christical

Inspired by Jesus. From a Christian. For the Christian and anyone else who bothers to listen.

Ecclesiastes 7 May 10, 2013

Filed under: Let's Get Biblical! — christical @ 9:41 am
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Happy Friday, everyone! As the week culminates in the events of today, we can see how God has worked in us this week to show love to others.

I’m surprised I haven’t touched this series in a while. Today’s chapter 7 in Ecclesiastes.

A good name is better than a good ointment,
And the day of one’s death is better than the day of one’s birth. Your reputation serves you better because it lasts, unlike a cut on your skin.
It is better to go to a house of mourning
Than to go to a house of feasting,
Because that is the end of every man,
And the living takes it to heart. If you feast, you become drunk and don’t learn anything from the experience that will help your faith. Sometimes it’s helpful to remember why you need Jesus.
Sorrow is better than laughter,
For when a face is sad a heart may be happy.
The mind of the wise is in the house of mourning,
While the mind of fools is in the house of pleasure. If you don’t live for the party, then you’ll live more fully.
It is better to listen to the rebuke of a wise man
Than for one to listen to the song of fools. Again, by hearing the serious side of things, you’ll become more spiritually mature.
For as the crackling of thorn bushes under a pot,
So is the laughter of the fool;
And this too is futility.
For oppression makes a wise man mad,
And a bribe corrupts the heart.
The end of a matter is better than its beginning;
Patience of spirit is better than haughtiness of spirit.
Do not be eager in your heart to be angry,
For anger resides in the bosom of fools.
Do not say, “Why is it that the former days were better than these?”
For it is not from wisdom that you ask about this. Today is a gift. Have no anxiety about anything that will come today, but release your worries to God.
Wisdom along with an inheritance is good
And an advantage to those who see the sun.
For wisdom is protection just as money is protection,
But the advantage of knowledge is that wisdom preserves the lives of its possessors. Money can be a danger; wisdom is a safeguard because it helps you stay safe in life.
Consider the work of God,
For who is able to straighten what He has bent?
In the day of prosperity be happy,
But in the day of adversity consider—
God has made the one as well as the other
So that man will not discover anything that will be after him. God causes all things to work together for good. Our sin blinds us so that we do not know everything about God, but one thing we do know is that He is good.

I have seen everything during my lifetime of futility; there is a righteous man who perishes in his righteousness and there is a wicked man who prolongs his life in his wickedness. Do not be excessively righteous and do not be overly wise. Why should you ruin yourself? Do not be excessively wicked and do not be a fool. Why should you die before your time? It is good that you grasp one thing and also not let go of the other; for the one who fears God comes forth with both of them. Wisdom brings sorrow. Unfortunately, it can drive people to search frantically for meaning, which is what brought Solomon’s downfall. At the same time, some wisdom is good. If you live in wickedness (or without God), then you will die, and there will be no heavenly reward.

Wisdom strengthens a wise man more than ten rulers who are in a city. Indeed, there is not a righteous man on earth who continually does good and who never sins. Also, do not take seriously all words which are spoken, so that you will not hear your servant cursing you. For you also have realized that you likewise have many times cursed others. There is no righteous man who never sins. Jesus tells us that we cannot see clearly because of the plank in our eye. I believe that this passage serves to keep the righteous humble. Nobody’s perfect–both the writer and God realize this. I’m glad we have salvation then!

I tested all this with wisdom, and I said, “I will be wise,” but it was far from me. What has been is remote and exceedingly mysterious. Who can discover it? I directed my mind to know, to investigate and to seek wisdom and an explanation, and to know the evil of folly and the foolishness of madness. And I discovered more bitter than death the woman whose heart is snares and nets, whose hands are chains. One who is pleasing to God will escape from her, but the sinner will be captured by her. The writer wanted to know the depths of the world. He learned that it is better to leave the body behind on earth than to leave the soul behind in sin. By living for God, we can avoid being permanently trapped in our sin.

“Behold, I have discovered this,” says the Preacher, “adding one thing to another to find an explanation, which I am still seeking but have not found. I have found one man among a thousand, but I have not found a woman among all these. Behold, I have found only this, that God made men upright, but they have sought out many devices.” This may point to the Messiah. He knows of one perfect man. The part about not finding a righteous woman may be in reference to his numerous wives and concubines (that none of them are role models of godly women).

