Ecclesiastes 3:3

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Ecclesiastes 3:3

Good Morning! Today in our Ecclesiastes 3 blog post series we are going to focus on verse 3…

A time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build up. Eccl. 3:3

OK…i understand that this is a passage that can be a little controversial. Especially with what is happening in our world in terms of guns and mass killings. The politics in our country, and all over the world, are fighting over this very subject, among others things. A time to heal, tear down then build back up again…those are more acceptable, but the real kicker is a time to kill.

I have had to take a great look at this one and decide for myself which view I hold… is it OK for Christians to carry guns for self-defense? For me biblically I have decided that this is permissible. Don’t worry, this will NOT be a blog post about persuading you to be pro conceal and carry. I would not push my views on this, or any subject, onto anyone. I am just writing how I believe God wants us to read His Word.

A time to kill…

Obviously there are times it is permissible by God to kill. God gives us those examples in Scripture… in times of war would be one. To understand this myself I had to do a lot of questioning, a lot of searching Scripture for the answers.

There is a distinct difference between killing and murdering. God tells us in His Commandments in Exodus that we should not murder. The original Hebrew word for murder literally means, “the intentional, premeditated killing of another person with malice.”

I read in another blog post called Cold Case Christianity about this distinction and it says this…

Malice is a form of evil intent that separates “murder” from “killing”. Even today there are acceptable forms of killing that lack this kind of evil intent, and these forms of killing exist as exceptions in the murder laws of the United States. In California, for example, a homicide is justified (according to Penal Code sections 187, 196 and 197) if one of the following conditions is met:

A person kills someone accidentally
A person is trying to defend him or herself and prevent his or her own murder (self-defense)
A person is trying to prevent someone from entering his or her house to commit some violent felony
A person is trying to prevent the murder of someone else (protecting an innocent)

In all these situations, killing is actually legal and justifiable, and exceptions of this nature exist in the Penal Codes of every state in America. Even those who don’t accept the existence of God or the authority of the Bible recognize the necessity for laws like these; laws that allow for deadly force to be used to accomplish some greater good.

With all that is happening in our world today, I am a conceal and carry proponent. After all my studying, I see that it really isn’t the guns that make the distinction between killing and murder, but rather the person’s intent behind the gun.

What are your thoughts? Ultimately you have to make decisions like these based on what you interpret God’s Word to say… and God’s word does say there is time to kill.

God loves you and so do I,

Leslie

Timing Is Important

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Timing Is Important

A time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to harvest. Eccl. 3:2

Hello, and welcome back! I’m glad you can join us again. If this is your first time reading our blog check out the previous posts in this study of Ecclesiastes. I also encourage you to check out some of the posts my co-writers have shared too!

As we will learn in these next 7 verses, timing is important, timing is everything. We were born in a specific time period, in a specific year, at a specific time of day, to a specific set of parents, and in a specific family. We leave this world in the same way. Each season of our lives, between birth and death, have appointed lengths of time. Some of those seasons will be short, some of them can seem like they go on for an eternity.

In verses 1-8, King Solomon explains that every experience we have on this Earth has its proper time and place.  Here in verse 2, he gives us the examples of birth and death, planting and harvesting. Birth and death are two things we experience that are pretty self explanatory. Everyone is born and everyone will die. For this blog post we are going to focus on planting and harvesting.

Most all of us have heard the phrase…you reap what you sow… but a lot of people don’t realize it is a biblical truth. Scripture is full of writings about reaping the consequences of our actions. (Galatians 6:7, 2 Corinthians 9:6, Proverbs 11:8) Something I have always told my children is that every choice we make has a consequence…sometimes they are bad and other times they are good, but one way to make sure they are good is to be obedient to God.

Part of parenting is sowing seeds of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control. This is how we should “train a child up in the way he should go and he will never depart from it”. Sowing these kinds of seeds, from the fruits of the Holy Spirit, will produce good results. Even if our children wander for a period of time, usually they will find their way back to the path God has for them.

