Ecclesiastes 3-4 B

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:” (3:1)

I cannot read chapter 3 without singing the Byrds, but I find myself remembering this passage (and song) a lot.

Life is full of seasons, and as a pretty sign in Carly’s house, made by a mutual friend, states: no season is insignificant.

I don’t know what season you find yourself in, these days, but I feel like I’m in a real weird one. I moved to Italy, to obtain dual citizenship, which I feel is something God has led me to pursue for the future He has in store for me. This season could really turn out to be hugely significant in the grand scheme of my life. After a successful major appointment today, I started thinking about all the waiting. It could take a long time. Maybe six months? Maybe longer. There are no guarantees and the timing is entirely out of my hands.

So what am I supposed to do in this city while I wait an indefinite amount of time?

In life, there is no fast forwarding. Why would I want to fast forward anyway? There is a time for everything.

“He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.” (3:11)

To me, this implies that not everything is beautiful at the moment. Some things need a time. Hindsight makes it beautiful. That doesn’t mean it isn’t beautiful intrinsically.

It’s all made me pretty desperate for the LORD. I want Him to author this weird, unknown season. Isn’t that what He wants, too? To be acknowledged as the Author He already is and for me to be desperately depending on Him?

For me, the application today is to have faith in God about the season I’m in now. Maybe it will be a time of reflecting, new friend making, preparing, or doing all the things I’ve put off for when I wasn’t so busy.

What about the season you’re in?

-Bethany

Ecclesiastes 1-2 B

Here’s the Bible Project overview for this book. I also really loved Bethany’s summary she wrote during our last read-through.

Even if you don’t believe in God, or a greater purpose for life, Ecclesiastes is relatable. And hold on to your hats, because it’s both humbling and sobering. As we approach this book, hold tightly to this verse:

“So I decided there is nothing better than to enjoy food and drink and to find satisfaction in work. Then I realized that these pleasures are from the hand of God. For who can eat or enjoy anything apart from him?” 2:24

It’s easy to get discouraged as we sort through the king’s advice chapter after chapter. Nothing matters! Education is meaningless! Your body will fail! Money fails you! Say goodbye to your eyesight! Everyone will forget you when you die! And hey, it’s all true, but a little hard to swallow verse after verse.

God has intricately designed life to be enjoyed. It’s why sunsets are different every evening and always beautiful. It’s why we all have slightly different colored eyes. Why food tastes good. Why Jesus’ power arrived on scene at a wedding, as he provided more wine for everyone. He wants you to drink and be merry, but to do so with him. There is not true joy apart from a relationship with God. Happiness? Sure. Entertainment and pleasure? Well, yeah. But you’ll come up empty. Your stuff will get old, your technology irrelevant. Your body aged and tired. Your food will spoil. But working hard on the tasks in front of you, investing in the relationships you’ve been given and getting to know and love the God who gifted you all of these things is the perfect recipe for contentment, meaning and joy.

 

 

-Carly

 

Romans 16 B

Greetings greetings greetings. Paul’s letters of universal and timeless truths are often sprinkled with personal, specific, by name instructions. The church of God is full of doctrine and exhortation, but is also endlessly relational. They go hand in hand. Almost every application of Christianity requires interaction with others.

Anyone who has ever lived away from community will attest to this struggle. Letters (or in our 2018 case, multiple outlets of communication) are a lifesaver when it comes to edification, encouragement and accountability.

I am extremely thankful for a digital way to read the Bible with Carly (and y’all). The fellowship of the Spirit is life giving on many levels. We all have seasons, some busy and full of friends, some slow and full of doubts. Continuing in faithfulness towards the Lord and each other weaves a beautiful continuity to it all.

Speaking of seasons… we start a new book tomorrow: Ecclesiastes! This is a twisted favorite of ours and a well timed reminder to calm down and not take myself so seriously.

Take a moment to thank God for the people “who risked their necks for [your] life, to whom not only [you] give thanks but all the churches of the Gentiles give thanks as well.” (4)

There’s a lot of great people out there. Maybe thank them, personally, as well.

-Bethany

Romans 15 B

Sometimes I come here to write, and I feel overwhelmed, like I need to summarize the entire chapter or cross-reference thirteen verses or define who God is to the Internet. But no one is asking me to do that, nor do I have the ability. (Hi, my name is Carly and I like to make things unnecessarily dramatic for myself.)

