“There is a time for everything . . . a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain.” (Ecclesiastes 3:5)
What better week that this one to talk about recognizing the times you’re living in. We’re in the middle of a famous poem describing some of the different seasons we experience during our lives. Understanding our particular times helps us to live wisely and make the most of them.
Today’s line deals with times of “embracing” or not. The writer may have been talking about having sex, saying that sex is right for some times and wrong for others. If you’re a Christian who believes the Bible is God’s Word to you, that seasonal difference has everything to do with being married or not.
It’s not just that sex out of season is wrong, it’s that it’s foolish. It still feels great, of course, and it creates a kind of closeness between two people — but it’s a false and destructive closeness when it happens without the commitment of marriage. The negative consequences linger far beyond the moments of pleasure.
But the creator of sex intended for sex in season to be the norm, providing connection and excitement within the commitment of marriage. And it’s just as important to participate in “embracing” when the time is right as it is to skip it when the time is wrong.
Think: If someone asked, what would you say are some of the negative consequences of participating in sex out of season? What’s the point of sex as part of marriage?
Pray: Ask God to give you the wisdom and courage to avoid the destruction that comes from having sex out of season.
Do: Read 1 Corinthians 7:1-9 to hear how Paul spells out God’s teaching on sex and marriage in our times.
“There is a time for everything . . . a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1,4)
We’re working this New Year’s week on learning to recognize the seasons God has lead us into — so we can live wisely during those seasons.
Nobody wants to live in a season of crying or mourning. Usually, that means something bad has happened — we lost the big game or got betrayed by a friend or watched a loved one die. But that season matters. In fact, Ecclesiastes 7 tells us it’s better to go to a funeral than a party because it reminds us again that this life isn’t permanent — and we’d better get ready for the one that is.
Many of us just try to go numb during the crying seasons and hope it goes away quickly. But that’s a waste of the season God has lead us into. Instead, He wants us to turn to Him for comfort and learn from Him how to comfort others during their sad times. (See 2 Corinthians 1:3-4.)
The season for laughing and dancing will return. It always does, thank God! But it will be much, much sweeter if we have made the most of the crying season by using it to learn how comforting the arms of our Father can be.
Think: How can a person turn to God for comfort during a season of sadness? Have you ever been comforted by God through another person who has experienced the same kind of loss you are going through?
Pray: Ask God to help you to turn to Him for comfort during seasons of sadness and to include Him in your times of laughing and dancing.
Do: Read Romans 12:15 and think about what you can do to participate with others in their sad and happy seasons.
“There is a time for everything . . . a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1,3)
We’re working this New Year’s week on learning the wisdom of recognizing the seasons God has lead us into. Why? So we can live wisely during those seasons.
These words were likely written by Solomon, whose father King David lived in a time of killing. Israel was at war with several enemies, and David defended Israel by killing tens of thousands. But Solomon’s season as king was a time of healing, and he used that era wisely to make peace with Israel’s neighbors and make the nation stronger still.
We’re called to kill in season, as well. In Colossians 3, Paul tells us to “put to death” whatever belongs to our earthly nature, to literally kill (or execute) our sin. Wisdom demands we tear down whatever plans or dreams we have built on the selfish foundations of sinful desires.
It takes courage to be the destroyer of the worthless things in your life, but if you sit the season out you won’t make room to build — with His power tools — the new life God wants for you.
Think: Do you think God is leading you into a season of tearing down, a time of forcefully removing from your life sinful and worthless things that are getting in the way of living for Him? How can you make the most of that season?
Pray: Ask God to give you the courage to tear down anything in your life standing in the way of living for Him.
Do: Make a quick list of things in your life that might need to be torn down to make room to continue building your commitment to Christ.
“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-2)
People love to say at Christmastime that “Jesus is the reason for the season.” It’s a good line, and it rhymes. But this New Year’s week, we’re going to look at a famous poem from Ecclesiastes 3 and see that God is the reason for every season (not just Christmas).
David said this to God in Psalm 31:15: “My times are in your hands.” That’s true for all of us. God controls our seasons. You and I cannot turn winter to summer any more than we could have scheduled our own birth — or the day of our death. Every season belongs to God.
What we can control is how we live in whatever season God brings along. Will we be wise or foolish this season? Will we plant in planting season — by investing our time and work and energy in whatever opportunity God gives us for the future? Or will we waste our planting season and have nothing to “uproot” or harvest when the payoff season comes along?
We’ll see this week that learning to tell what season you are in right now will help you to have the wisdom to know how best to live. Come back tomorrow.
