October 24, 2021 – “Seeking God’s Dreams” by Rev. Cody Sandahl

First Reading

Hebrews 10:31-39 – 31It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. 32But recall those earlier days when, after you had been enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings, 33sometimes being publicly exposed to abuse and persecution, and sometimes being partners with those so treated. 34For you had compassion for those who were in prison, and you cheerfully accepted the plundering of your possessions, knowing that you yourselves possessed something better and more lasting. 35Do not, therefore, abandon that confidence of yours; it brings a great reward. 36For you need endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised. 37For yet “in a very little while, the one who is coming will come and will not delay; 38but my righteous one will live by faith. My soul takes no pleasure in anyone who shrinks back.” 39But we are not among those who shrink back and so are lost, but among those who have faith and so are saved.

Introduction

We are still in our series about dreaming with God. Last week we talked about the power of writing down and committing to God’s dreams. We moved the brightly-colored pieces of paper into the pew rack in front of you. We hope we can fill up the dream board next to the elevator with God dreams.

This week, we encourage you to think about the children and youth. What dreams do you have for the children and youth of our church? What dreams do you think God has for the children and youth of our church? If the Holy Spirit puts something on your heart, write it down on one of those pieces of paper and tack it to the dream board. Let’s dream together with God.

This week we are seeking God’s dreams with Solomon. Just a reminder of the context here, Solomon was David’s son. He came to power contentiously – and with bloodshed – at a young age. At this point in his story, he knows he is capable but he also knows he is in over his head if God isn’t with him. In our main text today, we get to listen in to a conversation between Solomon and God. We will focus on three ways that Solomon intentionally sought God’s dreams, so see if you can notice these as we go. Solomon used a place, a posture, and a prayer.

Sermon Text

1 Kings 3:3-15 – 3Solomon loved the Lord, walking in the statutes of his father David; only, he sacrificed and offered incense at the high places. 4The king went to Gibeon to sacrifice there, for that was the principal high place; Solomon used to offer a thousand burnt offerings on that altar. 5At Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night; and God said, “Ask what I should give you.” 6And Solomon said, “You have shown great and steadfast love to your servant my father David, because he walked before you in faithfulness, in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart toward you; and you have kept for him this great and steadfast love, and have given him a son to sit on his throne today. 7And now, O Lord my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David, although I am only a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in. 8And your servant is in the midst of the people whom you have chosen, a great people, so numerous they cannot be numbered or counted. 9Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, able to discern between good and evil; for who can govern this your great people?” 10It pleased the Lord that Solomon had asked this. 11God said to him, “Because you have asked this, and have not asked for yourself long life or riches, or for the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern what is right, 12I now do according to your word. Indeed I give you a wise and discerning mind; no one like you has been before you and no one like you shall arise after you. 13I give you also what you have not asked, both riches and honor all your life; no other king shall compare with you. 14If you will walk in my ways, keeping my statutes and my commandments, as your father David walked, then I will lengthen your life.” 15Then Solomon awoke; it had been a dream. He came to Jerusalem where he stood before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. He offered up burnt offerings and offerings of well-being, and provided a feast for all his servants.

Place

“Under the sea! Under the sea! There’ll be no accusations, just friendly crustaceans. Under the sea!”

That is Homer Simpson’s solution to some troubles in the life of the Simpson family – just move under the sea to escape it! To which his wife, Marge, replies, “Homer that’s your solution to everything to move under the sea. It’s not gonna happen!”

Homer wants to move under the sea because he thinks it will be safe. But joking aside, where do you want to go when you want to feel safe? And where do you want to go when you want to be in God’s presence?

Do you go to church to be in God’s presence? Do you go on a hike? Do you have a place in your house? In the movie “War Room,” Clara converts her closet into a prayer room with Scriptures, a prayer list, and remembrances of all the answered prayers. That’s her prayer war room.

Where do you go to be in the presence of God? What’s your place?

In our text today, Solomon seeks the presence of God at a particular place: Gibeon. Our text says that Gibeon was, “the principal high place,” and that “Solomon used to offer a thousand burnt offerings on that altar.” High places were essentially places of worship and altars setup on hills and mountains. Before Solomon built the Temple later in his life, these high places were the primary places of worship.

Gibeon had one of the largest high places. It was one of the most famous. And if he offered a thousand burnt offerings on that altar, I think we can say that Solomon was considered a regular there. That was Solomon’s place.

And in our text today, Solomon sought God there. Things were happening fast. Solomon needed the confidence that comes with clarity. He needed to seek and know God’s dreams. So he went to Gibeon. He went to his place.

Where is your place? Try to think of a specific place, or a specific room, or a specific hiking trail, or specific music that brings you into the presence of God. Solomon didn’t just go outside to worship, he didn’t just go to some high place, he went to Gibeon, where he had sought God’s presence a thousand times before. Where is your place?

