Monday, September 4, 2017

September 4: Ecclesiastes 7 – 9; Psalm 48; Proverbs 22:17-19; 2 Corinthians 7:8-16



Overview

            Ecclesiastes: Death is better than merry life because everyone ends up dead and a wise person will mourn but fools have fun during life. It is also better to be rebuked by a wise man that listen to fools. Oppression and bribes drive a wise man crazy.
            Don’t get angry quickly because it fills the hearts of fools.
            Don’t think the good old days were better. Wise men don’t think that way. Wisdom is good for managing inheritance and should be protected like money. Wisdom and knowledge work together to save your life.
            No one can change God’s work. He has made both prosperity and austerity. You can’t know the future. Solomon saw both righteous die and wicked prolonged in life. So, he says not to be overly righteous or wise, overly wicked or foolish either could end your life too soon. Understand this and learn.
            Wisdom gives strength over rulers. There is not one righteous person who never sins. Don’t take what people say to seriously or you may hear you being cursed like you have cursed others.
            Solomon has discovered this by his wisdom but it is really far from him. So, he turned search for wisdom to learn how things work and find out how bad is wickedness and foolishness. He discovered in his search that a woman who traps a man and binds him is a bitter thing. A person who pleases God escapes her. He also found that there is at least one man in 1,000 who is righteous but not one woman. God has made men upright but they get distracted by many things.
            You can tell a wise man by his countenance; it isn’t hard but glowing.
            Be careful the way you act before kings. Obey them and don’t work for evil but what pleases them. The king is supreme and you can’t question him. Obedience will keep you from evil. A wise person will know how to act.
            Troubles come on everyone. No one can predict them. A person can’t stop death by his will power. Just as he can’t get out of serving in war, he can’t escape wickedness’ consequences.
            Solomon observed that man has power to hurt another man. He saw wicked people die after pretending to be good. Their evil wasn’t paid back quickly. Man really wants to do evil and though a sinner lives a long time; it is better for those who fear God. The wicked will not be able to prolong his life because he doesn’t fear God.
            He saw that righteous people get what evil people should and vice versa. So, work at being joyful and it will help you through the toils of life. No one can understand what God is doing on earth when people toil day and night.
            No one knows what will happen to them, love, hate, the wicked or righteous, good or crazy. God directs all and they all die. This is evil under the sun. Only the living can have hope because the dead are gone and have no reward. Even the memory of the dead vanishes. So, eat and drink and be glad because God has favor in you while you are alive. Be pure, enjoy your wife whom you love because life is meaningless. Work and do it with all your strength because you can’t after you die. You won’t have wisdom, planning, or knowledge then.
            Nothing seem fair such as the swift wining a race or hungar for the wise and other things. Men are trapped by evil time just as fish and birds are snared. It happens unexpectedly.
            He saw a great example of wisdom when a small city was besieged by a powerful king. A poor wise man saved the city but no one remembers him. Wisdom was better than strength but now, his wisdom is despised and not followed.
            The quiet words of wisdom should be followed rather than the fool’s shouting. Wisdom is better than weapons but a sinner will destroy it all.
            Psalm: The psalmist associates God’ greatness with the beauty of Jerusalem as well as his protection of the city against invasions by kings. The city is so majestic because of God’s presence that the kings run away. Israel has meditated on God’s love evidenced by his temple so that his praise is known throughout the earth. Looking at the city with its towers and defensive structures are all accredited to God for all generations.
            Proverbs: Listen to God’s wise words and work in your heart according to his knowledge. It will be pleasing to memorize them and be ready to speak them. This has been said to aid you in trusting in the Lord.
            2 Corinthians: Paul’s earlier letter made the Corinthians grieve and he regretted that they had to grieve but was glad that they had worked it out and repented. It was godly grief and they didn’t lose anything. Godly grief leads to repentance and worldly grief leads to death. Godly grief stirs up the longing to do what is right and make the corrections needed. That’s what the Corinthians did. He didn’t write to blame one or hold up the one that was wronged but to the church so that they would take action showing they were willing to follow Paul’s instruction and it would be seen by God. This comforted Paul and his companions.
            Being comforted, they had even more comfort because the Corinthians had refreshed Titus. Titus boasted about the Corinthians so that Paul was not embarrassed by them. Everything he had told Titus about them turned out to be true. Now, Titus has affection for the Corinthians as he remembered their obedience and the way they received him. Paul rejoiced because he was confident in the Corinthians to do that.

