Posts Tagged ‘Ecclesiastes 3:12’

To look, to feel, to do

May 6, 2017

John Wesley Quote

Instead of the usual Verse of the Day, let us take a look at the Quote of the Day for May 6, 2017. This statement is attributed to the late Kim Clement, and I have used it as a personal mini-motivational speech, as I look into the mirror while preparing for the day on many a-morning.

“I see myself somewhere in the future, and I’m looking so much better than I look right now.”

Later I added this response: “But right now I’m looking good!”

Not only am I looking good, but I’m feeling good as well.

After a recent appointment with my urologist, he asked how I was feeling, and I commented “I’m feeling great!” After looking over my records, he confirmed my state of well-being and said, “Whatever you’re doing, keep on doing it. It’s working. See you in six months.”

In reflecting on his remarks, I happened to think of the Biblical expression “to do good” which I am ever striving to practice. Throughout the Bible, we are encouraged to follow after, to pursue, to practice or do that which is right, or just, or good.

We always have a choice to do good or to do evil, but the Word of God reminds us that despite the sinful nature of humanity, our ultimate purpose is to do good:

Ecclesiastes 3:12 (AMP):

I know that there is nothing better for them than to rejoice and to do good as long as they live;

Psalm 34:14 (AMP) exhorts believers to

Turn away from evil and do good; Seek peace and pursue it.

Similarly in Psalm 37:3 (AMP) we are encouraged to

Trust [rely on and have confidence] in the Lord and do good; Dwell in the land and feed [securely] on His faithfulness.

This verb brings to mind a similar exhortation from Galatians 6:10:

So then, while we [as individual believers] have the opportunity, let us do good to all people [not only being helpful, but also doing that which promotes their spiritual well-being], and especially [be a blessing] to those of the household of faith (born-again believers

Finally, Hebrews 13:16 provides these words of encouragement:

Do not neglect to do good, to contribute [to the needy of the church as an expression of fellowship], for such sacrifices are always pleasing to God.

These reminders to do justly or to do good are echoed in the words of John Wesley, who said:

“Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you can. As long as ever you can.”

As we practice or become adept at “doing good,” we will reap the benefits that abound toward us in return. These thoughts brought to mind this poem of celebration:

I Sing in My Garden

Oh, sing unto the LORD a new song!

Sing to the LORD, all the earth.

Sing to the LORD, bless his name;

Proclaim the good news from day to day.

Psalm 96:1-2

 

I sing in my garden and reap the good,

The bounty of living seventy-four years.

Each note seems to evoke a stream of tears

That fall, not because of some somber mood

But flow from a heart filled with gratitude.

The folk song of the farmer thrills my ears

Each time plowing, planting or harvest nears.

I compose my song, having understood

Lyrics I did not know when I was young,

When life was uncertain, my song unsure.

Now from my green garden I garner truth.

A song of conviction flows from my tongue.

I am seasoned and strengthened to endure,

Knowing the best lines are yet to be sung.

We conclude with this musical expression of how I feel at this time in life: “Feeling Good” by Michael Buble:

 

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Nine directives as to what should be done

January 5, 2016

Isaiah-1--16-17Back by popular demand is the blog entry of a year ago, revised and re-posted below:

The Verse of the Day for January 5, 2016 is from Isaiah 1:16-17 (NLT)

Wash yourselves and be clean! Get your sins out of my sight. Give up your evil ways. Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the cause of orphans. Fight for the rights of widows.

Here we find a series of imperatives from the Lord God expressed by Isaiah, the Prophet, given to Judah and Jerusalem. God indicates His displeasure with their offerings and their sacrifices which are no longer acceptable. Recognizing that “all Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, reproof, and correction,” here we find a series of corrective measures that should be implemented. We can arrange the series of commands into nine directives as to what should be done. According to E.W. Bullinger, the number nine represents judgment which certainly comes into play in this series.

1) Wash yourselves

Three of the purification rituals practiced in Judaism include ablutions or washings: Washing of the hands, (2) washing of the hands and feet, and (3) immersion of the whole body in water. God’s desire is for “clean hands and a pure heart” among his people.

2) Be clean

God’s intention is that His people “clean up their acts” and “come clean.”While not found in Scripture, the reminder that “Cleanliness is next to Godliness” is certainly applicable with this directive from God.

