Getting Over The Hump…

Weakness1

 

 

Prayer2

TODAY’S DAILY PRAYER

a seed pod of travelers joy with brown curly threadsLet the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. Colossians 3:16, NIV

Dear Father in heaven, we seek you and your kingdom. We gather to hear your Word so that we may receive strength for our own lives and for all our relationships with others. We want to stand firm, believing that in everything great and small your will is being done and that we may yet experience a new coming of your glory on earth. Then earthly concerns will no longer torment us and wear us out, but heavenly things may surround us and everything become new in accordance with your good, merciful, and perfect will. Amen.

Daily Dig

Caffeine for your conscience

TODAY’S DAILY DIG

bfly9There is only one God, and he is God to all; therefore it is important that everyone is seen as equal before God. I’ve always said we should help a Hindu become a better Hindu, a Muslim become a better Muslim, a Catholic become a better Catholic.

 

 

Verse of the Day

Inspirational illustration of Proverbs 27:1

Thoughts on Today’s Verse…

Humility about the future! We don’t control tomorrow. At other times in our lives we may have taken tomorrow for granted; not so anymore. Tomorrow may not come. Tomorrow something horrible could happen. Tomorrow everything we possess could be gone. In the face of these discouraging possibilities, is there anytning positive we can hold onto? Absolutely! We know that God holds tomorrow in his hands. We know that because our life is hidden with Christ in God (cf. Col. 3:1-4) our tomorrow is secure. It might not be what we expect. It might not go as we planned. But, it will go as God determines and it will end up with us sharing in his comfort, victory, and glory.

My Prayer…

Father, my tomorrows all rest in your hands. I ask that I can be useful to you today; courageous enough not to worry about tomorrow, and loyal enough to not waver in my love for you and my commitment to you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

 

BIBLE STUDY BUDDY 

Read James 1:19-27…

My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20. because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. 21. Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.

 

22. Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24. and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it- not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it- they will be blessed in what they do.

 

26. Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. 27. Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary
James 1:21

v19-21 Instead of blaming God under our trials, let us open our ears and hearts to learn what he teaches by them. And if men would govern their tongues, they must govern their passions. The worst thing we can bring to any dispute, is anger. Here is an exhortation to lay apart, and to cast off as a filthy garment, all sinful practices. This must reach to sins of thought and affection, as well as of speech and practice; to every thing corrupt and sinful. We must yield ourselves to the word of God, with humble and teachable minds. Being willing to hear of our faults, taking it not only patiently, but thankfully. It is the design of the word of God to make us wise to salvation; and those who propose any mean or low ends in attending upon it, dishonour the gospel, and disappoint their own souls. 

 

Learn and Live!

A church had a new pastor who preached the same sermon every Sunday. When people started complaining, he told the congregation, ”I’ll preach a new sermon when you act on this one.”

 

That pastor’s statement reminds me of the words of the apostle James: ”Be doers of the Word, and not hearers only” (1:22). As followers of Christ, we are to live what we learn.

 

Michael Baughen, a speaker at a Bible conference in England, stated, ”James wants you to have a holy faith- worked out in the world.” Baughen pointed out that some people, though involved in the church and regular in giving, never care for anybody. ”The world calls that hypocrisy,” he said. Indeed, our empty lip service never fools the world. James said we fool only ourselves. Our faith is ”pure and undefiled” when it overflows in service to others (v.27).

 

Baughen lamented, ”Too many times at a funeral I hear, ‘He never did any harm,’ and I want to scream, ‘Did he ever do any good?”’

 

Some Christians are little more than ”harmless” citizens in the world, for they are hearers only. Others are compelling witnesses, for they are both hearers and doers.

 

Let’s not just learn what God says. Let’s live it!

 

