Sunday, September 3, 2017

September 3: Ecclesiastes 4 – 6; Psalm 47; Proverbs 22:16; 2 Corinthians 6:14-7:7



Overview

            Ecclesiastes: Solomon sees oppression under the sun with no one to comfort the oppressed or confront the oppressors. He says it is better to be dead or not yet even exist than to be alive and see the oppression.
            He saw people work out of envy, fools whose idleness kills them, and he says that it is better to have one handful and peace than striving for two. He saw a person without relatives and never satisfied with riches, why is he toiling away?
            It is good to have a partner in work. They can help each other work, stay warm, protect themselves. Look at a threefold cord, it is stronger.
            A poor and wise young man succeeded an old king who didn’t listen to others. The new king ruled over many people. People who came later didn’t like him. All these things are meaningless.
            When you go to the temple, listen and don’t offer foolish sacrifices making rash promises to God. God is in heaven and you are on earth so make sure you don’t yammer on and on. Too many concerns bring on restless dreams and yammering on and on makes you a fool.
            When you vow to God, fulfil it right away. He doesn’t like fools. It is better not to vow than say it was a mistake and have God angry enough to destroy your works. Fear God instead of dreaming up schemes and yammering on because that is meaningless.
            Don’t be surprised when poor people are oppressed and there is no justice. It shows that the rulers from the bottom to the king are looking out for themselves.
            People who love money are never satisfied with it. It is only good to look at. A worker with little or much can sleep easily but a person’s riches don’t let him sleep.
            A person who struggles to get rich and loses it all in a bad scheme hurts his family. He dies without anything and his children get nothing. Besides, he got it all at the cost of fretting, sickness, and anger.
            So, eat, drink, and enjoy life while you work in this life. God has only given you so many days. Enjoy your stuff because it is a gift from God. They don’t remember the hard times because they are occupied with enjoying what God has given them.
            It is evil to have all this stuff and not have the ability to enjoy them. Instead, God give it all to a stranger. If a person is not satisfied with life’s good stuff, a stillborn child is better off because the child has not seen all the evil and they both end up in the grave.
            A person’s toil should be to feed himself but he isn’t satisfied. It is vanity to know that a wise man has no advantage over a fool or a poor man who knows how to behave. It is better to see clearly than not having a satisfied appetite.
            All things have been named from long ago. What man is, is also known and he can’t argue with one stronger. Manny words just bring futility and doesn’t help anyone. No one knows what is really good for man in this life. Life passes quickly and no one knows the future.
            Psalm: God is king over all the earth so it is right to praise him. He put nations under the control of Israel. So his praise is declared with shouts, songs, and psalms. He reigns over all nations and they gather to exalt him.
            Proverbs: If you try to get rich by taking advantage of poor people or bribe the rich to get their favor, then you will become poor.
            2 Corinthians: Believers should not be in partnership with people who are not believers. Christ doesn’t share in things with the devil and God’s temple doesn’t have anything to do with idols and we are the temple of God. God said he would dwell among us and we will be their people. So, we should not be joining with unbelievers but separate from them and God will be our Father. Because of this promise, we should stay away from things that cause sin in body and spirit. Rather we should be living holy lives in fear of God.
            Paul then asks the Corinthians to make room for him and his companions. They hadn’t wronged the Corinthians in any way. He isn’t trying to lay a guilt trip on them but says he has great pride in them and comforted by them even when afflicted.
            When they were in Macedonia the were physically spent and afflicted. But God comforted them when Titus arrived explaining the Corinthians’ longing, mourning, and zeal for them. Paul then rejoiced.

What Stood Out

            Ecclesiastes: “When you vow a vow to God, do not delay paying it, for he has no pleasure in fools” (Eccl 5:4).      
            Psalm: “He chose our heritage for us, the pride of Jacob whom he loves” (Ps 47:4).
            Proverbs: “Whoever oppresses the poor to increase his own wealth, or gives to the rich, will only come to poverty” (Prov 22:16).
            2 Corinthians: “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?” (2 Cor 6:14).

Insight

            Ecclesiastes: Of all the different things in this reading most is crazy stuff that is depressing if you think this is all there is, Ecclesiastes 5:4 stands out as some true wisdom. If we really know who God is and promise him something, we really should follow through. I’m thinking about a time I was in the Navy. I wasn’t a believer at the time. I was the radioman on a flight. Something had gone wrong and there was a chance that we wouldn’t make it back to Midway Island. So, I started a prayer, “Lord, if we make it back safely, I’ll go to church every Sunday like a good Catholic.” That is where the prayer was going but I didn’t finish it. I thought to myself and knew I would never fulfill that promise. I changed it in midflight and said, “I would appreciate it if we got back safely.” We did make it back without any further incidents.
            When I became a Christian and came across this verse, it really made sense to me. God is in control of all things. We are not and we can’t make promises that we don’t have power to perform.
            Psalm: Psalm 47:4 says that God chose Israel’s heritage for them. God chooses the heritage of every one of us. He has determined from before the beginning of time where we would live, who are parents are (Acts 17:26). He has known us in the womb before we were born and he has planned every day for us and we are precious to him (Ps 139:13-17). God doesn’t make any mistakes. We are who we are because it is his design. Sure, we sin and try to mess up his plan, just like Israel did, but we can still say that he is in control and has a plan for our lives. Do we get line with his plan or do we fight against it?
            Proverbs: Do you want to get rich? The Bible warns us about the desire to have riches and how it leads to spiritual bankruptcy (1 Tim 6:9-10). Especially odious to God is oppressing the poor to do it. We should have exactly the opposite attitude and we will be spiritually rich and most likely will be better off financially.
            2 Corinthians: People most often quote 2 Corinthians 6:14 to not be unequally yoked applying it to marriage. There isn’t anything in the context that refers to marriage. In fact, the passage doesn’t really explain anything other than a partnership between righteousness and lawlessness. Don’t get me wrong, I think that the verse should be applied to marriage. There is no more intimate partnership than marriage other than our relationship with God. Because we do have an intimate relationship with God through Jesus, we should not sully that relationship by marriage to someone who doesn’t also have that relationship.
            However, we seldom apply that verse to other kinds of partnerships. We should carefully examine how a business partnership could affect us. Some forms of partnerships put all parties at financial risk and if a partner isn’t running the business with Christian principles, then we can ask as did Paul, what partnership is there between righteousness and lawlessness?
            We shouldn’t become legalistic or we would never be able to invest in corporate stocks and other things. However, we can apply the principle to ask questions like, do you want to invest in a company that does something you are morally opposed to. We need to think through our partnerships before making them.

Application

             It is comforting and reassuring to know that God is sovereign and has a plan for my life. I really need to think and plan in accordance to his will. That includes being partners with others.

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