Tag Archives: Ecclesiastes

Ecclesiastes 10, 11, 12; 2 Corinthians 11:16-33

Are they servants of Christ? I am a better one—I am talking like a madman—with far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death. Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to fall, and I am not indignant? If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness. 2 Corinthians 11:23-30

As a believer living in a country that still allows religious freedom, I know that I am blessed to be able to attend worship services, pray for people in public, carry my Bible (on my phone), listen to Christian music on the radio, etc. I know that I can do all of those things to worship and serve my God without fearing for my life.

I also know, that before I began spending time in a country that doesn’t offer the same freedoms, I didn’t really even think, other than peripherally, about the persecuted church. I never quite understood having to hide my faith or having my life threatened for standing up for my belief in Christ.

I am always amazed by the stories of persecution that I hear from the native missionaries and pastors that my husband and I work with in India. And, I am amazed by their strength, found in Jesus, to carry on and make a stand in the face of death.

Some stories of persecution are horrific; the outcome is martyrdom, told by survivors. They are stories of stabbings on the street side, beatings, being held hostage in their home only to be burned to death. But many stories become testimonies to God never-failing mercy.

One story hit close to home for me. Many years ago, my husband experienced one of these life or death situations. As he preached the Gospel in a remote village, some Hindu extremists threatened him, told him to leave their village and never come back. They never gave him the chance to stay away as they began trying to beat the life out of him. They smashed his face in and battered his body; then left him for dead. A good ‘Samaritan’ took him to the hospital, where by God’s grace his body healed and he was able to continue being a witness from his bed and eventually go back into the villages to share the stories of Jesus’ sacrifice, despite the threats that are continually issued by deceived men.

Another story gives me courage every time I go into a village to share the message of hope. Native missionaries, Ambika and Susilla, in their old age, would go into the villages every day to conduct children’s ministry and pray for the people. One day as they were walking from one area to another, a drunken man accosted them. He began screaming at them, threatening their lives with a machete. All of their faith was in their Lord and Savior; they stood strong in Christ and told the man that they would never stop telling people about, even if he killed them. He was even more angered that they were not daunted by his threats and lunged at them. God’s hand protected them, and when he came nearer to them, his whole demeanor instantly changed. He lowered the blade and was sobered. Instead of killing them, he instead asked them to pray for him.

Just like Paul, there are countless Christians who are continually faced with making the choice between their lives and their faith. Those believers who stand in steadfast regardless of the consequence are testaments to the goodness of God and the strength that He offers in times of need.

Yesappa, Thank You for always being there, by my side; for giving me strength when I am weak. Thank You for offering courage, for supplying protection for my spirit. Help me stand strong for You and the sacrifice that You made for me, in the face of persecution as the end days draw nearer and nearer. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

Blessings – Julie (writing from the U.S.A.)

 

Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Leviticus 27; Psalms 34; Ecclesiastes 10; Titus 2

The words of the wise bring them praise, but the words of a fool will destroy them…A fool talks too much. Ecclesiastes 10:12; 14a (NCV)

Every now and then, especially in the midst of an argument, I have these moments where I realize that sometimes I talk too much. My husband says I should have been a lawyer instead of a missionary, because I always know how to argue my point like I am aiming to win in court.

The fact is I don’t always use my words in a life-giving way. I complain. I whine and moan. I vent my frustrations with the double edged sword of my tongue. I admit I even raise my voice from time to time, hoping that an increase in volume will increase my ability to be understood or at least heard.

After it is all said and done, I often regret the verbal vomit I spewed. I know I have made myself look the fool at times, before friends, family, and even complete strangers. And I wish I had just kept my big mouth shut.

It is an area of myself I am continually taking before God, a request for self-control and restraint. Over the past few years, as I have been getting more and more accustomed to being a new creation, I have realized that there are a few choices that I have to make each day that are vital in order for me to adopt a mouth of the wise:

1) I have to actively choose to think about how what I allow to come out of my mouth might affect myself and the people around me. Are the words bouncing around, yearning to escape encouraging, something that will build-up rather than tear-down? Do they offer life or usher in death?

Speak the truth so that you cannot be criticized. Then those who are against you will be ashamed because there is nothing bad to say about us. Titus 2:8 (NCV)

2) I have to actively choose to always speak the truth, in love. Things that need to be said can always be shared in more than one way. If I am honest, but offer those truths in a hard, unloving way, it opens the door for strife. But, if I am truthful in an authentic, loving way, it removes the enemy’s ability to cause discord with my words.

I will praise the Lord at all times; his praise is always on my lips. My whole being praises the Lord. Psalm 34:1-2a

3)      And most importantly, I have to actively choose to put my attention on God. When I focus on Him, my mind is renewed and my thoughts are bathed in His wisdom. And when my thoughts are aligned with Heaven, my words follow suit and I am able to interact from a place of love, grace, and mercy.

