I’M GETTING IT. MAYBE! Ecclesiastes 1 and 5

I’m getting it.  What a cold or worse the flu?  Not quite.  I’m looking at a book of the Bible that causes many to scratch their heads, perplexed and stymied.  Some eventually throw in the towel and give up.  Others skip it totally.  Yes, smarty-pants, since you’ve read today’s title, you amazingly figured out that I’m referring to Ecclesiastes.  Go to the head of the class!

Recently it’s message is beginning to sink in.  I always pray for the Lord to give me His wisdom and understanding as I read my Bible.  Without His help, might as well leave it to gather dust on some upper shelf.  So, I ask Him.

In addition, I don’t sit around with head in the clouds waiting for the fog to clear and some light to go on.  No, I read the notes included in my study Bible, check out commentaries, and use my computer to assist.  You can, too.  The Holy Spirit plus hard work.  A winning combination!

So, what’s starting to make sense?  This book’s author, most likely King Solomon near the end of his life, broods over wealth, family, pleasure, seeming pointlessness of life, the reason for our being.  When he boils it all down, he concludes that– ‘…there is nothing new under the sun’ (Eccles. 1: 9).  And that all is– ‘Meaningless! Meaningless!  Everything is meaningless’ (Eccles. 1: 2).

Can’t win for losin’.  Not a ghost of a chance.  Why try when the outcome is a big fat zero.  Might as well fold your hands and die.  Not what old Solomon says at all.

Could be, though, if all you want out of life is striving and accomplishment.  Like writing books and devotionals to put someone’s name up in lights for multiple generations.  Me…me…me.  ‘Remember Grant, remember Lee; to heck with you, remember me’ (from my 6th grade autograph book!).

Desiring prideful, lasting success will only dump us on history’s scrap heap.  A few generations out and I’m just a name on a line on some family tree.  You too.  Ecclesiastes pushes us to get over ourselves.

As in being content with whatever the Lord has in mind for however long He allows.  Being satisfied with His blessings.  Counting them.  Mulling them over.  Maybe being happy.  Maybe.

This life flies by so fast.  Through our hands like greased lighting.  So, don’t hold on so tight.  Open-handed is best.  Enjoy.  Have fun.  Why not?  After all, Ecclesiastes says to– ‘…to enjoy them, to accept his lot and be happy in his work–this is a gift of God.  He seldom reflects on the days of his life, because God keeps him occupied with gladness of heart’ (Ecclesiastes 5:19-20).

That’s it!  I’m starting to get it!


Father, for the joy of knowing Jesus, our Lord and Savior, we thank you.  Amen.


WINNER Proverbs 29: 16

Talk politics?  Let’s not and say we did!  At our last church, my wife and I make it crystal clear that political infighting happens outside the church walls, and hopefully not even there.  Within?  No way.  Just nip it.  Issues that affect biblical teaching?  A different matter entirely.  But no way should mean-spirited partisanship rear its ugly head, dividing believers one from another.  At least we give it the ‘old college try’.

Each year I read the Book of Proverbs.  Recently one verse grabs me by the sleeves and says ‘look at me’.  So I do.  Proverbs 29: 16–‘When the wicked thrive, so does sin, but the righteous will see their downfall.’  Let’s do some unpacking.

Not so encouraging for scuzzy low-lives.  Not at all.  For it’s always true–sin multiplies like rabbits; likewise, infecting everything, everyone, everywhere.  Evil, out of control, taking control.  Hell on earth with nowhere to hide.  Like a sitting duck rifled with unsavory consequences.  Terrors reign when the wicked thrive.

Thank the Lord for the second half of verse 16–‘…but the righteous will see their downfall.’  Now, let me be the first to fess up that I’m far from righteous.  Not by a long stretch.  Just an old sinner… saved by grace.

Jesus pays the ransom price for our freedom from sin.  He alone makes us brand spanking new.  Forgiven.  Hence, we’re righteous!  For God sees His Son when He looks us in the eye.  Clear as a bell.  Clean as can be.  Only because of Jesus.  Righteous.  You understand.

Bottom line– this means that the wicked don’t thrive forever.  Down they’ll go.  Worse than Humpty-Dumpty.  All the ungodly.  No winners among them.

And that’s how believers make it through scurrilous political seasons.  Knowing that God wins.  When?  I haven’t a clue.  How He works this all out?  Your guess is as good as mine.  All we need to know, all that really matters, is…well, you get the point.  Don’t you?


Lord Jesus, we know how completely reliable you are.  Amen.






