Did you know Obadiah…is a book in the Bible?

So there’s this book in the Bible called “Obadiah” and if you like short books, this one is for you. It’s not just short; it’s micro! Only one chapter!

But here’s the question: Why read it? If you’re a New Testament-loving Bible reader, there’s probably not one underlined verse in your Bible’s Obadiah. Am I wrong?

But just for fun, to say you did, read this book. 🙂

Yes, it’s a minor prophet writing about the condemnation of a nation but instead of focusing on the potential dryness of the accounts, focus instead on the Word of the Lord, how many times the word “Lord” is used, and what this book teaches you about the character of God.

Specifically, verse 3, is where we find what might have triggered this vision.

Let’s have fun. 🙂 Comment one word you think is what I’m describing and we’ll see what everyone finds!

Enjoy Obadiah!

Jessica

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Ecclesiastes 12: Fear God Especially When No One’s Watching

If there’s any virtue of going through this study of Ecclesiastes, it’s been getting to know this chapter and many of the gems that lead to life and keep things in perspective. I’ve gotten so much from reading through studies and learning some vocabulary in it’s original language and I really hope you did too. I’ve been so blessed to hear different feedback from some of you and appreciate you catching these posts when you can. Let’s read the final chapter in this fantastic book here.

Many quote sayings that teach how small decisions, minor choices, behaviors when no one “important” is looking, really add up and lead to us getting what we really deserve, whether directly or indirectly…

-treating our spouses well
-speaking poorly of our boss
-choosing to eat less sweets
-a small lie to get out of a situation
-telling the clerk they undercharged you
-not giving God the first fruits of your gross income

Some of these examples, if repeated, will lead to breakdowns in relationships, sadness and constant financial struggles. Some of these examples, also if repeated, will lead to peace, joy, and constant favor.

“For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil.” – Ecc. 12:13

Do you ever feel like someone’s watching you? Ha ha, I hope that wasn’t a creepy question.

I mean, don’t you do things and feel like if someone saw you, they’d think the worst…or maybe the best?

I know I often feel like God’s right there, watching me, interjecting some words at time which is very welcome in the moments when I also get small whispers of discouragement, fear, or rejection. I’m sure we’ve all been there!

When you read this, was it also apparent that Solomon wanted to end with a point that communicated, “If you get nothing else from this book, understand this!”?

This point, being that when no one is watching, when no one’s around to hear, when no one’s truly listening to the inner thoughts and decisions…know that God is and always will be.

And for that simple fact, fear Him. Not “Ah! He’s so scary!”. Not “Ah! What will He do now?!” Not, “I blew it. I’m awful to Him. I’m lost.” kind of fear.

Fear like…”You are a good Father. You know best. You know me best and still love me deeply. Of course I will trust You and follow You, honor You and adore You, with the things I say and do. And when I fail, I will be quick to confess and ask You to forgive me, because You love me.”

When Solomon used that word “fear”, it was meant to mean to encourage to “fear God, and fly from evil”, as interpreted by the Gesenius’ Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon.

Dear friend, let’s take that away from this interesting book. Let’s be quick to honor God by removing ourselves from attitudes that dishonor Him. One day, maybe soon, you will be so glad you did.

Much love,

Jessica

Ecclesiastes 11: You Just Never Know

Are you a planner? Does it unsettle you when those plans change, outside of your control?

Are you a “Let’s just see how this day unfolds?” kind of person? Do you leave things for later, only to find time has run out?

Then this chapter has something for the both of you! Let’s read the short chapter 11 here!

I’ve talked to people who have saved things for years, to find out they needed it later that year. What a relief!

I’ve known people to purge things on a regular basis (me for one!) which makes room not only for blessings others but for being blessed.

What do we get from this chapter in Ecclesiastes? It’s wise not to assume you know what is going to happen…plan for what you desire and don’t wait for someone else to do it for you.

They never will.