What Stood Out

            Ecclesiastes: “Be not overly righteous, and do not make yourself too wise. Why should you destroy yourself? Be not overly wicked, neither be a fool. Why should you die before your time?” (Eccl 7:16-17).           
            Psalm: “Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised in the city of our God!” (Ps 48:1).
            Proverbs: “For it will be pleasant if you keep them [God’s words and knowledge] within you, if all of them are ready on your lips” (Prov 22:18).
            2 Corinthians: “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death” (2 Cor 7:10 NIV).

Insight

            Ecclesiastes: Throughout Ecclesiastes, Solomon proclaims that he either discovered things by wisdom or he sought out things by wisdom. It is mostly human reasoning and very little revelation. It is God’s revelation to us that worldly wisdom is manifestly screwed up. If a person reading the book isn’t a Christian or versed in the Bible, you would get very wrong advice if you followed some of what he says. Ecclesiastes 7:16-17 is a great example. He says not to be overly righteous or overly wicked. The implication is that too much righteousness will kill you and being just a little wicked won’t hurt you. That is exactly what the world believes. They believe that there should be moderation in all things. They have bought into the lie that God judges on the curve.
            It is even worse to think that many Christians believe the same thing. They may not word it the same but they think that only Billy Graham or other outstanding Christians can afford to strive for righteousness. It’s just too hard for the ordinary Christian. So, they work at going to church twice a month or maybe three thinking that is awesome. They will open their Bibles on occasions. They think the book of Hesitations is in the Bible right after Malachi 5. Their pastor asks them to read Mark 17 before next Sunday and they raise their hands when he asks how many read it.
            The truth is that God wants us all to be righteous and work at it (1 Peter 1:15-16). He wants all of us to stay away from our evil desires (1 Peter 2:11). He wants us to draw close to God instead of evil and purify our minds (James 4:7-8).
            Psalm: Before Jesus came, it was thought that worship of God should only be at the temple in Jerusalem (John 4:20). When Solomon dedicated the temple, he talked about praying toward it (1 Kings 8:30) though he did say that God dwelled in heaven. This Psalm starts by declaring worship in Jerusalem. Yet, in verse 10, the Psalmist says that God’s praise reaches to the ends of the earth. If you have followed any mission organizations, you will know that his praise does reach all places on the earth. At the end of the age, it will be even more evident as all nations, tribes, peoples, and languages will stand before the throne to worship God (Rev 7:9). We don’t have to wait and we don’t have to go to Jerusalem to worship our God. We can do it every day in every place when we know Jesus (John 4:23).
            Proverbs: Do you believe that memorizing Scripture has value other than being able to show others how much of God’s word you know? Have you seen it make a difference in your life or that of another? Proverbs 22:18 assures us that life will be better when God’s word is stored in our hearts and we are ready to speak them. I would have to say that if memorizing for the sake of memorizing is all we do, then it probably doesn’t do much good because our attitude is wrong. However, when we are looking to the Lord for our wisdom and our ability to live a godly life, then memorization is important. There is one added thing in this proverb that is important. That is having them ready on our lips. I don’t think this was meant to be ready to quote them to others but to quote them to ourselves when we are tempted to sin, need God’s comfort, or want to praise and worship him.
            2 Corinthians: 2 Corinthians 7:10 is a verse that we should all know. It explains the difference between two different types of people when faced with sin in their lives. The first kind has a sorrow or grief over their sin that leads them to repent and turn to the only one who can forgive their sins. They experience forgiveness and the removal of their guilt. They can have peace and joy within when they do that.
            The second kind of people are those who recognize their sinfulness but their sorrow doesn’t lead to repentance. They may be sorry that they got caught or they may be sorry that they have hurt someone else. However, they are not repentant in the sense that they recognize their sin before God. They don’t see the accountability to God and reject the notion that they need to have God forgive them. Their guilt is not removed. Some are more sensitive than others and this guilt can eat at them causing depression and other dysfunctional problems. At the heart of all of them is sin that hasn’t been forgiven because there hasn’t been repentance. Christians can fall into this kind of sorrow as well as people who don’t know the Lord. If it gets too bad, it can end up in suicide. If they aren’t saved, this will lead eventually to eternal death because they have never had godly sorrow leading to repentance and forgiveness of their sins.
            It is vitally important for us to acknowledge our sin and repent so that we can get on with life serving our Lord to the best of our capacity.

Application

             I want to have wisdom when it comes to living life in this fallen world. However, I don’t want to have the world’s wisdom but God’s. Memorizing his word helps me live a life that doesn’t seek mediocrity in righteousness.

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