Think: Does it bother you that God controls what season or time you are in? Do you trust Him to bring you in and out of the seasons of your life? Why or why not?
Pray: Thank God that your times are in His hands and that He has made a time for everything in your life.
Do: Read the whole poem we’ll be studying this week in Ecclesiastes 3:1-8.
“The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.” (Luke 2:20)
I wonder sometimes what happened to those shepherds. How did their lives change after that wild night? After seeing all those angels? After worshipping the Creator of the universe in the body of an infant? What next? Do you just go back to living in the field, keeping watch over the flock at night?
I guess what you do for a living after meeting the Messiah isn’t as important as what you do with your heart and your mind. The shepherds response that night was to go back to the sheep — while giving praise and glory to God.
Christmas Day has passed for us, and soon we will all go back to school and work and regular life. But what we celebrate at Christmas has changed everything forever. Hopefully, we’ll go back glorifying and praising God even more than we normally do because our King was born and lived and died and then came to life again forever.
Think: Does the Christmas season help you to refocus on praising and glorifying God? Do you tend to return to your everyday life with that worship fresh in your heart and mind? Why or why not?
Pray: Ask God to help you to respond to the true story of Christmas with praise and glory for Him.
Do: Read the rest of Luke 2 to catch two rare glimpses of Jesus as a child.
What do you think of when you think of Jesus? Do you find you can relate to him or do you think Jesus the God man can relate to you? Can Jesus understand your life situation? Do you think he’s the God man and you and your life is all messed up so how could [...]
“But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” (Luke 2:19)
You don’t meet many people who will admit to pondering things in their hearts. It feels more important to be like the shepherds out there doing things like spreading the word about Jesus and praising and glorifying God. That’s got to matter more than just pondering, right?
But Mary was a ponderer. A reflecter. A muller. A thinker. Others were amazed, but she kept turning over everything that had happened to her: The angel. The near-broken engagement. The pregnancy. Elizabeth. The inconvenient trip to an overcrowded Bethlehem. Giving birth in a stable. Strange shepherds showing up already knowing her son was the Messiah.
It’s a lot to think about, and most of us don’t do enough of that. We’ve got the facts. Pretty much. Or we can get them on the Google. Now tell us what to do!
But Mary knew something its easy for us to skip over in our noisy world. God’s working in our lives is a gift, a treasure, the most important thing. It’s not just the facts of what He says and does; it’s what those words and actions say about Him and how He loves us and how we should live in His grace. That takes pondering.
Think: Are you a ponderer or are you more likely to drown out the quiet moments in your head and heart? What do you think are the consequences of trying to follow Jesus without thinking too deeply about God’s Word?
Pray: Ask God to help you to do enough pondering about the most important things.
Do: Read about how a couple of guys in the Bible talked about pondering God’s commands in Job 23:12 and Joshua 1:8.
“So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.” (Luke 2:16-18)
Merry Christmas from PlanetWisdom.com! We hope you’re having the best anniversary of that first Christmas ever.
What a crazy night that was for the shepherds who saw the angels and then — because they believed the message of heaven — they found the Son of God tucked away in a barn in Bethlehem. Of course they “spread the word!” If the shepherds had been on Twitter, the whole world would have known the Messiah was born before the sun came up that next day.
And the people who heard were amazed. The shepherds enthusiasm and insistence that their wild night meant good news of great joy for everyone was jaw dropping. The Messiah? Here? Now? In a manger? What?
If you believe that Jesus is the Son of God — that He was born in a stable that night and grew into a man who lived perfect then died for your sins, to buy you a home in heaven with His Father — if you believe that, it’s big news, right? Who have you told, lately?
Think: What evidence did the shepherds have that a savior had been born, that the baby was the Christ? Do you think they hesitated to tell people their story of meeting Jesus because they couldn’t “prove” it was true?
Pray: If you are a Christian, ask God to help you to have the right amount of excitement and courage to tell your story of hearing about and then believing in Jesus.
Do: Think of someone — even Christian friend or a family member — you could have a serious conversation about Jesus with sometime this next week.
[ December 25, 2009; ] December focus on HIV/AIDS
While we’ve been focusing on the issue of HIV/AIDS for the month of December, on this Christmas day we want to broaden that and invite you to pray for justice, God’s justice. We want to pray that it will be done in our world right now during our time and the [...]
Sit back with a mug of apple cider or fair trade hot chocolate. Relax and play this vid. Watch it again but this time close your eyes. Let the message of Christmas sink deep into your soul. Merry Christmas to you all. We pray God’s blessing, protection and working in your life in greater ways [...]