Monthly Archives: July 2009

Song of Solomon 1-8

Scripture

“Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires.” Song of Songs 2:7 (NIV)

Observation

I remember my quick scan of the reading schedule to see how many days this Song of Songs would be spread out and was relieved that it was only one day. I was really intimidated by this book and considered myself off the hook, thinking what are the chances I’d get (to post about) it? Well, imagine my surprise when I did. I even tried to trade with someone, but I’m glad she didn’t let me off the hook.

I’m sure there are plenty of commentaries about Song of Songs and many interpretations. I haven’t read them. But I’ll press on–chapters that are thick with longing and love, anticipation, richness. It’s so very personal, sensual, like tapping into a lover’s journal, it makes me blush: should I be reading this?

But what does any of this have to do with me–a later-in-life Christian who has made plenty of mistakes and lived to regret them? What could this text say to me today? I chewed on these words for nearly two weeks. And this is the verse that pops out at me. Maybe not for whatever it is intended to convey to a young person or to speak of a waiting church or something people much smarter than I have explained it to be.

I overheard a friend talking to one of her kids about struggles they were facing and tempting responses they might have had. And she mentioned this–that sometimes the choices we make don’t lead us to the best that God has for us. I even thought of her words when I read this verse, and then everything got deeper. In haste, in fear, in anger, in sadness, in desperation, and even in love, I could find myself responding in any situation in a way that may not be God’s best for me.

This verse says not to awaken love until it so desires–wouldn’t that be the best? Let love mature, ripen, blossom–and then be amazed at what unfolds. This verse said to me wait on the Lord. To me, it’s about patience and time to mature. Waiting on the Lord, consulting him, seeking him and following him–wouldn’t that lead me to the best he has for me? Wouldn’t his way be better than anything I could come up with?

Application

In haste, in fear, in anger, in sadness, in desperation, and even in love, don’t be impulsive. Be patient. Wait on the Lord because his way is way better. And there won’t ever be regrets.

Prayer

Father, you have always wanted the best for me–but in my haste, I have often chosen my own way instead of yours. I later learned of joys I had unknowingly forfeited. Sometimes the impulse is obvious, and sometimes a situation is confusing. I don’t always know how to react, and I’m not sure if my responses lead me towards your best for me or not. Please help me with that–to wait on you and hear you. I don’t want to rely on me anymore. Amen.

Courtney

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Ecclesiastes 9-12

Scripture

Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.

~Ecclesiastes 9:10 (KJV)

Observation

Solomon in his divinely granted wisdom sheds new light on our motivation for living. We should enjoy life simply because we have it! Once we die, nothing will be the same. As amazing as heaven will be, God has also placed us here to enjoy this life, to serve Him, to work hard, to dream and plan, to learn and grow, to LIVE!

You have to jump over and note Ecclesiastes 12:13 also, “The conclusion when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person.” When it has all been said and done it will boil down to what we have said and done about what God said and did.

Application

I need to chase away those gloomy thoughts with this verse. Get my head out of the clouds, and enjoy this life. God has a purpose in my life, and I need to keep fulfilling it. Not mope around when a woe-is-me day hits.

God has made me a wife and mom and neighbor and daughter and sister, etc. I know that He wants me to be those things, so I need to put everything I can into them. Work at them with all my might.

Also remember that once this life is over that is it. No changing eternal destinations at that point.  I need to be putting as much effort as possible into sharing the gospel without reservation. How often do I really think about eternity when I am shopping, driving, answering a sales call, at the bank, eating out, etc.? These people that I cross paths with are enroute somewhere, what am I doing to make sure they have the right directions?

Prayer

Lord, I want to burn out for You. You have placed me here for a purpose. In this family, in these roles, with these relationships. Help me to pour every ounce of energy into living my life the way You intended, holding nothing back. I love to savor the joy in Your blessings, help me never to take one minute or one opportunity for granted. ~Amen

5intow (Erin)

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Ecclesiastes 5-8

Scripture:

“Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. Go near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools who do not know that they do wrong. Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God. God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few.” (Ecc. 5:1-2 NIV)

Observation:

What interesting instructions. I should “guard my steps” upon entering a place of worship. I should be entering with the intent of listening instead of simply going through ritualistic, ceremonial rules that have no connectivity my heart. I should remain silent instead of coming with my prepared laundry list. I should let God be God, the Creator of the universe. I’m just an inhabitant of His earth, a creature of His creation.

Application:

What are my expectations as I approach a weekly service of worship? Learn something new? Be “moved” by the music? Get teary-eyed? inspired? goosebumps? chills? Or do I actually expect God to speak to me. ME personally! Not corporately, but personally. Maybe if I wasn’t so “quick with my mouth” or “hasty in my heart” then I could hear Him speak. Maybe if I would “let my words be few” then I would be able to hear His.

Prayer:

“Father, I know You have so much to tell me…beyond just an hour on Sunday. And I know how to tell when I’m convicted by something You say to me…when I respond with “Ouch!” But I have a long way to go on this discipline of listening. I miss hearing opportunities all the time. I think You are talking about or to others. I think I’ve already learned “that.” I think that one’s “not for me”.  I think…too much. When instead I should simply be listening. Soften my heart to hear You, Lord. And then to listen. Amen.”

simplyspoken

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Ecclesiastes 1-4

Scripture:

“I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind.” Eccles. 1:14 (NIV).

“He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” Eccles. 3:11 (NIV).

