Wednesday, 30 September 2020

Just like Job


"And I declared that the dead, who had already died, are happier than the living,  who are still alive. But better than both is the one who has never been born, who has not seen the evil  that is done under the sun." - Ecclesiastes 4:2-3

Solomon's woes continue in today's reading and his words sound a lot like the words of Job, who also lamented that the day he was born. "After this, Job opened his mouth and cursed the day of his birth" (Job 3:1)

If we dissect Solomon's thoughts in these 2 verses, we can see that he is highlighting three groups of people. Firstly, those who have died. Secondly, those who are still alive and then, thirdly, those people who are still to be born. This is all done with the background of his observation of oppression. His response to those who have no comforter (both the oppressed and oppressors) is this:

1. The dead are better off, because they are now free from the pain and trials of this oppressive world.

2. Those of us who are alive are worst off, because we still need to witness the agony of oppression and 'heart-break' in our world.

3. Those who are best off are the unborn children, as they are still innocent and haven't yet had their hearts broken by the sins of humanity.

Shew, this is all a little too depressing for me to be honest. Thankfully, we know the Good News that comes from Jesus Christ and that our Saviour offers us hope in the midst of all our struggles. Jesus offers us 'the abundant life' even though there is still pain all around us. For me, Jesus Christ gives me a reason to push through all the heart-break I see around me.

What do you think?

Living in Grace

D3LM3




Tuesday, 29 September 2020

No comforter


It has been said that Mark Twain wrote so bitterly at times because he felt so deeply about things. I can't argue this point at all, but I do feel we could suggest the same for Solomon. As we move into chapter 4 we see that his writing continues to be filled with desperation. Even though he turns now to address issues on a society level, we clearly see his despair.

"Again I looked and saw all the oppression that was taking place under the sun:

I saw the tears of the oppressed—
and they have no comforter;
power was on the side of their oppressors—
and they have no comforter." - 4:1

It is interesting that he see that both the oppressor and the oppressed seem to have no one to comfort them. Initially I thought 'why should the oppressor have someone to comfort them?Surely, it is only the oppressed who need comfort?' But, then I was challenged by a Biblical commentator who suggested that the reason why the powerful oppress others is because the lack contentment and peace. They take their frustrations out on others - usually in a very destructive way.

Thankfully, Jesus offers to bring comfort to all people and to those who call on his name Jesus offers perfect peace.

John 14:16 - And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate (Comforter) to help you and be with you forever.

Living in Grace
D3LM3

Monday, 28 September 2020

We share the same fate



Shew Solomon really seems to be having a bad-hair day towards the end of chapter 3. His dark mood permeates the end of this amazingly complex chapter, but we have come to expect this of him. Remember that I encouraged us to read Ecclesiastes 12 before we started chapter 1? The reason for this was to remind us that Solomon eventually gets things straightened out in his heart, but he goes through a lot of turbulence before he makes peace with the Lord. 

"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. " - Ecclesiastes 3:18-22

A few words of Solomon's rant grab my attention today:

1. People and animals are given life by God and we will all return to dust one day. 

2. Could Solomon be suggesting that animals and humans will be together in the afterlife? Quite a comforting thought for many of us.

3. We spend a large portion of our lives in some kind of work - best we enjoy this as much as we can or perhaps find something that fulfils us. 

4. Solomon never knew Jesus, but it is reassuring for us that Jesus has conquered death and given us a foretaste of eternal life with him.

What do you think?

Living in Grace

D3LM3

Sunday, 27 September 2020

Called to account


Whatever is has already been,
and what will be has been before;
and God will call the past to account.

And I saw something else under the sun:
In the place of judgment—wickedness was there,
in the place of justice—wickedness was there.

I said to myself,
“God will bring into judgment
both the righteous and the wicked,
for there will be a time for every activity,
a time to judge every deed.” -
Ecclesiastes 3:15-17

There is definitely a clear sense of the inevitable in Solomon's words today. It is inevitable that we will all be called to account for our actions one day. And it is also inevitable that 'what will be, will be!'
In my opinion Que Sera Sera is not a 'shrugging of the shoulders with no hope', but rather a realisation that my life is in God's hands and I need to trust in God's wisdom.

