Ecclesiastes 12:8-14 – Final Thoughts

Read Ecclesiastes 12:8-14

What an image describing how wise words inspire us! Neither a cattle prod nor a nail-studded stick sound like a pleasant way to direct our path. Yet sometimes that’s just what we need – like a “kick in the pants!” Understanding right from wrong can often be an eye-opening experience.

Encountering the Teacher’s reflections throughout the book of Ecclesiastes has been helpful. I appreciate his conclusions and parting thoughts in this final passage. “Fear God and obey his commands, for this is everyone’s duty.” If more people in this world knew what their “duty” was, families, neighborhoods, and even churches would be much happier. Don’t you agree?

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Nehemiah 2:1-10 – Ask Boldly

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Just picture this scene happening. Nehemiah has clearly been lamenting over what is happening in his homeland. Now it’s starting to affect his work. His boss, the king, can see his sadness and inquires with compassion. It sounds like Nehemiah was shocked by the inquiry, not sure how much he should share.

With boldness after his initial fear, Nehemiah shares his desire to return to his homeland and make a difference there. Without hesitation it seems, the king granted Nehemiah’s request. God’s hand was working it all out. That had to be a great relief as well as inspiration to Nehemiah. Being used by God is exhilarating!

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Zechariah 3:1-10 – A Burning Stick

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Our focus now shifts to the high priest’s leadership of the new people of God in this “new age” or time after captivity. Jeshua or Joshua, depending on your translation, is the high priest in this vision, having come from the Zadokite tradition. Zechariah has a front row seat to observe Joshua’s questioning and accusations by Satan himself. What a vision!

Satan’s attempts to distract Joshua are rebuked by God. The LORD says to Satan, “This man is like a burning stick that has been snatched from the fire.” Joshua would have been lost forever, consumed by the fire of sin, if he had not been plucked out of Satan’s grip. God had bigger purposes for Joshua, and this prophecy gives him great spiritual authority among the people.

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Zephaniah 1:7-13 – A Moment of Silence

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Zephaniah asserts that judgment day is coming soon, and he is not referring to the end times here but to a specific time in history yet to come for those first hearing his words. Zephaniah is not the only prophet talking about it either. God is using many “mouthpieces” to get the message out that he is not happy with his people.

It’s good to take a moment of silence in our own day to take an account of what’s going on in our lives. Do our actions glorify God or disappoint him? Do we see chaos, worry, doubt, thrill, busyness, fear, loneliness, great success, embarrassing failures? What is happening in your life right now? Is God part of the picture? If not, invite him in!

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1 Peter 3:8-12 – Good Behavior

Read 1 Peter 3:8-12

This reading applies to everyone who calls themselves Christian. The behavior Peter describes is all very basic, yet we still stumble and need the reminder. It’s also affirming to see behaviors on the list we can recognize and feel good about, knowing we’re already acting in those ways. Imagine wearing a crown because you are a son or daughter to a king – is your behavior fit for a child of a king? King Jesus that is!

Of course, there are times when evil desires or influences can overtake our good intentions. We know we’re not immune to evil just because we’re followers of Christ. Even Jesus himself encountered the crafty evil one on more than one occasion! We need to stay strong like Jesus did to resist the devil. I think of James 4:7, “So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”

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