This week’s devotional prepares the reader for a May sermon series on the book of Ecclesiastes, one of the controversial and very interesting books of the Bible. In this little book a guy called “Qoheleth” or preacher talks about his journey from disillusionment to meaning. It is a good look a the dilemma of modern man who darts from one interest to another attempting to find the thing that will bring meaning and depth to life.
Prayer for the Week:
Dear God, you are eternal, all-wise, dwelling above and beyond our consciousness. You are a mystery, unknowable through our own capacity, and the source of certainty and uncertainty. At times of struggle and darkness we seek for you like Qoheleth. At other times we flee from you like Jonah. So we ask you for illumination and direction. Help us to understand the truth when it seems unreachable. May we always end at You. We pray this through Jesus, who embodied You on this earth. Amen.
Daily Bible Readings:
Monday, April 30. Read Jonah 1:1-3. 1) What did God ask Jonah to do in this text? 2) What did Jonah do in response? 3) Read 4:5-9 and describe Jonah’s reaction to God’s treatment of Ninevah? 4) What questions do you think Jonah was asking?
Tuesday, May 1. Read Job 1:18-21; 2:7-10. 1) What happened to Job in the beginning of the book of Job? 2) What did Job do in response? 3) How do you think you would have responded? How did Job’s wife respond? 4) What do you think Job wished that God would say or do?
Wednesday, May 2. Read Lamentations 1:1-6; 3:1-9. 1) In these verses, what do you discover has happened to Israel? 2) Think about how you would feel if a similar thing happened to your homeland. How would you react? 3) How does Jeremiah describe his own response and questions?
Thursday, May 3. Read 1 Kings 19:1-14. 1) What was Ahab and Jezebel threatening to do to Elijah? 2) What was Elijah’s response? Do you think he was courageous at this moment? 3) What was God’s response to him?
Friday, May 4. Read Genesis 12:1-9. 1) What did God ask of Abraham? 2) Knowing the ancients’ connection to the land and heritage, how do you think you would have responded to this request to uproot his life? 3) What questions of meaning and purpose do you think might have arisen for Abraham?
Saturday, May 5. Read Ecclesiastes 1:1-11. This is Sunday’s sermon text.
Hymn of the Week:
A Mighty Fortress
by Martin Luther, 1529
A mighty fortress is our God,
a bulwark never failing;
our helper he, amid the flood
of mortal ills prevailing.
For still our ancient foe
does seek to work us woe;
his craft and power are great,
and armed with cruel hate,
on earth is not his equal.
Did we in our own strength confide,
our striving would be losing,
were not the right Man on our side,
the Man of God’s own choosing.
You ask who that may be?
Christ Jesus, it is he;
Lord Sabaoth his name,
from age to age the same;
and he must win the battle.
And though this world, with devils filled,
should threaten to undo us,
we will not fear, for God has willed
his truth to triumph through us.
The prince of darkness grim,
we tremble not for him;
his rage we can endure,
for lo! his doom is sure;
one little word shall fell him.
That Word above all earthly powers
no thanks to them abideth;
the Spirit and the gifts are ours
through him who with us sideth.
Let goods and kindred go,
this mortal life also;
the body they may kill:
God’s truth abideth still;
his kingdom is forever!
Devotional Article of the Week:
Most of us want to live longer. What for?
by Tim Archer
This time of year brings the beginning of the school year here in the U.S. It always reminds me of a story I heard from Stanley Shipp.
Stanley told about meeting a young man who told him that he was studying medicine. “What for?,” Stanley asked.
“To become a doctor,” the young man replied with a smile.
“So that I can help people not to be sick.”
“So they can live longer lives.”
“Well, I don’t know …” the young medical student stammered.
“That,” Stanley said with a smile, “is where I’ve got something to share with you.”
What’s the point of living longer if we don’t know what to do with the extra time? There has to be more of a purpose to life than just avoiding death. That’s where science can sell us short and modern philosophies can leave us cold. If our whole purpose is to live a few years then pass into oblivion, then there’s really not much of a point to life.
Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10). Some complain that Christianity is just a “pie in the sky” religion, merely holding out hope of something after this life. They fail to see that without hope for life after death, there can be no true hope in this life. There can be no meaning. There can be no purpose.
Jesus came to bring life, life to the fullest. He is no “pale Galilean” that steals the joy from life; he is the one who can make sense out of our existence here. He can answer the “What for?” that stares each of us in the face. He can take empty lives and turn them into lives of meaning.