Monday, July 29, 2013

Eccl. 3:15-22

v. 15-22 "Whatever is has already been, and what will be has been before; and God will call the past to account.  And I saw something else under the sun: In the place of judgment-wickedness was there, in the place of justice-wickedness was there.  I thought in my heart, 'God will bring to judgment both the righteous and the wicked, for there will be a time for every activity, a time for every deed.'  I also thought, 'As for men, God tests them so that they may see that they are like the animals.  Man's fate is like that of the animals; the same fate awaits them both: As one dies, so dies the other.  All have the same breath; man has no advantage over the animal.  Everything is meaningless.  All go to the same place; all come from dust, and to dust all return.  Who knows if the spirit of man rises upward and if the spirit of the animal goes down into the earth?'  So I saw that there is nothing better for a man than to enjoy his work, because that is his lot.  For who can bring him to see what will happen after him?"

We all will be held accountable for what we did in our past.  If only we could go back to stop our mistakes and bad judgments, but that can't happen so we are stuck with what we did.  Since there is a lot on my plate from the past, I will choose to do better for the rest of my life.  This part talking about judgment and justice pertains to men, not God.  We can easily be persuaded by others to change our opinion during a trial, many have been bought for even a small price.  Even those that are not part of the trial can have strong opinions about what others have done.  I know that unless we are in someone else's shoes we will not know everything that happened so our judgment is just that, judgment.  God does not ignore injustice, He will bring it all to an end in His timing, not ours.  We know God can do anything so we wonder why He doesn't fix everything.  Do you think He is waiting for us to do something?  We are supposed to be His ambassadors so what should we do for Him? 

God tests men so that they see they are like animals so we will not be consumed by pride.  I believe mankind and animals will all go to the same places, heaven or hell.  Again it says that we should enjoy our work since it is our lot, so no complaining then?  Oops, that is a definite problem area for me.  I was not one of those happy pregnant ladies, while pregnant and for the first few months after they were born I was useless.  I complained a lot and was miserable (short, but intense postpartum).  Now they are in school I find myself still complaining.  This is something that I need to work on.  Every now and then I would be in the moment and appreciate what I was doing and enjoy the time spent with the kids.  I knew that the stage of life was only temporary and it would be gone soon (screaming baby stage) and I would miss it, ok not the screaming baby stage, but the other stuff.  Although most of the time I was looking forward to their next stage of life.  I am trying to enjoy the moments every day now.  Before long they will not want to cuddle anymore and I will miss that tremendously.  I did not grow up with that so I love that we are a cuddle family.  So I need to enjoy my work whether it is writing or cleaning because if I do it for God then my complaining seems to cease. 

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Eccl. 3:9-14

v. 9-14 "What does the worker gain from his toil?  I have seen the burden God has laid on men.  He has made everything beautiful in its time.  He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.  I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live.  That everyone may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all his toil-this is the gift of God.  I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it.  God does it so that men will revere him." 

Timing is important in the Kingdom, yet we try to speed it up to suit our needs and desires.  Many things God makes will take time to become beautiful.  When a baby bird hatches it is not cute and fuzzy.  It looks pathetic, many are blind, and the odds to survive seem to be against it, yet the baby grows into a very cute fluffy bird.  They are blind and defenseless so they have to rely on their parents.  Only when they have sight and strength can they start to fly.  I think that is how many of us start out, blind and scary looking, then we grow into the person that God meant for us to be - beautiful (no matter what is on the outside). 

