Weekly Devotionals by Pastor Steve Rowitt, Th.M., Ph.D.
Jan. 1, 2012 – The Best is Yet to Come
What does it mean to be hopeful? Everyone goes through life anticipating something. There are people who live for the weekend, seeing their lives Monday --> Friday as a means to an end. When we were young, we anticipated getting older, being able to drive, to party with impunity, to make decisions on our own without parental oversight. The Bible has a very peculiar verse in it that seems to give “hope” a different connotation than what is usually ascribed to it. In our present reality, the prevailing views of the world, the flesh (our carnal minds), and the Devil conspire to link our hopes and dreams to a future event, a goal or experience that is coming our way but is not yet achieved.
For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope. Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be like-minded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus, that you may with one mind and one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Rom. 15:4-6.
It is the patience and comfort to the Word of God that gives us hope concerning the future. It is not linked to future events or goals, but rather to the solid foundation of the unchanging Word of God. Biblical hope is the confident expectation that every promise of God is true.
Jan. 8, 2012 – The Solomon Syndrome
King Solomon was the wisest of all men, I Kings 4:29-31. He was the son of King David and Bathsheba. His wisdom was known through out the civilized world. His fame spread to the point that foreign rulers sought to make alliances with him. These alliances resulted in King Solomon having many wives and concubines (700 wives and 300 concubines according to I Kings 11:3). While not specifically prohibited at that time, the result of these intermarriages with pagan princesses, I Kings 11:1-2; Neh. 13:23-26, was that idolatry became well-established in Israel during his reign, I Kings 11:4-7. Even though King Solomon was a man of God, there are always going to be consequences for our poor choices. We ultimately reap what we sow. First and foremost, in the Gospel, we reap what Messiah has sowed on our behalf, Is. 53; II Cor. 5:17-21, but we also reap what we sow after we have been born again, John 3:3, and declared righteous in God’s sight because of the Gospel, I Cor. 15:3-4. That is why the Holy Spirit inspired the Apostle Paul to write:
Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart, Gal. 6:7-9.
There is a syndrome in biblical counseling called the “Solomon Syndrome.” It is based upon the fact that King Solomon had the resources to be able to do anything his heart desired. When you read the book of Ecclesiastes, you come to the conclusion that often King Solomon did not curb his carnal appetites. He lived an excessively luxurious lifestyle (it’s good to be the King), I Kings 4:22-23, 10:21.
The Solomon Syndrome is rooted in the lies of the Devil. The basic overwhelming lie is, “I’ll be worthwhile if__________. This fear-based lie is fueled by a negative motivation, i.e. “I’m not OK right now, but I’ll be OK when I get this, go there, achieve this or that goal, etc. There is a reason that the Solomon Syndrome is so toxic. It’s not because goals are bad or not worth striving for. The problem lies in the deficit motivation of the Solomon Syndrome that ends up telling us we are not worthwhile until we reach our goal. It lies to us about the source of our self-worth saying, “I am worth less” until I achieve this or that. This negative deficit motivational tape resides in the part of our brain that is left over from the person who died with Messiah when we entered into the New Covenant, II Cor. 5:17-21.
We are instructed to, “put off your old self… and put the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness,” Eph. 4:22-24.
Jan. 15, 2012 – Biblical Hope Versus the Solomon’s Syndrome
When the Bible uses the word hope, it is not doing so in the way the world uses the word. The world sees hope as wishful thinking, i.e. “I hope I meet someone really nice” or “I hope I get a raise” or “I hope I win the lottery,” etc. This is not the way God uses the word hope. Placing our hope is in God literally means “attached to” (tik-vaw) with expectation, Ezra 10:2; Ps. 71:5, and (yaw-chal) to wait patiently, to tarry, Ps. 119: 49, 81; Lam. 3:24. In the New Testament, the word hope (elpis or elpizo) means, “to happily anticipate something good, usually with pleasure and/or confidence,” Rom. 8:25, 12:12; Col. 1:23, 27. The ultimate hope of a believer is rooted in his or her Creator and Savior, Messiah Jesus. He is our “blessed hope,” Titus 2:13.
