Monthly Archives: April 2010

Numbers 2; Psalm 36; Ecclesiastes 12; Philemon 1

Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth, Before the difficult days come, And the years draw near when you say, “ I have no pleasure in them”.
       (Ecclesiastes 12:1) NKJV

These words seemed to jump right out of the pages of my Bible today, and grab me by the throat. 

Soloman is painting a picture of growing old.  It is a sobering picture and not a very pretty one.  But what really grabbed my attention is that this could be my picture.  If God allows me the years of life that would allow me the ability to grow into an elderly man, this is the description of what it would be like in those days.

But what would life be like as an elderly person if I’ve wasted and squandered my opportunities to serve and love God in my younger years.  As a middle-aged and relatively young man today, I could look back on many years of my life in which I was seduced by the “pleasures” of this worldly system.  There are many days when opportunities existed to share the love of Jesus and I wasted them.  There were days that were filled with meaningless activities focused only on me and not on God.  I can never have those days back.  They are gone.  If I could see them so clearly now, what will they look like as an elderly man? 

 Remember your Creator before the silver cord is loosed, Or the golden bowl is broken, Or the pitcher shattered at the fountain, Or the wheel broken at the well.  Then the dust will return to the earth as it was, And the spirit will return to God who gave it.    (Ecclesiastes 12:6-7)  NKJV

One day, this body is going to return to dust, where it came from.   One day, my silver cord will be loosed, my golden bowl will be broken, my pitcher will be shattered.  I have one shot at life.  I have one opportunity to make a difference for eternity.  At the end of this journey, if the days of my life are not filled with God’s purpose, my existence is meaningless.  If my life and actions are not rooted in God’s love, my service to Him means nothing.  Just a mere fifty years from now, it is very likely that I will not exist on this earth anymore and most of the people I interact with will no longer exist on this earth either.  Yet, I put so much emphasis on today as if today were all that mattered. 

The bottom line for me is that life is meaningless, empty and without any purpose at all if I just live it for the here and now.   One day, when I live in eternity with my beautiful Savior, I will really begin living as God designed me to live.   Because my time on this earth is so short and limited, the most important thing I could do with my time here is invest it into the things that will outlast my time here.   Each and every moment of each and every day must be focused on eternity with Him.  

God’s words are clear.  Fear God.  Love God.  Obey God.

Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter:

      Fear God and keep His commandments, For this is man’s all. 
       For God will bring every work into judgment, Including every secret thing, Whether good or evil.  (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14)  NKJV

O God, great and awesome and eternal God who was and is and always will be, I thank you for the truth of your word!  Your Holy Spirit has penetrated my heart and you have reminded me that the purpose you have for me in this existence matters for eternity! 

I humbly ask you, God to help me prepare and plan for my eternal future with you.  I ask that you take this existence and build upon this foundation utilizing the building blocks that would result in fruit in my life and glory to you.  I have no desire Lord, to just do the things that I think sound good, fooling myself into thinking that they matter to you.  In reality, I know that selfish things are not Christ centered at all.  I want to KNOW you and I want you to work in me and through me to use me however you wish.   Make my life purpose begin and end with you. 

While I wait on you, I will still work, however imperfectly it is, to build on the one foundation that is the greatest gift from you of all – LOVE!  I love you so very much, Lord and my love for you is only possible because you loved me first.  My heart yearns to be with you in eternity.  I long to see you face to face one day.  It is my deepest longing, and to hear you say to me, “Well done” would be the greatest joy I could possibly ever imagine!

Lord, only you could make that dream come true!  Until then, I will worship you and love you with all that I have to give.  You are merciful, righteous, perfect, omniscient, loving, good and caring.  You are MY GOD and my desire is for my heart and my mind to be transformed into the likeness of your most holy and beautiful Child.

Help me not waste one day you have blessed me with.  I love you!

John (Johnd7264)   

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Filed under Ecclesiastes, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, Old Testament, Uncategorized

Numbers 1, Psalm 35, Ecclesiastes 11, Titus 3

Say to my soul, “I am your Salvation.”

Psalm 35:3b NIV

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Lord Jesus,

When things in this life do not seem to make sense, say to my soul, “I am your Salvation.”

When I stumble and fall over the same issues time and again, say to my soul, “I am your Salvation.”

