Do you “live in the past?” “Do not say, ‘Why were the former days better than these?’ For you do not inquire wisely concerning this” (Ecclesiastes 7:10 NKJV). When we have only good memories about the past, we (1) have faulty memories, and (2) probably haven’t learned much. Life is a great teacher, but lessons come from both good and bad. “Let grace be shown to the wicked, Yet he will not learn righteousness” (Isaiah 26:10 NKJV). It is important to know that “God requires an account of what is past” (Ecclesiastes 3:15 NKJV). Christians have learned that “we have spent enough of our past lifetime in doing the will of the Gentiles–when we walked in lewdness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries” (1 Peter 4:3 NKJV). Good people don’t want to go back! This is Johnny Polk, with “Words of Wisdom” brought to you by the Oneida church of Christ.
“The days of our lives add up to seventy years,
or eighty, if one is especially strong.
But even one’s best years are marred by trouble and oppression.
Yes, they pass quickly and we fly away.”
The title to this psalm attributes its authorship to Moses, “A prayer of Moses, the man of God.” Most of his life was one of hardship.
Jesus lived 30-plus years. He came to die for man’s sin. His years were short, but his life was full. Our time on earth is short-lived and full of trouble. In Christ, life is blessed and eternal.
“Let each one remain in that situation in life in which he was called. … In whatever situation someone was called, brothers and sisters, let him remain in it with God.”
1 Corinthians 7.20, 24
Paul addressed the human tendency to want to be somewhere else, to be somebody else. Sin of course must be abandoned, but with God any life situation provides meaning and fulfillment.
What do you find unpleasant about your life situation? How can God bring redemption and joy in it?
“My days are coming to an end,
and I am withered like grass.”
This psalm is “the prayer of an oppressed man, as he grows faint and pours out his lament before the Lord” (superscript). He appeals to the Lord who rules forever, v. 12, and whose “years do not come to an end” v. 27.
The rigors and strains of life take their toll, as well as suffering for the faith. How do saints remain encouraged and strong in the Lord?
“For everything there is an appointed time,
and an appropriate time for every activity on earth:
A time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to uproot what was planted;”
Solomon apparently believed there is a fixed order of events determined by God. Humans are not independent of God. Just as he set the heavenly lights to determine seasons and years, so he determines the times for human activities.
If there is an appointed time to die, and that appointed time is not known to us, then now is the appropriate time to prepare for the moment of death.
The Scripture teaches that Jesus gave up His life for us individually. That is, He gave up His life for all those who love the Lord and call on His name (John 3:16; Acts 2:21). Paul wrote to those of Galatia, “who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father” (Galatians 1:4, ESV). Reflect on this for a moment: Jesus gave up His life, that we might have life. We should respect this gift of life given to us in such a way that our lives are changed, changed in the direction of holiness. “…but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy’” (1 Peter 1:15-16, ESV). RT
Phases of life are as natural as phases of the moon.
Each phase of life is meant to be used to prepare us for the next (1 Corinthians 13:11, Ecclesiastes 11:7-10; 12).
A good tip for parents is to keep in mind what life was like for us during the phase that our children are currently in. The same could apply for grand-parents and grand-children.
At this point in time, I remember clearly what it was like to start kindergarten, and to spend time with my parents, grand-parents and great-grand-parents. I keep this mind when it comes to my child. I remember the memories that I want to create for her – memories that will be beneficial for as she goes through the different phases of her life.
Life is different through the perspective of a child. Backyards are huge! Bills are incomprehensible. The necessity of learning is something that mom and dad emphasize. The toy-isle is a slice of paradise. Slides, swings, wading in a creek, walking in the woods and watching cartoons stick with you for a long time. Each learning experience (and memory) allows a different experience (and memory) to be built.
It is easy to forget about the way others go through phases in life … especially a child. But remembering the importance of these phases will help to govern the way we deal with others as we go through our own.
“To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to gain, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to throw away; a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 NKJV)
“Jesus replied, ‘If you only knew the gift God has for you and who you are speaking to, you would ask me, and I would give you living water.'”
John 4.10 NLT
Jesus turns the attention of the Samaritan woman to spiritual realities and benefits.
In what ways do we fail to recognize the gift that God has for us?
1. Hear & Heed (Romans 10:17)
2. Seek & Anchor (Colossians 3:1)
3. Hide & Prevent (Proverbs 4:23)
4. Bless (Matthew 5:16)
5. Preach & Live (2 Timothy 2:15)
6. Rejoice & Value (Philippians 4:4)
7. Meditate & Direct (2 Corinthians 13:5)
8. Resolve (Colossians 3:5)
A brother in Florida mentioned Saturday that the electricity in his home was supposed to be restored in a few hours, after Hurricane Matthew swiped the Atlantic coast headed north. A person asked, “Does the church have electricity?”
The person was referring, of course, to the building where the church met. That’s unfortunately language, but you figure out how to get people to change their vocabulary.
Her question, however, invites reflection on the state of our congregations. Continue reading
When people graduate from High School or University, they should be looking ahead at life. Solomon made it simple in Ecclesiastes 9:9-11. Plan to: 1) “Live joyfully with the wife whom you love all the days of your vain life”—i.e., be in a close, stable marriage; 2) “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might”—i.e., work hard at honorable work; 3) “I returned and saw under the sun that-The race is not to the swift, Nor the battle to the strong, Nor bread to the wise, Nor riches to men of understanding, Nor favor to men of skill; But time and chance happen to them all”—i.e., everything is not under our personal control-live with it. One is not alone in marriage; diligent work is rewarded and appreciated; life levels the “playing field” for everyone. Good advice!
This is Johnny Polk, with “Words of Wisdom” brought to you by the Oneida church of Christ.
After a bit of inconvenience, our Brazil ID cards got renewed yesterday, thanks to the Federal Police. We have a protocol slip in hand to prove that the cards are being processed. Should be able to get on a plane now, with some guarantee of getting back in the country. This card is proof that the holders thereof have a permanent visa. The passport in which that visa was stamped is long gone.
Used to, we had to drive a couple of hours down to the coast, to the port city of São Sebastião, where the nearest Federal Police station was located. Now, one is about a two-minute drive from The Snuggery. But a ten-minute search for parking. We wound up parking in a nearby (paid) hospital parking lot and walking for five. No complaints.
Both times I went in to the FedPol recently, they took my picture. They must think I’m a handsome card. And they asked me for my autograph. I must have given three or four of those. I didn’t know I was so popular. And fingerprints — all 10 digits! (I’m still trying to wash off the ink; no digital fingerprinting yet.) Continue reading
SPEED ME UP, LORD
Here is Wilfred A. Peterson’s sequel to his poem “Slow Me Down, Lord” that we ran last week. Both poems present valid perspectives. We need to strive for balance in our lives, a proper pace for living, knowing when we need to slow down and when we need to speed up. Continue reading
LIVING JOYFULLY BY DAY, SLEEPING PEACEFULLY AT NIGHT
It is wonderful to wake up in the morning from a peaceful night’s sleep and face the new day with joy and anticipation. I must confess that I have not always been as successful in doing either of these to the degree that I should have, but as I have gotten older I have grown in my appreciation of the fact that this is the way the Lord wants it to be, and I am thankful that I have grown in the ability to achieve that purpose. Continue reading