Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Ecclesiastes Chapters 9-12 : Some Concluding Remarks on the Book of Ecclesiastes

The final few chapters of Ecclesiastes had some good thoughts:

Everyone dies. This shouldn't be a shocker to anyone unless maybe Enoch is reading this. We all die and sadly, some die unexpectedly and tragically. We need to be living our life TODAY in a way that brings honor to God because there may be no tomorrow.

We also don't need to wait for "perfect" timing to do anything. Maybe we are waiting for the perfect timing to minister to a coworker or go on the mission trip. Ecclesiastes tells us that no time will ever be perfect, so we should act anyways without hesitation.

It is best that we don't waste our youth. We need to be living for God now. If we wait until we are old and frail to live for God, then we will not be able to enjoy it. Along with this, we need use our time wisely for God. We shouldn't waste our valuable time (remember, tragedies occur) on meaningless tasks.

SOME CONCLUDING REMARKS ON ECCLESIASTES: Here are just a few main themes that I picked up from this book:

1) Life apart from God is meaningless
2) All material things and titles are meaningless without God
3) Seek wisdom
4) Cherish your time and don't waste it on meaningless things
5) Everyone dies (the rich, the poor, the wise, the foolish, the joyful, the sad, etc.)
6) And . . . as the final two verses of the book say, "Here is my final conclusion: Fear God and obey His commands, for this is the duty of every person. God will judge us for everything we do, including every secret thing, whether good or bad."

Proverb of the Day: Proverbs 25 : 15
"Patience can persuade a prince, and soft speech can crush strong opposition."

Ecclesiastes Chapters 6-8

A few bullet points from this reading:

1) God controls my destiny, not me.
2) Seek wisdom
3) Wisdom is difficult to obtain and even with wisdom we cannot fully understand God or His ways
4) Wisdom leads to righteousness
5) Since we cannot have total wisdom, we must lest joy and contentment replace the unkown

Proverb of the Day: Proverbs 23:17-18
"Don't envy sinners, but always continue to fear the Lord. For surely you have a future ahead of you; your hope will not be disappointed."

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Ecclesiastes Chapters 3 - 5 : Turn, Turn, Turn

Much of this was similar to yesterday's writings.

We need to remember to focus on God, not on making money, being popular, having that prestigious job. As Solomon tells us, in the end, those things do not matter. Questions then arise, why not just do whatever we want? Why not be a couch potato? The answer is because God has a time for everything. We are not to work so hard that we pursue only riches, nor are we to be lazy. We are to do everything to the best of our ability without letting it consume our lives. God should consume our lives. If we are truly focused on God, then we won't have to worry about earthly possessions or awards. God will reveal our rewards to us at a later time.

Proverb of the Day: Proverbs 18:10
"The name of the Lord is a strong fortress; the godly run to him and are safe."

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Ecclesiastes 1 & 2 : Wasting Our Lives Away?

Today's reading was the first two chapters of Ecclesiastes. These aren't the most optimistic chapters in the Bible, but they are important.

Solomon tells us that our lives, apart from God, are a waste. They are like "chasing the wind." He shows that wisdom, possessions, and hard work alone do not bring satisfaction and joy. Instead, we must live our lives according to God's plan for us. If we seek God's will and act upon it in faith, then our lives will count. Nothing we earn, learn or make can be taken with us once we die. If we fulfill God's plan for us, however, we will have our rewards in Heaven.

It kind of reminds me of the Casting Crowns song "American Dream." I listened to this over and over again when I lived in D.C., because this is how a lot of people live up there.

This passage speaks well to me. I'm pretty sure a Ph.D. in Political Science is pretty worthless, but I'm still here. God brought me here for a reason. Now, I have to figure out what that reason is. I'm pretty sure that reason is NOT to do the same type of pointless research most professors do. I also need to learn to approach this time in my life with joy and be excited about the opportunity that God has given me. Someday, the reason I am here doing this will come to light.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Hebrews 10:19 - 13:25: Superiority of Faith

I finished Hebrews today starting with chapter 10 verse 19. These final chapters were pretty intense. There was everything in here from the fact that God created the universe from nothing, to the fact that He disciplines those He loves, to reminding us not to stray from Him. I will be focusing on the main theme of these chapters which was faith.

They begin by showing the superiority of faith. Without faith in God we have no salvation. Then, of course, comes Faith's Hall of Fame. We've all heard the stories of Noah, Abraham, Moses, etc., but I still can't fathom the faith it took to act the way they did. Whether it was building a massive ark, preparing to sacrifice your son, or choosing to live among the oppressed instead of the wealthy and powerful, all of these men had to have an amazing amount of faith. I question whether or not I have this type of faith. I most definitely have this faith when things are going good. I might even show signs of it when things are going bad. I just can't imagine me giving up everything I have to do something that might seem crazy for God. I hope that my faith grows to be as strong and steadfast as those mentioned in Hebrews 11. It will take a long time, much discipline, and a lot of God to get me there.

