Friday, August 30, 2013

Eccl. 8:11-17

v. 11-17 "When the sentence for a crime is not quickly carried out, the hearts of the people are filled with schemes to do wrong.  Although a wicked man commits a hundred crimes and still lives a long time, I know that it will go better with God-fearing men, who are reverent before God.  Yet because the wicked do not fear God, it will not go well with them, and their days will not lengthen like a shadow.  There is something else meaningless that occurs on earth: righteous men who get what the wicked deserve, and wicked men who get what the righteous deserve.  This too, I say, is meaningless.  So I commend the enjoyment of life, because nothing is better for a man under the sun than to eat and drink and be glad.  Then joy will accompany him in his work all the days of the life God has given him under the sun.  When I applied my mind to know wisdom and to observe man's labor on earth-his eyes not seeing sleep day or night-then I saw all that God has done.  No one can comprehend what goes on under the sun.  Despite all his efforts to search it out, man cannot discover its meaning.  Even if a wise man claims he knows, he cannot really comprehend it."

There have been many stories throughout history of the public angered because a criminal was not punished in a timely manner or someone guilty was set free.  Everyone in the U.S. remembers the Rodney King trail.  He was severely beaten by police and the police did not get jail time, at first.  Two of the four officers were later convicted at a second trial.  This set up a storm of retaliation from many people in CA.  Over 50 people died as a result of this and millions of dollars in damage to property occurred.  We are a passionate people, but the actions of others do not justify our actions for revenge.  Mobs are scary, they tend to be bent on destruction and are indifferent to compassion.  Those same people end up doing the same crimes or worse committed by those in custody.  It is dangerous to think that sin has no consequences.  We sometimes end up throwing a net over ourselves, we are easily trapped.  There may be no obvious justice right away, but we all will be accountable for our actions.  If a child is not punished for bad behavior then they will be more likely to repeat it in the future, we are the same. 

There seems to be little hope in this book, but Solomon says that we should enjoy life.  We have a long journey ahead and not everyone will have the same experiences although we were made to help and support each other.  Many have searched for things that are worthless.  They pass over the simple things God tells us to do for something grand that will always be beyond their grasp or get fixated on things that don't matter to Him.  What I know is this: I only get a glimpse occasionally, but know very little of the Kingdom.  Our minds can only handle a little at a time.  God is supremely beyond us and I am happy knowing that.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

A Girl Lost

I remember a time when a family was baptized at our church before moving to California to have their daughter star in a Disney show called "Hanna Montana".  Miley Cyrus has been a role model for young girls for years.  After Disney there has been a noticeable change.  This once sweet looking girl has changed into the stereotype of women Hollywood likes to portray.  Now instead of standing out she blends in with the other women who are selling an idea of themselves that is nowhere near wholesome.  Unfortunately, this industry profit's greatly off of an idea of women that is such a high price we would not want our little girls to have to pay.  What I have seen lately and most recently from the VMA's is a sad sight.  This is what Matthew 7:13-14 has to say "Enter through the narrow gate.  For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.  But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it."

I did not watch the VMA's because anything associated with MTV I can live without.  It would be hard to not have seen what happened, since it's all over the Internet. 

When I saw the clip I thought:
  • first, I was not surprised this is expected from MTV
  • I kept thinking she is some one's little girl
  • how far down the road will she go?
  • what will be her breaking point?
  • she will always be linked to this
  • what will her children think in the future?
  • everyone will be expecting more of this
  • the noticeable lack of support around her
  • who is profiting off of her?
As if this wasn't bad enough, this seems to be her dad's response after the award show:
"Thanking God for so many blessings tonight. Continue to pray for world peace. More love ...less hate."  Ok, is it just me or does there seem to be something wrong with this?  My husband would not have tweeted, he would have been too angry to type. 

We are to protect our little girls.  They need to know that they are beautiful because God designed them, no matter what they look like on the outside.  The inside is what counts.  They need to know that they shouldn't dress in a way that will attract unwanted attention.  They need our support and love no matter what.  They also need supervision, rules and discipline.  They need a parent, not a best friend.  They need to know that a very profitable industry wants to influence them in a way that goes against what God wants for them.  Many think that it's not a big deal, but this life you are responsible for was put in your care by God.  We will be accountable for our actions before Him.  Remember what Jesus said about someone hurting children?  I don't think this is just about abuse, there are many ways to destroy a child's soul.  Matthew 18:6 "If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea."  You may think that to be harsh, but God loves children and I don't think He wants them to grow up too fast or go down dark roads.

We are given a great responsibility to raise a child to be above the things of this world, not be sucked down into darkness.  I speak from a familiar place, I was a lost girl too.  Knowing what I went through and the struggles it's hard to watch others make similar mistakes. 

Remember it is easy to bash on her at this point, but she needs love and support around her.  She is some one's little girl.  Someone needs to keep the wolves at bay.  I pray that someone will come to her side that cares about her place in the Kingdom and not about her fame. 