What do you think of today's reading?

Living in grace
D3LM3

Saturday, 26 September 2020

God's gift to us


When one pauses to think about the many blessings and gifts God has given to us we realise that there are many of them. Here are a few that came to my mind this morning:

Life
Grace
Family
Friendship
Creation
Community
Jesus

Solomon adds another few to this list:

"I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God. I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that people will fear him." - Ecclesiastes 3:12-14

Our gift is to find meaning and satisfaction in our daily toil. Is that something you would agree with? Have you experienced this yourself?

"What we are is God's gift to us. What we become is our gift to God." - Eleanor Powell

Living in Grace

D3LM3

Friday, 25 September 2020

What has God done?


"What do workers gain from their toil? I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end." - Ecclesiastes 3:9-10

There are 2 clear thoughts coming from our reading today. Solomon argues that God has 'done' two things for the human race. One seems a little hard, while the other is a longing for the future. He comes to the conclusion that 'work' is the burden that God has laid upon the human race, but with a little patience, we can see the beauty in that. Hard work and toil will reap a reward.

The other key thought is that we are created with a longing for eternity. It is Solomon's opinion that each person is born with a part of their heart set for life beyond this world. This conclusion could have come to him as he reflected on the purpose of his life. Surely there is more to eating, drinking, working, growing old and then dying. We all long for something more, which he calls Eternity.

How have you experienced these thoughts before?

"Time is but the shadow of the world upon the background of Eternity." - Jerome

Living in Grace

D3LM3


War and Peace


 "...a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace." - Ecclesiastes 3:8

I am often tempted to only read Ecclesiastes 3 from my personal point of view. However, when I do this I come to readings like v.8 and then get stumped. I think to myself, "I haven't waged war on anyone and I don't really want to hate anyone." Of course, we can interpret Solomon's words in a way of being at peace/war with our friends, family or community - and there are plenty of opportunities for us to experience both extremes in one lifetime.

On the other hand, Solomon reminds us that war, peace, love and hate will all occur at some point in our lifetime. We may not choose these options or even have control over them, but when you have lived long enough, you recognise these things have taken place. If I think back over my life, I have witnessed all of these at some point - not all on a personal level, but globally and in our own country. 

Seasons come and go with our consent and without it. I believe my role is to submit to the Lordship of Jesus and to trust that God will guide me through all the seasons and times I have to face. Without God in my life I would be overwhelmed with a sense of hopelessness, especially when things happen around me.

Does that make any sense to you?

"“We can know only that we know nothing. And that is the highest degree of human wisdom.” - Leo Tolstoy (War  and Peace)

Living in Grace

D3LM3

Wednesday, 23 September 2020

A time to count our losses


This year has been a year like no other! We have gone through highs and lows - and then more highs and more lows. The roller-coaster ride has been hectic. One of the things we have tried to focus on is the IMPORTANT things in our lives. It has been a time of soul-searching and deep reflection. Perhaps if Solomon had been alive in 2020, he would have written the same words he penned thousands of years ago:

"A time to gain, And a time to lose;
A time to keep, And a time to throw away;
A time to tear, And a time to sew;
A time to keep silence, And a time to speak." (Ecclesiastes 3:6-7)

These words in the modern paraphrase are written so well. Eugene Peterson has a gift with words - he says:

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,

What are some of the things you have had to let go of this year?
What things have you mended?
Have you managed to speak at the appropriate times and then remain silent at others?

Living in Grace
D3LM3



Tuesday, 22 September 2020

What season are you in?


There is ...
"...a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance, 
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing."
- Ecclesiastes 3:4-6

The familiarity of Solomon's words may dull our understanding of his actual meaning. However as we pause and reflect deeply on the words, we see how he acknowledges that over his life-time he has seen definite times when he had to cry at the loss of someone, or laugh as he danced at a wedding. 

He also understood that there would be moments when we would need to gather stones in order to build a wall or clear a vineyard, but also there would be a time to cast stones into an enemies plot of land. 

The last part of today's reading is interesting for us. For this to make some sense, perhaps think about how we had to endure the early days of Lockdown, where we were not allowed to see loved ones and friends. That was a 'time' and 'season' to refrain from embracing, through circumstances that were beyond our control. Hopefully we can move into a new season that allow us to embrace again. 