November 1

Walk Worthy of God’s Calling
Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy,
To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ:
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers, remembering without ceasing your work of faith, labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the sight of our God and Father, knowing, beloved brethren, your election by God. For our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit and in much assurance, as you know what kind of men we were among you for your sake.
And you became followers of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became examples to all in Macedonia and Achaia who believe. For from you the word of the Lord has sounded forth, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place. Your faith toward God has gone out, so that we do not need to say anything. For they themselves declare concerning us what manner of entry we had to you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.
For you yourselves know, brethren, that our coming to you was not in vain. But even after we had suffered before and were spitefully treated at Philippi, as you know, we were bold in our God to speak to you the gospel of God in much conflict. For our exhortation did not come from error or uncleanness, nor was it in deceit.
But as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, even so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who tests our hearts. For neither at any time did we use flattering words, as you know, nor a cloak for covetousness-God is witness. Nor did we seek glory from men, either from you or from others, when we might have made demands as apostles of Christ. But we were gentle among you, just as a nursing mother cherishes her own children. So, affectionately longing for you, we were well pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God, but also our own lives, because you had become dear to us. For you remember, brethren, our labor and toil; for laboring night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, we preached to you the gospel of God.
You are witnesses, and God also, how devoutly and justly and blamelessly we behaved ourselves among you who believe; as you know how we exhorted, and comforted, and charged every one of you, as a father does his own children, that you would walk worthy of God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory.
For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe. For you, brethren, became imitators of the churches of God which are in Judea in Christ Jesus. For you also suffered the same things from your own countrymen, just as they did from the Judeans, who killed both the Lord Jesus and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they do not please God and are contrary to all men, forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they may be saved, so as always to fill up the measure of their sins; but wrath has come upon them to the uttermost.
But we, brethren, having been taken away from you for a short time in presence, not in heart, endeavored more eagerly to see your face with great desire. Therefore we wanted to come to you-even I, Paul, time and again-but Satan hindered us. For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Is it not even you in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming? For you are our glory and joy.
Therefore, when we could no longer endure it, we thought it good to be left in Athens alone, and sent Timothy, our brother and minister of God, and our fellow laborer in the gospel of Christ, to establish you and encourage you concerning your faith, that no one should be shaken by these afflictions; for you yourselves know that we are appointed to this. For, in fact, we told you before when we were with you that we would suffer tribulation, just as it happened, and you know. For this reason, when I could no longer endure it, I sent to know your faith, lest by some means the tempter had tempted you, and our labor might be in vain.
But now that Timothy has come to us from you, and brought us good news of your faith and love, and that you always have good remembrance of us, greatly desiring to see us, as we also to see you-therefore, brethren, in all our affliction and distress we were comforted concerning you by your faith. For now we live, if you stand fast in the Lord.
For what thanks can we render to God for you, for all the joy with which we rejoice for your sake before our God, night and day praying exceedingly that we may see your face and perfect what is lacking in your faith?
Now may our God and Father Himself, and our Lord Jesus Christ, direct our way to you. And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another and to all, just as we do to you, so that He may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints.
1 Thessalonians 1-3
WORSHIP
You are my portion, O LORD;
I have said that I would keep Your words.
I entreated Your favor with my whole heart;
Be merciful to me according to Your word.
I thought about my ways,
And turned my feet to Your testimonies.
I made haste, and did not delay
To keep Your commandments.
Psalm 119:57-60
WISDOM
Better to dwell in the wilderness,
Than with a contentious and angry woman.
Proverbs 21:19

KEEPING FAITH SIMPLE

The LORD confides in those who fear him; he makes his covenant known to them. Psalm 25:14

An Open Doors colleague, Ron Boyd-MacMillan, shares the following insight from his teaching, “Why I need to encounter the Persecuted Church.”

On his first visit to America, I took a Chinese Bible teacher to a Christian bookstore. I was not prepared for his reaction. I thought he would be overwhelmed by the variety of Bibles, reading aids, books and multi-media material on show. He was, but not in the way I expected.  He stopped in the middle of the store, turned to me and said, “It must be very hard to be a Christian here.”

“Why do you say that?”  I asked.

“How are you going to keep your faith simple with all this available?” We walked around the store as he told me what he meant. He picked five books off the shelf. All had similar titles like The Christian’s secret of a happy life. He leafed through them and said, “Each book seems to say there’s a secret to living a happy life in Jesus. But their secrets are all different. They all say there is one secret, but each has a different secret? That’s confusing.”

“Well, that’s just marketing” I explained a little defensively. But he went on. “Does that mean I have to buy all five books to really know Christ? That makes me anxious. What other secrets might I not be aware of? I have to buy more books. And soon, I would have more books than I could read, and I would not be happy, but guilty that I had spent money on all these books that I had no time to read.”

He put the books down on the floor and said quietly, “In China, I prayed for God to bring me books. He did, but only at the rate of about four per year. So I read those books thoroughly. I copied out passages. I made summaries for teachers. I learned whole chunks by heart. These books really formed me. The point I’m trying to make is that if you have too many books, it’s difficult to read one properly. I’m not saying it’s impossible, just hard. And this variety actually makes faith more complicated than it really is.”

