Live it! Blog

Tuesday, 09 March 2021 00:00

Ecclesiastes 3:1-11, 9:10, Esther 4:14

Life’s rhythms are sacred. Warren Wiersbe has stated, “You don’t have to be a philosopher or scientist to know that ‘times and seasons’ are a regular part of life.”  Read through Ecclesiastes 3:1-11: What “times and seasons” are addressed in these verses?  The mom who is up in the middle of the night with a fussy baby is pacing sacred ground. The gentle touch of father’s hand on a fevered forehead is a divine touch. The joyful celebration of a wedding is a sacred dance.  All our lives, in the mundane and the highlight reels reflect God’s intertwining in our lives. Elisabeth Elliot said, “This job has been given to me to do. Therefore it is a privilege. Therefore, it is an offering I make to God. Therefore, it is done gladly if it is done for Him.”

Man’s life is linked to eternity. “He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11)  Trying to find meaning and purpose in anything outside of God will ultimately end up empty. Solomon reminded us, “I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil-this is the gift of God.” (Ecclesiastes 3:12-13) How can you view your toil as a gift of God? Read Colossians 3:17 and explain how this impacts what you do.  C.S. Lewis has stated, “Time is the very lens through which ye see-small and clear, as men see through the wrong end of a telescope-something that would otherwise be too big for ye to see at all.”

God’s sovereignty directs our days and with eternity set in our hearts, we can approach life with hope in the midst of the sacred mundane. Esther’s life experienced a divine interruption. Mordecai responded to Esther’s hesitant response to his initial plea,

“For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14)  What time in your life would you identify as your “such a time as this”?  God is accomplishing His divine purposes, even though we don’t always understand what He is doing. Our view of God’s sovereignty over this gift of our lives will design a more hopeful attitude, just as it did for Esther. Our outlook determines outcome. Every minute of our life gift is sacred. Every step you take can be holy ground. From diapers to dishes, consider that your time was divinely designed for “such a time as this.” You may feel like you don’t have the wisdom of Solomon or the royal position of Esther, but God is in the sovereign business of making “everything beautiful in its time”. How will you embrace God’s sacred design of your life, today? 

lkb

Monday, 08 March 2021 00:00

Job 7:7a; Psalm 31:15a; 39:4-5; 89:47; 90:12; Proverbs 6:6-8; 16:9; 27:1  

24/7 - 365 - 12 – 4.

We keep track of our lives with numbers-- hours in a day; days in a week or year; months and seasons in a year. Those numbers measure time, and time is a gift God has given to each of us in equal measure. Together, the numbers make up the rhythms of life. 

What are your daily patterns? Do you follow a routine or live life as it comes?

Whether you like to follow a rigid daily, weekly, or monthly pattern in life or prefer a totally spontaneous lifestyle, it is important to remember that ________________ (complete the sentence. You could use any of the verses in today's reading guide to finish that thought.) 

  • Life is but a breath. 
  • Your times are in his hands.
  • Life is fleeting. 
  • You shouldn't count on tomorrow.

In the last year most of us have experienced being totally out of rhythm. We long to return to the daily grind (not referring to your coffee). There's something very comforting about routines because we know what to expect and prepare for. But think about it for a moment (of time): when life is predictable, you don't have to trust much; you simply pursue the normal and usual, expecting the normal and usual outcomes.

Think about the last year (or maybe, just a week) for a moment. How often has the loss of life rhythms caused you to trust God?

Solomon pointed out life's rhythms in Ecclesiastes, chapter three, where he begins by saying, "There is a time for everything, a season for every activity under heaven." And James reminds us of the uncertainty of life when he asks. “How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone” (James 4:14).

How are you responding to the loss of life's rhythms? 

Has the chaos of the last year caused you to put your life on hold? We don’t know what the future holds, of course—not the next 12 months, the next 30 days, or even the next hour, so how do we face that unknown future? The most helpful answer no doubt is trust. James encourages us with this thought, “If the Lord wants us to, we will live and do this or that” (James 4:15). So, we must trust the Lord to lead us into the next hour, day—the rest of our life. He alone can enable us to make the most of the rhythms of life for our good, our ministry to others, and to his glory.

