September 4th One Year Bible Readings
Ecclesiastes 7:1-9:18 ~ 2 Corinthians 7:8-16 ~ Psalm 48:1-14 ~ Proverbs 22:17-19
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Old Testament - Our readings in Ecclesiastes today reminded me of Solomon's writings in Proverbs! (It was likely the same author of both books - well, most of the Proverbs - hence the connection) It seemed like a series of Proverbs in today's readings - albeit with a more pessimistic view than the typical Proverbs we read... but still, overall great teachings and great reminders of how empty and vain life is apart from God. I love Chapter 7 verse 20, which is something we all probably need to be reminded of: "There is not a single person in all the earth who is always good and never sins." And certainly that was true back then and now. Jesus was the only one ever to walk the earth who never sinned. Now, to go along with verse 20 we later read verse 28, which I'm thinking probably did not make women too happy to read: "Just one out of every thousand men I interviewed can be said to be upright, but not one woman!" Now, first and foremost, keep in mind this is the author of Ecclesiastes' opinion or experience - not God saying this. Scripture does not declare anywhere that women are morally inferior to men. The bottom line of this verse is that basically no one is upright - men or women. The next verse 29 then says: "I discovered that God created people to be upright, but they have each turned to follow their own downward path." This verse again reminds us that though we were created for righteousness, we are broken. We are sinners. We are in need of a Savior. How about you? Do you know anyone who is always good and never sins? Anyone who does not need a Savior to forgive and heal them of their brokenness? Do you believe God created people to be upright? Without God and Jesus in our lives, do you think we are in severe danger of following our own downward path...
Now, another verse that says "women" but that I think could just as well say "men" is chapter 7 verse 26 - "I discovered that a seductive woman is more bitter than death. Her passion is a trap, and her soft hands will bind you. Those who please God will escape from her, but sinners will be caught in her snare." This verse stood out to me as I read it, for one very modern and very dangerous reason: internet pornography. Now, I know I don't need to tell anyone reading this that internet pornography is an incredibly serious problem affecting far too many people. Many of whom are Christians. The reason this verse stood out to me was the reminder that internet pornography is literally a snare that so many people are caught in. They can't escape it. Well, they can, but it's not easy on their own. I have a hunch that someone reading this is addicted to internet pornography. Or, maybe isn't addicted - yet - but checks it out on occasion. Let me warn anyone who ever goes to an internet pornography site - it is a snare! A trap. Like chapter 9 verse 12 in Ecclesiastes today says: "Like fish in a net or birds in a snare, people are often caught by sudden tragedy." Visiting a pornography website even once is a sudden tragedy that has come to your doorstep. You will then be like a fish in a net or a bird in a snare. You will need much prayer and counseling to escape it's lure. I write this to warn folks too who have never visited an internet pornography site, but maybe someday in the future will be tempted to do so. Don't do it. Ever. Run from it. Flee. Actually, I've had to think about this because I know some of my friends (friends from many years ago - who I still try to witness to) watch pornographic movies on occasion. I know it happens at bachelor parties, etc. Honestly, I don't go to bachelor parties at all these days - unless I know for sure there won't be any of this nonsense. But, I have a hunch someday I may be surprised at some gathering where a porn movie will be shown. And guess what? I will run. Literally, I will flee that location of wherever that movie is being shown, and I won't look back. Why? I won't just sit there and let that stuff pollute my mind. Pollute my very soul. Pornography is exactly that - soul pollution. It pollutes your soul! I realize I've been typing way too long on this issue - but I do so because I know it's a major issue for our society today. It is a major issue for the church. Please let me encourage you in that if you are ever in a situation with friends that pornography or strippers or anything like that appears that you literally run. Flee. And don't look back. And don't fret about what your friends think. Your soul is so much more important. If anyone reading this is currently struggling with pornography, let me encourage you to talk to someone you trust about it immediately, and get help. Today. Go to counseling. You cannot get out of the snare on your own. You may succeed for short periods of time, but long-term you are going to need some help. But, through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and his precious blood poured out on the Cross for our sins, yes, indeed you can be freed of the snare of pornography. You quickly need to run toward your freedom in Christ now; connect with pastors, friends & counselors who can keep you accountable and give you tools to beat this; and then please don't ever look back to that which pollutes your very soul. In Christ, my brothers and sisters, we are forgiven. And Forgiveness will heal us. If we will let Him.