Observation:

“Existentialist meltdown”

A book like Ecclesiastes seems ill-suited to the Bible. Of its twelve brief chapters, ten are dedicated to proving that life is meaningless. In fact, for several hundred years, Jewish scholars debated whether the book ought even to have been included in the Old Testament. Having slid into apostasy after straying from God, Solomon, once the possessor of all great things, is soundly rebuked (1 Kings 11:9-13). In Ecclesiastes, Solomon is in old age, and faces death with the bleakest of outlooks – a function of his life’s misguided pursuits.

But the book strikes a chord – maybe because we’ve all been dogged by glimpses of our own brevity. The secular novelist Thomas Wolfe (of Look Homeward, Angel fame) once wrote of Ecclesiastes that it “is the greatest single piece of writing I have ever known, and the wisdom expressed in it the most lasting and profound.” The message of the book is bigger (and briefer) than the bulk of its first chapters, and it is this: we are transients.

Thank you, God.

Application:

I have been where Solomon (the “Teacher”) has been. I have been crushed by the awareness of my own insignificance, and felt the rush of time. But in my darkest moments, I return to the “eternity” set in my heart by God, and the knowledge that all this is but for a little while. I am reminded of Christ’s promise to us: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10).

We can have all we want under this sun – we can be wise, wealthy, indulgent, high-livers. Or, we can have nothing – toiling in poverty, and plagued by ignorance and despair. Either way, if it’s without God, it’s meaningless. For “what good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul?” (Matthew 16:26). The connection with eternity – the reverence and love for God that brings us into everlasting communion with him – THAT means something. I live for awhile, “under the sun.” But then, I’m headed home.

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, when the brightness of this life dims, when things seem bleak and meaningless, or when even the glittering promises of temporary satisfaction entice, remind me of how very temporary it all is. Thank for the eternity in my heart, and the knowledge that you have promised us all good – and everlasting – things. Help me to look out from “under the sun,” and remember that life – REAL life –  lies beyond it. I love you. – Sarah

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Proverbs 27-31

Scripture
As water reflects a face, so a man’s heart reflects the man. (Proverbs 27:19, NIV)

Observation
Have you ever been surprised by a mirror, or not recognized yourself in its picture? You catch a reflection of yourself as you walk by, and wonder whom you’re seeing. “Who is that middle-aged man?”—or maybe even, “Look, there’s my grandmother!”

Application
Spiritually speaking, have you ever been surprised by the reflection you see of your own heart? You lose your temper at your children and think, “When did I become such an angry person?” You let your mind wander in impure thoughts, and wonder, “Am I really this lacking in self control?” The heart, said Solomon, reflects the man.

Prayer

God, too often I ignore my own “reflection”. Sometimes I grow so apathetic that I don’t even notice the sins within me. Will You show me what’s truly in my heart? With Your Word as my standard and Your Spirit as my counselor, show me the impurities—and polish the blemishes in me, until my heart reflects Your own. Amen.

amystorms

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Proverbs 23-26

Scripture

Do not speak in the hearing of a fool,

For he will despise the wisdom of your words.

Proverbs 23:9 (NASB)

Observation

When in the presence of foolish people it is often best to remain silent. First, you waste your words on those who will not have them. Secondly, they will despise the wisdom you offer because it is wise and good. They will often despise the messenger as well more often than not. The difficulty is that it is often impossible to know who the fool is the first time.

Application

I decided to keep it simple tonight. Hopefully there might also be something of value in here as well. As one who believes that everyone is entitled to my opinion, this is a difficult nugget of wisdom for me. I do not keep quiet very well, especially when I see people doing foolish things that will definitely harm them. Yet I am amazed time and time again that when truth is spoken and sage advice offered it is not only ignored, it is despised. This is especially the case for issues of moral truth. In my philosophy classes, that which is righteous and good is despised as evil and oppressive while that which is vile and debauched is upheld as liberating and good. When you point to empirical data demonstrating the broken and bankrupt outcomes of these liberations you are met with only ridicule and abuse. At some point it is best to simply shut up and allow folly to reap its own reward. This is hard though when it involves people you care about.

Prayer

Lord God how often I despise the wisdom of your Word in my heart and in my choices – thank you that you have forgiven my foolishness and atoned for my spite. Please give me ears to hear and a will to obey your good and perfect wisdom. I ask that your Spirit would be active and moving in the hearts and lives of those in our lives who will not hear sound reason and wisdom. Help us to pray for them when we cannot talk with them and to trust that your Spirit will work where we cannot. And give us the wisdom to listen to you, that we might not be fools, except perhaps in the eyes of the world.

Amen and amen.

Mike

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Proverbs 20-22

Scripture

“The rich and the poor have this is common, the Lord is the maker of them all” Proverbs 22:2 

“By humility and the fear of the Lord are riches and honor and life” Proverbs 22:4 

“He who has a bountiful eye will be blessed, for he gives of his bread to the poor” Proverbs 22:9

 

Observation

  • Whether one acknowledges it or not God is the maker of everyone
  • Giving to the poor produces blessing
  • True riches come from respect for God

 

Application

Proverbs 22:4 and 9 are memory verses of mine, they where some of my first memory verses when I became a Christian.  I liked them because they where straight forward and direct.  I’m glad to be reminded of them again, reminding me to keep my priorities straight.  Respect and honor for God, giving to people in need, being humble and rich or poor God is God of all.  I need to realign my thinking to today to seek what is really important.

 

 

Prayer

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for proverbs because they are so practical for our lives.  Help me to seek the true riches of life, a daily relationship with You. Amen 

Jon

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