Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Song of Songs 6 - Can Men Really Love That Many Women?

Too many wives and concubines! Admittedly, my reading of Songs of Songs is tainted with the doubts I have toward anyone, even Solomon, having the ability to keep so many wives happy and even from killing each other out of jealousy. Sure the courting may be awesome for the one who is being courted; however, I cannot imagine what the other wives are thinking as he pursues yet another woman. How much jealously is there? And once this woman is conquered how will she fit in to the harem? Once married, will she be content to share her husband with multitudes of others?  On the other hand, once they realize that this man is just that - only a man who over indulges himself - the wives are grateful that there are so many of them that they don't have to deal with him too much.

On the other hand, God is not like man, in that He can and does love the multitudes. His love is not the kind of love that would cause us to be jealous over His love for others. His love will fill us with love for His whole church on earth, for all people. He does not neglect one to chase after another. He will not leave one to go chasing after another. He is fully capable of loving and caring for all people, at any given time and all at the same time, according to our individual needs.

A closing prayer from St. Paul for the Ephesians (and you):
For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.  (Eph 3:14-21 NIV)

God's Peace - Pr. J

Monday, April 29, 2013

Song of Songs 5 - Get Out Of Bed; Answer the Door

A couple of days ago, I wrote about knocking. In light of our reading today, I will repeat that. When Jesus knocks, get up and answer the door!

As the woman in this love story sleeps, she is awakened by the knock on the gate and the call of her beloved. But, her slumber was deeper than she thought and she answered the door a bit too late. She has missed her beloved.

Here is your beloved, standing in your garden, knocking at your door. What are you doing? Sleeping? Don't miss the opportunity to be wrapped in the arms of the one who loves you above all others.

"YOLO," was how my granddaughter responded when I asked her about sleeping in 'till 9 a.m. the other day. She had a few things she had promised to take care of that she ended up not having time to take care of because she slept in. "YOLO" or "You only live once" was her reply. My response was "Then get up and live life."

If you're going to sleep all day, I guarantee that you will miss out on the best things that life and love have to offer.

"...“Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” (Eph 5:14 NIV)

God's Peace - Pr. J

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Song of Songs 4 - Receive Great Passion

My first reaction to chapter 4 of Solomon's Song is that it is about his desire (lust) and her invitation to come and eat of the fruit of his desire.  It is indeed a beautiful love poem, full of vivid description. It is so full of vivid imagery that it is difficult to see it as an allegory for the Christ and the church - the Bride and the Bridegroom.

Since we're way into imagery this morning. Imagine the LORD as the he in this poem and the female as the whole church - everyone in it. The LORD calls us to love Him and reminds us that God love us with such a great passion that He was willing to give His very life for us. And, in return, we the bride open our arms to receive his love, even as He, with great passion, opened his arms in love on the cross for us. So, do we open our arms and our hearts and all that we are that Christ may abide with and in us more fully? Do we welcome His love? Are we willing to receive the love that He gives so freely? This love poem is about the adoration and passion between a man and a woman in love. How great is your adoration and passion for the LORD? Do you love Him enough to worship Him today? Will your love and your passion for Him be evident in your words and actions today and tomorrow and every day after?

I'm trying to put a good construction to this Love Song of Solomon and I'm not sure how successful I can be at that. There are quite a few chapters left to go through. But, I will try. May God help me.

God's Peace - Pr. J

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Song of Songs 3 - The LORD's Love Is The Answer To The Void

LOL! Maybe I shouldn't be writing anything publicly about the Song of Songs as my patience and tolerance for anyone who is chasing after a man day and night can be pretty low. It's not nonexistent. I just think that if we are going to be good stewards of the time on earth that God has given us that there are better ways, more fulfilling ways, to live life.

However, if we read this as an allegory pertaining to our relationship with God, then indeed I can relate to the heart sickness and the persistence that comes with searching for love, at least in concept. As Pastor Al Goodrich, one of my early mentors use to remind people, "We don't find Jesus. He finds us."

But, the reality is that many people, even multitudes, hope for a love that will fill the void that exists within their hearts and their lives. I adjure you, if you're looking for love, genuine love, first you must know the genuine love of God, given to us through Christ Jesus. He has found you. He knocks at the door to your heart. Open it up and let Him in. (see Songs of Songs 5:2; Rev 3:20 NIV) He is our beloved. He is the King whom we await. His glory and splendor are way beyond anything you can imagine. The love that Solomon had for his many wives and concubines and they for him cannot even begin to compare to the love that God has for us in Christ Jesus. Crowned with splendor, as He enters our lives, our beloved will end our heart break and fill us with His peace.

If you're going to be chasing after love, chase after the one and only true love that will fill that empty void within you for all eternity. Once you receive His love, then you, too, will be able to love others, even as you love Him. Without the love of God, your heart will remain empty and you will probably find yourselves, more often than even you like, spending your days and nights chasing after men.

"May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance." (2 Thess 3:5) Pr. J

Friday, April 26, 2013

Song of Songs 2 - Internet Dating Is Not Love

Now that I am much older than the last time I read Solomon's Songs of Songs, I realize that all this falling in love stuff and romance is quite disturbing to me, at least the way it seems to be pursued today. It's not that I'm against love. I'm definitely for love. Sadly, this second chapter reminds me of something I'm seeing in many young people today - so focused on the object (person) that they are pursuing while neglecting the things (like education) that they should be focused on.  And, if someone is peeking through the lattice then they are definitely pursuing something or someone and quite inappropriately, I would say. Today, I'd run any young man off that's peeking through anything! But, that is just me...

It is a quite beautiful poem. In it you will find a really good warning: "Daughters of Jerusalem, I charge you by the gazelles and by the does of the field: Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires." (Song of Songs 2:7 NIV)

Do not try to arouse love until it or you or the one you are pursuing is ready! The time will come when true love comes, but this jumping around from love to love is a bit crazy... a new boyfriend or girlfriend every other week! Be for real! It is a waste of time. Live life to it's fullest and I assure you there is more to life than catch and release. And, pursuing true love on facebook is even crazier. Some of you who may be a bit older, may be wondering what I am talking about.

Today, young people don't date like we use to date - you know - where we actually went to a restaurant or a movie.... Today, they connect on places like facebook. They call it dating. They may never even go on a date like we know a date before they are fighting and break up. It sounds safe in a sense - at least we know where they are - in their bedrooms chatting with someone via the internet.
But, there are a few problems with this.

