Does the World’s Environment Change?

Sometimes we agree with that famous quote from A Tale of Two Cities, 

“It was the best of all times and the worst of all times.”

We look around and see deep divisions between people of different ethnic and religious groups, scammers, fake news, wars and immigration problems.  Recently I read a book about the famous “Siamese twins,” Eng and Chang.  They became Americans and lived through the Civil War.  The author followed the personal and professional life of the twins, and the history of the times in which they lived.  Guess what?  Many of the problems that worry and distress us today were around then as well.

At that time, the nation was divided politically, economically and racially.  I imagine many citizens could not imagine how the United States could come back together and truly become one again.  Resentments and economic problems abounded.  The scammers of that day were men like P.T. Barnum who preyed on the public’s appetite for the bizarre and unusual, and Yankee peddlers who sold useless remedies to gullible customers.  Fake news was around too, as newspapers then saw how sensational (although fictitious) stories fueled sales.  There were immigration issues as well–but they centered around the Chinese rather than Mexicans.

My point?  The worldly environment will never be perfect.  The “good old days” weren’t really so good.  The Bible tells us that:

What has been will be again,
what has been done will be done again;
there is nothing new under the sun. (Ecclesiastes 1:9)

We can’t change the fact that sin is in the world and will remain with us until Jesus comes again.  However, we can make positive changes in ourselves, and those changes will affect the environment around us.  Go in peace and serve the Lord!

P.S. If you are interested in reading the book I mentioned it is Inseparable:  The Original Siamese Twins and Their Rendezvous with History by Yunte Huang

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Two Are Better

“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward  for their toil.  For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow;  but woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to life him up.  Again, if two lie together, they are warm;  but how can one be warm alone?  And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him.  A threefold cord is not quickly broken.”  Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

In an earlier blog, I wrote about how God did not create us to be alone.  When I think back over my life, I see how it has been enriched by the love of others.

What would my life be like without my siblings, with whom I remember my childhood, and who helped to care for my mom in her old age?  Or without my mother who read to me, my grandmother who cooked the best dinners ever, my grandfather who taught me I was smart enough to become whatever I wanted to be?

What would my life be like if I had not had my husband to help with all the child rearing chores, to support me and cheer me on when I wanted to go to school, try a new job, or learn a new skill?  Who stuck with me through all the good and bad times of life?

What would my life be life without the many friends, who over the years, saw talents and abilities in me that I didn’t even realize I had?  Who encouraged me to be a leader, to grow spiritually, and (most recently) to start this blog?

Where would I be without God in my life?  To comfort, to guide, to provide, to accept me with all my quirks?  To be a father whenever my earthly parents failed me?

Storge, eros, philia, agape, we need all those loves.  Life is definitely better when we live it with others.

The Threefold Cord

“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil.  For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow.  But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they will keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone?  And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him — a threefold cord is not quickly broken.”  Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

Something is drawing me back to Ecclesiastes, the book that Leslie blogged extensively about last month. The verses above have been used to describe the unions of both marriage and friendship. When we go back to the very beginning, God said,

“It is not good that the man should be alone;  I will make him a helper fit for him.”  Genesis 2:18

According to the author of Ecclesiastes we’re meant to live in relationship, in union with others.  With a friend or a mate, life is easier, safer and more comfortable. We will be happier and accomplish more. But did you notice anything else?  In every relationship there must be a third component — that’s God.  God is the glue that holds every human union together.  Without Him, we’re bound to eventually break apart on the rocks of our own selfishness and sin.  It’s the third strand in the cord that keeps them going.

So, we don’t need to just have a relationship with God, we need to make God a part of every relationship in our life.  Peace, joy, patience, kindness, love, self-control–no union survives without them, and we can’t manufacture them on our own.  They’re gifts of the Holy Spirit.  So as Charles Spurgeon once said, “Let the lion out of the cage.”  Don’t keep God penned up except for Sunday mornings–let Him into your marriage, your friendships, your workplace, your family.  Let Him transform all those relationships.

 

Spending Time with “God Questions”

Good morning! Sorry about not posting the last two days but when you have severe wind and hail damage to your roof and it is leaking, it becomes priority! LOL! On to today’s post and the conclusion of our blog study on Ecclesiastes 3… today we will take a look at verses 16-22…

I also noticed that under the sun there is evil in the courtroom. Yes, even the courts of law are corrupt! I said to myself, “In due season God will judge everyone, both good and bad, for all their deeds.” I also thought about the human condition—how God proves to people that they are like animals. For people and animals share the same fate—both breathe and both must die. So people have no real advantage over the animals. How meaningless! Both go to the same place—they came from dust and they return to dust. For who can prove that the human spirit goes up and the spirit of animals goes down into the earth? So I saw that there is nothing better for people than to be happy in their work. That is our lot in life. And no one can bring us back to see what happens after we die.

