September 15, 2014

Today you should read: Ecclesiastes 12

Keep it simple …

Ever wish we could get an easy summary of the hard books of the Bible?  Well, this is what we see in this last chapter of Ecclesiastes.  In this chapter, he is summarizing.  Everything that he has said thus far in the entire book all comes down to this.  He keeps it simple.

Today’s “Walk-a-Way”

Here’s what we are told:

  1. Remember your Creator – because everything else is temporary. (v. 1-8)

From the very beginning, we are told to remember God early in life.  Why?  Because everything else we could spend our days living for will all come to an end.  The sun, light, moon, and stars will be darkened.  The dust will return to the earth.  And, everything in between will be no more.  We might as well live for something eternal right from the start.

  1. Remember God’s Words – they’re all you need (v. 9-12)

We are told that these words have been carefully put together.  And the words from the Shepherd will guide us.  Don’t go too far as to study and read other things every second.  We can go too far in these things when even “Christian books” (principles and opinions) begin to drown out the simple truths that we know God is calling us to trust and act on.  God wants us to understand and pursue the basics.

  1. Remember to trust and obey Him – keep it simple (v. 13-14)

At the end of the day, just fear God (trust Him, hold Him in reverence, love Him, delight in Him) and obey what He tells you.  This is what everything boils down to.  I think we can apply this by merely loving Him, loving people, hearing from His Word, obeying His Word, sharing our faith, and making disciples.  As Tim Parsons tells us, we really have no business worrying about the other things until we get the basics.

Posted by: Sam Cirrincione

September 13, 2014

Today you should read: Ecclesiastes 11

This chapter, according to one commentary, was written to inform people on how to have wise practices in light of the unpredictability of life. There is much counsel in this chapter on how to invest your finances wisely and how to have proper enjoyment of life; however, I want to focus on two specific verses.

Verses 3-4 describe some simple actions such as the act of clouds producing rain or a tree falling, which happen every day. My first reaction to reading this was a big ‘duh.’ This is not mind-blowing stuff here. If the clouds are full, they rain on the earth and if a tree falls, that’s where it lies. It’s pretty simple! And yet, there are people who spend time, precious time, “reading the skies” and delaying the project they ought to be sowing. Verse 4 explains that those who sit and watch all of this happen only distract themselves from their appointed task at hand.

Have you known someone who is always waiting for the “perfect” time to begin something? They say things like, “I just need this to happen and then…” or “I’m too tired” or “I’m not sure if it’s a good idea.”  I tend to make these statements from time to time. I always reassure myself, “I will do it later.” Unfortunately though if I, or others who think this way, keep thinking like this they will not sow and will not reap:

“He who observes the wind will not sow, And he who regards the clouds will not reap.”

I am not sure if anything specifically came to your mind when thinking about what task you have been given and still need to start. But I do know that, we as Christians, have all been given the task of being ambassadors for Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20). We are called to be sharing the message of the gospel to the people in our lives. Our high King has given us a mission and we are to follow the words of our King. What “clouds” have been distracting you and keeping your eyes fixed on the skies? The Lord is telling you to get your head out of the clouds and get to sowing! Remember, the “harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few” (Matthew 9:37). The harvest needs more laborers and we have a job to do.

Posted by: Kelly Jones; Kids ministry intern-West Campus

September 12, 2014

Today you should read: Ecclesiastes 10

“Stupid is as stupid does.” –Forrest Gump

“Life is tough but it’s tougher if you’re stupid.” –John Wayne

“How come things that happen to stupid people keep happening to me.” –Homer Simpson

It looks like Forrest Gump, John Wayne and Homer Simpson must have read our Jumpstart Scripture for today because each one of those quotes are applicable to Ecclesiastes ch. 10 as Solomon contrasts the differences between wisdom and folly/stupidity.

He starts off talking about the two as he does many other times in this book and in the book of proverbs but in v. 5-6 he mentions how he has seen this stupidity in the most unlikely of places, with people in high position and with much power. He calls this evil because as we all know, with much power and high position comes much responsibility and influence and when those people are influencing great multitudes toward unwise living and decisions, comes much disaster. V.12 -15 he talks about people in disastrous situations by accident but that their foolishness just makes matters worse where the wise would handle things better. V. 16-17 is a great couple verses for our “TIME” series on Sunday mornings as he talks about kings who overindulge and have a hard time with doing things in moderation and for the right purposes.

This entire chapter pits folly against wisdom and there’s no one better to talk about such things then the man who Scripture says was the wisest man who walked on this earth. The crazy thing about that statement is that Ecclesiastes reveals that this wise man also wasted a lot of time and still made a lot of unwise decisions as he reflects on the purpose of life and making the most of it. All of that to say, we need to depend on Jesus for wisdom and know that even when we are at our “A” game spiritually we will make some unwise decisions. This is why Scripture helps us with it’s wisdom on such things and going back to the “God of our youth” as Solomon said earlier is so important. There’s lots of situations where we will be pressed to make the wise decision and let today’s Scripture encourage you in knowing that our God is all knowing, all wise and with His help he will guide you in wisdom and sovereignly use your foolish mistakes when you repent and go back to Him as Solomon did.

• In what areas do you need God’s wisdom right now?
• Have you gone to Scripture and wise counsel to seek wisdom in those areas?
• Is there anything foolish that you are doing with your time or that is in your life right now?

Posted by: Erik Koliser

September 11, 2014

Today you should read: Ecclesiastes 9

DEATH – Enemy or Friend?

At first glance, today’s reading seems a bit depressing…

This, too, I carefully explored: Even though the actions of godly and wise people are in God’s hands, no one knows whether God will show them favor.  The same destiny ultimately awaits everyone, whether righteous or wicked, good or bad, ceremonially clean or unclean, religious or irreligious. Good people receive the same treatment as sinners, and people who make promises to God are treated like people who don’t. It seems so wrong that everyone under the sun suffers the same fate. Already twisted by evil, people choose their own mad course, for they have no hope. There is nothing ahead but death anyway. (vs. 1-3)

Let’s face it, death is a scary thing – even when you know where you’re going.  For many of us, it’s not where we’re going that we fear – it’s the process of getting there that concerns us.

I remember coming face-to-face with this in a real way when we moved to Lexington to start Center Point.  I took a job working at a cemetery, and one of my responsibilities was to stand at the graveside ceremonies each day.  I heard many sets of “final words” and watched families of young and old mourn.  I remember an especially hard day when a young mother passed and left behind a tender husband and kids.  I really struggled with this – death seemed horrible to me.  Then I began to observe some elderly friends who were tired, lonely (missing their departed loved ones), and simply ready “to go home” to heaven.  I realized that death is not nearly as horrible as I thought for everyone. For some it’s an enemy while for others it’s a friend.

The Bible has a lot to say about death that encourages me.

God is aware and cares deeply about the death of His saints:

Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his faithful servants.  Psalm 116:15

God has numbered the days of those who know Him.  God has planned exactly how long I will stay on earth and when I’ll go home to be with Him forever.  This brings me peace.

Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.  Psalm 139:16

I can rest in the fact that when it comes time for God to call me home to be with Him, He will give me “dying grace” to get through it.  God’s faithful until the end.  You don’t need to worry – you can trust Him.

Posted by: Tim Parsons