Acts 13 and 14

In Acts 13-14  we are seeing God’s purposes for the Gentiles, like gushing torrents, bursting forth onto the pages of History. God has plans to redeem the Gentiles, to offer them salvation. 
 
We see this happening through Paul’s first Missionary Journey as he establishes and encourages churches all through the Gentile regions he visits. This reminds us of God’s purposes ( Daniel 7 ) to draw many nations together in his Son Jesus Christ in order that they might worship him. On a practical level this encourages us to think about the Church as a visible manifestation of God’s eternal church, here today – with multi cultures, languages and nations gathering together, united by Christ himself. It also reminds us that we are called to promote this kingdom with whatever resources we have, to share the good news and to see the Kingdom grow. 
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Acts 13-14

Ecclesiastes 4:4-8 “Motivation and Work”

What motivates you in your work?
The reality for many of us is that this is a very dynamic and hard question to ask.  We often don’t analyse our own motives and instead often just go though the motions as we seek to provide for needs and desires.  In Colossians 3:23 Paul reminds us that no matter what we do, we should do it heartily as for the Lord and not for men.
The question then becomes;  Are you motivated by a desire to serve and please the Lord Jesus Christ in your work?  The reason this is so important to ask ourselves this question is because Solomon in Ecclesiastes 4:4-8 identifies two common, productive ways that we are motivated to work which aren’t healthy or biblical.  The first is to be motivated to work by envy, the second is to be motivated to work by discontentment.
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Then I saw that all toil and all skill in work come from a man’s envy of his neighbor. This also is vanity[a] and a striving after wind.

The fool folds his hands and eats his own flesh.

Better is a handful of quietness than two hands full of toil and a striving after wind.

Again, I saw vanity under the sun: one person who has no other, either son or brother, yet there is no end to all his toil, and his eyes are never satisfied with riches, so that he never asks, “For whom am I toiling and depriving myself of pleasure?” This also is vanity and an unhappy business.

Ecclesiastes 3:16- 4:3 “Disillusioned”

To become disillusioned – you become disappointed in someone or something as you discover them to be less good than you had believed. For example – A pupil can become disillusioned when they take a complaint about bullying to the Principal who then proceeds to ignore his complaint because the bully is one of the star players in the first 15 rugby team.
Solomon is clearly in a state of disillusionment with the world and the people in it as he writes in this text today. The reason for his disillusionment being that he is seeing the horrible ways that people are willing to treat one another.
However, Solomon in this situation still remains hopeful. What is it promotes hope in such a depressing situation?
The hope he has that one day the Lord will come again to judge.
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Ecclesiastes 3:16-4:3

16 Moreover, I saw under the sun that in the place of justice, even there was wickedness, and in the place of righteousness, even there was wickedness. 17 I said in my heart, God will judge the righteous and the wicked, for there is a time for every matter and for every work. 18 I said in my heart with regard to the children of man that God is testing them that they may see that they themselves are but beasts. 19 For what happens to the children of man and what happens to the beasts is the same; as one dies, so dies the other. They all have the same breath, and man has no advantage over the beasts, for all is vanity.[a] 20 All go to one place. All are from the dust, and to dust all return. 21 Who knows whether the spirit of man goes upward and the spirit of the beast goes down into the earth? 22 So I saw that there is nothing better than that a man should rejoice in his work, for that is his lot. Who can bring him to see what will be after him?

Evil Under the Sun

Again I saw all the oppressions that are done under the sun. And behold, the tears of the oppressed, and they had no one to comfort them! On the side of their oppressors there was power, and there was no one to comfort them. And I thought the dead who are already dead more fortunate than the living who are still alive. But better than both is he who has not yet been and has not seen the evil deeds that are done under the sun.

Matthew 15:1-20 “Lets try to understand the Pharisees”

The Pharisees come from a long tradition.
  • They are quick to criticise others
  • They nullify the law by their traditions
  • They are hypocritical
  • They disregard the Heart
Let us be careful to study our own heart, in case there be Pharisaical spirit in us.
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Matthew 15:1-20

Then Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem and said, “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat.” He answered them, “And why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? For God commanded, ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’ But you say, ‘If anyone tells his father or his mother, “What you would have gained from me is given to God,”[a] he need not honor his father.’ So for the sake of your tradition you have made void the word[b] of God. You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said:

“‘This people honors me with their lips,
    but their heart is far from me;
in vain do they worship me,
    teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’”

What Defiles a Person

10 And he called the people to him and said to them, “Hear and understand: 11 it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person.” 12 Then the disciples came and said to him, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?” 13 He answered, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be rooted up.14 Let them alone; they are blind guides.[c] And if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.” 15 But Peter said to him, “Explain the parable to us.” 16 And he said, “Are you also still without understanding? 17 Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth passes into the stomach and is expelled?[d] 18 But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. 20 These are what defile a person. But to eat with unwashed hands does not defile anyone.”

 

Ecclesiastes 3:9-15 “Purpose”

To have a strong sense of purpose is one of those things that we as humans seem to crave.
We seem to thrive, when we know what it is we want to do with our lives, that whatever we want to do is actually significant and that we are able to get it done.
The reality though, is that, We often experience frustration and confusion regarding our own particular purpose in this life.Which is what makes Solomon’s wisdom so helpful –  In Ecclesiastes 3 9-15 Solomon gives us a reason for why this frustration might exist.
That reason being that God in his wisdom has actually made it happen this way. Made in his Image, Made like Him, We have been designed with a desire to be purposeful. Yet we have been given limitations. We can’t perfectly understand our purpose. Why on earth would Ido do this? So that we continue to trust and worship him.
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Ecclesiastes 3:9-15

What gain has the worker from his toil? 10 I have seen the business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with. 11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. 12 I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live;13 also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil—this is God’s gift to man.

14 I perceived that whatever God does endures forever; nothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from it. God has done it, so that people fear before him. 15 That which is, already has been; that which is to be, already has been; and God seeks what has been driven away.[a]