Perhaps Solomon was thinking about times in his life where he had the gift of his family close by, but then there were times when he travelled far away and wasn't able to be with his loved ones?

What season are you currently finding yourself in?

Living in Grace
D3LM3

Monday, 21 September 2020

Cycles and Seasons


The 3rd chapter of Ecclesiastes is arguably the most well known passage from this collection of wisdom. It is recited at funerals, before new adventures, at opening ceremonies and even at weddings. Solomon muses over the fact that God seems to give us cycles in our lives. We call these cycles "seasons" and if we live long enough, we come to recognise that these moments come and go.  

"For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.
A time to be born and a time to die.
A time to plant and a time to harvest.
A time to kill and a time to heal.
A time to tear down and a time to build up."
- Ecclesiastes 3:1-3

The knowledge of these seasons/cycles could make us depressed, but they could also have a wonderful tone of hope for us. Think about going through a difficult season in your life (and maybe some of us are experiencing this today) - the good news is that this will not last forever. The cycle of our lives will move us into better times. 

Just as those people who hate the winter seasons (as an example), know that the weather will change in time and they can enjoy longer days of sunshine. What keeps these people strong, is the knowledge that seasons DO change.

Perhaps the danger for us is in doubting the existence of God during these tougher cycles in our lives. It is important for us to be at Peace, trusting that the Lord will move us from one season into the the next.

What do you think about this?

Living in Grace
D3LM3

Sunday, 20 September 2020

Three things


 At the end of his reflections in chapter 2, Solomon decides that Life comes down to just three things:

"A person can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in their own toil. This too, I see, is from the hand of God, for without him, who can eat or find enjoyment?" (v.24-25)

1. Eating

2. Drinking

3. Finding satisfaction in work

Solomon comes to this conclusion as a result of realising that your possessions are left for those who come after you. So, if you don't find satisfaction in your toil and in the gift of eating and drinking, then you will not find it at all. I am not sure I agree with his thoughts, but I can see what he is getting at. Life is short and mysterious. If we can give thanks to God for all that we are given, it will give us a different attitude towards life.

In 1793, George Jacques Danton, a leader of the French Revolution, scratched the words “Eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we may die” into the walls of an French eatery known as La Mère Cathérine. 

Living in Grace
D3LM3


Thursday, 17 September 2020

Work and worry


There are millions of people who would agree that their work includes a huge amount of worry. We worry about pleasing people at work. We worry about whether we will still have a job if the economy changes. We worry if our job is not satisfying us. We worry that we may not have enough money to pay the bills and should we look for a new job? Work and Worry go hand in hand it seems. And Solomon would agree:

"You work for something with all your wisdom, knowledge, and skill, and then you have to leave it all to someone who hasn't had to work for it. It is useless, and it isn't right!  You work and worry your way through life, and what do you have to show for it? As long as you live, everything you do brings nothing but worry and heartache. Even at night your mind can't rest. It is all useless." - Ecclesiastes 2:21-23 (Good News)

Do you feel that you are also 'working and worrying' your way through life at the moment? If this is the case, then I offer you the wonderful words of Jesus as a help. 

Luke 12: 22 - "Then Jesus said to the disciples, “And so I tell you not to worry about the food you need to stay alive or about the clothes you need for your body.

"Can any of you live a bit longer by worrying about it?" (v.25)

Living in Grace

D3LM3

Wednesday, 16 September 2020

Why do you work so hard?


Today's reading leaves me with a huge dilemma and it involves how hard we work. Let's see what it says first:

"Nothing that I had worked for and earned meant a thing to me, because I knew that I would have to leave it to my successor, and he might be wise, or he might be foolish—who knows? Yet he will own everything I have worked for, everything my wisdom has earned for me in this world. It is all useless. So I came to regret that I had worked so hard." - Ecclesiastes 2:18-20

At a glance we see that Solomon is concerned that his years of hard labour, grinding effort and sacrifices are going to be handed over to his children and he is not sure if they will appreciate those gifts. In the end, he has no control over how they will react when he has passed on, but I guess he does have another option. That option is to instruct his kids in the best way possible and to trust that they will appreciate his inheritance and the legacy he leaves. 

