Tag Archives: spending time

Spending Time with “God Questions”

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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

 

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Spending Time With God’s Perspective

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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

Spending Time in Conditions of the Heart

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Spending Time in Conditions of the Heart

Good morning everyone! We are on to verse 7 in Ecclesiastes 3 this morning. If you are following along on your study map (found on my blog post A Time for Everything Under Heaven) you can see we are halfway through this awesome journey in Ecclesiastes 3. I want to thank each of you for reading my blog posts and learning along with me what God’s Word, through King Solomon’s writings, says about spending time and God’s proper timing for everything under the sun.

Ecclesiastes 3:7 says…

A time to tear and a time to mend. A time to be quiet and a time to speak.

Tearing, mending, silence, and speech…

Historically this passage refers to times of mourning and times of coming out of mourning. The Bible gives us many examples of the tearing of clothing as a sign to others that they were in this state. At St. John’s Lutheran, we are studying the book of Esther in our ladies Bible study. In Chapter 4 of Esther, Mordecai opens the scene with tearing his clothes off because he is in deep distress after learning about Haman and King Xerxes’ plot to annihilate all the Jews. This is one example God’s Word tells us about this historical act.

Ultimately the tearing of clothes had significant meaning…outward signs of the state of a person’s heart… shame, guilt, anger, grief, loss, intense pain, deep distress, sorrow, and humility. This was a powerful public expression of such emotions. This outward display of emotions was often carried out in silence but sometimes did coincide with weeping, wailing, and words.

Today, we don’t practice the act of tearing our clothes off when our hearts are hurting. We do other things… crying out to a friend or close family member, wearing dark clothing, screaming in anger… sorrow, pain and distress can be heard in our wailing and weeping, lowering our heads in humility and shame. All of these emotions can also be seen in the silent expressions on our face.

Eventually, when our lamenting is over, our heart begins to mend, just like the Jews would mend their clothes back together when their mourning was complete. The silence is broken with words of comfort, encouragement, and even laughter.

Some of us are in a state of mourning, or lamenting, as I write this blog post. Some of us are in a state of mending our hearts because the trial is over. Is it possible that we could be in both conditions in our hearts at the same time? I believe we can.

We go through so many experiences in this journey through life, all at the same time. We could be mourning the loss of close friend and also be rejoicing in the birth of a child. We can be hurt at a situation with a co-worker, but at the same time, be happy at the way the situation is handled by our boss. We can be proud of one of our children for reaching their goal and be disappointed in another for choosing the wrong path.  We can be severely angry at the way a family member is treating us… but be calm, peaceful, and level headed because we are seeking to display the Fruits of the Spirit that God has taught us.

I believe Jesus gives us the ultimate example of being in the state of both conditions when he was hanging on the cross… weeping and lamenting, crying out in pain and agony, but rejoicing in the task He knew He had to suffer as the ultimate sacrifice for all mankind, reconciling us to God.

Where are you today? In a state of mourning and lamenting over the current condition of your heart? Or are you rejoicing and mending the broken pieces back together? Or perhaps, are you in a state of both conditions?

We would love to hear the stories of your hearts… what are you are going through in this crazy thing we call life?

God loves you and so do I,

Leslie

photo courtesy of 123rf.com

 

 

 

 

 

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