If we sow seeds of our sinful nature into our children… sexual impurity, idolatry, sorcery, lust, envy, jealousy, greed, hostility, drunkenness, anger, selfish ambition, dissension, and division…the characteristics that are the outcome are quite the opposite. We end up creating people who can’t function well in society because all that was poured into them as they were growing and developing…were nothing more than bad seeds.

So I ask you to think about your children. Do your children have characteristics that you don’t particularly like? If so, I want you to search your own heart and actions and ask yourself, are these characteristics things that I display and they have learned from me?

I can say for myself that is the case, and since becoming a follower of Jesus Christ I have been working on how to correct my mistakes. To sow better seeds not only into my children, but in all my relationships. I have learned the hard way it is better to do it right with God’s help the first time, than to try to fix what didn’t need to be broken in the first place.

What you plant in the lives of other people matters. It makes all the difference in what kind of harvest you reap.

God loves you and so do I,

Leslie

Spend Time Being Positive

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A while back Leslie posted about how we should spend some time remembering our past, in order to learn from it, but we should be careful not to dwell on the past–especially past pain, slights and hurts.  Dwelling on negative experiences can cause anger, depression, shame, anxiety and other unhealthy emotions.  In his letter to the Philippians, the apostle Paul tells us what we should dwell on:

“Finally brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.” Philippians 4:8

Have you heard the expression, “garbage in, garbage out”?  The original meaning is if we put inaccurate data into our computer, or equation, the answer we get will be equally wrong.  In the same way, if we spend time feeding our minds with regret over our own past mistakes, annoyance with the bad behavior of others, and anger about the things we don’t have that we deserve, what we get out of life will be equally unpleasant.  Nobody will enjoy being around us, and we’ll be unable to recognize the gifts that we have. On the other hand, if we focus on the positive aspects of our own personality, if we build others up instead of tearing them down, and are thankful for the many blessings we receive daily, we’ll soon develop an “attitude of gratitude.” We’ll appreciate ourselves and others and be thankful to God. Wouldn’t you rather focus on the positive?

 

A Time For Everything Under Heaven

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A Time For Everything Under Heaven

Hello! I am glad you have decided to embark on this journey of discovery with me, planted in chapter 3 of Ecclesiastes. Over the next 14 days I will be writing blog posts on the verses King Solomon writes to us in this chapter of this great book. At the end of this post I will include a study map of which verses I will be covering each day. That way, you can read them ahead of time and if you have questions or want to start a discussion on things that stood out to you, we can do that! I want this study to be interactive and I encourage you to keep a journal handy for writing down your thoughts and observations. I also encourage you to write ways that you can apply these verses to your life. A lot of people tell me that in no way is the Bible relevant to today…to that I say, YES WAY! BIBLE stands for Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth! All you have to do is open your heart and mind for what God wants to reveal to you while you are reading His Word and I guarantee you He will! If you haven’t already read the blog post to introduce this bible study, please do so, you can find it here on our blog titled… A Time for Everything!  by livingwaterdesigns

So, are you ready? Here we go! Today we are going to dive into verse 1…

For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven. Eccl. 3:1

God is the keeper of time. As hard as it may be to think about sometimes, we are only limited in how much control we have over our time. We can control it, to a point, what we do with the 24 hours God gives us each day but we are not promised an hour from now, sleeping through the night, or even tomorrow. God controls when it is our time to leave our earthly bodies. But until then, God gives us a time and place for everything under the sun, everything under the heavens.

This verse reminds me of the Disney movie, The Lion King. This movie has a special place in my heart because it was the first animated movie my husband George took me to see, and I was pregnant with our first daughter, Kimberly. My favorite part is when Mufasa is doing his morning lessons with Simba about the circles of life. The scene starts by Simba waking his dad Mufasa in the wee hours of the morning. Like any parent, Mufasa wakes groggy, not wanting to get up, but Simba looks at him with that look kids give their parents and says, “You promised!” So Mufasa gets up, yawning, and sets out at sunrise to teach his son valuable lessons about life.

