The next section of Ecclesiastes that we will study is chapters 3-5. First, we look at the summary at the end of the section, Ecclesiastes 5:18-20. Notice the multiple synonyms Solomon uses: rejoice, enjoy, and gladness. Those who are walking with God will be known for their joy. Those who are not walking with God will be known for grumpiness.
Paul talks about two categories of Christians in Romans 14, the strong and the weak. Every believer falls under one category or the other. Both are assumed to be reverent and growing. Both are instructed to keep themselves in the love of God.
In most of Scripture, God speaks to mankind. The poetic books of the Old Testament are unique because in them, man speaks to God. Human authors used the poetic structures available to them in attempts to surpass the limits of human language and recreate their experience with God.
God responds to thankfulness because giving thanks is in line with what God seeks. The Psalms we will study today are imprecatory psalms and laments which show a mix of confidence and concern. They reflect a desire of the righteous for God to destroy His enemies and to vindicate His name. God still pursues these goals, but He does so differently in the church era. The paradox of a thankful heart in the midst of life difficulties is what pleases God no matter what time we live in.
Romans 8:28-30 is a text of comfort and reassurance along with the entire chapter of Romans 8. In these verses, we find:
All these are discovered in the light of being in Christ.
All Christians know the experience of sinning after we've been saved and the guilt that accompanies it. Some even know what it's like to doubt their salvation after falling into sin. What a joyful relief to remember that God's love never changes! Psalm 146 is a thankful song of God's people when they are given another chance. Most Bible scholars attribute its composition to Haggai or Zechariah, prophets who preached to God's people when they were returning to the land of Israel from Babylonian exile. This is one of the "hallelujah" psalms, the last 5 chapters of the book of Psalms, each of which starts and ends with the same wording: "Praise the Lord!"
In our study of how to please God through our whole life, we are beginning with the spirit – the part of us that is being renewed against the effects of sin. Those who are born again have a new nature that is fed through our devotion to prayer and reading God's Word.
One writer said, "Whatever causes us to pray is a good thing." The Bible is chock-full of examples of God's people praying to Him. In John 17, we read an example of Jesus Himself praying. Christ relied heavily on prayer to sustain His life and ministry. His prayer in this passage shows the purpose of His life. We too can find particular purpose for our lives by studying this prayer and praying similarly.
In 1 Timothy 2, Paul moves from philosophy to practical instruction for Timothy and the Ephesian churches. What would you say is the most important thing for a new church? Paul says the number-one priority for the church is prayer, with a primarily evangelistic focus. Our responsibility to the state is to pray for the salvation of our leaders.
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