June 28 Notes

June 28. Ecclesiastes 12.

Dear fellow student of God's Word, we have reached the end of this study together and I hope He has spoken to you in powerful and meaningful ways. Would you please consider emailing me to let me know you followed this on the website? I'd like to know if this is something that is helpful so I know whether or not to do it again. If I don't hear from anyone ... I'll assume that no one read this and just do a Facebook version next time. So ... if you'd like to be included in our next study on the website ... if you would like there to BE a next study on the website ... either comment below or PLEASE email me: sharon@sweetselah.org. Thanks, friend! Glad you journeyed with me.

This last chapter of Ecclesiastes has some pretty vivid and grim descriptions about advanced aging, doesn't it? I thought it very clever as Solomon covered cataracts, deafness, lost teeth and dull teeth. Yikes! I liked his main point, though. Don't wait to know God until you are that old. Know Him in your youth, when you can serve Him with strength and Joy!

My verse: Ecclesiastes 12:13 "Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man."

My response: Oh Father, it comes down to knowing and honoring You. That's it. All the stuff we accumulate? We leave behind. The only permanent and sure foundation is You. And at the very end of our lives, before our new beginning in Heaven, "our spirit returns to God (You) who gave it."(vs 7) Oh Lord! Help me to keep You first all the days of my life here on earth and then ... forever.

June 27 Notes

June 27. Ecclesiastes 5.

You should see all my underlinings in this chapter. My oh my there were a lot of poignant verses in chapter 5. I hope you found "the one" that resonated with you and taught you something you needed for today.

My verse: "Ecclesiastes 5:1 & 7 "Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. Go near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools, who do not know that they do wrong ... Much dreaming and many words are meaningless. Therefore stand in awe of God."

My response: Great advice for me, too, when I go to church. Lord, forgive me when I just go through the motions. Help me to "go near to LISTEN." Help me to "stand in awe" of You, treating You with the reverence and awe You deserve. It's a high and holy privilege to come together to worship You!!

June 26 Notes

June 26. Ecclesiastes 4.

How are you doing? I hope you have been steadfast in meeting with the Lord each day. I hope that if you haven't been ... you are at least MORE steadfast because of this study! Grace, dear friend. Keep trying. Also, it's time to start thinking about what is next in your personal study. Don't stop just because this study is over. Choose a book of the Bible and study it on your own using the 4R method you have followed in this study. Or, find a good devotional book and determine to start it June 29th, keeping the good habit of meeting with Jesus each day!

My verse: Ecclesiastes 4;13 "Better a poor but wise youth than an old but foolish king who no longer knows how to take warning."

My response: Lord, is it possible that Solomon was speaking of himself here? How lost he must have been when his spiritual eyes lost sight of their north star - YOU. How hopeless life must seem when someone abandons truth and embraces false gods. I am so sad for this man who had so much going for him and yet turned away. He had YOU, Lord, and he chose lesser things. It reminds me of Jeremiah 2:13. Solomon had living water and he chose, instead, to drink from "broken cisterns that can't hold water." No wonder he was depressed. Without You, Lord, everything is meaningless.

June 25 Notes

June 25. Ecclesiastes 3.

Oh, there are some GREAT passages in Ecclesiastes 3. I hope you were able to read slowly and savor and ponder this amazing little chapter! I hope God whispered to you some truth even in this pessimistic book, that resonated with your heart. His Word is living and active. God-breathed. Useful for teaching and instructing. May this last week of reading be one of new insights and special thoughts from the God who loves you ... directly to you!

My verse: Ecclesiastes 3:21 "Who knows if the spirit of man rises upward and if the spirit of the animal goes down into the earth?"

My response: With all of Solomon's wisdom, he still could not look beyond death to see what would happen next. No matter how much wealth he accumulated, ultimately he'd leave it all behind when he died. Oh Father, I can't imagine life before Jesus lived and then died and came back from death, rescuing us from it. What a privilege it is to live this side of the resurrection. For now we KNOW. Yes, "the spirit of man rises upward" and is clothed in a new body. Yes, there will be a judgment time when justice and Your grace will prevail. How I praise and thank You that death has lost its sting!

June 24 Notes

June 24. Ecclesiastes 1.

