time

Under the Fig Tree

It's been said, "those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it." On the other hand, we can also be preoccupied with the future. Whether it's economic or weather forecasts or the imaginings of science fiction, we want to know what's going to happen next.

We're locked into a time continuum of past, present, and future. The only way to be free from repeating history or preoccupation with the future is to know and trust in the One who is eternal, who holds the future in His hands.

Don't Turn Back!

History is full of examples and stories of people exhibiting great endurance and perseverance. American history is no different. Colonial settlers faced great odds, uncertainty, and opposition, as they carved out a life in a new land and birthed a new nation.

As the nation expanded westward, it faced new challenges in unsettled territories. The same is true when modern aviation was born which paved the way for manned space flights.

Countless and untold heroic stories of perseverance took place in battles for freedom from the Revolutionary War to present conflicts in the Middle East.

Perseverance is way under-valued. It's usually not exciting or glamorous but is a vital element in the pursuit of freedom. And so it with the Christian faith. Spiritual endurance and perseverance are key to a genuine life of faith.

Scripture

Remember the past, when you first learned the truth. You endured a lot of hardship and pain. At times you were publicly insulted and mistreated. At times you associated with people who were treated this way.

You suffered with prisoners. You were cheerful even though your possessions were stolen, since you know that you have a better and more permanent possession. [vss 32-34]

So don’t lose your confidence. It will bring you a great reward. You need endurance so that after you have done what God wants you to do, you can receive what he has promised.

“Yet, the one who is coming will come soon. He will not delay. The person who has God’s approval will live by faith. But if he turns back, I will not be pleased with him.”

We don’t belong with those who turn back and are destroyed. Instead, we belong with those who have faith and are saved. [vss 35-39]

(Hebrews 10:32-39 GW) [Context– Hebrews 10]

Key phrase—

So don’t lose your confidence—it will bring you a great reward

Digging Deeper...

Review the Scriptures above as you answer the following questions

  • What are these believers encouraged to remember? What specific things are pointed out?

  • What are they exhorted not to lose and what do they need to have to receive what God promised?

  • Why are these exhortations necessary? How are they connected to the consistent and primary theme of the book of Hebrews?

  • What is the last encouraging statement? How was this encouraging to those believers then and for us now?

Reflection...

This strong exhortation encouraged believers to not go back to an empty and dead form of religion. It is as true today for us as it was for them.

Are you discouraged in your faith? Are things in life not going the way you expected and hoped? Don't turn back! Keep pressing on in faith. Endure. Persevere.

God is faithful and we need to be faithful to Him. He will not abandon us even though it may seem like that from our limited view of life. He won't abandon us even when we fail Him or stumble in our faith. If you want God's acceptance and approval, then continue in your faith. 

The Lord is faithful and He promised to return for those who trust in Him. Even though it may seem like an overdue promise, it's not. God is far more patient and longsuffering than we are. We just need to trust Him and persevere.

Make it personal...

Read through the Scripture text again as you consider and answer these questions

  • Have you wondered at times why you should keep doing what is right and just and good?

  • Can you see how very personal God's promises are? Do you understand how personal faith is?

  • What is discouraging you right now? Are you willing to entrust this to the Lord?

  • In what ways has God shown His faithfulness to you? Allow those things to encourage you to endure in your faith!

©2017—Word-Strong


Here's a free introduction for the book of Hebrews— Intro to studying Hebrews

Investment, Risk and Time

A bit of confusion exists for many about the idea of karma. It's primarily Hindu in origin, and is loosely related to the cause and effect of deeds or work.

But it is not equivalent to the biblical law of sowing and reaping. They are different concepts. Sowing and reaping is an agricultural term that illustrates the idea of sowing seeds to produce a crop or harvest. It's an investment that brings a return.

It also includes a sense of risk. Time and other factors affect this risk. Life is an investment, so invest wisely.