The verses that really stuck out are below. Hebrews 11:32-39:
"32And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and the prophets, 33who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, 34quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. 35Women received back their dead, raised to life again. Others were tortured and refused to be released, so that they might gain a better resurrection. 36Some faced jeers and flogging, while still others were chained and put in prison. 37They were stoned; they were sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated— 38the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground.

39These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised."

Proverb of the Day: Proverbs 16:33

"We can throw the dice, but the Lord determines how they fall."

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Do I Love the Same People God Does?

Given the fact that I am in a Sunday School class that is made specifically for graduate students, and given the fact that it is Summer, our class is obviously on hiatus. Instead, we, along with the entire university ministry are watching a video series called "Breakaway".

Today's lesson was about loving people. Yeah, that's pretty simple stuff, right? Well this session was not just about loving people, but about loving people that you find difficult to love. The argument was made that God so loved the world that He gave His only son. Again, this isn't earth-shattering. The first verse everyone learns is John 3:16. This session, however, made the point that even those people that drive you nuts and make you angry are covered in Christ's blood.

Think about it. That guy that cut you off in traffic, that waitress that charged you for an extra drink, that lady at the supermarket that was rude to you, that child that stole money from you to go get that fancy tattoo; all of these people were so loved by God that He gave His son for them. They may seem like rude, dishonest, degenerates to you, but to God, they are His children.

The point is, that Christ died for everyone, not just those of us that profess to love Him. He died for the unbelievers as well. He died for those that are hard-hearted and vengeful. If God loved them so much, and we claim to love God, why do we treat people that aren't in our circle so poorly?

Think to yourself: how would the world change if every person treated every other person as if they were important enough to God that He gave His son as a sacrifice?


So, the next time you get a bit agitated at someone, think before you speak. Remember that Christ died for that person because He loves Him. Might this change your response?

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Hebrews 8 - 10 : 18: The Superiority of the New Covenant

These verses clearly establish God's new covenant with us as superior to the old. Through the old covenant blood had to be shed regularly in an effort to seek God's forgiveness. Through the shedding of Christ's blood, we were forgiven once and for all. Christ's blood is enough to buy us eternal life.

One thing I thought was interesting was that in the old covenant the priests sacrificed animals. These sacrifices were to teach the people that sin costs something. In the new covenant, the people did not have to sacrifice anything for forgiveness. Instead, God sacrificed His son. I just found it interesting that the sinners no longer are sacrificing to pay for their old sins. Instead, Christ paid the ultimate sacrifice for us. We sacrifice NOTHING for salvation. This was kind of a no-brainer, but I guess reading it really put it into perspective for me.

Proverb of the Day: Proverbs 12:25
"Worry weighs a person down; an encouraging word cheers a person up."

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Hebrews 4:14 - Hebrews 7: Christ is Greater than the Priesthood

These chapters established Christ as more powerful than the Old Testament priesthood. As we know, only the priests could only enter into the Holy Place and the Most Holy Place on behalf of the people. Christ ended that. Praise Jesus! Now, because of Christ's experience as man, and his perfect nature, we are not limited like the days of old. And the only perfect being to ever live is now our intermediary. No longer are we dependent on a sinful priest to visit with God on our behalf once a year. Now, a pure Christ is there for us constantly.

The biggest thing I got out of this was in Hebrews 6. Verses 1-3 read, "So let us stop going over the basics of Christianity again and again. Let us go on instead and become mature in our understanding. Surely we don't need to start all over again with the importance of turning away from evil deeds and placing our faith in God. You don't need further instruction about baptisms, the laying on of the hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And so, God willing, we will move forward to further understanding." These verses showed me that Christianity is a process. It is true that following Christ is a decision that we make. However, growing in Christ is not a one time decision. Every day you have to tell yourself that you are going to live for Christ, that you are going to seek God, and that you are going to listen to His voice. This truly is a relationship. Productive relationships aren't stagnate. They grow; and so it is with Christ.

Proverb of the Day: Proverbs 11:25
"The generous prosper and are satisfied; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed."

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Hebrews 3-4:13: Moses, Promises, and Nakedness

These couple of chapters set forth the idea that Jesus was greater than Moses. Moses, obviously, a Jewish leader, was revered. Even after leading the Israelites for so long, even after bringing down the Ten Commandments, even after performing miraculous feats for his people, Moses, was still not greater than Jesus. As the Bible says, Moses was a servant of the house, but Jesus is the housekeeper.

These chapters also mentioned the fact that because we have chosen to believe in God, we are promised rest. If we disobey, however, like the Israelites, then we will be separated from God and will never enter the place of rest.

The most striking thing I read came from 4:12-13. It reads, "For the Word of God is full of living power. It is sharper than the sharpest knife, cutting deep into our innermost thoughts and desires. It exposes us for what we really are. Nothing in all creation can hide from Him. Everything is naked and exposed before His eyes. This is the God to whom we must explain all that we have done." I found these two verses very telling. (1) The Word of God is the first tool that we should use to fight our battles. (2) God's Word tells us who we are. How we live according to His word tells us about our victories and our failures and His redeeming love that saves us. (3) We cannot hide from God. Nothing, not even the smallest particle, can be hidden from God. I will have to remember that the next time I think about doing something stupid because I think no one will know. (4) I have to explain my actions to God. Given number (3) that could take a while :(

Proverb of the Day: Provers 10: 19
"Don't talk too much, for it fosters sin. Be sensible and turn ff the flow!"

