EAT, DRINK AND ENJOY LIFE!

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Ndolé Camerounais – delicacy prepared with Vernonia bitter leaves (Image: PRA Wikimedia)

 

Ecclesiastes 8:15 (New Living Translation) – So I recommend having fun, because there is nothing better for people in this world than to eat, drink, and enjoy life. That way they will experience some happiness along with all the hard work God gives them under the sun.

 

King Solomon gave us the book of Proverbs and the book of Ecclesiastes. While Proverbs is full of wisdom for success in work and relationships written in a warm and enthusiastic style, Ecclesiastes on the other hand seems cold, a bit harsh and dismissive, of the value of strong desires to do or achieve things.

In Ecclesiastes, Solomon counsels readers, and especially super-ambitious people, that all our efforts are ‘vanity’ or ‘meaningless’ (as used in some Bible translations) ‘under the sun’ – meaning in the long span of time and history of the earth.

Proverbs inspires strong focus on work, strategic thinking, and very careful planning, Ecclesiastes inspires thinking about what is the most meaningful (the opposite of vanity or meaningless) thing to do while on earth. Thus Solomon encourages us to enjoy the simple things like food and drink and laughter.

Solomon’s answer to what is the most meaningful thing to do while on earth, his capstone message out of the fullness of his wisdom, are his very last words in Ecclesiastes 12:13-14: “That’s the whole story. Here now is my final conclusion: Fear God and obey his commands, for this is everyone’s duty. God will judge us for everything we do, including every secret thing, whether good or bad.”

As we enjoy our work, our relationships, our money, our travels and adventures, our food and drink, let’s not forget that the most meaningful thing is our relationship with Yahweh. This is the only thing that is not ‘under the sun’, its the only investment that yields a good return when our time on earth is over.

Lord, help us to have and enjoy our daily portion of food and drink, but most importantly teach us to know you for real, Amen!  

SUPPLICATION – KEY TO PRAYER

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Pray with humility (Image source: PEXELS)  

 

Philippians 4:6 (King James Bible) – Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.

Philippians 4:6 (Weymouth New Testament Bible) – Do not be over-anxious about anything, but by prayer and earnest pleading, together with thanksgiving, let your request be unreservedly made known in the presence of God.

 

Google online dictionary explains supplication to mean ‘the action of asking or begging for something earnestly or humbly.’ It goes on to show other words like ‘petition‘ which may have similar meaning. Thus in many Bible translations they prefer to use ‘petition‘ in the place of ‘supplication‘ in Philippians 4:6.

However, in many places, people commonly understand ‘petition’ to mean to complain about something, or to demand that those in authority take action to correct a problem. ‘Petition’ to many people, does not mean to ask humbly; so the full understanding of Philippians 4:6, to pray earnestly and humbly to God, is lost.

We see a great example of earnest humble pleading in the case of the roadside blind beggar Bartimaeus, in Mark 10:46-52. When he heard that Jesus was passing the Jericho road, he started screaming “Son of David, have mercy on me!” Even when the crowd told him to shut up, he persisted, Jesus heard, and mercifully healed him.

As we pray to God, earnestly – persistently, and with sincere humility, may he be merciful, and answer us generously, in Jesus name, Amen!

GOD’S TRACK RECORD OF CARE AND COMFORT

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God Cares (Image source: Gayle McMillan)

Psalm 46:1-3 (New Living Translation)

God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble. So we will not fear when earthquakes come and the mountains crumble into the sea. Let the oceans roar and foam. Let the mountains tremble as the waters surge!

 

It is no news that life is tough for everyone in different ways; for both rich and poor; and for all groups of people no matter where they come from. Thus, the sons of Korah who wrote Psalm 46 proclaim that God is ‘always ready to help… [even] when earthquakes come’; even when unforeseen big big troubles come our way.

This Psalm is believed to have been written when Israel’s neighbors (and blood cousins) Moab, Ammon, and Edom ganged up to utterly destroy Israel as documented in 2 Chronicles 20:1-30, during the reign of Jehoshaphat king of Judah. Israel was deeply afraid of this vast army but God intervened in power and gave them victory.

There are many episodes like this in the history of Israel. Why are they reported in the Bible? They are in scripture as a testimony, as a track record of God’s powerful care and comfort to all who call on him in faith and hope.

Troubles will not go away, neither will the God who cares quit caring. I pray that Yahweh, the God of heaven and earth, will speedily help you in times of trouble, be it an earthquake or a flood, in Jesus name, Amen!    

HOPE FOR A BETTER LIFE

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Swords into Plowshares (Image slide: Published by Edgar Henry)

 

Matthew 6:10 (New Living Translation) – May your Kingdom come soon. May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.

 

In teaching his followers how to pray, Jesus asked them to begin not with their physical needs, but with a request to God to come and rule the earth. Jesus therefore asked his followers to pray ‘May your kingdom come soon.’

As Jews, the kingdom of God was good news, because the book of the Prophet Isaiah explains that the rule of God on earth, will bring peace on earth, will bring prosperity and abundance for everyone, and will bring justice and fairness.