Scripture

Do good wherever you go. After a while, the good you do will come back to you. Invest what you have in several different things. You don’t know what bad things might happen on earth. There are some things you can be sure of. If clouds are full of rain, they will pour water on the earth. If a tree falls—to the south or to the north—then it will stay where it falls. [vss 1-3]

But there are some things that you cannot be sure of. You must take a chance. If you wait for perfect weather, you will never plant your seeds. If you are afraid that every cloud will bring rain, you will never harvest your crops. You don’t know where the wind blows. And you don’t know how a baby grows in its mother’s womb. In the same way, you don’t know what God will do—and he makes everything happen. So begin planting early in the morning, and don’t stop working until evening. You don’t know what might make you rich. Maybe everything you do will be successful. [vss 4-6]

It is good to be alive. It is nice to see the light from the sun. You should enjoy every day of your life, no matter how long you live. But remember that you will die, and you will be dead much longer than you were alive. And after you are dead, you cannot do anything. [vss 7-8]

So young people, enjoy yourselves while you are young. Be happy. Do whatever your heart leads you to do. Do whatever you want, but remember that God will judge you for everything you do. Don’t let your anger control you, and don’t let your body lead you to sin. People do foolish things in the dawn of life while they are young. [vss 9-10]

(Ecclesiastes 11:1-10 GW) [Context– Ecclesiastes 11]

Key phrase—Do good wherever you go. After a while, the good you do will come back to you.

[bctt tweet="Do good wherever you go. After a while, the good you do will come back to you."]

Digging Deeper...

Review the Scriptures above as you answer the following questions

What are we encouraged to do? What can we count on and what can't we be sure of?

What do we not know, and what advice is given because of that?

What realities are certain, and how should this affect how we live?

What's the advice and caution given to young people? How does the caution relate to the advice given at first?

Reflection...

Some people say they have no regrets in life and wouldn't change how they lived earlier in life. But most of us, if we're honest with ourselves, know some things could have been better.

We can't change the past, but we can learn from it, if we're willing to do so. We can also learn from the example of other's lives, both good and bad.

This life has no guarantees about how much time we have to live, or how much happiness we'll know. But good is better than evil, and God honors what is good.

We can choose to invest in what is good—for our own life and the lives of others. It's worth the risk.

Make it personal...

Read through the Scripture text again as you consider and answer these questions

How often do you allow what you can't control in life to control you?

How has doing good returned to you in some way?

When have you not taken a risk and wished you did? When have you been glad you took a risk?

What have you learned from the foolish things you've done earlier in life? How has it benefitted you?

Life Before Death

People have differing views of destiny. Some see it as set in stone. Others challenge what seems to be their fate throughout life. I'm sure there are those who try to ignore it altogether.

It's been said that the only things in life that are certain are death and taxes. I don't know if taxes are that certain, but death claims us all. We just don't know when and how, not that most of us want to know.

Whatever your thoughts about destiny or taxes, death is certain. But, there is life before death.

Scripture

Now, I have carefully thought about all this, and I explain it in this way: Righteous people and wise people, along with their accomplishments, are in God’s hands. No one knows whether there will be love or hatred. Everything turns out the same way for everyone. All people will share the same destiny, whether they are righteous, wicked, or good, clean or unclean, whether they offer sacrifices or don’t offer sacrifices. Good people are treated like sinners. People who take oaths are treated like those who are afraid to take oaths. [vss 1-2]

This is the tragedy of everything that happens under the sun: Everyone shares the same destiny. Moreover, the hearts of mortals are full of evil. Madness is in their hearts while they are still alive. After that, they join the dead. But all who are among the living have hope, because a living dog is better than a dead lion. The living know that they will die, but the dead don’t know anything. There is no more reward for the dead when the memory of them has faded. Their love, their hate, and their passions have already vanished. They will never again take part in anything that happens under the sun. [vss 3-6]

Go, enjoy eating your food, and drink your wine cheerfully, because God has already accepted what you’ve done. Always wear clean clothes, and never go without lotion on your head. Enjoy life with your wife, whom you love, during all your brief, pointless life. God has given you your pointless life under the sun. This is your lot [in life] and what you get for the hard work that you do under the sun. Whatever presents itself for you to do, do it with [all] your might, because there is no work, planning, knowledge, or skill in the grave where you’re going. [vss 7-10]

(Ecclesiastes 9:1-10 GW) [Context– Ecclesiastes 9]

Key phrase—A living dog is better than a dead lion

[bctt tweet="A living dog is better than a dead lion"]

Digging Deeper...

