Prayer Psalm: 8
Prayer Point: Imagine looking up into the night sky on a clear night. Meditate on the vast number of stars you see, how far and how huge they are. Just think, God knows us, as small as we are and loved us enough to send his Son, whom he made a little lower than the angels. Praise God our Creator who loves us small creatures to allow his Son to die for us.
Jesus gives this command in verse 33: “Sell your possessions and give to the poor.” What do we have to believe about God to obey this command? What must we believe about the treasures he offers? How central is the heart to obeying God?
Jesus tells a number of stories in the gospels which describe a master who goes on journey leaving his servants in charge. In each of these stories, Jesus is the master and we are the servants. The journey he speaks of, is his ascension into heaven and the time before his second coming. What state should Jesus find us doing when he returns? Will we be able to predict the coming of Jesus?
Cornelius was regarded by the Jewish community as a “God-fearer.” A God-fearer was someone who was born a Gentile, but showed great respect to the God of Israel and the Jewish faith. He would have practiced some of Judaism, but stopped short of a full conversion by submitting to circumcision. In Cornelius’ case, he prayed regularly and donated generous amounts of money to the poor.
Jewish law erected a large barrier between Jews and Gentiles, even respected God-fearers like Cornelius. Jews could not eat with Gentiles, nor enter their homes without becoming ceremonially unclean. Gentiles did not follow the Jewish dietary laws, nor the laws of cleanliness. How does Peter’s vision remove this barrier? How is Peter changed by the experience?
Ecclesiastes 6:1-12 Discussion on Riches (Wealth) Continued
Wealth is one of those things which is more of a double-edged sword than one may think. It is a great servant but a vile master. The stingy, perhaps best personified by Ebenezer Scrooge, infamous in Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, is at least redeemed by story’s end. Solomon may be right because he says that the stillborn child is better off than a wealthy man. Those blessed with wealth find it difficult to enjoy it, they being plagued by so many concerns. These people have to be wary of anyone who approaches them and friendships are always suspect. Perhaps they feel friendless; disconnected. Solomon poses several rhetorical questions: “What advantage has a wise man over a fool? What does a poor man gain by knowing how to conduct himself before others?” People who see the success of a fool may then ask themselves these questions. No one likes to see the wicked or corrupt enjoy life. It appears to be an injustice.
“Whatever exists has already been named, and what man is has been known; no one can contend with one who is stronger than he.” (Eccl. 6:10 NIV) The naming here is a reference to how God ordered the universe. If one names something he enjoys a measure of power of it. As for “no one can contend with one who is stronger than he” may actually mean “Don’t take on God in a fight – he is stronger than thou.” The chapter closes on an up-note: “For who knows what is good for a man in life, during the few and meaningless days he passes through like a shadow? Who can tell him what will happen under the sun after he is gone?” (Eccl. 6:12 NIV)