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First Reading: Ecclesiastes Chapter 7 and 8

Ecclesiastes 7

7:1 The Value of Practical Wisdom

A good name is better than precious ointment,And the day of death than the day of one's birth; 2 Better to go to the house of mourning Than to go to the house of feasting,For that is the end of all men;And the living will take it to heart. 3 Sorrow is better than laughter,For by a sad countenance the heart is made better. 4 The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning,But the heart of fools is in the house of mirth.
5 It is better to hear the rebuke of the wise Than for a man to hear the song of fools. 6 For like the crackling of thorns under a pot,So is the laughter of the fool.This also is vanity. 7 Surely oppression destroys a wise man's reason,And a bribe debases the heart.
8 The end of a thing is better than its beginning;The patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit. 9 Do not hasten in your spirit to be angry,For anger rests in the bosom of fools. 10 Do not say,"Why were the former days better than these?"For you do not inquire wisely concerning this.
11 Wisdom is good with an inheritance,And profitable to those who see the sun. 12 For wisdom is a defense as money is a defense,But the excellence of knowledge is that wisdom gives life to those who have it.
13 Consider the work of God;For who can make straight what He has made crooked? 14 In the day of prosperity be joyful,But in the day of adversity consider:Surely God has appointed the one as well as the other,So that man can find out nothing that will come after him.
15 I have seen everything in my days of vanity:
There is a just man who perishes in his righteousness,And there is a wicked man who prolongs life in his wickedness.
16 Do not be overly righteous,Nor be overly wise:Why should you destroy yourself? 17 Do not be overly wicked,Nor be foolish:Why should you die before your time? 18 It is good that you grasp this,And also not remove your hand from the other;For he who fears God will escape them all.
19 Wisdom strengthens the wise More than ten rulers of the city.
20 For there is not a just man on earth who does good And does not sin.
21 Also do not take to heart everything people say,Lest you hear your servant cursing you. 22 For many times, also, your own heart has known That even you have cursed others.
23 All this I have proved by wisdom.I said, "I will be wise";But it was far from me. 24 As for that which is far off and exceedingly deep,Who can find it out? 25 I applied my heart to know,To search and seek out wisdom and the reason of things,To know the wickedness of folly,Even of foolishness and madness. 26 And I find more bitter than death The woman whose heart is snares and nets,Whose hands are fetters.He who pleases God shall escape from her,But the sinner shall be trapped by her.
27 "Here is what I have found," says the Preacher,"Adding one thing to the other to find out the reason, 28 Which my soul still seeks but I cannot find:One man among a thousand I have found,But a woman among all these I have not found. 29 Truly, this only I have found:That God made man upright,But they have sought out many schemes."

Ecclesiastes 8

Who is like a wise man?And who knows the interpretation of a thing?A man's wisdom makes his face shine,And the sternness of his face is changed.
2 Obey Authorities for God's Sake

I say, "Keep the king's commandment for the sake of your oath to God. 3 Do not be hasty to go from his presence. Do not take your stand for an evil thing, for he does whatever pleases him."
4 Where the word of a king is, there is power;And who may say to him, "What are you doing?" 5 He who keeps his command will experience nothing harmful;And a wise man's heart discerns both time and judgment, 6 Because for every matter there is a time and judgment,Though the misery of man increases greatly. 7 For he does not know what will happen;So who can tell him when it will occur? 8 No one has power over the spirit to retain the spirit,And no one has power in the day of death.There is no release from that war,And wickedness will not deliver those who are given to it.
9 All this I have seen, and applied my heart to every work that is done under the sun: There is a time in which one man rules over another to his own hurt.
10 Death Comes to All

Then I saw the wicked buried, who had come and gone from the place of holiness, and they were forgotten in the city where they had so done. This also is vanity. 11 Because the sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil. 12 Though a sinner does evil a hundred times, and his days are prolonged, yet I surely know that it will be well with those who fear God, who fear before Him. 13 But it will not be well with the wicked; nor will he prolong his days, which are as a shadow, because he does not fear before God.
14 There is a vanity which occurs on earth, that there are just men to whom it happens according to the work of the wicked; again, there are wicked men to whom it happens according to the work of the righteous. I said that this also is vanity.
15 So I commended enjoyment, because a man has nothing better under the sun than to eat, drink, and be merry; for this will remain with him in his labor all the days of his life which God gives him under the sun.
16 When I applied my heart to know wisdom and to see the business that is done on earth, even though one sees no sleep day or night, 17 then I saw all the work of God, that a man cannot find out the work that is done under the sun. For though a man labors to discover it, yet he will not find it; moreover, though a wise man attempts to know it, he will not be able to find it.

Second Reading: 2 Corinthians Chapter 6

2 Corinthians 6

6:1 Marks of the Ministry

We then, as workers together with Him also plead with you not to receive the grace of God in vain. 2 For He says:
"In an acceptable time I have heard you,And in the day of salvation I have helped you."
Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.
3 We give no offense in anything, that our ministry may not be blamed. 4 But in all things we commend ourselves as ministers of God: in much patience, in tribulations, in needs, in distresses, 5 in stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in sleeplessness, in fastings; 6 by purity, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Spirit, by sincere love, 7 by the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armor of righteousness on the right hand and on the left, 8 by honor and dishonor, by evil report and good report; as deceivers, and yet true; 9 as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold we live; as chastened, and yet not killed; 10 as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.
11 Be Holy

O Corinthians! We have spoken openly to you, our heart is wide open. 12 You are not restricted by us, but you are restricted by your own affections. 13 Now in return for the same(I speak as to children), you also be open.
14 Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? 15 And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? 16 And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said:
"I will dwell in them And walk among them.I will be their God,And they shall be My people."
17 Therefore
"Come out from among them And be separate, says the Lord.Do not touch what is unclean,And I will receive you." 18'I will be a Father to you,And you shall be My sons and daughters,Says the LORD Almighty."

Bible Background


Part 3 of 5

Sometimes parables can be difficult to understand because they give a perspective from God's point of view that doesn't seem fair or understandable to us. An example of this is the parable of the workers in the vineyard found in Matthew 20:1-16. Jesus tells the story of a landowner with a vineyard. He needed workers and sent out to the market place to hire them. He hired some at the beginning of the day and others throughout the day. When the end of the day came and it was time to pay the workers, the landowner paid those who worked a short amount of time the same wages as those who worked all day. Those who worked all day complained that they should be paid more, even though what they were paid was a good wage for the day.

We can certainly identify with those workers who complained. If we worked for 10 hours, we would want to be paid more than those who worked one hour. But Jesus gives us something to think about from God's perspective: "Don't I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?" (verse 15)


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