Our hearts are bound to something that we can't see.  He has made a drive in us to seek eternity.  We can't even begin to see what He has done in the span of time.  Our minds could not handle it, He give us small nuggets of information at a time.  Sometimes I will feel something that is unseen.  It's as if I feel the intensity in the room.  I was at a Beth Moore simulcast and during worship I felt like I could not only feel the room I was in, but rooms across the US.  I was a crying mess because God was there and I could feel it.  So I might have looked strange to others wondering what was wrong with me.  That does not happen that often, but when it does it is draining to the soul.  I am not always open to see things in that manor and I am not special because of it, believe me when I say, I am the least of these.  That keeps me away from pride and keeps me thankful that God would use me in any way He sees fit.  All I have to do is look back and remember to see where I have come from to know that.  Our mission is to tell others about God, but also do good while here on earth.  Although when we try to keep track of our "good deeds" then we start to lose sight of the path we are on.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Quote - heart & mind

"If you want to know where your heart is, look to where your mind goes when it wanders."

I saw this on a plaque online, no name was on it.  Day dreams are good for our soul, they speak from our hearts what we can not put into words.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Quote - Colin Powell

"The less you associate with some people, the more your life will improve. An important attribute in successful people is their impatience with negative thinking and negative acting people."

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Eccl. 3:1-8

v. 1-8 "There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under heaven:
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,
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."

Most people have heard this at some point in their lives.  God gives us cycles, which are natural to go through.  Our problem is that we get stuck in some of these places and it is difficult to get out.  Timing is crucial, we should see the lessons above and be aware that these are things that must happen in life.  We determine how we will respond to each event that we go through, we usually have no control over the situations that we are put in. 

"Every thing under heaven is thus changeable, but in heaven there is an unchangeable state, and an unchangeable counsel concerning these things."  Matthew Henry

Since this is widely known it is easy to gloss over this section.  I think it would be good to go to each verse and look at what it says.  Each of these verses has multiple meanings for different areas of life, we should learn from these so that our expectations will stay in line of where God wants us to be.  These are not all the meanings, just some so we can look more closely at the patterns.

A time to:

be born/die - this is divine timing, it is a process which once started will lead to the other end most assuredly.  Acts 17:26 says that He marked out their appointed times in history.  God places us in the time period that we are supposed to be in so that we can do the best we can while here on earth.  This mentions nothing about living.  Not all will get the same amount of time while here, in the span of eternity, our lives are like a tiny grain of sand. 

plant/uproot - this follows the harvest season for our food, but also for us as well.  Sometimes we are called to stay in our home towns and other times God calls us to other places to live.  God also plants nations, He planted Israel to be uprooted to spread the Gospel around the world.

kill/heal & war/peace - this does not mean it's ok for us to murder others.  I believe this is for God, His judgment on the people.  He also gives mercy and a time for healing.  The bible is full of stories of His people turning away from Him, He is a parent and disciplines those He loves.  Many times when the Jews turned from Him He did not kill them, He took His hands off of them and they were enslaved or destroyed by another nations.  Also many people kill animals to feed their families.  War is never an easy choice, it is destructive to us and our environment.  Rising up your army to defend your land, maintain your rights or crush your enemy will destroy more than you might be able to conceive.  After the US obtained freedom from England, less than 100 years later we were in the Civil War, where we divided the country and over 600,000 people died.  Pride will drive a country to war and when it is finally destroyed only then will the pride be defeated into desperation.

tear down/build & tear/mend - sometimes it is best to break apart ties that are corrosive to the soul, if you have family, friends or business partners that are damaging you then distance yourself if you can.  Other times we can't see what is going on and God will make the divide for us.  We should break off any relationships that are toxic to us, they will slowly drag us down in the end.  At times a faulty foundation must be torn down so that a correct one can be put in it's place for the stability of our life. 

weep/laugh & mourn/dance - this seems like it should be easy to follow.  God gives us seasons of sadness and joy.  I have see some stuck in the weeping season and they have over stayed their welcome.  If we lose a loved one God doesn't not want us to stay in the weeping season for the rest of our lives.  God gave the Israelites time to mourn, in those times He was there for them just like He is here for us. "The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit."  Psalm 34:18 & "I will turn their mourning into gladness; I will give them comfort and joy instead of sorrow." Jeremiah 31:13.  God says He will give comfort and joy to those suffering.  There is joy in the end if we will only believe. 

scatter stones/gather them & keep/throw away - cast away stones from a field so that you can plant crops and they won't harm the growth of the plants.  These same stones that seem useless in a field can be brought together to make strong buildings.  Gentiles were the stones that nobody wanted until God reached down to gather them to help build foundations all around the world. 

