Saturday, October 31, 2009

Wisdom for the Young

Ecclesiastes 11:9-10 Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth; and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth, and walk in the ways of thine heart, and in the sight of thine eyes: but know thou, that for all these things God will bring thee into judgment. Therefore remove sorrow from thy heart, and put away evil from thy flesh: for childhood and youth are vanity.

I really thought the Complete Jewish Bible expressed the intent of these verses much more clearly: “Young person, if you spend your youth only having fun, if you use your early years just to entertain yourself, if you follow your heart as you live your life, and let your eyes be your guide; understand that for all these things God will bring you to judgment. Therefore, remove anger from your heart; and keep from harming your body; for neither adolescence nor youth has any lasting value.”

These are wise words of instruction that should be shared by every Christian parent with their children. There is nothing wrong with having a good time and investing time and energy in things that you love as long as you are doing so in accordance with God’s will for your life as revealed in His word. Things that we do that are rooted in the flesh will only result in sin and/or loss of heavenly treasure.

When I looked at the Hebrew for “sorrow,” vexation, anger, wrath, and spite seemed to be the emphasis. We will all deal with sorrow, and scripture tells us that sorrow is often beneficial.

Psalms 126:5-6 “They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.”

Proverbs 3:12 “For whom the LORD loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth.”

2 Corinthians 4:17 “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;”

It makes much better sense to read this as putting away anger—because anger, like love, is a choice. The Holy Spirit produces fruit in the life of the believer, including love and self-control.

Galatians 5:22-23 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.” (temperance = self-control)

It seems that if the enemy can’t get you to fall for the deceit of following the desires of the flesh, he will often turn his deceit to the value of life. From the very earliest times we know that the false religions have made use of human sacrifice. Even members of the early church were deceived into thinking that self-flagellation was beneficial to their spiritual growth. I am convinced that God never intended such. His word is clear that we are to exercise self-control and obedience, but it is also full of the truth that He desires to bless us and fill our lives with joy.

Proverbs 12:20 “Deceit is in the heart of them that imagine evil: but to the counsellors of peace is joy.”

John 15:10-11 “If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love. These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.”

It’s interesting that these verses are directed to the young, since that is when one is most vulnerable to the attack of the enemy in these areas. I can’t help but think of so many of our youth today, in particular, who are under attack in this area. They are duped into practicing eating disorders, cutting themselves, drug abuse, etc., because they haven’t been taught the truth of God’s word and the value of their life before God.

Psalms 139:13-16 “For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.”

God loves every life He brings into being. He is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.

2 Peter 3:9 “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”

He loves us so much that He gave His only Son as the sacrifice for our sin and to provide for our eternal life with Him.

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Wonder of Life

Ecclesiastes 11:5 As thou knowest not what is the way of the spirit, nor how the bones do grow in the womb of her that is with child: even so thou knowest not the works of God who maketh all.

It was interesting to note that the other main translations I use all assume the “spirit” to be a reference to the wind. Frankly, I’m not sure that is the case. The baby that grows in the womb is a being of flesh and spirit. I tend to think he is referencing our lack of understanding as to how the wholeness of each human being comes together. We certainly understand much more today about the physical formation of the body of flesh, but we still have no understanding of how the spirit is joined to that body of flesh. It is all a miraculous work of the Creator, God Almighty.

Again, the emphasis is on the truth that there is much that is beyond our understanding or our ability to control in life. The wise will be in awe of their Creator and will realize that they will never be able to understand Him or think like Him. If we could, He would no longer be God.

Psalms 33:8 “Let all the earth fear the LORD: let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him.”

Isaiah 55:8-9 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

Ecclesiastes 11:6 In the morning sow thy seed, and in the evening withhold not thine hand: for thou knowest not whether shall prosper, either this or that, or whether they both shall be alike good.

This verse seems to be another warning against idle hands. Don’t be content with just doing enough to get by, prepare for unknown contingencies. It could be that the extra work you put in will provide for the failure of your initial investment of time and energy. Or—it could be that the extra work results in a bonus harvest. At any rate, by avoiding idleness, you deprive the enemy of an opportunity to draw you into sin.

Ecclesiastes 11:7-8 ¶ Truly the light is sweet, and a pleasant thing it is for the eyes to behold the sun: But if a man live many years, and rejoice in them all; yet let him remember the days of darkness; for they shall be many. All that cometh is vanity.