3)  Get your sins out of my sight.

Followers of God are also commanded to “put away your evil ways. As the King James puts it, ”Put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes.” In other words, “Give up your evil ways.” Even more colloquially, it is as if God is saying, “Get out of my face with your lowdown evil ways.”

4) Give up your evil ways

This command brings to mind a comment from writer John Bunyan, who recognizes that individuals must become guardians of “every gate that opens in our heart.” Howard Morgan speaks of “gates” in this way: “They are the places that we have to monitor diligently so that we allow only that which is positive and healthy into our lives.” Three such gates are the “ear gate,” “eye gate,” and “mouth gate.” The picture of the three wise monkeys also comes to mind to remind us that we must consciously seek to “hear no evil, see no evil, and speak no evil.” In the case of the passage from Isaiah, we should “do no evil” as well. Bluntly put, “Give up your evil ways.”

5) Learn to do good

This term brings to mind a similar exhortation from Galatians 6:10:

As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.

We have a choice to do good or to do evil, but the Word of God reminds us that despite the sinful nature of humanity, our ultimate purpose is to do good:

Ecclesiastes 3:12:

I know that there is no good in them, but for a man to rejoice, and to do good in his life.

 This reminder to do good is echoed in the words of John Wesley, who said:

“Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you can. As long as ever you can.”

6) Seek justice

In addition, Isaiah instructs readers to “seek judgment” which is also translated “seek justice” in some instances. The Verse of the Day from yesterday, Micah 6:8 also uses a similar expression: “to do what is right” or “except to be just” or “to do justly.” The concept of “justice” (Hebrew, mishpat, with the related verb shaphat, “do justice”) occurs throughout the Old Testament.

7) Help the oppressed

This exhortation is to “cease the oppression and provide relief for the oppressed.” God’s desire is to “let the oppressed go free.” Psalm 103:6 states: The LORD executes righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed.” Similarly the people of God are not to impose further oppression upon the oppressed, but they are to seek to “relieve the oppressed.”

8) Defend the cause of orphans

God, who is described as “father to the fatherless,” encourages followers to “defend the rights of the fatherless” or “hear the fatherless in right judgment”; this directive is also expressed in this way: “defend orphans in court, take up the cause of the orphan!”

9) Fight for the rights of widows

Another descriptor of God speaks of His being “husband to the widow,” whereby He makes known His concern for the woman who has neither husband nor support. The exhortation is to “plead the widow’s cause, plead the widow’s case or plead for the widow.” This idea is also expressed this way: “Defend the rights of the widow! Plead the case of widows and protect the widow.”

According to James Limburg, in this final section of the passage Isaiah calls his hearers to be an advocate for those without power or the powerless: meaning the widow (who has no husband), the orphan (who has no parents) and the poor (who have no money).

While this passage is not specifically addressed to believers today, we can certainly learn about God’s expectations for His people. We are reminded:

For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope (Romans 15:4).

In response to the directives set forth in the passage from Isaiah 1, our heart’s desire is to please God at all times, as Jonathan Nelson sings, we also say, “Yes, Lord.”

What we are supposed to do

May 23, 2015

Romans_15-2Romans 15:2 (New Living Testament, the Verse of the Day for May 23, 2015, makes known what are we supposed to do as Christian believers:

We should help others do what is right and build them up in the Lord.

We find a similar exhortation in 1 Corinthians 10:33 (NLT):

I, too, try to please everyone in everything I do. I don’t just do what is best for me; I do what is best for others so that many may be saved.

Theses verses also bring to mind Micah 6:8 which asks a probing question in the King James Version:

He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?

The New Living Translation renders the verse as this powerful statement:

No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good,
and this is what he requires of you:
to do what is right, to love mercy,
and to walk humbly with your God.

The following excerpt comes from a blog entry devoted to Micah 6:8 which provides a discussion of three simple requirements, three prerequisites for Godly living expressed in three verbs written as infinitives: to do, to love, and to walk.

Here are references as to what we are “to do”:

To do . . .

This verb brings to mind a similar exhortation from Galatians 6:10:

As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.

We have a choice to do good or to do evil, but the Word of God reminds us that despite the sinful nature of humanity, our ultimate purpose is to do good:

Ecclesiastes 3:12:

I know that there is no good in them, but for a man to rejoice, and to do good in his life.

