Category Archives: 7-day reading pln

 Ecclesiastes 9-12; Song 1-2

Since Ecclesiastes is my favourite book in the Bible, the stories I could tell are vast and very different. It explains why I am as weird as I am 🙂

Still, anyone selected out for life has hope, for, as they say, “A living dog is better than a dead lion.” – Ecclesiastes 9:4 MSG

Basically, whether I am honoured in this life or not, I am a mortal that remains a mortal. This is why money has never had a hold on my life and I am thankful, neither has it had a hold on my wife.

Whatever turns up, grab it and do it. And heartily!
This is your last and only chance at it,
For there’s neither work to do nor thoughts to think
In the company of the dead, where you’re most certainly headed. – Ecclesiastes 9:10 MSG

It does not matter what it is – a job, a car, a pet, even just recently, a house – my wife and I look at the first opportunity and take it. The house sale had five more offers coming in the very next day and we did not wait. The right offer came and and we took it valuing this wisdom in our lives that we had practiced so much.

You who are young, make the most of your youth.
Relish your youthful vigor.
Follow the impulses of your heart.
If something looks good to you, pursue it.
But know also that not just anything goes;
You have to answer to God for every last bit of it. – Ecclesiastes 11:9 MSG

What a verse – tempts you and then calls God’s judgement on you. Only one way to know the right path – dishonour, if you will, or at least detest those things of pleasure calling your name. I cannot genuinely set my sights on God until I renounce the things of this world.

In old age, your body no longer serves you so well.
Muscles slacken, grip weakens, joints stiffen.
The shades are pulled down on the world. – Ecclesiastes 12:3 MSG

There is something to this – gallery of honour.” If I had the money to back me up, my greatest desire would be to meet as many older people I could and write their story. So many followers of Jesus have paved the way and now when old, no one seems to pay attention. What a way to bridge the gap and gladden their hearts. They have earned their place in God’s book.

The last and final word is this:

Fear God.
Do what he tells you. – Ecclesiastes 12:13 MSG

If one does not know God, they are condemned, but the honour is placed on the one who fears God. The fear of God excels everything.

I have to remember God. I do not live for myself, but for the Creator who made me. My role is simple enough – worship and enjoy Him – all while doing everything he tells me to do.

Father, I thank You for this journey I am on with You. You are quite amazing and so different than what the world wants. I thank You that I can be different too.

Erwin (evanlaar1922)

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Ecclesiastes 3:9-8:17

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)

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.

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.

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.

Jodie (simplyspoken)

From the archives. Originally published July 29, 2009.

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Proverbs 31; Ecclesiastes 1:1-3:8

Tomorrow marks the eleven-year anniversary since we settled on the house we call home. (I celebrate every year here.) I spent yesterday putting a fresh coat of paint in the kitchen. It had been almost eleven years since I painted it last. I thought back to that first time painting over the former owner’s warm yellow with a coat of white. And for some reason, my thoughts went to our house before, and the time I put in painting a mural for our first child’s nursery. How at the time, I was anticipating my first child, not knowing that that room would be the perfect room for a next woman’s young child. I wondered about a future day that all the changes we’ve made to this home will someday be viewed by a next owner–more than just a coat of paint, truly.

So I hated life, because the work that is done under the sun was grievous to me. All of it is meaningless, a chasing after the wind. 18 I hated all the things I had toiled for under the sun, because I must leave them to the one who comes after me. 19 And who knows whether that person will be wise or foolish? Yet they will have control over all the fruit of my toil into which I have poured my effort and skill under the sun. This too is meaningless. (Ecclesiastes 2:17-19, NIV)

I read the scriptures for this post yesterday, and thought on them while I worked. Thought of what seemed like opposite perspectives: from the example of a diligent (Proverbs 31) woman, whose work not only shaped and showcased her character but was a blessing to her family and community to the neighboring scriptures of Ecclesiastes, fraught with melancholic undertones of meaningless toil and repetition.

A person can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in their own toil. This too, I see, is from the hand of God, 25 for without him, who can eat or find enjoyment? 26 To the person who pleases him, God gives wisdom, knowledge and happiness, but to the sinner he gives the task of gathering and storing up wealth to hand it over to the one who pleases God. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind. (Ecclesiastes 2:24-26, NIV)

I notice the difference again between the things we can’t touch and the things we can. To the one who pleases God, wisdom, knowledge and happiness–intangible wealth! But to the sinner, the gathering and storing up of wealth that can’t be taken beyond the grave. The underlying character of the Proverbs 31 woman … and the undeniable truth in this:

16 For the wise, like the fool, will not be long remembered;
    the days have already come when both have been forgotten.
Like the fool, the wise too must die! (Ecclesiastes 2:16, NIV)

Lord, I have truly enjoyed the cyclical labor of the land of this home–although it’s definitely beaten me more than I’ve subdued it! Thank you for a home that’s been a fertile ground for treasured memories, joy, companionship, celebrations, and so much more. When I celebrate this home, Lord, I celebrate you and all that you’ve done in our lives–and in that, there is great meaning to me. Thank you for seeing me, Lord, and loving me.

