We read today how Jesus had a wide audience comprising “the crowds with his disciples” when “he said to them, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it … what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his life? For whoever is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels’” (Mark 8:34-37).

Those who fail to put God first in their thinking will not know they have forfeited their life, (their hope of eternal life) until it is too late! We must not miss the vital point Jesus makes, “For whoever is ashamed of me …” Jesus will also “be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father …”

Solomon’s words have close parallels with the words of Jesus. Look at the words of his prayer when he dedicated the Temple. We read today of the ark being brought from the Tabernacle and put in “its place in the inner sanctuary of the house (Temple) in the Most Holy Place” (1 Kings 8:6). “Then Solomon stood before the altar of the LORD in the presence of all the assembly of Israel and spread out his hands toward heaven” (verse 22). There follows a remarkable prayer: it is far more than a prayer of praise.

Note Solomon’s references to the attitudes of the hearts of those praying, and God’s awareness of this. As “you listen to the plea of your servant and of your people Israel when they pray …” (verse 30) “forgive and act and render to each whose heart you know, according to all his ways – for you, you only, know the hearts of all the children of mankind” (verse 39) “… if they repent with all their mind and with all their heart” (verse 48).

After his prayer Solomon tells the people “The LORD our God be with us as he was with our fathers. May he not leave or forsake us, that he may incline our hearts to him, to walk in all his ways …” (verses 57,58), telling the people, “Let your heart therefore be wholly true to the LORD our God …” (verse 61).

Those with such a heart will never feel ashamed of confessing their belief and faith. Let us shine as lights in the darkness of this world and in word and deed “proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvellous light” (1 Peter 2:9).