December 10, Thursday

REPOST Today’s AMI QT blog, written by Pastor Mark Chun of Radiance Christian Church in S.F., was originally posted on September 3, 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

“I Know Nothing Except This One Thing”

Ecclesiastes 1:12-18 (ESV)

I the Preacher have been king over Israel in Jerusalem. 13 And I applied my heart to seek and to search out by wisdom all that is done under heaven. It is an unhappy business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with. 14 I have seen everything that is done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and a striving after wind.  15 What is crooked cannot be made straight, and what is lacking cannot be counted.  16 I said in my heart, “I have acquired great wisdom, surpassing all who were over Jerusalem before me, and my heart has had great experience of wisdom and knowledge.” 17 And I applied my heart to know wisdom and to know madness and folly. I perceived that this also is but a striving after wind.  18 For in much wisdom is much vexation, and he who increases knowledge increases sorrow. 

It seems like every year there is a new set of self-help books on the New York Times Best Seller List.  Each of them promises the secrets to a more fulfilling, more effective, and happier life; and Americans spend millions of dollars and hours trying to glean wisdom from the authors.   However, the very fact that there is always a new book that offers the latest insights on life should tell us that none of these books give us the keys to life in its entirety.  Yet, we continue to read and to search for that elusive piece of information that will help us figure out why life is the way it is.  

The author of Ecclesiastes made it his main purpose to seek and search for every bit of worldly wisdom and knowledge that he could get his hands on.  If he had lived in our day and age, he would have read “The Power of Habit,” “Blink,” “Good to Great,” as well as every other book that provides some measure of insight to our existence.  But after years and years of accumulating all this wisdom under heaven, he realized that the pursuit was in vain, not because the information wasn’t true but because it really didn’t change anything.  The reason why so many people continue to buy self-help books year in and year out is precisely because they realize things haven’t really changed.  

The Preacher, near the end of his quest, comes to a sobering conclusion:  What is bent cannot be straightened and life simply doesn’t add up.  There will always be misunderstandings in relationships, conflict in churches, dissatisfaction with work, moral failings, and the list goes on and on.  No amount of books you read can fix what has been bent out of shape and fill what seems to be lacking in our lives.  Many great minds have come to the same conclusion.  Before he passed away, the modernist poet, Ezra Pound said, “All my life I believed I knew something. But then one strange day came when I realized that I knew nothing; yes, I knew nothing. And so words became void of meaning.”  

So what is the point of coming to such a depressing conclusion?  Wouldn’t it be better to live in ignorant bliss rather than accumulate knowledge that increases sorrow?  It is until you realize God’s plan for worldly wisdom.  His purpose is to expose the futility of man’s wisdom (1 Cor. 1:19) so that we would learn to depend on the wisdom of God and turn to Him.  In 1 Corinthians 1:24 we read that Jesus Christ is the wisdom of God, and it is only through an abiding relationship with Him where our crooked roads can be made straight and life can begin to add up.  So, even if I know nothing except Jesus Christ, then, I would consider my life successful. 

Prayer: Father, we acknowledge that Your ways are higher than our ways; Your thoughts higher than our thoughts.  Yet we persist in trying to outsmart You and question Your divine purpose and plan for life.  Help us to humble ourselves and lean not on our own understanding so that when there is reason to boast, we can boast in Christ our Lord.  Amen.  

Bible Reading for Today: 2 Corinthians 11


Lunch Break Study  

Read 1 Corinthians 1:18-30:  For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.” 20 Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. 22 Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24 but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength. 26 Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28 God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, 29 so that no one may boast before him. 30 It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. 

Questions to Consider 

  1. Why is the gospel foolishness to the world?   
  2. Why does God choose people who are not wise by worldly standards or of noble birth for His purpose and plan?
  3. How are you growing in the wisdom of God?  

Notes

  1. The world sees the gospel as foolish because it seems unsophisticated, too easy to understand, and something only the uneducated would believe in.  The truth is of the matter is that no man in a million years could have come up with the story of God’s redemption.  Because man’s sinful mind did not come up with it, the gospel appears foreign to the secular intellect.  Only when human wisdom is destroyed will we truly consider Jesus Christ as the wisdom of God.    
  2. God chooses the foolish things of the world and the low and despised for two purposes:  The first is to shame the wise and the strong so that they would reconsider the claims of the Gospel.  The second is so that no man may boast in the presence of God, but rather give God the glory for all things.  
  3. Personal response

Evening Reflection

As you make decisions in your life, are you trusting in your own understanding or on the wisdom of God?  Are you acknowledging His will and purpose for you?  Pray that you would be sensitive enough to hear God’s voice and humble enough to follow the Spirit’s leading.  

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