Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Tuesday, 28 August 18:
1. Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 – “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.”
– From Henry T. Blackaby: The beauty in the way God designed the four seasons is that, though each one is distinct, they all work together to bring life and growth. Spring is a period of freshness and new life. Summer sees growth and productivity. Autumn is a time for harvesting the rewards of past labors. Winter is the season of dormancy and closure. Each season has its own unique beauty and makes a significant contribution to life. Just as God planned seasons in nature, He planned seasons in life as well. Life has its springtime, when we begin new things and look excitedly toward the future. Summer comes and we work diligently in the heat of the day at all that God has assigned to us. With autumn comes the fruition of things begun at an earlier time in our lives. Winter brings an end to a particular period in our lives. Sometimes winter brings hardship, but we remain hopeful, for another spring is just around the corner! In God’s perfect design for our lives, He has planned for times of fruitfulness and activity. He will also build in times of quiet and rest. There will be times when He asks us to remain faithful doing the same work day after day. But there will also be periods of excitement and new beginnings. By God’s grace, we will enjoy seasons of harvesting the fruit of our faithfulness. By God’s grace we will also overcome the cold winters of heartache and grief, for without winter there would be no spring. Just as it is with the seasons of nature, these seasons in our lives work together to bring about God’s perfect will for each one of us.
– Negative things aren’t necessarily evil things. Many things we consider negative, undesirable, or even tragic are an important part of life and may actually be what God desires for His glory and your life in ways you cannot understand. Even when people do things with evil intent, God brings about a greater good according to His perfect plan, with His promise that nothing can separate us from His love. Romans 8:28 tells you that when you are called according to God’s purpose, ALL things will result in good. Wasn’t this Moses’ and Joseph’s story? Without an explanation from God, Moses had to wander the desert alone as a fugitive for forty years before he could be ready to lead millions of people in the desert for forty years. Remember what Joseph said to his brothers who had sold him into a life of slavery – “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.” (Genesis 50:20) Wasn’t Jesus glorified through crucifixion and resurrection? The most awful event in history, the crucifixion of The Father’s Son, was used by God for the salvation of many. Trust God with both the “good” and the “bad,” and wait to see what good He will ultimately bring about. Also, look to see what He might be teaching you about what you need to change in order to avoid pointless, self-induced suffering caused by sin.
2. Ecclesiastes 3:11 — “Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.” God has created us to desire Him, and we will never be totally satisfied on this earth without being in His presence.
3. Ecclesiastes 3:12, 13 — “I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live; also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil—this is God’s gift to man.” Be joyful, do good, and learn to enjoy work, after all, you were created to do all these things. Many wrongfully think work is the result of original sin. Quite the contrary – God works and created people to work for Him. God gave Adam a job before He gave him a help-mate. Sin caused needless, unproductive toil as men sought to work for themselves rather than for God and with God. God made you to work for Him alone, in partnership with Him, and in His power. Joy is found in working diligently for the Kingdom, in fellowship with God, experiencing ever-increasing revelation of Him through the process.
– Work hard, but enjoy life, and have fun in the process. Life does not last forever; make the most of it. (Ecclesiastes 3:22) Don’t let emotions such as pride, fear, vanity, guilt, or jealousy cause you to turn work into a life crushing, joy killing idol. (Ecclesiastes 4:4) Even ministry done for the wrong reasons or in the wrong way can become an unintended burden in life. Do not let work get in the way of your relationships — “’For whom am I toiling and depriving myself of pleasure?’ This also is vanity and an unhappy business.” (Ecclesiastes 4:8) “Do not toil to acquire wealth; be discerning enough to desist.” (Proverbs 23:4) The wise person lives a balanced life with all four seasons — a ‘summer season’ of hard work, growth and productivity; an ‘autumn season’ of harvesting the rewards of labor; a ‘winter season’ of dormancy and rest; and a ‘spring season’ of new beginnings. Key to balance is obedience, faith, and contentment. First, we should walk in obedience, doing only what God desires us to do, not adding our own burdens to life from sin. “Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.” (Proverbs 16:3) To the hurried person who says, “There is just not enough time in the day to do everything I need to do,” the old Pastor reminds him, “There is just enough time in the day to do exactly what God wants you to do.” What are you busy doing God never asked you to do? Second, work in faith — “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow.” (Matthew 6:33) Third, learn to be content with what God has given you – “Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for He has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’” (Hebrews 13:5) Finally, do not be troubled by a sense of injustice, inequality, unfairness, or a feeling that you are not getting due credit for your efforts or a proper return on investment. When you labor for God, you never labor in vain.
