Tag Archives: enjoyment

Ecclesiastes 3-5; Psalm 45; Matthew 15

I think of the scraps that fell from the table: could meager remnants become a feast? I sat on a bench one year and considered the crumbs and thought of this woman in Matthew 15 and her perspective.

24 Then Jesus said to the woman, “I was sent only to help God’s lost sheep—the people of Israel.”

25 But she came and worshiped him, pleading again, “Lord, help me!”

26 Jesus responded, “It isn’t right to take food from the children and throw it to the dogs.”

27 She replied, “That’s true, Lord, but even dogs are allowed to eat the scraps that fall beneath their masters’ table. (Matthew 15:24-27, NLT)”

She taught me something profound that day about my own heart. About contentment. About gratitude. About the Lord. About enough.

The Pharisees had their expectations of what life would look like, and how purity would be recognized, and a protocol for how things would be done. I think on how my own expectations, perceptions, and protocol have kept me sour, hurt, angry, or disappointed.

Ecclesiastes marks time like seasons for war and peace, tearing and mending, silence and speech. Couldn’t it show on the calendar? On (this day), you will cry. You will grieve. But in a few turns of the calendar pages, you will laugh. You will dance. Would the wait feel long?

Here, I linger:

What do people really get for all their hard work? 10 I have seen the burden God has placed on us all. 11 Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. 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. 12 So I concluded there is nothing better than to be happy and enjoy ourselves as long as we can. 13 And people should eat and drink and enjoy the fruits of their labor, for these are gifts from God (Ecclesiastes 3:9-13, NLT).

The injustices of life. The advantages of companionship. The futility of power and wealth. The importance of integrity. Read slowly. Everything, beautiful. Even in the becoming, beauty, in the wait. A scope of His work.

17 Throughout their lives, they live under a cloud—frustrated, discouraged, and angry.

18 Even so, I have noticed one thing, at least, that is good. It is good for people to eat, drink, and enjoy their work under the sun during the short life God has given them, and to accept their lot in life. 19 And it is a good thing to receive wealth from God and the good health to enjoy it. To enjoy your work and accept your lot in life—this is indeed a gift from God. 20 God keeps such people so busy enjoying life that they take no time to brood over the past (Ecclesiastes 5:17-20, NLT, emphasis added).

I did a quarterly evaluation in areas of my life from 1-10: work, health, friendships, etc. Goal books and podcasts preach a level-10 life. What would it look like, I wondered. And slowly I realized–I was already there. I have all I need. And maybe living out level 10 didn’t mean what I was making it (nebulous as it was). Maybe it didn’t look like anyone else’s vision of ten. Maybe, in some cases, it had to do with letting go of hurts and expectations, with looking forward and sowing into a future than looking back and carrying past burdens. Maybe my disappointment stemmed from exceptions and restrictions and expectations I placed upon things, a schedule I overbooked, a relationship I overestimated. For community that was never going to be what I hoped it could be. For the friend who never agreed to be who I needed her to be. What if I let go of my own restrictions, instead of wrestling with a past I couldn’t change, and people I wished who would? Seems like chasing the wind.

Lord, thank you for meeting me that day on the bench, bringing that woman’s story to mind. Thank you today for reminding me of the scope of your story. Thank you for gifts from you: good things from you, and the health to enjoy them.

Courtney (66books365)

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Filed under 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, Ecclesiastes, Matthew

Ecclesiastes 4-6; 2 Corinthians 10

Contentment.

18 Even so, I have noticed one thing, at least, that is good. It is good for people to eat, drink, and enjoy their work under the sun during the short life God has given them, and to accept their lot in life. 19 And it is a good thing to receive wealth from God and the good health to enjoy it. To enjoy your work and accept your lot in life—this is indeed a gift from God. 20 God keeps such people so busy enjoying life that they take no time to brood over the past. Ecclesiastes 5:18-20, NLT.

After reading about the oppressed; the success-driven from neighbor envy; the lonely; the rejected; the futility of wealth; the chasing of wind … I land here on such a simple thought, possibly a key to happiness: enjoyment. In the very basic of things–eating, drinking, enjoyment of work. Enjoy appears four times in three verses.

