vanity (허영)

Ecclesiastes 1:2-4 (ESV)

2 Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher, vanity of vanities! All is vanity. 3 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.

Vanity. 허영.

It’s such an interesting word and yet according to the ESV footnote the original Hebrew term hebel refers to a “mist, vapour, or mere breath.”: something “fleeting or elusive”.

It makes you wonder what the point of it all is when our lives are so short; so transitory; so finite.

We work our butts off as we ‘toil under the sun’ (v.3). But where does it get us in the end?

The good news is: there’s more to life than this.

That although our lives on earth may be considered temporary, as Christians, we have a greater hope: the promise of eternal life. (John 3:16)

Eternity spent worshipping our Creator. The One who breathed the very life into us. (Genesis 2:7, Acts 17:25)

Yet how can we be so sure?

Because Jesus didn’t simply die ‘… on a cross, but God raised him from the dead on the third day …’ (Acts 10:40)

So while a life lived for ourselves – our own selfishness and pleasures – may be vanity, a life lived trusting in Christ, His death and resurrection, is of infinite value.

Kim+

prayer : thank you that your gracious gift of eternal life does not rest on my own merit but on what Christ did ‘once for all’ (Romans 6:10) on the cross

action : pray for those who do not know Christ but reject His will for their lives

certainty

Luke 1:1-4 (NIV)

Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. With this in mind, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I too decided to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.

It’s a great thing to have certainty.

And it would appear Luke, the author of this Gospel account, has done everything in his power to help Theophilus (and us) to be as sure as we possibly can about the ‘things that have been fulfilled’.

Firstly, Luke tells us that others have done the same, writing down what they too have seen and heard, thus providing corroborating evidence (see Matthew, Mark & John).

Secondly, Luke points out that the information provided comes from first-hand ‘eyewitnesses’; people who can be trusted.

And finally, Luke himself has undertaken an exhaustive investigation: ‘carefully’ and ‘from the beginning’.

He has been most helpful in putting together such an ‘orderly account’.

And so we would do well to pay attention to what he says because it involves matters of life and death.

Kim+

prayer : thank you Lord that we can have such certainty because of Luke’s work

action : point people to this and the other gospel stories, encouraging them to investigate the claims made by Christ for themselves

mighty works and wonders and signs

  

Acts 2:22 (ESV)

22 “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know— “

There it is again. The word: mighty.

It first popped up in the Book of Acts in reference to the coming of the Holy Spirt: ‘a mighty rushing wind’. (Ac 2:2)

Then in reference to the Holy Spirit testifying about God the Father: ‘the mighty works of God’. (Ac 2:11)

And now in reference to Jesus of Nazareth: the ‘mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him’. (Ac 2:22)

Turning water into wine. Healing the sick. Feeding the thousands. Calming raging storms. Raising the dead to life.

Yep. All of them seem mighty to me.

Interestingly they are all linked to God. They are divine works. And their purpose is to glorify God.

Although they all pale in comparison with Jesus Himself rising from the dead.

Now that’s mighty.

Kim+

prayer : thank you for your mighty works and wonders and signs that point us to your divinity

action : ‘Sing to the LORD, bless his name; tell of his salvation from day to day. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples!’ (Ps 96:1-2)

everyone … shall be saved

Acts 2:21 (ESV)

21 “‘And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.'”

So what does it mean to ‘call upon the name of the Lord’?

If we turn to Paul in the Letter to the Romans we find: ‘… if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.’ (Rom 10:9)

Paul, too, then quotes Joel 2:32 saying ‘For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”‘ (Rom 10:13)

So it seems to me that it’s an acknowledgement that Jesus is Lord and a whole-hearted acceptance that He died and was raised to life by God.

Pretty straight-forward.

But so, so hard for many people to grasp a hold of. They would rather turn their back on Him; ignore Him; reject Him.

Yet the offer of salvation is to everyone.

There’s no select group. No elite inner circle. Simply a universal offer to ‘all nations’. (Matt 28:19)

Everyone.

Kim+

prayer : thank you that hold out to everyone the offer of salvation

action : help me to tell everyone I know that Jesus Christ is my Lord and Saviour

amazed and astonished

  

Acts 2:5-13 (ESV)

5 Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. 6  And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language. 7  And they were amazed and astonished, saying, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? 8  And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? 9  Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10  Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, 11  both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians—we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.” 12  And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” 13  But others mocking said, “They are filled with new wine.”


Bewildered. Amazed. Astonished. Perplexed. 

Clearly something is going on here that those seeing it and hearing it cannot easily explain.

Yet Peter understands full well what is happening. Because it’s a fulfilment of prophecy from the Book of Joel. (Ac 2:16)

Although Paul talks about believers being ‘baptized into one body’ (1Co 12:13) the suggestion here is that this is a special occasion.

That the blessing of the Holy Spirit at this time is not general but specific.

And what an amazing and astonishing thing to behold.

For the ‘mighty works of God’ were being extolled. (v.11)

Interesting that many believed yet some were ‘mocking’. (v.13)

Kim+

prayer : help those of unbelief to be amazed and astonished at the ‘mighty works of God’

action : help me to faithfully extol and explain  the ‘mighty works of God’ to friends & family

a mighty rushing wind

 

Acts 2:1-4 (ESV)

1 When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. 2  And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3 And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.

The coming of the Holy Spirit on this occasion was unlike anything before. Yet it has distinct similarities with the Creation account in the Book of Genesis.

There, the ‘Spirit of God’ (Gen 1:2) can also be translated as His breath; His very life-giving force.

How great it is that God breathes life into us.

For not only did He create us as we were ‘wonderfully made’ in our ‘mother’s womb’. (Ps 139:13-14)

But better still, when we ‘repent’ and are ‘baptized’, we are promised the ‘gift of the Holy Spirit’. (Ac 2:38)

Thus we are ‘a new creation’. (2Cor 5:17)

We ‘walk in newness of life’. (Rom 6:3)

We have the promise of ‘eternal life’. (Jn 10:28)

Kim+

prayer : thank you for the gift of life – physical & spiritual

action : ‘present [myself] to God as [one] who [has] been brought from death to life, and [my] members to God as instruments for righteousness’ (Rom 6:13)

Scripture had to be fulfilled


 

Acts 1:15-17 (NIV)

15 In those days Peter stood up among the brothers (the company of persons was in all about 120) and said, 16 “Brothers, the Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke beforehand by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus. 17 For he was numbered among us and was allotted his share in this ministry.”

 

All that happened to Jesus was foretold in Scripture. (Lk 24:27)

It wasn’t like it came as a surprise to God. As if He had to deal with circumstances as they unfolded.

In fact, the suffering and death and resurrection of Jesus Christ was all God’s doing (Lk 24:46): ‘planned’ (Acts 2:23) and predicted long ago (Lk 24:44).

Don’t for a second take away God’s sovereignty and say that mankind was in control. (Rom 8:3)

Yes, ‘lawless men’ are to blame. (Acts 2:23)

But Jesus came to earth to die: to die in our place. That was His goal; His purpose. (Isa 53)

And He resolutely followed the path to Calvary. (Matt 26:54)

The one laid out for Him by His Father. The one of suffering (Lk 24:46) and rejection and ‘death on a cross’ (Php 2:8).

Yet that was not the end of it. Because we know that ‘on the third day [He rose] from the dead, …’ (Lk 24:46)

And thank God He did!

Kim+

prayer : thank you Jesus that you are the Christ: the Messiah who has ‘fulfilled’ the Scriptures (Lk 24:44)

action : ‘meditate’ on the Scriptures ‘day and night’ (Ps 1:3)