TODAY’S READING FROM THE OLD TESTAMENT- ECCLESIASTES 4:1-6:12.
The Teacher (Reporter, Quester, Speaker) is giving his perspective on society (3:18-4:3). He observes injustice (3:16-17), oppression (4:1), depression (4:2-3), competition (4:4-7) and work addiction (4:8). He observes the need for cooperation (4:9-12).
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 9 Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. 10 For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up. 11 Furthermore, if two lie down together they keep warm, but how can one be warm alone? 12 And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart.
He recognizes the games that people play as they jockey for power, not only in the political arena of the palace, but also in the religious circle of the pious (4:13-5:7).
As the Qoheleth takes us from the palace to the temple we see that there are people in the temple who have no sense of what worship is all about. They are going through the motions, not really knowing Who God is. They are also quick to make promises that they can’t keep (legalism) (5:2-7).
The reporter is giving us a documentary of the vanity of the lifestyles of the rich and famous. There are several dysfunctions that accompany wealth- aloofness (5:8-9); addiction (5:10-11) and anxiety (5:12).
Ecclesiastes 5:10-11 10 He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves abundance with its income. This too is vanity. 11 When good things increase, those who consume them increase. So what is the advantage to their owners except to look on?
The reporter also adds that money brings additional problems. Where do you put it? (5:13) How do you manage it? (Luke 12:15-21) It can be lost (5:14). It will be lost (5:15).
Many have difficulty enjoying the wealth that they have (5:16-17). The Reporter encourages those who hear him to enjoy the good things that God gives (5:18-20).
The ability to enjoy what God gives us, is a gift. Some people have the wealth, but not the gift of being able to enjoy it (6:1-3).
The vanity of the world system is clearly proclaimed.
Ecclesiastes 6:7 7 All a man’s labor is for his mouth and yet the appetite is not satisfied.
The reporter asks questions. Who is better off? It is not necessarily the one who has the greatest wealth. It most likely is the one who has a capacity to enjoy what he or she has. This is contentment.
We need to question what we find ourselves desiring in life. (Eccles 6:8-9)
The futility of life without Christ is described well in this chapter.
It was considered a sign of God’s favor to have abundant wealth and a large family. Yet, if at the end of life there is no one who loves you and laments your death, were you truly blessed? (Eccles 6:3-6).
Good things and the ability to enjoy them come from God.
1 Timothy 6:17 17 Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy.
Death is a certainty. How you respond to God’s grace in this life is of the greatest importance.
Chapter 6 concludes with the realization that our own understanding is finite and limited. We think we know what constitutes ‘the good life’ but we don’t. We don’t know how the achievements and contributions we make in our lifetimes will be remembered, appreciated or interpreted in the future. These are all the more reasons to live rightly related to God under the Word, having our heart’s understanding enlightened by the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Christ Jesus.
TODAY’S READING IN THE NEW TESAMENT- 2 CORINTHIANS 6:14- 7:7
Paul clearly expounds the dangers of an unequal yoke. Just as two different kinds of animals cannot wear the same yoke in a united task, so two people who do not share the same life, faith, values and fundamental goals should not join in marriage or a business enterprise.
The concept of the unequal yoke comes from Deuteronomy 22:10.
Deuteronomy 22:10 10 “You shall not plow with an ox and a donkey together.
The ox and the donkey have two different natures and would not work well together.”
We are made for fellowship with God and fellowship with the saints. Notice how Paul uses words that emphasize harmony (concord) and agreement.
The Biblical doctrine of separation is not the same thing as isolation. We are in the world but not of it.
Paul reminded the Corinthians in his first letter that we do not yoke ourselves with the unbelieving world, yet we do bring the gospel into that world.
1 Corinthians 5:9-11 9 I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people; 10 I did not at all mean with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolaters, for then you would have to go out of the world. 11 But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler—not even to eat with such a one.
Paul’s call for separation is similar to the call of the prophet Isaiah.
Isaiah 52:11 11 Depart, depart, go out from there, Touch nothing unclean; Go out of the midst of her, purify yourselves, You who carry the vessels of the LORD.
This call to pursue holiness continue through to the beginning of Chapter 7.
2 Corinthians 7:1 1 Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.
Paul continues to defend his integrity as a minister of the gospel.