Bethany and I are just here to motion you over towards the Bible, share what grabbed our hearts during our daily reading and invite you to do the same. (We love your comments, emails, push-backs, disagreements and guest posts. Keep ’em coming!)

Whew, what is it about Romans? So much in so few chapters. Here’s what washed over me today:

“Therefore, accept each other just as Christ has accepted you so that God will be given glory.” 15:7

Right before this, Paul prays that the Christians in Rome would live in complete harmony together as is fitting for followers of Christ. How? By accepting each other.

Just as Christ has accepted me. Which personally for me was Jesus accepting someone who was prideful, self-serving, pleasure-seeking, broken and fearful. He didn’t wait to accept me once I fully agreed with him, or once I was completely perfect or relentlessly repentant. He opens up his arms and welcomes us as we are.

This means I need to maintain harmony, and even extend acceptance, towards people I don’t agree with. Note: we are not asked to condone everything people are doing or everything they believe. But this means I need to be loving and gracious with fellow Christians instead of fighting on social media or gossiping about the church staff down the street or judging someone’s same sex relationship.

Live in harmony with one another. Not because there aren’t things to disagree about and not because Paul, or God, doesn’t think it’s important. Because the world is watching the church. They are watching how we treat one another, they are reading the Facebook posts. They are hearing the gossip. How are they suppose to believe they’re fully welcomed by Jesus?

-Carly

Romans 14 B

“Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.” (4)

“Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother.” (13)

What a relief that it’s not our job to judge each other, right!? Wasn’t the desire to become our own judges of good and evil the thing which slipped up Eve to begin with?

Life is complicated and the LORD has us each in a sanctification process. He gave us His Spirit to help discern, but this is primarily to helps us navigate our own ship.

Isn’t it lovely, He commands us to love each other and warns against judging? It’s so hard to be good at, really. We can hardly judge ourselves fairly.

My conscience has changed along with my convictions all throughout my life, but God has always been with me. I’ve spent way too much of my creative energy judging people. As evangelicals, it’s easy to justify our specific judgements about who is saved and who isn’t, because we’ve got a job to do!

Look at this:

“Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; for it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.” So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.” (10-12)

It’s not a comparison contest and we are not responsible for each other, only to love each other.

Allow the LORD to examine your heart on this and, if need be, create a goal to grow in loving over judging. I, for one, feel like I have more energy to love when I give up the task of judging.

-Bethany

Romans 13 B

Are you familiar with the enneagram at all? My husband and I always joke about Paul being the ultimate 1. Especially as Saul, hunting down and executing the rule breakers. Anyway! He’s a stickler for being above reproach, lover-all-all-rules and I couldn’t agree with him more here.

“Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God.” 13:1

Have a boss you don’t like? A president you didn’t vote for? When you choose to show them respect they don’t deserve, you are ultimately showing respect to God, who greatly deserves it all. No where in this chapter does Paul claim that people in authority are going to be without fault. Remember, he was in a pretty volatile political circumstance, yet still insisting on godliness and submission to his leaders.

Think about someone in your life who has authority over you. How do you feel about it? Do you trust God’s sovereignty in this circumstance?

Or, are you in a position of authority? Are you representing Christ and leading in a way that reflects King Jesus? 

 

-Carly

 

Romans 12 B

This chapter is incredibly rich! Every verse deserves its own day of meditation and application. If you’re looking for a chapter to memorize, try this one!

“Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.” (10)

I feel it a great privilege to know exactly what this looks and feels like. I am wealthy when it comes to friends and community. I’ve written before about my home church in Portland, Montavilla Baptist, my family and many of my friends (including Carly duh) who exemplify this affection.

This is the kind of thing every person craves, right? People do insane things to belong somewhere. If this is what we all want, why don’t we become community builders/creators. This chapter has a great outline of tips on how to do it!

  • Recognize our membership with one another (5)
  • Utilize and cultivate our God-given gifts (6)
  • Love genuinely (9)
  • Rejoice! Persevere! Pray! (12)
  • Be generous and hospitable (13)
  • Bless one another (14)
  • Have compassion and sympathy (15)

You get the idea. Choose something from this chapter and consider how you can foster this sort of atmosphere in your community.

-Bethany