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Words You Can Take to Heart

Let's talk about how the book of Ecclesiastes is the perfect book for the situation we're facing right now. It's a great book to think about right now. Many of us are sitting around with a lot of time to think. That's exactly what Solomon is doing in Ecclesiastes. He's thinking. He's reflecting. He's advancing in years and taking the time, as a mature man, to sit still and reflect on the purpose of life in this fallen world. And on the past mistakes he's made living in this fallen world.

One of the most intriguing verses in the Bible is Ecclesiastes 7:3: "Sorrow is better than laughter, for by sadness of face the heart is made glad." We need to hear this verse. Solomon is reminding us that in God's economy sorrow leads to joy. We see hard times as setbacks. But, in God's world, sorrow is often a setup for future joy. As Jesus says, "Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted."

Another piece of wisdom Solomon shares: "Do not take to heart all the things that people say, lest you hear your servant cursing you" (7:21). Is that a verse for the times or what? When mixed messages are leading to confusion and anger, it's good to remember not to take the things people say to heart. Words are dangerous and can be hurtful, especially when you allow them to penetrate your heart. I encouraged my daughters to memorize this verse at a very early age. Let the gospel of Jesus' great love for us penetrate your heart. Don't let the words of man pierce you.

I share these verses to whet your appetite. There's much more wisdom to learn from Solomon. In the coming weeks, I'll be sharing some video meditations on Ecclesiastes. These videos will be posted on our YouTube and Facebook pages. As many of us continue to shelter at home, I pray that God's words, delivered through Solomon, will give us encouragement. And that it will give us some much-needed perspective on how to live with wisdom in a confusing, sin-shattered world.

Posted by Heath Cross

Holy Thoughts for Holy Week - Part 7

"'You have a guard of soldiers. Go, make it as secure as you can.'"
Matthew 27:65

Saturday was relatively uneventful for the disciples. Their Savior was dead. Luke tells us, "On the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment." Surely they were emotionally drained and distraught. 

But while the disciples rested, the chief priests and Pharisees plotted. They remembered Jesus' claim, "'After three days I will rise,'" so they urged Pilate to secure the tomb lest Jesus' body be stolen. Pilate complied with their request and ordered the tomb sealed and guarded.

I wonder though if Pilate had some secret concerns. He wasn't excited about crucifying Jesus. His wife had sternly warned him and he found no guilt in Jesus. Maybe he had a hunch that the thousand pound stone wouldn't work.

That stone may serve as an impressive symbol of unbelieving man's herculean efforts to suppress the truth of the gospel in unrighteousness. Unregenerate people are forever concocting arguments and espousing philosophies to debunk the resurrection. They strive to make their views secure, solid, coherent, and irrefutable. Not too many years ago Bishop Spong said, "I couldn't be more excited about the future of the Christian faith, but it will be a different faith." He went on to describe traditional faith as suffering a "last gasp death-rattle in a world explained by Darwin, not Deuteronomy."

But with all due respect, he was wrong. The stone could not contain the Savior. The chief priests could not suppress the truth. The guards could not resist the angel. And to this day neither liberal theologians nor pagan philosophers nor the gates of hell can resist the risen King who quietly but relentlessly builds His church.

I'm sure that particular Saturday lasted 24 hours like every other day. But for the resting disciples it must have been the longest 24 hours in history! If Jesus had not come out of that tomb, we would be of all men the most to be pitied. But He did come out and in so doing defeated sin, conquered death, and opened Paradise. I don't hear any death-rattle, do you? "Vain the stone, the watch, the seal, Christ has burst the gates of hell; death in vain forbids Him rise, Christ has open Paradise!"

P.S. Here is a little music from our cowboy friends in Montana, Peter and Gracie Rosenberger, to cheer your soul.

Posted by Jim Bachmann

Holy Thoughts for Holy Week - Part 6

"'Truly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.'"
Luke 23:43

Jesus came to seek and save the lost and give His life a ransom for many. Even with His last breath He saved a lost, unworthy thief. Centuries earlier Isaiah predicted that the Savior would be numbered with the transgressors. And so on Calvary hung Jesus, with thieves on either side who respected neither the law of God nor the law of man. They were seconds away from a hellish eternity.

Public opinion had turned against Him—quite a change from five days earlier. Even His disciples had forsaken Him. A great friend once said, "When a toxic person can no longer control you, he will try to control how others see you!" Indeed the toxic religious leaders turned public opinion against the Lord.

Admittedly, Jesus didn't look like a Savior. How could the Messiah suffer crucifixion? How could the Son of God, as He claimed to be, die? No one in the crowd was pointing at Him and saying, "Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!" It was all a huge stumbling block to the Jews and utter foolishness to the Gentiles.

What could Jesus possibly do on the cross? His first words proved that He was still the Savior: "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."

When we are in pain we seldom think about anyone else's needs. If we are in severe pain we become entirely selfish. We want relief and we want it immediately. But Jesus, in spite of His agony, was ever the Savior. He offered a short prayer for His murderers that became a saving sermon! The thief's heart was quickened and he responded with a short, desperate request: "Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom." A very short sermon led to a very short request which led to an eternity in Paradise!

Even as He died Jesus saved others. To this very day He is still saving the lost. Count Zinzendorf once wrote a beautiful hymn, one stanza of which says this:

Jesus, be endless praise to Thee,
Whose boundless mercy hath for me,
For me a full atonement made,
An everlasting ransom paid!

The unworthy thief received boundless mercy and the assurance of immediate, everlasting paradise! And the same blessedness is available for all unworthy sinners who repent and call upon the Lord: "Lord, remember all of us when You come into Your kingdom!"

Posted by Jim Bachmann

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