November 2, Tuesday

REPOST Today’s AMI QT blog, written by Pastor Mark Chun of Radiance Christian Church in S.F., was originally posted on September 2, 2014; it has been updated. Mark is a graduate of University of California, San Diego (BS) and Talbot School of Theology (M.Div.). 

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“Nothing New Under the Sun”

Ecclesiastes 1:3-11 (ESV)

What does man gain by all the toil at which he toils under the sun?  4 A generation goes, and a generation comes, but the earth remains forever.  5 The sun rises, and the sun goes down, and hastens to the place where it rises. 6 The wind blows to the south and goes around to the north; around and around goes the wind, and on its circuits the wind returns.  7 All streams run to the sea, but the sea is not full; to the place where the streams flow, there they flow again. 8 All things are full of weariness; a man cannot utter it; the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing.  9 What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun.  10 Is there a thing of which it is said, “See, this is new”?  It has been already in the ages before us. 11 There is no remembrance of former things, nor will there be any remembrance of later things yet to be among those who come after. 

We live in a time of amazing technological breakthroughs.  Things that seemed like the fantasy of science fiction are now becoming a reality:  Self-driving cars, computerized drones that drop off your mail, and even clones of your pets are all within the realm of possibility in the not too distant future.  

But even as we fill our lives with the latest gadgets and advancements, many of us still wrestle with the monotonous drudgery of life.   Even in the face of so much innovation, nothing seems new to the human condition because we know deep inside that everything new will end up in the same pile as our old discarded VCRs, floppy discs, and cassette tapes.  At the end of the day, we still wrestle with the same problems that humanity has been struggling with for hundreds of generations.  Loneliness, depression, anxiety, and fear are still an ever-persistent problem that no new invention can help us with.  

Like the sun that rises in the morning, sets in the evening, and then runs back to where it has to rise again, we can go through life as though we were on a perpetual treadmill; always in motion but never getting anywhere.  Pink Floyd in their famous album “Dark Side of the Moon” sings about the futility of life.

So you run and you run to catch up with the sun but it’s sinking,

Racing around to come up behind you again,

The sun is the same in a relative way but you’re older, 

Shorter of breath and one day closer to death.

How can we escape the inherent frustration of living in a world that is doomed to repeat itself?  The key is in our understanding of the statement that “there is nothing new under the sun.”  

As long as we limit our lives to existence under the sun, we will never escape the monotonous cycle of life.  The only way we can break free is to live for the God who exists and reigns far above the sun.  This is the God who promises us that He is making all things new, including our very lives along with the heavens and the earth.  In Him, we can live in the hope that everything we do will ultimately matter.  

Prayer: Father, help us to break through the feelings of discontentment and frustration that are a part of our existence.  Open our eyes, so that we can see that there is a reality beyond what is under the sun.  Enable our ears to hear your voice over the daily commotion of our busy lives.  Teach us how to depend on your mercy that is new every morning.  Amen.  

Bible Reading for Today: Ecclesiastes 5


Lunch Break Study  

Read Lamentations 3:22-33: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; 23 they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. 24 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.” 25 The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him. 26 It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. 27 It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth. 28 Let him sit alone in silence when it is laid on him; 29 let him put his mouth in the dust—there may yet be hope; 30 let him give his cheek to the one who strikes, and let him be filled with insults. 31 For the Lord will not cast off forever, 32 but, though he cause grief, he will have compassion according to the abundance of his steadfast love; 33 for he does not afflict from his heart or grieve the children of men.

Questions to Consider 

  1. How can we reconcile the steadfast love of God with the grief that we sometimes go through?   
  2. What is the source of our hope?
  3. How can you practically experience the newness of God’s mercy on a daily basis?  

Notes

  1. Though God does not willingly afflict his children, there are times when He deems it necessary for our spiritual growth.  Whether it is discipline against sin or simply a test of our faith, God often speaks most clearly and powerfully in our pain.  During those seasons, it is important to hold onto the truth that God is good to those who wait upon him.  
  2. The source of our hope is in the fact that God is our portion forever.  In the Old Testament, a portion is synonymous with an inheritance or a gift that is irrevocable.  The greatest gift of God is not the many blessings we receive in this life, but the promise that He is our God and we are His people.  In the Hebrew, the steadfast love of God is another way of describing the covenant love that He has bestowed upon us. 
  3. There are many ways to daily experience God’s mercy anew:  not taking His mercy for granted, repenting of sins, and fixing your eyes on the cross.  

Evening Reflection

Are you excited about your relationship with God?  If not, why not?    What are some new things that God is doing in your life or wants to do in your life?  Pray that you would be obedient to the call of God and seek times of refreshing in His presence.    

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