It is a journey, and I pray that one day I will notice I am much better at censoring my words, considering before I speak, and speaking through a lens of love, to myself and to others.

Help me Holy Ghost!

Blessings – Julie, Vadipatti, India (written in the U.S.A.)

Scripture taken from the New Century Version®. Copyright © 2005 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Leviticus 20; Psalms 25; Ecclesiastes 3; 1 Timothy 5

God has given them a desire to know the future. He does everything just right and on time, but people can never completely understand what he is doing. So I realize that the best thing for them is to be happy and enjoy themselves as long as they live. Ecclesiastes 3:11-12 (NCV)

I think about my life and I wonder why certain things have happened and why other things have not. Why have I experience some of my hopes and dreams and why have many of them been left behind in the dust of life? Why have some of my encounters been joyful, but many filled with sadness and grief?

When I scan the memories of my past, I can identify distinct seasons (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8) throughout my life, some easy, some hard:

A childhood filled with neighborhood games, summers swimming, winters sledding, and spending tons of time swinging on a tree swing.

Teen years, yearning to get away from the bullies of high school and trying to break free into my own version of independence.

College. Culinary school. Ministry training.

Relationships come and gone. Friends and family members graduating to Glory.

Sharing the Gospel in India.

Meeting and marrying my husband. Birthing my daughters…

Each one of these times moved me forward to today. And I know that as I live today and pivot into tomorrow, I will continue to live within similar cycles.

I will never truly see the big picture of my life fully. But I understand that my Heavenly Father, who has His hand on my life, desires to give me a hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11-13). And, it is my desire to be grateful to Him for every aspect of each moment and to find joy and happiness in the rhythms of life.

Yesappa, thank you for keeping my life in the palm of Your hand. Thank you for providing for me and protecting me. Thank you for laughing with me during times of joy and weeping with me in my sadness. Thank you for sustaining me in the good times and the bad. Help me find Your loving, encouraging arms in every season. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Blessings – Julie, Vadipatti, India (written in the U.S.A.)

May the Lord bestow His peace which surpasses all understanding to all of the men, women, and children affected by the double bombing that occurred yesterday during the Boston Marathon. May healing take place swiftly in bodies and in hearts. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Scripture taken from the New Century Version®. Copyright © 2005 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Filed under 1 Timothy, 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, Ecclesiastes, Leviticus, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, New Testament, Old Testament, Psalms

Ecclesiastes 1, 2, 3; Acts 9:1-22

Deep in the ugly, it was hard to see beauty. A weekly list of thanksgiving (my own list, for even the smallest things: heart-shaped clover, a child’s hand to hold, a good cup of coffee, socks on my feet) kept me afloat when bigger things in life tossed me (losses of expectation and friendship, a death in the family, a move). In Ecclesiastes, Solomon writes of chasing the wind, but that summer, my hands grasped tightly to clutch at vapor: time–moments so full … and fleeting.

I read over familiar verses in a time for everything, and it starts to make more sense: that time of life in loss, that sadness I couldn’t hurry. A season. A time to grieve. I wished it was shorter. I wished it didn’t hurt so much. I wondered how long it would last.

Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. Ecclesiastes 3:11s NLT.

It lingered much longer than a summer. Oh, deep in the ugly, it was hard to see beauty.

He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end. Ecclesiastes 3:11b.

Saul started out a devout hater of Jesus Christ and anyone whose heart loved the Lord.

Meanwhile, Saul was uttering threats with every breath and was eager to kill the Lord’s followers. Acts 9:1.

I wondered over the connection of these verses in Old Testament and New Testament, side by side.

But the Lord said, “Go, for Saul is my chosen instrument to take my message to the Gentiles and to kings, as well as to the people of Israel. Acts 9:15.

And immediately he began preaching about Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is indeed the Son of God!” All who heard him were amazed. Acts 9:20-21.

And I saw: the time to hate, the time to love. God wasn’t absent from any before to after–he was always there. And I review the list again, living/dying, planting/harvesting, killing/healing, tearing down/building up, crying/laughing, grieving … dancing. So much more. He is present in all the seasons, makes the same things happen over and over–a whole scope of His work from beginning to end.

Father God, I cannot see the scope of your work from beginning to end. In the midst of my All That (whew!) thanks of little things represented for me the beauty of a much bigger thing: seeking daily to find your love scattered around me–and you never let me down. The toughest moments, you were there. You didn’t forsake me or leave me. So thankful, Lord. That dark season brought me closer to you than I had ever been.

Courtney (66books365)

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