As I read a bit about Ecclesiastes, I discovered that most scholars think it was written by Solomon in his old age. It certainly is a reflection of a jaded, cynical mind, which would "fit" with a king who had it all and then walked away from the Source of all he had. Deep Sigh. So, in some ways, Ecclesiastes is depressing and may have been written by a depressed king. But even in this book that discovers that the answers are not to be found "under the sun," we see the true answer that the meaning of life is beyond our solar system and the things we have and do. Solomon ends his reflections with these two verses that remind us that we don't live for this world alone, but for the One who made it and who will someday set all things to right again:

Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man's all. For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil. --Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 NKJV

Interwoven throughout the book, are profound thoughts and truths about life and about what really matters. I found myself underlining a lot of the verses as I read. Read this and learn, dear friend. Read this and determine to gain from Solomon's error of turning from the one true God, by pledging anew to stay true to your Savior and King. And, tell me what you think. Did Solomon turn back, do you think, to worshiping just God at the very end of his life? Do you think he stopped listening to his wives who followed other "gods?" I kinda think he must have based on my reading. I surely hope so!

My verse: Ecclesiastes 1:18 "For with much wisdom comes much sorrow; the more knowledge the more grief."

My response: Father, why would Solomon say this? Secular smarts, I guess? Perhaps, in his darkened later years, with his heart turned from solely following You, everything DID seem meaningless? And the weight of knowing all about the sinful nature of man would be heavy. And, in Solomon's day, there was no Savior, no Redeemer ... just a promise of a Messiah to come ... I wonder, Lord, if in Heaven, much will be explained that is now mystery. Will Solomon be there, able to sit down and share with us what he was thinking? How glad I am, that I know Jesus. I know there IS a Redeemer and that all wisdom resides in Him. I believe that kind of wisdom brings joy, not grief, and the sure hope of Heaven.

 

Slow Down

This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says:
“In repentance and rest is your salvation,
in quietness and trust is your strength,
but you would have none of it.”
—Isaiah 30:15 NIV

Why is it that we think that running faster and doing more will somehow make life better? What crazy mindset is it that pushes us to fill every moment with activity? Why do we feel valued only when we’re busy?

Is it really okay sometimes to just … stop?

Yes.

Our salvation stems from “repentance and rest.” Our strength comes from “quietness and trust.” But, too often, like the Israelites in Isaiah’s time, we will have “none of it.” God created the human body to work hard and then to rest. We stop every night for sleep whether we want to or not. We have to. God rested after six days of work, and He tells us to rest every week. His people were commanded to take off an entire year every seven years. And, once every fifty years, they had two years in a row off. God is okay with resting. We should be, too. (Leviticus 25:1-12)

Traditionally, Sweet Selah Ministries rests in July. We just stop. No blogs. No Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or Instagram posts. Nothing. A time to recuperate from a busy year. A time to let our minds go fallow for a bit, drinking in living water and filling up with nutrients so the soil of creativity will be rich again for the next season. Instead of plans, team meetings, agendas, and deadlines, we have this simply lovely empty calendar. Ahhhh. By August, we’ll be ready to come back and do what we love to do. But in July? We slow down. Waaaaay down.

Some of the slowed-down July goals are …

… rest in the hammock and admire the clouds as they float by.

… stay up late and catch fireflies.

… take beach walks.

… have bicycle adventures.

… stare into space while sitting on the deck sipping hot tea (Yes, if you’re Sharon and brought up on tea in all weather, hot tea appears even on the hottest of days!)

… read fiction books.

… linger longer over quiet times with God.

… hang out with family.

… definitely eat fresh strawberries and corn on the cob and grilled salmon, savoring slowly.

not write in the day planner; just let the day unfold.

… stop to chat with the neighbors while walking the dog.

… enjoy ice cream.

… thank God often for the sweetness of a cleared calendar, a privilege to be treasured.

There ya go. We’ll be back in August, dear friends, ready to go and eager to connect with you again. The Sweet Selah Ministries team loves what we do. And in July, we practice what we preach … the “stopping” part and the just “being with God” part. Hope you, too, will be able to do some resting of your own.

See you in August!

Dear Heavenly Father, how we thank You that Your opinion of us is not based on performance. You don’t love us because of our achievements. Forgive us when we think we only have value if we are busy. Lord, may we serve and do out of our joy of being loved ... not because we feel we have to somehow earn the love that is already ours. Thank You for telling us to rest. We love You, Lord! Give us ears to hear You, each and every day. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

You are loved,
Sharon

 

 

Sweet Selah Ministries

Vision
To encourage a movement away from the belief that “busy is better”
and toward the truth that stillness and knowing God matter most—
and will be reflected in more effective work and service

Mission 
To offer resources and retreats that help women pause (Selah)
and love God more deeply as they know Him more intimately (Sweet)

Donate
If you’ve been blessed, keep the blessing going!
Click over to our Donation page … and thanks.