1. They are locked up in their bedrooms not really living life. Go out and play basketball. Go skating or skiing or kayaking or swimming or fishing or with all the toys they have today sno-mobiling or 4-wheeling! There really are a lot of things you can do. If you are bored, it is because you choose to be bored. Get out of your room and talk to your parents and siblings! Really be with them! Live life!

2. They are not out interacting with other people, a social skill which is going to be necessary in adulthood.

3. We really can never know who that person is on the other side of the chat box. Yes, maybe they see their faces. They may even have mutual friends on the social site. But, can they really know who the person is? Will you in the end, after long hours of wasted time find that they're just playing games with you or even worse find out they are actually very dangerous people. From personal experience, I can say that until you can really look a person in the eye, in the flesh; until you can say I C U, then you can't truly know them.

4. It really makes for a lot of wasted and fruitless time as the young people are focused on these relationships rather than relationships that can really bring peace and joy to one's life. It takes the focus away from the things that are good and healthy for the young person; things that are necessary to prepare them for life as adults.

Let love come naturally. It may be that one day you will even meet your life-long partner on the internet. But, don't push it. Let love begin with the people around you, with your family, your friends, your neighbors and one day you will wake up and realize that you have fallen in love. It will come naturally. As Solomon reminds us today, "Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires."

Love will come; but, in the meantime, live life.

God's Peace - Pr. J

P.S. and by the way, the friends you have made over the years are way more important to your happiness than some boy or girl you just met on the internet!  

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Solomon's Song of Songs 1 - God Is Sweeter Than Wine, More Fragrant Than Perfume

Song of Songs is a poem about love. It is a lot about the passion and love between a man and a woman. It's verses cycle from courtship through wedding to consummation. When I first read it so many years ago, it came across to me as a little racy. I wondered why it would even be included in the Holy Scriptures. The explanation I received was that it is an allegory of the love between God and His people, Christ and the Church, the Bride and the Bridegroom. It's been awhile since I've read it, so I will see what understanding I get from this reading.

It begins: "Solomon’s Song of Songs." (vs 1) The Song of Songs is attributed to Solomon and continues with the female oration:

"Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth—
for your love is more delightful than wine.
Pleasing is the fragrance of your perfumes;
your name is like perfume poured out.
No wonder the young women love you!
Take me away with you—let us hurry!
Let the king bring me into his chambers." (Song of Songs 1:2-4 NIV)

Is this woman truly in love or is she merely desiring something or someone that other women love, just because he is desired by others. Is it merely a case of what others have, I want? I'm afraid, to me, this sounds more like a young woman or girl lusting rather than in love. Or, maybe that is what is just a part of the dance of love. Are desire and love the same thing? Maybe, it is that they are just so totally intertwined that you cannot have one without the other. It is up to the individual to be able to know the difference between pure lust and genuine love.

On the other hand if we look at it from the view that this is an allegory of Bride and the Bridegroom (Christ and the Church) would it not be wonderful if we could all be so excited about being loved by God? For me, this ends up being a very weak allegory. The love of God is way more pleasing than any wine or the fragrance of perfume!  It is difficult, for me, to equate the joy that comes with being in relationship with God to that of pursuing a man. Let us see, what the rest of the book has to say. Keep reading... See you tomorrow.

May the peace of the LORD be with you now and through all your tomorrows. Pr. J

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Ecclesiastes 12 - Remember Your Creator; The Conclusion Of The Matter

"Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come and the years approach when you will say, “I find no pleasure in them”" (Eccl 12:1 NIV)

I cannot begin to count the times that I have heard that "religion" is for old people. I haven't quite figured out why anyone would think you have to be old to be in a relationship. That is what Christianity is all about, after all. It is about being in a relationship - being in a relationship with with God our Creator, our Redeemer, and our Reconciler. We have, through the blood of Jesus the Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit, been reconciled to God our Creator and to one another.

And... then there are those who are in their 40's and 50's (we're not quite young, anymore) who tell me that when they retire they will have more time for God. That's interesting. What makes them so sure they're going to live to retirement age? And... if they do live that long, they will have lived many years wasted as they chose not to live in God's eternal presence in the days of their youth. How meaningless is that - to choose to live without God's presence in this world? How meaningless is that - to wait 'till one is old to be in relationship with One who loves who so much? Live life in relationship now - before the opportunity is gone. Who knows when God will decide that the silver cord is to be broken, that it is time to return to the dust? 

Remember the parable of the man who decided to build barns to store his great wealth?  

   "Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.”
   And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’
   “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’
    “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’
    “This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God." (Luke 12:15-21)

Solomon reminds us: "Remember him—before the silver cord is severed, and the golden bowl is broken; before the pitcher is shattered at the spring, and the wheel broken at the well, and the dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it. "Meaningless! Meaningless!" says the Teacher. "Everything is meaningless!""  (Eccl 12:6-8)

Today we read the last chapter of the wisdom of Solomon from Ecclesiastes. Solomon's summation advises us to fear God - remember who He is - He is God. 

"The words of the wise are like goads, their collected sayings like firmly embedded nails—given by one shepherd. Be warned, my son, of anything in addition to them. Of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body. Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil."  (Eccl 12:11-14)

God's Peace - Pr. J

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Ecclesiastes 11 - Enjoy The Work of Your Hands

Diversify? Interesting chapter today... Solomon, a king who grew to be quite wealthy, gives us advise on how to make money. He suggests we not "put all of our eggs in one basket." Invest in various ventures and be open to exporting your goods. He also suggests that entrepreneurs might need to pursue more avenues than one: "Sow your seed in the morning, and at evening let your hands not be idle, for you do not know which will succeed, whether this or that, or whether both will do equally well." (Eccl 11:6 NIV)

All in all, pretty good advise, if you are motivated enough to listen and actually follow through. It will take a bit of a sacrifice to work both day and night at various ventures to be successful in the things you desire. Solomon also warns that for the young who spend their lives in enjoyment there will be consequences. There will be many days of darkness for those who spend their youthful days in pursuing only pleasure.

There have been some amazing advancements in science and technology by young people who have begun very young to pursue their avenues of interest. Actually, there have been advancements in all areas of our lives because of young people who have decided to spend their days and nights with their noses to the grindstone. We will all have to work. As I remind our young people, if you also want to enjoy life, seek a career that you will be happy in for most of your life will be spent working at something. Enjoy the work of your hands. Use the gifts that God has given you. Whether it is in the field of science, technology, health care, the arts, a service industry or production; no matter what you are called to do, it is best to put your heart in to it and learn to enjoy it. Do it well so that God might be glorified!

