Author: John Page 1 of 122

An Understanding Heart II

I Kings 3:5, 9-13 “In Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream by night: and God said, Ask what I shall give thee … Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people?  And the speech pleased the Lord, that Solomon had asked this thing.  And God said unto him, Because thou hast asked this thing and hast not asked for thyself long life; neither hast asked riches for thyself, nor hast asked the life of thine enemies; but hast asked for thyself understanding to discern judgment; Behold, I have done according to thy words: lo, I have given thee a wise and an understanding heart; so that there was none like thee before thee, neither after thee shall any arise like unto thee.  And I have also given thee that which thou hast not asked, both riches, and honour: so that there shall not be any among the kings like unto thee all thy days.”

On February 8, 1797, upon hearing that her husband would become the next President of the United States, Abigail Adams wrote the following prayer:

“And now O Lord my God thou hast made thy servant Ruler over the people, give unto him an understanding Heart, that he may know how to go out, and come in before this great people, that he may discern between good and bad, for who is able to judge this, thy so great people?”

She went on to follow that written prayer with these additional thoughts to her husband:

“My Thoughts, and my meditations are with you, though personally absent, and my petitions to Heaven are that the things which make for Peace, may not be hidden from your Eyes … My feelings are not those of Pride, or ostentation upon the occasion.  They are solemnized by a sense of the obligations, the important Trusts and Numerous Duties connected with it, that you may be enabled to discharge them with Honour to yourself, with justice and impartiality to your Country, and with satisfaction to this Great People.”

These words of prayer and encouragement from more than two centuries ago are a textbook reminder of how we are to pray for our nation’s leaders.  God, give our leaders understanding hearts!  Allow them the ability to discern between good and bad.  May the things which make for peace be visible to them!  May they be humbled by a sense of their solemn obligations, important trusts, and numerous duties.  May our leaders be enabled and empowered to discharge their duties with honor to themselves, with justice and impartiality to their country, and with satisfaction to the governed. 

PLEASE PRAY FOR WISDOM, DISCERNMENT, AND UNDERSTANDING FOR OUR NATION’S LEADERS.  “Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that [they] may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people?”

Please see the following for a previous thought from 2014 on the need for prayers for understanding hearts in the leaders of our nation:

ADMIN NOTE: With this blog I celebrate my 600th PLUS post; praise God!

Woke

Genesis 1:27 “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.”

Malachi 2:10 “Have we not all one father?  hath not one God created us?  why do we deal treacherously every man against his brother, by profaning the covenant of our fathers?”

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

Galatians 3:28 “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.”

James, a young black man, was a friend of John and Abigail Adams.  He was a paid worker for this family, and was loved, cared for, and educated by them.  In a letter from February 13, 1797, Abigail described a confrontation that resulted from her decision to send James to school upon his request:

“James desired that he might go.  I told him to go with my compliments to Master Heath and ask him if he would take him.  He did and Master Heath returned for answer that he would.  Accordingly James went.  After about a week, Neighbour Faxon came in one Evening and requested to speak to me.  His errand was to inform me that if James went to School, it would break up the School for the other Lads refused to go.”

As a result, Abigail railed against this obvious injustice:

“This Mr. Faxon is attacking the principle of Liberty and equality upon the only Ground upon which it ought to be supported, an equality of Rights.  The Boy is a Freeman as much as any of the young Men, and merely because his Face is Black, is he to be denied instruction?  How is he to be qualified to procure a livelihood?  Is this the Christian Principle of doing to others, as we would have others do to us?”

In a stunning punctuation of her argument that reminded others of their Christian obligations, Abigail went on to sternly remind Mr. Faxon and the young men he represented that “I hope we shall all go to Heaven together.”

Mr. Faxon, swayed by her passionate, Bible-based arguments left to carry the message to the Lads whose perspectives were skewed by discrimination.  The result from Abigail’s perspective: James has since attended school for some time and “I have not heard any more upon the subject.” 