Monday, August 26, 2013

Eccl. 8:1-10

v. 1-10
"Who is like the wise man?
Who knows the explanation of things?
Wisdom brightens a man's face
and changes its hard appearance.

Obey the king's command, I say, because you took an oath before God.  Do not be in a hurry to leave the king's presence.  Do not stand up for a bad cause, for he will do whatever he pleases.  Since a king's word is supreme, who can say to him, 'What are you doing?'

Whoever obeys his command will come to no harm,
and the wise heart will know the proper time and procedure.
For there is a proper time and procedure for every matter,
though a man's misery weights heavily upon him.

Since no man knows the future,
who can tell him what is to come?
No man has power over the wind to contain it;
so no one has power over the day of his death.
As no one is discharged in time of war,
so wickedness will not release those who practice it.

All this I saw, as I applied my mind to everything done under the sun.  There is a time when a man lords it over others to his own hurt.  Then too, I saw the wicked buried-those who used to come and go from the holy place and receive praise in the city where they did this.  This too is meaningless."

When you have wisdom it can affect you physically, stress and worry can also make changes in your body.  If you have seen someone who lives in bitterness then you can see it on their face, deep lines from anger, jealously and hatred mark them well.  The more wisdom you have the less you worry.  Am I there?  No, I have a long way to go.  Some of the littlest things I have such a problem with.  I am a WIP (work in progress). 

In our country we do not have a king, but we should still pray for our leaders.  We may not agree with everything that a leader does, but we should still pray for them.  In 1 Timothy 2 it says this "I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people-for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.  This is good, and pleases God our Savior."  I do not think that God would be pleased with the hate that has been spewed out in the media and in people's homes for our leaders over the last couple decades.  This will only get worse as people see fit to share their opinions.  There is a time and place for every matter.  We should take time to think things out before we bring them up, especially something that is important.  There is only one King who is perfect in every way, if we follow Him then we will flourish. 

"We may be glad that we are not under bondage to any absolute monarch, but enjoy the blessings of constitutional government.  We are by no means slow to say to any one of our governors, 'What doest thou?' And such a question, wisely put, is good both for him and for us."

"God alone is rightfully sovereign without limit."

"As he is Maker of all, dominion over his creatures is a matter of natural right."

Charles Spurgeon Sermon Notes

There are many who lead that are cruel.  It isn't fair and many have been taken advantage of.  There is nothing that is hidden from God.  Even in the depths He can shine a light so bright that it can cast out eternal darkness.  Why doesn't He fix it?  We are given a choice and many unfortunately choose an unwise path.  There is a judgment that will let nothing slip away.  When someone who has produced much evil has died, it is quickly forgotten and then they are praised in the very place that they caused such heartache. 

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Poem - Coming Home

This idea came to me last week.  I thought about coming home to God, to my Father's house.  I was planning on writing something else today, but you know how God works.  Apparently it was meant for this moment.  This goes along with the bible study notes about Solomon, but fits the story of the prodigal son told by Jesus.  I am well acquainted with that story since I have been that child coming home.  If you have not come home then I hope this will show you a glimpse of what it is like.  You will never be the same once you cross that threshold.  There is only love waiting for you there, He will turn no one away.

Coming Home

I have been away for a long time
I have been welcome
but have not taken a step
toward this place for many years.
I see the light in the window
that must be there always.
Waiting, lighting the way.
I am thankful for the light
that is on this path
so I will not falter coming home.

My father has missed me
he has cried for me
I have hurt him yet he still loves me.
I climb the steps slowly
with each step it's as if heavy armor
is falling to the ground.
I will leave all baggage outside this gate.

My breathe is unsteady, I am nervous
as my hand reaches for the door I hesitate
what if he tells me to leave
or decides to slam the door in my face
for all the harm I have caused here.
This has stopped so many from
coming to this place.

I wait ever so long not knowing what
will happen once this process has started
I take a deep breathe and decide to knock.
In my selfish stupor I did not realize that
the door was unlocked and slightly open,
open this whole time, waiting for me.

I push the door open
in the distance of a long hall
I see someone running, running to me. 
The thought came to run back down the steps
I froze.  Then I started to realize
that the one running to me
had open arms and such joy was on his face.  

When you have been away
from the father's house you forget 
then it starts to slowly come back
as if a dense fog came rolling in.
I remember love, peace, joy, forgiveness,
grace and mercy.

He loves me and has been waiting
for the day of my return.
He wraps me in his arms and I feel love again
pure love with no ulterior motives
like the people of this world.
He forgives me for everything that I have done,
everything I have ever done.
I would fall to the floor in a crying heap
if it were not for his secure arms.

He calls out for a celebration because I have returned
the finest foods, the most beautiful clothes
and everyone is invited, a celebration like no other.

Tears stream down my face.
How could someone love me that much
to forgive everything, wipe it all away
so that it settles into the deepest crevice in the sea.
Never to be seen again.

I now understand, he gave me the choice
I choose badly to seek the pleasures of this world
and have paid a heavy price.