–JFG

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Ecclesiastes: Chapter Two July 14, 2012

Filed under: Let's Get Biblical! — christical @ 4:34 pm
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How did all my work on this get deleted? I had to start over on this chapter because the iPad in its infinite wisdom, somehow, did not save my original work. •_• Oh well. ^_^

I said to myself, “Come now, I will test you with pleasure. So enjoy yourself.” And behold, it too was futility. I said of laughter, “It is madness,” and of pleasure, “What does it accomplish?” I explored with my mind how to stimulate my body with wine while my mind was guiding me wisely, and how to take hold of folly, until I could see what good there is for the sons of men to do under heaven the few years of their lives. First, The writer puts in a topic sentence for this chapter. We learn that pleasure is meaningless, and we also go into toil. As he makes himself drunk and tries to find meaning, he realizes that he won’t find it in alchohol. So he then turns to the costly entertainment of princes.

I enlarged my works: I built houses for myself, I planted vineyards for myself; I made gardens and parks for myself and I planted in them all kinds of fruit trees; I made ponds of water for myself from which to irrigate a forest of growing trees. I bought male and female slaves and I had homeborn slaves. Also I possessed flocks and herds larger than all who preceded me in Jerusalem. Also, I collected for myself silver and gold and the treasure of kings and provinces. I provided for myself male and female singers and the pleasures of men-many concubines. Then I became great and increased more than all who preceded me in Jerusalem. My wisdom also stood by me. The writer has decided to build something, to enlarge his own successes. Seems a tad manic, doesn’t it? But he notes that he was doing this to look for meaning; he was in a sound mind attempting this. I suppose he guessed that if he saw all the good he had done, he could find meaning in that.

All that my eyes desired I did not refuse them. I did not withhold my heart from any pleasure, for my heart was pleased because of all my labor and this was my reward for all my labor. Thus I considered all my activities which my hands had done and the labor which I had exerted, and behold all was vanity and striving after wind and there was no profit under the sun. He was happy when he observed how beautiful everything was, but then he returned to his former state when he realized how mortal everything was. Even though it was “good”, and pleasant, what was the point of it?

So I turned to consider wisdom, madness and folly; for what will the man do who will come after the king except what has already been done? And I saw that wisdom excels folly as light excels darkness. The wise man’s eyes are in his head, but the fool walks in darkness. Here the writer realizes that wisdom, no matter how short life is, is always better than folly, because folly leads to total mental and spiritual blindness.

And yet I know that one fate befalls them both. Then I said to myself, “As is the fate of the fool, it will also befall me. Why then have I been extremely wise?” So I said to myself, “This too is vanity.” For there is no lasting remembrance of the wise man as with the fool, inasmuch as in the coming days all will be forgotten. And how the wise man and the fool alike die! So I hated life, for the work which had been done under the sun was grievous to me; because everything is futility and striving after wind. Thus I hated all the fruit of my labor for which I had labored under the sun, for I must leave it to the man who will come after me. And who knows whether he will be a wise man or a fool? Yet he will have control over all the fruit of my labor for which I have labored by acting wisely under the sun. This too is vanity. Therefore I completely despaired of all the fruit of my labor for which I had labored under the sun. When there is a man who has labored with wisdom, knowledge and skill, then he gives his legacy to one who has not labored with them. This too is vanity and a great evil. These verses are starting to cause distrust in the presidents . . . :-p. but honestly, the same fate befalls every person. So why do we care so much about keeping up an image, one that may not even be our true selves? It’s about legacy. How do we want to be remembered? Even more interesting: how would you feel if you worked your butt off all your life, spent your life chasing the American Dream, and then you die to find that all of your work was disregarded, destroyed, or left to some idiot who ended up ruining the world even more? I hope that put something into focus. Work to live, my friends, but don’t live to work, lest you become like the man in the song American Dream. That doesn’t mean to not be generous; it means to simply be cautious, and know who can be trusted. This all comes from wisdom.

For what does a man get in all his labor and in his striving with which he labors under the sun? Because all his days his task is painful and grievous; even at night his mind does not rest. This too is vanity. To strive for something all the days of your life without enjoyment is very demanding. Those who are close to retiring, you may know what I mean.

There is nothing better for a man than to eat and drink and tell himself that his labor is good. This also I have seen that it is from the hand of God. For who can eat and who can have enjoyment without Him? For to a person who is good in His sight He has given wisdom and knowledge and joy, while to the sinner He has given the task of gathering and collecting so that he may give to one who is good in God’s sight. This too is vanity and striving after wind. It all comes down to this – something that has value! It is good to enjoy the fruits of your labor. Don’t be afraid to relax every once in a while. Working endlessly has no purpose, except to stress you out and make you rich. And while wealth is useful on earth, what good would it be to become wealthy and give up your soul?

