“[THIS IS] the revelation of Jesus Christ [His unveiling of the divine mysteries]. God gave it to Him to disclose and make known to His bond servants certain things which must shortly and speedily come to pass in their entirety. And He sent and communicated it through His angel (messenger) to His bond servant John, who has testified to and vouched for all that he saw [in his visions], the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ.” Revelation 1:1-2 ->me: Yep, that is right folks – I am throwing down the gauntlet and going through the book of Revelation. There is a lot of commentaries and schools of thought on this book. From whether the writer was actually the same John who wrote the Gospel (the son of Zebedee) or whether you take a Preterist, Historicist, Futurist, or Idealist view of the book. I plan to bathe my QTs in prayer and ask the Lord for the direction of the Holy Spirit when I read and study. Yes, you get to come along with me on this ride. Tighten your seatbelt!
“Do not fret or have any anxiety about anything, but in every circumstance and in everything, by prayer and petition (definite requests), with thanksgiving, continue to make your wants known to God. And my God will liberally supply (fill to the full) your every need according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6&19 ->me: Today I have been discouraged but unnecessarily so. I need to hear these 2 verses that set my heart right and keep me from not only losing faith but being excited to see God work. There are 16 of us going to Mexico in October to build a house for an impoverished family and we have less than 2 months before we leave. We are trusting God to provide the funds necessary for the materials for the house, our airline fares, accommodations, and food for 4 days. We have a ways to go before the trip is funded and today it was weighing on me (for the first time really). I was fretting and had anxiety about this just as Paul tells me not to. Paul says that God will ‘liberally’ supply our every need according to His riches in the glory of His Son! Paul says that we pray and petition (to make specific requests) with thanksgiving! Meaning we thank God for what He will do before He does it! Thank you Lord God for the reaffirmation that you are in control and when we are seeking your face and dwelling in your temple you will give us what we need when we need it.
“My son, beware of anything beyond these. Of making many books there is no end, and much study is a weariness of the flesh. The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.” Ecclesiastes 12:12-14 ->me: I have reached the end of Ecclesiastes. What a great book! These last few verses struck me. First, the Preacher warns of trusting too much in the writings outside of what the Lord has spoken in His word (Revelation 22:18-19). He warns of spending too much time and putting too much stake in reading books and literature outside of God’s word for there is an endless amount that has and will be written. I have become careful to make sure that what I read is supported by the word of God; in fact I read very little outside of the bible and several commentaries (which I still search the Holy Spirit for its truthiness). Second, the Preacher culminates after saying ‘all has been heard, this is the end of the matter’ with the fact that we should ‘fear’ and ‘keep’; in that order. Fearing God is the realization of God’s unchanging power and justice. It delivers from wickedness, self-righteousness, and leads to a hatred of sin. This then leads to a ‘keeping of His commandments’; conduct is derived from worship. A knowledge of God leads to obedience. The reason for Fearing and Keeping -> because God will evaluate and judge everything (good or bad) that I think, do, and feel; there is nothing hidden from Him.
“Rejoice, O young man, in your adolescence, and let your heart cheer you in the days of your [full-grown] youth. And walk in the ways of your heart and in the sight of your eyes, but know that for all these things God will bring you into judgment. Therefore remove [the lusts that end in] sorrow and vexation from your heart and mind and put away evil from your body, for youth and the dawn of life are vanity [transitory, idle, empty, and devoid of truth].” Ecclesiastes 11:9-10 ->me: What a great way to cap off this chapter. I have been moved to write about the enjoyment of life; stopping to enjoy God’s creation, personal relationships, and of course things like good food. However, these 2 verses call me back to reality…the reality that in the end is a reckoning for all the choices we make. We, in our earthly flesh, can not possibly make good choices on a consistent basis. We need the kindling of the Divine Nature that God has put in all of us who believe. Just as the verses say, ‘the ways of my heart’ and ‘the sight of my eyes’ are corrupted by my sinful fallen flesh. I know that if I let my eyes fall off of my Savior for even 24 hours I find myself falling back into the fleshly heart and fleshly sight. How do I kindle and grow the Divine Nature within me? I work my rear off to keep the ways, purposes, and desires God has for me in the fore front by being in as constant prayer and communication with Him as possible. I keep my nose in His word EVERY day. I worship His greatness, grace, mercy, protection, healing, and anything else I can think of. I remain thankful for His Salvation and price He paid to win my freedom. I seek Him first and then all of these enjoyments will be added to me.
