RSS

Tag Archives: Human Christ

Time and Place

“For everything there is a  season, and a time for every matter under heaven:” Ecc 3:1

It is amazing that God ordained all things to happen inside his timing and will.  He set up the rules and order of this world and set all things in there place.  God has, as Ecclesiastes 3 says, given everything a season and a time.

What does this mean for our lives though?

Has God so controlled our lives and actions that we have no freedom?

No!  Rather God has placed markers and “signs” and given us his word that we might understand that every action, desire, and outcome has a place.  No thing that happens to us is ever out of Gods control, and we need not fear finding ourselves in a situation that He has not planned.

Solomon uses quite a few “this/that” statements to show the control and placement of things in this world.  These few verses are easy to both over and under spiritualize, however they are powerful statements of Gods control and plan for our world and lives.

Born and Die (V.2)

Solomon starts out slow and easy by just letting us know that God has ordained a time for our birth and our death.  No accidents occur in Gods world.  No one has been born or ever will be born that God did not know about first.  Just as know one has been born a surprise to God no one has died as a surprise to God.  We enter and exit this world as a planned creation of God, and he watches out for us throughout it all. (Matt 10:29)

Break Down and Build Up (V.3)

Christ is referred to as the potter (Isa 64:8) and we the clay.  If you ever watch a potter throw a clay pot it is fascinating to watch.  Sometimes after working on a pot and building it up for hours a flaw might be found in the construction.  If there is a fault found a potter doesn’t try to fix that hole or just put clay over it, instead he breaks down the work he has done back into a pile so that he can start fresh.

As the clay, solomon points to the fact that there are God ordained times of building where we might rise as leaders and teachers, however because of our own flawed nature when we get out of sync with God or prideful there is also a God ordained time of breaking down.

Silence and Speech (V.7)

It is ordained through the discernment of the Holy Spirit, and through the reading of the Bible the knowledge of when to speak.  There are times that we are called as Christians to speak up and say what God has taught us. (David and Goliath being a good Old Testament Example) However, there are also times that God has given us the wisdom to stay silent.

Most of us, unfortunately, have a case of the opposites.  When someone is running down our God or God is calling us to share we stay silent.  When someone is asking us about gossip or we have opinions we speak.  God has called us to seek out the times when he has called us to speech and silence.  Pray only that He gives us the wisdom to know the difference.

War and Peace (V.8)

Similare to speech and silence it can be hard to discern which of these God has ordained in a specific situation.  As humans we tend to go to war over little things and keep the peace when barbarians are at the gate.

Understand,  God has given us the call to war as a tool to be used.  There is nothing wrong with standing your ground and holding a position you believe.  We are called however to make sure to only use that tool when it is appropriate.

Romans says it best like this “in as much as it is up to you, live at peace with all men” (Rm 12:18)  This is a call to use discernment.  A call to say that if its not a must issue than choose peace.  However, if it is against the Bible or Gods authority ….prepare for war.

Advertisements
 
Leave a comment

Posted by on August 31, 2016 in Ecclesiastes, Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Bursting the Bubble of Wealth

“I hated all my toil in which I toil under the sun, seeing that i must leave it to the man who will come after me.”  -Ecc 2:18

Wealth is an amazing thing.  I was blessed to grow up in a home that while not “wealthy” certainly provided me with a life of ease.  I didn’t have to work to put food on the table, my parents didn’t take my birthday money for gas money, and I always had presents under the tree at Christmas.  I lived a blessed life.

However, there are those who had much more money than I.  Families and people who could have bought and sold all that I had twenty times over and never made a dent in there money.  This also is a blessing.  How then can Solomon find any fault or struggle in the gaining of money and wealth?

Solomon, who was one of the richest men who ever lived, says that even the accumulation of wealth is ultimately vanity and striving after the wind.  He uses these three points to show how living a life that is about money and wealth is a life empty of any reason to live.

  1.  Ultimately we don’t get to Keep It

“I hated all my toil in which I toil under the sun, seeing that i must leave it to the man who will come after me.” -Ecc 2:18

Solomon begins by simply recognizing the inevitability of his own demise.  Solomon knows he will die.  Sooner or later his life is going to come to an end and everything he has ever owned will pass on to his relations.  He will no longer own any of his stuff and he will have no say over how it is spent. Solomon will have worked his whole life only to give his money to those who didn’t earn it.