Review the Scriptures above as you answer the following questions

How is the state of death a great equalizer of people?

Why is it (death) the destiny of all people, whether good or bad?

Since death is certain for all, what are we encouraged to do?

How are we to go about life's work and for what reason?

Reflection...

The book of Ecclesiastes may seem like a discouraging and depressing outlook on life, but it's quite the opposite. King Solomon's purpose is to help people have a more clear perspective on life. Even though life may seem pointless and hard, there are reasons to live life with joy.

Another way to put it is—life is short, so enjoy it while it lasts. Put your heart into your relationships and work, because God is sovereign and He holds our eternal destiny in His hands.

There's no need to obsess with what you can't control—death. Make the best of what you have some control over—life.

Don't forget that there is a season and purpose to everything in life (Eccl 3:1). Life with all it's hardships and mysteries has value and beauty, so enjoy it while you can, while your alive.

Make it personal...

Read through the Scripture text again as you consider and answer these questions

What do you worry about? Does the thought of death paralyze or motivate you?

How do you handle what is beyond your control? Do you obsess over it, or ignore it, or see beyond it?

Are you thankful for the life you do have? Are you able to live above life's difficulties?

In what ways have you learned to make the most of your time each day?

A Right Time for Everything

In ancient days, people thought the world was flat. It was imagined that ships on the ocean would fall off the edge of the world, if they went too far from land. Many explorers in the 15th and 16th centuries proved this wrong.

But now, once again, we say the world is flat because of technology. Now we have a global outlook that impacts world markets and culture. We live in 24/7 real-time and expect things to be instant—the internet, communication, even food.

But the world isn't flat. The four seasons and twenty-four time zones remind us the earth continues to rotate on its axis, as it revolves around the sun. The earth has definition and variety—mountains, deserts, plains, and valleys. Vast stretches of land are separated by rivers and oceans.

Life is full of variety and continuing cycles and seasons.

Scripture

There is a right time for everything, and everything on earth will happen at the right time.There is a time to be born and a time to die. There is a time to plant and a time to pull up plants. [vss 1-2]

There is a time to kill and a time to heal. There is a time to destroy and a time to build. There is a time to cry and a time to laugh. There is a time to be sad and a time to dance with joy. There is a time to throw weapons down and a time to pick them up. There is a time to hug someone and a time to stop holding so tightly. [vss 3-5]

There is a time to look for something and a time to consider it lost. There is a time to keep things and a time to throw things away. There is a time to tear cloth and a time to sew it. There is a time to be silent and a time to speak. There is a time to love and a time to hate. There is a time for war and a time for peace. [vss 6-8]

(Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 ERV) [Context– Ecclesiastes 3]

Key phrase— There is a right time for everything

[bctt tweet="There is a right time for everything"]

Digging Deeper...

What are the first and obvious reminders of the cycles of life on earth?

What are the seasons of life that have a more emotional impact on our lives?

How are strife and resolve seen as seasons within life?

How do each of these seasons and cycles help us to have a better perspective on life?

Reflection...

The folk-rock band, the Byrds, made these verses in Ecclesiastes popular in 1965 with a song written by Pete Seeger. It was written as a protest song against the war in Vietnam. Sadly, this misses the point of these wise words.

King Solomon observed the ongoing rhythms of life on earth. Life is not random. It has a cyclical order. We may struggle to see the purpose of these seasons of life, because we're in the midst of them. Even over the course of a lifetime, we can find it difficult to understand why some things take place, or if they have any value or purpose.

When we look at things from God's perspective—an eternal view of things—we begin to understand. How can we do this? This is why the written Scriptures are valuable, as are godly and wise relationships.

A child has no concept of history or the future, but both of these should come into better focus as we grow older. There is a purpose, a reason, for every season and cycle in life.

Make it personal...

Read through the Scripture text again to consider and answer the following questions

Are there seasons in your life that are hard to accept or understand?

What is the season of your life right now? Do you see its value and purpose?

Are there situations in your life that need resolving? How will you pursue this?

Are you willing to trust God with what you don't understand, and seek godly wisdom?