It is natural for humans to worry, but in a life governed by God, worry will be controlled. Believers don't have to dwell in anxiety.
Our theme for the year will be "Doing Divine Things Together."
The book of Matthew has 5 discourses and 5 narrative sections presenting Christ as the King. Our passage today is part of the Sermon on the Mount, which is not new information. As one author described, "It is the wisdom of God inviting all of us through faith to orient our vision, values, and habits from the ways of external righteousness to wholeheartedness towards God. Jesus' method of teaching uses thematic structures, images, and poetic language to allow His listeners more simple ways to remember, meditate on, and memorize Christ's heart on how to live every day."
Luke 1:67-80 occurs just before the birth of Jesus, after the birth of his cousin John the Baptist. Zechariah is holding his newborn son and speaks promises inspired by the Holy Spirit. He answers the question, how can we be sure of Jesus' ability to save us from our sins?
We can trust in Jesus because God says we can. His Word is enough, because His promise will always come true. What He says, He will do.
Christmas is when God became man. This is the meaning of "incarnation." But why did God become man? The whole Bible is the answer; this morning, we look at Hebrews 2 for part of the answer.
Solomon offers more wisdom principles as he concludes the book of Ecclesiastes. He urges us to embrace good, simple things as we have them. As we discipline ourselves to use our energy to enjoy God's good gifts, we will be a joyful people!
Solomon has several concluding chapters as he shares wisdom on enduring the margin of mystery. The theme is similar to 1 Peter 4:19: When life is hard to understand, stay active doing good things.
We are learning from Solomon how to live simply in the margin of mystery created by the unpredictability of life. Ecclesiastes 9:11-18 warns us not to trust our personal ability or opportunities.
We try to understand God's plan, but we can never know all of it; and we couldn't handle that knowledge anyway. Life is full of spiritual mystery. What can and should we do as we live through this reality?
Ecclesiastes 8:12-17 are addressed primarily to the wise employee of a despotic king. Though we are not all government employees, all of God's people can learn a wise disposition while we live under human government from these verses.
Ecclesiastes 8:1-15 is our last set of verses in the third section of this book. These verses tell us how to respond to darkness in government. Ecclesiastes 8:15 sums up the conclusion of the whole section: an exhortation to enjoy life. We should never let inequity in government distract us from living joyfully as Christians.
In Solomon's discussion of living life on purpose, we have studied a bold determination in Ecclesiastes 7:15-18. We now turn to a balanced assessment and some benign reminders.
Psalm 6 meditates on a difficult Christian endeavor: responding while under the disciplinary hand of the Lord. This endeavor is the sole property of people who have been transformed by Jesus into the often-uncomfortable condition of being lifelong learners, lovers, and worshipers. The joy of learning often includes the negative experience of shame, stifling our own pride, and enduring the consequences of our sin.
At first reading, Ecclesiastes 7:15-18 seems to advocate being a little bit wicked. But this interpretation would not fit with the rest of Scripture. Instead, Solomon is showing that excessively applying righteousness and piling on wickedness are both dangerous. We should not come to conclusions about a person's character too quickly.
In our American church context, we are all wealthy compared to the rest of the world. So there is much for us to learn from Solomon's wisdom for wealthy people in this section of Ecclesiastes.
Many of us may not feel wealthy when we look at our budgets. The Bible says that we should be content with food, clothing, and shelter (1 Timothy 6:8). By that standard, especially compared to the majority of people in our world, we are an affluent group of people. Solomon gives wisdom for wealthy people to maintain our eternal purpose for living.
We are studying the third section of Ecclesiastes, which instructs us on how to rejoice in hard times. Joy is the reality of the believer who lives in the blessed will of God (Ecclesiastes 8:15). With the proper perspective, believers can enjoy all God's good gifts, but if distracted from eternal purpose, we will doubt the integrity of God and His providence.
Life is a gift from God to be lived on purpose with joy. Our joy must be connected to living according to God’s Word (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14).
In Ecclesiastes 6:1-9, Solomon applies wisdom to apparent injustices that can cause roadblocks in our lives. It is common to find people who seem to have everything but are not satisfied. Solomon gives two examples: a single man and a married man. Ultimately, we will see what it means for a believer to embrace the good material possessions God has given us.
The next section of Ecclesiastes we will study is Ecclesiastes 6:1-8:15. The beginning of chapter 6 instructs us how to navigate life's apparent divine inequalities. The message of the book is consistent: God's people must persevere in enjoying God and His blessings, even when God seems unfair.
Ecclesiastes 5:8-17 show that God is comfortable talking about politics and finance. These topics often cause tension, but we can converse confidently about what God says about each of these areas of human life.
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