with sympathy. "Oh, honey," she said, "sit down, relax, and just close your eyes.I'll be over in half an hour.I'll do the shopping, clean the house, and cook your dinner for you.I'll feed the baby and I'll call a repairman to fix the washing machine.Now stop crying.I'll do everything.In fact, I'll even call John at the office and ask him to come home and help out."

             "John?" said the housewife. "Who's John?"

             "Why, John! Your husband!...Isn't this 555-1265?"

             "No, it's 555-1264."

             "Oh" said the kindly person, "I must have the wrong number."

             There was a long silence.Then the helpless woman asked, "Does this mean you're not coming over?"

             ...Humorous – but can’t you just feel the burden that homemaker was facing? Life is demanding. Sometimes we may question even whether all the work and toil and pain is worth it. God’s redemption reminds us HE feels we’re worth it – He values us and pledges Himself in a love-covenant to be our God when we turn truly to Him.

             Today we’re looking at four aspects of God’s beautiful story of REDEMPTION for our lives, drawing from the life of King Solomon in 1Kings 8. 1) The SOURCE of redemption – sacrifice. 2) The SECURITY of redemption – God faithfully keeps His promises. 3) The SHOCK of redemption – being AWED when God shows up. And 4) The SORRINESS of redemption – When we pray sincerely with transparent hearts, God hears and forgives.

1) The SOURCE of Redemption – Sacrifice

What is “redemption”? The English verb “redeem” comes from the Latin meaning “to buy back”. In New Testament understanding, Jesus paid a high price – His own life – to redeem or buy us back from our enslavement to sin and death, and the eternal penalty of God’s just condemnation for our wilful rebellion. So He gained for us the blessing of God’s presence within us by the Holy Spirit. Gal.3:13f - “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: "Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree." He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.”

             When King Solomon dedicated the temple in 1Kings 8, bringing the ark of the covenant into it to be its permanent lodging, he marked the occasion with countless sacrifices. These pointed symbolically to the Lamb of God, Jesus, whose blood alone could atone for our sins, unlike that of bulls and goats. 1Kings 8:5 “...King Solomon and the entire assembly of Israel that had gathered about him were before the ark, sacrificing so many sheep and cattle that they could not be recorded or counted.” In fact there were SO many sacrifices they had to allocate more space – the altar wasn’t big enough, so they set aside part of the forecourt! Vv62-64 “Then the king and all Israel with him offered sacrifices before the LORD.Solomon offered a sacrifice of fellowship offerings to the LORD: twenty-two thousand cattle and a hundred and twenty thousand sheep and goats.(!) So the king and all the Israelites dedicated the temple of the LORD.On that same day the king consecrated the middle part of the courtyard in front of the temple of the LORD, and there he offered burnt offerings, grain offerings and the fat of the fellowship offerings, because the bronze altar before the LORD was too small to hold the burnt offerings, the grain offerings and the fat of the fellowship offerings.” The courtyard itself became an extension of the altar as it were, just to allow for the massive volume of sacrifices.

             In v25 Solomon mentions God’s promise to David about never failing to have a man sit before Him on Israel’s throne if his sons are careful to walk before God; this too points to Jesus, who was technically of David’s line, and referred to in the sign on His cross as “the King of the Jews”.

             Parents loving their children results in tremendous care and output and expenditure on their behalf. Sacrifice reflects lovingkindness. Sometimes in religion we emphasize obedience and rule-keeping more than the loving relationship which is really the foundation. As parents we can fall into the trap of demanding obedience at the expense of genuine affection, grace, forgiveness, and closeness to our kids. Solomon’s opening words in his prayer of dedication celebrate that God keeps His “covenant of love” with His servants (v23). The ark is the Ark of the Covenant – the promise, the relationship – not the Ark of the Rules. Curiously, the inspired author notes in v9, “There was nothing in the ark except the two stone tablets that Moses had placed in it at Horeb, where the LORD made a covenant with the Israelites after they came out of Egypt.” Almost dismissive, downplaying the actual contents of the holy box.