(Ecclesiastes 2:1-26 NASB)

 

Ecclesiastes: Chapter One July 13, 2012

Filed under: Let's Get Biblical! — christical @ 9:27 pm
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All text for this series is taken from the NASB. Yeah, weren’t expecting that, now were you, Internet? 😉

So, here’s chapter one. Each section with be printed, with my commentary in bold. Please don’t let the large amount of words scare you away. It’s okay; the Bible doesn’t bite. Not physically, at least.

The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem. “Vanity of vanities,” says the Preacher, “Vanity of vanities! All is vanity.” We have our writer identified (most likely King Solomon) and a six-word summary of the entire book of Ecclesiastes. The writer is saying something profound here: everything is not just vain, but it is vanity of vanities! Think about it: if you are wealthy here on earth, to what extent will that help you with getting to Heaven?

What advantage does man have in all his work which he does under the sun? The writer struggles with this question throughout the book.

A generation goes and a generation comes, but the earth remains forever. Also, the sun rises and the sun sets; and hastening to its place it rises there again. Blowing toward the south, then turning toward the north, the wind continues swirling along; and on its circular courses the wind returns. All the rivers flow into the sea, yet the sea is not full. To the place where the rivers flow, there they flow again. The writer is describing the cycles of life. The repetition in life, the boring continuance of sameness, it must really push this guy over the edge (for goodness’ sake, he wrote an entire book about it)!

All things are wearisome; man is not able to tell it. The eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor is the ear filled with hearing. That which has been is that which will be, and that which has been done is that which will be done. So there is nothing new under the sun. Is there anything of which one might say, “See this, it is new”? Already it has existed for ages which were before us. There is no remembrance of earlier things; and also of the later things which will occur, There will be for them no remembrance among those who will come later still. Continuing with describing boring cycles. It’s no secret that most people want simulation for their eyes and ears. But despite the familiarity of everything, people still believe that they make discoveries, which will all be forgotten in the end. With people, their sins and desires, hopes and aspirations, fears and tribulations, they always have been and will continue to be.

I, the Preacher, have been king over Israel in Jerusalem. And I set my mind to seek and explore by wisdom concerning all that has been done under heaven. It is a grievous task which God has given to the sons of men to be afflicted with. As far as other people and God are concerned, the writer knows who he is, what they do/did, and what he’s going to do. Seems very Inigo Montoya-esque to me. The writer is looking for the meaning of life, trying to answer the big “why” of existence. Even for the wisest of men on the earth, trying to think beyond our limitations is a battle.

I have seen all the works which have been done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and striving after wind. What is crooked cannot be straightened and what is lacking cannot be counted. I know what you’re thinking: step out of the dark room, dude. But he does have a point in that no human action is totally permanent. Also notice the latter portion of this section: life is what it is and no matter what, we can’t fully understand the workings of our universe. Many have tried, and all have failed. Job 38 and 39 demonstrate this quite well. When Job starts complaining to God (all the while not cursing God’s name), God gives Job perhaps one of the biggest tongue-lashings in the Bible. And it just shows that we are all babies, with no wisdom compared to God’s expanse of being.

I said to myself, “Behold, I have magnified and increased wisdom more than all who were over Jerusalem before me; and my mind has observed a wealth of wisdom and knowledge.” And I set my mind to know wisdom and to know madness and folly; I realized that this also is striving after wind. Again with the whole concept of realizing that the big picture is way bigger than we can even realize. Searching, struggling to find any purpose for the living of the world: it’s wearisome, not only for the body, but for the mind.

Because in much wisdom there is much grief, and increasing knowledge results in increasing pain. This is true. I once came across a girl my age at camp. We started making conversation (small talk, mind you), and without my probing, the girl had told me her basic life story in about two minutes. She told me, a virtual stranger, about everything from her adoption to her dark feelings of sadness and anger. And the more I knew about her, the more my sympathies reached out to her. When I see people or animals in suffering, it leaves my heart just a little bit heavier, because it serves as a fresh reminder that evil exists in the world, even as I live my beautiful, precious, simple life. How much more intense it is for people who see, or even live through, much worse! I guess that sometimes “the way things are” aren’t what they should be, and can never be made right, and that feeling of powerlessness separates many from the pursuit of wisdom.
(Ecclesiastes 1:1-18 NASB)

I suppose the biggest question here is: would you rather be the wisest person on earth and tortured by all that understanding, or a happy fool?

—The Jesus Freak Girl
“Signatures are meaningless, a chasing after the wind.” —Me

 

Let’s Get Ecclesiastical! July 11, 2012

Filed under: Let's Get Biblical! — christical @ 7:56 pm
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“Dust in the wind, All we are is dust in the wind . . .”
Dust in the Wind, Kansas

It’s true that the books of wisdom (Job, Psalm, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs) have light sides and dark sides. Case in point: reading about Job will put you in a different mood than reading Song of Songs (though, in my opinion, they’re equally disturbing).