I have enjoyed all of the positions, I have ever held. One of the most enjoyable was as a landscape contractor. It was a small business in a very small community. But, I grew enough, fast enough to have two part time employees.  Basically, I contracted with local and state government agencies as well as individuals to maintain parks, cemeteries and other lawns. In the winter, I plowed snow. Since I am not afraid of solitude and actually enjoy, it was enjoyable for me. There is lots of time to be alone with and pray to God while you're mowing or weed eating. I enjoyed this career very much and I actually made some money at it. I closed it, when I was called as a missionary to the Keweenaw by the ELCA. A lot has happened since then. I have been open to knew and diverse opportunities. One of the things that gives me joy is to see our young people grow up and pursue avenues of their own interests and being successful at it - no matter what it is they choose to do. It always brings joy to my heart when I see a young man that I confirmed a few years ago, or one of his employees, busy working in the community on their lawnmowers. I am very proud of him and hope that he enjoys that calling as much as I did when I worked in lawn care. He doesn't need my endorsement. But, I'm going to give it anyway.... If you need a lawn care worker call CD Lawn Care (Chad Dompier) from Pelkie.

We all have to work to eat... and even to have money to enjoy life. But, when considering your future, think about what you enjoy doing, what gives you pleasure and those things that you are actually interested in and pursue a career in that. If it's really money that you think will give you the greatest pleasure, you probably should think again. You will have to work most of the days of your life, so learn to enjoy it or you're going to end up spending most of your time in misery.

God's Peace - Pr. J

Monday, April 22, 2013

Ecclesiastes 10 - Miscellanous Interesting Verses From Eccl 10

LOL!  You are reading the chapters aren't you? How about verse 2? "The heart of the wise inclines to the right, but the heart of the fool to the left." OK... So I won't go there today... But, I thought I'd at least mention it in the blog for the benefit of my friends on the right. It will make them smile. Remember, too, please, it is Solomon's saying, not mine. I'm not exactly sure what he meant by it, other than maybe he was referring to the right and left hand of God.

In case you're not taking my advice and you're not reading the scripture for each day, here are some other interesting and what I would consider pretty common sense ones:

"There is an evil I have seen under the sun, the sort of error that arises from a ruler:" (Eccl 10:5 NIV)  Has any one not witnessed the folly of some of our leaders? So often leaders, rulers, bosses, even servant/leaders in the church think that they are doing the best thing for the people, even while they are so out of touch with the people that they don't have a clue what the the people really need or want. Even pastors sometimes fall into the trap of thinking that they know what is best for a community, when they haven't the slightest clue... It has always amazed me that pastors will come to the U.P. (Upper Peninsula of Michigan) and think they are going to save us Yoopers from our own folly. They have ended up being very busy at changing our lifestyles, rather than accepting the way we live and work and play. They have worried about the fact that so many of us work hard, long hours and don't have all the riches the world has to offer. We have been considered a little backwards and backwoods by some.

I knew one who ended up spending a lot of time worrying about unionizing the logging industry! A lot of time was spent trying to change the way we think and how we live and very little time was spent proclaiming the awesomeness of the Kingdom given (given freely) to all who believe. I asked this one once what the proclamation of Jesus was. He didn't know. It made me wonder about our overseas missions, especially to those countries we consider third world. When missionaries go to other areas of the world, is their primary mission to bring the good news or is to change the people to think and live like we do in the United States? If you're going to be a missionary to the Massai, do you live in a dung hut alongside them sharing the love of God and the good news of His Kingdom or do you show up when it's comfortable trying to change their lifestyles? Are you more worried about westernizing them or proclaiming God's love and forgiveness for all people? It reminds me of how the church worked so hard with the government to Americanize the Native Americans and how many abuses occurred because of this "good will" gesture. (Another reason to think seriously about keeping church and state separate) Remember, just because we think everyone should be as materialistic as we are, doesn't mean everyone wants or needs to live like us. Just because we think we are right in the way we live, does not make it truth for everyone!

Just wondering... what makes a good leader? Is it someone who can serve people where their needs are (where they are) or is it someone who tries to mold everyone to be people just like themselves. If you're going to help someone, meet them where they are. Quit trying to drag them to the place where you want them to be. I quote St. Paul: " To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some." (1 Corinth 9:22)

"If the ax is dull and its edge unsharpened, more strength is needed, but skill will bring success." (10:10)
Anyone who has had to chop firewood to keep warm or cook knows the truth of this one. But, I suppose there are many who have not had to do this and don't know.

"If a snake bites before it is charmed, the charmer receives no fee." (10:11)
This is kind of a "no brainer" and makes me smile. If you're trying to charm a snake (whether a reptile or human) be careful, you may get bit or someone else may get hurt even if it is you who has disturbed the snake.

 "Through laziness, the rafters sag; because of idle hands, the house leaks." (10:18)
 If your rafters sag, it is no one's fault but your own. Unless, of course some natural disaster comes along and makes it so. I know about sagging rafters...

The house I presently live in has been almost completely remodeled since we purchased it. We originally bought it for a get-away for me. At the time, I was finding no time for vacations. If I was lucky, I would get 1 or 2 days off a month. There was just no time to pack up, go out of town and then come back the next day to unpack. We had tried it a few times, but the packing, unpacking, and travel time took up so much time there was no time to rest. So I started looking for a local camp on a river so I could set it up and get to it on my days off, with relative ease and without having to spend hours of the day off just to be able to rest for a few hours.

I fell in love with the location. It had a river at the mouth of a bay. It is definitely in the woods. It had a well and a sewer. But, here's the kicker. The rafters of the house sagged. They sagged so badly that there were 6"X6" beams holding up the ceilings throughout the rooms. The house was condemned. My husband was not impressed with the place. Not only was the house condemned, but it's located in wooded wetlands, which he refers to as a swamp. But, I knew this was the place for me. We began working on repairing it to be suitable for a camp that summer. That fall I resigned and we ended up moving in to it. Some of my family and friends were a little aghast that I would be living in a shack... (Thinking I should be like them and want what they want) The following summer, my husband spent a lot of time repairing the rafters and building an addition so that we would have a bit more space to live in. It took a lot of work to repair those rafters. But, they are repaired, the roof no longer leaks, and with God's blessing, the house will stand at least as long as I do. 