He taught me a daily habit he learned in prison. “Every morning when you wake up, don’t get up, just stay in bed and for ten minutes thank God for anything that comes into your mind. It might be the wallpaper, it might be for friends, it might just be for life. Anything. Once you get going you discover that the world is full of grace…God’s grace. With that attitude you are ready to live the day for God because you are overwhelmed at how generous God is to you.”

It’s so simple, and yet isn’t there something in us that finds the simplest activities so hard to keep up? Maybe that is why we pack our lives with an infinite variety of routines and habits.  Anything but just continually doing what is simple.

A Vietnamese evangelist said, “We are to stay in the first grade, grateful to Jesus, repentant for our sins, expectant of his coming. Don’t graduate or you’ll leave the basics behind.”

RESPONSE: Today I will live my life simply – back to basics of praising, praying, witnessing, awaiting.

PRAYER: Help me, Lord, to stay in first grade so that I will never leave behind the basics.

 

 

Quote of the Day

“Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.”
~John 3:36

Today’s Answer

What’s the Power of Prayer in a Believer’s Life?
Jack Graham

Do you remember what happened when Christ, Peter, James, and John came down from the Mount of Transfiguration? They encountered a man whose son was possessed with an unclean spirit, which was wrecking his body and destroying his life.

Now, Jesus had several encounters with demoniacs, but there’s something added that I want you to consider. Note what the father said to Jesus in Mark 9:18, he said, “I asked your disciples to cast it out, and they were not able.”

What a commentary this was on the disciples. Jesus had given them the power. They had cast out spirits in other circumstances. So the power was possible, but they were not able.

These very words could be said about many churches today… they were not able! We live in a world of spiritual devastation and the church seems powerless to help. Why is that?

Well, it’s the same reason that Jesus gave the disciples when they asked why they couldn’t help the boy—it’s a lack of prayer. We are powerless because we are prayerless!

Listen! It’s through times of prayer that your faith really begins to affect your life and to make an impact on those you encounter.

If you want the power to touch your world for Christ, you must spend time with the source of power, Jesus Christ!

Taken from “There’s Power in Prayer” by Power Point Ministries (used by permission).

 

November 1

Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named.–EPH. iii. 15.

One family, we dwell in Him;
One church above, beneath;
Though now divided by the stream,–
The narrow stream of death.

One army of the living God,
To His command we bow:
Part of His host has crossed the flood,
And part is crossing now.
C. WESLEY.

Let us, then, learn that we can never be lonely or forsaken in this life. Shall they forget us because they are “made perfect”? Shall they love us the less because they now have power to love us more? If we forget them not, shall they not remember us with God? No trial, then, can isolate us, no sorrow can cut us off from the Communion of Saints. Kneel down, and you are with them; lift up your eyes, and the heavenly world, high above all perturbation, hangs serenely overhead; only a thin veil, it may be, floats between. All whom we loved, and all who loved us, whom we still love no less, while they love us yet more, are ever near, because ever in His presence in whom we live and dwell.
H. E. MANNING.

 

christiancrier

God The Evangelist

We are not really the evangelists…God is the true evangelist, and here’s why.

God Grants Repentance

I take heart in the fact that God is in control of salvation. From beginning to end, it is fully a work of God, but God does use others as a means to accomplish His purpose, and that purpose is sometimes met when God grants them repentance. The Apostle Peter wrote, “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance” (1st Pet 3:9). And God doesn’t use the rich and powerful or even the persuasive of speech. He uses the least regarded and less significant people in the world to share the gospel because He is more glorified in it. For many years I was ashamed of the gospel, stewing as it were…as a pew potato, but when I considered that we are all ministers of Christ, I confessed my negligence to the Great Commission (Matt 28:18-20; Acts 1:8), but what really changed my way of witnessing was to discover the fact that the power is in the message and not the messenger and that God is the evangelist. God adds to the body of Christ – I do not. It is not our responsibility to save anyone – it is their response to His ability, but it is our responsibility to tell them. If the message depended upon us, then nobody would be saved. My converts have all washed out…but God’s converts are here to stay.

The Power in the Gospel

One of the most revealing Scriptures was Romans 1:16 where the Apostle Paul wrote, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.” Later, Paul writes that “the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1st Cor 1:18). Paul acknowledges that “my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God” (1st Cor 2:4-5). The gospel is its own source of power because it’s God’s Word, and God’s Word has power to do what He wills it to do (Isaiah 55:11). Paul writes to the church of Thessalonica that, “our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit and in much assurance, as you know what kind of men we were among you for your sake” (1st Thess 1:5). This is what this looks like: the Word of God spoken by a person of God with the Spirit of God can make the children of God for the glory of God. It is “God-centered” because it is God-granted. The Apostle John says it was “to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:12-13).