Ecclesiastes is one of the uncommonly studied books of the Bible. I can understand why considering that “the meaning of life” is usually beyond most people’s realm of curiosity. but at the same time I wish that there were Bible studies done on it more often (just a hint, Pastor) ;-).

In reading the book of Ecclesiastes, I found the one verse that defines the entire book: “Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher. “Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.” (Ecclesiastes 1:2 NIV84)

At this point, the book really starts to get complicated. The rest of the book deals a lot with death and wisdom. It’s a confusing discussion with the self: we are to strive for wisdom, even though it it all meaningless in the end.

Finally, the book concludes in the answers that the author has found, one of which is to enjoy the things for which you have worked, because it has been granted to you by God (2:24-25).

Coming Soon: A chapter-by-chapter commentary of Ecclesiastes.

 

Wisdom: Blessing or Curse? July 10, 2012

Filed under: Let's Get Biblical! — christical @ 9:33 am
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Yesterday, I decided to write a post comparing proverbial statements to ecclesiastical statements.

I’ll write a question, with two answers: the first from Proverbs, the second from Ecclesiastes.

What does wisdom bring?

  1. A man who loves wisdom brings joy to his father, (Proverbs 29:3A NIV84)
  2. For with much wisdom comes much sorrow; the more knowledge, the more grief. (Ecclesiastes 1:18 NIV84)

How important is wisdom?

  1. Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding. (Proverbs 4:7 NIV84)
  2. Then I applied myself to the understanding of wisdom, and also of madness and folly, but I learned that this, too, is a chasing after the wind. (Ecclesiastes 1:17 NIV84)

Is constant work useful?

  1. All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty. (Proverbs 14:23 NIV84)
  2. 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. (Ecclesiastes 2:11 NIV84)

Then why should we have to work?

  1. The sluggard’s craving will be the death of him, because his hands refuse to work. (Proverbs 21:25 NIV84)
  2. The fool folds his hands and ruins himself. (Ecclesiastes 4:5 NIV84)

How the heck does God fit into my living and being?

  1. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. (Proverbs 9:10 NIV84)
  2. Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. (Ecclesiastes 12:13 NIV84)

And that’s all I can do for today. I’m going to try to relax now.

 

Topic Inspiration July 9, 2012

Filed under: Applied Faith,Christian Culture — christical @ 12:49 pm
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Mood: Mind-boggled. o_O

Yesterday, I was having a conversation with a few friends. At one point the four of us in conversation were discussing superpowers and someone said something along the lines of: “If I had the power to give off heat, I could be Solar Energy Man and provide a great soure of renewable energy. We could solve the energy issues!”

If you don’t know me personally, then I should tell you that I tend to fall into a state of deep thought easily, and that I also tend to talk about Point A and then Point M without explaining points B-L. For those of you who do know me, then you’ll know that’s is believable that I said: “But every human system is so fallible. Sure, we find a replacement for the institution, but then that system stops and everything just comes crashing down. Humanity, just imperfect.”

Two responses came from this. The first was, “Dude, are you taking philosophy classes or something?” The second one was “True. But I’m not too sure what that has to do with it (in my opinion, it has a lot to do with everything, but the ability to understand my thoughts is pretty much an esoteric skill, seeing that I don’t even know how to describe my personality ;-p).”
This made two thoughts run through my head:

      1. Did I just make the conversation all serious and holy? Wow. Jesus Juke.
      2. I wonder why people can be so strong, but so helpless at the same time. Why do these breakdowns in the system keep happening in the world?

    The above conversation all happened at church, so I had a few different options: start a conversation with the pastor about it, turn the current conversation the state of humanity, or try to figure out how to write a blog post about it.

    We all know what that means. To the Bible!

    There are really two books that will help us the most here: Proverbs and Ecclesiastes.

    Proverbs goes off a lot of times about wisdom and what it can accomplish. Imagine the lectures you were given about responsibility when you were younger. Ecclesiastes, on the other hand, takes on a darker feeling, with streaks of confusion and anger.

    For example: eyes and ears. People want to keep these as optimal as possible. But sometimes, pursuit of stimulation is so wearisome!

    1. Proverbial: Ears that hear and eyes that see—the Lord has made them both. (Proverbs 20:12 NIV84)
    2. Ecclesiastical: All things are wearisome, more than one can say. The eye never has enough of seeing, nor the ear its fill of hearing. (Ecclesiastes 1:8 NIV84)

    Do you see what I’m getting at here? I’ll post some more of these tomorrow. For now, I need to study up on my books of wisdom, so I can provide the best possible teaching experience. 😉

    —The Jesus Freak Girl

 

 
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