You're rafters sagging? Your roof leaking? The answer to a sagging rafters and a roof that leaks is to fix them and if you're neighbor no longer is able to fix their own due to age or infirmity fix theirs for them, as well!

One last verse to give you something to think about this morning:
"As dead flies give perfume a bad smell, so a little folly outweighs wisdom and honor." (Eccl 10:1)

God's Peace - Pr. J

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Ecclesiastes 9 - Welcome Your Neighbor; Help Those in Need

There is a lot to reflect on in this chapter as there is in any chapter. As I keep reminding you, this blog is to help you continue reading your Bible one chapter at a time. The blog entries are simply my first impressions and random thoughts after I read the chapter. It is meant to help you study and think about what the word is saying to you and to all of us as a whole.

A couple things jumped out at me this morning. First, is the way I dress. As Solomon talks about living a joyful life, he writes: "Always be clothed in white, and always anoint your head with oil." (Eccl 9:8 NIV)

On a recent retreat with our youth, I somehow managed to forget to bring a coat. Temperatures were in the 30's and it was raining. I had to buy a jacket. It was white with pictures of bears on it. My other jackets and coats are all black. After we got back, I wore this jacket to the church. I received a compliment on the jacket from a friend. She was glad to see me out of black. It being the middle of Lent, I had not just been wearing my black outerwear, but had also had occasion to be  wearing a lot of black skirts and suit jackets - more than usual. I often talk to my grandchildren about dressing appropriately as people who don't know you will often judge a person by what they see. Wrong first impressions have a tendancy to build walls and cause problems that aren't even there. Until this friend told me that it was nice to see me in something besides black, I hadn't realized that people may have been seeing my life in Christ as depressing.  

Years ago, I was a Lutheran missionary to a church without walls. The "church" covered a couple counties. The mission was to build up "house" churches in homes, a store front, a community center, even a couple of historic churches that were no longer in use in remote communities. Most people welcomed me quite warmly as the local missionary. A few years after I had moved to another county and another call, I went kayaking around the counties I had previously served. I remember one stop where I had previously felt especially welcomed. This time, I was wearing camouflaged pants and jacket over my swimsuit and had sandals on my feet. This time, I was not welcomed. It was if I was a stranger in their midst. Many did not even recognize me or at least they acted like they didn't. Actually, it was kind of strange, because it was mainly the Lutherans (I am Lutheran) who did not recognize me. Those who did recognize me and welcome me were Roman Catholic or Baptists. Go figure!

Human nature causes us to judge people by what they see and the day that I reentered that community, I entered looking like a vagabond. It is kind of sad when I think about it. Are we not called to welcome all people and to not show partiality to those who are rich or who have positions of authority? But, that is just what human nature leads us to. As for me, I will try to wear more light colored clothing so that the spirit of joy may be more apparent when I encounter others.

The other verses that struck me this morning were:

The quiet words of the wise are more to be heeded
than the shouts of a ruler of fools.
Wisdom is better than weapons of war,
but one sinner destroys much good.  (Eccl 9:17,18)

I'm thinking of all the noise this week on the news. So many opinions and so few facts! Not many quiet words - lots of loud shouting. News is news! Reporters these days do a bit too much surmising and before you know it people are thinking that what they are hearing are the facts. Need evidence! Need a fair trial! Not sure how I feel about martial law being imposed without it being called what it was - martial law. But, that's just me. I've heard a lot  (a lot of second guessing) about the two brothers who allegedly were involved in the Marathon Bombing. I've even heard crazy statements like parents are responsible for their children's actions even when their children are in their 20's and 30's! Just strange comments, that don't seem to have much wisdom attached and lead to confusion, fear, hurt, and even more anger. But, you know what? I have never heard how many people actually lost their homes in Texas in the fertilizer explosion. I never heard about the genuine needs of the people who were affected there. How we can help those people in need. This week, I've only heard about the need for more laws - more regulation (including from the highest office in this land) - not about how we can reach out to those who have been thrust into conditions that have put them on the fringes, put them in places of poverty and need.
Welcome your neighbor. Reach out to them in their time of need - no matter who or where they may be.
God's Peace - Pr. J

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Ecclesiastes 8 - Eat, Drink, Be Glad; Live Life

"So I commend the enjoyment of life, because there is nothing better for a person under the sun than to eat and drink and be glad. Then joy will accompany them in their toil all the days of the life God has given them under the sun." (Eccl 8:15 NIV)

Would this not be a wonderful way for the world to live: for everyone to be able to enjoy our daily lives; to eat, drink, and be glad; even as we go about the business of providing for ourselves, our families, even our neighbors? Sadly, it is not so. Those who prefer to spend their time stirring up strife, destroying the lives of others, are always around. The wicked need to have things their way. Whatever they think is good for them is the way that they will go regardless of the trouble and harm it may bring to others. They do not understand that "....wickedness will not release those who practice it." (Eccl 8:8) There will, sadly, be consequences. Consequences not just to those who actually carry out things such as mass murders, but to those who secretly plot against their neighbors to cause problems in their daily lives. Their wicked ways will turn upon them.

Thanks be to God, that God in His infinite mercy, sent His only begotten Son, so that all who believe might not perish, but have eternal life in His presence, in His Kingdom, where there actually is joy and peace. (John 3:16, Rom 14:17) Repent then... turn from the wickedness in your heart and live life in Christ. Live life in the one who truly loves you and was willing to be persecuted, tortured, and die for you. The wisdom of living life in Christ will bring a brightness to your face and change your hard appearance as well as the hardness of your heart. Live Life! And... let others do the same.

God's Peace - Pr. J

Friday, April 19, 2013

Ecclesiastes 7 - Live Lift; Quit Scheming

Solomon's search for wisdom; his search to discover the theme of things, seems to have left him just a little more than depressed! "Frustration is better than laughter, because a sad face is good for the heart." (Eccl 7:3 NIV)  From my own experience, frustration is not better than laughter. There is a time and a season and a place for both. Frustration, indeed, my help you to grow as you face the challenges before you; but, laughter lends itself to healing of the mind, the body, and the soul. It is good to do each in the appropriate time and place.