Ultimately that is what will happen to all of our wealth.  We can only enjoy it while we are here on this earth.  We can use it for good or evil.  We can use it all or nothing.  The only thing we can’t do is take it with us. 

2.    Ultimately we cannot Protect It

“and who knows  whether he will be wise or a fool?  Yet he will be master of all for which I toiled and used my wisdom under the sun.” -Ecc 2:19

Solomon not only recognizes that one day he will die, but also that when he goes his idiot kids are gonna get everything.  Solomon realized there is no way to be sure that his kids spend his money well.

There is a difference that has been pointed out between being wealthy and being rich.  I can never remember which is which, but the basics are “a wealthy person made there money,  a rich person inherits it”.  Our world is filled with examples of people who ran into this problem. A hard working father/mother builds up a fortune only to see there children with no morals or work ethic tear that fortune down.

Solomon points out to us in these verses the futility of living for money.  Even if you were to get all you could hope, and are ok with passing it on when you die.  You do not get to decide what is done with it once you are gone.  Whoever gets your stuff gets to decide how to use your money.

3.    Ultimately we cannot Enjoy It.

” What has a man from all the toil and striving of heart with which he toils beneath the sun?  For all his days are full of sorrow…”  Ecc 2:22-23a

Solomon continues as he points out one simple truth that we all understand even if we don’t say.  The more wealth you have, the more worry of loosing wealth.  Solomon acknowledges that all his work and toil to attain such wealth has caused his heart nothing but “sorrow and vexation”.  When you work for wealth you heart is never satisfied.

The sad truth of wealth is that no person if they set wealth and riches as there goal ever said “now I have enough“.  They continue to work and worry and snuggle to get more and more always believing that the next hundred or next thousand will satisfy. Solomon is trying to show us early in life that the only thing that satisfies our desires is Christ/God.

“For apart from Him who can eat or who can have enjoyment?  For to the one who pleases Him, God has given wisdom and knowledge and joy, but to the sinner he has given the business of gathering and collecting, only to give to one who pleases God. ” Ecc 2:25-26

In the last few posts we have talked about Solomon’s frustrations with life.  We have “burst the bubble” of many vanity that plague the human race.  However the ultimate point is summed up in these last two verse.  All pleasure and joy and good things are given to those who strive after Him.  To those who are not believer he has given the ultimately futile task of gathering and collecting.  I pray that anyone reading this finds there satisfaction in God, and not look for it in the business of collecting.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on August 24, 2016 in Ecclesiastes, Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Bursting the Bubble of Pleasure

“‘Come now, I will test you with pleasure; enjoy yourself.’ But behold this also was vanity”  Ecclesiastes 2:1

As I work on this lesson I find myself realizing that this is the stage of life, as Solomon describes them that I find myself.  I am enraptured with pleasure.  Good friends, good food, and good fun are the places where I find joy.  So it is with a heavy heart that I must write that these things fun and enjoyable as they may be cannot bring lasting or ultimate pleasure!

Solomon continues his discussion of useless things here in chapter two of Ecclesiastes by bursting the soap bubble of pleasure.  He comes to it as a man just off a night of self reflection, and begins to discuss the parts of his life where pleasure and achievement were everything to him.  

It is in this discussion of his life of pleasure that Solomon makes note of two things that are important to understand about pleasure and achievement.

  1.  Pleasure is Good, but Too Much is Sorrow

“Even in laughter the heart is sorrowful, and the end of that mirth is heaviness.”               Prov. 14:13

Pleasure is a gift of God!  There can be no denying this fact.  For some reason back in the middle ages and even before people got a view of God as this heavenly school teacher who was just there to wag a finger and take away all the fun.  At one point a child even using his imagination was considered a sin, but this is not the God we see pointed to in our bible.