“Woke” is a modern term-of-art for being alert to injustice and racism.  Frankly, an honest and respectful discussion about lingering racial inequality in our society would be healthy and productive.  Yet, it is important to realize that these discussions are not new as a part of our American experiment, and our current Christian perspective should be modeled on the words of this Founding Mother and her Biblical worldview. 

“Love thy neighbor as thyself,” “God created man in his own image,” “Have we not all one Father,” “For God so loved the world,” “ye are all one in Christ Jesus.”  These thoughts were undoubtedly flooding through the mind of Abigail Adams as she rebuked racism in her day.  These same thoughts should dominate our thinking today as we strive to mend and heal a society filled with strife and adversity.  They also provide an historical example of justice that should make us proud of our founders, and that discounts the current narrative about the ubiquitous, inherent evils of America’s origin. 

PLEASE PRAY FOR THE HEALING OF AMERICA WHILE EMBRACING A BIBLE-BASED VIEW OF EQUALITY AND JUSTICE.  In 1797, Abigail Adams made a bold stand for equality and justice.  May her example provide a model of true wokeness in Christian America today that elevates healing and justice instead of strife as we mold our society to ensure an Equality of Rights for all people.

A Powerful and Impactful Manifestation

Genesis 2:18 “And the LORD God said, It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.”

Proverbs 18:22 “Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favour of the LORD.”

John 15:13 “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”

Proverbs 31:26-28 “She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness.  She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness.  Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her.”

I recently read “My Dearest Friend: Letters of Abigail and John Adams.”  It is a book that overflows with passion and perspective, and is rich with relational, historical, and spiritual truth.  It will be the source of a series of PLUS posts over the next several weeks.

During our current extended time apart due to a military deployment, I gave this book to my wife as a gift for Valentine’s Day and bought a copy of it for myself.  As a couple ourselves separated by long distance for an extended period of time (12 months and counting), we could read it together to reflect upon the broader context of our separation.  In the case of John and Abigail, during the 26 years surrounding the Revolutionary War, they were apart for nearly 9 years, with the longest stint being a separation of 44 months.

On October 25, 1777, Abigail wrote the following to John: “This day dearest of Friends completes 13 years since we were solemnly united in wedlock; 3 years of the time we have been cruelly separated.  I have patiently as I could endured it with the Belief that you were serving your Country, and rendering your fellow creatures Essential Benefits.  May future Generations rise up and call you Blessed, and the present behave worthy of the blessings you are Labouring to secure to them, and I shall have less reason to regret the deprivation of my own particular felicity.”

While Abigail gives John credit in this letter for his service to the fledgling country, it is clear that this couple served together.  Across the miles and throughout the years, they served their family, their community, their country, and Christ together.  Their sacrificial service was a powerful and impactful manifestation of their unified partnership and focus.  They were committed to one another and to the path that God had intended for them. 

PLEASE PRAY FOR AMERICAN CHRISTIAN COUPLES TO SERVE POWERFULLY TOGETHER.  May our sacrificial service be a powerful and impactful manifestation of our unified partnership and focus.  May we be committed to one another and to the path that God has intended for us.

Children of the Father

Job 42:10 “And the LORD turned the captivity of Job, when he prayed for his friends: also the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before.”

Hebrews 12:15 “Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled”

Matthew 5:44-45 “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.”

Luke 23:34 “Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.  And they parted his raiment, and cast lots.”

Even through Job’s fair-weather friends, God teaches us a lot about important practical and spiritual truths (see the previous post for an example).  This is especially true about our response to adversity, and while we would never want to face the likes of Eliphaz, Zophar, and Bildad in the midst of our trials, we can learn much from Job’s ultimate response to them. 