Now I am home with the one who loves me
there is only beauty here, not hate like outside the gate.
The rest of my days I will rest in the knowledge that I
mattered to someone, I am so deeply cared for.
Coming home has restored my soul
it has given my a reason to smile and to be free.
Coming home I am safe and protected.
Coming home is where I will always be.

Amy Jones

Friday, August 23, 2013

Eccl. 7:21-29

v. 21-29
"Do not pay attention to every word people say,
or you may hear your servant cursing you-
for you know in your heart
that many times you yourself have cursed others.
All this I tested by wisdom and I said,
'I am determined to be wise'-
but this was beyond me.
Whatever wisdom may be,
it is far off and most profound-
who can discover it?
So I turned my mind to understand,
to investigate and to search out wisdom and the scheme of things
and to understand the stupidity of wickedness
and the madness of folly.

I find more bitter than death
the woman who is a snare,
whose heart is a trap
and whose hands are chains.
The man who pleases God will escape her,
but the sinner she will ensnare.

'Look,' says the Teacher, 'this is what I have discovered:
Adding one thing to another to discover the scheme of things-
while I was still searching
but not finding-
I found one upright man among a thousand,
but not one upright woman among them all.
This only have I found;
God made mankind upright,
but men have gone in search of many schemes.'"

This pattern of watching words continues.  Many get lost in great speeches that only they can appreciate.   Any words can be spoken and sound kind, but there could be deceit just under the surface.  If you watch how people treat others and their actions while they think no one is watching then that would be a better indicator than their words.  We are not responsible for what others say, only for the words that come from us.  Solomon set his mind in search for why people choose stupidity and folly.  Thinking you have a vast amount of wisdom is a good sign that you don't.

Now ladies don't think the worst here even though it sounds unflattering.  This isn't a censuring of women in general.  Now think of this in the time that it was written.  This man had wives and concubines, not just a few, a ton.  He apparently had a problem with women!  Women were forced into this position without any rights.  Since this was a problem for him he must have known that the temptation of women (representing any sin) would be understood be all men even if the women did nothing to provoke it.  Let me tell you that there are plenty of upright women in the bible.  Acts 17:4 "Some of the Jews were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, as did a large number of God-faring Greeks and quite a few prominent women."  You just have to look at those who were with Jesus when He was on the cross, mostly women.  I can't imagine the number of times that men have used these verses against women when the true evil was inside of them.  Goodness or evil are not determined by whether you are male or female.  There are many touchy subjects in the bible, I will not shy away from them.  The entire bible is for our benefit, to learn, teach, and grow in our relationship with God.  Who am I to pick and choose just the good parts to use and ignore the rest?
Did Solomon think women could be wise or upright?  Yes, in Proverbs he personified wisdom as a responsible woman.  I think he was showing that no one can stand before God and be considered upright on their own merit.  This shows that goodness and wisdom are sometimes scarce to all of us.  Remember during this time, the men had a religious education and women did not so I don't think he was trying to insult women here.  If only one out of a thousand were upright that were educated then there would be fewer who did not have the same education.  

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Eccl. 7:13-20

v. 13-20
 "Consider what God has done:
Who can straighten what He made crooked?
When times are good, be happy;
but when times are bad, consider:
God has made the one as well as the other.
Therefore, a man cannot discover
anything about his future.
In this meaningless life of mine I have seen both of these:
a righteous man perishing in his righteousness,
and a wicked man living long in his wickedness.
Do not be overrighteous,
neither be overwise-why destroy yourself?
Do not be overwicked, and do not be a fool-
why die before your time?
It is good to grasp the one
and not let go of the other.
The man who fears God will avoid all extremes.
Wisdom makes one wise man more powerful
than ten rulers in a city.
There is not a righteous man on earth
who does what is right and never sins."

No one can change what God has done.  We have no power or control over the things of the Kingdom.  Yet how many have tried to change things beyond their control.  All it does is frustrate us and make us miserable.  It is wise to know that God made good & bad times.  In bad times we should take time to contemplate everything God has does for us and that He knows infinitely more than we ever could.  God keeps us guessing.  We are not supposed to know our future.  If we knew what was to come and it was bad, would we still go along the same path.  It would alter the decisions we make instead of having faith in Him.  Some get pieces to the puzzle, but do not have the overall picture to compare them to. 

Overly righteous:
  • pointing out other people's faults will win you no favor with God
  • those who are here are in the depths of pride and don't realize it
  • judgment comes quickly concerning others, as we ignore our own faults
Overly wise:
  • when we step beyond ourselves we can get lost easily
  • decisions made can harm us down the road
  • we can have too much faith in ourselves instead of God
Overly wicked:
  • some go beyond all reason down a dark path
  • justification for evil is no excuse to produce it
  • pride and greed are an illusion of sanity and control
  • putting yourself in a dangerous situation that is unnecessary
  • not thinking things through can cost you dearly
  • guard your tongue for it will wield a dangerous weapon
God wants us to make right choices and live a balanced life.  Most anything that you can take to an extreme can be harmful to you.  We should take the advice of others who have come before us and have learned valuable lessons at a high cost.  So that we will avoid the same price paid.  When you are confronted by what appears to be a "perfect Christian" who easily sees your sin then just remember this last verse.  Not one of us can go without sinning, we are built flawed and continue to sin, even those who think that they are nearly perfect sin daily.  Jesus said that if you think a thought (lust, etc.) then you have already sinned Matt. 5:28.  This was designed perfectly because there is no way for us to get around sin except to go through Jesus.  Those throwing stones at you from their glass houses will inevitability get cut from falling glass. 