"A time to cast away stones, by breaking down and demolishing fortifications, when God gives peace in the borders, and there is no more occasion for them; but there is a time to gather stones together, for the making of strong-holds.  A time for old towers to fall, as that in Siloam Luke 12:4 and for the temple itself to be so ruined as that not one stone should be left upon another; but also a time for towers and trophies too to be erected, when national affairs prosper."  Matthew Henry

embrace/refrain - embrace a loved one for their kindness and there are times to refrain when others hurt you.  Space apart is much needed when betrayed.  We all need love and when we feel validated then we feel that we matter to someone in this world.  In situations we know are wrong like cheating we should refrain from affection, you not only will destroy the two lives involved, you will destroy everyone in those two families. 

search/give up - There are times to go and seek out wisdom, jobs, finding yourself, etc.  Other times we are to give up even though we might not find what we set out to seek.  Many will never give up their search which will only leave them frustrated.  Some things found will eventually be lost.  There is a time to keep things and a time to pass them on to others.  Do not hold onto something just because it was your grandparents if you will not use it or give it a place of honor in your home.  If we keep things that God is wanting us to get out of our lives then we might also push Him out. 

silent/speak - there are times to be silent like Jesus was when He was confronted by the leaders to defend Himself before He was killed.  When someone picks a fight about God we do not always have to fight back, who are we to defend Him?  Since we are sinners we should only show people what He has done in our lives, not what we think is wrong with them.  Other times we are to speak up when we see injustice in the world.  Remember if we do not speak out against injustice then it is as if we are in agreement with the injustice we so oppose. 

love/hate - There is time to love in our life, it should be an under current in our lives that binds us all together.  Hate on the other hand does not give us free reign to hate others for what they have done to us.  I believe this means that we should hate injustice in this world so that our actions will show we are against the evil. 

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Eccl. 2:17-26

v. 17-26 "So I hated life, because the work that is done under the sun was grievous to me.  All of it is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.  I hated all the things I had toiled for under the sun, because I must leave them to the one who comes after me.  And who knows whether he will be a wise man or a fool?  Yet he will have control over all the work into which I have poured my effort and skill under the sun.  This too is meaningless.  So my heart began to despair over all my toilsome labor under the sun.  For a man may do his work with wisdom, knowledge and skill, and then he must leave all he owns to someone who has not worked for it.  This too is meaningless and a great misfortune.  What does a man get for all the toil and anxious striving with which he labors under the sun?  All his days his work is pain and grief; even at night his mind does not rest.  This too is meaningless.  A man can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in his work.  This too, I see, is from the hand of God, for without him, who can eat or find enjoyment?  To the man who pleases him, God gives wisdom, knowledge and happiness, but to the sinner he gives the tasks of gathering and storing up wealth to hand it over to the one who pleases God.  This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind."

This man who had everything said he hated life.  All he accomplished was bitter tasting because it was for selfish gain instead of for God.  If you work really hard in your life and then left all you had to your children and they just wasted it, that we be frustrating indeed.  Hard work done for right reasons (taking care of family, etc) is not wrong, but if done for selfish reasons, then the results will never satisfy your soul.  Some are so concerned to amass a fortune that they make themselves sick trying to figure out what to do with it when they are gone.  I have seen what appeared to be mild mannered people be vicious to others in their family due to what someone put in a will.  Once we leave we will not be worried about who gets what, there is something so much better than all the cares of this world.  What Solomon said came to pass, his son made a foolish decision and divided the kingdom.  When something is divided it will not be as strong as if it stayed together in the first place. 