Well, these verses took a while to process. Solomon is declaring that a long life is something to rejoice about. It was a reference to the “days of darkness” that “shall be” that jumped out at me. We know that in life we will all experience times of sorrow and trouble, but this reference is to future darkness. One of the choices for “remember” was to “think on.” In other words, this life isn’t all there is. I found some verses in Job that seem to apply here.

Job 10:20-22 “Are not my days few? cease then, and let me alone, that I may take comfort a little, Before I go whence I shall not return, even to the land of darkness and the shadow of death; A land of darkness, as darkness itself; and of the shadow of death, without any order, and where the light is as darkness.”

The Hebrew for “darkness” is the same in both sections of scripture and makes reference to “the dark, death, and ignorance.” Solomon recognizes that the days of our “life after death” will be many compared to our present life. He seemed, however, to be clueless as to the potential for personal fulfillment in the afterlife.

The last statement is confusing. Maybe it is just a reference to ignorance as to what awaits one in the afterlife. Maybe it is a statement of understanding that your eternal destiny is sealed at the moment of death. I really don’t know.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Getting the Most from Life’s Opportunities

Ecclesiastes 11:1-2 ¶ Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days. Give a portion to seven, and also to eight; for thou knowest not what evil shall be upon the earth.

In scripture the term “bread” is usually a reference to one’s provision to sustain life. Since I am interested in prophecy, I couldn’t help but think of the verse in Revelation that identifies the “waters” as multitudes of people.

Revelation 17:15 “And he saith unto me, The waters which thou sawest, where the whore sitteth, are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues.”

If those are valid connections, Solomon is extolling the benefit of generosity. Those who are generous to others will more likely find themselves at the receiving end of another’s generosity in their own time of need.

As I looked at some of the other translations and a few commentaries, they made application to diversification in financial investments. The Complete Jewish Bible supported this understanding: “Send your resources out over the seas; eventually you will reap a return. Divide your merchandise into seven or eight shares, since you don’t know what disasters may come on the earth.”

Ecclesiastes 11:3 If the clouds be full of rain, they empty themselves upon the earth: and if the tree fall toward the south, or toward the north, in the place where the tree falleth, there it shall be.

As we observe the creation, we see that once the clouds are full of rain, they empty that rain upon the earth; this cycle is a natural one that was set in motion by the Creator. When a tree falls as a natural result of impact from its surrounding environment, it has no control over the direction it falls nor can it change its position once it has fallen.

I think in connection with the previous verse, emphasis is being given to the truth that life has a natural ebb and flow over which we have no real control.

Ecclesiastes 11:4 He that observeth the wind shall not sow; and he that regardeth the clouds shall not reap.

I think the NLT expresses this thought well: “If you wait for perfect conditions, you will never get anything done.” One who adopts this attitude will find himself with idle hands; and idleness always feeds the flesh and sin. This brings to mind the old saying, “Idleness is the devil’s workshop.”

We have no control over the wind or the clouds; they function according to the laws established by the Creator. Our lack of control should not prevent us from taking action to provide for ourselves and our families. It brings to mind another old saying, “Nothing ventured, nothing gained.”

Thursday, October 22, 2009

A Warning Against Laziness, Money, and Evil Thoughts

Ecclesiastes 10:18 By much slothfulness the building decayeth; and through idleness of the hands the house droppeth through.

This verse is a commentary on laziness. A building that is left unattended by its lazy, inattentive owner will soon fall into disrepair. Idleness is a serious sin and character trait that resulted in the destruction of Sodom.

Ezekiel 16:49 “Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.”

Ecclesiastes 10:19 A feast is made for laughter, and wine maketh merry: but money answereth all things.

At first read I connected this statement to worldly wisdom; but as I continued to think about it, I realized that it is a very wise man that understands this to be the mindset of those in this world—those who have no spiritual understanding. To avoid being entrapped by the deceit of the enemy, you have to be able to recognize his traps. The enemy has been very successful in establishing a mindset of “It’s all about me” and in promoting success as the attainment of wealth. Those who have lots of money know that money doesn’t answer all things. There are many things money can’t buy, and these things are those of true value in life—the most valuable being sincere love. Money can’t buy peace of mind, though many have tried. Money can’t buy true friendship; just ask anyone who has lost his money and position of prestige.

Paul was very clear in advising Timothy against the temptations that come with wealth.