God at Work

The Spirit convicts us of our sins and makes us see our need for the Savior, and this makes us run to the cross for forgiveness, and there, we put our trust in Christ. All along, the Father has been drawing us to Christ. Jesus said, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day” (John 6:44), so no person can come to Christ unless the Father draws them. The word used for “draw” is the Greek verb “helko” and means, “to draw or drag,” but as a metaphor, it means “to draw by inward power, lead, or impel.” The exact same Greek word was used in Acts 16:19 when Paul and Silas were “dragged” into “the market place before the rulers.” To be sure, if the Spirit of God does not quicken us, or bring us to life in Christ, we are deader than Lazarus who was four-days-dead! We need a resurrection to be raised to eternal life, but the Apostle Paul tells us how this happens, writing that we “were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience” (Eph 2:1-2), but everything changed for us because “God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Eph 2:4-7). By Paul saying we are already “seated in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,” he is saying that by grace we were saved and by grace we were raised to new like in Christ (2nd Cor 5:17). That’s why grace is so incredibly amazing. Lazarus could not have resurrected himself. Jesus didn’t ask Lazarus to cooperate and ask him to at least move a toe or blink an eye. Lazarus needed help.

Fear God or Man More?

We can trust the Word of God to do what it is set out to accomplish by God. Prior to His ascension, Jesus told the disciples that “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). There is no way that I’ve got power to go to the ends of the earth, but I can go to the end of my block. God will provide the power of His Spirit to help us know what to say and when to say it, but we had better understand that “the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” (Heb 4:12-13). The Word does its job and God’s Spirit does the rest, and as the Jewish official said in trying to stop the apostles from preaching the gospel, “if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God” (Acts 5:39). We have the great privilege of turning the world upside down, being named among those “who have turned the world upside down [and] have come here too” (Acts 17:6b). Since it’s a fallen world, maybe it’s that we turn the world right side up. The world just might not recognize it. The fear of man is a stumbling block for many (Prov 29:25), but who should we rather fear? It is God and so we should fear our being negligent in our carrying out the Great Commission, like for me, it was more like the great omission.

Conclusion

The Bible teaches that it is not God’s will that the wicked die outside of trusting in Christ, and even though God is drawing sinners to Christ, they still must choose to believe. We are responsible for our choices and will reap the consequences of those choices. Jesus gives us only two choices; “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him” (John 3:36).

Article by Jack Wellman

Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren Church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is a writer at Christian Quotes and also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Teaching Children the Gospel available on Amazon.

 

TODAY‘S

Christian Quote

When it is a question of God’s almighty Spirit, never say, “I can’t.”

– Oswald Chambers
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A Prayer to Avoid Burnout in Ministry
By Pete Briscoe

“I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances.” – Ezekiel 36:27

I’ve been in ministry for a number of years. I’ve seen people work themselves to the bone. They pour themselves out past empty and then turn themselves inside out. They do it all for Jesus. They do it all for love. Their intentions are purehearted, but their methodology is unbiblical.

If you want to avoid burnout, you’re going to have to let Jesus be Jesus – and that requires a great deal of surrender and dependence.

Mark 4:26-28 reads, “This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. All by itself the soil produces grain…”

The Kingdom of God is like this:

God grows it.

God produces it.

God knows how it works.

The Kingdom of God is like this: You don’t have to kill yourself to make sure it lasts. You are able to abide in the Lord and scatter where He tells you to scatter, plant where He tells you to plant, and – this is amazing – rest at regular intervals in between.

If the indwelling is the Spirit resting in you, then dependence is you resting in Him.

Heavenly Lord, may the words of your gospel be always in our hearts. As I work in ministry, help me work with all of my might, but also help me know when I have to step aside, in order for you to step in and work in a mighty way. Help me have wisdom to know how to abide in you. Help me avoid burnout by letting you be you. Thank you so much for the work you’ve given me, may it bear much fruit for your Kingdom. Amen.