We read for example in Isaiah 9:6 (New Living Translation) – For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

We also read about how life will be when God rules the earth in Isaiah 11:8 (New Living Translation) – The baby will play safely near the hole of a cobra. Yes, a little child will put its hand in a nest of deadly snakes without harm.

While there have been many outstanding men and women leaders on earth from the past to the present, there have also been many brutal dictators. While life on earth has been excellent for a few, it has been a struggle for the greater majority of people. The Biblical solution is – may your Kingdom O God come soon.

As we work hard in our daily jobs, as we responsibly care for our families, and extend a helping hand to our friends, neighbors and communities, lets also pray often – may your Kingdom come soon, merciful and gracious God, Amen! 

WHAT IS THE KINGDOM OF GOD?

 

The Kingdom of God

Psalm 85 world of peace and justice by J. A. Swanson (Source: Eyekons Gallery

 

Matthew 6:31-33 (God’s Word Translation) – “Don’t ever worry and say, ‘What are we going to eat?’ or ‘What are we going to drink?’ or ‘What are we going to wear?’ Everyone is concerned about these things, and your heavenly Father certainly knows you need all of them. But first, be concerned about his kingdom and what has his approval. Then all these things will be provided for you.

 

The above passage is part of a longer conversation where Jesus is teaching his followers not to be too anxious about how they will obtain their daily needs. Jesus says to them that if their first concern is about the ‘kingdom of God’, their other material needs will be provided for. This is a promise and a commitment from Jesus.

What is this ‘kingdom of God’? Earlier in Matthew 6:10, Jesus taught his followers to pray “Let your kingdom come. Let your will be done on earth as it is done in heaven.” The kingdom of God is any place where God’s will is the guiding light; and the foundational principles that powers everything in this kingdom are:

‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and most important commandment. The second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as you love yourself’ – Matthew 22:37-39

Thus, wherever there is a sincere abounding love of God and a sincere abounding love of neighbor, the kingdom of God has taken root in that place. So, the kingdom of God is not a place we are going to get to by entering an airplane, a ship or a car; its’ about people, its’ about a loving relationship with God and with one another.

May the God of mercy and grace, give you a fuller understanding about his kingdom of limitless love, that he is building on earth today, Amen!

JESUS SCANDALOUS CLAIMS…

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The communion table (Source: Chloe event planner)

John 6:41-66 (shortened) (New Living Translation)

Then the people began to murmur in disagreement because he had said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.”

“I tell you the truth… I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will live forever; and this bread, which I will offer so the world may live, is my flesh.” Then the people began arguing with each other about what he meant. “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” they asked.

So Jesus said again, “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you cannot have eternal life within you… I am the true bread that came down from heaven…” At this point many of his disciples turned away and deserted him.

 

To many today who have grown up in Christianity influenced homes and societies, these words of Jesus may not sound so alarming and scandalous. To the Jews back then, Jesus claiming to be ‘the bread of life’ was equating himself with God (Yahweh); to them Jesus was sounding crazy, consequently many of his followers left him.

Jesus strengthened his claim to be ‘the bread of life’ by adding that ‘unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you cannot have eternal life’ – meaning we have to fully believe and accept that everything about Jesus, his actions and character, his words and thoughts, his agenda and purpose, are all important for our redemption.

This claim of Jesus that we believe and accept that he is the absolutely essential and fundamental element for redemption and progress of humanity to a better life, was scandalous to the Jews, and has remained scandalous to many people. Every person must decide whether they accept or reject this ‘bread of life’ claim of Jesus.

Dear God, help us to clearly understand these issues, and guide us in our decision making, so we will not miss out on eternal life, Amen!   

JOY – FULL – NESS…

Photography of Woman Surrounded by Sunflowers
Joyful woman in sunflower field (Source: PEXELS; Andre Furtado

John 2:9-11 (New Living Translation)

When the master of ceremonies tasted the water that was now wine, not knowing where it had come from (though, of course, the servants knew), he called the bridegroom over. “A host always serves the best wine first,” he said. “Then, when everyone has had a lot to drink, he brings out the less expensive wine. But you have kept the best until now!” 

This miraculous sign at Cana in Galilee was the first time Jesus revealed his glory. And his disciples believed in him.

 

Weddings all over the world are often joyful events bringing together families, friends, and sometimes entire communities – eating, drinking, dancing and making merriment in good spirits. The more wine there is, the more the cheerfulness; the better the quality of the wine, the more the gladness and delight of the wedding guests.

In this passage about the wedding in Cana, Jesus turned water to wine, his first miracle, and it was astonishing. The master of ceremonies, a person with experience and responsibility to make the wedding feast an amazing experience, tasted the wine and went looking for the groom to commend him for its super-fine quality.

What a way for Jesus to announce himself to the world! He is at a happy place and made it even more joy-full. As I travel through this sometimes difficult world, I want this super-fine wine that Jesus gives, to flavor my journey with JOY-FULL-NESS daily, unfailingly, and this is my prayer for you too, Amen!