September 19, 2017 Ecclesiastes 7-9; 1 John 2:1-11

These are a few of our SOAP notes from today’s reading. We encourage you to read and journal on your own first, then join us in conversation about what God revealed to YOU today. Click HERE to go directly to the daily reading if you wish.

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Starting is Rough | Kimi Miller

S~ The end of a matter is better than its beginning, and patience is better than pride. Ecclesiastes 7:8 (NIV)

O~ Wow. It seems lately I’ve barely been able to keep my head above water. All I want to do is get to the end of whatever lesson is that I’m learning and move on.  The end of a matter is better than its beginning – can I get an “amen?”  The beginning is always rough – difficult really.  But we gain strength and wisdom as we keep pressing on – striving for the end goal.

A~ I struggle with starting a new habit – like going to the gym, eating healthy – even SOAP’ing.  It takes a lot of self-discipline to keep up with those things that make – and keep – me healthy.  When I am healthy, I am strong – ready for battle!  No wonder the enemy (and my own flesh) lure me away from those things with distractions.  Every time I opt for the DQ blizzard instead of a walk, or 20 minutes of sleep instead of 20 minutes in the Word, I am choosing to be – and stay – weak.  I am faced with a choice, and in the beginning, it is always hard.  But with self-discipline, I will learn patience and most importantly, I will learn to trust even more in the One who gives me strength.

P~ Jesus, It’s always hard for me to do those things I know I should do.  Please grant me the strength and courage to walk in the way you would have me go – the way that makes me stronger for your kingdom!  I love you.

Are These the “good old days”? | Joni Tyner

S~ Don’t long for  ‘ the good old days.’   This is not wise.  Ecclesiastes 7:10 (NLT)

O~ King Solomon is reflecting on life in Ecclesiastes.  This book has portions that are negative and pessimistic.  I think it would be easy to take verses out of context if not seeing the bigger picture. I am trying to see what God is telling me today.

A~ It is graduation season in our house.  We’ve been invited to 7 graduation parties this month and our own daughter just graduated from college.  She is talking about moving out of state.  My mother’s heart wants to scream, “NO!!” stay here with us, do something safe, something close to home.  I have been tempted to replay, “the good old days” in my mind—when the 3 kids were young and needed me, when I controlled their world and everything in it.   It was a wonderful season in our life when the kids were little.  There were piano recitals and dance competitions and baseball and games of capture the flag in the yard.  We had a messy house with lots of noise. We always had extra  kids around, Money was always tight.  I sometimes catch myself being cynical when I hear a young parent complaining about something trivial. I want to say, “just wait until they grow up, then you’ll really have something to worry about”.  I want them to enjoy their “blessings” of the here and now.

Still, isn’t God’s timing always perfect?  I think I needed to see this verse to be reminded that yes, things were really good back then, but they still are, it’s just different.  I get to see my kids blossom into the young adults God created them to be.  I get to practice unconditional love.  I have the opportunity to really depend on Him and trust His Plan.  I have also grown in my faith as I realized, I’m not in control, He is and He is much better at growing up kids than me. He has given me different seasons for my benefit.

P~ Dear Lord, thank you for the blessing of our family and the wonderful memories.  I know You are continuing to guide us and that with You, the best is yet to come.

Live Like Jesus | Kim Chipman

S~ Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did. 1 John 2:6

O~ Live like Jesus. I’m sure this is a heart place. Living in gentleness, living in love, living among the least of these and pouring into them, living unrushed and willing to be interrupted, living with eternal perspective, living in obedience, living a life of self sacrifice.

A~ I can’t BE Jesus, but I CAN focus on being more LIKE Jesus each day. I can focus on how You lived and work at growing to look more and more like Your amazing example. If You live in me and truly have reign in my heart then the fruit of the Spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control – will be evident in my life.

I’m continually amazed and perplexed by free will. I do believe that genuine love must be freely chosen and You desire for me to freely, continually choose You. Oftentimes, however, I really mess this thing up royally. Sometimes i wish You’d just take over! It’s hard! I know You know my heart…You see me trying. You see me giving my best. You see. And You accept and forgive when I blow it.

P~ I want to honor You with my life and grow in these areas. I want to live in You. I want to live my life like Jesus did. I want people to see You through me. Help me. I love You!

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