While you have the energy, while you have the talent, while you have the ability, while you have the resource…assuming you have some, any or all of these…invest in doing good, working hard, and starting whatever it is God has placed in your heart to do.

What is something that needs your attention? Who can you think of blessing?

Please reflect and let me know your thoughts! And I hope you join me for the last chapter’s study next Thursday!

Jessica

 

Ecclesiastes 10: Decisions, decisions, decisions…

I feel like this chapter is a collection of different thoughts and observations, relative to Solomon’s time and day. So for that reason, it’s helpful to read it in a paraphrase translation, like NLT. Read chapter 10 here!

Are you non-decision maker? Like, do you see the good in so many of the options presented to you that you need three days to decide on something that should only take three minutes?

Who is your go-to person when you need feedback or help making important or unimportant decisions? Friend? Mom? Co-worker? Google?

Ecclesiastes 10 is telling us, through a series of different life examples, something about the decisions we make, moment by moment. It’s sharing observations of trends…

…certain people make certain decisions and those decisions lead them in certain directions.

…you can tell a person by the direction they’re going.

…you can tell a person by the decisions they make.

 

And the Bible is full of reminders of how important our decisions are, especially the small ones, in the grand scheme of our lives, especially when we own the banner of Christ-loving.

“He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much; and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much.” Luke 16:10

In this short post, please take away the reminder and encouragement that in the small moments of your every day, push through the temptation to choose the unrighteous thing and choose the thing that will not only bless you but bless others, no matter who they are or what they’ve done.

Have a wonderful week!

Jessica

Ecclesiastes 9: Why Try?

What a seemingly sad chapter! If you’re having a sunny, delightful day, you can expect this chapter to bring by a rainy and dark, cloud. But, as always, there’s something more. Some hidden gems we can take away and sew into our lives, making our walk that much more secure in God. Read chapter 9 here!

Verses 1 to 9…yikes.

“Furthermore, the hearts of the sons of men are full of evil and insanity is in their hearts throughout their lives. Afterwards they go to the dead.” Ecclesiastes 9:3b

*Gulp*

It’s good though! The message thus far in this chapter has been that life is brief (we knew that), life is often unpredictable (we knew that too), and it’s good to enjoy what you have (thank God, we knew that one!).

But when it says, “It is the same for all. There is one fate for the righteous and for the wicked; for the good, for the clean and for the unclean; for the man (and woman) who offers a sacrifice and for the one who does not sacrifice…” (9:2) it feels like, “Hm. So, it’s all the same ending for everyone. Why try hard to be better? To do good? To be different from those who do wrong and indulge?”

We can see this is strong evidence that God is just; that He shows no special favoritism on any people group, gender, denomination, socio-economic status, etc.

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:28
“‘Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with what is my own? Or is your eye envious because I am generous?”’ Matthew 20:15
We know God is urging to make the most of our time on Earth by choosing Him, by choosing to ask for wisdom (see chapter 8 of Ecclesiastes), and by making the most of every moment.
“Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might;” Ecclesiastes 9:10
Jessica

 

Ecclesiastes 8: Pure and Powerful Wisdom

What is wisdom? Like, when you hear that word, what do you think it means? Intelligent? Smart? Careful? As you can see here, it means many of those things, and more! Ecclesiastes uses this word many times; half as many times as Proverbs, who share the same author, by the way. When he uses that word in either book, it also can mean many things, even though it’s the very same word. We’re going to see which meaning he’s referring to when he uses it five times in chapter 8, which you can so conveniently read here. 🙂

When I was studying this chapter, I found myself having to focus, in order to really summarize anything coherent. The one theme I found that seemed to be strung through every verse was this idea of wisdom:

wise (8:1, 5, 17)

wisdom (8:1, 16)

And then, of course, there’s the contrast to wisdom with words such as “wicked”, “evil”, and “futility”.

Sometimes, that’s how it goes when reading the Bible. You read one verse, chapter or book, and it’s easy to figure out; easy to understand and apply. Then there are other verses, chapters and books that have to be read over, and over and over…and then you try a different translation and then pick up a commentary and then you start to get the gist.

