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First Reading: Ecclesiastes Chapter 3 and 4
1 For everything there is a season, and a time for very purpose under heaven:
2 a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
3 a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
4 a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
5 a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
6 a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
7 a time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
8 a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.
9 What profit hath he that worketh in that wherein he laboreth?
10 I have seen the travail which God hath given to the sons of men to be exercised therewith.
11 He hath made everything beautiful in its time: also he hath set eternity in their heart, yet so that man cannot find out the work that God hath done from the beginning even to the end.
12 I know that there is nothing better for them, than to rejoice, and to do good so long as they live.
13 And also that every man should eat and drink, and enjoy good in all his labor, is the gift of God.
14 I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever: nothing can be put to it, nor anything taken from it; and God hath done it, that men should fear before him.
15 That which is hath been long ago; and that which is to be hath long ago been: and God seeketh again that which is passed away.
16 And moreover I saw under the sun, in the place of justice, that wickedness was there; and in the place of righteousness, that wickedness was there.
17 I said in my heart, God will judge the righteous and the wicked; for there is a time there for every purpose and for every work.
18 I said in my heart, `It is' because of the sons of men, that God may prove them, and that they may see that they themselves are `but as' beasts.
19 For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath; and man hath no preeminence above the beasts: for all is vanity.
20 All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again.
21 Who knoweth the spirit of man, whether it goeth upward, and the spirit of the beast, whether it goeth downward to the earth?
22 Wherefore I saw that there is nothing better, than that a man should rejoice in his works; for that is his portion: for who shall bring him `back' to see what shall be after him?
1 Then I returned and saw all the oppressions that are done under the sun: and, behold, the tears of such as were oppressed, and they had no comforter; and on the side of their oppressors there was power; but they had no comforter.
2 Wherefore I praised the dead that have been long dead more than the living that are yet alive;
3 yea, better than them both `did I esteem' him that hath not yet been, who hath not seen the evil work that is done under the sun.
4 Then I saw all labor and every skilful work, that for this a man is envied of his neighbor. This also is vanity and a striving after wind.
5 The fool foldeth his hands together, and eateth his own flesh.
6 Better is a handful, with quietness, than two handfuls with labor and striving after wind.
7 Then I returned and saw vanity under the sun.
8 There is one that is alone, and he hath not a second; yea, he hath neither son nor brother; yet is there no end of all his labor, neither are his eyes satisfied with riches. For whom then, `saith he', do I labor, and deprive my soul of good? This also is vanity, yea, it is a sore travail.
9 Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor.
10 For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow; but woe to him that is alone when he falleth, and hath not another to lift him up.
11 Again, if two lie together, then they have warmth; but how can one be warm `alone'?
12 And if a man prevail against him that is alone, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.
13 Better is a poor and wise youth than an old and foolish king, who knoweth not how to receive admonition any more.
14 For out of prison he came forth to be king; yea, even in his kingdom he was born poor.
15 I saw all the living that walk under the sun, that they were with the youth, the second, that stood up in his stead.
16 There was no end of all the people, even of all them over whom he was: yet they that come after shall not rejoice in him. Surely this also is vanity and a striving after wind.
Second Reading: 2 Corinthians Chapter 4
2 Corinthians 4
1 Therefore seeing we have this ministry, even as we obtained mercy, we faint not:
2 but we have renounced the hidden things of shame, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by the manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God.
3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled in them that perish:
4 in whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of the unbelieving, that the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should not dawn `upon them'.
5 For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake.
6 Seeing it is God, that said, Light shall shine out of darkness, who shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the exceeding greatness of the power may be of God, and not from ourselves;
8 `we are' pressed on every side, yet not straitened; perplexed, yet not unto despair;
9 pursued, yet not forsaken; smitten down, yet not destroyed;
10 always bearing about in the body the dying of Jesus, that the life also of Jesus may be manifested in our body.
11 For we who live are always delivered unto death for Jesus' sake, that the life also of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh.
12 So then death worketh in us, but life in you.
13 But having the same spirit of faith, according to that which is written, I believed, and therefore did I speak; we also believe, and therefore also we speak;
14 knowing that he that raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also with Jesus, and shall present us with you.
15 For all things `are' for your sakes, that the grace, being multiplied through the many, may cause the thanksgiving to abound unto the glory of God.
16 Wherefore we faint not; but though our outward man is decaying, yet our inward man is renewed day by day.
17 For our light affliction, which is for the moment, worketh for us more and more exceedingly an eternal weight of glory;
18 while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.
Part 1 of 5
Webster's Dictionary defines "parable" as "a short, simple story teaching a moral lesson." The word comes from two Greek words: para meaning "beside" and ballo meaning "to throw." A parable teaches a concept by using a parallel story or idea. It many times can be puzzling and thought-provoking. Many times a parable will start with the words "as" or "like." For example the parable of the virgins in Matthew 25 starts out: "At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like....." Sometimes that lead in is not given such as in the parable of Lazarus and the rich man in Luke 19:19, "There was a rich man who was dressed in......" However, context tells us that Jesus is not just telling a story but rather a lesson.
Sometimes trying to understand parables can be frustrating. Why doesn't Jesus just tell us straight out what he's talking about.? There are so many parables of the kingdom (see for example Matthew 13). Why instead of telling parables does Jesus not just give some factual information. Even the answer that Jesus gives to those who ask why he teaches in parables is enigmatic. He quotes from Isaiah 6:9 & 10: "they may be ever seeing but never perceiving and ever hearing but never understanding; otherwise they might turn and be forgiven." See Mark 4:9-12
Parables make you think, help you to remember, but most of all they humble a person to ask God for help in understanding.
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