Monday, August 19, 2013

Eccl. 7:6-12

v. 6-12
"Like the crackling of thorns under the pot,
so is the laughter of fools.  This too is meaningless.
Extortion turns a wise man into a fool,
and a bribe corrupts the heart.
The end of a matter is better than its beginning,
and patience is better than pride.
Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit,
for anger resided in the lap of fools.
Do not say, 'Why were the old days better than these?
For it is not wise to ask such questions.
Wisdom, like an inheritance, is a good thing
and benefits those who see the sun.
Wisdom is a shelter as money is a shelter,
but the advantage of knowledge is this:
that wisdom preserves the life of its possessor."

Corruption and bribes seem to be running rampant in our society.  All through out history this has been the case, some places and times were worse than others.  Many of our leaders tend to be in the spotlight for getting caught on this destructive path.  It's no wonder that the approval rating for our government leadership has taken such a nose dive.  I am thinking that this is the case in other countries as well.  Both sides are guilty, not many seem to be immune from the temptation.  There are probably some very good leaders, we just hear about the bad ones on the news. 

We should not be provoked to fight a pointless battle.  Recently there have been two people (a governor and a senator) who are fighting in the media.  Every time there is another comment the other one makes sure that they are heard.  They are with same political party, this party has been attacking itself.  We know what happens when something divides itself, it can not stand.  These are grown men who are acting like children.  There does not appear to be many who want to take the high road.

We should not dwell in the past.  Each generation has good and bad points.  We should not be looking back and wondering what happened to the good ole days.  These verses show a difference between wisdom and money.  They are both a shelter, but with wisdom it will preserve you.  For some money will destroy them.  I would rather be rich with wisdom than poor (in spirit) with money.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Eccl. 7:1-5

v. 1-5
"A good name is better than fine perfume,
and the day of death better than the day of birth. 
It is better to go to a house of mourning
than to go to a house of feasting,
for death is the destiny of every man;
the living should take this to heart.
Sorrow is better than laughter,
because a sad face is good for the heart.
The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning,
but the heart of fools is in the house of pleasure.
It is better to heed a wise man's rebuke
than to listen to the song of fools.

Again there seems to be many contradictions from Solomon's previous words, but I think that he is looking from a different angle on this.  We should enjoy everything that God has given us, but when adversity strikes we realize how short life really is.  We should then live wisely and redefine our character to get the most out of life.  In both Christian and Jewish cultures there seems to be a value in suffering and sorrow.  Adversity is a refining fire that eliminates unnecessary elements in our lives.

Maybe for all the years of depression I went through my heart is now happy and strong because of it.  We learn more about God and ourselves during difficult times.  Do you avoid sorrow?  Do you stay away from anything that could hurt you like relationships?  We were meant to feel a range of emotions during our lives.  Many people would not be where they are today if they did not go through some adversity.  Sometimes it sets a burning desire in their hearts to accomplish their dreams that might never have happened if there was no opposition in their lives.

How could the day of death be better than the day of birth?  When we leave here we will go to our final destination, this life if just the trial run of what is to come.  We are sad when someone dies and leaves us, but in heaven there is rejoicing for those coming home.  Thinking of death helps put thing in perspective.  We are able to examine our lives, make changes and confess sins.  How could a sad face be good for the heart?  There are times in our sadness when we turn to God.  Some people if they are having a wonderful life will never choose to come to God until there is a disaster.  I would rather go through heartache with God than be blissfully unaware of Him for my entire life.  Do not medicate yourself to keep from feeling pain.  We are supposed to go through pain then move on, but when we delay that step we get stuck in a dark place.  I have heard many people do this and they forgo birthdays, holidays and celebrations because they should have mourned and moved on, yet they were taking meds to numb them so that it makes it hard to get out of that fog.  They are stuck in the time period that devastated them and they will remain there until they can process what happened then slowly move on.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Song - Learning To Be The Light

Growing up my mom would take me to gospel concerts, saying that I hated gospel music was an understatement, I still don't like it.  I did not know much about Christian music and only really remember liking Stryper, a rock band.  If you were like me and didn't get into the church music I hope you will listen to the music and lyrics of the songs now.  There is everything from ballads to heavy metal Christian bands.  There are many stations online so all you have to do is seek them out.