So I ask you this question – why should we want to have wisdom?

This chapter of Ecclesiastes tells us because it will cause us to fear God…which is a very good thing.

“…still I know that it will be well for those who fear God, who fear Him openly.” -Ecclesiastes 8:12b

In your mind, in your spirit, in your relationships, in your career, in your future, in your body…it…will…be…well.

You make a mistake? It will be well.
You fall and stumble? It will be well.
You suffer in your weakness? It will be well.
You doubt? It will be well.
You lose? It will be well.

You cannot go wrong striving for wisdom and asking God for it, so that He will be with you, to inspire you to fear Him and bless you so that it will be well with you!

“But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” James 1:5
-Jessica

Ecclesiastes 7: Why sorrow is better than laughter

It’s been too long! A project has been taking much of my time and it’s so nice to be back typing away for something I love – writing to encourage! I do hope that’s what these posts are doing and appreciate every eye that lands here.

So let’s continue in Ecclesiastes! This book has really shaped my outlook and has sobered up some tendencies of my thoughts. The Lord shared with me that He told me to do a study on this book, mostly for me; to continue to be a foundation for future endeavors. Isn’t that so, the love of God? We think we’re doing great things for Him and we’re really doing great things for Him, for our benefit and secondly for others.

The seventh chapter talks about some “better than” scenarios. Have you read it, yet? If not, here it is!

What verse or verses stuck out to you? What made you think of some areas of your life?

I was intrigued by verse 3…

“Sorrow is better than laughter, for when a face is sad a heart may be happy.”

I love joy. I love seeing it in others, I love using words that express joy and I love the development of joy through freedom. So explain to me, Solomon, why sorrow is better than laughter? Because I equate laughter with joy, don’t you?

Turns out when Solomon wrote this verse, he didn’t mean what we think it means. Let’s dive into some Hebrew! Yay!

sorrow
-כַּעַס or ka’ac (pronounced ka-as)
-of all the books that use it, Ecclesiastes uses it the most
-means “vexation” or “grief”
-“vexation”: the state of being annoyed, frustrated, or worried

laughter
-שְׂחוֹק or sechowq (pronounced sek-oke)
-literally means laughter that is joyful or hollow
-also can mean to be a laughter that’s in jest or scorn

So basically, this is describing a position in life, where it’s better to have a serious outlook in life, rather than filling ones time with empty entertainment.

When it says that “when a face is sad, a heart may be happy”, the word “sad” there means “sad in appearance” and “happy” there means “to be merry, joyful”.

Solomon isn’t telling us it’s better to be sad and that laughter and joy should be shunned. On the contrary! He’s telling us to fill our lives with things that make us think, contemplate, reflect instead of things that just entertain us for the moment. He saying that looking at life a little seriously makes our heart so happy because we’re not full of empty pursuits.

Are there some things in your life that are just time-fillers? Things that are mindless entertainment? What would happen if you replaced those things with reading a new book about holiness? Or reading through the prayer needs list in your church bulletin to become aware of the needs and praying for them? What about some conversations we find ourselves in or jokes we find ourselves telling, that don’t really mean anything. What if we asked one meaningful question to the person or people God brings in our paths this week and weekend? I know I’m challenged enough by those suggestions!

Do you mind if we pray together, to close this challenge to our character? If you said “yes”, then you should close up this post, ha ha, because I really want to pray. I love it!

“Dear Jesus, thank You for this time of studying your Word. We pray that as we continue, You would show us choices we’ve been making that are not bearing fruit that would be a blessing to You, to us, and to others. You are our joy and we pray that though our face appear sad, our hearts will be happy, for Your glory. In Jesus’ Name we pray, amen.

With joy,

Jessica

 

Ecclesiastes 6: Are you really content?