Of course there is no guarantee of this and history tells us that his son (and successor) Rehoboam wasn't well received by the people of Israel. In fact, 10 out of the 12 tribes refused to accept him as their king and so he only ruled over the Kingdom of Judah (or the Southern King). 

I am a little uncomfortable with the last part of today's reading where he says: "I came to regret that I had worked so hard." The reason I am uncomfortable is more along the lines of finding a balance. It is TRUE that we should never make work our Idol and pursue our careers at the cost of family and other important values. However, there is also merit in working our best/hardest, as if we are working for the Lord (Colossians 3:23). 

What do you think? Or am I perhaps just over-analysing Solomon's point?

Living in Grace

D3LM3

Tuesday, 15 September 2020

The fool can't see



For a long time foolishness has been associated with blindness, which is pretty harsh on people who are visually impaired. What Solomon means in today's passage is that foolish people choose 'NOT' to see the truth that is before them. Their pride blinds them from recognising the error of their ways.

"Now I began a study of the comparative virtues of wisdom and folly, and anyone else would come to the same conclusion I did that wisdom is of more value than foolishness, just as light is better than darkness; for the wise man sees, while the fool is blind. And yet I noticed that there was one thing that happened to wise and foolish alike— just as the fool will die, so will I. So of what value is all my wisdom? Then I realized that even wisdom is futile. For the wise and fool both die, and in the days to come both will be long forgotten." - Ecclesiastes 2: 12-16

Solomon takes his musing to another level when he notes that both the wise and foolish share the same fate. We will all pass away. This seems to make him thoroughly depressed and makes him question the need to gain wisdom.

I personally believe that it is important to know the brevity of life, and that we all will end up experiencing death, but that this fact should motivate us to make wise decisions while we can. The decisions we make can impact the quality of our lives - foolish decisions can only complicate our lives.

Thoughts?

Living in Grace

D3LM3

Monday, 14 September 2020

Taking stock

    When I Survey the Wondrous Cross - Lyrics, Hymn Meaning and Story

I really appreciate Solomon's willingness to take stock of his life and to be 100% honest about how he feels. One gets the impression that there may be time to make amends on some of the bad choices he had made. This is what he says in Ecclesiastes:

10 "I denied myself nothing my eyes desired;
    I refused my heart no pleasure.
My heart took delight in all my labor,
    and this was the reward for all my toil.
11 Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done
    and what I had toiled to achieve,
everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind;
    nothing was gained under the sun." - 2:10-11

As I was reading these words I was struck by the word 'surveyed' - it spoke to me of someone willing to take stock of a situation before proceeding. It also reminded me of that glorious hymn 'When I survey the wondrous cross' - when we look at our lives in light of Jesus hopefully all things come into proper perspective.

Question: When last did you take stock of your life?

When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of glory died
My richest gain I count but loss
And pour contempt on all my pride.

Where every realm of nature mine
My gift was still be far too small
Love so amazing, so divine
Demands my soul, my life, my all

Living in Grace

D3LM3

Sunday, 13 September 2020

The Experiment with Pleasure

Ecclesiastes 2:1 "I said in mine heart, Go to now, I will prove thee with  mirth, therefore enjoy pleasure: and, … | Lyric quotes, Perks of being a  wallflower, Words

The writer of Ecclesiastes tells us that in order to enjoy life he tried everything that our world has to offer. It was an experiment in pleasure for him, but in the end, it still left him feeling utterly empty. Many of these pleasures gave him a little moment of happiness, but in the long run they still didn't satisfy his deepest longings.

"I said to myself, “Let’s go for it—experiment with pleasure, have a good time!” But there was nothing to it, nothing but smoke. What do I think of the fun-filled life? Insane! Inane! My verdict on the pursuit of happiness? Who needs it? With the help of a bottle of wine and all the wisdom I could muster, I tried my level best to penetrate the absurdity of life. I wanted to get a handle on anything useful we mortals might do during the years we spend on this earth." - Ecclesiastes 2:1-3 (Message)

One of the hardest things a parent learns is that we can warn our kids that there are many things that won't satisfy their desire for a good LIFE, but in the long run they will have to learn those lessons the hard way. Solomon learnt his lessons the hard way and now he is try to tell us all that the Experiment with Pleasure is not the answer!