The God we see in the bible is a God who led his people to a land of pleasure flowing with “milk and honey”.  A God who threw feast and party for every little event in the lives of the Jewish people.  Even James in the new testament says “every good and perfect gift is from above”

There is a down side to pleasure though, this comes in the law of diminishing returns.  The essence of this law is that the more you do something the less pleasure you will get.  This means that to get the same amount of pleasure you will have to increase your activity.  We see this most acutely in drug addiction.  At first one hit of whatever drug you use will get you high, but as you continue using you need more and more of that drug to get the same high.

The Law of Diminishing returns holds true weather you pleasure is gained from drugs, sex, gambling, video games, or any other pleasurable activity.  If all you are gaining is pleasure than it will eventually turn sour and sorrowful.

2.   Achievement is Good, but Cannot Bring Happiness

“So I became great and surpassed all who were before me in Jerusalem.”  -Ecc 2:7

Solomon was, as has been said before, one of the wisest men who ever lived.  Due to his wisdom he was also one of the greatest kings both Israel and the world had ever seen.  Solomon outlines some of his greatest achievements here in this chapter.  He achieved more than any other king of Israel and yet he still found no lasting joy in his achievements.

No one can say that being productive and having great works and achievements is a bad thing.  The Bible has plenty to say on those who are lazy and slothful, but achievement can have its own dangers.

Achievement for achievement sake, however, lends itself to becoming an escape to the rest of life.  Those who become “workaholics” fall to the same vanity and uselessness that we discussed about pleasure.  Eventually the law of diminishing returns causes you to need more and more; and bigger and bigger achievements.

However, Achievements also has its own unique struggle and that is the struggle of becoming a god to yourself.  When your good works, and your achievements become so  important that God becomes a secondary character in your life.  You begin to elevate your own interests above the interests of others.  The ultimate end of this struggle comes as you get to the end of your life and there are no more achievements to be gained.  Then you become useless, and your god is no more.

Solomon looked on pleasure and achievement and pronounced judgement.  Without God they are useless and vain pursuits.

 

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on August 17, 2016 in Ecclesiastes

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Radical vs Realist – Elijah & Obediah

We need revival!  We need a new work!  We need a radical change! 

Many a conversation among church leaders seem to center around these statements.  I myself have had many discussions with people both my own age and much older who are desperate to see a radical change in our churches.  In fact there has been a book published by David Platt called Radical, that is all about how we need to get back to the “radical” life to which Christ has called his church.  However, is the radical approach the only way to change the church?  Is there room for realists in the body of Christ?

To truly understand this we need to define what the difference is between a “radical” and a “realist”.

“A radical is one who holds or follows strong convictions and extreme principles, usually in an uncompromising and direct method.”

“A realist is one who is aware of and understands things as they are, and seeks to work within a system to enact change.”

Perhaps putting it more simply we should say that a radical would be more likely to tear the system apart and start fresh and new.  A realist, however, would be more likely to stay within the system to enact a change.

How does the Bible showcase these two different viewpoints, and how can they work together to further His kingdom?

Elijah

There should be no doubt in anyone’s mind that Elijah was a radical!  From calling down fire to prove God’s power to calling the priests of God to eradicate the priests of Baal, Elijah was always making what most people of Israel would call controversial decisions, yet there can be no doubt that he was used by God to move the people of Israel back to God.  In all of Elijah’s activities though it is his challenging of the king on which we should focus.

The radicals among us can identify with Elijah’s confronting of the king (Kings 18).  Isn’t that what we are called to anyway?  Confronting the problems in our government and church from the front and taking a stand.  To be the person standing in the breach, drawing a line and saying “You Shall Not Pass”*.  The heads of our churches are saying that this is what God calls us all to do.  That we are called to be standing between the armies of the world and the people of God with our only options being corruption or death.

Is this radical path the only way?

Obadiah

While Elijah may be a well know radical of our Christian history, there is in this same story (Kings 18) the tale of a much lesser known man Obadiah.  Of this man’s life we have little to know knowledge, he may be the same Obadiah from the prophets, more than likely he is just another man with the same name.  The only thing we are told of this Obadiah is this:

“Now Obadiah feared the LORD greatly, and when Jezebel cut off the prophets of the LORD, Obadiah took a hundred prophets and hid them by fifties in a cave and fed them with bread and water”   – 1Kings 18:3b-4

So the entirety of this man’s legacy is that he feared the LORD so much that he would take the prophets of God  to hide and shelter them from an evil queen.  Notice, however, what these verses do not say.  They do not say that Obadiah confronted the queen about her evil.  They do not say that Obadiah quit his position to live in the wild with Elijah.  In fact, we find out in later verses that he was still a trusted servant of the king who was causing all of Israel’s problems, yet this man “Feared the LORD“.

