A Life Worthy

Today’s readings: Ephesians 4:1-16, Ecclesiastes 8

Today I thought it might be helpful to spend sometime meditating on just one of the verses from the 2 chapters to read today.

“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” Ephesians 4:2

Paul encouraged the Ephesians to adopt these four character traits in order to live a life worthy of their calling. As I considered these over the past day or so I couldn’t help but meditate on how Jesus perfectly modelled them for us.

Jesus is completely humble

Jesus created the World. He owns it. He rules it. When he was abused and misunderstood, when he was whipped and beaten, he could have blown them away in a fashion more fantastic than any Avenger in a Marvel movie.

And yet he didn’t. He laid down his rights. He let the little children come to him. He commended and comforted the widow. He brought peace to the demon possessed.

He did not trumpet to the world how good he was or thunder about how much respect they should have shown him. He did not jump up and down on the spot and tantrum about his rights. He was selfless and served to the point of death, even death on a cross.

O Lord, today I want to live a life worthy of my calling – I want to be more humble like Jesus.

Jesus is completely gentle

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. … For I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your soul”. Matthew 11:28-30

Jesus is not gruff. He will not crush a broken spirit or a bleeding heart. He will not judge a repentant sinner. He is not sarcastic. He is gentle.

I am not completely gentle. I get worked up about those with whom I disagree and get angry. Even if it doesn’t come out of my mouth (as it too often does) inside I rage with righteous indignation about kids not doing their chores, work colleagues who just “don’t get it”, drivers who abuse cyclists and SSM campaigners – just to name a few.

O Lord, today, I want to live a life worthy of my calling – I want to be gentle like Jesus.

Jesus is completely patient.

How many Christian’s did Saul kill before Jesus saved him? How many men did Rahab sleep with before God saved her from Jericho? How many excuses did Moses use to avoid conflict with Pharaoh when God called to him from the burning bush? How many Africans did John Newton sell into slavery before God revealed his Amazing Grace?

Peter asked “How many times should I forgive a brother who sins against me, 7 times?” Jesus answer: 70 times 7!

I get annoyed when I am lined up in the Coffee queue, or I have to wait for the next train. Yet I have lost count of the times Jesus has heard me confess the same set of sins or have to learn the same lessons over again.

O Lord, today I want to live a life worthy of my calling – I want to be more patient like Jesus.

Jesus completely bears with us.

See Jesus weeping with Martha and Mary when Lazarus Died. See how he sympathised with the woman who had been bleeding for 20 years. Watch him comforting the grieving parents whose young son had just died. See how he fed the hungry thousands on the hill side. Watch him befriend lonely Zacheus. Hear him reassure the guilty thief who died beside him on the cross.

Oh Lord. I want to live a life worthy of my calling – Help me to bear in love with those that cross my path today.

Amen.

Peter.

 

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Ecclesiastes 7 contrasts wisdom and foolishness. While this should be a no brainer, (surely everyone would rather be thought wise than a fool), it does contain some moments to pause and think. Even our teacher, who has tested so much of life to understand it’s purpose finds that wisdom is hard to attain.

All this I tested by wisdom and I said,

‘I am determined to be wise’–
but this was beyond me.
Whatever exists is far off and most profound –
who can discover it?
So I turned my mind to understand,
to investigate and to search out wisdom and the scheme of things
and to understand the stupidity of wickedness
and the madness of folly.

If wisdom, even for such a learned man, was found to be beyond him, who can be wise? Or perhaps, where does wisdom come from, if we can’t attain it by simply setting our mind to it?

No doubt this question brings to mind Proverbs 9:10:

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,
and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight

If you truly want to be wise, you need to truly know God. And this is exactly what Paul is praying for the Ephesians in Ephesians 3:14-21

I hope the deep truth revealed in this passage strikes you profoundly. To truly know the full extent of God’s love, requires the power of God. We don’t truly know God until He reveals himself to us.