 

 

 

 

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June 23 Notes

June 23. I Kings 11;1-13, 41-43

And now we come to the end of Solomon's life and his fall from worshiping the one true God only. Deep Sigh. I doubt he set out to walk away from God. I suspect he had sound political reasons for the alliances he made through marriage with women who worshiped other gods. But the end result? Disaster. And, like most sinful choices, the disaster did not reside with him alone but with all the people over whom he had authority. Solomon would be the last of only three kings of a united Israel. Shortly after his death, the kingdom divided. Oh the consequences of sinful choices! Oh the responsibility of leadership! Yikes. I get very sad about this. Yet, I am glad we can read about it because it is a warning to me, now 62 years old, that I could still walk away if I am not carefully focused on Jesus. I suspect you are like me. You want to finish well. We will read Ecclesiastes next week and we will see Solomon's depressed heart in parts of it. You see, when you leave the one true God and start following lesser things, life has less meaning, doesn't it? But even in Ecclesiastes, we see his heart start to swing back toward God once again. It gives me hope that perhaps at the very end of his life he repented and returned his heart to God alone. One can hope. Right?

My verse: I Kings 11:9 "The LORD became angry with Solomon because his heart had turned away from the LORD, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice."

My response: You, Lord, do not share Your glory. Nor should You. You are the only true God and it is understandably abhorrent when any false god is lifted high - when it not a god at all. I hear the anguish in the words "the God of Israel who had appeared to him twice." Solomon heard You, saw parts of Your glory - not just once, but twice. He know You were real. And yet he walked away. Oh the heartbreak. What is wrong with us humans that we would choose to please people over the living God? And yet we do, even today. Father, I want to end well. However many years I have here on earth - and You alone know that number - I want to live them all for You. Thank You for the warning inherent in the story. And keep me close to Your side, please.

June 22 Notes

June 22. I Kings 10:1-27

It's hard to believe, but this is our last weekend in our study. We will finish next Friday, June 28th. So, let's look at Solomon in his later years this weekend, shall we? Today, we see him at the peak of his success. Rulers from other nations are coming to learn from him and admire his amazing kingdom. Solomon was super famous. He built fabulous structures, he was able to converse on almost any subject. He studied broadly and knew science, philosophy, and theology. All God had promised to him, God gave. God kept His word to David's son. Did you enjoy reading about his visit with the Queen of Sheba? I did. I loved imagining what it would have been like.

My verse: I Kings 10:23 "King Solomon was greater in riches and wisdom than all the other kings of the earth."

My response: Oh the things you can do when you are a nation at peace! I'm so curious about Solomon's life. Obviously, he was wealthy and had an amazing palace and throne ... but did he have a library? Did he have a science lab - or whatever the equivalent would have been? HOW did he gain that wisdom of his? Did he read? meditate? experiment? travel? sit and think? He must have been a great conversationalist if people came to talk and left satisfied ... I also wonder, Lord, what did he do for the poor in his land? And with all that wisdom, but without threats and hardships, did he just grow ... bored? Should I be more grateful for the hard things that keep me clinging to You? Somehow ... at least in our current state in a sinful world ... we seem to almost need conflict to grow. Thank You Lord, in any case for this magnificent tale of a time of peace and prosperity in Israel. What a phenomenal time in which to live!

June 21 Notes

June 21. Song of Songs 8.

And now for one more look at this love poem. This book is short enough that I suspect many of you read the whole thing in its entirety, just to see how it flowed. In this last chapter, Solomon's beloved celebrates, but also worries about keeping his love. It's a fitting ending to this poem and a foreshadowing of his future choices, sadly.

My verse: Song of Songs 8:6 "Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm, for love is as strong as death, its jealousy unyielding as the grave. It burns like blazing fire, like a mighty flame."

My response: Lord, in my mind's eye, I see this beautiful woman longing to be confirmed as the one and only wife ...the wife that is in a covenant relationship. Officially sealed. I read in here a bit of panic ... her knowing how jealous she'd be if anyone else took her place in his affections. Oh my heart aches to think of what she must have endured. Because in the end, he was led astray by many wives. She was never his one and only, sealed to him alone. Father thank you for my Ray. My one and only. Keep our love fresh and alive. How glad I am that in our culture, one wife is the norm!!!

And then, Lord, there's YOU - jealous for us. Wanting a sealed relationship where we belong to You alone and no other gods anywhere near us. Thank You for Your jealous love, wanting only the best for Your beloveds.

GET SMART - Week Four

Can you believe we are almost at the end of our study? We have one more reading in Week Three, and then we start Week Four on Saturday, studying Solomon's last days. Are you ready to ponder with me? Hope so! Let's finish strong together. As always, feel free to comment below or to email me at sharon@sweetselah.org. I'd love to know how you are doing with this study.