Wow! There is a lot going on in this passage of Scripture! Solomon is a writer who writes about what he observes and the experiences he has. I am very much like that. I, like Solomon, see such corruption in the world in places there ought not be. You probably do as well. The corruption ranges from the highest levels of government down to local magistrates. We see it in our homes, on our T.V.’s, on the internet, at school, while shopping… we even see it in the church.

You can tell Solomon is upset about his observations, rightly so. But he reminds himself that in due time everyone will be judged when they come before the throne of Grace. He is also reminding himself that he can’t right every wrong in the world, that is God’s job. Continuing his observation of destructive and evil behaviors, he reflects on our human condition, and concludes that we are not that different than the animals. We are born, we breathe, and then we die. Then he asks a question… How do we really know that humans go to heaven when they die and animals return to the earth? Solomon ponders this question, and comes to the conclusion… We only get one life so we might as well make the most of it, and enjoy it, while we are here.

I wonder if he realized he had answered his own question in one of the previous verses! Verse 11 says…

Yet God has made everything beautiful in its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.

We differ from animals because we have the hope of eternity… God has planted it in our hearts! To really grasp the magnitude of this we have to understand that we were put on this earth for a purpose. We (humans) are instruments of God to carry out His divine plan for life. We have to understand that the only way to know God’s plan for our life is to continually seek His face. We can’t do it by ourselves. We have to be in an intimate relationship with God, through Jesus, and allow the Holy Spirit to be our compass. It takes building a relationship and openness with the Triune God to figure out our purpose in life.

Spend time asking yourself… Do I grasp the immensity of the hope I have in eternity?  Am I in communion with the Triune God, building an intimate relationship? Am I living the life that God wants me to live? Do I see my life as a gift from God?

Then ask God…Why on earth did you create me for such a time as this? What can I do with my life to bring more of you to the world?

God loves you and so do I?

Leslie

 

photo courtesy of mycongregationalchurch.com

 

Ecclesiastes Chapter 3–What Stands Out

I love it when one of the Lutheran Ladies does a study series, because it encourages me to get out my Bible and read the same passages.  So I have been following Leslie’s posts about Ecclesiastes chapter three, and here is the verse that stands out for me:

“He (God) has made everything beautiful in its time.  Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart…”  Ecclesiastes 3:11″

Later in the chapter, the author talks about how we are no better than animals in some ways — we’re born, we die, our bodies turn to dust.  However, in this verse we see a hint of how God made humankind special.  We have an innate sense that there is something beyond our own daily concerns, a yearning for something more than mere subsistence.  St. Augustine put it this way:

“Thou hast made us for Thyself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in thee.”

This is the issue that Solomon or “the preacher” is struggling with throughout Ecclesiastes.  What are earth are we here for?  What is the meaning of life?  If money, fame, and success don’t fill us up, what will?  Or, as we’re exploring this month, how do we spend our time in a way that is meaningful?

The answer to all these questions is the same:  God.  He is the one who is eternal;  He is the one who can fulfill us and make our existence worthwhile; He is after all, our Creator.  Knowing Him, obeying Him, praising Him, these are the things that will bring us true satisfaction.

Have you read chapter three of Ecclesiastes yet?  If so, what stands out for you.  We want your comments and questions.

 

Everything According To God’s Plan & Timing

Good morning everyone! Welcome to today’s blog post on our Ecclesiastes 3 series! If this is your first time joining us please go into our archives and read the other posts for this month. They are awesome! I thank all of our regular readers for following along with this Bible Study series, planted in the words of God through King Solomon! Let’s get going, continuing with verses 14&15…

And I know that whatever God does is final. Nothing can be added to it or taken from it. God’s purpose is that people should fear him. What is happening now has happened before, and what will happen in the future has happened before, because God makes the same things happen over and over again.

This is what I see in these verses…

God’s has the last say and things will happen exactly as He has planned.

Our main objective in life is to fear God… to respect and stand in awe of who He is.

The things that are going on in the world are not new concepts and neither are the things that will happen in the future.

History repeats itself.

