Posts tagged ‘Ecclesiastes’

April 25, 2014

843 Acres: From Something to Nothing

by Bethany

M’Cheyne: Ecc 12 (txt | aud, 2:12 min)
Phlm (txt | aud, 2:45 min)
Highlighted: Ecc 12:1

Something from Nothing: Although Christians may disagree about how God went about creating the world, we agree that he went about creating it. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” [1] As Creator, the one triune God—that is, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit—is the origin of all creation: “For from him and through him and to him are all things.” [2]

Command and Creation: The great mystery of creation is how something came from nothing. According to Genesis, God brought forth creation by speaking. Similarly, the Psalmist writes, “He commanded and they were created.” [3] Likewise, Paul says that God “calls into being that which does not exist.” [4] God’s speech is so powerful that, when he speaks into nothingness, he brings forth its obedience and something comes from nothing: “The worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible.” [5]

Moment by Moment: Not only does God’s word bring forth life, it also holds all life together moment by moment. Christ “upholds all things by the word of his power.” [6] The only thing, therefore, that keeps our bodies and souls daily from slipping into nothingness is his mighty command, “Exist!” [7] As Ecclesiastes says, “the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.” [8]

Ownership Inferred: Since God is Creator and Sustainer, he is also Owner. The Bible infers ownership from creation: “The sea is his, for it was he who made it” [9] or “The heavens are yours, the earth also is yours; the world and all it contains, you have founded them.” [10]

Prayer: Lord, We may be owners of things in relation to one another, but we own nothing in relation to you; we are stewards of your creation, tenants of your estate. All of our income—not just our tithes—and possessions belong to you. Indeed, even our bodies and souls are yours and, since we are the clay and you are the potter, you have the right to mold us as you please. Yet we confess that, when it comes to our expenditures and resources, we often set about achieving our own purposes. We exceed the scope of our stewardship and tenancy. Forgive us and cause us to see everything we own as that which belongs to you. Make us faithful stewards and tenants. Amen.

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M’Cheyne Weekend Readings:

Saturday, April 26: Song 1 (txt | aud, 2:26 min) & Heb 1 (txt | aud, 2:22 min)
Sunday, April 27: Song 2 (txt | aud, 2:23 min) & Heb 2 (txt | aud, 2:41 min)

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Footnotes

[1] Genesis 1:1 | [2] Romans 11:36 | [3] Psalm 148:5 | [4] Romans 4:17 | [5] Hebrews 11:3 | [6] Hebrews 1:3 | [7]See Matthew 4:4; Deuteronomy 8:3; Psalm 104:29, 30; Isaiah 45:9. | [8]Ecclesiastes 12:1 ESV | [9] Psalm 95:5 | [10] Psalm 89:11

April 24, 2014

843 Acres #TBT: Common Grace (Kuyper)

by Bethany

M’Cheyne: Ecc 11 (txt | aud, 1:25 min)
Ti 3 (txt | aud, 1:53 min)

Apostle Paul: Titus 3:1-5

Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people.

For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another.

But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy.

Abraham Kupyer: Common Grace

Among the “perfections of God,” it is particularly his forbearance that is not exhausted in this “common grace,” but rather is magnified in a moving way … The Lord our God is not merely holy, but also in his holiness he is at the same time forbearing, and it is from that “forbearance,” which yields the divine patience of the Almighty for bearing temporarily with sin, that “common grace” is born.

In his Institutes, Calvin formulated the profound understanding of this common grace most clearly when he answered the question of how we can explain the fact that uprightness and nobility excelled among pagans and unbelievers so often to such a high degree … Calvin formulated the matter this way … “God by his providence bridles the perversity of nature, that it may not breakforth into action; but he does not purge it within.” Here lies the roof of the doctrine of “common grace,” together with the explanation of why it forms such an indispensible part of the Reformed confession. It arose not from philosophical invention, but from the confession of the deadly character of our sin. Our Reformed ancestors have always insisted on sin’s lethal character. They unanimously confessed, “Dead by nature through sin and trespasses.”

Apparently, however, this did not fit with reality. There was in that sinful world, outside the church, so much that was beautiful, that was worthy of esteem … We may not close our eyes to the good and the beautiful outside the church, among unbelievers, in the world. This good existed, and that had to be acknowledged. At the same time we may hardly minimize in any way the pervasive depravity of sinful [human] nature. So then, the solution of this apparent contradiction lay in this, that outside the church grace operates among pagans in the midst of the world, this grace is neither an everlasting grace nor a saving grace, but a temporal grace unto the restraint of ruin that lurks within sin.

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April 23, 2014

843 Acres: Finding Patience to Wait

by Bethany

M’Cheyne: Ecc 10 (txt | aud, 2:16 min)
Ti 2 (txt | aud, 1:41 min)
Highlighted: Ti 2:13

Waiting: We are all in the waiting room—for a test result, for a baby, for a wedding day, for a job offer. Here, in Titus 2, we read that we are “waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.” [1] How do we wait, though, without growing cynical, idolatrous, and despairing?