We’re encouraging you to think about the children and youth of the church when you write down God dreams for the dream board. The youth needed a place to seek God, so they decorated the fourth floor main room several years ago. The children needed a place to seek God, and they have the ocean-themed room on the main level before you come up the stairs. Those are places they can seek the presence of God here at this church.

If you don’t know your place, try to pin that down. Because having a particular place can help you intentionally seek God’s dreams.

Posture

In our text today, Solomon also had a posture. The text says, “the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night.” Solomon’s posture was laying down. Have you ever thought about your life while you’re trying to go to sleep? That’s what Solomon was doing. He was at Gibeon – his place – seeking the Lord. And he was laying down – his posture – which helped him think deeply.

A philosopher once said, “all truly great thoughts are conceived by walking.” Lots of people do their best thinking walking. That’s their posture.

But on the other hand, there was an author who wrote, “Find a moment of stillness, give your heart a chance to tell you where you really need to be.” For some people, stillness is the posture that connects them with their deepest and truest thoughts.

Others connect best with God through intense exercise or long runs. Christian author Ruth Haley Barton highlighted this: “Exercise brings mental and physiological changes, including the flood of body-made opiates that induce what’s called the “runner’s high.” This physiological dynamic can create a change in consciousness, a kind of expansiveness in which the runner feels more integrated with his or her surroundings and the Creator himself.”

So for some, exercise in general or running in particular are postures that bring out their best thoughts in the presence of God.

So what posture helps you seek God? For Solomon it was laying down before sleep. For others it’s walking, or running, or exercising. For others it’s stillness or sitting. Do you raise your hands to heaven in praise? Or do you bow your head in respect? What posture helps you seek God?

Prayer

Once Solomon had his place and his posture, he encountered God through prayer.

This is such an interesting scenario. What would you say if God gave you the same opportunity he gave Solomon? How would you reply to God’s command in our text today: “Ask what I should give you.”

As an interesting note, God didn’t say, “I will give you whatever you ask.” God told Solomon he should “ask what I should give you” with no guarantee of the result. That’s a key distinction. God isn’t a genie in a bottle or a magic vending machine in the sky ready to shower us with holy gifts on demand.

So how would you reply? Really think about that. If you had a chance to ask God for one thing – at His request mind you – what would you ask for?

When people win the lottery, there are some common things they buy: luxury vacations, new cars, gifts for families, new homes. Of course, buying those things also leads 70% of lotto winners to run out of money within five years.

What would you want? What would your request be? What would your personal, 1-on-1, face-to-face prayer to God be? Would you want someone healed? Would you want direction? Would you want God to change something within you? Would you want the upcoming winning lotto numbers so you, too, could lose all of the money within five years?

Solomon’s famous prayer in our text today was, “Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, able to discern between good and evil; for who can govern this your great people?”

Most people wouldn’t pray that prayer if they were given the same opportunity that Solomon was. Of course, Solomon himself was only days removed from his first huge mistake – marrying Pharaoh’s daughter, who would lead him further and further away from God. And Solomon’s later life was anything but God-honoring. But here on this day, he had a fabulous prayer for an understanding mind.

What would your prayer be?

If you don’t know, there are some famous prayers that have helped people seek God throughout the ages. One famous prayer is the Serenity Prayer: “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

Another famous prayer is from St. Francis of Assisi:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love,
Where there is injury, pardon
Where there is doubt, faith,
Where there is despair, hope,
Where there is darkness, light,
Where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much
seek to be consoled as to console,
not so much to be understood as to understand,
not so much to be loved, as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
it is in dying that we awake to eternal life.”

Another option is St. Patrick’s prayer:

Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ where I lie, Christ where I sit, Christ where I arise,
Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of every one who speaks to me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.
Salvation is of the Lord.
Salvation is of the Christ.
May your salvation, Lord, be ever with us.”

Of course you could pray the Lord’s Prayer, or Psalm 23.

Or you could do what Pastor Wayne Cordeiro told Pastor Cody at the Hawaii Leadership Practicum: prayer can be thinking deeply about something in the presence of God.

If you truly want to seek God’s dreams, the only way to do that is through intentional prayer. So what’s your prayer?

In fact, that’s another way to fill out the dream cards in the pew racks in front of you. If you don’t have a specific dream for the children and youth of First Pres Littleton, what’s your prayer for them? You can write down your prayer and pin it to the dream board, too.

Summary

Sisters and brothers, Solomon shows us how we can intentionally seek God’s dreams. Solomon went to his spiritual place, he put himself into his spiritual posture, and he focused on his prayer. Do you have a place? Do you have a posture? Do you have a prayer? That’s how we seek God’s dreams intentionally. Amen.