             Back in Exodus 25 when Moses receives instructions for the design of the Ark of the Covenant, it’s almost as if its LID - the “atonement cover” or “mercy seat” - is described separately from the rest of the container. The chest is made of acacia wood, but the lid is made of pure gold. And what’s the focus of the two mysterious winged creatures guarding the top of the ark? Exodus 25:20 “The cherubim are to face each other, looking toward the cover.” It is toward this cover that the High Priest once each year on the holiest day in the calendar, the Day of Atonement, sprinkled the blood of the sin offering on behalf of the people. The heart of the Jewish religion is clearly about loving sacrifice, not just dutiful law-keeping. If we don’t remember the price paid to redeem us, we won’t be motivated to obey God’s instruction.

             On Mother’s Day, children are encouraged to remember and appreciate their parents’ sacrifices on their behalf. A typical evening in the Dow household growing up featured Dad and us 3 boys often watching one of the 2 channels available on our TV set. Mom would be there after she’d finished in the kitchen, but even then she would not usually just sit and watch a show. She’d be back at the dining room table, working on darning some socks or some other project, with an eye on the TV and an eye on her productivity. This after getting up with Dad after 6 in the morning to help with the milking and chores. When we love someone, we’re willing to make sacrifices for them – we even feel good in their receiving the gift, as if we’re selflessly somehow projected into them, they’re part of us.

2) The SECURITY of Redemption: God faithfully keeps His Promises

Another aspect Solomon brings out in His prayer is God’s faithful commitment to His people, helping them feel secure because they can count on Him to keep His promises. Paul wrote to the church at Corinth, 2Cor.1:20 “For no matter how many promises God has made, they are ‘Yes’ in Christ.And so through him the ‘Amen’ is spoken by us to the glory of God.” When we end our prayers saying, “In Jesus’ name, Amen” – we are placing ourselves and our petitions in and under the authority of Him who is faithful and true (Rev.3:14). Jesus is the ‘under-writer’ if you will of God’s precious promises to His people.

             You find this theme running through Solomon’s prayer, that God has already been fulfilling His promises and will continue to do so. V15 “...with His own hand [God] has fulfilled what He promised with His own mouth to my father David.” V20 “the Lord has kept the promise He made.” And especially vv23f, “O LORD, God of Israel, there is no God like you in heaven above or on earth below— you who keep your covenant of love with your servants who continue wholeheartedly in your way.You have kept your promise to your servant David my father; with your mouth you have promised and with your hand you have fulfilled it— as it is today.” Notice the parallelism – with your MOUTH you’ve promised (word) and with your HAND you have fulfilled it (working, power). What God promises, He has complete power and ability to bring about.

             Later in v56 Solomon adds, “Praise be to the LORD, who has given rest to his people Israel just as he promised. Not one word has failed of all the good promises he gave through his servant Moses.” So the SECURITY of redemption is God’s own faithful, bedrock-true nature: because it is YHWH that’s speaking, the God who makes-things-happen and causes-to-be, it’s a sure thing.

             Parents can have a powerful role in modeling faithfulness to their offspring, creating in them a sense of safety and security, being assured things will be all right even despite difficult circumstances. When my father was in his forties, he was crippled up badly with rheumatoid arthritis – so badly that he went away for 3 months’ treatment at the Midwest Clinic in Excelsior Springs, Missouri. This left Mom at home with a hired hand and some teenage sons to run the farm and manage the dairy herd. Not once did we ever feel we were facing a crisis or things were falling apart. Likewise in their marriage: they were completely faithful. Though the first time we boys ever saw our parents kiss was their 25th wedding anniversary, never did we have cause to fear their marriage was going to break up. A Christian parent modeling God’s faithfulness brings great blessing and peace into a home.

We’ve seen the SOURCE of redemption, the SECURITY of redemption, now –

3) The SHOCK of Redemption: AWED when God shows up

There is a danger in evangelicalism to presume we can be a bit too “chummy” with God – we can overemphasize His lovingkindness and grace at the expense of His holiness. In Luke 5 Jesus causes a miraculous catch of fish to the point the nets of Simon Peter and partners begin to break, Simon Peter falls at Jesus’ knees and cries, Lk 5:8 “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!”