 

 

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How to Live in the Face of Death

Theologically Driven

by Bob McCabe

Can you imagine the shock when an usher escorts you out of a church service to be told that your mother had just died? Because my mother was forty-four years old at that time and had become a Christian a few years earlier, I was emotionally devastated when I was greeted with this news. I was twenty-two and in my first year of seminary. For the first time in my life I faced the reality that someone who was intimately connected to me had unexpectedly died. Though I knew a few other people who had died, none had been as close to me as my mother, and this news affected me in such a way that I ached for many days. I was faced with a reality that death is no respecter of persons. We all face the reality of death many times in our lives. We see our loved ones die, people in our community, those we work with, and fellow believers. And, we will die! This is the type of context where Solomon commands his audience to joyfully make the most of God’s basic gifts. In Ecclesiastes 9:7–10 he gives a series of commands that not only applied to his generation but also to all other generations, including ours. Notice his advice:

[7] Go, eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart, for God has already approved what you do. [8] Let your garments be always white. Let not oil be lacking on your head. [9] Enjoy life with the wife whom you love, all the days of your vain life that he has given you under the sun, because that is your portion in life and in your toil at which you toil under the sun. [10] Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might, for there is no work or thought or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol, to which you are going. (ESV)

Though Solomon has previously treated the subject of death on other occasions in Ecclesiastes, he devotes more space to this in 9:1–6and 11–12Verses 7–10 are the core of a pericope that extends from9:1 through 9:12. The regenerate and unregenerate alike, in vv. 2–6, inevitably face death. Like fish and birds, people, in vv. 11–12, cannot predict when they will die. In the context of vv. 7–10, Solomon gives his advice by using a series of imperatives: three commands in v. 7focus on food and drink; three in vv. 8–9 on nice clothes, oil, and one’s wife; and one in v. 10 on living wholeheartedly.

The first imperative in v. 7, “go,” is an interjectory use that focuses on the two following imperatives “eat” and “drink.” Finding satisfaction in what one eats and drinks was previously commended in four earlier passages: 2:243:135:18–19 (Heb. vv. 17–18), and 8:15. In this context two objects are added: “bread,” lehem, with eating and “wine,”yayin, with drinking. In this verse the prepositional phrases that qualify the commands to eat bread and to drink wine, “with joy” and “with a merry heart,” reflect the celebratory nature of both imperatives. The theocentric nature of this verse should also be noted: “for God has already approved what you do.”

Solomon gives three other commands in vv. 8–9: “let [your garments] be white,” “let [not oil] be lacking,” and “enjoy.” While the third command is an imperative, the first two are jussive forms used as commands. Each of these commands extols the enjoyment of new elements in Ecclesiastes (for a listing of the other gifts to enjoy, see the other carpe diem, or enjoyment-of-life, passages: 2:24–263:12–13225:18–20 [Heb. 5:17–19]; 8:159:7–1011:9–12:1): garments being white, no deficiency of oil, and enjoying life with one’s wife.

The first command is a command to wear white clothes. In contrast to the black robes of mourning, the white garments reflect a celebratory mood. The second one highlights the regularity of anointing one’s head with oil. Like Psalm 45:7, this is associated with joy. The commands in this verse about white clothing and oil, like other carpe diem passages in Ecclesiastes, presuppose that Solomon derives his theology from the early chapters of Genesis. The final command is a call to enjoy life with one’s beloved wife. However, the ESV’s translation of hebel as “vain” is unfortunate. It is preferable to translate this Hebrew term as “enigmatic,” or an equivalent (though the nature of this blog post does not permit a justification of this rendering, I would recommend two sources that give solid defenses of this translation value: Graham Ogden’s “‘Vanity’ It Certainly Is Not,”The Bible Translator 38 [July 1987]: 301–7; and Jason DeRouchie’s “Shepherding Wind and One Wise Shepherd: Grasping for Breath in Ecclesiastes,” Southern Baptist Journal of Theology 15 [Fall 2011]: 4–25). With this understanding, Solomon commands men to enjoy life with their beloved wives during their enigmatic days on earth. Solomon’s use of hebel as “enigmatic” reinforces the book’s focus on the puzzling nature of life.

In addition to the commands in vv. 7–9, Solomon has one more in v. 10: “do.” More specifically, this command is to accomplish “whatever your hand finds to do… with your might.” In other words, one should wholeheartedly pursue, as God enables, the specifics of what is detailed in the carpe diem passages (eating, drinking, working along with the benefits from it, wisdom, adorning nice clothes, lavishly using oil, enjoying one’s wife, and living wholeheartedly) with intelligence and wisdom, as the last half of v. 10 implies.

