YEAR 2, WEEK 17, Day 6, Saturday, 29 April 2023

Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Saturday, 29 April 2023:

Ecclesiastes 7:2 — It is better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting, for this is the end of all mankind, and the living will lay it to heart.

We live in a world of denial and escapism, which is based on fear, doubt, an inner sense of hopelessness, and a lack of knowledge of God — “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.” (1 Corinthians 15:32) Life is short, and it is often very challenging, but it is not without purpose and meaning, which is revealed in God’s word. The Bible calls us to live victoriously in the knowledge and hope of Jesus, which is our testimony. Jesus has overcome the world and death. We will still suffer and die, but our suffering is our sanctification, our ministry, and our fellowship with Christ; and to die is to be with Christ in eternal joy. Philippians 1:18-27 – “Yes, and I will rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith, so that in me you may have ample cause to glory in Christ Jesus, because of my coming to you again. Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ….”

Endeavor to live victoriously but also acknowledge that at times we are all weak and need help from others. The Bible tells us to live in mutually supportive community so that the strong support the weak during their times of personal crisis. Support others with the strength you currently have, and accept the support of others when you need it.

Ecclesiastes 7:5, 6 – It is better for a man to hear the rebuke of the wise than to hear the song of fools. For as the crackling of thorns under a pot, so is the laughter of the fools; this also is vanity.

Ecclesiastes encourages us to enjoy life but also warns us to take life seriously. Surround yourself with other committed disciples of Christ who get it, and journey with them.

Ecclesiastes 7:10 — Say not, “Why were the former days better than these?” For it is not from wisdom that you ask this.

There is no sense talking about how great things once were. There is an old adage, “The older I get, the better I was.”

We tend to magnify the good memories of the past and minimize the negative memories. From that distorted perspective, we can become cynical about the current state of things. Even if things truly are worse now than they were before, talking about the past doesn’t fix anything. Instead of cursing the darkness, light a candle.

Ecclesiastes 7:13 – Consider the work of God: who can make straight what he has made crooked?

Anything you’re trying to do that isn’t from God is pointless.

Ecclesiastes 7:29 — See, this alone I found, that God made man upright, but they have sought out many schemes.

God only intended you to do the good works He prepared in advance for you. We are so easily distracted by the worries of the world, and we needlessly complicate our lives.

Psalm 49:5 — Why should I fear in times of trouble, when the iniquity of those who cheat me surrounds me.

If you are serving God faithfully, you have nothing to worry about even if everyone is against you.

Psalm 49:7 — Truly no man can ransom another, or give to God the price of his life.

Only Jesus in His perfection is worthy to pay the price of our sin and give us salvation.

Psalm 49:10 — For he sees that even the wise die; the fool and the stupid alike must perish and leave their wealth to others.

Knowledge and wealth can’t bring you salvation.

Psalm 49:13 — This is the path of those who have foolish confidence; yet after them people approve of their boasts.

Popular opinion favors humanism over submission to God.

Psalm 49:15 — But God will ransom my soul from the power of Sheol, for he will receive me.

Only Jesus can save you.

Psalm 49:15-20 — …. Be not afraid when a man becomes rich, when the glory of his house increases. For when he dies, he will carry nothing away; his glory will not go down after him. For though, while he lives, he counts himself blessed —and though you get praise when you do well for yourself— his soul will go to the generation of his fathers, who will never again see light. Man, in his pomp yet without understanding is like the beasts that perish.

The psalmist points out the foolishness and blindness of pursuing blessings and praise on earth rather than the blessings and praise of God. The psalmist describes the arrogance and hopelessness of those who seek to build their own kingdoms (“the glory of his house”) on earth rather than seeking first the Kingdom of God (Matthew 6:33).

  • Psalm 127:1 — 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.

Jesus said, “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul (Mark 8:36)?” It is quite easy to get caught up in the worries of the world and lose the eternal perspective. However, when our daily pursuit is nothing but Jesus Christ, when our eyes remain affixed to Him, when we see our work and endeavors as opportunities to worship Him, to glorify Him, and to love others; when we see all other life circumstances as an opportunity to draw closer to Him and to reveal Him to others; and when through our walk with Him we learn to trust Him, we will not be distracted or deceived, and our joy and peace will be full.

  • James 4:14 — What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.
  • 1 Peter 1:24 — All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls.
  • Psalms 90:12 — So teach us to number our days, that we may present to You a heart of wisdom.
  • John 17:3 — And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.
  • Psalm 27:4 — One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in his temple.
  • Psalm 23:6 — Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever.
  • Psalm 84:10 — For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness.

Proverbs 29:18 — Where there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint, but blessed is he who keeps the law.

“The world operates on vision. God’s people live by revelation. The world seeks grand and noble purposes and goals to achieve. People dream up the greatest and most satisfying things in which they can invest their lives. Institutions establish goals and objectives and then organize themselves to achieve them. God’s people function in a radically different way. Christians arrange their lives based on the revelation of God, regardless of whether it makes sense to them. God does not ask for our opinion about what is best for our future, our family, our church, or our country. He already knows! What God wants is to get the attention of His people and reveal to us what is on His heart and what is His will, for God’s ways are not our ways! (Isa. 55:8-9).

Whenever people do not base their lives on God’s revelation, they “cast off restraint.” That is, they do what is right in their own eyes. They set their goals, arrange their agendas, and then pray for God’s blessings. Some Christians are living far outside the will of God, yet they have the audacity to pray and ask God to bless their efforts!

The only way for you to know God’s will is for Him to reveal it to you. You will never discover it on your own. When you hear from the Father, you have an immediate agenda for your life: obedience. As the writer of Proverbs observed: ‘Happy is he who keeps the law.’” (Henry T. Blackaby)

Proverbs 29:23 – One’s pride will bring him low, but he who is lowly in spirit will obtain honor.

“Pride is the great enemy of the Christian. Pride is an overly high opinion of yourself. It motivates you to do things that you know are not Christlike, and it hinders you from doing what brings glory to God. Pride influenced Adam and Eve to try to become like God (Gen. 3:5). Pride motivated Cain to murder his brother (Gen. 4:5). Pride provoked Joseph’s brothers to sell him into slavery (Gen. 37:8). Pride caused King Saul to resent David so deeply that he tried to murder him (1 Sam. 18:8). Pride led King Hezekiah to foolishly reveal his nation’s wealth to his enemies (Isa. 39:2). Pride was at the root of the Pharisees’ anger toward Jesus. Pride was the reason the disciples argued over rank in the kingdom (Luke 9:46).

Pride is your relentless enemy. If you succumb to its influence, there will be consequences. You may know that you have offended someone, but pride holds you back from asking forgiveness. You may realize you need to reconcile a broken relationship, but pride will lead you to deny that need. The Spirit may convict you that you are living a sinful lifestyle, but pride will discourage your admitting it. Pride will convince you that you deserve better treatment. Pride will impede your serving others. Instead, pride will have you striving for places of prominence. Pride will have you listen to flatterers and ignore honest counselors. Pride will lead you to isolate yourself so that you are not accountable to others.

Humility, on the other hand, is pleasing to God and places your life in a position where God will honor you. If pride has crept into some areas of your life, ask God to give you victory over it before it robs you of God’s will for you.” (Henry T. Blackaby)

“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 29 April 2023: Today, focus on keeping Jesus your focus. See every situation and experience as an opportunity to know Jesus more fully and to make Him known by others.

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