Dedicated to God and His Glory

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1 Kings 8:54-63 (Dedication of the temple)

INTRODUCTION: This morning we are going to look at King Solomon’s prayer of dedication when the temple was built in Jerusalem and see what principles of this prayer apply to us today as we dedicate our new sanctuary to God and his glory. (Read 1 Kings 8:54-63 and pray.)

So what does it mean to dedicate something to the Lord? What does it mean to dedicate a building, or a child or a home? Before we try and answer that question, it is helpful to get a little background on this temple that Solomon was dedicating. It took seven years for King Solomon to actually build the temple. (1 Kings 6:37-38) Of course his father, King David, had spent many years prior to that making preparations and gathering supplies. So this was a long-term project. Skilled workers were employed. (1 Kings 7:13) Only the best materials were used. This was to be a beautiful temple built for God’s glory.

When all the work for the temple was finished, the last step was bringing the Ark of the Covenant and placing it in the inner sanctuary of the temple, the Most Holy Place, putting it beneath the wings of the cherubim. And when the priests withdrew from the Holy Place where they put the ark, the glory of the Lord filled the temple and all the people worshiped God.

Solomon then prayed two prayers of dedication. The first prayer is a longer prayer which is recorded for us in verses 1 Kings 8:22-53. It is a beautiful prayer which relates more specifically to the temple itself and its unique place in the history of Israel and the world.

But then Solomon goes on to pray this second prayer of dedication in verses 54-63. This is a more general prayer of dedication and well-suited to the dedication of any home, building or business to the Lord. There are four parts to this prayer, and all four are easily applicable to the dedication of our sanctuary to God and his glory today.

I. Thanksgiving and praise for what God has done (54-56)

Solomon begins his prayer with thanksgiving and praise for what God has done. Look at verses 54-56:

When Solomon had finished all these prayers and supplications to the Lord, he rose from before the altar of the Lord, where he had been kneeling with his hands spread out toward heaven. 55 He stood and blessed the whole assembly of Israel in a loud voice, saying: 56 “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. (1 Kings 8:54-56)

It would have been easy for Solomon and the people to take the credit for the work that had just been accomplished. After all, didn’t they do the work? Didn’t they make the plans, gather the materials, and oversee the building of the temple? Wasn’t it the donations of the people that made the building possible?

Well, yes, of course Solomon and the people all played their parts in making the temple come together, but Solomon in his wisdom recognizes that it was only possible because of the Lord. It was the Lord who gave Israel rest from their enemies so they could focus on the building of the temple at that time. It was the Lord who provided all that they needed to complete the project. It was the Lord who fulfilled all the good promises he had given through his servant Moses. And so Solomon begins with thanksgiving and praise for what God has done.

This is instructive to us. Whenever you accomplish something, you are still to give God the glory for what he has done. God is the one who gave you the talents, the time, the opportunity and the strength to do whatever it is you have done. And so your first thought should always be thanksgiving and praise to God for what he has done.

Our church began back in 1948 when a small group of people had a vision for a church in the newly developing community of Plantation, Florida. They built a larger sanctuary than they needed at the time because they trusted God would help them grow. And God did help them! A strong church was planted here in Plantation that has been faithful in preaching God’s word and has given millions of dollars to missions around the world. By 1994 we had outgrown the older sanctuary, and so we began plans for a new sanctuary. Eight years ago this sanctuary was completed and we began worshiping here but we never had a dedication service, because we didn’t actually own the building yet.

Last year through some generous estate gifts and through the sacrificial giving of God’s people, we were able to pay off the mortgage twelve years early. Was that a major accomplishment? Yes! Do we take the credit for it? No! God is the one who made it possible, and we give him all the glory. That’s the first part of Solomon’s prayer: thanksgiving and praise for what God has done.

II. Prayer for God’s continued presence and direction (57-58)

The second part of his prayer was for God’s continued presence and direction. Look at verses 57-58:

May the Lord our God be with us as he was with our fathers; may he never leave us nor forsake us. 58 May he turn our hearts to him, to walk in all his ways and to keep the commands, decrees and regulations he gave our fathers. (1 Kings 8:57-58)

Here Solomon acknowledges God’s work for their fathers in the past, and he seeks God’s continued presence and direction for his people in the present.

I can’t think of two more important requests of God for us as a church as we seek to fulfill God’s purposes in this community. First we ask for God’s presence to be among us. When we gather to worship, this is what we seek first and foremost. We gather to worship God in the beauty of his presence. We ask that he would be with us as he was with our fathers, and we pray that he may never leave nor forsake us.