Wow, this is mind-blowing! But then if you think about it…is it really? Reflecting on my life, there are things that I experienced that I can clearly see as God’s plan. As hard as they were to be faced with, I know deep in my heart that it was God’s purpose for my life… the things I suffered in my childhood, my mother dying of cancer when I was 16, the year of torment I suffered following her death, meeting my now husband at the end of that year, gaining a new mom in the process (my now mother in law, Mary), having children at a younger age, almost dying giving birth to our younger daughter Kirsten, being advised after her birth that I should not have any more children, the devastating finality of having my tubes tied at age 23, learning to navigate through my marriage and being a parent when I harbored so much anger and mistrust (all at the expense of my family), overcoming addictive habits, being estranged from my father for 9 years.

Then God took hold of my life, at just the right time. He gave me a new life, a new family, made the family I helped create become stronger and more unified, helped to mend the broken relationship between my dad and I, solidified my marriage with Him at the helm, made me a better parent, helped me to grow quality relationships with my daughters, help me to also grow quality relationships with other family and friends.

I couldn’t have done it without looking at the world through my “God goggles”, changing the lens by which I view the world around me. And for that I stand in awe… God leaves me speechless a lot. I can see the intricacies of how He works, how He operates. And sometimes all I can do is just smile.

Now, when I experience life, I am well equipped and those experiences don’t cripple me like they used to. History has repeated itself in my life, all part of God’s plan. But the peace… the strength… the power I have to get through those trials, comes from a mighty God, the love of my Savior, and the guidance of the Holy Spirit. And I continually stand in awe of God… remembering the great works He has done in my life… remembering that I need to look at my trials as great joy, because when my faith is tested, my endurance has a chance to grow… and God says when my endurance grows and is fully developed, I will be perfect, complete, and need nothing else. (James 1:2-4)

And to always stand in awe, just like the Apostle Paul did when he wrote to the church in Ephesus…

God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son. He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding. God has now revealed to us his mysterious will regarding Christ—which is to fulfill his own good plan. And this is the plan: At the right time he will bring everything together under the authority of Christ—everything in heaven and on earth. Furthermore, because we are united with Christ, we have received an inheritance from God, for he chose us in advance, and he makes everything work out according to his plan. Eph. 1:5-11

How about you? Do you understand that everything happens according to God’s plan? Do you fear, respect, and stand in awe of who He is? Can you look at your past and determine how you will be changed when history repeats itself? Do you count your trials as great joy? Do you embrace your faith being tested and remember that your endurance is giving you a chance to grow? Do you understand that when your endurance to navigate this life is fully developed you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing else? Do you realize that God chose you in advance to make everything work out according to His plan?

God loves you and so do I?

Leslie

 

photo courtesy of imgrum.org

 

Spending Time With God’s Perspective

Good evening! I have had something come up unexpectedly and wont be able to blog post tomorrow…so I grouped the verses together. Our Ecclesiastes 3 study continues tonight with verses 9-13…

What do people really get for their hard work? I have seen the burden God has placed on us all. Yet God has made everything beautiful in its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end. So I concluded there is nothing better than to be happy and enjoy ourselves as long as we can. And people should eat and drink and enjoy the fruits of their labor, for these are gifts from God.

How do we stay content in this life with so much negativity, so much violence, so much grief. Do we ignore it? Do we keep it in the back of our minds like it doesn’t exist? Ignoring, or pretending the reality of the world doesn’t exist, or doesn’t affect us, is not a healthy state for us to be in. That is why Solomon shows us here in the first 8 verses of Ecclesiastes 3 that everything exists and operates in a proper balance. We cannot ignore that hate exists. We cannot ignore that war exists. We cannot ignore that killing, death, grief, and sadness exist.

What we can do is change the attitude of our hearts. The only way for us to find true contentment in our lives depends upon our attitude. If we constantly focus on the negative things, or on the contrary, ignore them all together, then we live in a state of disillusionment. It happens when we lose our sense of purpose…the purpose God put us on this Earth to accomplish for His Kingdom. When we keep our eyes focused on the work God has for us, we begin to realize the fruits of our labor are gifts from Him. Everything we do, everything we possess, every single minute of everyday we have is because of Him… the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away.

Ultimately, we can never be satisfied with “earthly pleasures”. Maybe for a short window of time, but after a while the pleasure fades and we are right back to reality. Of all the people I have encountered, I have never heard any of them say that being addicted to earthly pleasures was fun and gave them hope. Maybe for a split second at first, but that “high” soon wears off and doesn’t help us learn how to change our lives for the better. Most of the time it only makes our situation worse.

God wants us to enjoy life, to live it to its fullest, to experience the beauty of His creation… but to do it in a way in which we don’t lose the proper perspective, His perspective. Then, and only then, will we discover that our joy and happiness comes from using the gifts God blesses us with, not in the stuff we accumulate.

God loves you and so do I,

Leslie

photo courtesy of Proverb 31 Ministies