So which path is the one God wants?  How should these very different ideas deal with each other?

The answer to these questions is shown in the next segment of these verses. (Kings 18:7-16) As Obadiah is on a mission for the king, he finds himself confronted by the Elijah himself.  When Obadiah sees him he bows in homage to this man who has put himself on the line for God.  These two men then converse about there different “ministries” and discuss a mission Elijah has for Obadiah.  They meet as equals, neither one condemning or challenging the others methods.

We as a group of Christians need to continually be taught this truth, “There is no wrong way”.  Christians get caught up in saying that radical life is better, or an organic (realistic) life is better; when the honest answer to these struggles is both are valid avenues to change.  Instead of trying to undercut other styles of change we should be building up our fellow Christians in there unique situations and agree that as long as we are moving toward change in Christ that we are on the right path.

 
2 Comments

Posted by on March 21, 2013 in Radical vs Realist, Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Under Pressure…(bum bum bum ba-dum bada bum bum)

“For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia.  For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself”    – 2 Cor 1:8

Its funny, how many things in this world can be both good and bad for us depending on the context. Fire can bring heat and also burn buildings, water can bring floods but also sustain life, and spiders kill mosquitoes but also are scary (and of the devil), but the most intriguing of these dualitys is pressure!

Pressure is one of the greatest things that are involved in our lives.  With enough pressure and time (and coal) you can get diamonds. With correct pressure and students you can get leaders.  However, even though pressure can make great things it can also (as a recent event in my life can attest) be a crushing unbearable burden.

Pressure, in Christ, can come in many forms.  It comes in wise council and instruction, in discipline and punishment, in encouragement and fellowship, and in faith and prayer. However, like most things there is a very fine line between too little and too much. There is a fine line between just the right amount of council and not enough, between discipline and encouragement, and between safety and faith.

How do we appropriately apply pressure?

1.  Pressure is Best Applied Differently

“Even in my short ministry life I have learned that what will turn one person into a diamond will crush another into dust.  There was a old preacher who said ‘good leaders play checkers…great leaders play chess’.  The idea is that everyone in this life needs pressure in different ways and when you learn to “play” everyone according to there needs you are approaching great leadership.”

2.  Pressure is Best Applied Evenly

“Diamonds, as we all know, are made over long periods of time due to constant and even pressure.  Likewise, when we put pressure on others ,even in Christ, we need to apply that pressure evenly over time.  In fact going from no pressure to massive pressure is like taking a red hot skillet from a red hot stove to a cold water tub…much more likely to crack than clean.”

3.  Pressure is Best Applied Singularly

“Some may not agree on this point, but it is one that I believe in with my whole heart.  The best ratio of people applying pressure is one to one.  Through my entire life the time where I have seen people be cracked and burdened by pressure the most is when every acquaintance decides they should be the one to apply pressure. This causes the pressure in that persons life to increase to the point where they are “smooshed” by all the advice.

In the end all that can be said about pressure is that it is very important, and very dangerous.  It should be handled with care and concern for the person “under pressure”.  If our goal is to produce diamonds then we need to allow for time and not rush the process with more pressure.

 
1 Comment

Posted by on February 19, 2013 in Theology of Faith

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Life

I am…, the way, the truth, and the life. No man comes to the father but through me.”  John 14:6

In previous posts we have talked a lot about Christ and what He said about Himself in John 14:6.  We went over every detail of the names He gave Himself to his followers so that they would be able to know more about Him, and we talked about the implication of those names.

He called Himself “I AM” which showed how He is always the same and can sustain and save us.  He called Himself “The Way” which showed He gave direction to the lost, safety to the traveler, and rest for the weary. He called Himself “The Truth” which showed He gives freedom from worry, death, and pride.  Now we get to the most important of them all “The Life.”