Jesus promised his disciples: “For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.” (Matthew 18:20) And so when we gather to worship God in Jesus’ name, we can be assured that Christ is with us, that he is present with us and brings us into God’s glorious presence as we lift up the name of Jesus and worship God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. What a wonderful prayer to pray!

And then we not only pray for God’s continued presence but also for his direction. Because Solomon also prayed here: “May he turn our hearts to him, to walk in all his ways and to keep the commands, decrees and regulations he gave our fathers.” (1 Kings 8:58) Notice this is primarily a prayer for God to “turn” you. If you are going in one direction, and God wants you to go in a different direction, then you need God to turn you around. And so we pray for God to turn our hearts that we may walk in all his ways and be obedient to his commands.

This is the second part of Solomon’s prayer: a prayer for God’s continued presence and direction.

III. Prayer for God’s name to be known among the nations (59-60)

Next Solomon prays for God’s name to be known among the nations. Look at verses 59-60:

And may these words of mine, which I have prayed before the Lord, be near to the Lord our God day and night, that he may uphold the cause of his servant and the cause of his people Israel according to each day’s need, 60 so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the Lord is God and that there is no other. (1 Kings 8:59-60)

Solomon here prays for God’s daily provision and sustenance, but he does so for a very specific purpose. He asks God to provide for each day’s need – why? “So that all the peoples of the earth may know that the Lord is God and that there is no other.” Solomon’s prayer has a global focus. He prays for God to meet the daily needs of the people not for their own sake but so that God’s name may be known among the nations.

This is such an important prayer because it reminds us that we do not exist for ourselves but rather for God’s glory and the spreading of God’s name throughout our community and throughout the nations. This prayer helps prevent us from turning inwards and from making all our decisions based on what we think is best for us. Although we gather as a church to worship Christ, we must always be thinking of those outside the church who still need Christ.

Jesus told his disciples: “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20)

So yes, we pray for our needs as a church, and we ask God to meet those daily needs. But we must always remember why we exist as a church. It’s the very first part of our purpose statement: “The purpose of the Plantation Community Church is to make disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ.” We make disciples by winning people to Christ and then helping them to grow in him.
And so we must always keep our outward focus as a church. A church that loses its outward focus has lost its way.

I’m so glad that our church has such a strong commitment to missions and to the spread of the gospel to all the nations. I’m so glad that we are committed to missions right here at home in Broward County and beyond. But I think we all need to do a better job in personal evangelism as well. How many people have you told about Jesus lately? When was the last time? When was the last time you invited someone to go to church? There are so many people who would love to come to church with you if you would just ask them.

So yes, we want the gospel to go to all the nations, but we also want the gospel to go to our friends and neighbors. That is part of the outward focus that we are to maintain as the church of Jesus Christ. And that is all part of this third portion of Solomon’s prayer here in 1 Kings 8: a prayer for God’s name to be known among the nations.

IV. Prayer for God’s people to remain fully committed to him (61-63)

And then the fourth and final part of Solomon’s prayer is a prayer for God’s people to remain fully committed to him. Look at verse 61:

But your hearts must be fully committed to the Lord our God, to live by his decrees and obey his commands, as at this time.” (1 Kings 8:61)

Solomon’s final request is that God’s people would remain fully committed to him at all times. And this is really the heart of what all dedications to God are all about. Because really, what good does it do to commit a temple or a sanctuary or really anything to the Lord if you are not personally committed to the Lord yourself?

I sometimes run into this with baby dedications. A couple will come to me and want me to dedicate their child to the Lord, and yet they are not living for the Lord themselves. They don’t attend church; they don’t spend regular time with God in the Bible and prayer; they don’t seek God’s will in all their decisions. And so I ask them: “How can you stand up in front of the church and promise to raise your child in the Lord when you aren’t following God yourself?” It is a wonderful thing to want to dedicate your child to the Lord, but God wants you to dedicate yourself to him first. Otherwise the child dedication has no meaning. As we just read in verse 61: “Your hearts must be fully committed to the Lord our God, to live by his decrees and obey his commands.”

And this applies to all dedications. Many times people want their pastor to come and pray a prayer of dedication for their new home or their place of business. And I am always happy to do that. But understand that such a prayer of dedication only has meaning if you yourself are personally committed to the Lord. How dreadful to pray a prayer of dedication over a house if you are not going to live a godly life for Jesus in that house. How dreadful to pray a prayer of dedication for a new business if you are not going to run that business according to godly principles.