Eros: Perhaps the old word for patience—longsuffering—better describes how we experience waiting. In Love Within Limits, Lewis Smedes contrasts patience born of natural love (eros) with patience born of divine love (agape). He writes, “Erotic love has no power for longsuffering. Eros is desire … It can be frustrated when we do not get exactly and enduringly what we long for. It can be betrayed when people renege on a promise to fulfill our need. It can be burned out when what filled us for a season suddenly leaves us empty. Born from suffering, eros is destined for suffering. That erotic love does not have power to suffer long is its built-in tragedy. It must suffer, but it has no strength for longsuffering. Eros cannot wait.”

Agape: Agape, however, “has the power to be creatively weak. Because it is not driven by ardent need, it has power to wait. It gives power to accept life, to find goodness in living while we are victims of situations we despise. This is the only way to explain two attitudes we observe in Jesus toward his own horrible suffering. In Gethsemane, we hear him plead with God to be spared the cross that lay ahead … The next day, as he bears his cross to Calvary, he tells the weeping women who follow him: ‘Don’t cry for me.’ Here we see his power to affirm himself as the loving Lord and free Savior who chose to suffer, to be a victim of suffering. He was not a helpless victim of tragedy; he was a powerful person who chose to be weak. He had the strength to become a victim even while he affirmed his own life as free in obedience to love.”

Prayer: Lord, Longsuffering is not passive, but aggressive. It takes power of soul. Our only hope in waiting, therefore, is the power of your divine love that moves us toward one another and toward you. May we seek your face and find your love that we may be longsuffering. Amen.

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Footnotes

[1] Titus 2:13 ESV

April 22, 2014

843 Acres: Tuesday Tweetables: The Same Event Happens to Us All

by Bethany

M’Cheyne: Ecc 9 (txt | aud, 3:01 min)
Ti 1 (txt | aud, 2:10 min)

Discerning Brokenness

It is the same for all, since the same event (death) happens to the righteous and the wicked, to the good and the evil. #Ecc9

The hearts of the children of man are full of evil and madness is in their hearts while they live, and after that they go to the dead. #Ecc9

“Do not go gentle into that good night, Old age should burn and rave at close of day; Rage, rage against the dying of the light.” #Thomas

Imagining Redemption

Paul: “Christ is raised. Therefore, be steadfast, immovable, abounding … knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” #1Cor15

His resurrection gives meaning to our work. Therefore, eat your bread with joy, drink your wine with merriment, work with might. #Ecc9

The good life, the truly human life, is not based on a few great moments, but on many, many little ones. #Kushner

Praying ACTS

Lord, We #adore you for not letting death have the final word. In Christ, you solved the riddle of Ecclesiastes, fulfilling his longings.

Yet we #confess that we often do not know how to live in this already-but-not-yet state. Our work is not in vain, but what does that mean?

We #thank you that what was begun at the resurrection of Christ will continue until it is thoroughly finished, that we work as your hands.

Therefore, may we enjoy our bread, wine, and work, as we point to Christ as the bread, the wine, and the new creation. #supplication

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April 21, 2014

843 Acres: Metrics of Success

by Bethany

M’Cheyne: Ecc 8 (txt | aud, 2:27 min)
2 Tim 4 (txt | aud, 2:36 min)
Highlighted: 2 Tim 4:7-8

Success: On Wall Street, success is measured when the closing bell rings. On Capitol Hill, it’s measured when constituents cast their votes. When it comes to our lives, however, how do we measure success? How do we determine whether a life was well lived?

Failure: Paul’s second letter to Timothy was his last. He was aging and imprisoned; he knew that his life was drawing to a close. [1] Was his life successful? First, let’s consider whether he was well liked. During his thirty years of ministry, he was deserted, opposed, flogged, beaten, betrayed, imprisoned, shipwrecked, left for dead, and stoned. [2] According to tradition, a few days after he penned this letter, Nero beheaded him as a criminal. What about the churches he planted? Were they successful? According to John’s vision in Revelation, the church that Paul planted in Ephesus would be told, “I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first.” [3] What about his apprentice, Timothy? According to tradition, Timothy was beaten, dragged, and stoned to death by an enraged mob. In other words, from all external appearances, Paul’s life doesn’t seem too successful—he wasn’t well liked by the cultural elite, the church he planted abandoned their first love, and his apprentice was killed by a mob.

Perspective: Yet Paul writes, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.” [4] In other words, Paul did not measure his success by externalities, but by the Lord. And knowing that Jesus—who also seemed like a failure to many—was his great redemption, Paul knew that his life was successful.

Prayer: Lord, We praise you for making our success rooted in your love, not our achievements. Yet we confess that we often seek after those things that we think make us successful—popular opinion, professional reward, or influential relationships. Yet it is fighting the good fight, finishing the race, and keeping the faith that matter. Reform our hearts so that we take greater joy in being called your children than in accomplishing great things. Amen.

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Footnotes

[1] 2 Timothy 4:4:6, ESV | [2] See 2 Corinthians 11:16-33 | [3] Revelation 2:2-7, ESV | [4] 2 Timothy 4:7-8 ESV

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