1 Timothy 6:9-10 “But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

Ecclesiastes 10:20 Curse not the king, no not in thy thought; and curse not the rich in thy bedchamber: for a bird of the air shall carry the voice, and that which hath wings shall tell the matter.

I would assume this verse to be the source of the old saying, “A little bird told me.” If so, it finds its roots in a wise admonition against even thinking bad thoughts about those in authority over you. Why? Because “for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.” (Matthew 12:34)

Our thoughts are the source of many of our words. And if you choose to voice those thoughts even in the bedroom, a place of privacy, you are at risk of having your thoughts revealed to that authority. I marveled at how much more serious is this admonition today with current technology. I recently reread 1984, by George Orwell. As a teenager I remember thinking how far-fetched this guy’s imagination was. Today I view him as a man of prescience and amazing insight to the inventive abilities and character of man.

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Wisdom of Few Words and Self Control

Ecclesiastes 10:12-14 ¶ The words of a wise man’s mouth are gracious; but the lips of a fool will swallow up himself. The beginning of the words of his mouth is foolishness: and the end of his talk is mischievous madness. A fool also is full of words: a man cannot tell what shall be; and what shall be after him, who can tell him?

This is another of many sections of scripture that speak to the importance of controlling one’s tongue. The words of a wise man are characterized by graciousness—showing kindness and mercy. He is looking to accomplish good with what he says.

The words of a fool, however, are characterized by destruction—both to himself and those to whom he speaks. It brings to mind a common saying, “Open mouth, insert foot.” The wise man recognizes that the more you say, the more apt you are to find those words turned against you. The foolish man just loves to hear himself talk; he is not that interested in listening or in considering the possible consequences of having those words used against him.

This brings to mind Solomon’s words from chapter 5: “Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter any thing before God: for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few.”

And these words from the Proverbs:

Proverbs 21:23 “Whoso keepeth his mouth and his tongue keepeth his soul from troubles.”

Only God knows the future, and only a foolish man would claim to know anything about the future other than what God has revealed.

Proverbs 27:1 “Boast not thyself of to morrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth.”

Ecclesiastes 10:15 The labour of the foolish wearieth every one of them, because he knoweth not how to go to the city.

Foolish people weary themselves by investing time and energy in things that are of no real benefit. This is a direct result of embracing the wisdom of this world and rejecting the wisdom of God as revealed in His word.

The IVP New Bible Commentary was helpful with this verse; it states: “Towns are conspicuous but the fool misses the way even to what is obvious.”

Ecclesiastes 10:16-17 ¶ Woe to thee, O land, when thy king is a child, and thy princes eat in the morning! Blessed art thou, O land, when thy king is the son of nobles, and thy princes eat in due season, for strength, and not for drunkenness!

In these verses Solomon is drawing a contrast between immature, inexperienced leadership and mature, sober leadership. A nation whose leader is immature and is ruled by his flesh will not provide the leadership necessary to protect his nation and implement practices that will promote its health and welfare. A nation whose leader is mature and self-controlled is more likely to provide the leadership necessary to benefit his people.

Age is not necessarily the defining factor in this context. I couldn’t help but think of King Josiah, who ascended to the throne at age 8, as I read these verses. Though he was very young, scripture tells us that he “did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, and walked in all the way of David his father, and turned not aside to the right hand or to the left.” (2Kings 22:2) He was young, but he was wise.

Psalms 111:10 “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments: his praise endureth for ever.”

Friday, October 16, 2009

More Words of Wisdom

Ecclesiastes 10:4 ¶ If the spirit of the ruler rise up against thee, leave not thy place; for yielding pacifieth great offences.

Solomon is basically advising one who finds himself in trouble with one in authority over him, he should stay calm and avoid the instinct to run away in fear or respond in anger. Proving oneself calm and with self control in such circumstances go a long way in defusing the situation and restoring normalcy.

I thought it was interesting that the Hebrew for “yielding” made reference to being curative and healing. We are so quick to associate yielding with weakness while it is actually often an action showing strength and self-control.

Ecclesiastes 10:5-7 There is an evil which I have seen under the sun, as an error which proceedeth from the ruler: Folly is set in great dignity, and the rich sit in low place. I have seen servants upon horses, and princes walking as servants upon the earth.

I think the NLT stated the heart of the meaning the best: “Kings and rulers make a grave mistake if they give foolish people great authority, and if they fail to give people of proven worth their rightful place of dignity.”