             Similarly, the author of the letter to the Hebrews writes in Heb 12:28f, “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, [THERE’S THE SECURITY PART AGAIN!] let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our "God is a consuming fire."” How dare we take God for granted, or presume He is some sort of genie at our disposal, an obedient puppy to tag along and bless our plans. He is sovereign, omniscient, omnipotent, and not to be trifled with!

             Being AWED at God saturates this 1Kings 8 passage. Vv 10f, “When the priests withdrew from the Holy Place, the cloud filled the temple of the LORD.And the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the LORD filled his temple.” When God shows up, we can’t just simply carry on life as usual: He’s a show-stopper, He arrests our attention by His mighty works, performed to highlight His glory.

             While Solomon’s temple was truly “magnificent” – his word in v12 – even Solomon acknowledges you can’t put God in a box! V27 “But will God really dwell on earth? The heavens, even the highest heaven, cannot contain you. How much less this temple I have built!” V29 describes the temple as “this place of which you said, ‘My Name shall be there.’” The Name is the local referent for the invisible non-material transcendent God; it represents His fame, His renown, His character. We don’t take His name on our lips casually or disrespectfully (certainly not as some throw-away swear word!). The whole thrust of salvation history, God’s dealings with people, is to show the greatness of His name, His outstanding glory.

             Vv39f “Forgive and act: deal with each man according to all he does...[40] SO THAT (purpose clause alert! Remember what David Gagne was saying) – SO THAT all the peoples of the earth may know your name and fear you, as do your own people Israel...” V41 “...the foreigner...has come from a distant land BECAUSE OF Your name – for men will hear of Your great name and Your mighty hand and Your outstretched arm...” God’s reputation getting around and causing a stir, a sensation, is what it’s about! V43 “then hear from heaven, your dwelling place, and do whatever the foreigner asks of you, so that [LOOK OUT! HERE COMES ANOTHER PURPOSE CLAUSE] all the peoples of the earth may know your name and fear you, as do your own people Israel, and may know that this house I have built bears your Name.”

             And V60, Solomon’s hope is that God will uphold the cause of His servant and His people – “so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God and that there is no other.” YHWH is one-of-a-kind, incomparable, great and glorious.

             Does this excitement and expectation saturate our homes, our worship services? Or are things kind of ho-hum in that department? How as Christian parents are we going to impress upon the next generation that life is about more than just landing a good job with benefits, and paying off the mortgage? That we serve a God so awesome He’s worth risking our whole life for, when He calls us to a task?

             Our daughter Emily posted this week regarding her work with TheLuluTree: “Amazing news! The Lord has provided us with a school in Uganda! It is the same school our mamas have been attending, only it's been offered for purchase to Lulu and God has made a way for us to buy it! This will be the very first teen mama school in the country. Even though it comes with two buildings, there is a lot of work to be done -- please be in prayer for us as we trust in God to help us cover the windows and doors (for when it rains) and the floors (to prevent jiggers in the students' feet). [she adds] We know however that the God who's made a way to purchase the building will make a way for us to run it! Praise Him!”

             How do we inspire faith like that in our offspring? That God can do great things and is to be trusted totally? My own parents were simple dairy farmers in Perth County. But their concerns stretched internationally. When I was a boy, Mom & Dad used to invite missionaries home for lunch after they spoke at church, so we heard about Christian mission in other countries. They supported the Canadian Bible Society and Canadian Foodgrains Bank, having impact in far away countries. Expose your kids to how the other 80% of the world lives – and to the stories of Bible heroes and missionaries who relied on God and were not disappointed.

4) The SORRINESS of Redemption: When we Pray sincerely with Transparent Hearts, God Hears and Forgives

While Solomon may have been dedicating one of the most impressive religious edifices in the history of the world, his prayer shows that he understands true spirituality not as going through the right motions or making regular pilgrimages to holy sites, but that true spirituality has to do with what’s going on in each person’s heart, in their interior life and interaction with God’s Spirit.