He starts out his lesson by telling Simba, “Everything the light touches is our kingdom. A King’s time as ruler rises and falls like the sun. One day Simba, the sun will set on my time here and will rise with you as the new king.” Simba looks at his father, and the beautiful landscape, in amazement and says, “And this will all be mine?” Mufasa replies, “Everything”, and Simba ponders… “Everything the light touches”. Then comes the questioning that all of us parents get from our children… “What about that shadowy place?”. And Mufasa tries to teach him about boundaries, those dark places that are off limits. “That’s beyond our borders. You must never go there Simba.”, and the questioning continues…”I thought a king can do whatever he wants?” Mufasa replies, “There’s more to being king than getting your way all the time.” Simba, still in awe says, “There’s more?”

Then Mufasa explains the circle of life to him. “Everything you see exists together in a delicate balance. As king, you need to understand that balance and respect all the creatures, from the crawling ant to the leaping antelope.” More questioning… “But dad, don’t we eat the antelope?” “Yes Simba, but let me explain. When we die our bodies become the grass and the antelope eat the grass, and so, we are all connected in the great circle of life.”

The Lion King, and The Little Mermaid, are my two favorite Disney movies. So much life lessons if you really pay attention. Here, Mufasa is teaching his son important truths about life, just like King Solomon is teaching us those same truths about life in this chapter of Ecclesiastes… God has a plan for each of our lives and each season has its time. Each part of our lives is connected in the great circle of life, and in each part we have different tasks to carry out for the glory of the kingdom, the Kingdom of God.

As we move along through these truths, I want you to think about the truths God has revealed to you as you have read and studied His Word. I also want you to think about the season of life you are in NOW… not the one you were in last year, or the one you will be in 5 years from now, but today, this very moment in time. In your prayers, thank God for this season you are in, no matter whether it is difficult or a piece of cake. Humble yourself before the throne of Grace and believe that God is giving you opportunities to discover more of Him and His plan for your life…because apart from God we can do nothing. It is in His timing, His control…we just have to be childlike, with an open heart and mind, to hear His whispers.

God loves you and so do I,

Leslie

P.S. Link to the study map is below. Feel free to print it out…

LLC- Ecclesiastes Study Map

Photo courtesy of seasonsoflifeproject.tumblr.com

 

 

A Time For Everything

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A Time For Everything

Ecclesiastes 3 

There’s a Right Time for Everything

There’s an opportune time to do things, a right time for everything on the earth:

2-8 A right time for birth and another for death,
A right time to plant and another to reap,
A right time to kill and another to heal,
A right time to destroy and another to construct,
A right time to cry and another to laugh,
A right time to lament and another to cheer,
A right time to make love and another to abstain,
A right time to embrace and another to part,
A right time to search and another to count your losses,
A right time to hold on and another to let go,
A right time to rip out and another to mend,
A right time to shut up and another to speak up,
A right time to love and another to hate,
A right time to wage war and another to make peace.

9-13 But in the end, does it really make a difference what anyone does? I’ve had a good look at what God has given us to do—busywork, mostly. True, God made everything beautiful in itself and in its time—but he’s left us in the dark, so we can never know what God is up to, whether he’s coming or going. I’ve decided that there’s nothing better to do than go ahead and have a good time and get the most we can out of life. That’s it—eat, drink, and make the most of your job. It’s God’s gift.

14 I’ve also concluded that whatever God does, that’s the way it’s going to be, always. No addition, no subtraction. God’s done it and that’s it. That’s so we’ll quit asking questions and simply worship in holy fear.

15 Whatever was, is.
Whatever will be, is.
That’s how it always is with God.

God’s Testing Us

16-18 I took another good look at what’s going on: The very place of judgment—corrupt! The place of righteousness—corrupt! I said to myself, “God will judge righteous and wicked.” There’s a right time for every thing, every deed—and there’s no getting around it. I said to myself regarding the human race, “God’s testing the lot of us, showing us up as nothing but animals.”