When doubtful, anxious or negative thoughts persist, say to my soul, “I am your Salvation.”

When I feel lost and beyond hope, say to my soul, “I am your Salvation.”

“Out of all the voices calling out to me, I will choose to listen and believe the Voice of truth.” (Casting Crowns)

______

My soul will rejoice in the Lord and delight in His salvation. My whole being will exclaim, “Who is like You, Lord?”

Psalm 35:9 & 10 NIV

But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, who He poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that having been justified by His grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. This is a trustworthy saying.

Titus 3:4 – 8a NIV

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Father,

You are so good! Who is like You Lord? The Almighty I Am, the Warrior of my enemy, the Comforter of my sorrows, the Encourager of my spirit, the Gentle Shepherd who leads and guides, the Savior of my soul. Oh how the list could go on. Please help me to always hold fast to you, to keep my hope and my trust in You, even when I don’t understand. You are trustworthy!

Amen.

– Beckie (look2thehills)

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Filed under M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, New Testament, Old Testament, Psalms, Titus

Leviticus 27; Psalm 34; Ecclesiastes 10; Titus 2

Book opened in lap. Internet tabs opened to blogs, email, radio, dictionary, and stepson’s summer wedding page. Mind insistent on wandering. Made a list of verses from study notes related to living in peace. Chewed this for over a week:

seek peace and pursue it.

Asked husband, “What do you think these words mean?”

“Isn’t it pretty obvious?” he said.

But what do you do with it? This call to action. I asked another way, “Do you seek peace? How do you pursue it?”

Intentional. Tenacious. A deliberate hunting down. So many times I have prayed for peace in my heart over decisions or relationships. Like peace is a blanket the Lord would cover me with and not something I should strive to obtain. Shouldn’t a prayerful decision lead me easily to peace?  When a clear answer doesn’t arrive, standing at a crossroads, I try to imagine the destination of a decision. Sometimes the landscape isn’t what I envision–with no peace waiting at the arrival.

Years ago these very words found me and call to me often still when I want to give up on or turn back from a difficult issue–that I must seek peace and pursue it. I am not surprised to find it spelled out across a page before me today. I focus on the words that precede.

Whoever of you loves life and desires to see many good days, keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking lies. Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it. Psalm 34:12-14 (NIV)

Not a passive voice. It is a continual call to action. Intentional. Tenacious. Snubbed? Seek peace. Hated? Pursue peace. The enemy’s lies a bitter bait that I have too often swallowed. That poison quick on my tongue, twisting my view, influencing decisions. My own sin wrapping around my ankle like a fruitless vine–turn from evil and do good … seek and pursue become louder.

I cannot change a heart, make someone forgive, or reverse regrets of life lessons, but as far as it is up to me, I can live at peace with everyone. Sometimes things don’t work out the way I’d like, but I can seek and pursue and trust that God is faithful and his timing is perfect.

Courtney (66books365)

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Filed under M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, Psalms

Leviticus 26, Psalm 33, Ecclesiastes 9, Titus 1

“If you follow my decrees and are careful to obey my commands, I will send you rain in its season, and the ground will yield its crops and trees of the field their fruit…I will grant peace in the land, and you will lie down and no one will make you afraid…I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt so that you would o longer be slaves to the Egyptians; I broke the bars of your yoke and enabled you to walk with heads held high.” Leviticus 26: 3-4, 6, 13 (NIV)

“But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love, to deliver them from death and keep them alive in famine.” Psalm 33: 18-19 (NIV)

“[A] faith and knowledge resting on the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time…To the pure, all things are pure, but to those who are corrupted and do not believe, nothing is pure. In fact, both their minds and consciences are corrupted. They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him. They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good.” Titus 1: 2, 15-16 (NIV)

At some point in my walk, I wrote “what a wonderful verse” in the margins of my Bible next to Leviticus 26:6. I cannot say what was going on in my life at the time, but I was apparently moved by the Lord’s promise that his people would be able to sleep without anxiety.  I have needed God’s affirmations, the assurance of his blessings more of late than I can remember. I am praying for the days of a “head held high” and holding my hands heavenward, in expectation of his deliverance.