"Consider what God has done: Who can straighten what he has made crooked? When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider this: God has made the one as well as the other. Therefore, no one can discover anything about their future." (Eccl 7:13-14)

We will encounter both the good and the bad times in our journey here on earth. No one gets to be "happy, happy, happy" all the time and no one should be live their lives in constant sorrow or depression. "Whoever fears God will avoid all extremes." (Eccl 7:18b)

Solomon tested all things. With the wisdom he was allotted, he attempted to discover the scheme of all things. But, in the end here is what he found:  "...God created mankind upright, but they have gone in search of many schemes." (Eccl 7:29)

The search to figure out why humankind would work so hard their whole lives at scheming to make others so miserable is futile. Searching out the evil purposes of humankind will lead to depression. That is simply what we have chosen to do and only God can know why. God, and maybe each of us can search out our own hearts to figure out why it is we, personally, do so much scheming. We should search our hearts and our own minds, repent, and live the life that God intended for us to live, as children of His heavenly kingdom. Live life!

God's Peace - Pr. J


Thursday, April 18, 2013

Ecclesiastes 6 - Stop and Smell the Roses

All those possessions and not able to enjoy them! Work, work, work in order to have all kinds of stuff to impress others, yet you have no time or energy left to enjoy life with family or friends. How meaningless is that?

Our days pass through like a fleeting shadow. Yes, you must work so that you can provide for your family. If your work is as it should be, to glorify God, you might even enjoy your labor. Imagine that - enjoying what you do! It is possible!

But, get rid of the shadow that is cast by greed and undisciplined desire and let the Son shine in and through you. Make sure you take the time to enjoy your family. Spend time with them - really be with them. Your money will go away when you die. It will do you no good, except maybe to buy a fancier coffin than your neighbor. And... what  memories of you will be left to your family when you are gone? Will they be good? Will the people you leave behind have memories of the joy that was found in your presence?

Being prosperous is not a bad thing. It can even be a good thing. Just remember to take time to enjoy those things you have worked for so hard with those who love you. As the saying goes: "Stop and smell the roses!"

God's Peace - Pr. J

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Ecclesiastes 5 - The Meaninglessness Of The Love Of Money

The older I get and death becomes more of a reality, I lapse into more moments of thinking that life is as meaningless as Solomon would imply. Why all the years of toil, if it is to be gone in a second? Even if you have something to leave your offspring, how long will it last them? Do they follow in the way that they should go so that all that they say and thing and do will glorify God? Will their inheritance be wasted away on trivial stuff - fleeting moments of pleasure rather than those things that will bring real joy (that is glorifying God)? Will they appreciate all the years that you spent earning and saving it for them?

This toiling after riches is meaningless.

"Whoever loves money never has enough;
whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income.
This too is meaningless.
As goods increase,
so do those who consume them.
And what benefit are they to the owners
except to feast their eyes on them?

The sleep of a laborer is sweet,
whether they eat little or much,
but as for the rich, their abundance
permits them no sleep.

I have seen a grievous evil under the sun:
wealth hoarded to the harm of its owners,
or wealth lost through some misfortune,
so that when they have children
there is nothing left for them to inherit.
Everyone comes naked from their mother’s womb,
and as everyone comes, so they depart.
They take nothing from their toil
that they can carry in their hands.  (Eccl 5:10 - 15 NIV) 

That is not to say work is evil. We should work if we expect to eat. But, it becomes very bothersome, even a burden, when one works only to amass riches. Jesus told this story to a crowd who followed to listen to Him: 
 “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’
  "Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain.  And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’
 “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’
  “This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God." Luke 12:17-21

Our work should bring joy to us as well as to others. Live life! Enjoy the life that God has given you! Whether it is in the hours you spend laboring or during the hours you are relaxing with your friends and family, life here on earth is to be lived and enjoyed. Life, abundant life, is a gift from God.

"This is what I have observed to be good: that it is appropriate for a person to eat, to drink and to find satisfaction in their toilsome labor under the sun during the few days of life God has given them—for this is their lot. Moreover, when God gives someone wealth and possessions, and the ability to enjoy them, to accept their lot and be happy in their toil—this is a gift of God. They seldom reflect on the days of their life, because God keeps them occupied with gladness of heart." (Eccl 1:18-20).

Focus your journey here on earth, not on amassing wealth or power to the exploit of others, but on living life so that God may be glorified.

And... may the peace and joy that is found in being in relationship with God, our Father and with one another, through His Son, Jesus the Christ, be with you always.  Pr. J

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Ecclesiastes 4 - Slow or Faster? Cheetahs and Bombs

Have you seen the latest commercials for the AT&T Apple IPhones? Beck Bennet and a group of children sit around a table discussing things like which is better. Would the children rather have more or less? Is slow or faster better. They, of course, all think that more and faster are are better. The line I love comes in the commercial when they discuss how to make grandma faster. The little boy says: "Tape a cheetah to her back."

Yes, there are times when this grandma wishes she was a little faster and that there was a little more of me to go around to get everything done that I'd like done. I have found that as I have slowed down, more is not better. More means more work. More means more to take care of. Thanks be to God that there are others around me to work with me. I don't need a cheetah taped to my back, although that might prove to be a real interesting experience...

Solomon writes: 
"Two are better than one,
because they have a good return for their labor:
If either of them falls down,
one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
and has no one to help them up.
Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
But how can one keep warm alone?
Though one may be overpowered,
two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken."  (Eccl 4:9-12 NIV)

Two can definitely be better than one. It is good to have someone there to help you in your labors, to pick you up when you fall, to comfort, and to help defend you.  Two is better than one, but it is not perfect. Sometimes when there is more and no matter how fast you are stuff still happens.

Yesterday, April 15, 2013, at the finish line of the Boston Marathon, two bombs exploded. There were many people there. It was a crowd.Which meant even more got hurt. In just a flash, over 140 were hurt and at least 3 were killed in the blasts. 

Two might have been able to defend themselves in Solomon's time. In many cases today, it is just not so. Technology has made our arms able to destroy many more, much faster. Technology has done some great things. It has given us some awesome ways to communicate with one another more and faster. But, technology has provided humankind faster and easier ways to destroy one another, as well. Technology has provided humankind ways to be inhumane without even being present. It is possible for multitudes to be murdered without even realizing that they were in danger. ...with no opportunity to defend themselves.

Two are better than one in many cases. We could afford a few more allies. But, more is not always better when you're gathered together as one target. Yesterday, my desire to live in relative isolation was affirmed.