Life is such an important concept, in fact, the right to life is one of the only truly universal beliefs.  There is no culture where life is not held sacred. Now certainly there are those who take the right to life more seriously.  We in America for example, hold it to be one of our “big three” rights along with liberty and happiness. Without life we would literally not exist.

So what is Christ implying when He calls Himself “The Life?”

1. He Implies A Connection To All Things.

There is nothing in this world that does not connect to God. Whether it is a slug on a leaf or a king in his castle, God is intimately acquainted to all the world. Not only is He connected but he cares about all things. Luke 12:6-7 even tells us that God knows every sparrow sold at market, and every hair on our head.  God is intimately connected to this world!

2. He Implies A Ownership Of All Things

If Christ is “The Life” then that implies a certain amount of ownership. The psalmist says,”For every animal of the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills” (50:10). The implication of this verse is that all the world belongs to God.  How then can we expect to ever repay God for all the good things that he has given to us?

3. He Implies A Purpose To All Things.

If Christ not only has a connection with us and an ownership over us, then it must be to that he has a purpose for us.  Think of all the things you have owned.  They were created with a purpose and bought for that purpose.  Now if we as people do not create things without purpose why then do we believe our God would do so? The bible itself proclaims: “For I know the plans I have for you says the LORD, plans to prosper and not to harm you.  Plans to give you a hope and a future.”  – Jeremiah 29:11

Christ, however, does not finish this statement with names.  He finishes with a purpose, and that purpose is to lead all who would be seeking to His father, the author and perfecter of our faith.  The Father in whom our salvation lies!  So no matter if you are seeking who God is (I AM), where God is taking you (The Way), the mysteries of the gospel (The Truth), or the meaning of life (The Life); remember this.

No man comes to the father but through me.”  John 14:6

 
6 Comments

Posted by on January 14, 2013 in John 14:6

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Truth…(Part 2)

I am…, the way, the truth, and the life. No man comes to the father but through me.”  John 14:6

So if this is true (see The Truth…Part 1), if we truly are afraid of God because of the truth He knows about us.  Then what is he telling us by saying that he is “The Truth”.  Surely it is more than just a quaint nickname or a halfhearted metaphor. Is He possibly revealing apart of his nature?  Is He saying that He has nothing to hide from our searching of Him?

What Christ is ultimately saying then when He gives himself this “nickname” is that we can search, ponder, and question Him all we like.  That no matter what accusation or slander we as people can throw at Him, He can take it all and not be changed!  Because as we said before “The Truth” is the most accurate interpretation of all of the facts, and when you put all the facts together the only interpretation you can have is that God is in control!

So what comfort does this truth give us?

1. This Truth Gives Freedom From Worry.

On the subject of worry Billy Graham had this to say: “Anxiety (worry) is the natural result when our hopes are centered in anything short of God and his will for us” When we worry we are taking our sites off of God and putting them on the troubles of this world. “The Truth” is that if we do as God has told us in his word (Phil 4:6-7) we can be free from the stress that worry brings!

2. This Truth Gives Freedom From Pride

Pride is a cancer of the mind that allows us to believe that we are above God. It allows us to say that we know how to run our own lives and no one can tell us any different. This stems from what gamer’s like me call the illusion of choice, the idea that we can change the ultimate outcome. “The Truth” is that anything that has been done was already know at the beginning of time, and nothing we can do can change the outcome that Christ will win!  When you understand that, you are free from the pride that control can bring.

3. This Truth Gives Freedom From Death

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only son, that whosoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life.” – John 3:16

The saying goes that the only things for certain are death and taxes.  The story of the bible is one of redemption and salvation from death.  Not from physical death as some skeptics say, but from a death of the soul.  This death is caused by a complete separation from our God.  None of us will know how this truly feels on earth because we are all connected in a small way to Gods love.  “The Truth” is that God, taking on the form of a man, came down to this earth to save us from this separation!

So what is “The Truth”?  The truth of God is this, that He loved this world and everyone in it so much that he was willing to sacrifice His flesh and blood.  He did this even after we as a people had turned our backs on Him and distorted His perfect world.  “The Truth” is that His salvation is free to anyone who will come and ask it of Him.

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only son, that whosoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life.” – John 3:16

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on January 14, 2013 in John 14:6

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,