Yet in the verses above, a pattern emerges: God’s faithfulness to us does not waver, but his blessings cannot be fully attained unless we are obedient to him. He is, as Psalm 33 promises “faithful in all he does” (v.4). He “does not lie” (Titus 1:2). He is a trustworthy father. But like any good parent, he extols good behavior. And so there is the flavor in these passages of a reward for obedience. This is not to say his relationship with us is that of magician or genie. My wishes are not always “granted” when I ask for them (Oscar Wilde once wrote – “In this world there are only two tragedies: one is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it.” Those of us who profess a relationship with God through Christ know too well the pain of a “no,” or an answer delayed). But I know that the Lord’s purposes stand firm forever (Psalm 33:11), and his faithfulness is unyielding. Countless times, God has spared me the consequences of a poor choice, or made something beautiful of my blunder. I am reminded here that I cannot stretch out my hands in anticipation of his blessings when I’m scorning his commandments. I think of the parable of the prodigal son (Luke 15: 11-32) who – though he spent all his had and despised his family – was welcomed back with countless blessings upon the exhibition of a penitent spirit and a contrite heart. It was his ultimate obedience – his return to what was right – that redeemed him from his past.

I don’t want distantly theoretical theology. I want a God who delivers on his promises. In Him, I have that, and more. I have a trustworthy father who “considers everything I do” (Psalm 33:15) – blessing my obedience, lifting my head heavenward.

Sarah

I’m the mother of three children ages five and under, and have been married to my husband Matt for nine years. I’m the co-author of “When the Fairy Dust Settles: A Mother and Her Daughter Discuss What Really Matters.” (Time Warner 2004) – a project that fueled my singular desire to write more, and often. So I took the plunge with Praying for Prada, a blog dedicated to making the case for fashion in Christendom (thesis: death to self is not the same as death to style). From there, I became a Shopittome.com “Trendsetter,” a style commentator on “The Talk Lounge” cable television show and a contributor to Stacie Donaldson’s ”Sense of Style” column for the East Wichita News. But before all that, I received a B.S. in Journalism, and a J.D. from the University of Virginia.  Some might say my professional aspirations have taken a left turn. Me? I’m just doing what I’ve always done. Though now, I’m wearing stilettos.

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Filed under Leviticus, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, Psalms, Titus

Leviticus 25, Psalm 32, Ecclesiastes 8, 2 Timothy 4

It’s party time! 

Time to indulge my own selfish desires without concerning myself a bit about others around me or the eternal consequences of my actions.  It says it right there in Ecclesiastes.  Solomon, the wisest man in the world, states:

So I commended pleasure, for there is nothing good for a man under the sun except to eat and to drink and to be merry…   Ecclesiastes 8:15a (NAS)

Simple observation suggests that many people arrive at this conclusion the same way that Solomon did.  They gather riches, they attain status, they pursue knowledge and they come to the conclusion that none of these things truly satisfy.  Rational beings, really only have two choices at this point.  If they see no higher purpose in their daily choices, then they may as well “eat, drink, and be merry”.  Why not squeeze every ounce of pleasure out of every minute, if the “here and now” is all that exists?  And for those who care what scripture has to say about the matter, they can always pull Ecclesiastes 8:15 out of context to justify their actions.  In fact, Paul predicts this kind of rationalization in his second letter to Timothy:

For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.   2 Tim 4:3-4

By 1996, I had attained a small measure of success in my career and in my personal life.  It was enough for me to conclude that fame and fortune would never satisfy.  I’m a rational being, so I knew there were only two choices.  That’s when God showed up and I saw a higher purpose.  I realized that my life could count for something lasting, if I chose to live for Him.  Amazingly and paradoxically, since I have chosen  to live in obedience to God instead of for my own pleasure, I have experienced immeasurable joy in my life.  Sure there are troubles.  Solomon acknowledged as much in the second half of the above verse  (Eccl. 8:15b …this will stand by him in his toils throughout the days of his life).  But I find that life has a much richer meaning when lived in partnership with God. 

It’s reassuring to know that Solomon came to the same conclusion at the end of Ecclesiastes:

The conclusion , when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person.  For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil.  Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 (NAS)

Lord God, thank you that you invented pleasure.  Thank you that you allow us to experience joy when we live a life of obedience to you.  It is my sincere desire to stand by you in my toils throughout the days of my life.

Greg (gmd40187)

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Filed under Ecclesiastes, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, Old Testament