This reminder to do justly or to “do good” is echoed in the words of John Wesley, who said:

“Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you can. As long as ever you can.”

Ecclesiastes 9:10 (NLT) offers this sobering reminder:

Whatever you do, do well. For when you go to the grave, there will be no work or planning or knowledge or wisdom.

Colossians 3:23 also provides the standard by which we should measure whatever we do:

Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.

A scripture memory song of Colossians 3:23-24 in the King James Version puts it this way:

And whatsoever you do, do it heartily as to the Lord,

Knowing that of the Lord, you shall receive your reward.

Whatever your hands find to do, do it with all your might.

Knowing that of the Lord, you shall receive your reward.

For you serve the Lord Jesus Christ.

For you serve the Lord Jesus Christ.

The overall expectations that God has for His people seem simple enough: Like the Nike slogan states, we should: “Just do it!” In actuality, “There’s nothing to it but to do it!” We close with this poetic reminder not to procrastinate but to

Do It Now!

Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.

Therefore be ye not unwise, but understanding

what the will of the Lord is.

Ephesians 5:15-16

If you want to live each minute

With the fullest measure in it,

To run your best race and win it

Then start to do it now!

Don’t wait until it’s tomorrow

To look for the time to borrow,

For you may be filled with sorrow

Unless you do it now!

Don’t wait until the time is right.

By then you may have long lost sight

Of work to do with all your might.

Be sure to do it now!

Make up your mind; don’t hesitate.

Now is the time to act, don’t wait.

You’ve got nothing to lose; go straight

Ahead and do it now!

Just put the past behind somehow

And with each moment make a vow:

Now is the time to do it now.

Get up and do it now!

Listen to a musical rendering of Micah 6:8 offered by Maranatha! Singers:

To do justly, love mercy, walk humbly

January 4, 2015

Micah-6--8

The Verse of the Day for January 4, 2015 is taken from Micah 6:8:

He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?

The verse states three simple requirements, three prerequisites for Godly living expressed in three verbs written as infinitives: to do, to love, and to walk.

To do . . .

This verb brings to mind a similar exhortation from Galatians 6:10:

As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.

We have a choice to do good or to do evil, but the Word of God reminds us that despite the sinful nature of humanity, our ultimate purpose is to do good:

Ecclesiastes 3:12:

12 I know that there is no good in them, but for a man to rejoice, and to do good in his life.

This reminder to do justly or to do good is echoed in the words of John Wesley, who said:

“Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you can. As long as ever you can.”

To love . . .

One of the most powerful verbs in any language is the command to love. In this case, we are to love mercy.

That God is truly merciful cannot be ignored.

Streams of the sure mercies of the Lord shall never cease.

Our lives are enriched as we learn to walk with the Lord.

Jeremiah reminds us that, “It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning. Great is thy faithfulness.”

One of the attributes of God is that He is a God of mercy. In a real sense, as a God of justice, He tempers justice with grace and mercy. Justice has been defined as “getting exactly what one deserves.” Whereas grace is said to be unmerited favor or getting something that one does not deserve, and mercy is defined as “withholding merited judgment” or “not getting what one deserves. God desires that we love mercy. As Portia, a character in Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice, remarks so wisely,

Though justice be thy plea, consider this:
That, in the course of justice, none of us
Should see salvation. We do pray for mercy,
And that same prayer doth teach us all to render
The deeds of mercy.

To walk . . .

The final requirement is to “walk humbly with thy God.” The First Psalm describes the man who does not walk in the counsel of the ungodly, as being blessed (happy, fortunate, prosperous, and enviable). God’s desire is that we walk in humility, even as humility was a most notable attribute of the Lord Jesus Christ, described in this manner: 

Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:

But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:

And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. (Philippians 2:6-8)

1 Peter 2:21 also encourages us:

For even hereunto were you called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow his steps:

As we walk with the Lord, we find that humility is the key to access the heart of God.

The expectations that God has for His people seem simple enough: “to do . . . to love . . . to walk.” Certainly they must be attainable or God would not expect people to do what He asks. The challenge becomes carrying out what the Lord requires of us. As the Nike slogan states so simply and directly: “Just do it!”

Listen to a musical rendering of Micah 6:8 offered by Maranatha! Singers: