Summary: Improper and self-centered ambitions do not honor God and ultimately are destructive.
Sermon Series: Find Your Focus
Text: I Kings 1:5-10, 49-52; 2:21-24
Truth: Improper and self-centered ambitions do not honor God and ultimately are destructive. (Outline from Lifeway.)
Aim: to help you keep your ambitions in line with the Lord’s purposes.
Life ?: How do we keep our ambitions in line with the Lord’s purposes?
The Rolling Stones are one of the most prolific and enduring rock-and-roll bands in history. To date, their career has spanned four and a half decades. Mick Jagger and his three friends are nearing the age to draw Social Security and still perform to sold-out stadiums around the world. Like or dislike their music, their success is hard to deny.
They played to a sold out crowd in the OU Memorial stadium a few years back. I could hear the music and the crowd from my home. Here is what took place before the concert: over two hundred people built a mammoth structure several stories tall and half the length of a football field. A convoy of more than twenty semi-trailers was required to haul it from the last location. Two private planes jet the key people, including the band, between cities. A decade ago their world tour earned more than $80 million in profit.
A limousine pulls up back of the stage. The four band members step out and wait for their cue. When their names are announced the crowd roars, they walk on stage and pick up their instruments. For the next two hours they perform to the delight of their fans. After the final encore they wave good-bye, step into the waiting limousine and exit the stadium.
They don’t get involved in the setting up or tearing down of the stage, figuring out the complex itinerary or a hundred other jobs. They let other skilled people do those things. They do what they are best at doing—singing and performing (Focus, J. Canfield, p.33). That’s focus. They knew clearly what they were supposed to do and they did it.
As Christians we are to live focused on God. But life’s ups and downs and the world’s temptations can distract us from our focus. Fortunately, the Lord seeks to guide us back to the right paths, and helps us to stay focused on Him.
One of the ways that God helps us stay focused on Him is providing good and bad examples of people whose attention remained on God or they began to drift. I Kings provide many examples of people and a nation that was focused on God or lost their focus. The historical books of the O.T., Joshua through Esther, tell us the story of the nation of Israel from its entrance into the Promised Land under Joshua all the way through the tragic downfall of the nations of Israel and Judah. They illustrate the primary theological truth of Deuteronomy: obedience to God brings blessings while disobedience brings judgment (Deut 28). When the nation and/or individuals remained focused on God, they were blessed. When the nation and/or individuals became distracted from their focus on God they were judged.
This is the criterion that the author of I & II Kings evaluates the kings of Israel and Judah. Politically or economically or militarily some of these kings were very successful. But they did not use their position or power to encourage obedience to God and warn about disobeying God. Therefore, God considered their lives failures despite their great earthly accomplishments.
I & II Kings explains why God’s people lost the land they fought so hard to win under Joshua’s leadership. They stopped focusing on the Lord.
If God is going to use the criteria of what we focused our life on to judge our life, then it is important to find our focus. The first subject we are going to deal with is ambition. We need to be sure our ambitions are in line with the Lord’s purposes.
The big question in 2 Samuel 9-20 is, “Who will succeed David as king?” There are two serious challenges: Absalom, David’s son who attempts a cue and a family member of Saul’s family. Answer is given in I Kings 1-2. Solomon is going to be king but only after a power grab by another son of David, Adonijah. Adonijah serves as an example of self-centered ambition that does not honor God and ultimately is destructive.
How do we keep our ambitions in line with God’s purposes?
I. BEWARE OF IMPROPER AMBITION (I KINGS 1:5-10)
Ambition is a strong desire for advancement or success or to achieve a particular end. Christians tend to be ambivalent toward being called ambitious. Most pastors would not want their peers to describe them as ambitious but they would not want to be called unambitious. At its core ambition is related to the pursuit and expression of power. Discerning between good and bad ambition forces a person to discover why he desires power and how he will go about attaining it. Once a person gets the power, how will they use it?