It might be helpful if I were a bit faster. I really appreciate that the internet is much faster than it was a decade ago. But, still, some things may be better faster, but not all.

There is way too much evil being done under the sun. Let there be peace.

God's Peace - Pr. J

Monday, April 15, 2013

Ecclesiastes 3 - Turn! Turn! Turn! to Everything There is a Season

There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace. (Eccl 3:1-8 NIV)
"Turn! Turn! Turn! to Everything There is a Season." Many of you probably recognize Ecclesiastes 3 from actually reading it before. Some of you may have heard parts of it a funeral or maybe on Ash Wednesday when we hear words similar to "from dust you are, to dust you shall return." Some of you may remember these words from the song Pete Seeger wrote in 1959, which was recorded by various artists. Seger basically put the words from Ecclesiastes 3 to music and added 2 things:  the words "Turn, Turn, Turn" and "a time for peace, I swear it's not too late." In 1969 the Byrds' recording of it became a hit, making Ecclesiastes 3 one of the oldest lyrics (written by Solomon) to become a hit on the pop charts.

There is a time for peace, I swear it's not to late. There is a time and season for everything. It is not to turn our hearts away from the injustice of the world and turn toward the path which God intends for us to follow so that we might truly live life. It is not to late to turn our lives around and live in His presence and in His peace.

Let there be peace on earth. Let us treat one another justly, causing no one more anxiety. If there is to be anxiety, it will come in its allotted time and season for God's purpose. We do not have to manufacture it for ourselves or others. Let us take each day as it comes before us and learn to live life as God intended us to live, enjoying the fruits of the garden, enjoying the fruits of the day, even as we labor to eat and drink, to provide for the necessities of our lives. May God grant that we should be happy and find satisfaction in our toil. May God grant us peace with Him and with one another even as we strive to live life in this world accepting every thing that comes to us in whatever time or season.

God's Peace - Pr. J

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Ecclesiastes 2 - Everything Is Meaningless

It's sounding like Solomon feels like a lot of people in the U.S. today. He's not pleased with the prospect of having his wealth being redistributed. But, Solomon is concerned with having it redistributed after he dies. People today are concerned that they will have to work hard and have the government redistribute the fruits of their hands to others while they still live.

Our politicians come up with such grand plans to save the country, to save the world. But, it appears to me that these great plans are nothing more than attempts to please themselves and the lobbyists, to please egos, not God. And, when the planning is over and we are through planning and try to implement so many of these great plans we see that "everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun." (Prov 1:11b NIV)

Everything is meaningless. In the pursuit of wealth, there will be no joy. There will be no happiness. There will only be much hard labor, with the end result being that we die. We will leave this earth and we will leave all our things to another.  But, the wisdom of Solomon tells us that even though the same fate takes us all "wisdom is better than folly, just as light is better than darkness. The wise have eyes in their heads, while the fool walks in the darkness. (2:13b-14a)

In the end Solomon finds that enjoyment can only come from the hand of God. He writes: "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, for without him, who can eat or find enjoyment? 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.  (Prov 1:24-26)

May God bless you with peace of heart and mind as you pursue the plans He has for you. Pr. J

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Ecclesiates 1 - Life Is Meaninless Without Love

Although there are those who would refute attributing Ecclesiastes to the writing of Solomon, the contents indicate that he was. For my part, I will proceed with the understanding that Solomon indeed wrote Ecclesiastes. After all, who would be the wise king, son of David, king in Jerusalem if it were not Solomon?  

"The words of the Teacher, son of David, king in Jerusalem." (Eccl 1:1 NIV)
"I, the Teacher, was king over Israel in Jerusalem. I applied my mind to study and to explore by wisdom all that is done under the heavens." (Eccl 12, 13)
Solomon's search for knowledge and wisdom, brought him not an enlightenment that would satisfy, but depression. Solomon finds instead that everything under the sun, is meaningless. "For with much wisdom comes much sorrow; the more knowledge, the more grief." (Eccl 1:18)
One of my mother's favorite sayings for when one of us kids did something stupid was: "No brains, no pains." Then she'd leave it at that. I'm not sure if that's the most appropriate thing to tell a child. But, we got the point. With wisdom and knowledge comes many opportunities; but, with opportunities comes many challenges and often some trying times. My mother's view was that accepting the opportunities and challenges that come with gaining wisdom and knowledge was worth the bit of hardship one might have to endure.
Solomon, on the other hand, who was wiser than any other man, has found that his seeking knowledge was meaningless in the end. In the end, every living thing under the sun dies. As we read through Ecclesiastes, I hope that we will come to the understanding that not everything is futile. But, that it is possible to strive for greater knowledge and wisdom, even while we enjoy the fruits of this life that God has given us. We are to live life, not just bury ourselves in seeking after knowledge. Books are good, but life is still to be enjoyed.
Another thing to remember about Solomon is that as he decided to marry foreign wives, he also decided to worship their gods, as well. This is not good. Worshipping false gods is utterly meaningless and a source of the emptiness that many feel. Solomon, I fear, lived a life as a seeker. He was seeking meaning for his life. It was a life devoid of real relationships founded on a relationship with the one true God, who gifted him with much wisdom. His life probably lacked love. After all, how lonely is the man who would need to have 700 wives and 300 concubines? I believe he was one who may have had wisdom, but not real relationships. Not with God and consequently not with the people around him. So we have a man, who has found that his pursuit of wisdom and knowledge was meaningless. He never really lived life.
May God grant you a greater relationship with Him and with those around you that you may live life more fully.
God's Peace - Pr. J

Friday, April 12, 2013

Proverbs 31 - Seek A Virtuous Spouse

As Agur is mentioned in scripture only in Proverbs 30, King Lemuel, whose words, we read in Proverbs 31, also can be found no where else in the Bible. His words, given to him by his mother, are a warning against strong drink by kings, which can (should) be applied to any one who is supposed to be a leader, including those within the church on earth; that is the clergy and Bishops.

The majority of this proverb speaks about choosing a wife and what constitutes a good wife. These words have been given, in many forms, to many a son, by many concerned mothers. "Do not give your strength to women, nor your ways to that which destroy kings. It is not for kings, O Lemuel. It is not for kings to drink wine, nor for princes intoxicating drink." (Proverbs 31:3-4) 

A good wife will walk beside you and support you. She will not lead you astray so that you might be weakened. She will not lead you off to the bars every week-end, to intoxication, where you will find trouble, maybe even jail or death. A good wife will help you in the business of raising your family, your household. And, I assure you the "partying" in all your spare time will indeed affect your ability to be all that you can be and prosper according to the many gifts that God has given you.