If you want to know the full extent of God’s love for you—to really grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ – ask God to strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your heart through faith.

As we come up to the 500th anniversary of the reformation, it is great to remember these truths – that God reveals himself to us, not through any merit of our effort, but as a free gift of grace.

  • Sola Fide, by faith alone.
  • Sola Scriptura, by Scripture alone.
  • Solus Christus, through Christ alone.
  • Sola Gratia, by grace alone.
  • Soli Deo Gloria, glory to God alone.

Mystery

Ephesians 3: 1-13

So here we are on a Monday, the weekend but a dream already. Let me take you back to Sunday. If you were at church, walk with me, in your imagination, through the entrance doors again. Who do you see in the foyer? Inside the auditorium, who is seated in front of you, beside you, across the aisle from you? Who is missing? Do you share a cup of tea or coffee with anyone? Chat with anyone? Wave goodbye to anyone? Hear a story of happiness or difficulty? Meet someone new?

Paul writes in Ephesians 3 that he is in prison, essentially for defending and advancing the big story of God’s love for all humanity. There is, Paul says, an extraordinary mystery, that God is drawing all things together in Christ, and that includes each one of us. The church, that ordinary, wonderful, messy group of men, women and children who we rubbed shoulders with yesterday, is the precious embodiment of this mystery. Under Christ, we ‘have become fellow heirs, members of the same body, and sharers in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.’ (verse 6) The barriers of class, past, gender, age, intelligence, beauty, and race are completely overpowered by the boundless riches of Christ. The church, writes Paul, is ‘the wisdom of God in its rich variety.’ (verse 10)

Mystery in the Bible is not a problem or conundrum to be solved, in the way that a good murder mystery resolves. Mystery is a precious truth which is multifaceted, slowly being revealed and unfolded, and never fully contained in a neat intellectual argument or even words.

Paul says that somehow the mystery of the church reflects the mystery of Christ, through whom we belong to both God and each other. What does God’s plan for creation look like? It looks like the church; inclusive and diverse, grace founded and driven, shared. And if that raises more questions for you than it answers then, welcome to the mystery 🙂

 

From the rising of the sun

The sun rises and the sun sets,
and hurries back to where it rises. – Ecclesiastes 1.5

The sun rises on a new day – what will this day bring?  Is it just another routine meaningless day blurring one into another as the sentiment of the Teacher in Ecclesiastes 1 verse 5 seems to imply.  Life can become so cyclic.  But it doesn’t have to be that way.

When was the last time you were up to take in a sunrise or a sunset?  Someone once wrote “There’s a sunrise and a sunset every single day, and they’re absolutely free.  Don’t miss so many of them.”

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Commuting to Sydney for work, I get to see many sunrises throughout the year, even if it is a fleeting glimpse over the ocean as I drive safely up Mt Ousley Road.  Similarly in the winter months I get to see the sunset across Maddens Plains on the trip back home.
In making his point, the writer of Ecclesiastes fails to appreciate these daily natural wonders.  Do they become something we take for granted?  I expect that like me, on those days where I take the time to sit and take in a sunrise or sunset – that it is easy to reflect on the power and wonder of God as I marvel at the work of his heavenly palate.

From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the name of the LORD is to be praised – Psalm 113:3
The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. – Psalm 19:1

May each sunrise give us a spiritual awakening.

Awakening – Chris Tomlin
Like the rising sun that shines
From the darkness comes a light
I hear Your voice and this is my
Awakening

Is Life Really Meaningless?

Today’s reading is taken from Ecclesiastes 3:16 – 4:16 & Ephesians 2:1-10.

I work in the corporate world and some days it just feels like the saying that goes – ‘another day, another dollar…’ It’s not like I’m saving lives, is it? How is what I do achieving anything real, anything worth mentioning? Is what I do meaningless? Is life itself meaningless?

