A Time For Everything - Purity 845
Purity 845 09/24/2022
Today’s photo of a the sun over cornfields and woods on the horizon just before setting comes to us from yours truly as I stopped for a moment to capture its blazing glory while I accompanied my canine friend, Harley, on our walk back to our countryside home yesterday afternoon.
I’m not sure what the weather was like in your neck of the woods yesterday but in upstate New York a brisk chill was in the air throughout the day that pointed to the undeniable fact that Autumn is here. While the sun was still shining the chill in the air caused me to don my Carhartt hoody for all but a few moments of the day and the seasonal turn to colder temperatures sent a shiver into my soul as my life experience and, perhaps the enemy, whispered “Winter is coming.”
But first things first, even though there is Christmas stuff in the stores already and its wise to see the changing signs of the times and to be prepared, let’s slow it down a little so we can enjoy the current season rather than fearing what will come.
While our direction as travellers on the path of Christian Discipleship is always forward, the way we experience the fruit of the Spirit of peace and joy is to not to be overly focused on the days ahead and its uncertain destinations so much that we fail to enjoy the journey in the here and now.
This morning’s Bible Study brought me to Ecclesiastes chapter 3 and the text points to the fact that there is a time for everything, that man is to enjoy his life and labors on the earth, but is to do so in the fear of the Lord, knowing that our lives are finite and that the content of them will be judged by the One who gave them to us. I was so moved by the wisdom of the text that I am sharing it today because I know that the wisdom of the word of God is the best thing I can share and I share it with the hope that it will encourage others to seek the Lord’s presence, wisdom, and ways.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-22 (NKJV)
1 To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven:
2 A time to be born, And a time to die; A time to plant, And a time to pluck what is planted;
3 A time to kill, And a time to heal; A time to break down, And a time to build up;
4 A time to weep, And a time to laugh; A time to mourn, And a time to dance;
5 A time to cast away stones, And a time to gather stones; A time to embrace, And a time to refrain from embracing;
6 A time to gain, And a time to lose; A time to keep, And a time to throw away;
7 A time to tear, And a time to sew; A time to keep silence, And a time to speak;
8 A time to love, And a time to hate; A time of war, And a time of peace.
9 What profit has the worker from that in which he labors?
10 I have seen the God-given task with which the sons of men are to be occupied.
11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end.
12 I know that nothing is better for them than to rejoice, and to do good in their lives,
13 and also that every man should eat and drink and enjoy the good of all his labor--it is the gift of God.
14 I know that whatever God does, It shall be forever. Nothing can be added to it, And nothing taken from it. God does it, that men should fear before Him.
15 That which is has already been, And what is to be has already been; And God requires an account of what is past.
16 Moreover I saw under the sun: In the place of judgment, Wickedness was there; And in the place of righteousness, Iniquity was there.
17 I said in my heart, "God shall judge the righteous and the wicked, For there is a time there for every purpose and for every work."
18 I said in my heart, "Concerning the condition of the sons of men, God tests them, that they may see that they themselves are like animals."
19 For what happens to the sons of men also happens to animals; one thing befalls them: as one dies, so dies the other. Surely, they all have one breath; man has no advantage over animals, for all is vanity.
20 All go to one place: all are from the dust, and all return to dust.
21 Who knows the spirit of the sons of men, which goes upward, and the spirit of the animal, which goes down to the earth?
22 So I perceived that nothing is better than that a man should rejoice in his own works, for that is his heritage. For who can bring him to see what will happen after him?
Well I am not as wise as Solomon, who wrote this, or the Holy Spirit, who inspired it. But I have the answer!
Who knows that the spirit of the sons of men go upward? And who can bring us to see what will happen after we die?
The Lord knows that and the Lord can bring us to see what will happen! And God gives us this knowledge through His word and through the Holy Spirit revealing its truth to us.
But the Lord was even more gracious to man by sending His living Word, Jesus Christ to earth to tell us the truth and to make a way to reconcile us to God.
We don’t have to go “down to the earth”, to Hell, when we die because Christ came to earth to pay for our sins and when we place our faith in Him, just like He ascended into Heaven after His resurrection, we can be lifted up to a new life in God’s kingdom forever when we put our trust in Jesus.
So enjoy your life this weekend, it is a gift of God. But fear the Lord and respect His righteous judgement, by acknowledging His sovereignty and by surrendering to His will for your life by making peace with Him through faith in Jesus Christ and by pursuing His purposes for you.
Have a wonderful Autumn weekend and keep walking and talking with God.
Today’s Bible verse comes to us from “The NLT Bible Promise Book for Men”.
This morning’s meditation verse are:
Psalm 46:1-2 (NLT2)
1 God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble.
2 So we will not fear when earthquakes come and the mountains crumble into the sea.
Today’s Bible verses assure us that God is our refuge and strength and that we need not fear the calamities that we will face on the earth because He is always ready to help us in times of trouble.
As someone who has walked through the fires of tribulations and trauma at various times in my 50 years of life, I can attest that it is much better to have a relationship with the Lord though faith in Jesus Christ in times of trouble rather than being all on your own.
Other Bible verses tell us that God is close to the broken hearted and I know that is true as trauma breaks us out of the normal conceptions of our world view of “how life is” and reveals to us the harsh realities of life and death in times of loss. In that stark shock of our world being torn apart by loss, God who is omnipresent is available to comfort and to help us and we have a decision to make: will we come to Him and seek His help or will we turn from Him in bitterness and anger?