This is one of those songs that at the very start just about knocks me down as if a giant wave hits me out of nowhere.  Tears are easy to come by with this one.  The first section of this song is unlike the rest and it blows me away, it is music perfection in my book.  The music is fantastic and the lyrics are amazing. 

I am putting my favorite parts in bold. 

Learning To Be The Light by Newworldson

When the stars came crashing down
In tiny pieces to the ground
I was all alone down here
Trapped beneath the atmosphere
Then I thought somebody called my name
I spun around and caught a flame
Gave in to a God I didn't know
And now everything is falling into place
A brand new life is calling and I owe it all to grace

It's so much brighter living in Your world
Savior what You did for me
You gave me something I want everyone to see
When we stumble and it all goes wrong
Only You can make it right
So I say oh oh oh oh oh
I'm learning to be the light

I'm learning to be the light

When a heart is cold as ice
You can't melt it with advice
No one wants to listen to
A list of things they shouldn't do
So I build a city on a hill
And I light a candle on the sill
Knowing You'll be always knocking at the door
Oh God I just want to love on everyone
All I have is Yours to give so let the people come

It's so much brighter living in Your world
Savior what You did for me
You gave me something I want everyone to see
When we stumble and it all goes wrong
Only You can make it right
So I say oh oh oh oh oh
I'm learning to be the light
I'm learning to be the light
I'm learning to be the light that makes the shadows hide
The light that breaks the curse of pride
The light that takes the weary in its arms

When it all came crashing down
There was only darkness all around
But in the distance I could see a flame

It's so much brighter living in Your world
Savior what You did for me
You gave me something I want everyone
I mean everyone to see
When we stumble and it all goes wrong
Only You can make it right
So I say oh oh oh oh oh
I'm learning to be the light

I'm learning to be the light
I'm learning to be the light
I'm learning to be the light
I'm learning to be the light

To hear a sample go to:

Eccl. 6:1-12

v. 1-12 "I have seen another evil under the sun, and it weighs heavily on men: God gives a man wealth, possessions and honor, so that he lacks nothing his heart desires, but God does not enable him to enjoy them, and a stranger enjoys them instead.  This is meaningless, a grievous evil.  A man may have a hundred children and live many years; yet no matter how long he lives, if he cannot enjoy his prosperity and does not receive proper burial, I say that a stillborn child is better off than he.  It comes without meaning, it departs in darkness, and in darkness its name is shrouded.  Though it never saw the sun or knew anything, it has more rest than does that man-even if he lives a thousand years twice over but fails to enjoy his prosperity.  Do not all go to the same place?

All man's efforts are for his mouth,
yet his appetite is never satisfied. 
What advantage has a wise man over a fool?
What does a poor man gain by knowing
how to conduct himself before others?
Better what the eye sees than the roving of the appetite.
This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.
Whatever exists has already been named,
and what man is has been known;
no man can contend with one who is stronger than he.
The more the words, the less the meaning,
and how does that profit anyone?

For who knows what is good for a man in life, during the few and meaningless days he passes through like a shadow?  Who can tell him what will happen under the sun after he is gone?"

Having the right attitude can help us deal with injustice in the world.  "Prosperity is not always good, and adversity is not always bad." NIV notes  Throughout all that happens in the world God is good.  The part about God not enabling man to enjoy his lot seems to contradict what it says in Chapter 5 that God enables him to enjoy his lot.  Watch out for what seems like contradictions, do not think the bible is some thoughtless books thrown together.  God put everything right where He wanted it.  There are so many layers to the bible and seldom just one meaning for a passage.  I think here it is talking about that you might die right when you are at your most successful and someone else will enjoy your stuff.  I also think this part in Chapter 6 is telling that God won't force us to enjoy what we are given.  We all have a choice to make whether it is right or wrong. 

When Solomon talks about a still born child I do not think that he was trying to sound cold although it does sound that way.  I think that if a woman lost her baby then great offense would be taken to say that it was meaningless.  Those children have a name and go to God without knowing the evils of this world.  

How can any of us profit from those who spew off at the mouth continually?  After awhile it is just noise.  They speak words of hate and judgment so how is that good?  This verse on words gives us good reason to think before we speak and to not go on and on about something.  I am guilty of this and I'm trying to curb that habit.  For some reason I use to think that saying something over and over would get my point across, but it only frustrated me in the process and the other person would tire of repetitive words.  So now I try to say it once and be done. 

Monday, August 12, 2013

Eccl. 5:16-20

v. 16-20
"This too is a grievous evil:
As a man comes, so he departs,
and what does he gain,
since he toils for the wind?
All his days he eats in darkness,
with great frustration, affliction and anger.

Then I realized that it is good and proper for a man to eat and drink, and to find satisfaction in his toilsome labor under the sun during the few days of life God has given him-for this is his lot.  Moreover, when God gives any man wealth and possessions, and enables him to enjoy them, to accept his lot and be happy in his work-this is a gift of God.  He seldom reflects on the days of his life, because God keeps him occupied with gladness of heart."

