Ecclesiastes 7:1-14 – This is Not Proverbs

Read Ecclesiastes 7:1-14

Solomon gives us “proverb-like” nuggets of wisdom here. However, I have to say that some of his tips don’t seem that wise to me. Keeping the perspective of when he was writing these thoughts down is helpful to me. Solomon had been exposed to countless false teachings from his many pagan wives. Plus, he didn’t have the promise of salvation we know in Jesus.

When we put our “redemption lens” on this passage, it’s easy for us to clear up some of Solomon’s concerns. I’d rather focus today on several of the observations Solomon got right. Having discussions on each of these points would be fun in a small group, don’t you think?

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Ezra 6:19-22 – Passover Celebration

Read Ezra 6:19-22

The first part of Ezra and the temple restoration ends with this passage – the celebration of Passover. It sounds like this was the first time the returnees celebrated this festival of remembrance since being back “home.” What a beautiful bridge to close the chapter of their past wrongs and open the new chapter full of promise of following the Lord and his decrees!

To celebrate the Passover is to remember how God showed up powerfully to save you. We can celebrate what Jesus did for us every day! Sharing in this celebration was a brilliant way to signify a unified heart devoted to God. Such a fitting end to the dedication festivities!

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Mark 2:18-22 – What About Fasting?

Read Mark 2:18-22

You might be thinking, “What is fasting in the first place?” It’s definitely more than just a diet! While fasting involves abstaining from food and/or drink, fasting also needs to include spiritual renewal, from shutting out the world to spending time in God’s presence. This is not a community event but a personal one between you and God. You can pray, read Scripture, sing praise songs, or sit quietly and listen. Always be listening for God’s voice whether you’re fasting or not.

What did you think about the contrast between Jesus’ followers and those of John the Baptist? John’s followers, along with other religious leaders, would lean toward the side of piety and following rules. It seems that Jesus’ followers were less focused on those “traditions,” and this verse brilliantly tells us why. The more pious would have been looking down on what Jesus’ followers were doing.

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Malachi 1:6-14 – Shortcuts * Part One

Read Malachi 1:6-14

Have you ever taken a shortcut to lessen your load? Apparently, these priests sure have. The LORD is not happy with them at all. I’m not sure I’d be that lazy or disrespectful to take a shortcut where honoring God was concerned.

But don’t we all do it from time to time? We rush our devotion time because something more pressing or important is crowding out our day. We sometimes skip our quiet times with God all together. I don’t think I’m the only one who has.

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John 12:1-8 – Extravagant Worship

Read John 12:1-8

We are approaching the beginning of Holy Week 2023. During this time every year, we remember the sacrifice and miracle that took place because of how much God loves us. Beginning with Palm Sunday, we’ll walk together with Luke and the other gospel writers through some of the events of Jesus’ last week. It’s our special time to reflect on the immense sacrifice Jesus made to pay for our freedom from sin and death.

Our reading today sets the scene for what is to come and challenges us in our own worship practices. The Passover celebration was about to start, and little did the folks attending this dinner party know these were Jesus’ final days. Jesus knew, and his startling words about his burial must have shocked his friends.

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