NAME ABOVE ALL OTHERS Philippians 2: 5-11

Why was I surprised?  Shouldn’t have been.  Yet it threw me a curveball.  Had to sit back and consider my options.  What was I to do?  Seemed boxed in.  Maybe I should sleep on it.  Time to cool down.  Pour some oil on troubled waters.

What’s happened?  I’m commissioned to write seven devotionals for a magazine of my old denomination.  A group I quit decades ago.  Last time I wrote for them was in the early 1980’s.  Guess my name emerges as a writer of uplifting daily devotionals.  Fooled them!   But I’m excited to get started.

However, their writing specifications shock me.  If I had false teeth, they’d fall out.  Could have knocked me over with a feather.  What gives?  They require that I should never use the masculine gender for God.  Forbidden words like ‘Father’, ‘Son’, ‘He’, ‘Him’, whatever, whoever.  The gender cops are out in full force.  Yellow police tape wraps around my computer, bullying ‘Keep Him Out’!   Understand my quandary?

First thought was to bag it.  Chuck it out the window.  Toss it on the rubbish bin, ready for the dump.  Somehow I decide not to be hasty.  Sit in this pickle a bit longer.  Can always refuse their offer, yet I’d give my eyeteeth for one more opportunity to lift high the name of Jesus with a group I no longer identify with.  Our paths no longer parallel .  Our views of the Bible, salvation by faith in Jesus alone, you name it, are increasingly opposed.

So, I pray– ‘Lord, what should I do?  You know my heart.  That I want to share you with others, especially to those I poorly witnessed to all those years ago.’  No heavenly voice is heard, or message on the walls or in the sky.  Only a spark from a Bible verse.  And I know the source.  Any guesses?

Philippians 2:9– ‘Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name above every name.’  Now I know what to do.  Lift up the name of Jesus.  Forget writing ‘he’ and ‘him’.  Just write ‘Jesus’.  All throughout those seven devotionals, I raise up the name of my Lord Jesus.  Over and over again.  Then more.  And once again.  Jesus!

The results?  Accepted by the editors!  Really?  Yes, really and truly!  And feedback from readers all over the country, and even some overseas, overwhelms me.  I connect with many more than I imagined.  Why?  I know why.  So do you.

Do the same.  Lift up the name of Jesus, the name above all names, whether anyone likes it or not.  Boldly.  Lift high His name.  Jesus!


Thank you, Jesus, for being Lord of all.  Always and forever in your name.  Amen.


Gideon House Books has now published my new daily devotional ‘Reminders For Daily Devotion’.  Today you can buy a hard copy paperback or two through Amazon.  If you have Amazon Prime the shipping is always free.  However, with the cost per copy of $12.99 if you buy two, even without Amazon Prime,  the shipping will also be free.  What a deal!  Buy your own copy and give another to a friend or family member you’d like to bless this Thanksgiving/Christmas season.  Put your thinking cap on and ask the Lord who might benefit from such a gift.

I’m delighted at the quality of this new book and hope that the Lord will bless you each day as you read a new devotional from my pen to your heart.  It’s truly an honor for me to be welcomed into your daily devotions to Jesus.

Blessings to each of you, my faithful ‘ReflectionsOutofTime’ weekly devotional readers!  John


WHICH WAY? Proverbs 14

My sense of direction plugs along utterly and hopelessly lost!  No joking matter when we’re navigating endless  English and Welsh roundabouts a few years back!  Nerve-racking.  Going the right way always the best choice.  Off-track can really mess up your day!

Reading Proverbs 14, two paths are clearly laid out.  Doesn’t take a Lewis and Clark to figure it out.  It’s right there in front of us.

So how come we wind up on dead-end streets so often?  In neighborhoods way too dangerous for God’s people?  Toying with short-cuts that cut us off from sweet fellowship with Jesus?  How come?  We know why.  That three-letter word–sin.  Plain and simple.  Rotten to the core.

Take a moment now to read Proverbs 14 if you haven’t already.  You’ll immediately note the great divide.  I’ve made a list contrasting the fool with the wise, the faithless with the good, the simple and the prudent, those who are full of hot air with those who work hard, the mocker and the discerning, the truthful and the fake.  On and on.

You get the point.  Choose to follow the Lord.  Get off your high horse.  It’s not all about me, I and myself.  That’s the fool’s way.

Doesn’t take a rocket scientist to discover that going God’s way is much better than going my way.  Sorry Bing Crosby and Barry Fitzgerald!  But that’s the way it is.  Always has been.  Guess what?  Always will be!

Get in line.  Behind Him.  His shadow leads the way, protecting us as we traipse from here to there.  The views?  Just out of this world!


Thank you, Lord, for showing me the way.  May I take it every day.  For Jesus’ sake.  Amen.