By Solomon using a series of imperatives in vv. 7–10, he authoritatively calls us to judiciously enjoy life. When these verses are set in the immediate context of 9:1–12, this passage reflects the contrast between life and death. This tension is not only reflective of this unit of verses but also the overall design of Ecclesiastes with its dialectical scheme. Solomon’s overall sketch in this book mirrors the paradoxical nature of this world that was cursed at the Fall with unsolvable conflicts and disjointedness, yet it also affirms that God is renewing creation and man. Solomon uses vv. 7–10, as well as the other carpe diem passages, to affirm this renewal.

As Ecclesiastes describes, we will also face issues with death as well as other results of the curse, such as suffering. And, as we work through these issues, may we return to Solomon’s advice by embracing our God and enjoying the gifts he has bestowed on us.

 

EDITOR’S NOTE: Every day throughout November, we’ll bring you one devotional from our archives about Thanksgiving, giving thanks, gratitude, or giving of ourselves. Check back every morning as you thank the Lord for your many blessings!

A Season of Thanks
This devotional was written by Kelly McFadden

All your words are true; all your righteous laws are eternal. —Psalms 119:160 

This holiday season, you will most likely hear the song “My Favorite Things” from the Broadway musical The Sound of Music. To me this song has always felt out of place during the holidays, until recently. I have begun to hear it in a new light, recognizing the famous list of “favorite things” as a list of reasons to be thankful. The character Maria, who sings this song, thinks about her list of favorite things when she seeks comfort.

Christians have a list as well. Found in the Bible are promises from our Lord – keepsakes we can cling to at all times including periods of worry, trouble, or despair. These promises urge Christ-followers not to be troubled or to feel alone. They are words offering great hope because they are not the words of mere men. They are inspired, never-changing words given to us from our Savior and Lord. Read through a few of these promises below:

The Lord will give His people strength. Psalm 29:11

The Lord hears our cries. Psalm 34:17

The Lord will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4-5

The Lord will answer when you call to Him. Jeremiah 33:3

You need not be afraid. God is with you. Isaiah 41:13

The Lord will give rest to your burdened soul. Matthew 11:28-29

The Lord will comfort you. John 14:27

The Lord has given us His Spirit to guide us. Acts 1:8

You will have everlasting life when you believe. John 3:16

The list can go on and on. The Lord promises us mercy, protection, strength, eternity, love, and forgiveness. As it says in the Bible, God cannot lie (Hebrews 6:18) and His word is truth (John 17:1). We cannot look at God’s promises like we do those of our friends and family. As people, we often promise, but don’t follow through, even when we have the best of intentions. God’s Word is binding and true. These promises hold fast. We do not have to wonder if they will happen. Rather, we ought to wait in expectation. So “when the dog bites, when the bee stings, when you’re feeling sad,” I encourage you to remember all God has promised you. It is in these promises you will find great strength.

As you celebrate Thanksgiving, in addition to thinking through all you are thankful for, take time to thank God for His many promises.

GOING DEEPER:

1. Spend some time today reflecting on some of God’s amazing promises.

2. Say a prayer of thanksgiving to God for all He has given you as His adopted child.

FURTHER READING: Isaiah 40:31; John 16:15; Mark 11:23-26

 

 Devotionals Daily: A Year with Jesus

From Lead Serve Love by Gregory Lang

GIVE SECOND CHANCES

You are not forgiven only once, but each and every time you repent of your sins. Be honest about your imperfections, and you will truly find reason to repent each and every day. And remember, just as you are imperfect, so are those around you. Forgive your neighbors as Jesus forgives you, as often as he forgives you. Give second chances.

Jesus answered, “I tell you, you must forgive him more than seven times. You must forgive him even if he does wrong to you seventy times seven.”

–Matthew 18:22

When you are praying, if you are angry with someone, forgive him so that your Father in heaven will also forgive your sins.

Mark 11:25

If he sins against you seven times in one day and says that he is sorry each time, forgive him.

–Luke 17:4

But now you should forgive him and comfort him to keep him from having too much sadness and giving up completely.

–2 Corinthians 2:7

Since he himself is weak, he is able to be gentle with those who do not understand and who are doing wrong things.

–Hebrews 5:2

©2011 by Gregory E. Lang

 

Cultivating a Divine Appetite

Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy?  Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare. – >Isaiah 55:2

Unlike physical hunger, our appetite for God is never fully satisfied. Once we’ve satisfied our physical hunger we no longer want to eat, at least until we become hungry again. In fact, the sight, smell, or even the thought of food can repulse us after we’ve eaten our fill. Proverbs 27:7 describes the phenomenon like this: “He who is full loathes honey, but to the hungry even what is bitter tastes sweet.”