– John 16:33 — I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
– 1 Peter 5:7 — Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.
– Ephesians 5:15 — Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise,
– Romans 12:2 — Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
– Colossians 3:17 — And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
– Matthew 6:33 — But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
– Philippians 4:13 — I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.
– Mark 6:31 — And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat.
– 2 Timothy 1:7 — For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.
– Genesis 2:2-3 — And on the seventh day God finished his work that He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all his work that He had done. So, God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all His work that He had done in creation.
– Isaiah 41:13 — For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I am the one who helps you.”
– John 5:30 — “I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge, and my judgment is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of Him who sent me.
– 1 John 2:15-17 — Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.
– Luke 10:38-42 — Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to His teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to Him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”
– Galatians 5:22 — But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
– Psalm 127:1-2 — A Song of Ascents. Of Solomon. Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep.
4. Ecclesiastes 4:4 — “Then I saw that all toil and all skill in work come from a man’s envy of his neighbor. This also is vanity and a striving after wind. ” What motivates you to do what you do? Would you still do all that you do if you got no credit for it or if someone else got the credit for your work?
5. Ecclesiastes 4:8 – “… one person… has no other, either son or brother, yet there is no end to all his toil, and his eyes are never satisfied with riches, so that he never asks, ‘For whom am I toiling and depriving myself of pleasure?’ This also is vanity and an unhappy business.” Many people try to find life meaning and fulfillment through their work, but there is nothing that can fill the God-sized hole in a person’s heart but God. Work is not your goal; unity with Christ is your life goal. Work resources loving deeds.
6. Ecclesiastes 4:10-12 – “For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” God never intended for a person to go it alone.
7. Proverbs 28:5 – “Evil men do not understand justice, but those who seek the Lord understand it completely.” Expect less and less justice as the nation moves farther and farther away from God. The hope of our nation is Jesus, only Jesus.
8. Proverbs 28:6 – “Better is a poor man who walks in his integrity than a rich man who is crooked in his ways.” Your integrity before God is more valuable than anything money could buy.
9. Proverbs 28:7 – “The one who keeps the law is a son with understanding, but a companion of gluttons shames his father.” Gluttony is a form of lawlessness. The church population is guilty of gluttony. A 2006 Purdue study found that the fundamental Christians are by far the heaviest of all religious groups, led by the Baptists with a 30% obesity rate compared with Jews at 1%, Buddhists and Hindus at 0.7%. Similarly, a 2011 Northwestern University study tracking 3,433 men and women for 18 years found that young adults who attend church or a Bible study once a week are 50% more likely to be obese. The Pawtucket Heart Health Program found that people who attended church were more likely than non-church members to be 20 percent overweight and have higher cholesterol and blood pressure numbers. Finally, a 2001 Pulpit and Pew study of 2,500 clergy found that 76% were overweight or obese compare to 61% of the general population at the time of the study. Christians should be models of self-control.
10. Proverbs 28:9 – “If one turns away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer is an abomination.” Prayer rests on relationship with God. If you have a relationship problem because of sin, you have a prayer problem. Don’t be like a foolish child who asks for gifts from his parent while behaving badly.
11. 1 Timothy 3:1-4 – “The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive….” Church leaders must first be able to lead themselves (self-controlled, sober-minded, gentle, etc) and then lead their families (the husband of one wife…. keeping his children submissive). Note also that the prerequisite for teaching is noble character, not just knowledge. Too many people breach what they teach. True understand is revealed in application. Why would you take fitness advice from someone who is out of shape? Why would you listen to a preacher who doesn’t lead in love? Didn’t Jesus say to judge the tree from its fruit?
12. 1 Timothy 3:9, 10 – “They must hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. And let them also be tested first; then let them serve as deacons if they prove themselves blameless.” This could not be clearer. Leaders must have a clear conscience and be tested as blameless. Leaders are to be held at a much higher standard – no excuses.
13. 1 Timothy 3:14, 15 – “I hope to come to you soon, but I am writing these things to you so that, if I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth.” How ought an ambassador, a representative for Jesus Christ behave? Don’t be complacent with God’s holiness.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 28 Aug 18: Examine your leadership inside-out: are you leading yourself well and those closest to you? Don’t seek a greater leadership position; seek to be a greater leader. Greater responsibility will come from your moral authority. (1 Tim 3:1-4)