Our perspective on our situation can vary greatly.  We are made up of our childhoods, personality and our experiences and you could have ten people view the same situation and come up with ten different stories of what happened.  We should appreciate what we have in life whether a lot or a little.  If we focus on the giver (God) instead of the gifts then we will be able to thrive in our lives and practice our gifts with purpose. 

There are many that live in the past.  I was one of them.  Always remembering and not really living in the present.  We can't hold onto the things that happened in the past.  It's as if they are mist in the shadows, we are never able to grasp those memories and live in them again.  Many waste away from putting all their efforts into looking back.  So here it says that when God give us wealth (this does not necessarily mean money) He enables us to enjoy what we are given so that means we should only seldom look into the past.  We should be joyful, but often we decide we do not want to stay in the present and go into darkness that is a long and lonely road.  If you are constantly looking in the rear view mirror you will miss where you are going and all the people along the way.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Quote - recipe for life

"For beautiful eyes look for the good in others,
for beautiful lips speak only words of kindness,
and for poise walk with the knowledge that you are never alone."

Quote from a sign online.  This is an excellent recipe to live your life by.  Some of the most beautiful people lose their beauty when they treat others as if they were sub-human.  We get to chose whether we speak words of love or hate they all will help define us to those watching, especially our children.  To know that you are never alone is something that can not be bought and it's difficult to teach since each person can think anything they want to.  When you know you want others to see so that they can know too.  When you know you will never be alone in life for even a moment that gives you joy in difficult moments and peace during the good ones.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Eccl. 5:8-15

v. 8-15 "If you see the poor oppressed in a district, and justice and rights denied, do not be surprised at such things; for one official is eyed by a higher one, and over them both are others higher still.  The increase from the land is taken by all; the king himself profits from the fields.

Whoever loves money never has money enough;
whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income.
This too is meaningless.
As goods increase,
so do those who consume then.
And what benefit are they to the owner
except to feast his eyes on them?
The sleep of a laborer is sweet,
whether he eats little or much,
but the abundance of a rich man
permits him no sleep.

I have seen a grievous evil under the sun:
wealth hoarded to the harm of its owner,
or wealth lost through some misfortune,
so that when he has a son
there is nothing left for him.
Naked a man comes from his mother's womb,
and as he comes, so he departs.
He takes nothing from his labor
that he can carry in his hand."

Throughout history oppressing the weak has been consistent.  Leadership has often ignored the pleas from the weak or used propaganda to make it appear they are doing good when they are not.  This will continue until the end.  I am not surprised anymore by people's ability to be cruel or indifferent.  Not every leader is corrupt, there are some who go against evil at all cost.  There is a chain of command just like in the military.  Corruption can run up or down the ladder.  King's used to profit off of the poor farmers in their kingdom, they got a fat cut of the crops while the farmers were left with little food to feed their families.  Today all we have to do is look at what companies pay their CEO's and president's.  The companies hand out millions in bonuses a year (even if the company is not doing well) while they have employee's who can't afford to make payments for necessities or their retirements are liquidated to feed the greed.

Those who lust after money will never be satisfied.  They will be driven by greed to increase their status in society.  You can have all the money in the world and still be miserable.  What is the antidote to greed?  Giving.  The more you give away the more the desire will leave.  At first the flesh will grasp at the money as if it were it's air.  When you give and help others you will get a payment that no check in the world could duplicate. 

The bible speaks of hoarding wealth as a problem.  There are other things that are hoarded that could be equally dangerous.  If you have ever watched any hoarding show then you see that keeping things in mass amounts can be harmful to a person's mind and health.  What is the point of keeping 20 TV's or 10 microwaves when someone maybe right down the street could really use it.  There are many reasons people hoard things; sentimental reasons, usefulness (I'll need it someday) or not to be wasteful.  When you stack bricks all around you then you will find you did not leave yourself a way out. 

We are supposed to leave something for our children and not waste all of our possessions.  Not all have money to give, some items are from a relative to pass down to the generations or if you have nothing at all then you can leave your wisdom.  Not all treasure is gold or silver.  Unlike the beliefs of many cultures throughout history, we take nothing with us when we leave here.  No matter if you were homeless or a billionaire, we are all the same in the eyes of God.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Eccl. 5:4-7

v. 4-7 "When you make a vow to God, do not delay in fulfilling it.  He has no pleasure in fools; fulfill your vow.  It is better not to vow than to make a vow and not fulfill it.  Do not let your mouth lead you to sin.  And do not protest to the temple messenger, 'My vow was a mistake.'  Why should God be angry at what you say and destroy the work of your hands?  Much dreaming and many words are meaningless.  Therefore stand in awe of God."

Guard your words, think carefully before you make a vow to God.  We are better off not making one in the first place.  I have done this before and I don't want to go down this road again so I heed the warnings.  Our words can get us in so much trouble.  If you look around at the news and the Internet you can see there is a problem with people's words.  Instead of building others up they pick a side, dig their heels in and attack every chance they get.  I hardly even know what is going on because I don't watch the local news, it tends to be an extended crime report.  I am very leery about cable news channels.  When there is an obvious agenda then you will not get just facts, you will get twisted news.  I think watching those shows all the time could make people speak in the same manner as the hosts of the shows, and in many cases would be a sad thing indeed.  It is good to get away from the noise so that we are able to decompress. 