Do not be deceived by the charms of a woman, but seek in your life-long help mate, one who will work lovingly and diligently beside you.

That's the gist of Proverbs 31. Remembering too, that this was written in a time when men were the dominant in society, we need to apply this today to women, as well. Seek a husband, who will support you and walk beside you. Steer clear of those men who will bring you to ruin.

It is good to have someone to share you life with. Seek a virtuous spouse, one who does you good and not evil, one whom you will be able to trust with your future, your life.

God's Peace - Pr. J

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Proverbs 30 - Who is Agur?

Our last few weeks during our Wednesday Bible Study at Zion, Skanee, has been interesting. We are studying "Acts of the Apostles" and are trying very hard to keep all the names straight. So many men had the same name and others had them changed. Simon is Peter or Simon Peter not to be confused with the other Simons. Mark is John Mark or John who is also called Mark, not to be confused with John the Baptist or the Apostle John who was exiled to Patmos.

So who is the Agur son of Jakeh whose sayings we read in Proverbs, chapter 30? We don't know. That's it. We really don't know. This name is not mentioned anywhere else in Scripture. The first verse is a little confusing in light of the rest of the sayings attributed to Agur. "I am weary, God, but I can prevail." Then he goes on to say that he has no understanding and asks God, who does, to help him. How then can he say that he can prevail? It is not he, but God who prevails for him. It is the son, whom Agur speaks of in verse 4, that prevails for us all. It is the Son, Jesus the Christ, who prevails for us all.

So who is Agur son of Jakeh? He was a man inspired by the Holy Spirit to confess that he was but a brute, who lacked understanding and wisdom. That he could not know the knowledge of God.

God's Peace - Pr. J

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Proverbs 29 - Righteous Thrive; People Rejoice

"When the righteous thrive, the people rejoice..." (Prov 29:1 NIV) " The righteous care about justice for the poor... (Prov 29 7a)"

The lesson from Proverbs today reminds me of a friend. Actually, no matter what I read this morning I would be reminded of her. Susie's funeral was yesterday.  She was/is a wonderful example of one who is righteous in Christ. Her faith was strong. Her faith in Christ led her in her journey here in this world.

After 20 years of following my husband around, he retired in our home community. Of course, I moved with him. It was a lonely and hectic time trying to figure out where we fit in. Susie had a craft and gift shop. I would often stop in just to talk to her. I could talk about anything to her. We often talked about the youth puppet team we were both involved with. No matter what was going on, Susie could help you find the good in it. When I was down, I would walk into that shop and I would find myself rejoicing. She was full of joy. She was full of life. She was full of Christ. She was filled with the righteousness of Christ.

She was always busy helping someone. She particularly loved working with children. Always at peace and with a smile on her face, she spent her life helping and bringing joy to others. She cared about justice for those who were in need.

After moving away, again, I have not seen her much. I would run into her now and then on my rare visits back home and we would spend some time talking. But, I thought about her joy and the joy she brought to others often. She has completed her journey. She will be missed. But, for all of us who find our righteousness in Christ, we have the hope of spending eternity with her in the Kingdom of God. With hope and faith in Christ Jesus we are confident that her joy has been made complete.

God's Peace - Pr. J

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Proverbs 28 - Rules Who Pursue Righteousness and Justice For all Wanted!

Proverbs 28 is chock full of wise sayings; sayings worth paying attention to and maybe changing one's life a bit. For example:

"The wicked flee though no one pursues, but the righteous are as bold as a lion." (Prov 28:1 NIV) 
"A discerning son heeds instruction, but a companion of gluttons disgraces his father." (Prov 28:7)
"Those who work their land will have abundant food, but those who chase fantasies will have their 
     fill of poverty." (Prov 28:19)
"The greedy stir up conflict, but those who trust in the Lord will prosper." (Prov 28:25)

The one that strikes home the most this morning is verse 2: "When a country is rebellious, it has many rulers, but a ruler with discernment and knowledge maintains order."

I'm thinking that when a country has a strong leader, one that pursues righteousness for all people, one who does not pursue agendas either for the rich or the poor, for the strong or the weak. When a country has leader that will rule with justice for all people, then the people will be united with one another, helping and supporting the whole country in times of need. But, when the leader is weak, doing what is righteous in his own eyes, the people will go in many directions, following various leaders as they look for what is right for themselves, not for all people, and there will be much strife, as the people dispute amongst themselves, who shall be the greatest and who shall be the least.

Just praying for a bit more order in this country, today. There is way too much self-righteousness, where our leaders think they can do no wrong. There are way too many leaders, who lead with their egos, rather than with the discernment and knowledge of the wisdom and the will of God for all people, causing frustration and rebelliousness in the land.

Pray for this country, that the rebellious hearts of her people will be softened towards the needs of one another and of the country as a whole; that her rulers will lead with one heart and mind, trusting in the will of the LORD, so that we might once again prosper.

God's Peace - Pr. J

Monday, April 8, 2013

Proverbs 27 - Planning And Boasting Not The Same Thing

Planning ahead has never been part of my husband's routine. He's finally come around to letting me know what is on his schedule for the next day so that I can plan my schedule so that we will have time together.  I have planned many vacations just to go on them alone or with our children or our grandchildren. He built an addition on our house a few years ago. It's a real nice addition. But, he had not planned anything in advance. There was no blueprint of any kind! At least none that he would share with me. We went to the hardware store and lumber yard as each step of the project advanced and he decided what he needed at the time. There was no estimating the cost in advance of the project. I don't think my husband had ever read or heard Luke 14:28-30 (NIV). “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it?  For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’"

From childhood, he; however, had this first verse from Proverbs 27 engrained into his being. "Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring." Somehow, for him, boasting and planning had become synonymous.

The verse says "do not boast." It does not say, do not plan ahead. Proverbs is a whole bunch of wisdom sayings put together, one after another. But, as with all of scripture, we read need to read them in the context of all scripture. When we take a look a the story from Luke it says we indeed should be planning ahead, and Proverbs would be reminding us not to boast of things not yet accomplished.

