Ecclesiastes takes us to our right posture in our most essential relationship—that with God. Through the image of a “fool,” the text helps us see our utter inadequacy before our holy God and encourages a right posture in our approach to his perfection. We learn what a life of worship should look like.
In the chaos, disappointment, and unknowns of the whirlwind of our ever-changing world, the first part of Ecclesiastes ends as we see purpose and peace in God’s plan. Every season of our lives are His; the work of our hands is from Him; His plan endures; and He has put eternity in our hearts. In this knowledge, we have hope, we take pleasure in our lives, and we find God!
The teacher of Ecclesiastes compares different areas of life - wisdom with folly, pleasure with toil - and comes to the same conclusion for each of them. Everything is hevel. What does this word ‘hevel’ mean and why does he say this about everything in life? What are we to do with it then? Does our work matter? Can we find pleasure in life?
Is all of life meaningless? Is all our work just endless toil, sweat and weariness? What do we gain from all we do day in and day out? Have you ever asked these questions? The Preacher of Ecclesiastes did! Faced with the seemingly vanity of life, the Preacher invites us to examine our own existence under the weight of weary work and selfish gain. Is there any hope for us living here “under the sun?”
By being honest about life’s troubles, Ecclesiastes touches the hearts of people who struggle. As much as anything else, Ecclesiastes is for people who have their doubts about God but can’t stop thinking about him. It is a book in which we keep struggling with the problems of life and, as we struggle, we learn to trust God with the questions even when we do not have all the answers. Ecclesiastes powerfully communicates how human life is meaningless without God at the center. Ecclesiastes speaks to a world that is looking for satisfaction in wealth, relationships, vocation and pleasure, and points people to the one and only God who alone gives true satisfaction and joy.
If we are going to live out of our true identity as a family of missionary servants, then we must steward the children God has blessed us with to take up their role in the Missio Dei. Imagine what would it look like for us and our kids to embrace a Story for their lives in Who is God, What has God done, Who are we, How are we to live.
What happens if we read the Bible as a rule book? A collection of moral stories? A list of inspirational sayings? How do these approaches help answer the big questions in life or help us find our place in the world? What if there's another way to approach the Scriptures?
The Bible is actually the True Story of the whole world. How do we live in God’s true Story and invite others into it?
The book of Psalms records every emotion that has ever struck the human heart. Love; anger; fear; hurt; sadness; depression; joy--it's all there. We turn to the psalms because it address the full spectrum of human needs. In these one hundred and fifty songs we find direction for our lives and comfort for dark times. This ancient hymnal of praise speaks to us in ways that affect us beyond words. We take this week to dig into Psalm 139 to see that we find our significance when we see how significant we are to God.
This concluding doxology chimes in exactly with the message of the prayer as a whole: God's kingdom, God's power, and God's glory are what it's all about. To pray this prayer is to pray that God's kingdom may be seen in all the world as they see the glory of Jesus the Messiah. It is because God is King, and has become King in Jesus, that we can pray this prayer with confidence.
From testing in the desert to the agonizing plea in Gethsemane, Jesus demonstrated obedience to the Father's will in the face of evil. It's no wonder that now Jesus teaches his followers to pray that God would deliver them from the power of Evil. And we can pray this prayer with confidence because Jesus has met that power and has defeated it once and for all. To pray this prayer is to ask God to enable us to be his kingdom-people who realize the reality of evil and pain in this world, yet live knowing that Jesus has won the victory over it all.
Followers of Jesus are kingdom-people who know that they have been forgiven for their sins. Therefore, God's kingdom-people must live out forgiveness to others, otherwise they are denying the very basis of their own existence! Followers of Jesus breathe in true divine forgiveness day by day. Once that life-giving air from God fills us, we can't help but breathe it out. As we learn what it is like to be forgiven, we begin to discover that it is possible, and indeed joyful, to forgive others.
Missio Dei Peoria is one of four congregations that makes up the Missio Dei Communities Family. This past Sunday the entire Missio Family gathered to celebrate all that God has done the past 10 years in and through Missio to saturate our cities with the good news of Jesus!
Daily needs and desires point beyond themselves to God's promise of the kingdom in which death and sorrow will be no more. The promise of the kingdom includes our daily needs and desires, and this prayer asks for our desires to be satisfied in God's way and God's time. This prayer urges us to pray with the wider Christian family, and human family, standing alongside the hungry and praying on their behalf. It is a prayer for the complete fulfillment of God's kingdom: for God's people to be rescued from hunger, guilt and fear.
The second main petition of the Lord's Prayer rules out any idea that the Kingdom of God is a purely heavenly reality. "Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven." When we pray this Kingdom-prayer we are praying, as Jesus was praying and acting, for the redemption of the world; for the radical defeat of evil; for heaven and earth to be married at last; for God to be all in all. We pray this for the world, and we pray this for the church.