I think this truth is in great evidence today as we look at many of the appointments that President Obama has made. I know that God has some purpose for allowing Mr. Obama to hold the office of President in our country at this time; I’m just afraid it might be a case of reaping what we have sown. I will continue to pray for Him to come to a true understanding of God’s word and respond with a soft heart, and I hope that there are many Christians joining me in that prayer.

Ecclesiastes 10:8-11 He that diggeth a pit shall fall into it; and whoso breaketh an hedge, a serpent shall bite him. Whoso removeth stones shall be hurt therewith; and he that cleaveth wood shall be endangered thereby. If the iron be blunt, and he do not whet the edge, then must he put to more strength: but wisdom is profitable to direct. Surely the serpent will bite without enchantment; and a babbler is no better.

In this section of verses Solomon is basically stating that life is full of risks, but those risks can be limited when we use wisdom. Preparing well, taking safety precautions and making use of good instruments facilitate achieving one’s objective efficiently and without mishap.

Other translations made the last verse much easier to understand; it is basically saying that there is no benefit to the snake charmer in charming a snake after it bites. It helps to know that the Hebrew for babbler means master. This seems to be saying that one’s expertise can be useless if not utilized in a timely manner.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Stink of a Fool

Ecclesiastes 10:1 ¶ Dead flies cause the ointment of the apothecary to send forth a stinking savour: so doth a little folly him that is in reputation for wisdom and honour.

Reading through this chapter makes one think he is in the book of Proverbs; the manner of expression seems very similar to me.

As I read through this verse, I thought about Galatians 5:9, “A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.” The presence of a dead fly in the perfume will turn its sweet smell into a stinky odor. In the same way, one foolish deed can ruin a person’s good reputation. This is an important truth to teach our children. It takes years to establish a good reputation, but that reputation can be destroyed in a moment—and rebuilding that good reputation will be a bit harder the second time around.

I think every Christian should soberly consider this observation from the commentary by Jamieson, Faucett & Brown: “The more delicate the perfume, the more easily spoiled is the ointment. Common oil is not so liable to injury. So the higher a man’s religious character is, the more hurt is caused by a sinful folly in him.”

Ecclesiastes 10:2-3 A wise man’s heart is at his right hand; but a fool’s heart at his left. Yea also, when he that is a fool walketh by the way, his wisdom faileth him, and he saith to every one that he is a fool.

The reference to the “right hand” is a reference to strength, authority, blessing and honor in scripture.

Mark 14:62 “And Jesus said, I am: and ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.”

Exodus 15:6 “Thy right hand, O LORD, is become glorious in power: thy right hand, O LORD, hath dashed in pieces the enemy.”

Isaiah 62:8 “The LORD hath sworn by his right hand, and by the arm of his strength….”

Psalms 18:35 “Thou hast also given me the shield of thy salvation: and thy right hand hath holden me up, and thy gentleness hath made me great.”

Though the reference in scripture to the left hand is not always negative, there is one section of scripture that comes to mind.

Matthew 25:34 & 41 “Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world….“Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:”

I think the context is clear that the right and left are being used as a positive/negative contrast. The wise man’s heart is associated with his right hand, while the fool’s heart is associated with his left. Verse 3 goes on to declare that you can discern the wise man from the fool by observing how he lives and the choices he makes.

I did think it was interesting that the Hebrew for “left hand” made reference to being enveloped by the dark. Scripture often equates darkness with sin and wickedness and light with good and righteousness. The Apostle John recorded one of the clearest statements of this truth.

1 John 1:5-7 “This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.”

The wise man is obviously one who walks according to the revealed will of God, while the foolish man chooses to ignore the truth of God’s word.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

“Why Call You Me Lord…and Do Not the Things Which I Say?”

This question has been occupying much of my thinking in recent days. The avowed body of Christ is terribly divided today and is more and more embracing the mindset that the scripture does not mean what it says. I find myself thinking about how this must grieve the heart of our Lord and Savior.

The news is full of information about just how quickly global governance is advancing toward its end. It is also replete with evidence of how society is determined to turn away from biblical standards and morals and embrace evil as good and normal. In light of this truth, it is more important than ever that we as Christians are acting in obedience to God’s will. I think the time is coming soon in which our faith is going to be severely tested. Our submission and obedience to the Lord establish a strong foundation that we are going to need to endure the coming times of trial and testing.