“Truly the light is sweet, and a pleasant thing it is for the eyes to behold the sun. Yes, if a man should live many years, let him rejoice in them all…” Ecclesiastes 11:7-8a ->me: TL;DR Take joy in every day. I think about the times that I have been on vacation or fishing with my dad, brother, and/or family and come out in the morning and let the warmth of the sun rest on my face…sitting out in the beauty that God has designed so intricately. He has created all that we see for Himself…just letting that soak that in for a minute…EVERYTHING He has created He has created for Himself and His Glory. While I am here on this earth I get to enjoy the material nature of what He has created; smells, sights, the feel of grass under my feet, and the mesmerizing effect of fire. Elsewhere, the word ‘light’ is used for joy and blessing as a contrast to sorrow, adversity, and death. Light, here meaning the joy of being alive. Then the Preacher uses two words to describe the joyfulness of life, sweet and pleasant. The latter is a general word, as widely used as our English word ‘good’; the former, more precise, is used for the sweetness of honey, the opposite of ‘bitter’. The double description implies that life is not only good in itself but that it is to be savored with enthusiasm, as someone might enjoy honey.
“As you do not know how the spirit comes to the bones in the womb of a woman with child, so you do not know the work of God who makes everything.” Ecclesiastes 11:5 ->me: There are some mysteries of life that we will never understand even though we as humans desperately try to figure them out. People of science dedicate their entire lives to the hope that they will discover something new; and this is not a bad thing… However, when that pursuit becomes an idol, causing you to put your hope and trust in something independent of the One True God, then that is something different all together. My life of faith does not remove the problem of my ignorance; instead, it enables me to live with it. Faith thrives in the mystery of providence; it does not do away with it.
“CAST YOUR bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days. Give a portion to seven, yes, even [divide it] to eight, for you know not what evil may come upon the earth.” Ecclesiastes 11:1-2 ->me: I had to do a little reading on this passage to help get the context (talked it over with Marianne too). This feels very much like a call to be generous in our charity and to not wait or withhold our giving for an appropriate time; be proactive in looking for ways to give it away. ‘Cast…bread on the water, for you will find it after a long while’ points at the investment in people. When I take chances on and am generous with my investment into those God brings into my path, I will, at some point, see the return in them. Don’t hold back my generosity for I don’t know when I might have the opportunity again to be generous. Try to be thoughtful in stretching the giving across as wide an area as possible (give to seven…even eight). I don’t think this is just monetary investment, it also feels like time investment. The Lord is really helping me to see this clearly with the book I am reading now as well – Crazy Busy: A (Mercifully) Short Book about a (Really) Big Problem.
“Curse not the king, no, not even in your thoughts, and curse not the rich in your bedchamber, for a bird of the air will carry the voice, and a winged creature will tell the matter.” Ecclesiastes 10:20 ->me: When I read this I hear a couple of things. 1) Don’t let the craziness of today’s politics give rise to anger. All presidents have come and gone and this one will as well. Thank goodness our system of government prevents too much from going sideways between occupants of the Oval Office. 2) The verse challenges us to remain calm in days of national laziness and squabbles over the most foolish things. The Preacher is calling for a submissive approach to authority. 3) Everything that has been said about wisdom and folly points again to the main lesson of Ecclesiastes: the need to face life as it really is, and take our life day by day from the hand of a sovereign God. When I am following God closely He will guide me and my heart to the areas He wishes to assert influence; in the mean time I am not to let the world around me get me riled up.
“If the ax is dull and the man does not whet the edge, he must put forth more strength; but wisdom helps him to succeed.” Ecclesiastes 10:10 ->me: There is something about this verse that really rings true with me. Whet -> to sharpen. A wise axeman takes the time to prepare his tools. The foolish one will in haste run out to chop wood without tending to his equipment…because of his dull blade he will spend way more effort than is necessary to do the job. This is a great reminder to slow down or be prepared for life’s situations. Slow down, take stock, and do the work beforehand…everything will go so much smoother. The biggest one I can think of is what I am doing here – I am spending time every day to learn to wield my sword and correctly wear the armor; all the while leaning on my Lord more and more so that I am prepared for when trial comes.
“If the temper of the ruler rises up against you, do not leave your place [or show a resisting spirit]; for gentleness and calmness prevent or put a stop to great offenses.” Ecclesiastes 10:4 ->me: I really appreciate this call by the Preacher not to run from the anger of your boss or someone in power above you. Stay there and don’t panic in fear or desert in bitterness. Through the Christlike character God is building in me, the Lord gives me the ability to sooth anger with a calm forbearance. This is where having a close/consistent communication pipeline open with God comes into play in amazing ways. It says a lot about Jesus in me when I humbly listen while quietly praying for wisdom and words of a disarming nature. More often than not your stock will rise when your boss or leader sees you humbly and meekly stand in the fray and extinguish the flame of the situation through soothing acknowledgement and/or wise solutions. Thank you Lord for the undeniable presence of Your Spirit in times in my life.