He did not want his example to mislead others or cause them to stumble. He lists the many trials that he endured for them. He was not a fair-weather friend. His commitment to them was evident in the sufferings and sacrifices that he endured on their behalf.
TODAY’S READING FROM THE BOOK OF PSALMS- Psalm 47:1-9
And from Psalms- Psalm 47:1-9
In Psalm 46, we saw God as a Refuge and present help in times of trouble. He is worthy of our trust. In Psalm 47 we see God as the Great Ruler, and He is worthy of our obedience.
He subdued nations on our behalf and in His great love, He wrote us into His last will and testament, winning our inheritance for us.
Exuberant praise is due Him. We praise Him with musical instruments, with clapping, in song, with standing ovations, and shouts of joy!
There is nothing humdrum for us here. God is the King of all the earth, reigns over all the nations, is seated on the Throne, and all the kings of earth belong to Him! He is the Sovereign Lord and is greatly exalted.
TODAY’S READING FROM THE BOOK OF PROVERBS – PROVERBS 22:16
This is a good proverb to enlighten the way we treat people.
Proverbs 22:16 16 He who oppresses the poor to make more for himself or who gives to the rich, will only come to poverty.
PRAY FOR THE NATIONS – MONGOLIA
Area: 1,565,000 sq. km
Grassland, forests in north, three major mountain ranges and the great Gobi Desert in the east and south. Subject to climatic extremes.
Population: 2,701,117 Annual Growth: 1.16%
Capital: Ulaanbataar (Ulan Bator)
Official language: Khalkha Mongolian Languages: 15 All languages
Largest Religion: Buddhist
Answer to Prayer
In 1989 there may have been only four Mongolian Christians. By 2000, there was an estimated community of 8,000 to 10,000. Today, there are over 40,000 believers in hundreds of churches and groups, meeting in most parts of the country.
Challenge for Prayer
The difficult economic situation, a major challenge for the government, deeply affects every aspect of life – employment, education, children’s welfare and others. The very feasibility of traditional nomadic pastoralism is under threat. “Insider capitalism” yields great wealth for a few but gripping poverty for many others. Failing to address this adequately has already caused the collapse of one government. Pray that the leaders of Mongolia might rule with fairness and wisdom.
Mongols pillaged and tore through Eurasia in the 13th century, leaving their enemies with no choice but surrender, and the name Genghis Khan rang throughout the world with a chilling pitch. The Mongol empire was established in the might and power of their leader. However, in the 14th century the empire broke apart and by the 17th century was ruled by the Chinese. It was not until 1921 that Mongolia gained independence with Soviet backing. The nation now rests between China and Russia, barren and marked with deserts and pastures. This empty landscape mimics the lack of national pride.
The 2008 global financial crisis dramatically effected Mongolia, as a steep plunge in commodity prices greatly reduced the government’s revenue. Severe weather has claimed over 20% of the nation’s livestock, thus doubling meat prices. Despite this, Mongolia has one of the world’s fasted growing economies. Sitting on untapped mineral wealth, Mongolia is attracting significant foreign investment and now has the second highest GDP growth rate in the world. In addition to traditional herding and agriculture, tourism is also key to the economy.
Lamaistic Buddhism has been on the rise since independence, and in 1989 there were only an estimated four Christians in the entire nation. Praise God that today there are over 40,000 Mongolian Christians! The Church is less than a generation old, and is already actively sending missionaries to unreached areas of their nation and operating ministries within Mongolia. It has proven difficult for foreign missionaries to adapt to Mongolian culture and the naturally harsh living conditions. Crime, alcoholism, and prostitution have led to suffering and exploitation within the country. The Church in Mongolia must become more united in order to tackle these tough social issues.
PRAYER: Father, every good thing given and every perfect gift comes from You. May these gifts never take the place of You, the Giver, in our affections. You alone are God. Thank You for Your self-revelation in the Word! In Christ Jesus, You have provided for our reconciliation, our peace, our victory and our eternal inheritance. May we never tire of discovering new mercies. Inspire us to fresh obedience and exuberant praise. Bless our brothers and sisters in Christ around the world. And may we be an enduring testimony to the oneness, the faithfulness and the grace we have received. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.