The book of Ecclesiastes can be called one of the strangest books in the Old Testament. Its contradictions, skepticism and ambiguities make it a hard contender to be part of the inspired Word of God. The ‘teacher’ who narrates or authors the book questions his surroundings and points to the realities of corruption, oppression, toil and loneliness. His conclusion – it’s all meaningless! (3:19b; 4:4b, 7, 8b, 16b) Our every effort to try and make something of ourselves, or our very attempt at surviving the odyssey of life is it seems – a chasing after the wind (4:16b).

The ‘teacher’ I would say is provisionally right. He makes a good case on all human endeavor which is futile and unable to achieve any ultimate or lasting good. The purpose of the writing is to remind us of the kind of confidence we should have (or not have) in the things of this world. As you compare the excerpt from Ecclesiastes to the one in Ephesians, you start to see the other side of the picture. Yes, all human endeavor which is anchored in our own strength is meaningless and will achieve nothing worthwhile. However, as Christians reading Ecclesiastes, we know a great truth the ‘teacher’ -at the time he wrote the book- didn’t. We know of Jesus Christ who demonstrates the very purpose of his creation in Eph. 2:3-10 and whose death and resurrection announces hope for a world that has been frustrated by sin. A world where men base their rise and fall on their own merits and mistakes. What they/we fail to understand is that without Christ and the Holy Spirit aiding every breath we take and every move we make, all our efforts amount to a donut.

As I go back to work today, I am reminded that if it weren’t for Jesus Christ my savior, my toil would be meaningless – a chasing after the wind. But I have been made alive in Christ, by grace through faith. His life and work gives meaning to mine. Every effort I make, rooted in faith yields fruit – not for my glory but for His. For I am God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for me to do (Eph. 2:10).

Check out this skit on Eph. 2:10 — https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3QCkBL2DfVg

Have a blessed day!

Sam, KIC

 

 

“All is a Chasing After Wind”

All is a Chasing After Wind”

Ecclesiastes 2

Pleasures, Wisdom, Folly and Toil, are all judged to be without meaning when life is placed in its larger context. So the writer came to hate life (v.17) which he judged finally to be meaningless.

We all know that what we are, what we have, and what we achieve will, one day, mean nothing. These are words to be read and pondered by all.

Though his meditations are sound and sober good sense (especially verses 24-26) yet there is something further to be considered in the purposes of God.

 

Where Meaninglessness is Swallowed Up in Praise and Purpose

Ephesians 1:1-14

In this passage there is revealed the blessings with which those who belong to Christ have been blessed by God.

The Father has lavishly purposed from before time to have son and daughters to share eternity with Him, including children from his ancient people as well as people from every tribe and tongue. To make this possible for sinful human beings He, in the person of the Son, and through the latter’s death upon the cross, brought about the forgiveness of sins. Those who have heard and received God’s good news have received as a seal that they are His, the indwelling presence of His own Holy Spirit.

How wonderfully God has dealt with Solomon’s vexations as he long ago pondered the meaningless of so much that lay before him.

What answers to asked but unanswered questions will we, one day, receive in God’s new creation?

“Meaningless, Meaningless, Everything is Meaningless”

Meaningless, Meaningless, Everything is Meaningless”

Ecclesiastes 1

Everything is meaningless, concludes this ancient Teacher from his highly advantaged position of great wealth and wisdom. Yes, even greatly valued wisdom bears this same character, “for with wisdom comes much sorrow”.

The race is doomed”, said a more recent writer. “Every race that comes into being in any part of the universe is doomed; for the universe, they tell us, is running down …all life will turn out in the end to have been a transitory and senseless contortion upon the idiotic face of infinite matter …

However, he continued, “There was one question which I never dreamed of raising … if the universe is so bad … how on earth did human beings ever come to attribute it to activity of a wise and good Creator?” (C. S. Lewis)

So, it all depends on where you look.

 

What Makes Human Life Meaningful?

Matthew 28:11-20

The opportunity of experiencing the saving love of the world’s Creator and Lord and offering it to others.