"We go on in our pleasures thinking they're going to last forever." - Billy Graham

"Boundaries are to protect life, not to limit pleasures." - Edwin Louis Cole

Living in Grace
D3LM3

Saturday, 12 September 2020

When knowledge hurts

    Pin on The Sword

It never really occurred to me that knowledge could cause you more hurt. As first glance it doesn't even make sense. However, the more I think about it, the more I understand what Solomon was getting at:

"For with much wisdom comes much sorrow; the more knowledge, the more grief." - Ecclesiastes 1:18

If you think about it like this, it may make more sense: When we read the newspaper, watch the TV or search the internet, we are gaining knowledge all the time. Each article or post we read we are gathering more information and hence acquiring more knowledge. Some of this information is good for us, but there is a whole lot that can also make us depressed.

Another reason why we acquire knowledge is so that we can try answer the complex questions of life. However, the more we delve into various collections of wisdom, discoveries, history and information, we begin to realise how little we actually know. That can also be depressing.

What do you think Solomon means by verse 18? 

"Much learning earns you much trouble. The more you know, the more you hurt." (Eugene Peterson)

Living in Grace

D3LM3


Thursday, 10 September 2020

The Corkscrew

                                                               basic cork screw – Cheer Store  

"What is crooked cannot be straightened; what is lacking cannot be counted." - Ecclesiastes 1:15 (NIV)

"Life’s a corkscrew that can’t be straightened, a minus that won’t add up." (The Message)

When Solomon tried to figure out the complexities of life he came to the realisation that Life was like a corkscrew - in other words Life was so twisted and crooked that it couldn't be straightened out. There was no hope at all. 

Even though we may fully relate to what he is saying, we should never forget that with Jesus life can take on REAL meaning. I would agree that if I take a look at 'life' without the love of Jesus it does look a lot more bleak. 

I still hold onto the hope that Jesus can heal our brokenness. All the things that are messed up in my life can be straightened out through the grace of God's love and the power of His spirit.

"When Jesus came down from the mountainside, large crowds followed him. A man with leprosy came and knelt before him and said, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.” Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” Immediately he was cleansed of his leprosy..." (Matthew 8)

What do you feel about this? 

"What is crooked can’t be straightened; what is not there can’t be counted." - Complete Jewish Bible

Living in Grace

D3LM3


Wednesday, 9 September 2020

Chasing the Wind

Chasing After The Wind – THE NERDY THEOLOGIAN

Have you ever tried to catch a piece of paper that is flying in the wind? It's difficult isn't? Now, have you ever tried to chase the wind itself? It is totally impossible to achieve that feat and that is Solomon's point when he writes:

"I, the Teacher, was king of Israel, and I lived in Jerusalem. 13 I devoted myself to search for understanding and to explore by wisdom everything being done under heaven. I soon discovered that God has dealt a tragic existence to the human race. 14 I observed everything going on under the sun, and really, it is all meaningless—like chasing the wind.

15 What is wrong cannot be made right.
    What is missing cannot be recovered.

16 I said to myself, “Look, I am wiser than any of the kings who ruled in Jerusalem before me. I have greater wisdom and knowledge than any of them.” 17 So I set out to learn everything from wisdom to madness and folly. But I learned firsthand that pursuing all this is like chasing the wind." - Ecclesiastes 1:12-17

In trying to find the answers to all of life's BIG questions Solomon searched everywhere - all human wisdom at his disposal - but he found no satisfactory answers. It was like he was chasing the wind. There was going to be no answers in human knowledge, but rather in discovering the purposes of God.

As you seek to follow God may you find the answers you are looking for.

Living in Grace

D3LM3


Tuesday, 8 September 2020

Why bother?

Bible Verses about Ecclesiastes 1

"History merely repeats itself. It has all been done before. Nothing under the sun is truly new.  Sometimes people say, “Here is something new!” But actually it is old; nothing is ever truly new.  We don’t remember what happened in the past, and in future generations, no one will remember what we are doing now." - Ecclesiastes 1:9-11

I feel there is a lot of truth in what these verses point out today, but there is also a very real danger for us. 