Or let’s talk about marriage for a moment. When a couple comes and asks me to marry them in the church, I always ask them why they want to get married by a pastor in the church rather than, say, a judge at the courthouse. They always respond because they want God’s blessing on their marriage. That is a wonderful response, and I would affirm anyone who is seeking God’s blessing on their marriage. But then as we talk further, and I learn that they are living together before marriage, I get confused. I ask them: “Why do you want God’s blessing on your marriage, but you don’t want God’s blessing on your present relationship?” It’s not consistent. Living together outside of marriage is direct disobedience to God’s commands, and God cannot bless disobedience. How can we dedicate something to God’s glory if we are not seeking to glorify him with our lives?

And so this message suddenly got real hard for some of us because Solomon’s prayer suddenly got real hard. Here they are about to dedicate this beautiful temple to the Lord and Solomon says: “But may your hearts be fully committed to God.” I don’t know if you’re familiar with the rest of the history of the Israelites and the temple, but when God’s people eventually turned away from the Lord, God took the temple away from them. He sent the Babylonians and they came and ransacked the temple and burned it to the ground. And they took away all those beautiful items that adorned the temple. The people had taken confidence in the temple. Their attitude was: “Nothing will happen to us because we have the temple!” But God said, “No! Your hearts must be fully committed to the Lord or the dedication means nothing.”

And so this fourth part of Solomon’s prayer is so important when it comes to dedicating anything to God and his glory. We can only truly dedicate things to God when we have first dedicated ourselves. And so the fourth and final part of Solomon’s prayer is a prayer that God’s people would remain fully committed to him.

CONCLUSION: Solomon’s fourfold prayer is a wonderful model to us as we dedicate anything to the Lord – whether a child, a marriage, a business, a church or a home. We should always begin with thanksgiving and praise for what God has done. We should pray for God’s continued presence and direction. We should look beyond ourselves and pray for God’s name to be known among the nations. And we should pray for God’s people to remain fully committed to him. We cannot dedicate things to the Lord if we have not dedicated ourselves to the Lord first.

Finally we read in verses 62-63:

Then the king and all Israel with him offered sacrifices before the Lord. 63 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. (1 Kings 8:62-63)

And so finally after all the years of preparation and giving and building, the temple was complete. Solomon prayed his prayer of dedication, and then the king and all the Israelites officially dedicated the temple to the Lord.

And that is where we are today. The work on this sanctuary is long completed. By God’s grace it has now been paid off in full as God has worked through his people to finish the work we started so long ago. And so now we are finally in a position officially to dedicate this sanctuary to God and his glory. Let us pray.

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ACT OF DEDICATION (Adapted from the Dedicatory Service at The Moody Church November 8, 1925)

PASTOR: Having been prospered by the good hand of our God, and enabled by his grace and power to complete this house of worship to be used for the glory of his name, we will now in his holy presence dedicate this sanctuary to him.

EVERYONE:
We dedicate this sanctuary to be a place of worship.
We dedicate this sanctuary to be a house of prayer.
We dedicate this sanctuary to be a place where God’s word is honored and proclaimed.
We dedicate this sanctuary to be a light in this community proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ to all who will hear.

PASTOR: Holy, blessed and glorious Trinity; three Persons and one God:

CONGREGATION: To you we dedicate this house.

PASTOR: Father of our Lord Jesus Christ; our Father which art in heaven:

CONGREGATION: To you we dedicate this house.

PASTOR: Son of God, the only begotten of the Father, head of the body which is the church; head over all things to the church; Prophet, Priest and King; whose glorious appearing shall be to all people:

CONGREGATION: To you we dedicate this house.

PASTOR: Holy Spirit, our Comforter, Counselor, guide and friend:

CONGREGATION: To you we dedicate this house.

PASTOR: For comfort to those who mourn; for strength to those who are tempted; for the instruction and training of children and youth; for the sending forth of the gospel to the uttermost parts of the earth:

CONGREGATION: To you we dedicate this house. And we do also give ourselves individually and unreservedly to you.

EVERYONE: We dedicate this sanctuary now to the glory of God the Father, to the honor of Jesus Christ his Son, and to the praise of the Holy Spirit. To God be the glory forever! Amen.

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© Ray Fowler

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