19-22 Humans and animals come to the same end—humans die, animals die. We all breathe the same air. So there’s really no advantage in being human. None. Everything’s smoke. We all end up in the same place—we all came from dust, we all end up as dust. Nobody knows for sure that the human spirit rises to heaven or that the animal spirit sinks into the earth. So I made up my mind that there’s nothing better for us men and women than to have a good time in whatever we do—that’s our lot. Who knows if there’s anything else to life?

The Message (MSG) Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

Time has been on my heart lately. Not just because all of us here on the Lutheran Ladies Connection have been blogging about it, but in my own personal life as well. I have had many conversations with God recently about this very thing. Time is of God. It is like God in the sense that we cannot see it, nor can we control it, but we can feel its presence all around us.

Time is a funny thing… most of us either spend our time regretting our past mistakes or spend our time worrying about what will happen in our future. Some of us even do both. What ends up happening is we lose time in the present and the vicious cycle starts again. We end up say things like… “I wish I would have done that differently.”, “I wish I could get back time I have lost.”, “What will happen because of those choices?”, “Will God be mad at me for the things I’ve done?”, “What consequences will I suffer in the future because of my past?”. The list goes on and on…I am sure that every one of you reading this today has had these same thoughts and emotions in your own lives, just like me.

That is why God put it on my heart to share the above passage from Ecclesiastes 3 that I have found most comforting about time. Over these next couple weeks, I will be writing a blog series on this passage. It is filled with so much wisdom from King Solomon that it has to broken down into sections. Our tiny brains can only wrap our minds around it in chunks! LOL!

So please read this chapter in Ecclesiastes in your Bibles at home. Set aside time to read God’s Word. Remember, God’s Word never returns void so it will never be a waste of your time to read it as much and as often as you can. I pray that you will come with me on the journey of discovery, learning what King Solomon had on his heart to share with us concerning his observations of time. He isn’t coined the King of Wisdom for nothing!

As we venture on our way, please feel free at any time to pose questions, start a discussion about a particular verse or thought, or share your life with us about how this subject of time has been on your hearts too! I am excited as we begin and can’t wait to see where God takes us, for such a time as this.

God loves you and so do I,

Leslie

 

photo courtesy of dailylifeverse.com

Spend Your Time on Today

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This is not something I wrote, but something I was given on my original Via de Cristo retreat weekend and kept. It seems appropriate for our theme of “spending time.” The author is unknown:

There are two days in the week upon which and about which I never worry–two carefree days kept sacredly free from fear and apprehension.  One of these days is Yesterday.  Yesterday with its cares and frets and pains and aches, all its faults, its mistakes and blunders, has passed forever beyond my recall.  It was mine:  now it is God’s.

The other day that I do not worry about is Tomorrow.  Tomorrow, with all its possible adversities, its burdens, its perils, its large promise and performance, its failures and mistakes, is as far beyond my mastery as its dead sister, Yesterday.  Tomorrow is God’s day:  it will be mine.

It isn’t the experience of Today that drives us mad.  It is the remorse of what happened Yesterday and fear of what Tomorrow might bring.  These are God’s Days–Leave them to Him.

For Such a Time As This

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For Such a Time As This

I teach our Women’s Ministry Bible Study at church. We are studying the book of Esther. It has been a great study for us to really dig into. I was surprised at the number of women who had not read it before or knew very little about the story of Esther. We have been going through it, one chapter each time we meet. Last night we were rooted in Chapter 4 and as I was preparing to teach this section, verse 14 stood out to me…

If you keep quiet at a time like this, deliverance for the Jews will arise from some other place, but you and your relatives will die. What’s more, who can say but you have been elevated to the palace for such a time as this.

In this one verse it says the word time twice. When things are repeated in succession in the Bible, pay attention. Mordecai is pleading with Esther to make a choice…risk death by Haman’s plot to kill all Jews, or risk death by entering King Xerxes’ chamber, uninvited, to plead with him for deliverance from their annihilation.

