Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Friday, 31 August 18:
1. Ecclesiastes 9:2 — “The same life events happen to the righteous and the wicked.” We are called be faithful regardless the circumstances. God does not promise earthly rewards for our obedience, nor should this ever be our motivation. Our obedience should be motivated by love for God, the natural response to grace. Having said that, the Bible does promise that God will bring good out of our circumstances, while the rebellious only receive bad out of their circumstances (whether or not the circumstances appear good our bad). Again, see Romans 8:28.
2. Ecclesiastes 9:11 – “Again I saw that under the sun the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to the intelligent, nor favor to those with knowledge, but time and chance happen to them all.” Despite our best efforts, life is unpredictable and uncertain. However, the faithful Christian can walk confidently, boldly, contently, and joyfully, knowing that God is guiding him or her in His perfect, unfailing love. The God who is Love is in complete control. Be at peace and rejoice, even when life is hard.
3. Ecclesiastes 10:1 — “A little folly outweighs wisdom and honor.” It doesn’t take much to destroy trust and confidence or ruin a reputation. Once you lose trust with someone, it is very hard to get it back. As an ambassador of Christ, guard your reputation carefully in order to bring glory and honor to the Name of Jesus.
4. Ecclesiastes 10:10 — “If the iron is blunt, and one does not sharpen the edge, he must use more strength.” Invest time to “sharpen your axe” (improve your productive skills) so you can chop down more trees in the end. Being busy is not the same as being productive and effective. Sharpen your skills, sharpen your methods, and increase your abilities. Work wisely. Wise work is always obedient and makes the most of every opportunity.
5. Proverbs 31:8, 9 – “Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all who are destitute. Open your mouth, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy.” Leaders stand up for those who cannot stand up for themselves. Christians must be leaders; it isn’t an option.
6. Proverbs 31:11 – “The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain.” All relationships are based on trust which is earned through love and faithfulness.
7. Proverbs 31:30 — “Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” Character is not the way you look, or what you say, or what you accomplish, or even how you act; character is what is in your heart, how much you walk in love for the LORD and for others.
8. 1 Timothy 6:1 – “Let all who are under a yoke as bondservants regard their own masters as worthy of all honor, so that the name of God and the teaching may not be reviled.” God wants you to treat everyone with honor so that you won’t hinder your witness to them.
9. 1 Timothy 6:6 — “But godliness with contentment is great gain.” Our readings today emphasize the need for Christians to live life in contentment. Today Paul said, “But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.” (1 Timothy 6:8) However going even further, he also said elsewhere, “I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content…. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (Philippians 4:11; 2 Corinthians 12:10) What does it take for you to be content, to enjoy the life that you have? How much sin, frustration, anger, bitterness, jealousy, envy, strife is the result of discontentment? James said that our fights are caused because of discontentment — “What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel.” (James 4:1, 2) Discontentment causes imbalance in our lives and causes us to stray from God and His intended path for our lives. Discontentment causes us to focus on what we don’t have rather than enjoying the blessings and gifts that God has given us. We are constantly seeking a better situation rather than making the most of the opportunities right in front of us. Soon nothing is ever quite good enough. (Ecclesiastes 9:9, 10) The hustle, bustle, and noise of the rat race can cause us to miss the calm, quiet voice of wisdom offering a path that leads to joy (Ecclesiastes 9:17, 18) Solomon offers much more advice on how to live the content life: guard your honor, and don’t do foolish things that only make your life harder. (Ecclesiastes 10:1-3) John Wayne said it this way: “Life is hard; but it is harder when you’re stupid.” When you do mess things up, even really big things, stay calm and don’t give up. (Ecclesiastes 10:4) Don’t make life harder or more complicated than it has to be. Focus on the basics. Master the skills and work hard at the job you do. Don’t get caught up in risky schemes that are likely to collapse on you or come back to bite you. (Ecclesiastes 10:8-15) Through good old, simple hard work, take care of your basic responsibilities, and be a good steward of what God has already given you, and you will eliminate most problems in life – “Through sloth the roof sinks in, and through indolence the house leaks.” (Ecclesiastes 10:18) Finally, don’t be an instigator. (Ecclesiastes 10:20) “Aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands… so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one.” (1 Thessalonians 4:11)
10. 1 Timothy 6:10 — “It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.” Self-control is required to avoid temptations. A person’s physical appetite is similar to their emotional appetite. A Christian requires self-control to battle all sins which play on our appetites.
11. 1 Timothy 6:11, 12 — “But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.” The Christian must simultaneously flee and pursue. Growing in faith is a fight, a struggle.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 31 Aug 18: Today, evaluate your self-control. Where do you lack self-control? Galatians 5 tells us that self-control is a fruit of the Spirit, not mere human will power. Pray for the power of Holy Spirit to give you the self-control you currently lack, and submit to the Holy Spirit.