Courtney (66books365)

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Proverbs 14-16 

I could not get past chapter fourteen – too much wisdom and advice. Although it goes all over the place, each expression is worth meditating on.

An honest life shows respect for God;
    a degenerate life is a slap in his face. – Proverbs 14:2 MSG

An honest life means that I am showing my true colours – whether in grace or in sin. In grace, others see my reverence for God and that gives Him honour and establishes that He is God in my life and to Him all honour is due. I think my actions speak with every step I take and people point and say, “Here is one who honours God.” That does not happen as much as I would like. I think I would even take a few persecutions just to know that people see God in me.

Lives of careless wrongdoing are run-down shacks;
    holy living builds soaring cathedrals. – Proverbs 14:11 MSG

I am called to evaluate what are true riches and true honour. I am sure what outward appearances have to do with wisdom, so I am looking more at graces and even comfort when I evaluate.

The hotheaded do things they’ll later regret;
    the coldhearted get the cold shoulder. – Proverbs 14:17 MSG

Not only am I taking this as instruction for me, but I want to hang out with those who have a reputation for wisdom and honour and take focused care to bridle their passion.

Foolish dreamers live in a world of illusion;
    wise realists plant their feet on the ground. – Proverbs 14:18 MSG

Here I can truly say that wisdom has become the honour of the wise. I want to be wise.

It’s criminal to ignore a neighbor in need,
    but compassion for the poor—what a blessing! – Proverbs 14:21 MSG

A practical application of wisdom is compassion. It is a character trait to have mercy on the poor. This kind of action is honourable and I know that I am happy when I am in this place because I believe it pleases God.

The wise accumulate wisdom;
    fools get stupider by the day. – Proverbs 14:24 MSG

There is no resting – and if I am getting wiser and developing better character, imagine what I could do with wealth. I would be even more honourable and useful. Wisdom gets results and when I get results, I get honoured.

The mark of a good leader is loyal followers;
    leadership is nothing without a following. – Proverbs 14:28 MSG

They say that 80% of Harvard’s leadership courses come from the Bible – here is a perfect example of something I thought I learned in university but it comes straight from the Bible – my loss.

Father, I want to be wise, and as You grow me I pray that others will see Your wisdom in me and decide to follow me. That would be a blessing.

Erwin (evanlaar1922)

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Proverbs 11:12-13:25 

Sometimes I get so caught up in what’s going on around me that I lose sight of a kingdom focus.

The grass needs to be cut. Laundry needs to be washed and folded. Supplies and planning for a next school year are on my mind. I need to get the oil changed in the car … plan a menu for the week … go by the store. Pay this bill … plan that outing … put out that fire …

When I read through Proverbs, I try to fit the teachings into what’s around me, but the lessons lift my gaze to a kingdom where the things that are valued can be possessed, but not touched.

A kindhearted woman gains honor,
    but ruthless men gain only wealth. (Proverbs 11:16, NIV)

Honor straddles two realms. It is gain. But it can’t be measured or held. Wealth is also a type of gain that can be hoarded and held, but not taken past the grave.

When I read through Proverbs, honesty, generosity, honor, diligence, prudence, righteousness, and more are the sweet and juicy fruits and gains of a heart’s focus, a person’s choices and actions. These traits show true prosperity.

One person gives freely, yet gains even more;
    another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. (Proverbs 11:24, NIV)

A dear woman at my daughter’s church turns 101 years old today. She’s a fixture of the church and community–even one of these old country roads bears her family name. She invests her love by serving others. She’s an amazing seamstress and wears lovely clothing that she made herself. A neighbor of mine down the road spoke of her and her sewing skills, and I was taken by surprise that he knew her and had had his clothes altered by her! She attended my daughter’s piano recital. She always took time to greet us after church service and offer a kind and encouraging word to my daughter when she was finished playing. She gives gifts freely and randomly. She is loved dearly by the community and celebrated–because of her kindness.

… a kindhearted woman gains honor … one person gives freely, yet gains even more …

Lord, help me to keep a kingdom focus. I need you and your word–a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.

Courtney (66books365)

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