But the opposite is true with regard to our appetite for God. In the very act of satisfying it, the appetite intensifies. This may be something new and different for you, so let me explain.

If you’ve never tasted cheesecake, gone to a professional football game, or watched the sun set over the ocean, you can’t really know what you’re missing. Consequently, you probably don’t have much of an appetite for those things. It’s only when you’ve experienced something that you realize you want more of it.

That’s what Psalm 34:8 is telling us: “Taste and see that the Lord is good.” Experience for yourself that He’s good, and that He satisfies completely. And when you do, something wonderful and life changing will happen–you will find yourself wanting more and more of Him, and less and less of the world’s cheap substitutes for Him.

“Life is as a jelly roll. When you think you have it eaten, it comes out the other end. ” – Christopher P. Buonanno

 

The Daily Word of Hope Devotional

Bible Fun Fact: Short men in the bible: Zacheaus (a wee little man); Nee-high-miah; Bildad the shuhite (shoe-height); and the guard who fell asleep on his watch!

Mail Servers

They went out from there, and passed through Galilee. He didn’t want anyone to know it. For he was teaching his disciples, and said to them, ‘The Son of Man is being handed over to the hands of men, and they will kill him; and when he is killed, on the third day he will rise again.’ But they didn’t understand the saying, and were afraid to ask him. Mark 9:30 WEB

The manager of the the office nodded as I explained the details of the Linux mail server that I had just installed for them, but as his eyes glazed over and he began looking at his watch, I could tell that he did not really understand it. Many times while working in the computer field I have tried to explain something that I thought was simple to someone, and received that very same look.

It was a common look, but it did not matter. The system worked well and they were able to continue on with their work without ever knowing how that mail server worked. It ran silently in the back room for years and consistently delivered their email.

Most of the employees did not even know what that box was, or why it was back there, though they sent mail through it every single day. They only knew that the blue light should be on, or they needed to call Dion, because my phone number was taped across the front of it. They were completely happy to let me worry about the things that they did not understand.

In your walk with God, there are going to be some things that you do not understand. ‘Why did this happen?’ will always be just a thought away. If you really want to know, do not be afraid to ask Him, but never let your lack of understanding become an impasse for you. Don’t let it become a stumbling block.

God answers us because He wants to, not because He has to. Just as with a person, you should ask nicely and be patient. If you try and twist His arm, you will find that it does not bend easily, and that you are always free to go sulk in a corner while the world marches on around you. It is your life, and you can choose to do that. But if you will keep a positive attitude and just let it go, then you will be able to continue on and one day you may understand it.

There are many questions that I do not have an answer to, and many things that I cannot explain. I have decided to put things like that on the back burner, to focus on what I do understand today, and to keep that as simple as possible.

My relationship with Jesus is my prize, my goal, my passion. I choose to rest in the arms of Jesus and to let Him worry about the things that I do not understand. For me to do it would be like an ant worrying about the orbit of the sun. It is simply beyond me and my abilities.

Many times when I have asked about a scripture or a question, I have had a dream or a revelation that did help me to understand it better. Just know that you do not need to understand how God works, for Him to work. Just keep doing the part that you do understand until He gives you more. It is good to not understand something, but choose to trust that He does, and not let it affect your relationship.

Prayer: Heavenly Father I thank You for being there for me. I know that You know the end from the beginning. Though there are things that I don’t understand, I choose to trust in You and I will not let my lack of understanding diminish my faith, in the name of Jesus Christ I pray.

 

Today‘s Scripture

“My dear friends, we must not live to satisfy our desires. If you do, you will die. But you will live, if by the help of God’s Spirit you say “No” to your desires.” – Romans 8:12-13 CEV

Thoughts for Today

Problem behaviors and dependencies tend to progress in a person’s life. We call this progression “The Trap” because it often ensnares its victims before they realize what’s happening. Understanding the phases people usually pass through can help you better understand what might be happening to you or a loved one struggling with a problem.

The first phase is experimentation: We learn to experiment with the substance or behavior that makes us feel good, and we don’t see any serious negative consequences. We learn to trust the substance or behavior to help us escape.

How do we enter this experimentation phase? Perhaps we encounter it at a needy time in our life and the behavior makes us feel better. Or friends introduce it to us and we just try it out to go along with the crowd. Or maybe it’s something like food or spending or sports that is a part of normal life but reaches a point where it begins to control us.