As a follower of Jesus, how do you face the unknown future? How is it different from the way your unsaved friends face tomorrow? 

Friday, 05 March 2021 00:00

Luke 10:38-42

Hello, Mary and Martha: I’m Luke, and I’m preparing to write a Gospel. I’d like to have your perspective on that unusual day when Jesus came to your home for a meal. I know it’s been several decades, but I imagine you remember it quite well. I’ll let you go first, Martha. What stands out in your mind?

Well, for me, it was totally shocking that this amazing teacher—Rabbi, we called him—accepted the invitation for dinner. He had never been here before and seemed truly glad to come, giving no hint of condescension toward us. What an honor it was.

Mary and I were accustomed to working together preparing meals, and it was obvious that this would be a special meal with Jesus present and would require extra time and effort. So I was rushing around getting things in order, while Jesus was speaking to those that had assembled.

Okay, Mary, your turn. How did things unfold?

Well, first, I must give credit to Martha. All of us women were trained in domestic duties, but Martha seemed to take those responsibilities more seriously than most and excelled at them. Frankly, I wasn’t particularly pleased with confining women to household chores.

So for me to be able to join those listening to this amazing Rabbi was too good to be true, in spite of the fact that women weren’t usually welcome in such settings. But I considered it a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I also realized it would mean abandoning Martha, but what was I supposed to do? Listen to Jesus or clean fish?!

So not only did I join the group, but I sat on the floor right at Jesus’ feet, which was an indication of special commitment to him. I wanted to be more than just a hearer; I wanted to become one of his disciples, which, frankly, was unheard of for rabbis in our day.

Okay, Martha, what were you thinking with Mary leaving you hanging high and dry?

Hmmm. Looking back on the situation, I now wish I had reacted differently. My initial reaction was self-centered, concerned about the extra time it would take to finish the preparations all by myself. It also seemed inappropriate for Mary to step out of her domestic roles and join those listening to Jesus. 

But as I see it now, if I had been thinking of others first, I would have been glad for my sister’s desire to sit at Jesus’ feet. What a privilege, and who was I to object to that? I certainly could have managed the meal preparations, even if it took some extra time.

Wow! It’s great to see your change in perspective, Martha. So, Mary, what do you think I should emphasize in my Gospel about the lessons from this experience?

I’m not totally sure, but I can think of several. Looking back, many of the events in Jesus’ life had something to do with meals and hospitality. Eating together allowed Jesus to share his heart, to develop close relationships, even to bind himself to others. Also, Jesus believed strongly in working hard and serving others, so what Martha was doing wasn’t wrong; the issue was apparently about attitude and priorities. Also, Jesus frequently emphasized the importance of thinking of others first, even if it wasn’t the most convenient thing to do. Putting others first is an act of humility, and Jesus certainly modeled that. Also, Jesus often seemed to go against the cultural norms of our day. For example, he associated freely with women and with Samaritans, which most Jewish men would not consider respectable. Also, though eating was obviously essential, spiritual food was even more important to Jesus; I remember him saying one time, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about” (John 4:32).

Whoa! That’s a lot, Mary, and more than I’m going to be able to fit into my Gospel. Maybe I should just give a bare-bones account of the event and let readers figure out those things for themselves. But one thing I think I will do: by putting the story of the Good Samaritan right before your story, it may help readers to spot some significant contrasts between the Samaritan and Martha.

I certainly want to thank you two for giving me the inside scoop on that significant event in Jesus’ life. It will be interesting to see if any of the other Gospels tell the same story.

~ dbs

Thursday, 04 March 2021 00:00

Romans 13:11-14

Eyes to the sky, feet to the ground

Salvation includes the long anticipated, greatly desired return of the Son of Man in full glory. The truth pulses from Paul’s heart, filling his writing with passion.  

He explains, “…our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed” (Romans 13:11). Paul sounds like he believes Jesus returns this week! One disciple exclaims, “Keep your eyes to the sky!”