Chasing the wind is a hopeless effort.  We can't see the wind, but we can see it move through the trees.  It is not ours to keep.  Yet how many try to chase things that will never satisfy them, that will never fill the void in their soul.  You can not grasp what is untouchable.  Even at night his mind does not rest, how many of us can not shut down our brains to rest?  I have a difficult time shutting down my brain.   By nature I am a night owl, I do my best writing and get my best ideas at night.  The price to pay is when I need sleep and my mind is racing and I can't stop it.  Solomon says that from God is the gift to eat, drink and find satisfaction in our work.  Nothing extravagant, just basic things in life should bring us joy.  There are some who have the best outlook on life with the worst jobs, other have the easy rich life and are miserable.  To those that please God, He will give wisdom, knowledge and happiness, despite your job or position in this life. 

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Eccl. 2:12-16

v. 12-16 "Then I turned my thoughts to consider wisdom, and also madness and folly.  What more can the king's successor do than what has already been done?  I saw that wisdom is better than folly, just as light is better than darkness.  The wise man has eyes in his head, while the fool walks in the darkness; but I came to realize that the same fate overtakes them both.  Then I thought in my heart, 'The fate of the fool will overtake me also.  What then do I gain by being wise?'  I said in my heart, 'This too is meaningless.'  For the wise man, like the fool, will not be long remembered; in days to come both will be forgotten.  Like the fool, the wise man too must die!"

This seems like he is saying give up on being wise since we will just die anyway, but I do not think that this is as hopeless as it sounds.  We all are given a choice in this life, to pick good or evil.  This is a choice only we can make and it will determine our eternal place.  Wisdom alone can not guarantee eternal life, but it is better than folly.  God is looking for quality in us, not quantity.  We all are to die at some point no matter how we live our lives.  What we do here will have an impact on our eternal reward.  If we focus on a relationship with God and not struggle for earthly gain then we will be much better off here and there. 

Most everything on earth at some point will disappoint us, but not God.  We may not be happy with His timing or what He is allowing in our lives, but we do not know what His plans are for us, so we do not have all the details to make a correct conclusion.  When we are at judgment there will be no one with us, we will be judged on what we did while here on earth.  Every little thought, our actions, how we treated family, friends and strangers, how we spent our time and money will be on trial before God.  I already have many things in my past that will be on trial before God, I can not change that, I can only try and live the rest of my life so that when I am judged He will be pleased with me that I accepted His invitation to know Him and turn away from my former sins and live for Him.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

My vacation grade

Just getting back from two weeks of vacation in Colorado.  Many times I did not have Internet service while in the mountains so that is why there were not many posts in the last few weeks.  I am a home body so it is hard to be away from home for me.  I was out of my element and it was a difficult time.  I would say my grade was a big fat F.  With severe allergies, daily headaches, ears constantly popping and problems with the changing altitudes, it was not a pretty site.  There were many good moments like when I saw a beautiful raptor land in a tree not far from where I was sitting, spending my 40th birthday with my family, seeing herds of elk and their babies and giant moose. 

I slacked on my bible study and even prayer.  Did I turn to God during every frustrating time?  No, I complained and was upset about 99% of the time.  I know what I am supposed to do, yet when I am out of my normal routine it is very hard to focus on the correct thing to do.  Looking back it would have been so easy to just talk to God in my frustration instead of sulking.  I have many areas to work on so taking one at a time is the plan.  I am nowhere near my ideal of a Christian, but I am trying to move forward on this journey.   I am glad to be home again and get back into my routine.  If you are like me and have a long way to go on this journey then I hope you will join me in the pursuit of becoming an excellent person in Christ.  It is not the destination, but the journey where we learn our lessons and determine who we are in this life.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Quote - Ezra T. Benson

"Pride is concerned with who is right. Humility is concerned with what is right." 

What a beautiful simple quote!