Whatever the reason, it is so important to get our eyes back on God … to say “No” to anything that hinders us from giving him our best.

Consider this …

Are you at this point in your life? Just toying with a substance or behavior that deep down you know it is wrong, but it excites you and makes you feel good? Perhaps it’s drugs … or pornography … or compulsive spending … or … It is so important that you make a decision right now to stop before you fall deeper into the trap. Seem too difficult? It might be impossible to do alone, but if you will turn to Jesus, he’s waiting to help you. Don’t wait. Talk to him now!

Prayer

Jesus, I need your help. I feel myself more and more trapped by this problem. I know it’s not a good thing and is drawing me away from my commitment to you. Please forgive me and help me to say “No.” In Jesus’ name …

 

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DAILY DEVOTIONAL NOVEMBER 1, 2017

A Question to Consider

The church in your house.
Philemon 2

Is there a church in this house? Are parents, children, and friends all members of it, or are some still unconverted? Let us pause here and let the question go round: Am I a member of the church in this house?

The father’s heart would leap for joy, and the mother’s eyes would fill with holy tears if from the eldest to the youngest all were saved! Let us pray for this great mercy until the Lord shall grant it to us.

Probably it had been the dearest object of Philemon’s desires to have all his household saved; but it was not at first fully granted to him. He had a wicked servant, Onesimus, who, having wronged him, ran away from his service.

His master’s prayers followed him, and at last, as God would have it, Onesimus was led to hear Paul preach; his heart was touched, and he returned to Philemon not only to be a faithful servant, but a beloved brother, adding another member to the church in Philemon’s house.

Is there an unconverted family member absent this morning? Make special supplication that they may, upon returning to their home, gladden every heart with good news of what grace has done! Is there an unconverted family member still at home? Ask God to save him also.

If there is such a church in our house, let us order it well, and let everyone conduct themselves as in the sight of God. Let us go about our daily routines with studied holiness, diligence, kindness, and integrity. More is expected of a church than of an ordinary household.

Family worship must, in such a case, be more devout and hearty; internal love must be warmer and unbroken, and external conduct must be more sanctified and Christlike. We need not fear that the smallness of our number will put us out of the list of churches, for the Holy Spirit has enrolled a family-church here in the inspired book of remembrance.

As a church let us now draw near to the great Head of the one Church universal, and let us beseech Him to give us grace to shine before men to the glory of His name.

 

Worldly Planning
TGIF Today God Is First Volume 1 by Os Hillman
November 01, 2017

“Or do I make my plans in a worldly manner so that in the same breath I say, ‘Yes, yes’ and ‘No, no’?” 2 Corinthians 1:17

The apostle Paul was discussing his plans to come to the church at Corinth. He was acknowledging the serious nature of his trip and informing the Corinthians that he did not flippantly come to this decision to visit them. It was a matter that had been given serious prayer, not one made in the spur of the moment.

Planning from God’s view is a process. It isn’t merely an exercise in reason and analysis. It requires entering into the mind of Christ together with our minds to determine which course to take. In the Old Testament, the priests wore breastplates with the Urim and Thummim in a pouch on their breasts. It was like a roll of dice that the priests were required to perform to know which direction they were to take on a matter. It was the ultimate release of all decisions into God’s hand. God did not want the priests to rely on their own intellects for final decisions.

We have an uncanny ability to make decisions based on our own needs and wants. However, God desires that we seek Him to know His plans for us. David was a skilled warrior who never lost a battle. He consulted God on every decision. He knew the results of the battle rested in God’s hand. So, if he was to gain victory, he had to know God’s mind on the matter. Sometimes this requires more time given to the process in order to hear His voice. Sometimes it may even require fasting and prayer. Sometimes it may require input from other godly friends.

Are you a man or woman who makes decisions based on God’s purposes for your life? Do you take every major decision and put it before the throne to determine God’s mind on the matter? If so, you will avoid making decisions in a worldly manner.

 

Passion for Praise: ‘He Will Redeem My Life!’

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

But as for me, God will redeem my life. He will snatch me from the power of the grave.

LifeLessons1
I learn each and every day…….I wonder what I will learn today?
Kindness1
Yes, this is what everyone, everywhere, should do!!  If we threw kindness around the same way that some throw around cruelty, lies, and terrorism, oh, what a better world we would have!!!
FamilyLove1
Yes, it is…..and, aren’t we all parts of God’s Family?  Do we deserve to be?  No, but He loves us all anyhow……
Image result for Life Lessons
So, do it!!!!
BeStill1

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