There are reasons that we can hope in the Lord. Not only is He the One who created us and knows how to meet our needs, He is the One who can break the hold that the Solomon Syndrome has in our lives. He replaces that deficit-motivated person when He redeems us. This happens instantaneously when we place our faith in Him. King David explains, Bless the LORD, O my soul; And all that is within me, bless His holy name! Bless the LORD, O my soul, And forget not all His benefits: Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases, Who redeems your life from destruction, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies, Ps. 103:1-4.
Most Bible scholars believe that Psalms 38, 51, and 130, among others, were inspired by King David’s sin of adultery and murder. When he was confronted by the prophet Nathan, II Sam. 12, he realized his grievous iniquity and cried out to the Lord for mercy:
Out of the depths I have cried to You, O LORD; Lord, hear my voice! Let Your ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications. If You, LORD, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But there is forgiveness with You, that You may be feared. I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in His word I do hope. My soul waits for the Lord more than those who watch for the morning— Yes, more than those who watch for the morning. O Israel, hope in the LORD; For with the LORD there is mercy, and with Him is abundant redemption. And He shall redeem Israel from all his iniquities, Ps. 130.
Only the gospel can replace the “I’ll be worthwhile if_______” lie of the Solomon Syndrome with the liberating truth ofGod’s Righteousness At Christ’s Expense-GRACE.
Jan. 19, 2012 – “Vanity of vanities,” says the Preacher; “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.”
These are the opening words of King Solomon in the book of Ecclesiastes. Solomon is credited with writing almost the entire book of Proverbs, the most in-depth compilation of God’s wisdom to be found anywhere in the world. Psalms 72 and 127 are also attributed to him. Solomon did not restrain himself from any pleasure, any endeavor, any activity that money or power could afford him, etc. Yet his conclusion at the end of the book of Ecclesiastes is the same as the beginning, Ecc. 12:8, all is vanity (emptiness, hollow, to no purpose).
We should remember that the kingdom of Israel flourished greatly during Solomon’s reign. With all the royal marriages, Solomon’s influence extended well beyond Israel’s borders. Even Messiah Jesus used Solomon as an example of material splendor and elegance when He contrasted the natural beauty of the wild lilies (God’s handiwork) to what man can accomplish. He did this while teaching us not to worry about things God promises to provide for His children, Matt. 6:28-29. He also used the example of the Ninevites and the Ethiopians (the subjects of the Queen of Sheba) as those who would rise up in judgment against the leaders of Israel because, (speaking of Himself), indeed a greater than Solomon is here, Luke 11:31.
The Solomon Syndrome is rooted in a fear-based false teaching. That the source of true happiness can be achieved through our own carnal efforts. It will not result in faith, hope, and love, but rather fear, guilt, and shame. Continuing to believe lies, after we have been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb and transformed from sinners into saints, will result is continued disappointment and failure. Replacing this fear-based lie with the truth will set us free to love and accept others the way our Heavenly Father loves and accepts us in Christ.
Jan. 23, 2012 – God’s Righteous Remedy for the Solomon Syndrome
Once you replace your carnal tapes (thoughts) with God’s truth, you no longer fall victim to the “I’ll be worthwhile if_________,” lie of the Solomon Syndrome. You are healed of deceiving thoughts that produce behaviors that lead to neurosis and psychosis. Take Solomon’s word for it, there is only one mindset that is healthy for believers. It is the mindset of trusting God by taking Him at His Word.
And moreover, because the Preacher was wise, he still taught the people knowledge; yes, he pondered and sought out and set in order many proverbs. The Preacher sought to find acceptable words; and what was written was upright—words of truth. The words of the wise are like goads, and the words of scholars are like well-driven nails, given by one Shepherd. And further, my son, be admonished by these. Of making many books there is no end and much study is wearisome to the flesh. Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man’s all. For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil, Ecc. 12:9-14.
Remember the instruction of the Lord; to hide the Word of God in your heart. This is your new heart that is circumcised, and thereby dedicated to loving God and others. I have written your word in my heartthat I would not sin against You,Ps. 119:11. It is deeds of the flesh that proceed from our carnal minds of unbelief, And everything that does not come from faith is sin, Rom. 14:23.
The just shall continue to live by faith and the best is yet to come! We should have a confident expectation (biblical hope) every single day of our lives. We can avoid the Solomon Syndrome when we take God at His Word, trusting Him, and leaning not to our own understanding. That was the wise counsel of Solomon, and it remains the wise counsel of the Lord for His children today and every day, Prov. 3:5-6.