Vows were a big deal to the Israelites.  When a vow was made it was unbreakable.  Deut. 23:23 "Whatever your lips utter you must be sure to do, because you made your vow freely to the Lord your God with your own mouth."  Do not make a pointless vow either.  For example if you don't eat meat and you vow that you never will then it would be pointless to make.  On the other hand, if you vow you will never eat chocolate again and you love it and will break this often, this is also pointless.

The price of vows:
  • at all cost you are to keep this vow so you don't break it before God
  • the enemy will look for ways to make you break your vow
  • a sense of pride could sneak in to think you are better than others who can't keep them
  • you may regret later the vow made in desperation

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Eccl. 5:1-3

v. 1-3 "Guard your steps when you go to the house of God.  Go near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools, who do not know that they do wrong. 

Do not be quick with your mouth,
do not be hasty in your heart
to utter anything before God. 
God is in heaven and you are on earth,
so let your words be few. 
As a dream comes when there are many cares,
so the speech of a fool when there are many words."

Pay close attention to warnings in the bible, many have disregarded them at great cost.  When we come before God it should not be another thing on our To Do List.  I admit I don't always get in the right frame of mind before I enter into His presence.  When I take a few moments to set my heart before Him then I am much more in awe of Him.  He created everything and we should be respectful to Him and be humble in our approach.  Check your heart when you are near God because He will surely see your motives behind your prayers.  It says that we should listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools.  How many times are you still before Him?  How many times do you go on and on about your prayers or problems?  Think of how you say things to God.  Are you giving thanks, asking for forgiveness of sins or just asking for things you want? 

Before Jesus they used to sacrifice animals to atone for their sins.  So someone repeating their sins over and over and sacrificing animals chose the routine instead of letting God renew them.  We are creatures of habit and I know that it is hard to change, but it can be done.  I know that prayer can be hard if we have to keep our words to a minimum.  God knows what we are going to pray even before we do so why do we feel the need to go on and on.  I try to keep my prayers short, sometimes they will be too long and I try to get back to my normal routine.  My focus is being thankful for what He has given me so I tell Him daily and praying for others.  Of course I pray for things I need or want, but I do not want that to overtake the other things I pray for.  Some nights I just give thanks because I am amazed at what He has done in my life.  I don't think anything is off limits to pray for as long as it's not from evil motives.  You can ask for anything like fame or money, but that doesn't mean that God will give it to you.  Those things are not to be the focus, if they are then we may start to think that He is a genie in a bottle instead of an amazing Father.  A parent knows when a child is ready to have certain things.  God knows our heart and He may never give us some things we desperately think we need.  We need to let go of some things and be thankful. 

Watch what you pray for because you may get it then regret it.  He gives in His timing and the things given might not be how you thought them to be after all.  Also bashing on people during prayer (they really should have known better than to do that, that person is so mean, etc) shows judgment no matter what the other person did.  I do not believe that God is overly happy when we bring others down in front of Him, remember they are also His children just like you.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Introduction to My Story

The posts under My Story are my history.  The small and large things God has done for me or shown me over my life so far.  I have not written down all the stories and I thought that it was about time.  I am not a journal person, but I wish that I had been so that I could have details from the time they happened instead of trying to recall them later, but some details I will never forget.  Some of these stories might seem insignificant or small, but to me they are part of who I am and others might seem completely unbelievable.  There are things going on all around us that we can't see with our natural eyes, but if we can truly see then we get a glimpse of the Kingdom if only for a moment.  I think God talks to us in different ways, I am a visual person so many times that is what He uses to get my attention when I am not focusing on what is important or I'm being extremely stubborn and not doing what He has asked me to do.  My plan is to start with the stories from my younger days and work toward current stories, although God sometimes has other plans (by now I am very aware of this).

The Israelites would stack stones in certain places as a memorial.  They were there so that they could remember the great things God had done for them.  You see they forgot often and had to be reminded, we are the same today.  In our busy world, it is even harder to see the memorials around us and in our hearts.  I was in a bible study several years ago at Kelley's house and she had a bowl of stones on the coffee table.  On these stones she had written things to remind her of what God had done in her life or gotten her through.  She knew exactly what each one meant, even if no one else knew.  I thought that was a great idea, a visual reminder so that we can stop and remember.  If we are having a hard day then we can go to our reminders and stop the chaos that is all around us and have a moment with the King.  Seeing the goodness of God throughout the span of our life can really make you feel blessed. 

Monday, August 5, 2013

Eccl. 4:12-16

v. 12-16 Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves.  A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.  Better a poor but wise youth than an old but foolish king who no longer knows how to take warning.  The youth may have come from prison to the kingship, or he may have been born in poverty within his kingdom.  I saw that all who lived and walked under the sun followed the youth, the king's successor.  There was no end to all the people who were before them.  But those who came later were not pleased with the successor.  This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind."

