Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Monday, 27 August 18:
[Note: Here is a link to a video overview of Ecclesiastes: https://youtu.be/lrsQ1tc-2wk]
1. Ecclesiastes 1:2 — “‘Meaningless! Meaningless!’ says the Teacher. ‘Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.'” Some Bible versions use the word “vanity” rather than “meaningless.” The book of Ecclesiastes addresses the futility of life apart from God. Apart from God, despite all of our great efforts to make sense out of things and to control life, life seems to have no purpose and meaning, and our efforts seem pointless. Apart from God life can be very dark and depressing. In fact, reading most of Ecclesiastes can feel quite depressing. However, Ecclesiastes deals with some of the biggest questions about life that have been asked throughout all of human history. What is the point of trying? How could Paul face such pessimistic views of life and deal with the challenges of life and yet say, “Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain. (1 Corinthians 15:58) “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.” The anchor for Paul’s soul was his hope in Jesus is Christ. (Hebrews 6) As you read Ecclesiastes, read it from the context of your revelation of Jesus the “teacher” of Ecclesiastes did not have.
2. Ecclesiastes 1 — Our questions about life and the afterlife cannot be answered by human knowledge.
3. Ecclesiastes 2 — There is no substitute for God in your life. Eternal life is knowing God, and life is about growing closer and closer to God. Joy comes from our relationship with God. Many, far from God, seek to find joy and fulfillment in other places — pleasure, wealth, accomplishments, work, etc – but this only leaves you empty and spiritually immature.
4. Proverbs 27:1 – “Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring.” Make today count. You cannot change the past, and you cannot count on tomorrow. Faithfulness and growth is accomplished one day at a time, one moment at a time, one thought at a time. You should make plans for the future, but God has a plan for you beyond your imagination. If you are faithful, one step at a time, He will direct your path to where He intends for it to go. Many people work hard to achieve their life goals only to miss what God had really intended for them all along. Today, God is at work all around you on His Kingdom agenda, instead of chasing your own pursuits, join Him in what He is already doing today, and watch Him work mightily in your life. It starts with faithful thoughts. Align you mind to the mind of Christ, today, and your perspective on everything else in life will change; you will begin to see the opportunities around you that you never saw before.
5. Proverbs 27:5, 6 – “Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy.” It is unloving not to rebuke someone who needs it. It is also unloving to rebuke someone in a way that is not helpful to them. We must speak the truth in love, not in pride, anger, or resentment. Ambassadors for Christ represent Christ, not themselves. If you find yourself about to speak God’s word in a self-centered, self-righteous, angry, or otherwise emotional way, do not add to your sin by opening your mouth. Go to the Lord in repentance, and pray that He will give you a Christ-like heart that seeks true reconciliation for and with others. Pray for a heart that seeks only the best for your enemies that you will be a worthy ambassador for Christ.
6. Proverbs 27:7, 8 — “One who is full loathes honey, but to one who is hungry everything bitter is sweet. Like a bird that strays from its nest is a man who strays from his home.” A person starving for love is more susceptible to sin. Most destructive behavior comes from an unmet need or desire as the sinner seeks to fulfill that unmet need or desire in a wrong way. Don’t just target another person’s sin, target the root of the problem and the deception which keeps them in bondage.
7. Proverbs 27:18 — “Whoever tends a fig tree will eat its fruit, and he who guards his master will be honored.” If your boss or leader is wrong, and you can protect him from his mistakes, you will only benefit from it.
8. 1 Timothy 2:1, 2 — “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.” Paul urged Christians to pray for government officials and powerful people in a highly corrupt society and during a time when the church was greatly persecuted. He urged for this response rather than loud protests against the ruling authorities. His obvious point is that prayer is much more powerful than protest. He saw corporate prayer as the solution to the problem, not just a last resort of helpless victims. You have direct access to the Holy Spirit, the power of God Almighty. If you are living according to His will, your prayers are the most powerful force on the planet.
9. 1 Timothy 2:4 — To be clear, God, “desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” Are you working to please God today by preaching the Good News to everyone around you?
10. 1 Timothy 2:8 — “I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling.” Once again, Paul believed prayer to be our primary weapon system in the spiritual war we are in. He could not be more emphatic about our need to pray for others rather than engaging in angry quarrelling. Are you an effective prayer warrior?
11. 1 Timothy 2:15 — “Yet she will be saved through childbearing-if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control.” Paul is not saying that salvation comes through childbearing. We know through the rest of Paul’s writings and the whole of Scripture that salvation comes through genuine faith in Jesus. Genuine faith results in an obedient life that fulfills God’s purpose in life. Paul points out that, in obedience, women play a critical role of creating and developing the next generation of believers that will continue the faith through the currently wicked generation. The most powerful institution on the earth is the Christian family. The greatest leadership role on the planet is that of parent. A person has no greater discipleship opportunity than being a parent. Christians think generationally.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 27 Aug 18: Practice prayer and evangelism today. Start in your own family. Consider writing down the names of everyone within your extended family, praying for them all, sharing Jesus with them all consistently, and journaling your experiences. (See notes above)