The truth is that History does often repeat itself. There are many lessons we could learn from those who have gone on before us, but we seldom do. This becomes our burden to bear and our personal choice to heed the warnings of history or not.

The danger in these verses lurks in the writers sentiment that 'no one will remember what we are doing now.' This is true on the one hand, but can also leave us feeling a little fatalistic on the other hand. If we develop a 'why bother' attitude then this could affect our relationships, work, friendships, dreams and life in general. 

As Christians we do have a purpose in Life and that is to glorify Jesus and to love our neighbour as we love ourselves.

Living in Grace

D3LM3

Monday, 7 September 2020

Content?

http://thechristianupdate.com/new/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/contentment.png How content are you at the moment? Rate yourself out of 10. The writer of Ecclesiastes hits home to us today that we live in times where people are so discontented with everything. As soon as we get the things we desire, we start looking for the next thing. All the time we are praying that this will be the silver bullet for us - surely this will give us peace!? "Everything is wearisome beyond description. No matter how much we see, we are never satisfied. No matter how much we hear, we are not content." - Ecclesiastes 1:8 I am not sure if you can relate to this sentiment today, but if you can, then read these words from Paul. They may guide us into a new way - the way of Christ. "Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little." - Philippians 4:11-12 That is the secret. This is what Solomon was after. May you find peace and contentment today. Living in Grace D3LM3

Saturday, 5 September 2020

Great question!

NLT Bible Verse on Twitter: ""Generations come and generations go, but the  earth never changes. The sun rises and the sun sets, then hurries around to  rise again." Ecclesiastes 1:4-5, NLT #NewLivingTranslation #

The writer of Ecclesiastes asks such a brilliant question today: 

"What do people gain from all their labours at which they toil under the sun?" - v.3

This is a question which has plagued people for thousands of years. What do we get from all the years of work? What purpose is there in working our hearts out in order to 'survive' and then die? It seems a little dramatic, but as he came to the end of his life, he was wondering what the purpose of his life had been? And then in order to try and begin to answer the question he looks around at the world and muses...

 Generations come and generations go,
    but the earth remains forever.
The sun rises and the sun sets,
    and hurries back to where it rises.
The wind blows to the south
    and turns to the north;
round and round it goes,
    ever returning on its course.
All streams flow into the sea,
    yet the sea is never full.
To the place the streams come from,
    there they return again.

My 5 cents worth today is this:  Life will be monotonous and will lack direction unless we surrender to the will and purpose of God. I believe that God allowed me to be born and that God wants me to live my life for his glory and purpose. This doesn't make me a puppet, but rather a willing part of God's grand creation. I will not live forever, but I can testify to the Grandeur of a gracious God and trust my future days into his hands.

In some way the routine and ritual of the rising and setting sun, as well as the wind and streams around us, can be a calming reassurance that God's ways are purposeful and refreshing.

What do you think of these verses today?

Living in grace

D3LM3

Thursday, 3 September 2020

Ecclesiastes - Koheleth

                                                Introduction to Ecclesiastes – The Bruised Reed

It is interesting that many of us know the Bibilical book of Wisdom by it's Latin name (Ecclesiastes), rather than its Hebrew name Koheleth. This Hebrew term for Ecclesiastes implies someone who addresses a gathering of people - in some versions of the Bible he calls himself the 'Preacher.' 

"The words of Kohelet the son of David, king in Yerushalayim:" - Ecclesiastes 1:1 (Complete Jewish Bible)

Regardless of this little piece of trivia, we are still left with a deep sense of hopelessness coming from the writer of this book. The Preacher/Teacher asks some profound questions and may leave many of us waiting for a suitable answer or solution to his woes. One commentator writes:

"...if the lines of quest and perplexity which go out from Ecclesiastes are left broken and hanging in the void, the Christian gospel accepts the task of carrying them through to triumphant assurance." (Interpreter's Bible)

What this offers to us as the modern reader is this: 

All our longings, confusions, questions and perplexities are answered in the person of Jesus Christ. Our thoughts are deliberately directed to the person of Jesus and not the philosophy of any human mind. Our Quest for meaning in life can be solved by an encounter with the living Lord.