I can clearly remember times in the sometimes-struggle (and that struggle is different for each of us), where hurts overwhelmed. Too much time was spent stuck in that pit. My focus became narrow and intentional, out of necessity–to enjoy a cup of coffee … the warmth of wooly socks on my feet … the fragrance of summer in a field of cut grass. It took time to climb out, but my view was broader, and my world a feast–friends over for play dates … company around the table for dinner … woodsmoke smells from the fireplace. My kids began to notice, commenting once at a park, “Mom, don’t slow us down by looking at the pretty flowers.”

Those hurtful things, the ones that wounded so deeply five years ago–I’d rather be defined by God’s grace to me, than imprisoned by things in the past. I will enjoy those momentary sunsets from my dining room window, the woodland chorus in summer, and his perfect timing for many other things.

10 Everything has already been decided. It was known long ago what each person would be. So there’s no use arguing with God about your destiny.

11 The more words you speak, the less they mean. So what good are they?

12 In the few days of our meaningless lives, who knows how our days can best be spent? Our lives are like a shadow. Who can tell what will happen on this earth after we are gone? Ecclesiastes 6:10-12, NLT.

Thank you, Lord, for your very good gifts. I look for you and find you everywhere, and you don’t disappoint. You show me how my problems are temporary, and help me to take thoughts captive.

4 We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments. We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:4-5, NLT.

Thank you for your Word–a weapon, and peace that comes through gratitude and contentment. I have not always known that, but now that I do, I don’t want to let go.

Courtney (66books365)

 

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Filed under 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, ESV Through the Bible in a Year

Lev. 22; Ps. 28,29; Eccles. 5; 2 Tim. 1

Leviticus talks about presenting gifts to God–unblemished gifts, clean hands presenting, gifts set apart so that they don’t bring shame on the Lord’s holy name.

“If you present a gift as a burnt offering to the Lord, whether it is to fulfill a vow or is a voluntary offering, 19 you will be accepted only if your offering is a male animal with no defects. It may be a bull, a ram, or a male goat. 20 Do not present an animal with defects, because the Lord will not accept it on your behalf. Leviticus 22:18-20 NLT.

Words and wealth stand out in Ecclesiastes. So does a gift.

 

18 Even so, I have noticed one thing, at least, that is good. It is good for people to eat, drink, and enjoy their work under the sun during the short life God has given them, and to accept their lot in life. 19 And it is a good thing to receive wealth from God and the good health to enjoy it. To enjoy your work and accept your lot in life—this is indeed a gift from God. 20 God keeps such people so busy enjoying life that they take no time to brood over the past.

A mighty, majestic God hears cries and saves from enemies. He strengthens his people and blesses them with peace. Gifts.

Praise the Lord!
    For he has heard my cry for mercy.
The Lord is my strength and shield.
    I trust him with all my heart.
He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy.
    I burst out in songs of thanksgiving.

The Lord gives his people strength. Psalm 28:6-8 NLT

11 The Lord gives his people strength.
    The Lord blesses them with peace. Psalm 29:11 NLT

Paul writes to Timothy … gifts.

I remember your genuine faith, for you share the faith that first filled your grandmother Lois and your mother, Eunice. And I know that same faith continues strong in you. This is why I remind you to fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you when I laid my hands on you. For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. 2 Timothy 1:5-7 NLT.

And in my study notes, about a God who calls us to live a holy life, not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace …

2 Timothy 1:9 footnotes: Salvation is by grace alone and is based not on human effort but on God’s saving plan and the gracious gift of his Son.

Reading of gifts and the motives, methods, amount and heart of giving in an Elizabeth George study of Luke (and passion and purpose) on Tuesday nights; and “four things you really need to know about gifts” in my inbox just yesterday–I’m not surprised to see gifts lift off the pages of today’s reading.

Father, thank you for gifts–that I can receive them and give them. Thank you most of all for your great love and the work Jesus Christ did on my behalf–to save me, because I couldn’t do it on my own. The perfect offering, a sacrifice unblemished.

Courtney (66books365)

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Filed under 2 Timothy, 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, Ecclesiastes, Leviticus, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, New Testament, Old Testament, Psalms