Monday, June 9, 2008

Hebrews 1-2: Jesus is Greater

I started reading Hebrews today. The first two chapters were about how Jesus is greater than all. He is greater than the greatest angels, and He is greater than man. These weren't necessarily news to me, but it was nice to be reminded that Jesus was, is, and always will be the most powerful resident on the planet.

I found it interesting that the Bible says that God provides angels to watch over the believers. This shouldn't have been a shock to me. Daniel was saved by angels in the lions den, while Peter was saved from Herod by angels. It is really a great thought knowing that God can deliver me from any situation. I may not find myself face to face with hungry lions anytime soon, but the fact remains that God has the power to do mighty things. It is kind of freeing knowing this. A lot of people think Christianity takes away freedom. I think this shows the opposite. God, and only God, can free people from the dangers of the world!

Proverb of the Day: Proverbs 9:10
"Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Knowledge f the Holy One results in understanding."

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

The Faith of Abraham

I read Romans 4 today. It is about the faith of Abraham. In no discrete terms, it says that Abraham was saved by faith. Works were not part of the deal. In Genesis 15:6 we see the same thing.

Abraham was saved because of his faith in God and not because he had obeyed the law. This is obvious because Abraham was declared righteous before he had ever been circumcised. Under the law, he would not have been righteous without circumcision.

Obeying the law is great. As a matter of fact, it is asked of us. However, it is not an end in of itself. One must not only know the law and obey it. One must have faith that God is who He says He is, that God fulfills His promises, that God is all-mighty. Abraham had this faith. He did not rely on scientific evidence or even logic. He relied only on God. When Abraham was told that his descendants would number more than the stars; he still believed.

Do you have that kind of faith?

Proverb of the Day: Proverbs 4:6
"Don't turn you back on wisdom, fr she will protect you. Love her, and she will guard you."

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

A Humble God

Today I read Philippians 2. It was full of great themes.

The theme that has stuck with me the most was the idea that God humbled himself. Verses 5 - 8 read, "Your attitude should be the same that Christ Jesus had. Though he was God, he did not demand and cling to his rights as God. He made himself nothing, he took the humble position of a slave and appeared in human form. And in human form he obediently humbled himself even further by dying a criminal's death on a cross."

It just amazes me that God loves us so much that he would make himself nothing. The most powerful force ever became nothing; a slave who died a criminal's death. That's pretty powerful.

How do I humble myself? Do I serve others? Am I a slave to those whom I have power over? Do I love so much that I am willing to disregard my power to show my love?

Proverb of the Day:
It is the same as yesterday's. I thought yesterday was the 3rd. Ooops!


Monday, June 2, 2008

Anyone Seen Any Purpose Around Here?

Today I read about purpose. When everything is said and done, my life will be judged on whether or not I fulfilled God's purpose for my life. Before I can do that, I need to know what is that purpose. Last week, I read about David wanting to establish a temple for God. God told him not to do that because he had a different purpose in mind for David. That purpose was ultimately that David's line would continue forever. David's original goal was awesome, but God's goal for David was so much more powerful. I have big goals in life. I wonder what purpose God has for me that I have yet to discover.

Today I read 2 Timothy 2. In a nutshell, the chapter is about how we are enlisted in God's army. He has plans for us. That plan is for us to spread the truth and to not spread untruths. Gossipping, lieing, etc. are not Kingdom-worthy acts. This is something I have been convicted of for the past several months. I work in an extremely stress-laden environment. To my knowledge, I am the only Christian there. As you can imagine, it makes it difficult to stay on the narrow path. I have realized that I might have missed some opportunities to minister to some of my classmates. I have also realized that if I am to minister to them, that I must make sure that I do not get pulled into their foolish arguments. Second Timothy 2:16 says, "Avoid godless, foolish discussions that lead to more and more ungodliness." This is something I need to work on. Hopefully, I can report back at a later date and say that I am not conforming to the actions of my surroundings.

Proverb of the Day: Provers 3:5 "Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding."

As someone who has 2 undergraduate degrees, 2 master's degress, and is working on a Ph.D., I more often than not depend on my own understanding. How foolish of me! I might be well-educated, but I am still a fool at heart

Have a great week everyone!

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Introductory Post


I don't know exactly what I am doing, but here goes. The idea is for me to write, rather frequently, about how I am growing in God. I have spent my whole life in the church. I even graduated from a Christian University. That being said, I do not have a great relationship with God. I am working on it. There is a big difference between being a Christian and having a relationship with Christ. Most people claim the former. I want the ladder. This may not be a super deep theological blog, but it might be the blog I, or you, need to get deeper with God.

Wish me luck,