If you are struggling with pornography or any other sexual sin, Bible.org has some good essays and Q&A related to temptation (scroll down to the bottom of the page for the Q&A) at this link. If anyone else has helpful resources (books, websites, etc.) that will help others be free of pornography addictions or other sexual sin, please share in the Comments section below? Thanks. Also, near the bottom of this post is a 28 minute GodTube video about the severe issue of pornography in our society today.
New Testament - Second Corinthians chapter 7 verses 9 & 10 teaches us a great lesson - "It was the kind of sorrow God wants his people to have, so you were not harmed by us in any way. For God can use sorrow in our lives to help us turn away from sin and seek salvation. We will never regret that kind of sorrow." Do you believe that God can use sorrow for redemptive purposes? Do you believe there is such a thing as godly sorrow? Can sorrow turn us away from sin and toward salvation? Have you ever experienced such a sorrow? I know that I have. There have been times in my life in the past where I was pursuing the false glamour of sin. And that pursuit of sin delivered great sorrow. But, thanks be to God for that sorrow! It was a godly sorrow that turned me away from sin and toward God's salvation. So, if you are experiencing sorrow in your life right now, or when you do, please seek God in the midst of the sorrow. Perhaps the sorrow was not caused by your sin, as it was in my case. But perhaps God can still use that sorrow ultimately for his redemptive purposes.
Bible.org's commentary on today's Second Corinthians readings titled "Good Grief" is at this link.
Psalms - Psalm 48 is a celebratory Psalm of Mount Zion in Jerusalem, as verse 8 reads: "We had heard of the city's glory, but now we have seen it ourselves- the city of the LORD Almighty. It is the city of our God; he will make it safe forever."
I like verse 10 a lot in this Psalm: "As your name deserves, O God, you will be praised to the ends of the earth." I have had the good fortune to travel many places on this planet, and I will admit that it always encourages me to no end when I see God being praised and worshiped in other cultures. I always try to visit churches wherever I travel on Sundays, and I love seeing how different cultures worship God. One of the most memorable experiences was in the Dominican Republic in a very impoverished community. I honestly don't know that I have ever seen a congregation worship God so wholeheartedly than I did that day in the DR. It was beautiful. The other thing I am reminded of when traveling is that when we are in relationship with Jesus, God is always with us no matter where we go. When we're 35,000 feet above the ground in an airplane, God is with us. When we're in the middle of nowhere that has no church - God is with us. So, no matter where we go, if God is with us, we have the opportunity to praise God's name to the ends of the earth! Even if you're traveling to some far off locale where no one else around you would praise God, will you?
Proverbs - Proverbs 22 verses 17 through 19 today are a great reminder for why we read and study the Bible! "Listen to the words of the wise; apply your heart to my instruction. For it is good to keep these sayings deep within yourself, always ready on your lips. I am teaching you today--yes, you--so you will trust in the LORD." Great stuff. I love the part that says it is good to keep these saying deep within yourself - in your heart! And to memorize these sayings with your mind so that they are always ready on your lips. Are you listening to the words of the Bible? Are you applying your heart to the Bible's instruction? Is studying the Bible enhancing your trust in God? Actually - if anyone out there memorizes Scripture, please post up in the Comments section below? I would love to know which verses you have found useful in your life? And - if anyone has advice on how to best go about memorizing Scripture, please post that up too. Are you memorizing Scripture on a regular basis? Are you bringing Scripture to mind when faced with temptation or sadness or whatever ails you?
Video: Speaking of pornography in the Old Testament comments above today, below is a very informative 28 minute GodTube video about pornography produced by Beyond Today, a Christian TV show. Gary Antion, a licensed Christian marriage family counselor, is interviewed in this video. It's just an interview with Gary, so no worries about any images that might make you struggle or anything like that. If you do struggle with pornography, make sure you get to the 25 minute mark of this video for some specific advice from Gary.
Please join us in memorizing and meditating on a verse of Scripture today: "Who is like the wise? Who knows the explanation of things? Wisdom brightens the face and changes its hard appearance." Ecclesiastes 8:1 TNIV
Prayer Point: Pray for godly wisdom in your life today and forevermore.
Comments from You: What verses or insights stand out to you in today's readings? Please post up by clicking on the "Comments" link below!