I'm a planner. I like things organized so I know what is coming up. I like things done quickly and efficiently. Planning helps me with this. After 40 years, I am finally getting use to not knowing what my husband is planning and he's finally coming around to wanting to have some kind of plan.

Planning with others what you will do tomorrow is not the same thing as boasting about what you will do tomorrow.

God's Peace - Pr. J.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Proverbs 26 - Speak the Truth to Fools

Proverbs 26 warns us of the downfalls of being a fool, not just a fool, but a lazy fool with deceitful lips. It also warns us to be careful what we trust with the person who is foolhardy. He or she should not be honored for their ways. They should not be lifted up. It would be foolish of us to enable to continue in their ways.

What then should we do with the one who acts foolishly? "Answer a fool according to his folly, or he will be wise in his own eyes." (Prov 26:5 NIV) Speak the truth, not rashly or harshly. But, with love; correct them, guide them, teach them the way in which they should go. Teach them to honor and respect others so that others may live pleasant and peaceful lives and not on edge when they are around. Teach them that it is better for everyone to live in peace than to be constantly starting quarrels about nothing.

There are very few things that bother me more than to hear someone lieing to or insulting another person and then when the person responds in a hurt manner, the first person will say "JK," just kidding.  Jokes that hurt other people are not funny. They are not jokes! "Like a maniac shooting flaming arrows of death is one who deceives their neighbor and says, “I was only joking!”  (Prov 26:18-19)

The wise person will respect others for who they are. They will be kind, not acting out of anger or revenge. But, they will also speak the truth to the one who is acting in a foolish, hurtful manner. Freedom isn't so that we can hurt others, but so that we can live in peace, reconciled to one another. The foolish one does not comprehend this living in peace.

God's Peace - Pr. J

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Proverbs 25 - Self-Control

"Like a city whose walls are broken through is a person who lacks self-control. (Prov 25:28 NIV)

Most of us probably lose "it" from time to time. From time to time, most of us, probably over indulge. For some it may be eating, for some sleeping too much, or watching television when they have chores or other work to do. Some may lose self-control and not know when to hold their tongue when talking about others or themselves. Some "lose it" in the area of anger management. We don't always do what we ought to be doing. For whatever reason, we feed our habits, by over-indulging. Most of the time, we can excuse ourselves, saying it doesn't hurt anyone but me. But, when we use that excuse we are usually lieing not only to others, but to ourselves. Whatever we do affects others around us.

Losing self-control opens us up to attacks - attacks that we cannot fully protect ourselves from. It's kind of like getting drunk, passing out, and having a robber come into your home to take what is yours. Or, if your mouth runs too much you set yourself up for blackmail or lawsuits. Or... you could simply be setting yourself up to look like a fool and any opportunities for your future may be lost.

"The Proverbs of Solomon remind us to maintain self-control by observing the rule of moderation.  "If you find honey, eat just enough—too much of it, and you will vomit. Seldom set foot in your neighbor’s house—too much of you, and they will hate you." (Prov 25:16-17)

When I was very young we lived in military housing. My husband worked mostly days while I worked an evening shift. Some of the neighbors took to visiting me every morning for coffee. I enjoyed having the company, at first, since I was so far from home. But, after awhile the visits got longer and longer. Consequently, I would run out of time to get the household chores done. I didn't know how to tell them that they should stop this habit. Frankly, they had worn out their welcome. Finally, my husband came home for lunch one day and they were still there. He handed out cleaning supplies to the women and told to help if they were going to be sitting around all day. They got the hint. Coffee time was reduced to once or twice a week and only for one cup of coffee...

There is a time and place for everything. Give everything its time and place. Self-control will help greatly in achieving all that you must or desire to do.

Think about it... What if Jesus did not have self-control?  Would he have been able to wait in the Garden of Gethsemane that night knowing that he would be taken to trial and crucified the next day?  His disciples, his friends, asleep, while He waited to be bound and taken to his execution. Where would you and I be today? In whom or what would our hope lie, if Jesus had run away? If he had allowed the robber in by not standing and facing, with no little self-control, the enemy?

We are not Jesus, most of us probably "lose it" from time to time. It is not an easy thing to maintain self-control all the time. But, losing it is not a good thing. Like a city whose walls have been broken through, those who cannot or will not exhibit self-control will be overcome. But, the Spirit of Christ who abides in you, has the power to overcome all evil. Stand firmly then, trusting in the abiding Christ, to overcome all temptation to over-indulge in those things which will be harmful to you and others.

God's Peace - Pr. J

Friday, April 5, 2013

Proverbs 24 - Too Much Sleep=Poverty

Hunting Island Lighthouse
Sayings 20 - 30 and more...

God provides us with many opportunities. He provides opportunities to do good or not to do good. He provides us with opportunities to work and to build up our houses, as well. He provides us with opportunities to build up our lives.

What will we do with these opportunities? 

"A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest—and poverty will come on you like a thief and scarcity like an armed man. "Provers 24:33-34.  

This poverty can be physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual.  Most often, I have seen that it can lead to poverty of all of the above. Poverty of any of these, due to sleeping too much, (that would be laziness) can eventually lead to the poverty of all.

There is another thing that I, quite often, hear that people desire and for whatever reason has been eluding them: that is to know what God's will is for them. The Psalms remind us that the word of God is the light which will help us on His way. "Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path." (Psalm 119:105) Read the Holy Scriptures and you will hear His merciful and graceful word, His will, for you. You will understand the wisdom that He desires for you to hear and live by. "Know also that wisdom is like honey for you: If you find it, there is a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off." (Prov 20:14)

"But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light. This is why it is said: “Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you. Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise," (Eph 5:13-15)

Listen!  And... live life!

God's Peace - Pr. J

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Proverbs 23 - Common Sense; Avoid Coveting

Proverbs 23 includes wise sayings saying 7 through 19. 

Discussing proverbs the other day at a Bible study, someone noted that the proverbs are basically common sense. Sadly, they are not common sense to everyone. Not everyone has common sense. Not everyone has the wisdom to avoid coveting as the majority of these verses warn us to avoid. Coveting; whether, it is food, drink, riches of any kind, women, etc..., will lead to a person's downfall. Coveting these riches will bring poverty upon a person. These things are deceitful. These false gods will steal even the little that you had. They will destroy you. 

"Apply your heart to instruction and your ears to words of knowledge." (Prov 23:12 NIV) And... live life abundantly in the presence of God, through Jesus Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit.

God's Peace - Pr. J