Even today disciples of Jesus find comfort and certainty in the promise of Jesus’ return. The quickening phrase of our Lord’s nearness in return is an encouragement, particularly in troublesome days. 

Yet, it has been more than 2,000 years and we have to wonder, if Paul was confused (as some might explain). Was he counting in human terms, possibly bypassing the wisdom of Peter?  Many disciples also find strong confidence in Peter’s words, “God is not slow in keeping his promises as some count slowness…” (2 Peter 3:8-9). Shelia is one of those people.

Deeply sighing, rushing air over her lips and into the closed car Shelia thought about her exhaustion. Wishing she could rub her feet while driving and smiling to herself she whispered, “Guess that would not be a good idea.”

Shelia’s idea of time is based on her job. Thirty-six hours a week she walks hospital hallways and follows her director’s daily saying, “Let’s go out there and kill those viruses!” 

“His talking makes me weary,” she said to herself. 

After a twelve hour shift her feet ache. Her work as an employee for Environmental Services (formerly housekeeping) occupies a much higher profile in the days of the Covid-19 pandemic. This reality means extra time and extra steps as well.

Coming to a church gathering on Sunday morning she heard a message emphasizing Christ’s return. It was also a message which encouraged confidence and trust in God’s timing. When she began piecing the Scripture passages together she wondered how God’s view of time fit into her life.

Life Application

  • How would you advise Shelia to think about God’s timing in light of Paul’s first century statement that the Lord’s coming is “nearer now than when we first believed”?
  • What does it mean for Shelia to keep her tired feet on the ground?
Wednesday, 03 March 2021 00:00

Colossians 4:2-6

What does it mean to “live wisely” among not-yet-believers?  

I can’t help but think of the three images Paul gave to Timothy (2 Timonty 2:4-6).  

Paul wrote about soldiers who don’t get tied up in the affairs of civilian life.  Our culture offers endless diversions which enamor us, distract us, consume us, and define us.  In other words, these pursuits “tie up” our time, our focus, our energy, our time, and our money.  Even good things can be used by the Devil to keep us from the few, necessary things. 

Paul encouraged Timothy to “follow the rules” like an athlete.  Cutting corners isn’t a good way to save time.  Living wisely involves integrity and a clean conscience.  Often it is patience and perseverance, not speed, that pay off.

farmer who works hard will enjoy the fruit of his labors, Paul tells Timothy.  Lazy self-indulgence is not wise living. Working hard at the right things is. 

When Paul talks about making the most of every opportunity, I think he is talking about opportunities to share the message about Jesus within conversation.  

Notice that Paul didn’t tell Timothy to take out a bazooka and blast all his spiritual ammunition at the little daylight that appeared for the gospel in a conversation.  “Gracious” and “attractive” are the words he uses.  This has a gentler sound to it.  

The best context for impactful conversation is relationship with friends, family, neighbors, and co-workers.  Let me remind you of the BLESS approach we heard about on Sunday.  Opportunities will arise as we bless people.  

Begin with prayer.  As the parable of the soils reminds us, seed only does well on good soil.  Prayer is one way to begin working the soil.  If you haven’t already signed up on the Bless Every Home website (www.blesseveryhome.com), I encourage you to do so. 

Listen with care.  We often miss opportunities because we’re so worried about what we should say next that we forget to listen.  Listening is what friends who care do.  Start there.  A “gracious” and “attractive” conversation includes lots of listening.  Chances are, if you listen well, the favor will be returned.

Eat together.   Something happens across the dinner table that doesn’t happen across the work desk or even the backyard fence.   

Serve in love.  If you have listened well, you will know how to serve.  However, this is not a one-way street.  You can allow your friend to serve you, too.  Two-way service opens up the opportunity for a genuine two-way conversation.  

Share your story.  The best opportunities are those where you can personalize the truth of the gospel by telling your story.  What has God done for you?  

When we are intentional about blessing other sin this way, we are not wasting time.  We are living wisely. 

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