Well, that's what I think. How about you?

John 14:6 -  Yeshua said, “I AM the Way — and the Truth and the Life; no one comes to the Father except through me.

Living in Grace

D3LM3

Wednesday, 2 September 2020

Useless

Ecclesiastes 1. 2 Poster - Vanity of vanities, says the Teacher, vanity of  vanities! All is vanity.

Imagine keeping a private journal of your most intimate thoughts and feelings, only to discover that someone has leaked your gut-wrenching, heart-breaking contents all over the internet. How would you feel? I am sure it would be totally devasting for all of us!

When you read through the book of Ecclesiastes one gets the impression that Solomon has been writing in his journal, wrestling for years with many different thoughts and emotions, only to realise that his struggles are the same struggles as everyone else's. 

So, in the end, Solomon decides to 'leak' the contents of his journal to the world himself. And in the end, we get the privilege of reading his intimate thoughts in Ecclesiastes and we find that God speaks to us, equally through his wisdom and through his pain.

"Useless! Useless! Completely Useless!

Everything is useless!" - Ecclesiastes 1:2 (NCV)

To understand Solomon's despair we must remember that he was a man who had everything that the world would consider "success". There was nothing he didn't have or couldn't buy, YET he still felt empty and he struggled with true meaning.

The phrase we see in today's verse is translated into many different words, but they all convey the essential meaning of frustration and futility. In some versions of the Bible the word is translated as:

Vanity, Meaningless, Futility, Smoke, Pointless, Vapour...

Today, I am drawn to the Amplied version, which says:

"Vapor of vapors and futility of futilities, says the Preacher. Vapor of vapors and futility of futilities! All is vanity."

The reason that this stands out for me is because it corresponds withe James' teaching about Life and how our lives are just like a vapour - here today and gone tomorrow. Now I say this not to make us depressed but rather to spur us on towards love and gratitude.

What will you do with the knowledge that your life is like a Vapour?

Living in Grace

D3LM3


Tuesday, 1 September 2020

A prayer for Spring

Flower season in Cape Town: The official guide

As we enter into this new season of Spring, it is wonderful to be reminded of new beginnings, second chances and hope. I have put together a lovely little prayer with pictures for you to enjoy. Please click on this link for the Spring Prayer and you are welcome to share with anyone who may enjoy it.

Remember that God is in the business of re-creating and bringing us back from the wilderness.

God bless you.

Living in Grace

D3LM3


Monday, 31 August 2020

Finding your way in the dark

 A man in the dark | 38 | *Berlín* | Flickr

Finding you way in the dark is not an easy exercise. 

When the lights go out due to unexpected power failures, load-shedding, or no money in the meter, then you have to resort to stumbling around in the dark. Of course the better you know your home, the easier it is to work out where you are and to make a plan. This reminds me of a lovely quote:

Alexander Maclaren, the 19th Century Scottich preacher said that, "Those who know the path to God, can find it in the dark."

When our lives are filled with sudden darkness, let us not lose hope but rather find our way back to the heart of God. Walk the well trodden path and know that God is still at Home.

Luke 15:20 “So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long distance away, his father saw him coming, and was filled with loving pity and ran and embraced him and kissed him."

Living in Grace

D3LM3

Sunday, 30 August 2020

Hold unswervingly

 ChurchoftheNazarene on Twitter: "Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we  profess, for he who promised is faithful. Hebrews 10:23 #Nazarene… "

"Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful." - Hebrews 10:23

This was one of the verses from our Sunday message today. There is so much power and truth in this short verse, that I think we should pause and contemplate it in more detail. These are the things that stand out for me:

1. I need to hold onto Jesus's promises...

2. Hope is not just a vague ideal, but something (someone) we need believe in ...

3. God keeps his promises...

4. God is Faithful when all else is crumbling around us...

So as you head off into the new week why don't you take this verse with you? God bless you.

"Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise." (NLT)

"So let’s do it—full of belief, confident that we’re presentable inside and out. Let’s keep a firm grip on the promises that keep us going. He always keeps his word." (The Message)

Living in Grace

D3LM3