Wednesday, June 6, 2012
Welcome to Day 157 of our Life Journal!
Click here for today’s reading: Ecclesiastes 1; Ecclesiastes 2; Ecclesiastes 3; Psalm 45; Ephesians 2 (2012 Daily Bible Reading Plan)
Before you comment or read what I have posted, please read the following passages for yourself and complete your own S.O.A.P. exercise… How does this work?
S.O.A.P = Scripture, Observation, Application, Prayer
Ecclesiastes 1:1, ““Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher. “Utterly meaningless!”
v 18, “For with much wisdom comes much sorrow; the more knowledge, the more grief.”
Ecclesiastes 2:4, “I undertook great projects: I built houses for myself and planted vineyards. 5 I made gardens and parks and planted all kinds of fruit trees in them. 6 I made reservoirs to water groves of flourishing trees… v 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.” v 17,
“So I hated life…”
Ecclesiastes 3:13, “That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God.”
Psalm 45:17, “I will perpetuate your memory through all generations; therefore the nations will praise you for ever and ever.”
Ephesians 2:4, “Because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
Two amazing passages today! Ecclesiastes 1-3 display Solomon’s downward spiral of hopelessness. Ephesians 2, one of the greatest passages in the whole Bible speaks to God making us alive in Christ! The complete antithesis of Ecclesiastes.
Keep your eye on the prize.
If we don’t do that, life can end up “meaningless.”
I can lead worship… feed the hungry… any number of good things, but in the end, if I have taken my eyes off of Christ, it’s all meaningless. Good works.
Ephesians 2:10 states that we were “created in Christ Jesus to do good works.”
Good works are good. But…
I don’t lead worship to entertain or to draw a crowd. I lead worship to connect people with their Maker. The One who loves them and created them for a purpose. I lead worship simply because He is worthy.
I don’t feed the hungry simply to meet a human need. Even though Jesus said, “I was hungry and you gave me something to eat,” and that there is reward for such activity. I do it to build relationship. To gain trust. To extend God’s kingdom. To open the door to pray for people. To introduce them to Christ.
Otherwise, it’s just good works.
Good works are good. Don’t get me wrong. There are lots of great organizations doing great work.
But ours is a greater purpose.
It involves eternity.
Solomon said himself, “He [God] has also set eternity in the human heart.” Eternity has a purpose beyond just doing good works. Perhaps that is the purpose of good works.
Please don’t misunderstand… I’m not saying our church is better than any other organization out there doing good things.
What I am saying is the church has a higher calling than social justice. Churches should provide more than just “music and a message.” More than a social club, or a Bible study.
The church is (or should be) the greatest force on the planet.
Jesus said, “I will build my church and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it.”
I often hear people say, “I don’t like organized religion.” (To which I like to reply, “Oh, you prefer disorganized religion?” ; )
I know what they’re saying… “Church” is often not fun, click-ish, often times hurtful.”
But it’s still the means by which God chooses to reach people. It’s what Jesus died for… a bride “without spot or wrinkle.”
I think what people are really saying is church (in their experience) can be irrelevant, pointless, disconnected from society, out of touch, mean-spirited. Not fun.
No one likes a bony finger pointed in judgment toward them.
But I believe people respond to love. I’m not talking about “kum ba yah” warm and fuzzy love. But real love. Acceptance. Forgiveness. Purpose.
I have experienced D. All of the above. The good, the bad and the ugly.
And hurt goes both ways. People say mean things and walk out the door, never to be heard from again.
One of my favorites was, “Doug and Scott… they do the best they can.”
I’ll take that as a compliment.
When we stand before the Lord, He doesn’t say, “Hey, great job! You guys were perfect! Nice job gathering 2,000 people! You did everything perfectly!”
He says, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”
Good and faithful is the target.
We tried to be faithful with our small group of a dozen. And we’ve only tried to be faithful to what the Lord is calling us to every step along the way. Through all the ups and downs. Through the good, the bad and the ugly. Through all the growth and change along the way.
He presents to himself his bride “without spot or wrinkle.” (Hallelujah!)
We know we’re not perfect. We know “pretty good” isn’t good enough.
But it’s not what we know. It’s who we know.
The eternal One.
Thank you Lord for your church. That we are all part of your body! That you have called each one of us according to your purpose in Christ Jesus. That you have prepared good works in advance for each one of us!