             In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus is very clear that the main thing is not religious formalism but right living, confessing and restoring relationships with God and others. Mt.5:23f “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar.First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.” In Matthew 6, several sections emphasize God’s not impressed by externals like almsgiving or street-corner prayers or visible fasting; instead, Mt.6:4 “...your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” Likewise most of Matthew 23 is taken up with Jesus’ criticism of the Pharisees, the most “religious” people of His day; Mt 23:28 “In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.”

             The New Testament consistently emphasizes repentance and confession are the starting-line for a journey with God. John the Baptist preached it; Jesus picked up the refrain – “Repent, for the Kingdom of heaven is near.” (Mt 4:17) The apostles preached repentance, that people needed to be sorry for their sins. Peter in Acts 3:19f - “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, and that he may send the Christ, who has been appointed for you— even Jesus.”

             The main body of Solomon’s prayer in 1Kings 8 consists of 7 sections with a constant pattern: when so-and-so prays in such-and-such circumstances, heal and forgive - and act. V31 when a neighbour is wronged; v33 when your people are defeated by an enemy; v35 when there’s no rain; v37 when famine or plague or disaster or disease comes; v42 when a foreigner prays; v44 when God’s people war against their enemies; v46 when they sin and are given over to their enemy into captivity. Several of these make the connection that when we sin, we suffer painful consequences. V33 defeat is “because they have sinned against You”; v35 “there is no rain because your people have sinned against you”; and v46, “When they sin against you— for there is no one who does not sin— and you become angry with them and give them over to the enemy, who takes them captive to his own land, far away or near...” Clearly sin is a huge problem for us, and responsible for much of the binds we get into. V39 appeals to God in forgiveness to “deal with each man according to all he does, since you know his heart (for you alone know the hearts of all men)...” There’s no “putting one over on” God! No fooling or deceiving Him, He sees right through it. So ‘fess up and come clean – you’re not going to be admitting to Him anything that He doesn’t know already!

             REPENTANCE is part and parcel of REDEMPTION. You must peel off your pride and enter the Kingdom like a little child. Vv47f elaborate – listen to all the words expressing repentance: “and if they have a change of heart in the land where they are held captive, and repent and plead with you in the land of their conquerors and say, ‘We have sinned, we have done wrong, we have acted wickedly’; and if they turn back to you with all their heart and soul...”

             According to v61, “But your hearts must be FULLY COMMITTED to the Lord our God...” Can you say that about yourself today? What are you hesitant to own up to before the Lord? Are you a ‘hold-out’ in any way? Turn back to Him and admit your wrongs. It’s the only way you can get un-stuck. Take it from Solomon, probably the wisest man who ever lived! Or as his dad put it in Ps.51:17, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.”

             How as parents can we manifest to our kids this genuine sorriness, this true transparency of heart, genuine yearning for reconnection with God? It may be something they recognize more after-the-fact. For me, it was things like my Dad bothering to teach the teenagers in Sunday School even when they were challenging or asked tough questions. It was my Mom keeping going to her women’s Bible study and doing her weekly homework for it even on into her 70s. It was as a young boy getting up from bed to go to the bathroom late in the evening and catching a glimpse through my parents’ bedroom door of my Mom, retiring for the night, kneeling in prayer at the side of her bed, as was her habit. No pretention, not forced or for show, just a genuine calling out to God.


John and Charles Wesley had a powerful impact on their generation through the Methodist movement. But their own mother, Susannah Wesley, was a spiritual giant in her own right. She had 19 children (9 died as infants). You might wonder how she could find time to feed her faith with so many little ones running around! But she had a system. When the children saw her sitting in her chair with her apron thrown up over her head, they knew not to disturb her – for she was praying. And so her sons, witnessing such devotion, were fortified in their own spiritual roots to later transform a nation.

             In closing today, here’s a quote from Susanna Wesley that may nudge you and guide you in your own repentance and renewal of your relationship with God, by helping you identify that form nefarious sin might take to insert a wedge between you and God. Susanna on June 8, 1725 wrote to her son John: “Take this rule: whatever weakens your reason, impairs the tenderness of your conscience, obscures your sense of God, or takes off your relish of spiritual things; in short, whatever increases the strength and authority of your body over your mind, that thing is sin to you, however innocent it may be in itself.” Let’s pray.