Luke 6:46-49 “And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say? Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will shew you to whom he is like: He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock. But he that heareth, and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation built an house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great.”

To recognize Jesus as Lord is to acknowledge Him as the supreme authority in your life. To accept God’s gift of salvation in Jesus is to acknowledge Him as Lord in your life.

Acts 16:30-31 “And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.”

Jesus declared to His disciples that they rightly called Him “Master and Lord.”

John 13:13-17 “Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you. Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him. If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.”

It seems as though many in the leadership of the “church” today have positioned themselves as “lords” in rejection of the declared truth of God’s word. God’s word declares that all scripture is inspired by God and is absolutely true…

2 Timothy 3:16 “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:”

John 17:17 “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.”

Psalms 119:160 “Thy word is true from the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth for ever.”

…that life begins in the womb…

Jeremiah 1:4-5 “Then the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.”

Psalms 139:13 “For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb.”

Job 31:13-15 “If I did despise the cause of my manservant or of my maidservant, when they contended with me; What then shall I do when God riseth up? and when he visiteth, what shall I answer him? Did not he that made me in the womb make him? and did not one fashion us in the womb?”

…that homosexuality is sin…

Romans 1:24-27 “Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.”

Scripture is clear in declaring that we are to live according to every word that God utters.

Deuteronomy 8:3 “And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man live.”

Jesus used God’s word to fight against the temptation of the devil, and it was established earlier that we are to follow His example.

Matthew 4:4 “But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.”

These should all be obvious truths to every true child of God, and therein is my concern. How can people claim to be part of the body of Christ and reject His truth? The Holy Spirit indwells every true believer, and I know that He is not teaching in contradiction to God’s word. I think that there are many in “Christian” leadership who are part of the prophesied end time multitude of false prophets/teachers. Peter makes it clear that these hypocrites are in it for themselves, for the money.

2 Peter 2:1-3 “But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.”

In Paul’s letter to Timothy he warned him what to expect in the last days in words that are an accurate commentary on today’s society.

2 Timothy 3:1-5 “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.

In light of this truth I believe that every true child of God should be seeking to emulate the example of our Lord by standing boldly against sin while showing love to the sinner. We should be ready to give an answer as to the truth of God’s word with humility toward man and in fear of God.

1 Peter 3:15-16 “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ.”

We should live with desire for and in expectancy of the Lord’s return.

Matthew 6:9-10 “After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.”

Matthew 24:42 & 44 “Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come…..Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.”

Most importantly, we should show love to one another if we want our testimony to have an impact on the fallen world.

John 13:35 “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”

1 John 4:12 “…. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.”

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Wisdom vs. Strength

Ecclesiastes 9:13-15 ¶ This wisdom have I seen also under the sun, and it seemed great unto me: There was a little city, and few men within it; and there came a great king against it, and besieged it, and built great bulwarks against it: Now there was found in it a poor wise man, and he by his wisdom delivered the city; yet no man remembered that same poor man.

His words in the previous section evidently brought to memory an event that made quite an impression upon Solomon. The memory concerned a small city that was surrounded by the army of a great king who placed it under siege and built machine intended to help him break through the city walls. Evidently there was a poor but wise man in the city who devised a plan that defeated the intents of the enemy king and his troops, and the city was spared capture. You would have thought they would have hailed the man as a great hero; instead, he remained the unknown that he was before the siege ever happened. His wise intervention was soon forgotten.

This is a sad but true commentary on the ingratitude of man toward God as well as his fellowman. The mantra of the day is, “But what have you done for me lately?” That is why the Lord has to keep allowing trials and testings in the lives of His children; it is the only way He can keep them looking to Him in faith and provision to get them through their time of need. When times are good, we tend to get too busy with “more important” things in life than spending time in fellowship with Him and seeking to serve Him rather than self.

Ecclesiastes 9:16-18 Then said I, Wisdom is better than strength: nevertheless the poor man’s wisdom is despised, and his words are not heard. The words of wise men are heard in quiet more than the cry of him that ruleth among fools. Wisdom is better than weapons of war: but one sinner destroyeth much good.

It seems as though Solomon understood that the wisdom of the poor is not usually appreciated. We have a tendency to pay more attention to one of strength, stature and standing. It is true that wisdom is more readily recognized and heeded when the surrounding atmosphere is conducive to listening. Those who are wise in their own eyes don’t create such an atmosphere. Those who choose to ignore wise counsel deserve what they get as a result.