A cord of three strands is one of the great lessons in the bible.  In a marriage it represents a couple and God.  With Him we are much stronger than without Him.  We were not meant to do life in this world alone.  If a friend needs help then reach out to help them and when you are in need they should reach out to you.  If you think that there is no one to trust you will isolate yourself from everyone.  Many get hurt by others, that doesn't mean that all people are like that.  Since Solomon was a king it was easy for him to speak about others in that same position.  A king or leader without wisdom is a dangerous thing.  Throughout history there has been many leaders who have driven their kingdoms down into the rubble.

"A poor man by his wisdom comes to be preferred, as Joseph, who, when he was but young, was brought out of prison to be the second man in the kingdom, to which story Solomon seems here to refer. Providence sometimes raises the poor out of the dust, to set them among princes, Ps. 113:7-8.  A king by his folly and willfulness comes to be impoverished. Though he was born in his kingdom, came to it by inheritance, though he has lived to be old in it and has had time to fill his treasures, yet if he take ill courses, and will no more be admonished as he has been, thinking, because he is old, he is past it, he becomes poor; his treasure is exhausted, and perhaps he is forced to resign his crown and retire into privacy."  Matthew Henry

 "Nothing is more slippery than the highest post of honour without wisdom and the people’s love."  Matthew Henry

A Cord of Three Strands by Colin Moffett & Jeannine McMullen

A cord of three strands
Forged in the fire
Two raised from
The muck and mire

Two who were lost
And on their own
Two who were lonely
No longer alone

They each knew their Saviour
But needed another
Someone to share with
Closer than a sister or brother

Their souls are tempered
By the refiners fire
Now they are met
He lifted them higher

Together with God
They are a cord of three
Still in the fire
But now one from thee

Their souls on fire now
For the work of the Lord
And with His help
A strong three stranded cord

This three stranded cord
From the fire was forged
To bring others His Word
To lead them to their Lord

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Eccl. 4:7-11

v. 7-11 "Again I saw something meaningless under the sun:
There was a man all alone; he had neither son nor brother. 
There was no end to his toil, yet his eyes were not content with his wealth. 
'For whom am I toiling,' he asked, 'and why am I depriving myself of enjoyment?' 
This too is meaningless-a miserable business!
Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work:
If one falls down, his friend can help him up. 
But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!
Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
But how can one keep warm alone?

You may be getting tired of hearing this by now.  I believe there are several subjects that are repeated over and over so that maybe the lessons will sink in deep so that we will benefit from the wisdom.  I think that history has proven that we are hard headed and keep repeating the same mistakes no matter where we are in the world.  This man that is all alone represents so many today that feel they are alone in this world.  Even with technology today it seems like people are slipping away from seeing others in person.  I have seen many tables at a restaurant where everyone at the table is playing on their phone not even talking to the others they came to eat with!  When we start to question what we are doing and why, it can lead to dangerous thinking.  We are not to be mindless robots, but free souls to live and thrive. 

We are social beings.  Sure I am a loner and need time to myself or it's not a pretty sight, but I love getting together with others to share and laugh.  In the fall I will be leading a bible study at my church and I love to gain insight from other women and be able to see that I am not alone in this world, we all struggle in some area.  When we can come together and share, then we are able to not only help others, but mend our hearts in the process.  If you do not have a group I urge you to find a group or even another person that you can do live with.  Having a safe setting where you can share your struggles without judgment is such a wonderful place to be.  The result is that you find you are not alone like you once thought. 

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Eccl. 4:1-6

v. 1-6 "Again I looked and saw all the oppression that was taking place under the sun:
I saw the tears of the oppressed-and they have no comforter;
power was on the side of their oppressors-and they have no comforter.
And I declared that the dead, who had already died,
are happier than the living, who are still alive.
But better than both is he who has not yet been,
who has not see the evil that is done under the sun.
And I saw that all labor and all achievement spring from man's envy of his neighbor. 
This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.
The fool folds his hands and ruins himself.
Better one handful with tranquility than two handfuls with toil
and chasing after the wind."

My son will say when he is being disciplined that life is not fair.  He is learning at an early age.  I'm not sure who thought life was fair, but apparently they have been telling every person they could find.  We seem to be very surprised when something bad happens in our lives.  If we try to figure out Kingdom things then we will only get frustrated and confused.  Of course the dead are happier, they are in heaven!  There are no tears or sadness there, a beautiful place awaits us when we leave here.  There is a balance to all things.  There will always be unfairness in this world, until Jesus comes back that is.  We are to help where and when we can, to avoid this would be a huge mistake.  Workaholics and laziness are both extremes that we should avoid.  Both can be destructive to our lives and our families.  Better to have tranquility with one handful than toil with two handfuls.  We should enjoy the things God has given us and not focus wanting more and more.