I lost my infant son Holden, in March of 2002, as our nation was still overcoming the national tragedy of 911, and this personal loss ripped away the final shreds of an illusions I may have had about our lives being “safe” or secure. These losses woke me up to “ice cold world of life and death” but in the midst of my grief in the stark clarity of my new view of the world I simultaneously felt all alone but also had the sense that “I wasn’t alone”, that there was a presence with me that sought to comfort me.
At the time, I think I thought that I was just seeing the world with eyes wide open but in hindsight I know that the feelings I had of how I was all alone but somehow wasn’t can easily be explained as God being present in my broken heartedness and that He was patiently sitting with me in my grief and would further reveal Himself to me when the time was right and I had stopped being angry and running away from Him.
Of course, I was very angry, and very stubborn, and very rebellious, and purposely shut God out of my life by abandoning all semblances of Christianity in my life, but after the darkest days of my depression I sought meaning again, and even though I went in the wrong direction, my search for truth was rewarded in an instant by God’s grace.
The truth of the gospel was allowed to come into my life by a seemingly chance encounter, as in the midst of my confusion of following the philosophies of Buddhism, I happened upon a gospel radio message and decide to mock it only to be brought to my knees in humble surrender the my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ when I understood that faith in Him was all that was require to live.
So 8 years later (just put that together this morning – 8’s are a significant number in my walk) , again in the month of March (just put that together this morning), the Lord showed me that He could be my refuge and strength and be my constant help in times of trouble. I didn’t have to be alone anymore. I didn’t have to keep Him at a distance anymore. And so that day in March of 2010 I invited God, The Presence that I have known to be with me at various times throughout my life, to save me through His Son, Jesus Christ.
SO let me encourage you, no matter how the earth quakes or the mountains crumble into the sea, either literally or figuratively, in your life The Lord can be your strength and refuge. He is always ready to help us in times of trouble.
He may not stop the tragedies from happening, but sometimes He will. But either way, He knows the end from the beginning and He knows that even the traumas we suffer can be used for good to help us to grow and to know Him and our place in His kingdom. So trust the Lord with your life by putting your faith in Christ, and seek Him at all times for His strength, wisdom, and love.
As always, I invite all to go to mt4christ.org where I always share insights from prominent Christian theologians and counselors to assist my brothers and sisters in Christ with their walk.
Today we continue sharing from Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s “Discipleship”, also known as “The Cost of Discipleship”
As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage all to purchase Bonhoeffer’s books for your own private study and to support his work. This resource is available on many websites for less than $20.00.
Simple Obedience – continues
How is such a reversal possible? What has happened that the word of Jesus has to endure this game? That it is so vulnerable to the scorn of the world? Anywhere else in the world where commands are given, the situation is clear. A father says to his child: go to bed! The child knows exactly what to do. But a child drilled in pseudotheology would have to argue thus: Father says go to bed. He means you are tired; he does not want me to be tired. But I can also overcome my tiredness by going to play. So, although father says go to bed, what he really means is go play. With this kind of argumentation, a child with its father or a citizen with the authorities would run into an unmistakable response, namely, punishment. The situation is supposed to be different only with respect to Jesus’ command. In that case simple obedience is supposed to be wrong, or even to constitute disobedience. How is this possible?
It is possible, because there is actually something quite right at the basis of this wrong argumentation. Jesus’ command to the rich young man or his call into a situation that enables faith really has only the one goal of calling a person to faith in him, calling into his community. Nothing finally depends on any human deed at all; instead, everything depends on faith in Jesus as the Son of God and the mediator. Nothing finally depends on poverty or riches, marriage or the single state, having or leaving a profession. Rather, everything depends on faith. To this extent, we really are right that it is possible to believe in Christ while we have wealth and possess the goods of this world, so that we have them as if we did not have them. But this is a last possible form of Christian existence, a possibility of living in the world, only in light of the serious expectation that Christ would return in the immediate future. It is not the first and simplest possibility. A paradoxical understanding of the commandments has a Christian right to it, but it must never lead to the annulment of a simple understanding of the commandments. Rather, it is justified and possible only for those who have already taken simple obedience seriously at some point in their lives, and so already stand in community with Jesus, in discipleship, in expectation of the end. Understanding Jesus’ call paradoxically is the infinitely more difficult possibility. In human terms it is an impossible possibility, and because it is, it is always in extreme danger of being turned over into its opposite and made into a comfortable excuse for fleeing from concrete obedience. Anyone who does not know that it would be the infinitely easier way to understand Jesus’ commandment simply and obey it literally—for example, to actually give away one’s possessions at Jesus’ command instead of keeping them—has no right to a paradoxical understanding of Jesus’ word. It is therefore necessary always to include a literal understanding of Jesus’ commandment in every paradoxical interpretation.
Jesus’ concrete call and simple obedience have their own irrevocable meaning. Jesus calls us into a concrete situation in which we can believe in him. That is why he calls in such a concrete way and wants to be so understood, because he knows that people will become free for faith only in concrete obedience.
Wherever simple obedience is fundamentally eliminated, there again the costly grace of Jesus’ call has become the cheap grace of self-justification. But this too constructs a false law, which deafens people to the concrete call of Christ. This false law is the law of the world, matched by an opposing law of grace. The world here is not that world which has been won over by Christ and is daily to be won over anew in his community. Rather, it is the world which has become a rigid, inescapable law of principles. But in that case grace is also no longer the gift of the living God, rescuing us from the world for obedience to Christ. Rather, it becomes a general divine law, a divine principle, whose only use is its application to special cases. The principle of struggle against the “legalism” of simple obedience itself erects the most dangerous law of all, the law of the world and the law of grace. The struggle based on principle against legalism is itself the most legalistic attitude. It is overcome only by genuine obedience to Jesus’ gracious call to follow him. The law is fulfilled and done away with by Jesus himself for those who follow.
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