As Job endured defeat and derision, he rightfully spoke up for himself.  Yet, he did not strike back in a mean-spirited or spiteful way.  He also guarded against bitterness that would have further compounded his hardships and exacerbated his situation.  In the end, Job did something remarkable based on the Lord’s prompting – he prayed for his friends.  In fact, the turning point in his circumstances was at the very moment that he prayed for those whose arguments could have created lifelong adversity.

Loving your enemies isn’t easy.  Nor is blessing those who curse you, doing good to those who hate you, and praying for those who despitefully use you and persecute you.  Doing these things is the exact opposite of the traditional ways of this world that are all too evident in a carnal culture that is feeding off of negativity and witnessing a vicious spiral of distrust, division, and divisiveness.  Yet, the counter-cultural response of love, blessing, service, and prayer is what Jesus directs us to do; it is what Jesus shows us to do; it is what Jesus did for us!

PLEASE PRAY FOR AMERICAN CHRISTIANS TO RESPOND TO ADVERSITY AND ATTACK IN A BIBLICAL WAY THAT IS DISTINCTLY DIFFERENT FROM THE EXAMPLES WE SEE ALL AROUND US IN OUR SOCIETY TODAY.  It is in this way that we show ourselves to be children of the Father.

For a related thought, please see:

Walking Circumspectly

Job 18:5-21 “Yea, the light of the wicked shall be put out, and the spark of his fire shall not shine.  The light shall be dark in his tabernacled, and his candle shall be put out with him.  The steps of his strength shall be straightened, and his own counsel shall cast him down.  For he is cast into a net by his own feet, and he walketh upon a snare.  The gin shall take him by the heel, and the robber shall prevail against him.  The snare is laid for him in the ground, and a trap for him in the way.  Terrors shall make him afraid on every side, and shall drive him to his feet.  His strength shall be hungerbitten, and destruction shall be ready at his side.  It shall devour the strength of his skin: even the firstborn of death shall devour his strength.  His confidence shall be rooted out of his tabernacle, and it shall bring him to the king of terrors.  It shall dwell in his tabernacle, because it is none of his: brimstone shall be scattered upon his habitation.  His roots shall be dried up beneath, and above shall his branch be cut off.  His remembrance shall perish from the earth, and he shall have no name in the street.  He shall be driven from light into darkness, and chased out of the world.  He shall neither have son nor nephew among his people, nor any remaining in his dwellings.  They that come after him shall be astonied at his day, as they that went before were affrighted.  Surely such are the dwellings of the wicked, and this is the place of him that knoweth not God.”

Ephesians 5:15 “See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise.”

This second scathing condemnation from Bildad to Job is as harsh as it gets.  It is a pile-on opportunity by a supposed friend to kick a man when he is down.  Yet, there are some important doctrinal truths contained herein about the path of those who fail to follow after God or who diverge from His carefully laid path, though this was not the case in the life of Job.

Such individuals shall live in darkness, fall into looming traps and pitfalls, be plagued by terrors on every side, face imminent destruction, and endure persistent weakness and insecurity.  Such a life is characterized by instability, a lack of enduring impact, and an absence of credibility.  All the while, these individuals struggle through life missing a true and reliable support structure.  Certainly, no one would enter into such a situation willingly and knowingly – they must have gotten into their situation through no fault of their own. 

Except, the root cause of wickedness often comes from within – a thought perfectly aligned with the PLUS post from mid-March entitled “Concerns on the Inside.”  In verses 7 and 8, Bildad points that “his own counsel shall cast him down” and “he is cast into a net by his own feet.”  What a powerful and poignant warning to all of us to carefully watch where we walk, what we think, who we follow, what we watch, and where we go.  If we fall, it won’t often be someone else’s fault.  Instead, it will likely be by the failings of our own counsel and through a pitfall of our own making.

PLEASE PRAY FOR AMERICAN CHRISTIANS TO LIVE OUR LIVES WITH GODLY CARE AND WISDOM.  May we think wisely and walk circumspectly.

“Concerns on the Inside” can be found at:

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