No one knew yet that Esther was a Jew herself, except her cousin Mordecai. She had been orphaned, brought to live with him in Susa, a Persian providence, and brought to the King’s palace as a young virgin in the harem when he banished Queen Vashti. Xerxes was to choose a new queen from these virgins. Esther was elevated above them all, and won Xerxes heart and he made her Queen of Persia.

When Esther first learns about the edict to kill all the Jews, she is deeply distressed but I don’t think she quite got the seriousness of it. She sends out clothes for Mordecai to cover himself instead of his public display of mourning, wearing sackcloth (burlap) and ashes. Mordecai refuses and sends her back a message of the exact details of the plot and pleads with her to go King Xerxes and beg for the lives of her people. I believe he did this to explain to her the urgency of this situation. She feels stuck, not knowing what to do, and says “What do you want me to do, risk dying trying to talk to him when he hasn’t summoned me?”  Mordecai becomes irritated and points out to her “you will not escape the same fate, maybe this is why God has elevated you to the position of queen, for this very thing!”  Then comes Esther’s dilemma… die at the hands of the Persian army when they found out she was a Jew, or die trying to enter the King’s inner court, uninvited, to plead for the deliverance of her people. (Read the rest of Chapter 4 to find out what she chooses if you don’t already know!)

I couldn’t help but ponder, which offers the greater risk? On one hand, she dies like all the other Jews under the verdict carried out by the Persian army, and disappoints God by not defending His people. Or on the other hand, she goes before her husband’s throne, risking death because she was both uninvited and exposing that she had not revealed her true identity to him, but pleasing God in the process because she was willing to die for His chosen people.

We see God’s Provision in Esther’s life because of the importance of her position as queen. We are not queens, nor do most of us hold the high position that would pale in comparison to hers. Most of us can’t even fathom the immensity of the fulfillment of this significant destiny that God places on her life. So how can we apply her situation to our lives?

Take this to heart. We are royalty in the most literal sense possible because we are daughters of the King of the Kings, the Lord of Lords. We have royal blood in a way that even Esther did not because the crimson blood of Jesus Christ flows through our veins.

  1. Read Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 (there is a time and place for all things!)
  2. Have you ever had a “for such a time as this” opportunity in your life? If so, how did you use the gifts and talents entrusted to you by God on the behalf of others?

Four Principles we can learn from Esther…

  1. God has a special plan for each of our lives.
  2. Sometimes you have to go against your own common sense, against what other people advise, even against what you want to do, in order to follow God’s plan.
  3. Don’t wait to follow God’s plan for your life. The time is now! At some point you have to gather up the courage to move forward, one step at a time. Otherwise you stay stuck and complacent.
  4. Trusting in God completely and wholeheartedly brings great rewards but it takes radical obedience! Be sold out for God, living to please Him above all else.

 

God loves you and so do I,

Leslie

 

Photo courtesy of theadoptshoppe @ etsy.com

I Will Give You Rest

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We can’t talk about spending our time without at some point coming around to what it means to rest.  Rest is sadly lacking in our culture.  The ability to “multi-task” is held up as a virtue;  we’re addicted to technology which connects us to work and to our “social network” constantly; we’re swamped with information, much of it worrisome– even if we quiet our bodies, it’s hard to shut off the continual thoughts and anxieties that beset us.

God knew that we needed rest.  At the time of creation, he established a Sabbath.

“And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested from all the work that he had done.  So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.”  Genesis 2:2-3

Of course, we know that Jesus spoke out against a need to follow the myriad rules about the Sabbath created by the Pharisees.  All this keeping track of what could be lawfully done on the day of rest was decidedly unrestful!  Jesus knew that what people needed was true rest, the kind they could only find in Him.

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”  Matthew 11:28

True rest is found in taking a break from competition, worldly cares and anxieties.  It comes from trusting God instead of ourselves, our government or even our family — all these things can fail.  It comes from discovering who we really are — God’s creation, made to serve Him and others.  It comes from realizing our true worth as God’s child.  For many of us find the best way to find rest is to set aside time to spend with God, get to know Him and His plan for our lives.  It can happen ever Sunday morning at worship services.  So this week — get some rest, real rest.