We are so in need today of people who are willing to listen to the wise truth of the Savior as recorded in His word and as declared by His true servants today. Instead, the masses embrace the foolish words of those who are wise in their own eyes.

“one sinner destroyeth much good” – Though we are all to blame for the apathy that has resulted in where we are as a nation spiritually and morally. I couldn’t help but think of Madeline Murray O’Hair and her success at getting daily prayer and Bible reading taken out of our schools. Though she wasn’t alone in the fight, she was certainly the very public voice behind the issue. Ultimately it was the Supreme Court that made the ruling that I believe began the spiritual downfall and moral decay of our nation.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

No Guarantees

Ecclesiastes 9:11-12 ¶ I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all. For man also knoweth not his time: as the fishes that are taken in an evil net, and as the birds that are caught in the snare; so are the sons of men snared in an evil time, when it falleth suddenly upon them.

These verses make some other valid observations about life on planet earth. Fleetness of foot doesn’t guarantee victory in a race; strength and might do not guarantee victory in battle; skill and intelligence do not necessarily put bread on the table; intelligence, diligence and skill do not necessarily produce wealth; and expertise does not guarantee a beautiful product. I think the point being made is that knowledge, talent, skill and hard work do not guarantee success. “Time and chance happen to all”; as Solomon declares in Proverbs, “Boast not thyself of to morrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth. (Proverbs 27:1)”

Fish are susceptible to being caught in the net of the fisherman and birds in the snare of the trapper. The statement is not a reference to it being wrong to fish and hunt game for food, but it is obvious that the result is “evil” to the fish or bird that is caught/snared; the net or snare is the “evil.” So too are the times in which we live called “evil.” We live in times that have been cursed and made evil by the choice of man to sin and rebel against his Creator. The “god of this world,” “the prince of the power of the air,” and the “father of lies” is Satan—the adversary of God and man.

2 Corinthians 4:3-4 “But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.”

Ephesians 2:2 “Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:”

John 8:44 “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.”

Ephesians 6:11-12 “Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”

1 Peter 5:8 “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:”

The curse of sin not only leaves man vulnerable to the attack of wicked men and evil spiritual forces of darkness, it leaves man vulnerable to the effects of the curse upon the earth caused by acts of nature. God is still sovereign, however, and scripture records that He can and will intervene according to His purpose in protection and/or refinement of His own and in judgment of His enemies.

Ezekiel 14:21 “For thus saith the Lord GOD; How much more when I send my four sore judgments upon Jerusalem, the sword, and the famine, and the noisome beast, and the pestilence, to cut off from it man and beast?”

Isaiah 48:10 “Behold, I have refined thee, but not with silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction.”

In context here, however, I believe the reference is to the physical death of man. Just as surely as the fish or bird meets its end unexpectedly in the net or trap, so too is man subject to facing unexpected death. That truth should directly affect how we live—the choices we make.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Enjoy God’s Blessings

Ecclesiastes 9:7-10 Go thy way, eat thy bread with joy, and drink thy wine with a merry heart; for God now accepteth thy works. Let thy garments be always white; and let thy head lack no ointment. Live joyfully with the wife whom thou lovest all the days of the life of thy vanity, which he hath given thee under the sun, all the days of thy vanity: for that is thy portion in this life, and in thy labour which thou takest under the sun. Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.

I can read this section of verses from two different standpoints—human and spiritual. I tend to think that Solomon is thinking more from the spiritual perspective since he is referencing God’s approval of one’s efforts to enjoy life. There is no reference to enjoyment of anything except that of which God would approve. The reference to always wearing white garments would seem to make reference to clothing oneself in purity and righteousness. An anointed head would seem to be a reference to God’s blessing upon one’s life.

Revelation 3:4-5 “Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy. He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment….”

Revelation 19:8 “And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.”

Psalms 23:5-6 “Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.”

He also emphasizes a lifetime commitment to one’s wife, so it would seem that he eventually came to understand the wisdom of God’s purpose for marriage as stated from the beginning.

Genesis 2:24 “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.”

Solomon does, however, still reference this life as one of vanity (empty and unsatisfactory); and we know that from a spiritual outlook this is not true. He also references physical death as the “end of life” so to speak, and again we know this is not true. It is however, the end of all opportunity to act and choose regarding one’s eternal destiny.