The title, “Ecclesiastes”, comes from the Greek word, “ekklesiastes”, meaning “preacher”. Don’t you feel as though that’s exactly what this book is doing? Preaching. Speaking to the raw parts of our hearts.

If you’re ready for more, read chapter 6 here.

You have a home. You have breath in your lungs. You probably ate at least three meals today. In fact, you probably have food in your pantry right now. Do you have hot water available? Not only are you blessed. You’re rich.

But are you content with all of this? Are you really enjoying these things? Do you find yourself wanting more?

The truth is, even if and when you obtain those things that are in your current view, life will still pretty much feel the same as it does now.

We can’t be truly, deep down, satisfied with what we think we want. Sure, we can have beautiful and healthy families and relationships are definitely a comfort. But only God provides true satisfaction. Out of that, comes grace to enjoy the blessings and riches we’ve been given.

It’s all. about. God.

Loving Him, seeking Him, obeying Him, honoring Him, acknowledging Him.

Let’s do that today friend. Let’s open our hands, close our eyes, and tell God, “All I have and want is Yours, Lord. All I want and need is You.”

How’s that contentment doing now?

Jessica

 

Ecclesiastes 5: Spend it Wisely

“Ugh. Why did I just say that?” I think to myself and then the “I’m not going to show how embarrassed I am” smile gets forced onto my face, followed by silence for the next few minutes, in an effort to make up for the words that just came out of my mouth. Had a moment like that? I’ve had more than I wish to confess.

“The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart.” -Luke 6:45

The first part of Ecclesiastes 5 spends some time warning us to watch…what…we…say. Read all of it here.

Our words have meaning. They reflect what’s going on in your life. If you say it to God, He will keep you accountable to fulfill it, much to your dismay or delight.

“Do not let your speech cause you to sin…” -Ecclesiastes 5:6

The second part of Ecclesiastes 5 talks about money.

What feeling do you have about wealth? Good or bad?

“Earthly treasures are precarious and bring disadvantages; they produce anxiety and pain. They disappear through bad business and are left at death. They can even produce fear.” -John MacArthur, study notes in The MacArthur Study Bible

Does that last thought resonate with you at all? Were there ever times when you became anxious over money or finances? Anxious over your possessions? We all have at one point!

In this chapter, our focus is redirected to God as the source of wealth; as the source of our abundance.

Whatever you have, whatever you’ve been given –your words, your friendships, your finances, your talents — spend them wisely knowing it’s God who’s given you grace to enjoy them!

Enjoy this weekend!

-Jessica

 

Ecclesiastes 4: Friends + Contest!

Hopefully by now you’ve gotten one or even two good reflections from this book and study. It’s one that brings a refreshing perspective on certain things in life, no?

Well, we’ve reached week 4 of 12 – good job sticking it out! Or at least breezing through my emails. 🙂 This chapter’s both positive and negative; both encouraging and somber. Read it here.

Oh yeah. I’m having a contest too! What can you win and what do you have to do?

This chapter spends a few verses on the virtue of having a companion or companions. With my first ever contest, you can win a dozen homemade chocolate chip cookies for you and another dozen for a friend! Or you can choose to keep the other dozen for yourself, but you want to keep that friend, right? 😉 If you’re local, I’ll drop off. If not, I’ll send them to you and your friend! Stay tuned to the end of this study for the contest directions!

If you read through this chapter, you were probably struck with three main concepts; that oppression, rivalry and evil activity on earth can make life feel like it’s not worth living.

The second main concept is that life is better with companionship.

“A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart.” 4:12

And the third is that it is better to be humble in spirit than to assume everything is already figured out.

God desires the best for us, that much is clear. And it’s in this teaching that He shows us how to shape our lives and hearts to pursue His best and see His promises fulfilled!

And now it’s contest time!

Review those last three main concepts found in this chapter. Which one resonates with you the most and why? Comment below and I’ll put your name in a random name generator to decide the winner! I’ll close the contest Friday night and announce the winner in the comments Saturday morning.

Happy reading!

-Jessica